Subject: Re: Oh, the wisdom of a bookend
Date: 2 Jul 2003 19:55:15 GMTOrganization: Altopia Corp. - Usenet Access - www.altopia.com
From: Musa Furber <email@example.com>
salamun `ala man yattabi`-ul-huda
firstname.lastname@example.org (al amriki) wrote:
>As-salaamu 'alaikum!Then you have agreed on deficient definition.
>"Zuiko Azumazi" <email@example.com> wrote in message
>> Consensus is defined normatively as "agreement of the majority in
>> or belief", which is distinct from unanimity i.e. "everyone being
>> mind". Do you agree?
>Yes, I do.
Using the word "consensus" is in fact most appropriate, because one of its
definitions is agreement by all or most. At least, this is what my
Webster's New World Dictionary has to say.
When all agree it is ijma` sarih.
When agreement of most is explicit and no disagreement is known of, you
have ijma` sukuti.
When we talk about "scholarly consensus" it is clear that we are talking
about a particular definition of the term. The whole mess is covered in
books of jurisprudence, under the topic of Majaz khass and majaz `am.
>Irony of ironies, the understanding of 'ijma being foisted upon us
"foisted" - something sold through fraud and deception.
>here is itself one upon which there is no unanimity of opinion. It'sOh, yes: foisted. But the question is who is dong the foisting: someone
>circular logic. The response to this you can anticipate is something
>snide and bitter, along the lines of "Oh, but yes there is ..."
>followed by an appeal to highly reputed authority -- but nothing
>entirely clear by The Qur'an or that which reaches the Prophet
quotes authoritative sources, or someone who does not.
>sallAllahu 'alaihi was-sallam.As for the Quranic basis of scholarly consensus, since no one wanted
take up the topic elsewhere - here you go:
>as-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu!wa `alaykum al-slam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
>Anjum wrote:Mohammad Hashim Kamali's _Principles Of Islamic Jurisprudence_ is
>> 1. Is there any ijma' among the jurists on which of the Qur`anic
>> statements provide justification for ijma'?
> You might enjoy "The Doctrine of Ijma' in Islam" by Ahmad Hasan,
>Publications of the Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad, Publication
>No. 39 (1976). He also wrote "The Early Development of Islamic
>Jurisprudence," the Institute's Publication No. 17, in 1970. Together,
>these two writings detail much of the reasoning applied by the muslims
>of the Abbasid period in formulating jurisprudential doctrines.
perhaps the best work in English to quote on this. He covers the the
subject of ijma` on pages 168 through 194. And on pages 181 and 182 he
comments on Ahmad Hasan's work. Kamali and Hasan even use mach of the
>In "Ijma'" he [Ahmad Hasan --mf] says: "As we noticed earlier,
theWhat he means by (c) escapes me. Proponents of ijma` all agree that
>doctrine of ijma' was recognized in Islamic legal theory on practical
>grounds. It started primarily with the aim of integrating the
>community. Hence divergence was inevitable in its theory. But the
>theory was not recognized by the commmunity universally. Opinion was
>divided into three groups, viz. (a) those who believed in the orthodox
>theory of ijma'; (b) those who rejected it outright; and (c) those who
>adopted a middle course, believing in it in part and rejecting it in
>part. In previous
ijma` can happen and (2) that it happened during the time of the
Companions (Allah be pleased with them). The proponents of ijma` then
disagree over a large number of matters: has it happened since the
Companions (Allah be pleased with them), does consensus have to be
universal or can does a particular locality - such as Medina or Kufa -
carry special weight, a few specific details about what it means for the
ijma` to take place - does the entire generation have to die first - and
whether consensus can be broken. Since the above fall under (a), I have
no idea where this leaves from for (c).
>chapters, we dilated mainly on the arguments of the first group,
i.e.For addition benefit, a few words about the people mentioned:
>the exponents of ijma'. We, of course, discussed doubts, objections,
>and questions raised by the opponents in the course of analysis of the
>orthodox viewpoint. Here we shall analyze the arguments of the last
>two groups, along with the views of some eminent legal thinkers, like
>al-Nazzam, Ibn Hanbal, Ibn Hazm, Najm al-Din al-Tufi, Ibn Taymiyah and
>al-Shawkani." (Hasan, op cit., p.164)
* Al-Nazzam is a chief Mu`tazili. No one questioned ijma` prior to him.
His opponents point out that ijma` occurred prior to al-Nazzam's* Ahmad bin Hanbal is the founder of the madhhab bearing his name. His
birth, and that al-Nazzam himself makes use of silent ijma` [ijma`
sukuti] to to refute overt ijma` [ijma` sarih] - and so he uses a weak
form of what he reject as evidence against the stronger.
is reported to have said that "He who claims ijma` is a liar", and:* Ibn Hazm is the well known Zahiri Imam. He wrote a commentary on Ibn
"One should not claim ijma`". These two statements are not identical,
and must be reconciled.
al-Qadi Abu Ya`la said that while on the outward this indicates that
Imam Ahmad did not consider ijma` to be sound, that he said it to
instill godfearingness for those without knowledge [i].
Ibn `Aqil said that Imam Ahmad said this out of [general] extreme
piety [war`] because someone who claims ijma` may not be aware of a
difference of opinion - and in any case: Imam Ahmad did in fact make
claims of ijma` [ii].
Imam Ahmad did not cite ijma` often, and he stuck to the first one or
two generations after the Companions (Allah be pleased with them)
Taymiyyah's collection of issues over which there is ijma`. Because of* Najm al-Din al-Tufi was a Hanbali in fiqh who died in 716 AH; it is
his strict standards for ijma`, he is one of the best sources when
citing ijma`. He is reported to have considered ijma` feasible only
during the time of the Companions (Allah be pleased with them one and
well known that there are some serious reservations about some of his* Ibn Taymiyyah is the well known Hanbali mujtahid. The books of Hanbali
personal preferences on issues. He discusses ijma` in his _Al-Bulbul
Fi Usul al-Fiqh_, which is a condensed version of Ibn Qudamah's
_Raudat al-Nazi Wa Jannat al-Muntazi_ which is itself a condensed
version of Imam al-Ghazali's _Al-Mustasfa_. Najm al-Din comes out in
favor of the essentials of ijma`, gives a typical discussion of the
evidence for ijma`, and then goes into specific issues [iv].
usul that I consulted do mention him having any non-standard ideas* Al-Shaukani is the Zaydi turned Sunni (d 1255 AH). Someone in the
century is just a wee bit late to question ijma`.
> He then proceeds with those analyses.
And here, the reader is left hanging. What were the conclusions? Ahmad
Hasan is supposed to discuss people of groups (b - total rejection of
ijma`) and (c - partial acceptance / partial rejection). The ironic
thing is that members of (c) actually belong to (a), and the only member
of (b) that he mentioned actually makes us of ijma`.
>> 2. Is there any ijma' among the jurists on which ahadith provideThe question concerned ijma` over the hadith which serve as evidence
>> justification for ijma'?
> Obviously not. Ahmad Hasan says: "The concept of strict
>adherence to the jama'ah gave rise to the idea of the infallibility of
>the agreed decisions of the community. The following tradition gives
>sanction to this notion: "My community will not agree on an error.
>When you see disagreement, you should follow the overwhelming
>majority." This tradition is a basis for the justification of the
>principle of ijma'." (Hasan, op cit., p.9)
ijma`. The response "obviously not" followed by a discussion concerning
just one of the hadiths used for ijma`. Not an answer to the question.
> He footnotes this hadith as from Ibn Majah, Sunan, Abwab al-Fitan.
As well as Sunan al-Tirmidhi (2166) and Musnad Imam Ahmad (6:396) -
least on the first part: "My community will not agree upon a
misguidance". They do not include the second part from Ibn Majah (3950).
At this point, someone will dash in with "See, they don't even agree on
the wording - so how can they have consensus!" A good point. The answer
is simple: they agree on the meaning of the general meanings the hadith,
even if they disagree on the specific wording.
