Introduction to Fiqh and Technical Terms

question_brainA 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.

Requirements of a Mujtahid:

Firstly the Mujtahid must be a Muslim and a person of sound mind and intellectual competence.

*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 Furu` works and the points on which there is Ijma`.

*Knowledge of Qiyas (Analogical Deduction)

*Knowledge of the Maqasid (objectives) of the Shari`ah

*Knowledge of the General Maxims of Fiqh. eg. Certainty prevails over Doubt.

Another description can be found in Shaykh `Ali Hasabullah's 'Usul al-Tashri' 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-Asma`i 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 commendation.

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.

Taken from: "PRINCIPLES OF ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE" by M Kamali p. 374-377,

booksreadSince Fiqh has been defined as,

"Knowledge of the rulings of the Shariah by its specific evidences from the Qur'an and Sunnah."

Then it would be clear that a Faqeeh (scholar of fiqh) is thus : One who has knowledge of a great amount of rulings of the Shar'iah by its specific evidences from the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

bookssomanyFiqh, according to the Arabic language, means 'understanding'. We find this meaning used in the Qur'aan: "Take away the knot from the tongue, so that they would understand what I say". {Surah Taha, verses 27-28}

And according to Islamic law, the definition of 'Fiqh' is:

'Ma'rifah (knowing) the rulings of the Shariah (which are acted upon) from specific evidences.'

The meaning of our saying:

"...Ma'rifah..." is: certain knowledge as well as Dhann (meaning that when one things that what he has is correct but it doesn't reach the level of certainty). This is because knowledge of the rulings of fiqh can be with certainty or with Dhann as occurs in many of the issues in fiqh.

And the meaning of our saying:

"...Rulings of the Shariah..." means: The rulings that are taken from the Shariah, in terms of matters being compulsory or forbidden. What is outside of this is the rulings of the intellect like knowing that a whole is more than a fraction...

And the meaning of our statement:

"...Which are acted upon..." means that it has nothing to do with belief; rather, it refers to matters like Salaat, and Zakaat. Therefore what is outside of this is what is ascribed to beliefs: like belief in the oneness of Allah and knowledge of his names and attributes. According to the Islamic law terminology this is not called 'Fiqh'.

And the meaning of our saying:

"...from specific evidences." means that the evidences of fiqh, with the issues of fiqh, are specific. What leaves this definition is Usuul Ul Fiqh, because Usuul Ul Fiqh looks into the general evidences of fiqh (principles).

N.B: Some scholars have added to the end:

"...By the book and the Sunnah." Because of the fact that the sources of Fiqh should not come except from the Qur'an and the Authentic Sunnah. Or from the principles derived from the Qur'an and the Sunnah.