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Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn on Issues of Ijtihād and Khilāf

Posted by Abu Iyaad
Friday, Mar 17 2023
Filed under Fiqh & ʿIbādah

The issues of ijtihād are those in which there are no clear texts from the Qurʾan and Sunnah, so scholars strive to derive a ruling or viewpoint through the closest relevant texts and the application of principles. Differences would naturally arise in these situations, and here this type of differing would be permitted, and evaluation and critique of views can take place to show their strength or weakness. As for the issues of kihlāf, which are issues that are differed over, this is a broader category and can include differences which are permitted (like those of ijtihād) and those which are not permitted. There are many issues in which views are held in opposition to clear texts, and a scholar among the scholars may have erred in the issue. Hence, the differing that arises on account of these oppositions to texts, is not a permitted type of differing.

Some people have wrongly claimed that no rejection is to be shown in the issues of khilāf, treating them to be the same as issues of ijtihād.

Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn (رحمه الله) said:[1]

If we were to say that there is no rejection to be shown in issues of difference in an unrestricted manner, then the religion as a whole would disappear, because you will hardly find an issue except that there is differing between the scholars regarding it.

The issue of difference divide into two types:

The first type: The issues of ijtihād in which differing is permitted. Meaning, that differing is established in reality, and it is a matter of investigation. There is no rejection to be shown upon the mujtahid in these affairs. As for the common people then they are bound to what the scholars of their land are upon [in such affairs], so that the common-folk do not slip away. Because, if were to say to the common person, “Whichever saying you come across, you can adopt it”, then the ummah would not be a single ummah. For this reason, our shaykh, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān bin Saʾdī (رحمه الله) said: “The common-folk are upon the madhhab of their scholars.”

The second type of the two types of differing: There is no permissibility in it, and there is no place for ijtihād therein. Thus, the opposer is shown rejection [in this type of differing] because there is no excuse for him [in the presence of texts and established evidences].

Arabic Text:

1. Liqāʾ al-Bāb al-Maftūḥ (no. 49, 3/42-43).

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