What are the factors which prevent the desires for ijtihad from being
"heavenly" and make them "worldly"?
The door to ijtihad is always open, but there are factors which prevent the
present desires for ijtihad from being “heavenly” and make them “worldly.” They
The first: The cause for the establishment of a rule is different from the
wisdom and benefit expected of it. Wisdom or benefit is the reason of its preference,
while the cause requires its existence. For example, when a Muslim is on a
journey, he shortens his prescribed prayers--he per-forms the prayers of four
units or cycles (rak‘a) to two. The cause for this Divine dispensation in respect
to the lightening of the duty of the prayer is traveling, and the wisdom lying
in it is the hardships of traveling. A Muslim shortens his prayers as long as
he is on a journey, even though he meets no hardships during it, because the
cause exists. If he is not on a journey and yet meets hundreds of hardships,
he cannot shorten the prayers, because wisdom or benefit cannot be the cause
for this dispensation. However, contrary to this precept, the present viewpoint
substitutes wisdom or benefit for the cause and judges accordingly. Certainly,
this type of ijtihad is worldly and cannot be heavenly.
The second: The present viewpoint of people considers the worldly happiness
in the first place and gives it priority in its judgments. Whereas, in the view
of the Islamic Shari'a the other-worldly eternal happiness has absolute precedence,
and the happiness in the world has a secondary place and is considered from
the perspective of its being a means of eternal happiness. Therefore, since
the present viewpoint is strange to the spirit of the Shari'a, it has no
right to exercise ijtihad in the Name of the Shari'a.
The third: The principle that an absolute necessity makes permissible what
is forbidden by the Shari'a, does not have validity at all times and in all
circumstances. If the necessity does not arise from a forbidden act, it may
be the cause for a permission. If, by contrast, it arises from a misuse of will-power
and unlawful acts, it cannot be the means or an excuse for any dispensation.
For example, if a man voluntarily drinks alcohol and becomes drunk, he cannot
be excused for the crimes he commits. If he divorces his wife, the divorce is
in force. If he commits a murder, he is punished. Whereas, if his drunkenness
has not arisen from his misuse of will-power – if he has been forced or threatened
to do that, for example – then neither the divorce is in force nor is he punished.
But one who has voluntarily been addicted to alcohol and can no longer give
it up, cannot make the excuse: ‘I am obliged to drink it, and therefore it is
lawful for me.’
Thus, at this time there are many things which have become generally ‘necessary’
and people are unable to renounce them. However, since they have all arisen
from voluntary misuse of will-power, unlawful inclinations, and forbidden acts,
they can be the means for neither a dispensation nor making the unlawful lawful.
Whereas, since those who are in favour of exercising ijtihad in the present
circumstances, build their reasoning on such sorts of necessities, their ijtihad
is worldly, the product of their fancies, and under the influence of modern
trends of thought, and therefore is not heavenly and in accordance with the
Shari‘a. If any exercise of authority in the Divine ordinances of the Creator
of the heavens and earth, and interference in the worship of His servants does
not depend on that Creator's permission, that exercise of authority and interference