Seeing whether or not they agree in the hadith evidence used for this is
easy: one need only open several books in usul al-fiqh and see the
hadith evidence presented and how it is understood. If one wishes to see
whether there is consensus, this must be continued until all books of
usul for a given period of time have been gone through; it is not a
condition to open all books since the very beginning, since one a
generation has reached consensus it is binding on the later generations.
The evidence presented above is not the only hadith evidence cited for
proving the basis ijma`. In addition, the evidence cited in support of
ijma` is not limited to hadith. Here are a few of the verses from the
Qur'an commonly cited as evidence for the basis of ijma`:
And whoso opposeth the messenger after the guidance (of Allah) hathIn any case, the question of whether or not there is ijma` over what
been manifested unto him and followeth other than the believer's way
We appoint for him that unto which he himself hath turned and expose
him unto hell a hapless journey's end! (4:115)
O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the messenger and those of you
who are in authority; and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter
refer it to Allah and the messenger if ye are (in truth) believers
in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the
And if any tidings whether of safety or fear come unto them they
noise it abroad whereas if they had referred it to the messenger and
such of them as are in authority those among them who are able to
think out the matter would have known it. If it had not been for the
grace of Allah and His mercy ye would have followed Satan save a few
(of you). (4:83)
evidence proves ijma` is a moot point.
> He does not, in this early chapter, discuss the fact that the firstNot so.
>sentence requires utter unanimity (i.e., completely without
>disagreement), while the second sentence gives practical guidance where
>there is no ijma' as defined by the first sentence. Conflation of the
>two sentences into a single principle of ijma' is one of the factors
>precluding any ijma' on ijma', some regarding "overwhelming majority"
>(i.e., general consensus) as axiomatically binding and some
(1) "My community will not agree on an error."
(2) "When you see disagreement, you should "follow the overwhelmingStatement (1) simply says that the ummah will never agree upon an error:
that each and every person is a Muslim will never agree on something
that is a misguidance. This hadith is about the impossibility of the
ummah as whole becoming misguided. This idea is supported by the hadith
in Bukhari and Muslim where the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him
peace) informs us that there will always exist a group within the ummah
that is upon complete guidance, and that they will be unhurt by those
who contradict them.
So (1) rules out ijma` over a misguidance, which has no bearing on ijma`
As for statement (2), this is not part of the meaning that is shared in
all versions of the hadith. This portion is not typically cited when
giving evidence for the basis of ijma`. Additionally, the Arabic wording
is in the imperative form. Unless there is evidence to prove otherwise,
this is taken to be an order and not a suggestion.
An "overwhelming majority" is not consensus.
I must be a real dimwit, because I cannot see how putting (1) and (2)
does anything to preclude ijma` over matters that are not misguidance.
>> 3. Is there any ijma' among the jurists on what ijma' is?Nonsense. If one wishes to know whether or not the jurists agree on
> No. "My community will not agree on an error" requires complete
>unanimity; "follow the overwhelming majority" gives weight to
>consensus; jurists do not agree the two are the same or that both
ijma` is, one goes to the jurists and sees what the jursist had to say.
The question was about whether or not there is ijma` among the jursist
[fuqaha] - it should be jurisprudents [usuliyun] - and not a question
about one of the possible evidences they cite to support ijma`. The
question is about *their* understanding, and no one else's.
Proponents of ijma` agree over the principle ijma`: the scholars of a
given generation agreeing over a particular religious matter. While the
wording may vary, they agree on this meaning. And as Imam al-Ghazali
pointed out: we should not get tripped up in the words, but rather must
look at the meanings they point to - this is the essence of what he
said, not a direct quote.
>> 4. Ijma' by which group of people is termed as ijma'?The scholars who held that (1) the ijma` of a particular region
> There is no unanimity on this question either. Ahmad Hasan says:
>"Ijma' in its early stages was parochial, i.e. the ijma of Medina,
>Kufa, Basra, and Syria.
