Ijtihâd And Mujtahid
Sayyid Abdulhakîm Arwâsî (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) says in his book Ashâb-i kirâm, “Ijtihâd means to work with all one’s might, to strive and to take pains. In other words, it is to strive to derive the rules to solve problems that have not been explained clearly and openly in the Qur’ân or in the hadîths by likening them to matters that have been explained clearly and in detail. This can be done only by our Prophet (sall Allâhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), by all his Ashâb and, from among other Muslims, by those who have been promoted to the grade of ijtihâd; these exalted people are called Mujtahid. Allâhu ta’âlâ commands us to perform ijtihâd in many places of the Qur’ân. Then, it is a binding rule for mujtahids to perform ijtihâd.
To be a mujtahîd it is necessary to know the high branches of Arabic thoroughly, to know the Qur’ân by heart, to know what each âyat means, the meanings that it indicates, the meanings lying hidden in it, the meanings that must be given according to the subject, to know when âyats descended, why they descended, about what they descended, if they are general or particular, if they are nâsikh or mansûkh, if they are conditioned or unconditional, how they have been derived from Qiraât-i Sab’a and Qiraât-i Shâzza, to know by heart the hundreds of thousands of hadîths that are in Qutub-i sitta and other hadîth books, to know when and why each hadîth was said and how comprehensive its meaning is, what hadîth is before or after the other, the events that have to do with it and upon what events and happenings it was said, by whom they were communicated or narrated and the state of the morality of the persons who communicate it, to know the methods and rules of the knowledge of fiqh, to comprehend the twelve branches of knowledge and the indications and symbols of the Qur’ân and hadîths and their clear and hidden meanings while having these meanings fixed in the heart, and to have strong îmân and a bright, pure heart and a conscience possessing superior qualities and tranquility.
All these superior qualities could exist only in the Ashâb-i kirâm and, later, in some of the great awliya who lived within two hundred years of the period after them. Later, opinions and preferences became widespread and bid’ats started to appear. Day by day such auspicious people decreased in number and by 400 A. H. there was no one left satisfying all these conditions, that is, who was a mutlaq (absolute) mujtahid.