Is IJMA (consensus) Of Scholars Source Of Religion?Posted by $ohail T@hir on June 24, 2020 at 1:26 pm
– What is IJMA?
– Is IJMA source of religion?
– Is there absolute IJMA (consenus) on everything in Islam?
– If there is absolute IJMA (consensus) on intetpretation why do we have different schools of thought like Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, Hanbali, Jafri and further divisions in these groups like Brelvis, Deobandees so on and so forth?
– Is IJMA time bound?
– Is every scholar from all the sects and varying opinions consulted before consensus is reached?
June 24, 2020 at 2:20 pm
The blessed person of Muhammad (sws) is the sole source of religion. From him, this religion has been given to the ummah through the consensus of his Companions (rta) and through their perpetual practice and perpetual recitation in two forms:the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Religion is now derived from these two sources. After these two, if anything of secondary nature can become a source of religion, it is ijtihad. Through ijtihad, besides many other things, we also try to understand directives which are not directly mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah but by their nature are applications of directives which are left to the discretion of the opinion and understanding of people. Qiyas (analogy or deduction) is a form of ijtihad. The Qur’an has used the word istinbat for it. Its product is called fiqh (jurisprudence). Its corpus began with the ijtihads of the Prophet (sws) himself. A substantial part of the anthologies of akhbar-i ahad is constituted by them. After him, the companions and their followers continued this tradition. However, during the period of our jurists, a fourth source was added to the sources of Islam: the consensus of the Muslims (ijma’). After their time till now, it is generally accepted that consensus of the Muslims is also a source of the Islamic shari’ah.
This addition to the sources of Islam is indeed a religious innovation. It has no basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah. If a person tries to evaluate its influence, he will come to the conclusion that it has undermined the eternal nature of the Islamic shari’ah and it has become difficult to prove its relevance to modern times. A great scholar and preacher of the sub-continent, Mawlana Wahid al-Din Khan (b. 1925 AD), writes:
Our jurists have generally regarded the consensus of the Muslims to be an independent source of the shari’ah. However, this surely is a baseless view. Only a definite text (nass qat’i) can be an independent source of the shari’ah. Regarding something to be an independent source of the shari’ah in the absence of a definite text is an unfounded premise. Indeed, the consensus of the Muslims has an importance; but that importance merely lies in the fact that in a particular instance it could be the practical solution to a problem that has arisen. This solution most certainly is temporary in nature and is not an eternal source of the shari’ah.
If a person wants to study the arguments on the basis of which our jurists prove the validity of consensus of the Muslims, he should consult Imam Shawkani’s Irshad al-fuhul. It will become evident to him how baseless and unrelated they are. However, arguments drawn from one verse of the Qur’an and one Hadith narrative can raise doubts in the minds of some people. I will try to evaluate both of these here.
The Qur’an says:
وَ مَنۡ یُّشَاقِقِ الرَّسُوۡلَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا تَبَیَّنَ لَہُ الۡہُدٰی وَ یَتَّبِعۡ غَیۡرَ سَبِیۡلِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ نُوَلِّہٖ مَا تَوَلّٰی وَ نُصۡلِہٖ جَہَنَّمَ ؕ وَ سَآءَتۡ مَصِیۡرًا(4: 115)
And those who oppose the Prophet even after the path of guidance is fully evident to them, and leaving the path of those who sincerely professed faith [in you] follow some other path, We will put them on the path on which they themselves went and cast them into Hell. It is a very evil abode. (4:115)
The jurists deduce their view from the above verse by saying that if the way of someone other than those of the believers is adopted, then this verse mentions the punishment of Hell for such an attitude. It is evident from this that following the way of the believers is mandatory on every person; hence, if Muslims are united on an opinion or a view, then no one should differ with it; it is incumbent on every believer to follow this consensus.