[relative ijma`] has the same weight as (2) the ijma`of the scholars of
a given generation [ijma` without any linguistic qualifications] agreed
on the latter (2). There is ijma` on the base case (2), but not on the
branch (1). Differences regarding (1) do nothing to weaken (2).
>Al-Shafi'i almost rejected the ijma of the scholars because of itsThis is not exactly what Imam al-Shafi`i said. In paragraph 481 of his
>parochial nature and because it involved personal opinion. He
>recognized only the ijma' of the community on
_Risalah_ he differentiates agreement into two types: that which is
supported by tradition and that which is not. The former he accepts, and
the latter he denies. Somehow I do not think that there is anyone more
expert in Imam al-Shafi`is opinions other than Imam al-Shafi`i himself.
(See Majid Khadduri's translation _al-Shafi`is Risala_, pp255-57)
>the essentials of religion. He substantiated his standpoint on theKind of. He recognized that is must be supported by Prophetic tradition
>basis of some traditions that were adopted later by the jurists.
and is not an independent source, and as such it is restricted to
While in theory it potentially applies to everything religious, in
practice it tended to form only over matters essential to Islam. Since
the folks of consideration when it comes to ijma` are scholars, it was
not a condition that these things be well known amongst the masses,
though that does tend to be the case.
>With the development of its theory in the medieval period, thereIf by "Orthodoxy" he means people who take an extreme case of ijma`
>appeared three types of attitude, viz. that which upheld the classical
>theory in toto; that which partially recognized it with reservations;
>and that which rejected it outright. Orthodoxy could hardly convince
>its opponents because of the divergence of opinion on many points in
>the theory itself." (Hasan, op cit., p.vi)
- that all ijma` whether universal or relative is binding - then this is
But if he means "those who accept the principle of ijma`" then the
reason others could not be convinced is because they simply did not want
to be, much like today's hadith rejectors. It had and has nothing to do
with lack convincing arguments and clear proofs; it has to do with
caprice, whim, and self interest.
>> 5. What are the various types of ijma'?The type over which all Muslims agree is the explicit consensus of the
> Above is the tip of the iceberg.
scholars of a given generation over a particular matter that has textual
support. This is known as explicit ijma` [ijma` sarih], and it is what
is meant when the word is left without qualification.
A modified form involves the same, however instead of explicit consensus
it involves all of them knowing about an issue, one part of the group
agreeing and the rest remaining silent for no reason other than
remaining silent. This is known as tacit ijma` [ijma` sukuti].
Some Hanbalis accept this, especially when it involves the Companions
(Allah be pleased with them).
The Malikis accept the ijma` of the scholars of Madina.
Some Hanbalis accept the ijma` of the Rightly Guided Caliphs.
It is very difficult to prove ijma`, especially after the first few
generations. Because of this scholars tend to use the term "on this we
know of know divergence" [la na`rifu fihi khulaf]. Ibn Mundhir uses this
term in _Kitab al-Ijma`_ to differentiate between the two. But keep in
mind: "difficult to" is not the same as "cannot be" and "has not been".
>> 6. Is ijma' binding on ALL Muslims?By implication, the rest of the time it does not. Consider a two
> When the sword rules, yes.
Q: Is Islam binding on ALL Muslims?Or:
A: When the sword rules, yes.
Q. Is the Shari` binding on ALL Muslims?Obviously, all three are binding whether Islam is enforced by the State
A: When the sword rules, yes.
>> 7. If a Muslim does not accept a ruling of ijma', is (s)he consideredBy Allah Most High, of course. Ijma` is not an independent source: ijma`
>> a Muslim?
> Considered by whom?
is always built on textual evidence and it is a report that every
scholar of a given generation agreed that the evidence means a
particular thing. The consequence for rejecting a ruling over which
there is consensus goes back to whether that ruling is (1) certain
[qat`i] or (2) speculative [zanni], and whether the former is something
(3) necessarily known to be part of the religion. Rejecting (3) puts you
outside of Islam. Someone who persists in rejecting (1) once it has been
made clear to them runs the risk. Someone who rejects (2) is considered
>> 8. If a Muslim does not accept a ruling of ijma', does (s)he
commitOne contemporary example comes to mind: The Qur'an and rejecting two
> What ruling? Has there been any recorded instance of an
>affirmatively expressed complete unanimity, apart from some very basic
>practices, or is such unanimity merely presumed from the absence of any
>record of disagreement?
verses from it because they do not coform with hocus-pocus numerology.
