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Tuesday, September 21, 2010



The word madhhab is derived
from an Arabic word meaning
"to go" or "to take as a way",
and refers to a mujtahids
choice in regard to a number
of interpretive possibilities in
deriving the rule of Allah from
the primary texts of the
Qur'an and hadith on a
particular question. In a larger
sense, a madhhab represents
the entire school of thought
of a particular mujtahid Imam,
such as Abu Hanifa, Malik,
Shafi'i, or Ahmad--together
with many first-rank scholars
that came after each of these
in their respective schools,
who checked their evidences
and refined and upgraded
their work. The mujtahid Imams
were thus explainers, who
operationalized the Qur'an and
sunna in the specific shari'a
rulings in our lives that are
collectively known as fiqh or
"jurisprudence". In relation to
our din or "religion", this fiqh
is only part of it, for the
religious knowledge each of us
possesses is of three types.
The first type is the general
knowledge of tenets of Islamic
belief in the oneness of Allah,
in His angels, Books,
messengers, the prophethood
of Muhammad (Allah bless him
and give him peace), and so
on. All of us may derive this
knowledge directly from the
Qur'an and hadith, as is also
the case with a second type
of knowledge, that of general
Islamic ethical principles to do
good, avoid evil, cooperate
with others in good works,
and so forth. Every Muslim can
take these general principles,
which form the largest and
most important part of his
religion, from the Qur'an and
The third type of knowledge is
that of the specific
understanding of particular
divine commands and
prohibitions that make up the
shari'a. Here, because of both
the nature and the sheer
number of the Qur'an and
hadith texts involved, people
differ in the scholarly capacity
to understand and deduce
rulings from them. But all of us
have been commanded to live
them in our lives, in obedience
to Allah, and so Muslims are of
two types, those who can do
this by themselves, and they
are the mujtahid Imams; and
those who must do so by
means of another, that is, by
following a mujtahid Imam, in
accordance with Allahs word in
surat al-Nahl, "Ask those
who recall, if you
know not" (Qur'an 16:43),
and in surat al-Nisa, "If
they had referred it
to the Messenger and
to those of authority
among them, then
those of them whose
task it is to find it
out would have
known the matter"
(Qur'an 4:83), in which the
phrase those of them whose
task it is to find it out,
expresses the words
minhum" , referring to
those possessing the capacity
to draw inferences directly
from the evidence, which is
called in Arabic "istinbat".
These and other verses and
hadiths oblige the believer who
is not at the level of istinbat
or directly deriving rulings
from the Qur'an and hadith to
ask and follow someone in
such rulings who is at this
level. It is not difficult to see
why Allah has obliged us to
ask experts, for if each of us
were personally responsible for
evaluating all the primary
texts relating to each
question, a lifetime of study
would hardly be enough for it,
and one would either have to
give up earning a living or give
up ones din, which is why Allah
says in surat al-Tawba, in the
context of jihad:
"Not all of the
believers should go
to fight. Of every
section of them, why
does not one part
alone go forth, that
the rest may gain
knowledge of the
religion and
admonish their
people when they
return, that perhaps
they may take
warning" (Qur'an 9:122).
The slogans we hear today
about "following the Qur'an
and sunna instead of following
the madhhabs" are wide of
the mark, for everyone
agrees that we must follow
the Qur'an and the sunna of
the Prophet (Allah bless him
and give him peace). The point
is that the Prophet (Allah
bless him and give him peace)
is no longer alive to personally
teach us, and everything we
have from him, whether the
hadith or the Qur'an, has been
conveyed to us through Islamic
scholars. So it is not a
question of whether or not to
take our din from scholars,
but rather, from which
scholars. And this is the
reason we have madhhabs in
Islam: because the excellence
and superiority of the
scholarship of the mujtahid
Imams--together with the
traditional scholars who
followed in each of their
schools and evaluated and
upgraded their work after
them--have met the test of
scholarly investigation and won
the confidence of thinking and
practicing Muslims for all the
centuries of Islamic greatness.

...Remaining part is in the comment form. So read it from their..

1 comment:

  1. The reason why madhhabs
    exist, the benefit of them,
    past, present, and future, is
    that they furnish thousands of
    sound, knowledge-based
    answers to Muslims questions
    on how to obey Allah. Muslims
    have realized that to follow a
    madhhab means to follow a
    super scholar who not only
    had a comprehensive
    knowledge of the Qur'an and
    hadith texts relating to each
    issue he gave judgements on,
    but also lived in an age a
    millennium closer to the
    Prophet (Allah bless him and
    give him peace) and his
    Companions, when taqwa or
    "godfearingness" was the
    norm--both of which
    conditions are in striking
    contrast to the scholarship
    available today.
    While the call for a return to
    the Qur'an and sunna is an
    attractive slogan, in reality it
    is a great leap backward, a
    call to abandon centuries of
    detailed, case-by-case Islamic
    scholarship in finding and
    spelling out the commands of
    the Qur'an and sunna, a highly
    sophisticated, interdisciplinary
    effort by mujtahids, hadith
    specialists, Qur'anic exegetes,
    lexicographers, and other
    masters of the Islamic legal
    sciences. To abandon the fruits
    of this research, the Islamic
    shari'a, for the following of
    contemporary sheikhs who,
    despite the claims, are not at
    the level of their
    predecessors, is a replacement
    of something tried and proven
    for something at best
    The rhetoric of following the
    shari'a without following a
    particular madhhab is like a
    person going down to a car
    dealer to buy a car, but
    insisting it not be any known
    make--neither a Volkswagen
    nor Rolls- Royce nor
    Chevrolet--but rather "a car,
    pure and simple". Such a
    person does not really know
    what he wants; the cars on
    the lot do not come like that,
    but only in kinds. The salesman
    may be forgiven a slight smile,
    and can only point out that
    sophisticated products come
    from sophisticated means of
    production, from factories with
    a division of labor among
    those who test, produce, and
    assemble the many parts of
    the finished product. It is the
    nature of such collective
    human efforts to produce
    something far better than any
    of us alone could produce from
    scratch, even if given a forge
    and tools, and fifty years, or
    even a thousand. And so it is
    with the shari'a, which is more
    complex than any car because
    it deals with the universe of
    human actions and a wide
    interpretive range of sacred
    texts. This is why discarding
    the monumental scholarship of
    the madhhabs in
    operationalizing the Qur'an and
    sunna in order to adopt the
    understanding of a
    contemporary sheikh is not
    just a mistaken opinion. It is
    scrapping a Mercedes for a