There is More Than One Type of Ijma'

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

When a fatwa, legal opinion, on a matter is quoted, sometimes people mentions that it is an ijma’, consensus, with the implication that is must be followed.  There are different types and categories of ijma’ and they are all not the same.

The highest level of ijma’ is the ijma’ of the swahabah.  If all the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) agree on a matter, that matter is considered binding upon the ummah.  For example, when Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah became caliph, most of the swahabah gave him the bay’ah, pledge of allegiance.  However, others, such as Husayn (r.a.), and ibn az-Zubayr (r.a.) did not. If these few had followed the rest and given that bay’ah, it would have become incumbent upon Muslims to accept any ruler even if he was a tyrant or an apostate.  They were all killed by the Umayyads, but their sacrifice saved the integrity of the ummah.

Another form of ijma’ is the ijma’ within a madzhab, school of thought, in fiqh, jurisprudence, or any other religious science.  An example would be the ijma’ within the Shafi’i madzhab that pig leather is a form of najasah.  The opposite is held by the Hanafi madzhab.

Then, there is an ijma’ specific to a geographic region, time or circumstance.  An example would be the ruling of the Maliki madzhab of al-Andalus, that it was haram to marry Christians.  This was the period of the Reconquista, when Muslims were fighting against the Catholic Crusaders in what eventually became Spain and Portugal.

Fiqh has a zaman, time, and a makan, place.  When these circumstances change, the rulings evolve.  Even a strong consensus may become wanting, and a new fatwa has to be issued.  So which ijma’ are we talking about?


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Saudi Arabia, Mawlid is Bid'ah, the King's Birthday is Fine

Singapore Bans Ismail Menk from Entry

Some Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) in Art