Ijtihâd and Taqlîd By Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sâlih al-’Uthaymîn


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Definition of Ijtihâd
Linguistically ijtihâd means: to expend efforts in order to reach some difficult matter. Technically it means: expending efforts to arrive at
a Sharî’ah ruling. And the Mujtahid is the one who expends efforts for this purpose.

Conditions for Ijtihâd
Being a mujtahid has conditions, from them:-

[1] That he knows the Sharî’ah proofs which he needs in his ijtihâd - such as the âyât (verses) and ahâdîth pertaining to rulings.
[2] That he knows what relates to the authenticity or weakness of a hadîth, such as having knowledge of the isnâd (chain of narration) and its narrators, and other than this.
[3] That he knows an-nâsikh (the abrogating) and al-mansûkh (the abrogated), and the places where there is ijmâ (consensus) - such that he does not give a ruling according to something that has been abrogated, nor give a ruling that opposes the (authentically related) ijmâ.
[4] That he knows from the proofs that which causes the rulings to vary, such as takhsîs (particularisation), or taqyîd (restriction), or its like. So he does not give a judgement which is contrary to this.
[5] That he knows the Arabic language and usûlul-fiqh (fundamentals and principles of jurisprudence), and what relates to the meanings and indications of particular wordings - such as al-âm (the general), al-khâss (the particular), al-mutlaq (the absolute and unrestricted), al-muqayyid (the restricted), al-mujmal (the unclarified), and al-mubayyin (the clarified), and its like - in order that he gives rulings in accordance with what this demands.
[6] That he has the ability to extract rulings from the evidences.
And ijtihâd may be split up, such that it may be undertaken in one particular branch of knowledge, or in one particular issue.

What is Essential for the Mujtahid
It is essential that the Mujtahid strives in expending his efforts to arrive at knowledge of the truth, and to give rulings in accordance to what is apparent to him. If he is correct, then he has two rewards: one for his ijtihâd, and the other for arriving at the truth - since arriving at the truth means that it is manifested and acted upon. If, however, he is mistaken, then he has a single reward, and his error is forgiven for him - as he
sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam said: When a judge judges and strives and is correct, then he has two rewards. If he judges and strives and errs, then he has a single reward. [2] If the ruling is not clear to him, then he must withhold - and in such a case, taqlîd is permissible for him, due to necessity.

Taqlîd - its Definition
Linguistically, taqlîd means: Placing something around the neck, which encircles the neck. Technically it means: Following he whose sayings is not a hujjah (proof).

Excluded from our saying, “Following he whose saying is not a proof.” is: following the Prophet sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam, following the ijmâ and also following the saying of the Sahâbî - for those who consider the saying of a single Sahâbî to be a proof. So following any of these is not called taqlîd, since there is a proof for doing so. However this type of following is sometimes referred to as taqlîd in a very metaphorical and loose sense.

The Place of Taqlîd
Taqlîd is done in two cases:

Firstly: when the muqallid is an âmî (a common person) who does not have the ability to acquire knowledge of the Sharîah ruling by himself. So taqlîd is obligatory upon him, due to the saying of Allâh - The Most High, “Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. [3] So he does taqlîd of one whom he considers to be a person of knowledge and piety. If there are two such people who are equal in his view, then he chooses any one of them.
Secondly: The mujtahid when he encounters a new situation, for which an immediate solution is required, but it is not possible for him to research into this matter. So in this case he is permitted to perform taqlîd.
Some stipulate as a condition for the permissibility of taqlîd, that the matter is not from the fundamentals of the Dîn - those matters which must be held as aqîdah - since matters of aqîdah require certainty, whereas taqlîd only amounts to dhann (knowledge which is not certain).
However the correct saying in this matter is that this is not a condition, due to the generality of his - the Most Highs - saying, “Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. And this verse is in the context of affirming the Messengership - which is from the fundamentals of the Dîn. And also because the common person cannot acquire knowledge of the Sharîah rulings with its proofs by himself. So if he is unable to arrive at the truth by himself, then nothing remains for him except taqlîd, due to the saying of Allâh - the Most High, “Fear Allâh as much as you can.[4]

Types of Taqlîd
Taqlîd is of two types: general and specific.

[1] The general type: that a person sticks to a particular madhhab (school of thought), accepting its concessions and non-concessions, in all matters of the Dîn.

The scholars have differed about such a state. So some amongst the late-comers have reported that this is obligatory upon him, due to his inability to perform ijtihâd. Others report it as being forbidden for him, due to its being a case of necessitating unrestricted following of other than the Prophet sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam.

