What is the definition of a mujtahid mutlaq, and are there any today.
A mujtahid is someone qualified to exercise ijtihad, which literally means
striving and technically means juridical endeavor and competence to infer
expert legal rulings from foundational proofs within or without a particular
school of law.
A mujtahid mutlaq or "absolute mujtahid" is one that attained
the rank of the Four Imams Abu Hanifa, Malik, al-Shafiʿi, and Ahmad in
knowledge of Arabic, qualification to apply legal reasoning, draw analogies,
and infer rulings from the evidence independently of the methodology and
findings of the Sunni Schools, through his own linguistic and juridical
perspicuity and extensive knowledge of the texts.
Examples: several of the
Companions and Tabiʿin, al-Awzaʿi, al-Tabari, Dawud al-Zahiri, and others.
An additional qualification sine qua non is agreed-upon, superlative taqwa.
There is no mujtahid mutlaq today nor even a claimant to that title.
Below is a list of the requisites of Ijtihad summarized from the book
"PRINCIPLES OF ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE" by M Kamali p374-377 as posted by Br.
Abu Usamah on the msa-ec forum in July of last year.
Firstly the mujtahid must be a Muslim and a person of sound mind and
Requirements of a mujtahid :
*Knowledge of Arabic such than he can understand the Qur'an and Hadith correctly.
*Knowledge of the Qur'an which includes Makki/Madani; Occasions of
Revelation; Incidences of Abrogation; LEGAL TEXTS (aayaatul ahkaam).
(In short all the requisites of Tafsir)
*Knowledge of the Sunnah specifically the legal texts (ahaadeethal ahkaam)
He most know where to find the Hadiths and be able to distinguish the
reliable narrations from the weak.
*Knowledge of the substance of the Furuʿ works and the points on which there is Ijmaʿ.
*Knowledge of Qiyas (Analogical Deduction)
*Knowledge of the Maqasid (objectives) of the Shariʿah
*Knowledge of the General Maxims of Fiqh. eg. Certainty prevails over Doubt.
Another description can be found in Shaykh ʿAli Hasabullah's _Usul
al-Tashriʿ al-Islami_ (5th ed. 1976) p. 94-95:
The Mujtahid is he who possesses, together with complete soundness of mind
and of Religion, three necessary traits:
1. Knowledge of the Arabic language and the ways in which its signifies
meanings. This knowledge does not come except to one who has frequented its
various disciplines and read much of the works of its masters of eloquence
until he knows how to differentiate between the specific and the general,
the literal and the figurative, the explicit and the ambiguous, and other
aspects upon knowing which depends his ability to infer rulings.
He does not
have to reach the mastery of language of a Khalil or a Sibawayh or al-Asmaʿi
and others of the Imams of Arabic. It suffices that he attains the rank
necessary to understand texts in the right way.
2. Knowledge of Qur'an and Sunna and whatever is in them of rulings, those
that were abrogated and those that were not, together with the linking up of
the universal with its particulars, the absolute with its restricted sense,
and the general with the specific. He does not, in this, have to have
memorized all that is related.
It suffices that he has to be able to gather
up all that is connected with the topic he is investigating and to know what
the experts of hadith have said concerning sound or weak gradings as well as
what they said concerning the narrators with regard to discreditation and
3. Knowledge of the objectives of the Law and of the living contexts of
people as well as the customs they share and whatever harms or benefits
them, and the ability to know the minute defects of legal rulings and to
compare and contrast their similarities so as to better understand facts and
infer the rulings that most precisely correspond to the objectives of the
Lawgiver and implement the welfare of those under consideration.
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