Also, see above.
> In this it is worthwhile to note that 'Ali radi ALLAHU anhu differedYes, this was common. It was common for one Companion (Allah be pleased
>from 'Umar radi ALLAHU anhu on some matter but remained silent for the
>sake of unity, and in that 'Umar had the responsibility at the time,
>and not 'Ali, who ruled contrarily when he later had the responsibility
>and a like case came before him.
with them one and all) to remain silent when another was asked a
question, and it was especially the case that when the Caliph gave an
answer *as the Caliph* that others would remain silent.
There are cases where one Companion (Allah be pleased with them) was
asked a question on inheritance laws. Sitting next to him was another
Companion (Allah be pleased with him) who held a contrary opinion. The
first Companion answered. After the person asking the question had
departed, the first turned to the second and asked why he remained
silent. His answer was "Because I was not the one asked."
>Some jurists would say that the absence of manifest disagreement
duringThe only scholars who would consider the above ijma` are those who hold
>'Umar's time was ijma', while it is clear that there was not a
>probative agreement in fact.
that tacit ijma` [ijma` sukuti] is binding and that it is not a require-
ment that the entire generation of scholars first die. No one, as far as
I have read in more than a half dozen books on the subject, combines
> It is important to distinguish between what facts compel in the
wayYes, but after first gathering all available facts. And since the door
>of a conclusion and what they may allow in the way of a conclusion.
to the facts has Arabic as a lock, one must first learn Arabic in order
to do so. It is also important to note an authors prejudices and whether
or their prejudices would lead them to "doctor" the evidence.
>Especially when it comes to erecting an institutional edifice ofSo there is near ijma` that this happened during the Abbasids? In
>canonical jurisprudence, which virtually all agree began in the time
>the Abbasi reign, on foundations attributed to earlier generations.
closing, I quote from Kamali response to Ahmad Hasan:
Not withstanding the doubts and uncertainties in the nusus, theThis, I hope, ends the message on a positive foot.
majority of ulema have concluded that the consensus of all the
mujtahidun on a particular ruling is a sure indication that the word
of truth has prevailed over their differences; that it is due to the
strength of that truth that they have reached a consensus. This
rational argument in support of ijma` has been further advanced to
the effect that consensus upon a shar`i ruling is bound to be
founded on sound ijtihad. In exercising ijtihad, the mujtahid is
normally guided by certain rules and guidelines. Ijtihad often
consists of an interpretation of the nass, or of a rational
extension of its ruling. Even in the absence of a nass, ijtihad
still observes both the letter and spirit of the sources which the
mujtahid has mastered through his general knowledge. Since ijtihad
is founded on sound authority in the first place, the unanimous
agreement of all the mujtahidun on a particular ruling indicates
that there is clear authority in the Shari1`ah to sustain their
consensus. In the event of this authority being weak or speculative,
we can only expect disagreement (ikhtilaf), which would
automatic- ally preclude consensus. Ijma`, in other words, accounts
for its own authority. [v]
===== Citations =====
i Yusuf ibn `Abd al-Hadi [aka: Ibn al-Mubrid] al-Hanbali [d 909 AH],
_Ghayat al-Sul Ila `Ilm al-Usul_. p246. The source for the reportsii ibid
include Abu Ya`la's _Al-`Uddah_, 4:1060
iii ibid, p249. This is cited in _Muswaddah Al Taymiyyah_, authored by
Ibn Taymiyyah, his father, and his father's father, on page 316)
iv Al-Tufi, _Al-Bulbul_. pp78-84
v Kamali, _Principles Of Islamic Jurisprudence_. p182.