An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Qiyas and Ijtihad in Modern Problems

From this ayah, we find out the rulings on problems not specifically mentioned in the authoritative texts (technically, nass) of the Qur’an or Sunnah will be deduced in the light of the Qur’an using the principle of Ijtihad and Qiyas because this ayah carries the command to turn to the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam for the resolution of any new problems – if he is present at that time. And if he is not present, the command is to turn to religious scholars and jurists of the Muslims community, because they have the required ability to extract and formulate religious injunctions from the authoritative texts of the Qur’an and hadeeth.

Points of guidance which emerge from the statement made above are:

1. In the absence of nass, explicit textual authority from the Qur’an and hadeeth, the course of action is to turn to Fuqaha and ulema.

2. The injunctions given by Allah are of two kinds. Some of them are there in the form of explicit textual imperatives. Then, there are some others which are not explicit and carry meanings which are hidden in the depths of the ayaat as will willed by Allah in His infinite wisdom.

3. It is the duty of the ulema to extract and formulate such meanings through the established methodology of ijtihad and qiyas.

4. For the great masses of Muslims, it is necessary that they should follow the guidance given by the ulema in such problems. [Ahkam-ul-Qur’an by al-Jassas]

The Prophetic Function of Deducing Injunctions

The statement, “… surely those who can draw correct conclusion from it would have know about it….” shows that the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam too was obligated to the precept of extracting, formulating and reasoning out with proofs all injunctions that needed to be so handled. This is so because earlier in the ayah the command was to turn towards two sources. Firstly, it was to the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam and secondly, to those in authority. After that it was said, “… surely those who can draw correct conclusion from it would have know about it….” And this injunction is general which covers both of the two parties cited above. So, it proves that the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam was also obligated with the function of deducing injunctions. [ahkam al-Quran by al-Jassas]

An Important Note

If this ayah makes someone suspect or assume that it has no relation with deducing injunctions of Shar’iah, it does not say anymore than give an instruction to people that they should not indulge in rumor-mongering in situations of peace and fear when faced with an enemy, instead of which, one should turn to the knowledgeable and trustworthy and act in accordance with the advice they give after due deliberation and that it has no connection with juristic or new legal problems.

In order to answer this doubt, it can be said that the sentence, “and when there comes to them a matter of security or fear” in this ayah makes no mention of an enemy. So, the state of security and fear is universal. The way it relates to an enemy, so it does with day to day problems as well. This is so because the appearance of a problem before a commoner, a problem about which no textual authority relating to its being lawful or unlawful exists, throws him into a fix and he cannot decide which side to take as both sides hold the probability of gain and loss. The smartest way devised by the Shar’iah in this impasse is that one should turn to those capable of extracting and formulating injunctions and act in accordance with the via media laid out by them. [abridged from ahkam al-Qur’an by al-Jassas]

The Outcome of Ijtihad

The legal ruling extracted by Muslim jurists from the texts through Istinbat (and Ijtihad) cannot categorically be declared as being the absolute truth in the sight of Allah. Instead of that, the probability always exists that this ruling might as well turn out to be not true. But, of course, what one gains out of it is positive, overwhelming and weightier opinion about its being true and correct, something which is good enough to act upon. [al-Ahkam al-Qur’an by al-Jassas and Tafseer Kabeer]

[Taken from Maaruf-ul-Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani]


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