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Unformatted text preview: and Sunnah, ijma does not directly partake in divine revelation. As a doctrine and proof of Shari'ah, ijma' is basically a rational proof. The theory of ijma' is also clear on the point that it is a binding proof. But it seems that the very nature of this high status that is accorded to ijma` has demanded that only an absolute and universal consensus would qualify although absolute consensus on the rational content of ijma' has often been difficult to obtain. It is only natural and reasonable to accept ijma` as a reality and a valid concept in a relative sense, but factual evidence falls short of establishing the universality of ijma`. The classical definition and the essential requirements of ijma`, as laid down by the ulema of usul, are categorical on the point that nothing less than a universal consensus of the scholars of the Muslim community as a whole can be regarded as conclusive ijma'. There is thus no room whatsoever for disagreement, or ikhtilaf, within the concept of ijma'. The theory of ijma' is equally unreceptive to the idea of relativity, or a preponderance of agreement within its ranks. The notion of a universal ijma ` was probably inspired by the ideal of the political unity of the ummah, and its unity in faith and tawhid, rather than total consensus on juridical matters. As evidence will show, ijma' on particular issues, especially on matters that are open to ijtihad, is extremely difficult to prove. Thus the gap between the theory and practice of ijma` remains a striking feature of this doctrine. A universal ijma` can only be said to exist, as al-Shafi'i has observed, on the obligatory duties, that is, the five pillars of the faith, and other such matters on which the Qur'an and the Sunnah are unambiguous and decisive. However, the weakness of such an observation becomes evident when one is reminded that ijma` is redundant in the face of a decisive ruling of the Qur'an or the Sunnah. The Shari'ah has often been considered as `a diversity within unity'. This is true in a general sense, in that there is unity to the essentials and in the broad outlines of the ahkam. But the same cannot be said of the detailed rulings of the jurists. It is admittedly true to say, again in a general sense, that the ikhtilaf of individual jurists, or of the various schools of law, are different manifestations of the same divine will and may therefore be regarded as an essential unity. But to expect universal consensus on ijtihadi matters is totally unrealistic, as many prominent ulema have recognised. The gap between the theory and practice of ijma` is reflected in the difficulty that many jurists have acknowledged to exist over implementing its theoretical requirements. The absolute terms of the classical definition of ijma` have hardly been fulfilled by conclusive factual evidence that would eliminate all levels of ikhtilaf. Ijma' has often been claimed for rulings on which only a majority consensus had existed within or beyond a particular school. The proof and authenticity of ijma ` has, on Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 155 the...
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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