FOUNDATION OF KNOWLEDGE: THE PRINCIPLES OF FIQH [Is Ijmaa Zhanni a Binding Legal Evidence?]

Last edition we defined Ijmaa' as the agreement of all the mujtahidun of a particular time in the history of Islaam after the death of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) on a particular ruling concerning a particular incident. We also talked about the classification of Ijmaa into qati and zhanni. We said the qati is the ruling on a particular thing that is necessarily known in the Ummah which may either be from the Quran or Sunnah. As for Ijmaa zhanni, this is not necessarily known in the deen as it involves researching into and following up the works of the Pious Predecessors. Hence if we critically look at the definition of the ijmaa given by the scholars of Usool al Fiqh, we discover that it completely falls under what is known as al-ijmaaazh-zhanni or alijmaaAs-sukuti. Scholars, however, have variously differed concerning the suitability of this type of ijmaaas a valid shari evidence.

Ibn Hazm (RAH) in his book AI-Ihkaam quoted Imam Ahmad as saying: Whatever ijmaaa man claims is a lie. And whoever claims ijmaa is a great liar. What will make him know if the people have disagreed? Perhap she did not it. So he should say "I dont know the people to have differed [on this].

Sheikh AI-Albaani (RAH) was asked: "Is the statement of the majority of the scholars considered as ijmaa?" He responded by saying: "Ijmaa is not the same as majority according to the scholars of Usool. Ijmaa has many definitions. Among them are those who say it is the consensus of the Ummah. And among them are those who say it is the consensus of the scholars and among them are those who say it is the consensus of the Companions. So there is a lot of comment on this. Shawkaani has spoken on this in his book Irshaad al-Fuhool like wise Siddeeq Hasan Khan in Tahseel AI-Ma,mul min llm al-Usool and some others.

Thus lots of consensus can not take place, not to talk of their being reported if they ever took place. How can the consensus of scholars of a particular period occur? And even if it occurs, who will contact all the scholars to confirm that consensus? This is more or less impossible....

However the Ijmaa which the one who opposes becomes a kaafir is al-ijmaaal-yaqeeni (al-ijmaaal-qati) which the scholars of Usool explain as contradicting what is necessarily known in the Religion. This is the one that calls for declaring the one who opposes it a kaafir after the evidence has been established against him. It is this type of ijmaa (i.e. ijmaa' yaqeeni) that the [following] verse applies "Whoever contradicts the Messenger after the Guidance has become manifest to him. And follows other than  the path of the believers We shall abandon him to what he has chosen and We shall cause him to enter Hell. And what an evil abode that is." (Q4[Nisaa]: 115). (Fatawa Al-Imaaraat).

Sheikh Muqbil (RAH) also said: "What I believe and worship Allaah by it is that ijmaa is not an evidence" (Ijaabat As- Saail) He also said: "The mind tends to rest more assured in a matter over which there is ijmaai.e. ijmaa' is used as a supporting evidence. But for one to say the (sources) of evidence are kitaab (i.e. the Quran), Sunnah, Ijmaa and Qiyas, this is not correct" (Ghaarat Al-Ashritah)

However, Sheikh Abdul-Wahhab Khallaf said in his book Usool AI-Fiqh: "What I see to be preponderant is that ijmaa based on its definition and components which we have explained can not possibly take place if it is left in the hands of individuals of the Muslim Nations and Peoples. However if the various Muslim governments take charge of this whereby each government specifies the conditions that qualify one for the post of ijtihad and in turn awards certificate of ijtihad to whoever satisfies those conditions. With this each government can recognize their mujtahidun and their opinions on any incident. So if every government knows the opinions of its mujtahidun on a particular incident and consequently all the opinions of all the mujtahidun of the Muslim governments agree on one ruling concerning this incident, then it is regarded as Ijmaa. And the agreed upon ruling becomes a shari ruling which is binding on all the Muslims. 

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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