Can we practice the ijtihads made by the people living today? Can we act in accordance with the ijtihads made by the Islamic scholars of today?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is permissible to act in accordance with the fatwas given by the Islamic scholars today unless they are contrary to the Quran, hadiths and the views of mujtahid imams.

There are four main resources of Islam: The book, the Sunnah, consensus and analogy. What is meant by the book is the Quran. If the decree about something is mentioned in the Quran, it is absolutely necessary to act in accordance with it. No other decree regarding the issue is taken into consideration. 

The Sunnah is the words, deeds and taqrir of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Taqrir means the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) keeping silent and not intervening when something was done or said in his presence.

Consensus (ijma) means the unanimous agreement of the mujtahids and fiqh scholars of any age regarding an issue.

As for analogy (qiyas), it means giving a decree on an issue about which there is no verse, hadith and consensus, by likening it to another settled issue and making a comparison due to a connection between them.

The issues and principles that are the resources of Islamic decrees are the ones mentioned above. However, the religion of Islam includes traditions and customs too. That is, while giving a decree about an issue which has not been decreed by the Quran and Sunnah, it is permissible to refer to the traditions and customs that are not contrary to the Quran and Sunnah. (Usul al-Fiqh, Muhammad Sayyid, II/101) Therefore, a decree that is based on traditions and customs changes as traditions and customs change in the course of time. 

For instance, in the past, it was regarded something ugly and abominable for men to go out with their head uncovered though head is not awrah for men; it was even regarded as a cause of fisq in Shafii madhhab. However, According to the custom that changed today, there is no drawback to a man going out with his head uncovered and it is not a cause of fisq. Similarly, coins and banknotes did not use to be subject to zakah in the past but today they are subject to zakah like gold and silver. 

The meaning of the statement "decrees change as time changes" can be interpreted as the explanations above; it is not possible to say that the decree of the Quran and Sunnah change - God forbid - as time changes.

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