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Last Updated: 2007/04/18
Summary of question
Please mention a verse of the Quran or a tradition that proves ijtihād?
question
Please mention a verse of the Quran or a tradition that proves ijtihād?
Concise answer

Ijtihād as a jurisprudential term means a scholastic effort in order to derive a religious ruling from the sources (Quran, traditions, and intellect) – this has been emphasized and advised in the Quran and in traditions from the pure Imāms. Allah, in the 122nd verse of Sūrah Tawbah says: “Every Muslim cannot travel {for war on Allah’s path}; there must be a group of Muslims who will travel so that they will ‘think deeply’ {ijtihād, tafaquh} about Allah’s religion. When they return the must warn the people {to refrain from committing bad actions.}

 

There are many traditions which emphasize tafaquh or ijtihād in religion in order to give religious or judicial answers. For example:

 

Imām Ja‘far Sādiq (a) told Abān bin Taghlib (one of his companions): Abān! Sit in the Mosque of Medina and give religious verdicts. I would love to see people like you {jurists and mujtahids} amongst my Shia.”

 

In this tradition, the Imām clearly states the need for scholars and mujtahids who have a complete grasp of religious knowledge to answer people’s questions.

Detailed Answer

Ijtihād as a jurisprudential term means a scholastic effort in order to derive a religious ruling from the sources (Quran, traditions, and intellect). Ijtihād, with this meaning, is very important and divine. Allah has made this obligatory on some people in the Quran: “Every Muslim cannot travel {for war on Allah’s path}; there must be a group of Muslims who will travel so that they will ‘think deeply’ {ijtihād, tafaquh} about Allah’s religion. When they return the must warn the people {to refrain from committing bad actions.}[1]

 

In this verse made it obligatory one a group of people (as a wājib kafā’ī) to gain knowledge about religious issues to the level of tafaquh which is the same as Ijtihād. These people would be able to derive religious rulings from the Quran and traditions; to act according to them and to show others what they say.

 

This issue has been mentioned in many traditions from the ma‘sūm Imāms. We will suffice ourselves by mentioning only a few of them:

 

Ibn Khadījah, a companion of Imām Sādiq (a) said: “Imām Sādiq (a) sent me to a group of Shia and said: ‘Do not let it happen that if a dispute arises amongst you that you go to a corrupt judge, rather let a person from among you, who knows the permissible and forbidden actions {a mujtahid} judge between you. I have made this jurist a judge for you. Refrain from taking your claims to a oppressive dictator.”[2]

 

This tradition indicates the necessity for jurists because there will definitely be disputes in a society and a jurist must be there to settle the disputes in accordance with correct Islamic rulings and that the Shia would not be forced to refer to oppressive and corrupt leaders. So, Islam’s and the ma‘sūm Imām’s order is that there must always be some people who move in the direction of tafaquh and Ijtihād.

 

In another tradition, Imām ‘Askarī (a) said: “It is obligatory for people to follow those jurists who protect their-selves and the religion, who oppose carnal desires, and who obey Allah.”[3]

 

Imām ‘Askarī (a), in this tradition, alludes to the conditions of a religious authority who wishes to be a religious reference and also made it obligatory for others to follow and obey jurists. This tradition alludes to the importance, necessity, and greatness of Ijtihād.

 

Likewise, Imām Ja‘far Sādiq (a) told Abān bin Taghlib (one of his companions): Abān! Sit in the Mosque of Medina and give religious verdicts. I would love to see people like you {jurists and mujtahids} amongst my Shia.”[4]

 

The Imām, in this tradition, clearly states the need for scholars and mujtahids who have a complete grasp of religious knowledge to answer people’s questions. There are many traditions in the books of traditions in this regard.[5]

 

For more information refer to: Walāyat wa Dīyānat, Jastārhā’ī dar Andīshah-e-Sīāsī-e-Islam by professor Mahdī Hādavī Tehranī, pages 95-102.



[1] Quran, 9,122

[2] Wasā’il al-Shiah, v.18, p.100, traition 6

[3] Ijtijā Tabarasī, v.2, p.263; Wasā’il al-Shia, v.27, p.131, tradition 33401

[4] Mustadrak Wasā’il al-Shia, v.17, p.315 under the section of referring to the Shia narrators of tradition in judicial and religious matters

[5] Wasā’il al-Shia, v.18, chapter 11, traditions: 9,10,21,27,42, and 45

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