Ijtihad & Taqlid

Author : Dr. Hassan Abu_Arqoub

Date Added : 27-01-2020

Ijtihad & Taqlid

By Dr Mufti Hassan Abu Arqoob

Ijtihad and Taqlid represent a controversial issue for students of Sharia. This article will provide answers for the following questions: Who is a Mujtahid? What are the requirements of a Mujtahid? What are the levels of Mujtahids? Who is a Muqalid? Whom does a Muqalid follow? Is a Muqalid obligated to follow a particular Madhab? Is a Muqalid allowed to follow other Madhabs?

 First: Ijtihad
Definition of Ijtihad:
Ijtihad refers to the effort and critical thinking necessary to arrive at a properly formulated legal conclusion.
Some rulings of Ijtihad:
Ijtihad is considered a religious duty for those qualified to perform it.

Ruling when there is no practitioner of Ijtihad in a certain era:
From mental and religious perspectives, a practitioner of Ijtihad could be lacking in a certain era; be he a Mujtahid Mutlaq "Absolute Mujtahid" or not.

Ruling when Ijtihad is performed on particular aspects of Islamic Jurisprudence:
Practicing Ijtihad on certain aspects of Islamic Jurisprudence is permissible because some Mujtahids are qualified in certain areas of jurisprudence.

Ruling when a Mujtahid delivers the correct ruling or makes a mistake:
When a Mujtahid utilizes his skill of judgement and comes to a right decision, he will have a double reward, but when he uses his judgement and commits a mistake, he will have a single reward.

Ruling on nullifying someone`s Ijtihad:
It isn`t permissible to nullify someone`s Ijtihad unless it contradicts a text from the Quran or Sunnah, Ijma` or Qiyas.


Definition of Taqlid:
Taqlid is to follow the opinion of a scholar without knowing the evidence on which it is based.

Some rulings of Taqlid:

It is incumbent on the non-practitioner of Ijtihad, be he a lay man or a scholar who didn`t reach the level of Mujtahid Mutlaq, to follow a Mujtahid, because Allah the Almighty says, "ask the people of knowledge if you don`t know"[An-Nahil, 43}. However, it isn`t permissible for the Mujtahid who has met the requirements of Ijtihad to follow the opinion of another scholar.

Ruling on following another Madhab (School of thought):
It isn`t incumbent on the one who hasn`t reached the level of Mujtahid  to follow a particular Madhab; rather, he may seek Fatwa from different Madhabs.

Ruling on following other than the four Madhabs:
Some scholars permitted following, on the individual level, opinions of scholars from other than the four Madhabs, but not for Fatwas and the justice system, provided that the opinions are well authenticated.

Some scholars banned following the opinions of other than the four Madhabs, because they weren`t documented, their conditions and restrictions are unknown and they didn`t reach us through many ensured lines of transmission.