Due to the intellectual decline that has affected the Muslims throughout the last few centuries the subject of Ijtihad has become vague in the minds of many, unfortunately, including some thinkers as well as Ulema. Different extremes exist, some believe the doors of Ijtihad are closed whereas others have broken the doors of Ijtihad altogether. The following are some of the key misconceptions that have crept into the minds:
a) The doors of Ijtihad are closed i.e. it is impossible and not permitted to undertake Ijtihad today.
b) The scope of Ijtihad includes most things including definitive matters such as the prohibition of Riba (usury) and the prohibition of having nation states with a multiplicity of rulers in the Muslim world. It allows Islam to be reformed in order to apply to the modern age.
c) Ijtihad is only personal reasoning and not the hukm of Allah i.e. it is the reasoning of an individual and therefore cannot be a shariah rule.
d) Ijtihad is an individual obligation (Fard Ayn) and therefore Taqleed (following an opinion of a Mujtahid) is prohibited (haram).
This book “Essays on Ijtihad in the 21st Century” is a compilation of independent articles written over a period of time, put together in a logical sequence. Written in a lucid language this book is a suitable read for all those who want to understand the practical reality of Ijithad and how it can be applied to the current reality.
This key Islamic concept needs to be understood even more so in this era where the enemies of Islam attempt to defame it and portray it as a backward religion unable to deal with modernity and the challenges of the technologically advanced world. The doors of Ijtihad are not only open, rather it is a great Islamic duty, a fard kifaya (obligation of sufficiency) and the revealed method by which we are able to extract the rulings of Islam for all problems we face until the day of judgement.
Besides the confusion over Ijtihad, there is ambiguity over the definition and conditions of a Mujtahid. This book explains the types of Mujtahid namely the Mujtahid Mazhab, Mujtahid Masála and Mujtahid Mutlaq.
Chapters of the book include: