Unfortunately due to the influence of the Western ideology and the resultant defeatist mindset, we now see the incorrect usage of the term ‘Ijtihad’ to mean ‘Islah’ (reform). Today the call for the reformation of Islam can be heard from many around the world especially Western thinkers and politicians. They espouse the reformation of Islam in a similar manner to how the Europeans reformed Christianity centuries ago.
It must be clear that there is a stark difference between reformation and Ijtihad. Ijtihad as defined earlier is related to extracting the hukm of Allah upon an issue whereas Islah in this context means changing or reforming Islam to fit with the reality or a conclusion from ones mind. This approach of changing Islam to fit the reality espoused by some modernist thinkers is highly dangerous and completely contradicts the Shariah in a definitive manner.
"We need an Islamic reformation," the then Deputy Defence Secretary of the United States, Paul Wolfowitz confided on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq, "and I think there is real hope for one." [http://www.antiwar.com/lobe/?articleid=2273]
Echoing those views one year later, another prominent neo-conservative, Daniel Pipes of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum (MEF), declared that the "ultimate goal" of the war on terrorism had to be Islam's modernization, or, as he put it, "religion-building."
Such an effort needs to be waged not only in the Islamic world, geographically speaking, added Pipes, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of the US Institute for Peace (USIP), but also among Muslims in the West, where, in his view, they are too often represented by "Islamist (or militant Islamic)" organizations. [http://www.antiwar.com/lobe/?articleid=2273]
The words of Salman Rushdie give us an insight into their perspective. The author of the controversial ‘Satanic Verses’ said in an article in the Washington Post entitled ‘The Right Time for An Islamic Reformation’:
“Traditional Islam is a broad church that certainly includes millions of tolerant, civilized men and women but also encompasses many whose views on women's rights are antediluvian, who think of homosexuality as ungodly, who have little time for real freedom of expression, who routinely express anti-Semitic views and who, in the case of the Muslim diaspora, are -- it has to be said -- in many ways at odds with the Christian, Hindu, non-believing or Jewish cultures among which they live.”
“What is needed is a move beyond tradition -- nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age, a Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadist ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows to let in much-needed fresh air.
It would be good to see governments and community leaders inside the Muslim world as well as outside it throwing their weight behind this idea, because creating and sustaining such a reform movement will require above all a new educational impetus whose results may take a generation to be felt, a new scholarship to replace the literalist diktats and narrow dogmatisms that plague present-day Muslim thinking. It is high time, for starters, that Muslims were able to study the revelation of their religion as an event inside history, not supernaturally above it.”
“The traditionalists' refusal of history plays right into the hands of the literalist Islamofascists, allowing them to imprison Islam in their iron certainties and unchanging absolutes. If, however, the Koran were seen as a historical document, then it would be legitimate to reinterpret it to suit the new conditions of successive new ages. Laws made in the seventh century could finally give way to the needs of the 21st. The Islamic Reformation has to begin here, with an acceptance of the concept that all ideas, even sacred ones, must adapt to altered realities.
Broad-mindedness is related to tolerance; open-mindedness is the sibling of peace…” [The Right Time for An Islamic Reformation, The Washington Post, Sunday, August 7, 2005; Page B07, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/05/AR2005080501483.html]
This call for a reformation of Islam is intellectually flawed. The causes that led to the reformation of Christianity do not exist within Islam. Contrary to the present reality, rulers in early Europe recognized the growing power of the Church and gave vast grants of land to Church leaders in order to befriend the new, powerful entity. This land was taxed, and the serfs who worked it paid tithes to the Church. With more and more grants of land coming in, the Church grew greatly in size and wealth to become the mightiest of powers in the Middle Ages. As the wealth and political influence started to lead to corruption, the Church became interested in management of this new power. In time, unrest among the common people, together with new emphasis on relating faith and reason, brought forth new ideas that challenged the Church's undisputed authority. [Howe, Helen. Ancient and Medieval Worlds. New York: Longman, 1992. pp 356-357]
Therefore, the growing power of the Church and the new spirit of questioning between the early 1100s and the late 1500s that instigated unrest among European Catholics were the leading factors in the Protestant Reformation of the 1600s.
These days, there is no institution of monastery in the world of Islam that owns thousands of villas and serfs. The Mosque is not “bound by feudalism” the way archbishops, bishops and abbots in Germany “gave their loyalty to the king and became no different than great nobles, managing agriculture and owing military service.” [Durant, Will. The Age of Faith. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1950. pp 564]
Furthermore as the age of discovery and science began in Europe. This often led to confrontation with the Church’s teachings, for example Galileo’s support of Copernican theories that the earth revolved round the sun and not the reverse as proposed by the clergy put him at odds with the Church. In October 1632 he was ordered to appear before the ‘Holy Office’ in Rome. The court issued a sentence of condemnation and forced Galileo to abjure. One can continue to quote many more examples, but the Church and the Monarchs did their best to suppress this knowledge to maintain its grip on society.
