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Categories of People in Regards to Ijtihaad and Taqleed

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzaan

category: Knowledge

source: Islam-QA.com

reads: 3280

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The first category is those who are able to made ijtihad in absolute terms, by referring directly to the Qur’aan and Sunnah and deriving rulings from them, and they do not follow any other scholars (taqleed).

This is the highest status, but this only applies to the one who fulfils the known conditions of ijtihaad, by having knowledge of the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and by having knowledge of Arabic in which the Qur’aan was revealed, and by having knowledge of al-muhkam and al-mutashaabih (clear, unambiguous texts and ambiguous texts), al-naasikh wa’l-mansookh (texts which abrogate others and texts which are abrogated), al-mutlaq wa’l-muqayyad (texts with absolute meanings and texts with limited meanings), al-khaas wa’l-‘aam (texts with specific meanings and texts with general meanings). He should also have knowledge of how to derive rulings, meaning that he should be qualified. Such a person may engage in ijtihaad. This category includes people like the four imams – Abu Haneefah, Maalik, al-Shaafa’i and Ahmad – as well as Sufyaan al-Thawri and al-Awzaa’i. To these people Allaah gave the ability to engage in ijtihaad.

The second category is those who cannot engage in ijtihaad in absolute terms, but they are able to weigh up the opinions of scholars and determine which is more correct, because of their knowledge of which opinions are based on evidence and which are not.

Such a person must follow that for which there is evidence, and shun that which goes against the evidence. This action is called tarjeeh (weighing up what is more correct) and is also known as al-ijtihaad al-madhhabi (ijtihaad based on the study of different views).

The third category is those who cannot engage in tarjeeh. Such a person is regarded as one of the muqallideen (those who follow other scholars), but if he knows that some opinion has no supporting evidence then he does not follow it. But so long as he does not know and it is not clear to him that it is contrary to the evidence, there is nothing wrong with him imitating and following the opinions of the trustworthy scholars.

The fourth category is the one who is unable to do any of the above; neither ijtihaad in an absolute sense nor weighing what is more correct nor following a specific madhhab, such as the ordinary Muslim, for example.

Such a person has to ask the people of knowledge, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “So ask of those who know the Scripture, if you know not” [al-Nahl 16:43]. So he should ask the one who be believes is most trustworthy and the scholar in whom he has the greatest confidence, of those whose knowledge and actions he trusts, and follow his fatwa.

These are the categories of people with regard to this issue.

What a person should do is know what level he is at, and he should not put himself in a higher position than he deserves. Indeed, the matter is more serious than that. He should fear Allaah, because it is the matter of halaal and haraam, of Paradise and Hell, so he should not indulge in matters that he does not have the knowledge and skill to deal with. End quote.

I’aanah al-Mustafeed bi Sharh Kitaab al-Tawheed.

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