from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Idschtihād ( Arabic اجتهاد, DMG iǧtihād  'effort') is a terminus technicus of Islamic legal theory that describes the finding of norms through independent judgment efforts . He is shortened for the Arabic expression iǧtihād ar- Ra'y ( "striving for an independent opinion"). The counterpart to Idschtihād is Taqlīd ("imitation"). The practitioner of ijtihad is called a mujtahid ; In some cases, this term is also applied to people who do not practice ijtihad themselves, but only have the ability to do so.

Content and justification of ijtihad

Early Muslim legal scholars such as asch-Shāfiʿī still equated the ijtihād with the conclusion by analogy ( qiyās ). In this case it was considered the task of the Mujtahid to determine the ratio legis ( ʿilla ) that is common to the initial case described in the Koran or Sunna and the target case to be solved. It was later assumed that the ijtihād also included various methods of textual interpretation of the Koran and Sunna. The Shafiite Abū Ishāq asch-Shīrāzī (d. 1083) stated: "Idschtihād in the usage of the legal scholars is the expenditure of one's own ability and the effort in search of the judgment based on the Sharia ." Since al-Ghazali (d. 1111) there is a tendency to attach great importance to the principle of the common good ( maṣlaḥa ) in the process of rational judgment.

After the development of the various schools of law , Sunni Islam developed the idea that the possibility of ijtihād was restricted. The Egyptian scholar Jalāl ad-Dīn as-Suyūtī (d. 1505) turned against representatives of this view . He stated in one of his writings that ijtihād was a collective duty ( farḍ kifāya ) of the Muslims in every age , so that the ummah as a whole would go astray as long as individual scholars do not fulfill this task.

To justify the application of ijtihād, a hadith is usually cited, according to which the Prophet, when sending his companion Muʿādh ibn Jabal to Yemen, asked how he would act if he had to pass judgment. Muʿādh replied that he was first orientating himself to the Book of God ; if he finds nothing in it, in the sunna of the prophet; and if this did not contain anything either, he would form his own judgment. The Prophet approved of this answer. The hadith is narrated in the Musnad by Ahmad ibn Hanbal , among others . Although it has gaps in the Isnad , it is generally accepted as a normative basis in Sunni legal theory. Today's Sunni scholars see ijschtihād above all as an indispensable means of legal training .

The epistemological assessment of the ijtihād result

Since different scholars held different opinions, the question arose: is each mujtahid right or just one while the others are wrong? The Basrian scholar ʿUbaidallāh al-ʿAnbarī (d. 785) established the principle: "Wherever someone comes to an independent judgment, he finds something right" ( kull muǧtahid muṣīb ). The scholars who followed this view were referred to as "for-right-holders" ( muṣauwiba ), the representatives of the opposite direction as "for-wrong-holders" ( muḫaṭṭiʾa ).

Strictly speaking, however, the representatives of two divergent views are summarized under the “Holders of the Right”. While some believed that there could be several correct answers to a question for which a relevant text was missing, others were of the opinion that there was only one definitely correct answer, but that no one could know it, so that the judgments of all mujahids should be considered correct. The latter epistemological position, which is close to fallibilism , is referred to by modern Arab legal theorists as " muʿtazilitic holding for-right" ( taṣwīb muʿtazilī ), the former as " Ashʿarītic holding- for-right" ( taṣwīb ašʿarī ).

Idschtihād in the realm of the Shia

The concept of ijschtihād was initially rejected in the early Shia. Abū l-Hasan al-Aschʿarī reports in his work Maqālāt al-islāmīyīn : "The Rāfidis in their entirety reject the idschtihād ar-raʾy in the legal provisions ( aḥkām ) and do not recognize it." In the course of adopting the Sunni legal methods Islam was later recognized by most of the Twelve Shiites .

The so-called Hilla School played a key role in conveying the Idschtihād concept. The two scholars al-Muhaqqiq al-Hillī (d. 1277) and al-ʿAllāma al-Hillī (d. 1325) integrated the principle into their works on the "principles of law finding" ( uṣūl al-fiqh ) and described its content. In contrast to Sunni Islam, the use of reason ( ʿaql ) is the basic form of ijtihād among the Twelve Shiites . This also includes certain forms of weighting ( tardjīh ). Only in the Achbārīya , a traditionalist minority group within the Twelve Shia, the application of ijschtihād is still rejected.