An evaluation of the context of this verse will show how baseless this line of argumentation is. In the previous verses, the conspiracies and connivances of the hypocrites are exposed. Regarding these hypocrites this verse says that those who want to form a separate group to oppose the Prophet (sws) and in this way want to adopt the path of disbelief and hypocrisy instead of the path of belief, shall be cast into Hell. The verse warns those Muslims who would defend these hypocrites. They are told that the people they are supporting will be led to Hell because of their opposition and hostility to the Prophet (sws). The reason for this is that this is not the way of the believers, and those who adopt the path of disbelief and hypocrisy even after the true path is evident to them can only abide in Hell. This disbelief and hypocrisy are referred to by the words غَیۡرَ سَبِیۡلِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ of the verse cited. In it the word “believers” refer to the Companions of the Prophet (sws) who, after acquiring the truth, never breached their trust with the Prophet (sws) and never opposed and evaded him. On the contrary, they followed him with full sincerity and submitted wholeheartedly to whatever directive they were given by him. It is this attitude of faith and faithfulness, submission and obedience, docility and compliance which is called سَبِیۡلِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ in this verse. All attitudes other than this are called غَیۡرَ سَبِیۡلِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ and Hell is promised for such attitudes. This certainly does not mean that one cannot differ from the interpretations, opinions and ijtihads nor does it mean that if in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah a person criticizes a view on which there is consensus, then he would become worthy of Hell. The fact is that this issue is not even touched upon by this verse. What is merely said in this verse is that after guidance has become fully evident if someone opposes the guide sent by God and is audacious enough to set up his own faction in opposition to him, then this is nothing but disbelief with which belief can have no meaning. The Almighty puts such people on the path they have chosen for themselves. Consequently, the Qur’an says that a person who chooses such a path should only wait for Hell.
Similar is the case of Hadith: the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said: إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَجْمَعُ أُمَّتِي أو قال أُمَّةَ مُحَمَّدٍ علي ضَلَالَةٍ (indeed, God will never unite my ummah or the ummah of Muhammad on some error).It may be noted that it is not a sound Hadith and for this very reason has not been able to find any place in the primary books of Hadith like al-Jami’ al-sahih of al-Bukhari and al-Jami’ al-sahih of Muslim and the Mu’atta’ of Malik. However, even if it is supposed that the Prophet (sws) has in fact given these glad tidings to his ummah, can these words really mean that the ummah can never make a mistake? The fact of the matter is that there is a world of difference between a mistake and straying into error and whatever is said in the Hadith relates to straying into error and not committing a mistake. It is impossible that the whole ummah be united in straying into some error. The reason for this is that the difference between guidance and error has been made evident to a conclusive degree. Thus it is logically impossible that all the scholars, mujtahids and those at the helm of state affairs unite on a polytheistic belief while fully comprehending it to be polytheistic or reject the messengerhood of Muhammad (sws) or deny the accountability of the Hereafter or deviate from directives such as the prayer, the fast, the hajj, the zakah and animal sacrifice. Such things are in the category of self-evident facts for this ummah. There can evolve a consensus on evasion from them. However, there can be a mistake in understanding things which need deliberation or require ijtihad and it is also possible that all people of this ummah are unanimous in this mistake. There is nothing in reason or revelation which precludes this possibility. Thus even if this narrative’s ascription to the Prophet (sws) is regarded to be correct, it is evident from its words that his glad tidings relate to consensus on straying into error and it can be said with certainty that Muslims cannot unanimously stray. The narrative does not relate in any way to a mistake in understanding a directive or in doing an ijtihad.
(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)
. Wahid al-Din Khan, Masadir-i shari’ah Al-Risalah 7 (2011): 5.
. Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Shawkani, Irshad al-fuhul ila tahqiq-i ‘ilm al-usul, 1st ed. (Beirut: Dar al-fikr, 1992), 131-144. (Translator)
. Tirmidhi, Sunan, vol. 4, 466, (no. 2167).
July 13, 2020 at 12:00 am
I have read that at time of Hazrat Umer (RA) when people differed, he use to form an Ijma and then together they arrived at an opinion which was written down as FIQH and taught in the schools as well. It was also binding to follow What Ijma had opined on.
