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The Methodology of the Salaf Concerning Ijtihad and Taqlid
  On Ijtihad and Taqlid
Author: Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Uthaimeen
Source: Al-Usool min `Ilimil Usool
Article ID : MNJ060001  [20886]  
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Shaykh Saalih al-Uthaymeen, may Allaah preserve him, says in his ‘Al-Usool min ‘Ilimil Usool’ (pp97-104):

Definition of Ijtihaad:

linguistically ijtihaad means: to expend efforts in order to reach some difficult matter. Technically it means: expending efforts to arrive at a Sharee’ah ruling. And the Mujtahid is the one who expends efforts for this purpose.

Conditions for Ijtihaad:

Being a mujtahid has conditions, from them:-

1) That he knows the Sharee’ah proofs which he needs in his ijtihaad - such as the verses and ahaadeeth pertaining to rulings.

2) That he knows what relates to the authenticty or weakness of a hadeeth, such as having knowledge of the isnaad and it’s narrators and other than this.

3) That he knows the abrogated and the abrogating, and the places where there is ijmaa - such that he does not give a ruling according to something that has been abrogated, nor give a ruling that opposes the (authentically related) ijmaa.

4) That he knows from the proofs that which causes the rulings to vary, such as takhsees (particularisation), or taqyeed (restriction), or it’s like. So he does not give a judgement which is contrary to this.

5) That he knows the Arabic language and usul al-fiqh, and what relates to the meanings and indications of particular wordings - such as the general, the particular, the absolute and unrestricted, the restricted, the unclarified, and the clarified, and it’s 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 ijtihaad 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 ijtihaad, 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 him, as he (sallallaahu `alaihi wasallam) 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." If the ruling is not clear to him, then he must withold - and in such a case, taqleed is permissible for him, due to necessity.

Taqleed - it’s definition:

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

Exlcuded from our saying, "following he whose saying is not a proof" is: following the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wasallam) , following the ijmaa and also following the saying of the sahaabee - for those who consider the saying of a single sahaabee to be a proof. So following any of these is not called taqleed, since there is a proof for doing so. However this type of following is sometimes referred to as taqleed in a very metaphorical and loose sense.

The Place of Taqleed:

Taqleed is done in two cases:

1) when the muqallid is an ‘aamee (a common person) who does not have the ability to aquire knowledge of the sharee’ah ruling by himself. So taqleed is obligatory upon him, due to the saying of Allaah - The Most High, "ask the people of knowledge if you do not know." So he does taqleed 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.

2) 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 taqleed.

Some stipulate as a condition for the permissibility of taqleed, that the matter is not from the fundamentals of the deen - those matters which must be held as aqueedah - since matters of aqueedah require certainty, whereas taqleed 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 High’s - 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 deen. And also because the common person cannot aquire knowledge of the sharee’ah rulings with it’s proofs by himself. So if he is unable to arrive at the truth by himself, then nothing remains for him except taqleed, due to the saying of Allaah - the most High, "fear Allaah as much as you can"

Types of Taqleed:


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