Idschtihād and reform of Islam

The Idschtihād has played an important role in the Islamic reform discourse since the 19th century, especially in the course of dealing with European philosophies of the Enlightenment. Especially after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Ijtihād was seen as a way of responding to calls for a rational reform of the Islamic interpretation of the law. According to Muhammad Iqbāl (1877–1938), diversity and constant change are the basis of spiritual life, including Islam. Constant principles, however, must regulate the dynamics of society, which is why it is important to find a balance between change in the form of ijtihad and unity in the form of tawheed . While European society is subject to constant change, Islamic society is paralyzed by the Taqlīd . According to Iqbāl, Idschtihād thus offers an alternative for Islamic society to develop a new religious self-confidence that is based both on the old tradition of Ijtihād and on rationalistic ways of thinking that are considered progressive. Iqbāl sees the revaluation of the idschtihād principle at the end of the 19th and 20th centuries as essential for the emergence of Islamic reform movements like Salafism and state theories like that of Turkey.

The need for a new, contemporary Idschtihād is emphasized above all in connection with the so-called Fiqh al-aqallīyāt . The basic idea here is the idea that a new doctrine of norms must be developed for the Muslim minorities living in Western countries through ijtihād. In the understanding of activist reform Muslims such as Irshad Manji or Abdelwahab Meddeb, Ijtihād means an undogmatic, reasoned way of thinking that allows every Muslim to bring their religious practice up to date in the light of contemporary circumstances: "To practice Ijtihad [...] , we just have to openly ask our questions to Islam. "

The Egyptian reform thinker Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid (1943–2010), on the other hand, expressed himself rather skeptical about the innovation potential of the Idschtihād concept. Hilal Sezgin quotes him as saying:

“But I don't share the great hope associated with such a company. Ijtihad namely, by definition, does not mean something new in our understanding to bring religion or renew anything really. Idschtihad actually means to find the most suitable solution within the tradition among the most diverse views on a topic. This search for the new is still limited to working with what can be found within the traditional limits. In doing so, idschtihad takes tradition for granted and turns to what our ancestors said, thought and achieved. "

- Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid: Mohammed and the signs of God . 2008, p. 198.

If the entire tradition is to be subjected to a critical interpretation and examination, says Abu Zaid, this cannot be achieved with the means of ijtihad because it is too tied to the idea of ​​Islamic law. Critical Muslim thinking must go further and be broader than ijschtihād.


  • Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid with Hilal Sezgin : Mohammed and the signs of God. The Koran and the future of Islam . Herder, Freiburg a. a., 2008. pp. 188-206.
  • Norman Calder: "Doubt and prerogative: the emergence of an Imami Shīʿī theory of ijtihād " in Studia Islamica 70 (1989) 57-78.
  • Éric Chaumont: La Problématique Classique de l'Ijtihâd et la Question de l'Ijtihâd du Prophète: Ijtihâd, Waḥy et ʿIṣma. In: Studia Islamica. No. 75, 1992, ISSN  0585-5292 , pp. 105-139, doi : 10.2307 / 1595623 .
  • Wael B. Hallaq : What the gate of ijtihad closed? In: International Journal of Middle East Studies. Vol. 16, No. 1, 1984, ISSN  0020-7438 , pp. 3-41, doi : 10.1017 / S0020743800027598 .
  • Muhammad Iqbal : The Revival of Religious Thought in Islam. Translated from the English by Axel Monte and Thomas Stemmer. Hans Schiler, Berlin 2003. ISBN 3-89930-016-5 . Digitized
  • Birgit Krawietz: Hierarchy of legal sources in traditional Sunni Islam (= writings on legal theory. H. 208). Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-428-10302-5 (at the same time: Tübingen, Universität, habilitation paper, 1999).
  • Rudolph Peters: Idjtihād and taqlīd in 18th and 19th century Islam. In: The world of Islam . Vol. 20, No. 3/4, 1980, pp. 131-145, doi : 10.2307 / 1569501 .
  • Abbas Poya: Recognition of iǧtihād. Legitimation of tolerance. Possibilities of inner and outer tolerance in Islam using the example of the iǧtihād discussion (= Islamic studies . Vol. 250). Schwarz, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-87997-306-7 .
  • Intisar A. Rabb: Ijtihād. In: John L. Esposito (Ed.): The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Volume 2: Creeds - Intercession. Oxford University Press, Oxford et al. 2009, ISBN 978-0-19-530513-5 , Sp. 522b-527. ( Online version ).
  • Abdullah Saeed: “Ijtihād and Innovation in Neo-Modernist Islamic Thought in Indonesia” in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 8 (1997) 279-295.
  • Lutz Wiederhold : The manuscript Ms. orient. A 918 of the Gotha Research Library as a starting point for some considerations on the term “iǧtihād” in Sunni jurisprudence. In: Journal of the German Oriental Society . Vol. 143, No. 2, 1993, pp. 328-361, JSTOR 43378626 .
  • Lutz Wiederhold: Specialization and shared competence - Sunni legal scholars on the admissibility of iǧtihād. In: The World of the Orient . Vol. 28, 1997, pp. 153-169, JSTOR 25683645 .

