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Islamic Q and A ( 17 Sept 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

What Are the Classes of Mujtahidin (Tabaqat al-Mujtahidin)?

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam

18 September 2019

The classical scholars opine that those who are not Mujtahidin should seek any verdict from a qualified expert in the field because it is these people who are greater in knowledge. The Prophet’s companions used to consult those who were greater in knowledge among them. There were several experts but they were not equal. Similarly there are experts among various classes of Mujtahidin and accordingly they hold different ranks. The classes of Mujtahidin are six; (1) Mujtahidin fi al-Sharia, (2) Mujtahidin fi al-Mazhab, (3) Mujtahidin fi al-Masail, (4) Ashab al-Takhrij, (5) Ashab al-Tarjih and (6) Ashab al-Tamyiz. (Mujtahidin are those who practiced Ijtihad. For details see the article: What Is Ijtihad, Its Scope and Mujtahid?)

The Mujtahidin are classified in a way where the role of one class builds on that of preceding class leading to a staged workflow with the added benefit of the validation of the preceding corpus. It is reported that the role of the first three classes is the discovery of the verdicts- which is the primary duty of the Mujtahidin, whereas the role of the following three classes is the review and arrangement of the discovered verdicts- which is the role of the expert Mujtahidin who are also Muqallid of the Imam. 

Class 1, The Mujtahidin fi al-Sharia- It is these people who made rules (Qawaaid) to be applied for Ijtihad, deriving them from the Sharia and outlined the main framework which established the Mazhab (methodology), for example, the four Imams, Abu Hanifa, Shafei, Maalik and Ahmad b. Hanbal (may Allah be pleased with all of them) are known as Mujtahidin fi al-Sharia. 

Class 2, The Mujtahidin fi al-Madhahib are those who do Taqlid of the rules of Ijtihad established by the either of the four Imams or Mujtahidin fi al-Sharia and thereby deduce the jurisprudential edicts (Fiqhi Masaail). For example, Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad and Ibn Mubarak are Muqallid of Imam-e-Azam Abu Hanifa in the rules of Ijtihad but are themselves Mujtahidin in Masaail (Islamic laws)

(Class 3) Mujtahidin Fil-Masaail are those who are Muqallid of both the rules of Ijtihad (Qawaaid) and Masaail. However in the light of the Quran, Sunnah and other sources, these Mujtahidin can prove laws regarding which no elucidation by the Imams can be found. Some of them are Imam Tahawi, Qaazi Khan, Shamsul Ai’mma Sarkhasi.

(Class 4) Ashabe Takhrij are those scholars who are not entitled to do Ijtihad with the rank of the first three categories. They know the rules of Ijtihad and details of the Masaail. Thus they do Taqlid in Usul (rules of ijtihad) and Furu (derivative rulings) and can elaborate on any ambiguity within the existing verdicts of the Imam and suggest possible applications. They know the details of the brief statements (Mujmal Aqwaal) of the Imam. Thus they are able to do Takhrij by doing analogy (Qiyas), taking into account several conflicting statements together.  Imam Karkhi, Imam Jassas, Abul Layth Samarqandi, Imam Marghinani etc are ranked in this category.

(Class 5) Ashabe Tarjih or the people of preference are those can who can preponderate a particular edict from several other narrated rulings of the Imam regarding a single matter. This means that, if there are two contending statements by Imam Abu Hanifa about one issue, these Mujtahidin can point out which one is the more important.  Similarly, if they find any sort of disagreement in verdicts between Imam Abu Hanifa and the Saahibain (Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad- the followers of Imam Abu Hanifa); they can prefer any appropriate verdict. Generally they use the word ‘the more correct’ (Asah) or ‘the more appropriate’ (Awfaq) for that purpose. The author of Quduri, Imam Abul Hasan Quduri etc belongs to this category.

(Class 6) The Ashabe Tamiz: Those jurists who can recognize the difference between the general verdict and specific narrations, as well as between the weak, stronger and the strongest one. They do it to take out the reliable verdict and leave the weak verdict. The authors of Kanz al-Daqaiq and Durr-e-Mukhtar etc belong to this rank.

Allama Ibn Abidin Shami says, “The seventh group are those who are simply Muqallid (followers). They do not have the ability upon any of what has been mentioned about in the other six categories of jurists. They are not able to separate between the statements, nor are they able to distinguish between them. Instead, they simply gather the information that has been given”. (Ibn Abidin, Sharh Uqood Rasmul Mufti pg.12). It is said that Ulama and Muftis of today belong to this seventh category. In fact this seventh group does not belong to any class of Mujtahidin; therefore the classes of Mujtahidin with different ranks are six.

Related Article:  What Is Ijtihad, Its Scope and Mujtahid?


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