Ijtihaad in the time of Rasulullaah Salalaahu alayhi wasallam and the Sahaabah ridhwaanullaahi alayhim ajma’ien

Ijtihaad in the time of Rasulullaah Salalaahu alayhi wasallam and the Sahaabah ridhwaanullaahi alayhim ajma’ien: By moulana hoosein adam


Ijtihaad is a valid proof of shariah that was prevalent in the time of Rasulullaah salalaaahu alayhi wa sallam and wisely practiced upon even during the blessed life of Our beloved messenger of ALLAH.Many are taken aback by the claims of the so called salafiyyah who have the slogan of Qur’aan and Sunnah and nothing else. This in itself shows that their knowledge is very limited or that they have an agenda by their so called slogans of true islam.In this article i wish to bring forward the true understanding of Shariah and the place of ijtihaad and qiyaas of the ummah in matters of deen. May ALLAH subhaanahu wa ta’aala grant me the capability of explaining the issue in the most beneficial manner and doing justice to the topic. (aameen)

The Definition of Fiqh


Since Ijtihaad is a branch of Fiqh, it is necessary for us to understand the definition of Fiqh. Ibn Aseer ra has mentioned that the original meaning of Fiqh is understanding. Normally in arabic it is said (فقه الرجل بالكسر اي علم و فهم). Here the word faqiha refers to understanding and recognizing. If the word has a dhamma than it will refer to becoming a knowledgeable and intellectual person. Due to its common use by the muslim public in a specific manner it has become known to be linked with Shar’ah and the detailed study of the different matters.

As far as shari’ah is concerned , Imaam Abu Haniefah rahimahullah defined it as :-


معرفة النفس ما لها وما عليها


“The individual recognizing what is compulsory for him to do and what he should abstain from.”


Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullaah had defined fiqh in the following manner:-


معرقة احكام الشريعة بادلتها السمعية


The recognizing of the rulings of shari’ah from its proofs established from qur’aan and hadeeth.


The existance of the fuqahaa is a blessing from ALLAH ta’aala as there are many aayaat that were revealed and are extremely hard for every person to understand its inner meaning without having the capability and knowledge of fiqh.


Therefore Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam made it his duty to teach the ummah the method of recognizing the rulings of deen and the method of extracting the rulings and understanding the deeper issues of the deen in three different stages.


The First Stage


This was done by physically showing the sahaabah how to extract the verdicts and the methodology to be used was also shown. If we do a study of the books of hadeeth and siyar we will see numerous examples of it but we will show a few to the readers here.


1. In saheehul bukhaari in kitaabul imaan wan nudhoor it is narrated that a person came up to Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam and informed of his sister who had vowed to undertake the journey of hajj but passed away before fulfilling her vow. Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam asked him” if her sister had any debts on her head after passing away would you pay it on her behalf?” He answered “yes”. “Then pay of her debt owed to ALLAH because it is more befitting to pay off” Instructed Rasululaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam


2. It is narrated by sayyidina Umar radhiyallahu anhu that he once fondled his wife and kissed her while he was fasting and in fear he went to rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam and said ” oh messengerf of ALLAH i have committed a great wrong today. I have kissed my wife while i am fasting!” Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam told him ” oh umar if you gargled while fasting then?” (musnad imam ahmed)


In this hadeeth sayyidina umar and in the previous hadeeth the sahaabi was shown by Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam the method of extracting verdicts. As gargling does not break the fast so is the ruling of kissing. This in itself shows the method of istinbaat and qiyaas of the ahkaam of shari’ah.


The Second Stage


In this stage Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam had given the virtues of making tafaqquh and had encouraged the sahaabah radhiyallaahu anhum ajma’een.


1. Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam is reported to have said “whoever ALLAH wishes to bless He grants him inner understanding (tafaqquh) in the religion.”( bukhari kitabul ilm)


2.”if any judge gives a ruling and he is correct then he receives two rewards and if he errs he gets one reward.” (saheehul bukhaari kitabul i3tisaam)


3. ” the best of men are the fuqahaa in deen when they are needed they benefit others and if not asked they do not get involved.” (Mishkaatul masaabih kitabul ilm)


From these ahaadeeth it is learned that for a person who is a faqeeh, there is only goodness and reward.


The Third stage


In this stage Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam ordered the sahaabah radhiyallaahu anhum to give verdict in his presence to encourage them to do so and teach them the method.


