Muslims do not believe in the conciliatory Ijtihad that sets out to justify the legal reality of many cases of deviation.
The issue of intellectual and legislative development in the life of every nation is not the result of an inevitable movement outside the scope of the thoughts and principles proposed in life, and neither is it an act of the unseen that emanates from the unknown. Rather, it is the Sunnah (law) of Allah on earth which is that the ideas and principles emerge as reactions to a reality or for being based on a materialistic force or urgent natural circumstances. This attributes to the movement of man who believes in this idea a solid basis in its existence, growth and continuity, and it distances the movement from being subject to the so-called historical inevitability or any other inevitability, which the people are accustomed to use in order to explain any development in the political, social and economic currents.
As such, thoughts would turn into a vibrant reality that becomes part of people’s consciences, customs and traditions and then they would extend to become the distinguishing feature of their age, as a result of the dominion of the forces that endorse and support them over the legislative and executive aspects in a certain age. Thus, people would imagine that it is the inevitable reality that one cannot surpass or derail from, unless it is to the detriment of life and its progress, considering that the existing reality constitutes the tool by which progress and advancement are measured in their own viewpoint.
That is why Islam, being part of the religious, spiritual and social currents, is demanded to be part of people’s lives and to follow up their development, considering that this is one of the inevitable things that our age demands.
According to the objections we raised on the concept of inevitability, where we considered it related to the balances of power and to specific circumstances and not resulting from the nature of things, then it might be, from the Muslim thinkers’ point of view, that the development that is based on materialistic thoughts in their moral, social and political inclinations does not pour in man’s interest, for it results in threats, pains and trouble in people’s lives, without providing any psychological relief that renders life something relaxing and acceptable. This calls on us to change it to another course that takes into account man’s life as a whole and does not focus on one aspect apart from the others, so as to let life follow the will of Allah.
We wonder how many approve of the concepts of revolution and change against the capitalistic reality in favor of Marxism and socialism so as to change the course of development into another course that demolishes the pillars of the capitalistic civilization in favor of the new civilization yet they do not approve of paving the way for the Islamic concepts to make a comprehensive change.
What we want to say in short is that when life is left to develop according to certain specific concepts that are subject to private principles, it cannot impose this kind of development on other principles whose concepts differ from those principles that the circumstances helped in realizing their program of life, whether by force or any other means. Therefore, he who demands Islam to make change on the basis of the concepts of the contemporary reality is like he who asks socialism to change and develop according to the concepts and ideas of capitalism.
No for Excluding Religion
The idea that is trying to exclude religion from the circle of struggle for the sake of development and change is the result of the deviated general mentality that restricted its role to a narrow scope and limited circle that is only fit to deal with the standing moralities. This entails working on alleviating the cruelty and misery of the individual and social life, yet from afar, without actually touching upon the problems realistically and with strength; an idealistic proposition that lets man enjoy the feeling of relief without actually solving the problem.
Therefore, we believe in the necessity of planning to put the Islamic preaching and guidance in direct contact with the issues and problems of life. This is the way to put Islamic change in its natural framework that is not far from the Book and the Sunnah and that achieves, at the same time, happiness, goodness and peace in life. Perhaps this is the goal sought by many committed Muslim thinkers, who believed that Islam presents a comprehensive view about universe and life when they propose the issue of contemporary Ijtihad.
And perhaps one of the first missions of the movement of contemporary Ijtihad is to handle the texts in the Quran and the Sunnah in an independent and clear manner that is based on aware understanding that, in its turn, is based on a vast accurate scientific culture in the fields of Arabic grammar and the fundamentals of jurisprudence and on the focus on studying the general ambiences it set out from. The next step is to notice the objective circumstances we live in, which created for us new situations in the social relations and ways of life, through which we get to know the nature of the issues that the religious texts provide the rulings for, so as to treat them realistically, for any mistake in understanding the issue could lead to a mistake in the ruling made. And we have all noticed some Mujtahids who could not make up their mind and issue fatwas regarding certain topics due to the fact that they were not well-informed about the issues they were dealing with.
We strongly call for not considering a certain person or a jurisprudential opinion as sacred when it comes to Ijtihad and for considering the jurisprudential opinion in any field as discussable, which does not prevent referring to a diverging opinion and does not demand commitment to a converging opinion, no matter how knowledgeable and high in the scientific/religious positions their owners were. The reason is that attributing to the old opinions the sanctity that their owners themselves did not claim to have makes us face an intellectual imitation in the name of Ijtihad.