Contrary to this Science flourished under Islam. It was not subject to any of the repression, perpetrated by the Church in the West, which caused the ‘dark ages’ until the people threw of the stifling influence of the Church. Islamic thinkers clearly defined two areas of knowledge. Ibn Khaldun says in his ‘al-Muqaddimah’, "the sciences ('uloom) are of two types: a natural type for man to arrive at through his own thinking, and a textual type which he takes from the one who originated it. The first type is the rational and philosophical sciences which he can seek through his own thought; and by his faculties he discovers its subjects and issues, the forms of their proofs and the aspects of their teaching, so that through discernment and study he identifies the correct from the incorrect in his capacity as a human being possessing the faculty of thought. The second is the textual and traditional sciences, which depend on the report coming from a shar'ai source. In this type the mind has no scope except to link the peripheral issues to the foundation (usool)." Ibn Khaldun also said, "The rational or natural sciences are common to all nations since man arrives at them through the natural disposition of his thought."
The Muslims clearly understood that the natural sciences are left open to the mind of man. In the domain of pure science we can exercise our thinking and take from other peoples contributions in the technical and scientific field. For example, if a person wanted to design an automotive engine he would refer to all the past and current engine designs, regardless of who designed them, Muslims or non-Muslims. The pure science does not concern itself with one's point of view about life be it Capitalism, Buddhism, or Islam. The pure science was understood to be the same for all people. Therefore, it is with this clear definition that the early Muslims progressed very fast in all fields of science known at the time and pioneered in to the new fields.
Another stark difference is that Christianity is not a comprehensive ideology with the intrinsic capability of being able to provide solutions for all problems whether social, economic or political in all ages. As I addressed earlier in the sections ‘The Islamic Shariah is applicable for all times and all places’ and ‘The Islamic texts have the capacity to solve any problem’, Islam is a comprehensive ideology that provides detailed solutions for the individual, society and state. To separate Islam from politics or the religion from state is therefore an impossibility as it would in fact then be disbelief, the adherents of which who would be actually following a new religion like Qadianism. The term neo-qadiani’s is an apt term for those who espouse such heresy.
Unfortunately today there are many neo-qadiani authors who misuse the terminology of Ijtihad for their own agenda. For example Irshad Manji author of ‘The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith’ has launched ‘Project Ijtihad’ through her website. She says, “Project Ijtihad is our foundation to spur a reform in Islam — a reform that enables the emerging generation of Muslims, especially young women, to challenge authoritarianism and restore Islam’s tradition of critical thinking.
Our mission is to build the world’s first leadership network for reform-minded Muslims. And we will do that by creating a dynamic website on which Project Ijtihad will the most taboo-busting debates about – and within – the world of Islam. For example, can Muslims marry non-Muslims?” [http://www.muslim-refusenik.com/ijtihad.html]
In the guise of intellectualism and re-opening the door of Ijtihad such authors have completely misused the terminology in order to justify the unjustifiable – the altering of definitive beliefs and rules of Islam. For example, Irshad Manji openly supports homosexuality a well known definitely prohibited act according to the Quran and Sunnah, she has proudly posted a photo of herself with gay and lesbian Palestinians at Jerusalem Open House on her website.
I established earlier that in Islam Ijtihad has a specific meaning which has been derived from the various shariah evidences relating to it. Ijtihad is not possible in definitively established rules such as the prohibition of women to marry non-Muslim men, the prohibition of homosexuality, gambling, Riba (usury) and the like. Regardless of how someone were to misconstrue the Islamic texts in an attempt to claim Ijtihad in this area, it is rejected and rather than being Ijtihad it would be an insult to the Deen of Allah (swt). Besides this it is intellectually incoherent to claim that a deduction that contradicts the fundamentals of an ideology can be a legitimate interpretation of it. As an example if we were to claim that we have re-interpreted Western liberal democracy and in our ‘Ijtihad’ it was the rule of an individual by their own opinion which the masses must abide by as in totalitarianism would that be acceptable? Also if our interpretation of freedom of ownership was that private ownership must be totally abolished and everything should be owned by the state as in Communism, would it be correct for our deductions to be considered as within the framework of Western Free Market economy? Of course it wouldn’t.
Most of these self-claimed experts on Ijtihad are in reality obsessed with Western thought and have little or no understanding of Usul ul-Fiqh (the principles of jurisprudence) and the other Islamic sciences. Their opinions regarding Ijtihad are comparable to an architect’s views about brain surgery. Whilst the architect may be an expert in his own discipline this would not make him qualified to pronounce judgement on matters of brain surgery, let alone claim to be one of its leading thinkers.
In fact one of the first subjects studied in the science of Usul al-Fiqh is the subject of ‘The Legislator’, this subject defines the parameters of the mind and the sovereignty of the Shariah. It is essentially an intellectual subject which refutes the claim of Western thought which the neo-qadiani’s are obsessed with, that human beings can determine good and evil for themselves.