Shaykh al-Islâm ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) said:
“The saying that it is obligatory, causes obedience to other than the Prophet sallall
âhu alayhi wa sallam in every matter of command and prohibition, and this is in opposition to the ijmâ’. And the allowance of it contains what it contains.
He, rahimahullâh, also said:
“He who sticks to a particular madhhab, and then acts in opposition to it - without making taqlîd of another scholar who has given him a ruling, nor does he use an evidence as a proof which necessitates acting in opposition to his madhhab, nor does he have an acceptable Sharî
ah excuse which allows him to do what he has done - then such a person is a follower of his desires, doing what is harâm - without a Sharîah excuse - and this is evil and sinful.
However, if there becomes clear to him, something which necessitates preference to one saying to another - either due to detailed proofs if he knows and understands them, or because he holds one of two people to be more knowledgeable about this matter and having more piety with regards to what he says - and so he leaves the saying of that one for the saying of the other one, then this is permissible, rather, it is obligatory. And there is a text from Imâm Ahmad about this.
[2] The particular type of taqlîd is that he accepts a saying about a particular matter. This is permissible if such a person is unable to arrive at knowledge of the by ijtihâd - whether he is unable to in reality, or he is able, but with great difficulty.

Fatwâ of a Muqallid
âh - the Most High - said, Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” And the Ahludh- Dhikr are the Ahlul-’Ilm (the people of knowledge), whereas the muqallid is not a person of knowledge who is followed - rather he himself is a follower of someone else.
Ibn Abdul Barr (d.463) and others have said:
“The people are united in ijm
â that the muqallid is not counted as being from the Ahlul-’ Ilm, and that knowledge is the realisation of guidance along with it's proof.” [5]
Ibn al-Qayyim (d.756H) said:
“ And it is as Abû
Umar (Ibn Abdul Barr) said: Indeed, the people do not differ about the fact that knowledge is the realisation attained from proof, but without proof, it is only taqlîd.” [6]
Ibn al-Qayyim then quotes:
“There are three sayings about the permissibility of giving fatwâ (legal verdict) based upon taqlîd:

Firstly: It is not permissible to give fatwâ based upon taqlîd, because it is not knowledge; since issuing a fatwâ without knowledge is forbidden. This is the saying of most of the Hanbalî scholars and the majority of the Shâfiiyyah.
Secondly: That it is permissible with regards to himself, but it is not permissible to give a fatwâ to others based upon taqlîd.
Thirdly: That it is permissible when there is a need for it, and there is no mujtahid scholar. And this is the most correct of the sayings and is what is acted upon.”
1. He is: Abû ’Abdullâh, Muhammad ibn Sâlih ibn Muhammad ibn
’Uthaymîn al-Wuhaibî at-Tamîmî. He was born in the town of ’Unayzah (Sa’udi Arabia) on the 27th of the blessed month of Ramadhân in the year 1347H. He memorised the Qurân during his early life and then continued seeking knowledge under two students of Shaykh ’Abdur-Rahmân as-Sa’dî. He then continued to study under Shaykh ’Abdur-Rahmân ibn Sa’dî who is considered to be his first Shaykh, since he remained with him for some time - where he studied Tawhîd, Tafsîr, Hadîth, Fiqh, Usûlul-Fiqh, al-Farâ’id (Laws of Inheritance), Nahw (Grammar) and Sarf (Morphology). Ibn al-’Uthaymîn also studied under the eminent and noble Scholar, Shaykh ’Abdul-’Azîz ibn Bâz, who is considered to be his second teacher. Under him, he began studying Sahîhul-Bukhârî, some of the works of Shaykhul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah, and some of the books of Fiqh. Ibn al-’Uthaymîn says: “I was influenced by Shaykh ’Abdul-’Azîz ibn Bâz - hafidhahullâh with regard to the great attention he gave to hadîth, and I was also influenced by his manners and the way in which he makes himself available to, and puts himself at the service of the people.” One of the foremost Scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah in this present age, the Shaykh is - by Allâh’s grace very active in calling the people to Allâh. Indeed, he has greatly exerted himself with this regard. The Shaykh - hafidhahullâh has written around forty different works, some larger books and some treatises. This particular discussion on ijtihâd and taqlîd has been taken from his book: Al-Usûl min Ilmil-Usûl (pp.97- 104).
2. Related by al-Bukhârî (13/318) and Muslim (no.1716)
3. Sûrah an-Nahl 16:43
4. Sûrah at-Taghâbun 64:16
5. Jâmi’ Bayânul-’Ilm wa Fadlihi (2/119).
6. I’lâmul-Muwaqqi’în (l/7).