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  • Minority/Majority Scholarly Opinions And Ijma

    Posted by Abdul Sattar Ahmed on August 2, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    Most likely this question has already been answered and I’m aware of that Ghamidi Sahib professes that there is no significance of Ijma when it comes to divine laws or to determine what is halal/Haram.

    Context:- When it comes to things for which there is no clear cut answer in the Quran/Sunnah and there is a difference of opinion. Some people I know say “In those cases the right thing to do is to go with the majority opinion as they are scholars and their collective intelligence is superior when it comes to the intellect of a layman”.

    However the problem with that is that we have historically seen majority opinions change too. So every time the majority shifts in favor of the opposite opinion does this equal to a change of the sharia? (Very absurd).

    For example let’s take the whole ruling of pictures/imagery. Until the last 40-60 years ago majority opinion was that they are Haram so much so that even scholars who were well respected and their followers such as Bin baaz would not carry money in the form Saudi bills but just coins as the bills had pictures of the Saudi family members. But now when you look now all the adherents of those scholars, they take pictures, use social media and in fact the most efficient medium of their whole dawah movement is via electronic media via videos and pictures of them.

    In the above example there are 3 possibilities I can think of:-

    Possiblity 1:- Sharia of Allah is constant and the opinion was wrong back then and right now or vice versa.

    Possiblity 2:- Allah has left matters such as these to the wisdom and scholarship of us humans but under the condition that we must follow the collective consensus/majority opinion in these matters. (My friend’s opinion and they cite the proofs from Quranic ayah and Hadith such that Muslims don’t gather on zalala and to minimize fitna)

    Possiblity 3:- Allah has left matters such as these to the wisdom and scholarship of us humans as long as we are intellectually honest and form an honest opinion we can follow the opinion which best suits our individual intellect (makes sense to me personally given that by nature nobody is the same by nature and the subjectivity of the world around us).

    Question:- to me possibility 1 is out of the window. However only 1 out of either possibility 2 or possibility 3 is correct can someone shed light on this issue?

    Dr. Irfan Shahzad replied 3 months, 3 weeks ago 2 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Minority/Majority Scholarly Opinions And Ijma

  • Dr. Irfan Shahzad

    Scholar August 2, 2023 at 10:38 pm

    There are three points:

    Understanding a directive of Deen

    Acting upon a directive of Deen

    Deducing ruling on a matter not mentioned in Quran and Sunnah, on the basis of the Quran and Sunnah

    All three involve human understanding which is subject to committing an error, not only at the individual level but also at the collective level.

    To follow the majority opinion in the matter of understanding is not obligated nor it guarantees that it is always correct. However, majority opinions are followed to avoid a dispute in something administrative matters, and this is another scenario.

    The hadith alluded to is about Dalalah and the whole ummah will not agree upon Dalalah. Dalalah does not mean mistake, it means going astray (gumrahi), that the whole ummah will not go astray. However, majority is not immune to committing a mistake in understanding and deducing a ruling.

  • Abdul Sattar Ahmed

    Member August 3, 2023 at 8:18 am

    Thanks @Irfan76 🙂

    So then would you say that the cause of some if not most of such majority opinions such as music and the beard are a result of understanding those subjects with respect to the circumstances in those times and that since ijtehad stopped around 700 to 800 years ago also known as closing of the doors to juristic reasoning (إغلاق باب الاجتهاد), the approach to those subjects has not been to re-evalute them in modern times but to rather follow dogma of a particular school of thought till today?

    For example if we take music, one could argue that the main reason why scholars perhaps prohibited it was because back in those days it’s use was primarily that if evil where in vast majority of cases, especially towards the end of the Abbasid era in the middle east and Arab culture, the khalifas and other influential and wealthy people would have slave girls be trained as musicians, singers and dancers such that they could drink and indulge in lewd entertainment at that same time. Furthermore, there was no such thing as recorded music at that time so if anyone wanted to listen, they had to go to a place or hire someone (not cheap) and most of the times those places had evil environments filled with drinking and semi-nude women. Hence perhaps for those reasons the opinion of it being Haram made sense with respect to what was going on at that time?

    Would I be correct in stating the above and is there any other aspect to this?

  • Dr. Irfan Shahzad

    Scholar August 4, 2023 at 1:30 am

    In principle, yes, however, there had never been consensus on the prohibition of music or on beard to be part of Deen even within a school of thought. There is a long list of scholars who listed what makes music haram, otherwise, it is halal. You can find the Fatawas of the classic scholars in the book Islam and Musiqi, By Mawlana Jafar Phulwari. in brief you can find the relevant detail here

    With the passage of time, certain individual opinions or inclinations prevailed and gave the impression of Ijma. Music had been practiced in Arabian society and no one including the prophet banned it. Another example is of prohibition of women from coming to mosques and to Eid prayers on which there is “Ijma” but it has not a directive of Deen at all.

    • Abdul Sattar Ahmed

      Member August 4, 2023 at 3:28 pm

      So in essence, compulsory adherence to Ijma/majority opinions can’t be proved from any divine source. However the whole practice of the clergy trying to enforce rulings backed up by Ijma/majority opinions is perhaps just a result of heavy institutionalization of their particular school of thought whose philosophy/thought process remains unchallenged for the most part by scholars due to social/political reasons.

  • Dr. Irfan Shahzad

    Scholar August 7, 2023 at 1:41 am


  • Abdul Sattar Ahmed

    Member August 9, 2023 at 12:06 pm

    One example of the subjectivity of human interpretation:-

    I’ve heard that Imam Hazrat Abu Hanifa had a lot more opposition to him during his lifetime than followers. So much so that even Imam Hazrat Ahmed ibn Hanbal’s son did takfeer on him and his followers.

    I’ve also heard that the main reason why his Mazhab spread was that one of his followers (don’t recall his name) got a powerful position of authority during the era of an influential caliphate and that follower was the one who kind of made the Hanafi school the official one and thus heavily endorsed and spread it.

  • Dr. Irfan Shahzad

    Scholar August 9, 2023 at 11:45 pm

    It was Imam Abu Yousuf and the caliph was Haroon Rashid.

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