He was also farsighted and said that even though you all differ despite of fighting Badr and a Khalifa amongst you, the ones after you will differ SEVERELY. Despite that there was Ijma and Fiqh which was binding.
How do you explain then that IJMA is not a source of religion if a method was suggested by the Calipha on what to do if there are differences of opinion? Also if I find a book today that has Hazrat Umer’s Ijma decision on a matter then why should it not become binding upon me?
July 13, 2020 at 12:08 am
“when people differed, he use to form an Ijma”
It is a different issue, this is “mutual consultation” to come to an agreement (not same as Ijma).
See “who conduct their affairs with mutual consultation”
July 13, 2020 at 12:13 am
If 4 schools of thought have come to an agreement on an issue then indeed there is ijma! I don’t see why it’s not?
And indeed it was an ijmaa where decisions were written down and taught as Fiqh.
July 13, 2020 at 12:16 am
Right, but these schools of thought were not there at the time of Umar (RA).
4 schools by definition means they dont agree on everything 100%. If it was a binary on every issue, shouldn’t there be ijma on everything? which then means 1 school of thought only, not 4!
To add Ijma to the “sources of deen”, we need evidence from the primary sources – Quran and Sunnah.
July 13, 2020 at 12:53 am
I don’t understand 😳 I am talking about matters in which there is ijma in 4 schools TODAY, then how can we disagree and say it’s not source of deen. I was sharing how it was a source when there was consenses on a matter! And no one was allowed to form their own opinion, it was a binding decision. Would you say to Hazrat Umer that please show me where it says in Sunnah and Quran that you can form an ijma on a matter and I have to obey that rule? I need a better answer.
July 13, 2020 at 1:06 am
Ijma is not same as “mutual consultation” by companions!
More on it later iA
July 13, 2020 at 3:35 am
Consensus (by majority usually, although its form can vary in tribal settings, as opposed to democratic settings of today) on any matter whether religious, political, academic by lawmakers make it binding on every citizen in its status as a law, not as a true and one and only religious interpretation of a particular injunction of God.
Consensus (ijma) as source of religion doesn’t mean that the whole religious interpretation has been transmitted, rather, it only means that the whole content of religion has been transmitted with ijma, it’s interpretation will be done by human beings / scholars, the way human intellect interprets words and actions in daily life. It is the most reliable source of transmission or a mode of transmission of the whole content of religion i.e. Quran and Sunnah.
In religion, ijma doesn’t mean interpretation of 4 imams / school of thoughts which later on resulted in ijma of Muslim ummah. For something to be considered as a content of religion that is transmitted through ijma, that ijma needs to be from the time of Prophet (sws) and Companions, not that it has to be proven from the time of 4 imams / school of thoughts.
July 17, 2020 at 12:09 am
I understand, but here is how it goes:
Agree that Ijma needs to be from time of Prophet (SAW) And his Companions. The four schools would argue that they are following that Ijma by coming to a mutual agreement based on “interpretation” of the Prophet and Companions Ijma by studying the history:hadith etc. After all, all the schools have agreed what THAT interpretation is.
How would you answer that.
July 17, 2020 at 12:11 am
If that interpretation was a “binary” there cannot be multiple schools of thought!
July 17, 2020 at 12:13 am
Again I am talking about issues with consensus!
July 17, 2020 at 12:14 am
If there is absolute IJMA (consensus) on intetpretation why do we have different schools of thought like Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, Hanbali, Jafri and further divisions in these groups like Brelvis, Deobandees so on and so forth?
July 17, 2020 at 12:15 am
Is every scholar from all the sects and varying opinions consulted before consensus is reached?
July 17, 2020 at 12:18 am
Consider this 4th century scholar on return of Jesus (AS).
Was his opinion included in the “IJMA”?
