Friday, September 03, 2004

The Tools of a Mujtahid- A glance at the Hanafi Methodology

A mujtahid is he who infers details of islamic practices from the primary sources.

(A detailed discussion on defining 'ijtihad' and the categories of 'mujtahids' will be added).

There are four sources of Islamic jurisprudence:

1- Qur'an
2- Sunnah
3- Consensus of opinion
4- Analogical reasoning

These are also known as the 'principles' or 'usul'. The methodology study of deriving details of Islamic practices or fiqh is known as 'Usul al-Fiqh'. However, it is also concerned with regulating the excercise of Ijtihad.

The mujtahid, precluding he who excersises absolute ijtihad 'ijtihad mutlaq' such as the imams of the four orthodox madhabs, must orientate to one of the four disciplines in the scope of which he may excersise his ijtihad.

Moreover, at the time of dealing with the first two materials, the mujtahid is always in direct contact with texts and nothing more. Since his study of the provided texts, in respect to deducing a particular detail, is his main framework, he must consider the various rules of interpertation to draw an accurate ruling regarding the issue in question. Here we will discuss the rule of 'textual implications' or 'al-Dalalat'.

Textual Implications [al-Dalalat].

The Hanafi jurists distinguish the four levels of meanings provided in a text. It is vital that the ijtihad is regulated within the sphere of these meanings and does not surpass them.

1- Immediate meaning or 'Ibarah al-nass'
2- Alluded meaning or 'Isharah al-nass'
3- Inferred meaning or 'Dalalah al-nass'
4- Required meaning or 'Iqtidha al-nass'

The immediate meaning is the explicit meaning that represents the purpose 'maqsuwd' of the text, and may also impart a subsidiary meaning. More technically, the 'explici't [nass] and 'manifest' [zahir] words of the text.

The alluded meaning is not the obvious meaning of a given text, rather it is detected through the consideration of signs that are present in the text and not extraneous. However, it does not represent the main theme of a text yet it embodies a vital inference within it.

The inferred meaning is understood by rationale and not expressed in words of the text. It is derived by identification of an effective cause or 'illah', which is common in both the explicit meaning and the iferred meaning. The mujtahid is qualified to derive the effective cause and exercise the method of analogical reasoning.

The required meaning is an essential part of the text though not manifestly present in it. Eventhough the text is silent on this meaning, it is considered so that the meaning of the text is fulfilled, and if not so, the text may amount to falsehood.

In the event of conflict of meanings in texts, the muhtahid is obliged to follow the following stipulations:

1- If the conflict is between the immediate [ibarah] and alluded [isharah] meanings, the former prevails over the latter.

2- If the conflict occurs between the alluded [isharah] and inferred [dalalah] meanings of two texts, the former prevails.

[Examples for each meaning are yet to be added]

The rules put into practice; A cursory glance at the Hanafi methodology

If, however, a mujtahid sticks to the Hanafi methodology, he must follow their descipline and Legal maxims or 'qawa'id', so that his inference conforms to the teachings of their school.

Here are some stipulations:

1- The mujtahid investigating for a particular detail must turn to the Qur'an first and foremost.
2- If he does not manage to find a solution from the Qur'an, he must turn to the Hadith.
3- Third in priority are the reports 'athar' of the Sahabah. The Reports of the four Abdullahs are given priority over the rest.
4- Fourth is Ijma' or consensus of the scholars.
5- And finally, the mujtahid must rely on analogical reasoning or 'qiyas' unless he finds a weak hadith. [More to come on weak hadith]

A- The Qura'n

The mujtahid, as well as following the foregoing stipulations and 'textual implications', must also consider the following rules in methodology whilst dealing with Qura'nic texts:

1- If there are two texts, one absolute 'mutlaq' and the other qualified 'muqayyad', neither is qualified by the other and each one will operate independantly. [al-mutlaqu la yuhmalu ala al-muqayyad]. Detailed discussions on this issue can be found in the books of usul.

2- The 'general' [aam] or 'absolute' [mutlaq] rule cannot be qualified by a solitary report or analogy. Furthermore, the general cannot be qualified by any of the foregoing because it is decisive [qati'i] (prior to specification or 'takhsees') according to the Hanafi school, and the solitary report and qiyas are originally speculative [dhanni] evidences. However, a speculative [dhanni] evidence is not warranted to prevail the decisive [qati'i].

[khabr al wahidi wa al-qiyasu la tukhassisu al-aama wa la tuqayyidu al-mutlaq]

3- A 'well-known hadith' is warranted to qualify the 'abslolute' [mutlaq] and prevail the 'general ruling' [aam] of a Qur'anic text. [yajuzu ziyadatu khabri al-mash'huri ala al-nass]

4- A 'common noun' [nakirah] preceded by a particle of negation engenders 'generality' [umum]. If, on the contrary, it is preceded by an affirmative context [ithbat], the scope of the noun will be 'restricted' [khas]. [al-nakiratu fi hiyazi al-nafyi ta'ummu, wa fi hiyazi al-ithbati takhussu]

5- If the ruling of a given text depends on the fulfillment of an 'attribute' [wasf], or 'condition'
[shart], it will not necessarily lapse if they are not fulfilled.

6- The qualfication of a ruling in a specific noun, does not disaprove the qualification in question to exist elsewhere. [al-tanseesu la yadullu ala al-takhseesi]

7- A 'general ruling' [hukm aam] is not restricted to its cause [sabab], rather it is held general. [al-aamu la yukhassu bi sababihi]

8- A command [amr mutlaq] implies an emphatic demand and obligation [wujub], unless attended by circumstances and clues that suggest otherwise, such as permissibility [ibahah], recommendation [nudb] or threat [tahdeed], etc. [muwjabu al-amri al-ilzamu illa bi al-daleel]

9- Order [amr] of something heretofor prohibited implies obligation [wujub]. [al-amru ba'da al hazri li al-wujub]

Addition of the following is yet to be made:

1- Defining ijtihad, its scope, requisites of ijtihad and categories of mujtahids
2- The methodology in hadith
3- Ijma & qiyas
4- Secondary sources-Equity or 'Istihsan', custom or'urf/ta'amul', public interest or'masalah', presumption of continuity or 'istis'hab' and blocking the means or 'sadd al-zara'i'.

Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi