The Third: A comparison made between the time of the Prophet and nowadays in terms of the conditions that advance the abilities of ijtihad.

THE THIRD: Just as varying goods in the market are sought after according to the season; they are in demand one after the other, so in the exhibition of the world and market of human society and civilization, every century different goods are sought after and are in demand; they are displayed in the market, demand attracts them, gazes are turned on them, minds are drawn by them. Like at the present time the goods of politics and securing the life of this world and the demand of philosophy are sought after, for example. And at the time of the first generations of Islam and in the market of that age, deducing from the Word of the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth His wishes and what He wants of us were the most sought-after goods, and obtaining the means to gain through the light of prophethood and the Qur’an eternal happiness in the world of the hereafter, which had been revealed to such a degree it could not be concealed.

At that time, since people’s minds, hearts and spirits were directed with all their strength towards understanding the wishes of the Sustainer of the Heavens and the Earth, the discussions, conversations, events, and circumstances of social life all looked to that. Since they occurred in accordance with those wishes, whoever had high ability, his heart and nature unconsciously received instruction in knowledge of Allah from everything. He received knowledge from the circumstances, events, and discussions which took place at that time. As though everything became a teacher for such a person, and inculcated in his nature and disposition the preparatory knowledge for independent judgements. That natural instruction illuminated him to such a degree that he was almost capable of interpreting the law without acquiring the knowledge, to be illuminated without fire... Thus, when someone capable who received such natural instruction in this way began to work at interpreting the law, his capacity which had become like a match manifested the mystery of Light upon Light; he became qualified to interpret it (mujtahid) swiftly and in a brief time.

At this time, however, due to the domination of European civilization and the supremacy of natural philosophy and the preponderance of the conditions of worldly life, minds and hearts have become scattered, and endeavour and favour divided. Minds have become strangers to non-material matters. Thus, it is because of this that if someone now was to memorize the Qur’an at the age of four and have the intelligence of a mujtahid like Sufyan ibn Uyayna, who held discussions with religious scholars at an early age, he would need ten times longer than Sufyan to become qualified to interpret the law. If Sufyan acquired the learning in ten years, this man would need one hundred years. Because the period of Sufyan’s natural study began at the age of reason. His disposition and abilities were slowly prepared and illuminated; they took lessons from everything and became like a match. But his counterpart at the present time, since his thought is submerged in philosophy, his mind plunged in politics, and his heart is giddy at the life of this world, his disposition and abilities have grown distant from interpretation of the law. For sure, they have become distant from interpretation of the Shari‘a to the degree they have been preoccupied with the modern sciences, and have remained backward in regard to it to the extent he has become learned in the physical sciences. Therefore, he may not say: “I am as intelligent as him. Why can’t I on a level with him?” He does not have the right to say this, and he cannot be on a level with him.

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The Fourth: The essential point of view in ijtihad: the world or the hereafter?

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