Rank of Mujtahid
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad.
I urge you, as I urge myself, to be obedient to Allah, the Exalted, to remain steadfast on the path of Prophet Muhammad – may peace be upon him – and to follow the methodology of the noble scholars who taught Islam.
I remind you of what lay in store for those people leaving for the Muslim nation a great wealth of knowledge in all subjects of Islamic studies.
Among such noble scholars were: Imam Malik, Imam ash-Shafi^iyy, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal and Imam Abu Hanifah.
These scholars reached the rank of Mujtahid and their knowledge and ijtihad was of great benefit to Muslims.
Ijtihad is deducing religious edicts and rulings for which there is no explicit judgement in the Qur'an or in the Hadith.
However, ijtihad is not applied to matters where there is an explicit ruling in the Qur'an or in the Hadith.
The top scholars of this nation had differences in their ijtihad, regarding some matters where there is no explicit text or scholarly consensus about the judgement.
For example, there is a difference between Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam ash-Shafi^iyy’s ijtihad regarding whether or not one’s wudu’ would become invalid upon touching without a barrier the skin of any woman that one is eligible to marry.
Imam ash-Shafi^iyy said that touching the skin of such a woman invalidates one’s wudu’; however, Imam Abu Hanifah said that it does not. Both judged that such a matter is forbidden as did all Islamic scholars.
Ijtihad is reserved for those who are qualified to deduce judgements from the religious texts; it is not simply open to any person. Otherwise, the true religious knowledge would be lost and the Religion would be corrupted; a matter which does not befit the Religion of Islam.
Allah, the most Gracious, willed for noble pious scholars to devote their lives to serve the Religion of Islam and ordered us to seek their advice regarding religious matters.
Allah said: [فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ لا تَعْلَمُونَ]
This Ayah means: Ask those who have attained the correct religious knowledge when seeking an Islamic judgement about a certain matter.
Among those are the four eminent scholars mentioned earlier who have the true belief in Allah.
They all believe that Allah is One and that He has no partner. He is not a body and is not attributed with any bodily characteristics, He has neither a beginning nor an end.
Imam ash-Shafi^iyy said: Whoever seeks to know his Creator and concludes that Allah does not exist is an atheist (mu^attil). If he concludes that his Creator is something his mind can imagine, he is a mushabbih ( that is, the one who likens Allah to the creations). If however, he concludes that Allah exists and yet admits that his mind cannot conceive Him, he is a true believer (muwahhid). (Narrated by al- Bayhaqiyy)
The noble scholars Ahmad Ibn Hambal and Dhunnun al-Misriyy said: Whatever you imagine in your mind, Allah does not resemble it.
Imam al-Qarafiyy, Imam as-Subkiyy, al-Hafidh al-^Iraqiyy, Shaykh Ibn Hajar al-Haytamiyy, Mulla ^Ali al-Qari al-Hanafiyy, Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthariyy and others quoted the statement of the four eminent scholars Imam Malik, Imam ash-Shafi^iyy, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal and Imam Abu Hanifah that one commits blasphemy by attributing either a body or a place to Allah.
We ask Allah to include us among those who follow the true path of the top scholars in belief, piety, humility and fear of Allah.