The door of ijtihad has been closed is generally what we hear in our times. Consequently, is it true that Islam is no more applicable in our time? Please comment.
In the 13th century, after the fall of Baghdad, many Muslim scholars were killed and the books were burnt. The scholars of that time resorted to clamp down new rulings for fear of ignorant people taking Islamic law into their own hands and making wild and crazy rulings. Whatever rulings we have we stick with that, we do not take on any new rulings. The early scholars have worked on everything for us, so we must follow either one of the four Madh-habs.
They made a ruling that if a person switches from one madh-hab to another madh-hab, then they could be punished according to this decision of the judge - he could be lashed for switching from one madh-hab to another. And in that period of time, the Hanafi school ruled that it was not permissible for Hanafi to marry a Shafi’i.
In that period, around the Ka’aba they began to conduct four different prayers for each prayer. If you look at the pictures from early 20s all the way back to late 1800s, you will see that they had around the Ka’aba four different structures that looked like canopies and each canopy had a label. One was called the Shafi’i, maqam Shafi’i, and the Hanbali, maqam Hanbali, maqam Hanafi, and maqam Maliki. Therefore, when the time for prayer came, there is one adhan. After the adhan, an imam would stand, let’s say under Shafi’i canopy. They would make iqamah, and all of the people who were Shafi’is who were making umrah would line up and make Salaah. When they made tasleem, then imam from Maliki would stand under Maliki canopy, and another iqamah would be made. All the Malikis would stand up and make Salaah and so on.
Therefore, there were four prayers going on around Ka’aba from that period of time all the way up till 1925. What happened in 1925? The so called Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia took over Mecca, and they smashed all of these canopies and said this has nothing to do with Islam. These are all innovations. They are very much against innovations. Therefore, they destroyed them.
All the Muslims in the world who were used to this way were shocked. They would say what are these Wahabis doing, they are changing the religion. They were just trying to go back to the way it was. Therefore, they broke down all these canopies, and said we will have one imam regardless of what his madh-hab his and everyone will pray behind him. Finished! That was what they did. It ended in 1925.
Therefore, we have to look at that period of time and ask ourselves what happened. People strayed from the madh-hab of Rasulullah (ﷺ), the way to understand the true Islam. Because of that, they ended up making these kinds of ruling where a Hanafi could not marry a Shafi’i. Is that something reasonable? Logical? Is that something acceptable? The idea we would have four prayers going on around Ka’aba at the same time. The religion had split up so much. We have to say that was something unacceptable, that was not true Islam.
True Islam will only come back into being when all those obstacles were removed and people were invited to follow again the way of Rasulullah (ﷺ). A pure way, free from the divisions which people had created; not the imams. The imams are blemish free; they are not to be blamed. It’s the people, many generations later who created this. The imams did not believe in this as they were opposed to any kind of rigidity; they were flexible. Therefore, the way to true Islam is to follow the original way.
I will give you an example of that way from the perspective of Shari’ah and its application, which we call fiqh. The application of Shari’ah is fiqh. Shari’ah is what is found in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, so the basis of shari’ah is the revelation – unchangeable and fixed for all time. When Prophet Jesus comes back in the end of time, he will apply the Shari’ah. He will not bring a new shari’ah; he will apply the same shari’ah. The fiqh of his time of course may wary, so he may make other rulings with regards to shari’ah.
What is the fiqh? Fiqh is the application of shari’ah in areas where direct rulings were not made; circumstances occurred which did not occur in the time of the Prophet (ﷺ). Therefore, we deduce laws from the shari’ah to apply in our times.< Back to Questions