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Unformatted text preview: In his capacity as a successor to the Prophet, the mujtahid performs a religious duty, and his verdict is a proof (hujjah) to those who follow him; he must therefore be a Muslim, and be knowledgeable in the various disciplines of religious learning. A person who fails to meet one or more of the requirements of ijtihad is disqualified and may not exercise ijtihad. The requirements which are discussed below contemplate ijtihad in its unrestricted form, often referred to as ijtihad fi'l-shar`, as opposed to the varieties of ijtihad that are confined to a particular school, or to particular issues within the confines of a given madhhab. The earliest complete account of the qualifications of a mujtahid is given in Abu' Husayn al-Basri's (d. 436/1044) al-Mu'tamad fi Usul al-Fiqh. The broad outline of al-Basri's exposition was later accepted, with minor changes, by al-Shirazi (d. 467/1083), al-Ghazali (d. 505/111 ) and al-Amidi (d. 632/1234). This does not mean that the requirements of ijtihad received no attention from the ulema who lived before al-Basri. But it was from then onwards that they were consistently adopted by the ulema of usul and became a standard feature of ijtihad. [30. Cf. Hallaq, The Gate, pp. 14-17.] These requirements are as follows: (a) Knowledge of Arabic to the extent that enables the scholar to enjoy a correct understanding of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. A complete command and erudition in Arabic is not a requirement, but the mujtahid must know the nuances of the language and be able to comprehend the sources accurately and deduce the ahkam from them with a high level of competence. [31. Ghazali, Mustasfa, II, 102; Abu Zahrah, Usul, p.302.] AlShatibi, however, lays greater emphasis on the knowledge of Arabic: a person who possesses only an average knowledge of Arabic cannot aim at the highest level of attainment in ijtihad. The language of the Qur'an and the Sunnah is the key to their comprehension and the ijtihad of anyone who is deficient in this respect is unacceptable. The same author adds: Since the opinion of the mujtahid is a proof (hujjah) for a layman, this degree of authority necessitates direct access to the sources and full competence in Arabic. [32. Shatibi, Muwafaqat, IV, 60.] The mujtahid must also be knowledgeable in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the Makki and the Madinese contents of the Qur'an, the occasions of its revelation (asbab al-nuzul) and the incidences of abrogation therein. More specifically, he must have a full grasp of the legal contents, or the ayat al-ahkam, but not necessarily of the narratives and parables of the Qur'an and its passages relating to the hereafter. Ghazali, Mustasfa, II, 101.] According to some ulema, including al-Ghazali, Ibn al-Arabi, and Abu Bakr al-Raza, the legal ayat of the Qur'an which the mujtahid must know amount to about five hundred. Al-Shawkani, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 322 [33. however, observes that a specification of this kind cannot be definitive. For a mujtahid may infer...
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This note was uploaded on 04/13/2013 for the course ISLAM 101 taught by Professor Islam during the Spring '13 term at Harvey Mudd College.
- Spring '13