1. In a narration by sayyidina amr ibnil aas radhiyallaahu anhu it is mentioned that two people came to Rasulullaah salallahu alayhi wasallam arguing over a matter. Rasulullaah ordered sayyidina amr to give a verdict. He asked from the Messenger of ALLAH ” should i give a verdict while YOU are amongst us.” Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wasallam replied, “yes. If you make ijtihaad and you are correct in your verdict you will be rewarded ten good deeds and if you faulter you will be rewarded with one good deed.” (musnad imaam ahmad)


2. The incident of Sa’aad bin mu’aaz radhiyallahu anhugiving decision against banu quraidhaa. Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wa sallam requested Sa’aad to given him advise concerning the Banu quraidha. Sayyiduna Sa’aad replied ” oh messenger of ALLAH , i know that ALLAH has commanded you concerning them with a ruling which you are going to carry out.” Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wa sallam answered, ” yes but i request you to give your opinion.” sa’aad replied , ” if i were placed incharge of their affairs i would have put those capable of fighting to the sword and would take their progeny as slaves.” rasululaah saaws replied, “i take an oath by the being in whose hands lye my life , you advised me according to what ALLAH has ordered me to do.”(musnad of imam ahmad) and in the rewaayat of muslim it is narrated, ” verily you gave judgement in accordance to ALLAH’s decision.”

Ijtihaad being used in the time of Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wa sallam by the Sahaabah

If we study the various books of ahaadeeth , we will sufficient proofs to show that the sahaabah radhiyallahu anhum used their opinion to understand the verdicts in that blessed time. We bring forward a few examples to highlight the issue and hope it will enlighten us on this issue.

1. Sayyidina ibn umar radhiyallahu anhumma reports that on the day after the battle of Ahzaab Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wa sallam ordered, ” none of you should read his asr except in Banu qurai’dha.” Some of the Sahaabah found asr time will on route to banu qurai’dha. Some decided to read their Asr and others were of the opinion they will only read it in banu quraidha. When they saw rasulullaah saaws, they mentioned what transpired . Rasulullaah saaws did not announce one was better than the other.(he rather accepted both to be right). (sahihul muslim)

2.Abu sa’eed radhiyallaahu anhu mentions that two people made tayyamum ( due to non presence of water) and performed their salaah. A while later they found water and the time was still valid so the one repeated his salaah and the other did not. They both asked rasulullaah saaws abput the issue and rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wa sallam said to the one who did not repeat his salaah,”you have done right and followed the sunnah. Your salaah performed was sufficient for you.” He then said to the other, “as for you , you will be rewarded as one who has read his salaah twice.” (sunan abu dawood)

3. Amr bin alaas radhiyallahu anhu narrates,” on one occasion i had a wet dream on an extremely cold night during the battle of ghazwah salaasil. i feared for my life if i had to make ghusl, so i made tayammum. I led the morning prayer with my companions and they then mentioned what transpired to Rasulullaah saaws Rasulullaah salallaahu alayhi wa sallam called me and asked “oh Amr you led the prayers for your companions while you were in the state of junub?” I then explained to Rasulullah saaws about my fear of bathing and i further said,” i have heard ALLAH mention in the qur’aan, ‘ do not commit suicide. Verily ALLAH is merciful to you all’. ‘ Rasululaah salallaahu alayhi wa sallam started smiling and said nothing thereafter.

from these examples it is clear hat he usage of Ijtihaad was prevalent during the time of the Sahaabah in matters that occurred suddenly and they had no clear verdict on it from Shari’ah. They would normally ponder and come to a vedict and when they had an opportunity they would confirm their deductions with Rasulullaah saaws who would guide them. However we see in all examples in ahaadeeth that Rasulullaah saws would either smile , praise them or encourage them. Never is it mentioned that anyone’s ijhtihaad was rejected or anyone told that he was wrong.

Qaahi ayyadh almaliki rahimahullah mentions concerning the hadeeth about banu qurai’dah and the differences among the sahaabah about the performance of Salaah, “there is clear proof in this that there is no sin in ijtihad on matters of the furoo’. No mujhtahid is blameworthy or sinful in matters that he has pondered over and came to a conclusion via his ijtihad.”

InshaALLAH there will be a continution to this article in the near future.


One thought on “Ijtihaad in the time of Rasulullaah Salalaahu alayhi wasallam and the Sahaabah ridhwaanullaahi alayhim ajma’ien

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  1. Assalamu’alaikum,
    May Allah increase Sheikh h-adam in his endeavours. Perhaps another important point to note under ijithad is the qualifications of a mujtahid i.e. who can make ijtihad in Islamic Law.

    1. An thorough and excellent grounding in the Arabic language.

    2. A thorough and excellent grounding in the knowledge of Al-Qur’an

    3. A thorough and excellent grounding in the knowldge of Al-Sunnah.

    4. A thorough and excellent grounding in the knowledge of Ijma’

    5. A thorough and excellent grounding in maqasid al-shari’ah.

    6. Aptitute for Ijtihad i.e. the inner ability to perform complicated thinking.

    Source : Islamic Jurisprudence, Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee

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