Unformatted text preview: bserve that `the way of the believers' in this ayah refers to their 'agreement and the way that they have chosen', in other words, to their consensus. Adherence to the way of the community is thus binding, while departure from it is forbidden. Departing from the believers' way has been approximated to disobeying the Prophet, both of which are forbidden. There are several points that the commentators have highlighted concerning this ayah. However, before elaborating further, a brief discussion of the other Qur'anic passages which are quoted in support of consensus would be useful. The Qur'an is expressive of the dignified status that God has bestowed on the Muslim community. Thus we read in sura Al-`Imran (3:109): `You are the best community that has been raised for mankind. You enjoin right and forbid evil and you believe in God.' This ayah attests to some of the outstanding merits of the Muslim community. It is thus argued that had the community been capable of agreeing on an error, the Qur'an would not have praised it in such terms. It is further noted that the contents of this ayah give some indication as to the meaning of the phrase `the believers' way'. On the same theme, we read in sura al-Baqarah (2:143): `Thus We have made you a middle nation [ummatan wasatan], that you may be witnesses over mankind.' Literally, wasat means `middle', implying justice and balance, qualities which merit recognition of the agreed decision of the community Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 162 and the rectitude of its way. Furthermore, it is by virtue of uprightness that God has bestowed upon the Muslim community the merit of being a `witness over mankind'. [27. Amidi, Ihkam, I, 211.] In yet another reference to the ummah, the Qur'an proclaims in sura al-A'raf (7:181): `And of those We created are a nation who direct others with truth and dispense justice on its basis.' There are three other ayat which need to be quoted. These are: Al-'Imran (3:102):`Cling firmly together to God's rope and do not separate.' This ayah obviously forbids separation (tafarruq). Since opposition to the ijma' is a form of tafarruq, it is therefore prohibited. [28. Amidi, Ihkam, I, 217; Ghazali, Mustasfa, I, 111.] Al-Shura (42:10):'And in whatever you differ, the judgment remains with God', 'which implicitly approves that in which the community is in agreement.' Al-Nisa' (4:59): `Then if you dispute over something, refer it to God and the Messenger.' [29. Ghazali, Mustasfa, I, 111.] By implication (i.e., divergent implication -mafhum al-mukhalafah), this ayah too upholds the authority of all that is agreed upon by the community. [30. Ghazali, Mustasfa, I, 111.] Having quoted all the foregoing ayat, al-Ghazali observes that 'all of these are apparent indications (zawahir) none of which amounts to a clear nass on the subject of ijma `.' Al-Ghazali adds that of all these, the ayah at 4:115 is closest to the point. For it renders adherence to the `believers' way' an obligation. Al-Shafi`i has also quoted it, and has drawn th...
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