Applicative Ijtihadi Models
If we want to stand in the space that does not entail specific texts, we have to study the general texts that handle the comprehensive rules to find out how much they apply to the reality of life. We might find in certain texts complete openness on the new aspects in the matters pertaining to transaction and financial and social relations, yet still under the Islamic terms, as we notice in the following Ayah: “Fulfill the obligations” (05:01) and the Ayah: “O you who believe! Do not devour your property among yourselves falsely, except that it be trading by your mutual consent” (04:29).
Some jurisprudents might understand from these Ayahs that they include any contract between the people in the past and whatever might be renewed in the future, whilst maintaining the general religious conditions that other texts and rules imposed, such as the rule of forbidding contracts over unknown things and the like, which are the subject of jurisprudential researches. As such, the research will not be focused on the nature of the legitimacy of the contract in terms of it being a new contract to try to talk about it as having the title of the former transactions, as some jurisprudents tried when it came to the insurance contracts and the like, where they tried to give them the title of compensating donation, conciliation and the like, at a time what was necessary was to focus the research on their realistic characteristics and how much they conform to or differ from the religious conditions of the transactions.
On the other hand, we might find a situation where the Muslim individual or society faces extreme hardships as a result of performing certain duties or forsaking certain forbidden acts, which might be the result of the nature of the ruling and not the personal inclinations one experiences within himself. This might create a personal adversity that is not related to the nature of the general practical and health-related state.
In this case, the researcher and the Mujtahid can study the rule of eliminating any hardship as deduced from Allah’s sayings: “… and has not laid upon you an hardship in religion” (22:78) and: “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty” (02:185), or the rule of negating harm deduced from the following Hadith by the Prophet (p.): “There is no harm or damage in Islam”.
The study might also focus on whether these two rules govern the obligations and forbidden acts or they are restricted to the obligations only, whilst observing their objective fields and then studying the nature of the hardship and harm: are they the personal hardship and harm so that the two rules would be applied to one’s personal life, or are they the qualitative hardship and harm that so that the rules would govern man’s general life regardless of his private situation?
As such, we find that in the general rules, there is possibility to make research and Ijtihad in the urgent matters that impose on man a certain pressurizing situation, taking into consideration a very important point that it should not be used as a justification to avoid the realistic religious ruling, thus turning the process of Ijtihad into a matter to justify the reality and not to perform an actual study on it, rather the motive would be knowing Allah’s ruling without taking into account any reaction, whether personal or otherwise.
Ijtihad, Not Justification
We do not believe in the conciliatory Ijtihad that sets out to justify the legal reality of many cases of deviation, so as to give Islam the characteristic of the religion that conforms to the needs of the age, for our understanding to the issue of conformity to the needs of the age is to present solutions to its problems through the juristic authentic rules and not presenting solutions on the basis of the proposed solutions in the reality that is lived according to a non-Islamic basis.
We believe in the necessity of letting Ijtihad act independently to face the private and general cases of life according to the Shariah of Allah without succumbing to any pressure, especially the pressure of the former opinions that one might not be convinced with. Only that is what could let the movement of Ijtihad be dynamic, away from the intellectual imitation and realistic pressure.
Facing the Individualist Inclination
We have to study the difference between facing the individual cases under the non-Islamic system and facing the public cases under the Islamic system, for that could change the subject of the ruling, which in its turn could change the ruling itself. Therefore, it would be natural for us to decide that Ijtihad in the past ages used to face the reality through the individual needs, away from any Islamic ruling that could make legislations for the people within the framework of the state. This made the Islamic researches of the researchers take the idea from the deduced rulings in these acts of Ijtihad, whereby the individual inclination overcame the jurisprudential mentality, which made the issue of dealing with deviation from religion take an extreme and violent form based on the individual calculations. This led to founding forbiddance and allowance on the rule of “fear from harm” and “the impermissibility of casting oneself in perdition” and the like, which is part of the private individual life.
Therefore, we consider that there is no need to look into the Islamic economic, political, social or financial system, for research in this field or the other according to the individual rulings shows not the truth except within the framework of the Islamic system as a whole, for this is the only way to find the bright side of the picture when the researchers study all its sides.
It is worth mentioning that the contemporary Ijtihad movement, within the Islamic scope in general, and within the Shiite Islamic scope in particular, managed to provide good solutions for the needs proposed in the arena, which made the Muslim feel that there are answers to many of the questions he has about major issues, such as insurance contracts, birth control, artificial insemination and other recent issues.
Perhaps, there remains a few matters that the Muslim still face hardships in, such as the issues of banks and the like, which the Islamic legislation cannot find an Islamic solution to, based on the reservation about its nature that is derived from the capitalist system, for that would mean actually recognizing the legitimacy of such system. Therefore, individual treatment should be subject to the type of the difficult situation the Muslim individual is going through.
The selection taken form the “Ijtihad between the Seizure of the Past and the Horizons of the Future” by late Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Hussain Fazlullah.