اباضی متقدّمین میں سے ایک بزرگ کی نزولِ مسیح کے حوالہ سے رائے :
الشيخ مهنا بن خلفان بن محمد البوسعيدي (وفات ۱۲۵۰ ھ) عمان کے علمائے کرام میں سے تھے.انھوں نے اباضی مسلک کے متقدّمین و متأخّرین کے اقوال اور مسائل پر انکی آراء کو کئی جلدوں میں اکٹھا کیا.اس مجموعہ کو ” لباب الآثار الواردة على الأوّلين و المتأخّرين الأخيار” کے نام سے جانا جاتا ہے.
اسکی پہلی جلد میں صفحہ ۲۰۳ پر چوتھی صدی ہجری کے اباضی امام أبو الحسن البسيوي(المتوفّیٰ ۳۶۳ ھ) کی رائے نقل کرتے ہیں …
ان سے نزولِ عیسی بن مریم کے حوالہ سے پوچھا گیا کہ آیا قیامت سے قبل نزول ہوگا یا نہیں؟انہوں نے جواب میں کہا کہ یہ بات ہمارے ہاں درست نہیں اور قیامت کے دن تک اب وہ دوبارہ مبعوث نہیں ہونگے.گویا چوتھی صدی میں اباضی مسلک کے ہاں نزولِ مسیح بطور عقیدہ درست تسلیم نہیں کیا جاتا تھا.
اسی طرح موجودہ دور میں بھی بہت سے اباضی احباب کے ہاں نزولِ مسیحؑ کی روایات کو درست نہیں جانا جاتا.منقول
July 17, 2020 at 11:41 am
Sorry it’s not answering my question.
I am saying on matters where all 4 schools have a consensus on the issue then what’s the problem?! They have interpreted it based on Prophet /Companions understanding and then all of them agreed to what it means. To get that understanding they look at ahadiths which is best source to understand the important issues. I think the main difference is in application of “principles of hadiths”. JAG also uses hadiths, but may interpret differently than the 4 schools.
The fundamental question is why this 1 scholar is outside 4 schools saying something completely different and can’t get his opinion included with rest of Ijma?
I wouldn’t say ijma concept itself is wrong or cannot be used as source of understanding deen.
July 18, 2020 at 6:23 am
Just the way they interpreted it, why doesn’t any other scholar have a right to interpret those matters independently?
Ghamidi Sahab uses Hadith as a secondary source of religion, not because he has any issues with Hadith, because the mode of transmission of Ahadith is comparatively less reliable as compared to the primary source i.e. ijma and Tawatur
All four schools of thought differ on application of Ahadith, it is hujjat for Imam Shafi and Imam Hambal just like the primary sources mentioned above. Imam abu Hanifa and Imam Malik don’t give it same placement in the overall framework of their understanding of the religion as given by the former two.
July 18, 2020 at 3:56 pm
If JAG’s logic is so sound then why the scholars of ijma not listen to him? Is it because of Ahadith interpretation? If so, how come all 4 interpret wrong even though all of them place Ahadith differently in the overall framework. Point to note is that YET they agree with each other on some matters and JAG still does not.
What’s the problem
July 19, 2020 at 12:57 am
This question does arise in every thinking mind and it is no doubt a fair question. There can be a number of reasons that can cause this behavior, for example, some people genuinely think their interpretation is the most logical, some people think the same but never read Ghamidi Sahab themselves, some people might agree with His logic but are influenced by their emotions, prejudice and bias etc. There can be so many reasons surrounding a human existence which makes it hard to point toward the precise cause leading to this behavior.
However, I think you will find this video useful; a similar question on ijma of ummat as source of deen was asked to Ghamidi Sahab and he dismissed that notion vehemently. Please refer to the video below from 1:12:21 till the end.
July 19, 2020 at 1:28 pm
Thanks. I wish when Ghamdi sb uses the word Sunnat he clarifies it’s not same as Ahadith 😊 unfortunately for masses it means the same thing, which is why these lectures can be confusing.
If All Ijma was using Quran ONLY then still Ghamdi sb will say not to go with Ijma?
In my view, problem is all because of Sunnah and Ahadith. When you add things to preserved books that’s when Ijma can be wrong- just like People of the Book before us
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