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Unformatted text preview: to the second generation of Successors. When these latter differed on a point, they naturally referred to the views and practices of the Companions and the Successors. In this way, a fertile ground was created for the development of the theory of ijma'. Aghnides, Muhammedan Theories, pp. 37-38.] The essence of ijma` lies in the natural growth of ideas. It begins with the personal ijtihad of individual jurists and culminates in the universal acceptance of a particular opinion over a period of time. Differences of opinion are tolerated until a consensus emerges, and in the process there is no room for compulsion or the imposition of ideas upon the community. Ijma' plays a crucial role in the development of Shari'ah. The existing body of fiqh is the product of a long process of ijtihad and ijma`. Since ijma` reflects the natural evolution and acceptance of ideas in the life of the community, the basic notion of ijma' can never be expected to discontinue. The idea that ijma` came to a halt after the first three generations following the advent of Islam seems to be a byproduct of the phenomenon known as the closure of the gate of ijtihad. Since ijma' originates in ijtihad, with the closure of the gate of ijtihad, it was expected that ijma' also came to a close. This is, however, no more than a superficial equation, as in all probability ijma' continued to play a role in consolidating and unifying the law after the supposed termination of ijtihad. [7. Cf Ahmad Hasan, Early Development, p.160ff.] Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 157 [6. Cf. Ijma' ensures the correct interpretation of the Qur'an, the faithful understanding and transmission of the Sunnah, and the legitimate use of ijtihad. The question as to whether the law, as contained in the divine sources, has been properly interpreted is always open to a measure of uncertainty and doubt, especially in regard to the deduction of new rules by way of analogy and ijtihad. Only ijma' can put an end to doubt, and when it throws its weight behind a ruling, this becomes decisive and infallible. Ijma` has primarily been regarded as the instrument of conservatism and of preserving the heritage of the past. This is obvious enough in the sense that whatever is accepted by the entire Muslim community as true and correct must be accepted as such. However, ijma` is also an instrument of tolerance and of the evolution of ideas in such directions as may reflect the vision of the scholars to the light of the fresh educational and cultural achievements for the community. According to one observer, `clearly this principle (i.e. ijma`) provides Islam with a potential for freedom of movement and a capacity for evolution. It furnishes a desirable corrective against the dead letter of personal authority. It has proved itself, at least in the past, an outstanding factor in the adaptability of Islam.' [8. Goldziher, Introduction, p.52.] Ijma` enhances the authority of rules which are of speculative origin. Specula...
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