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. Wael B. Hallaq : A History of Islamic Legal Theories. An Introduction to Sunnī uṣūl al-fiqh. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al. 1997, ISBN 0-521-59027-2 , p. 15.
  2. Cf. Rumee Ahmed: Narratives of Islamic Legal Theory. Oxford University Press, Oxford et al. 2012, ISBN 978-0-19-964017-1 , pp. 115-128.
  3. Al-Iǧtihād fī ʿurf al-fuqahāʾ istifrāġ al-wusʿ wa-baḏl al-maǧhūd fī ṭalab al-ḥukm aš-šarʿī. See Abū Iṣḥāq aš-Šīrāzī: al-Lumaʿ fī uṣūl al-fiqh. Dār al-Kalima, Cairo 1997, ISBN 977-5826-06-3 , p. 135.
  4. Cf. Poya: Recognition of iǧtihād . 2003, p. 84 f.
  5. Cf. Elizabeth M. Sartain: Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī. = Ǧalāl-ad-Dīn as-Sūyuṭī. Volume 1: Biography and background (= Cambridge University. Oriental Publications. 23). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al. 1975, ISBN 0-521-20547-6 , p. 63.
  6. Cf. Poya: Recognition of iǧtihād. 2003, p. 50 f.
  7. Cf. Krawietz: Hierarchy of Legal Sources in Traditional Sunni Islam. 2002, pp. 208-209.
  8. ^ Poya: Recognition of iǧtihād. 2003, p. 103.
  9. See Josef van Ess : Theology and Society in the 2nd and 3rd Century Hijra. A History of Religious Thought in Early Islam. Volume 2. de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 1992, ISBN 3-11-012212-X , p. 161 f.
  10. ^ Poya: Recognition of iǧtihād. 2003, pp. 123-125.
  11. Cf. Krawietz: Hierarchy of Legal Sources in Traditional Sunni Islam. 2002, p. 344.
  12. See Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī Ibn Ismāʾīl al-Ašʿarī: Kitāb Maqālāt al-islāmīyīn wa-ḫtilāf al-muṣallīn (= Bibliotheca Islamica . Vol. 1). Published by Hellmut Ritter . Maṭbaʿat ad-daula et al., Istānbūl et al. 1929–1933, p. 53, line 4, ( online ).
  13. See Heinz Halm : Die Schia. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1988, ISBN 3-534-03136-9 , pp. 84-90.
  14. See Devin J. Stewart: Islamic Legal Orthodoxy. Twelver Shiite Responses to the Sunni Legal System. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City UT 1998, ISBN 0-87480-551-1 , p. 15 f.
  15. Cf. Poya: Recognition of iǧtihād . 2003, pp. 112-122.
  16. Iqbāl: The Revival of Religious Thought in Islam. 2003, p. 175.
  17. Iqbāl: The Revival of Religious Thought in Islam. 2003, pp. 177-181.
  18. Irshad Manji : The Departure. Plea for an enlightened Islam (= German 34193). Updated paperback ed. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-423-34193-9 , p. 75.
  19. Abu Zaid / Sezgin: Mohammed and the signs of God. 2008, pp. 198f.