Who the al-Hakim (The Legislator)?
The question of ‘who is al-Hakim?’ (The Legislator) is fundamental to the science of Usul ul Fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) in Islam, as the answer underpins the way we view this life and the entire Shariah. Al-Hakim means ‘The Legislator’, the one who is sovereign, who has the right to make rules and laws, to decide the halal (permitted) and haram (prohibited) for mankind. Philosophers, theologians and thinkers have discussed the following questions since the beginning of recorded history: Does humankind by the use of their minds alone have the ability to determine what actions should be deemed good and bad, which actions should be praised and which should be shunned? Or do we require the guidance of the Creator, Allah (swt)?
It is true that the mind has the ability to judge the reality as it is and to conclude certain facts about that which we can sense. However it is beyond the scope of the mind to establish laws pertaining to deciding between good and evil actions and a regulatory system including the solutions to all human problems whether individual, social, economic or political. Any such attempt would be fraught with disparity, difference, contradiction and influence from the environment.
Every human being can agree upon objective facts such as the fact that fire burns, the Middle East contains vast oil resources, that men and women are different physically, the meat of a pig has the ability to satisfy hunger and that the USA is currently the dominant superpower in the world, as these are based upon the reality which everyone can perceive.
However people disagree upon how mankind should act, what should be praised and shunned, what should be legal and illegal. People would not disagree that fire burns but different people have various opinions on whether the dead should be cremated by the use of fire. There is no disagreement that the Middle East contains oil, however there are varying views as to whether this oil should be allowed to be in the hands of private companies, should they be nationalised or should they be public properties managed by the state? It is an objective fact to all that men and women differ physically, however the debate exists regarding the laws that govern the relationships between them, should pre-marital relations be permitted? Should both men and women be given exactly the same roles in society? It is questions such as these that have concerned humanity for centuries.
In order to arrive at clear answers to these questions it is paramount to look the objective reality which is perceivable to all. It is clear that by studying the reality that surrounds us that it is impossible to objectively decide upon any actions of humanity in terms of evaluating and distinguishing the good actions from the abhorrent. Therefore it is not feasible for any individual or group of people to organise a system for mankind correctly even for the mind of a genius; since the reality tells us nothing about what is legal or what is illegal; what is good and what is bad; what should be praised and what should be shunned.
When people attempt to decide a system of life for themselves by deciding the right and wrong their ideas would merely be theories amidst thousands of other theories proposed by others. The theories of the Western secular philosophers who lay the foundations of Capitalist societies such as Adam Smith, John Locke, Rousseau, Jeremy Bentham and the like are not objective facts of how societies should be governed. They are only theories devised by laying assumptions and were surely influenced by the environment in which these thinkers lived. In this respect these theories of how to regulate society are equal to the theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler, Mussolini or any other human being in that they are theories devised by the limited mind of human beings.
To believe that the mind should be the legislator would mean that there would be no absolute truth regarding good and bad for humanity, as everyone could use their minds to decide their own values of right and wrong. In this case we would not be able to say definitively that rape, murdering of innocents, theft of private property are evil, as to attribute these labels upon them would be our own subjective opinion upon which people could differ.
It is obvious that the mind’s evaluation of good or evil can be affected by the environment in which human beings live and it even becomes disparate and differs with the succession of ages. So if the evaluation of good and evil were left to the mind, the action would be righteous for one group of people and disgusting for others. This can be seen in the world today where dog is served as a national dish in some countries and eating dog is seen as disgusting in others, or where homosexuality is seen as a legitimate course of behaviour in the Western societies and seen as an abomination in others. The same action could be shunned in one age and praised in another such as the view of pre-marital relations between men and women in Europe in the past and the difference between that and the open promiscuity that exists today.
In fact the meaning of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is subjective according to people’s interpretation of these terms. In the Western Capitalist societies these terms are interpreted according to the secular philosophy upon which they are built i.e. that religion must be separated from life. Secularism led to the concept of Democracy taking root – once religion is separated from life, people were left to decide the law for themselves, as this is practically difficult for all people to decide in unanimity - they elect members of parliament to decide the law on their behalf by the will of the majority. Therefore the determination of all laws such as whether homosexuality should be a legal course of behaviour or prohibited by the law or whether the natural resources such as oil should be privatised or not, are decided by the minds of men.
Human beings incorrectly gave themselves the authority to judge upon the action as good or bad in comparison with things. When they found themselves able to judge upon the bitter thing as qabeeh (abhorrent) and upon the sweet thing as hasan (attractive) and on the disgusting shape as qabeeh and on the beautiful shape as hasan, they thought that they could judge on the truthfulness (sidq) as hasan and the lie as qabeeh, and upon keeping one’s word as hasan and on treachery as qabeeh. Based on this judgement, human beings imposed punishments on the qabeeh action and placed rewards on the hasan action. This judgement is incorrect as the actions cannot be compared to things. The senses can appreciate the bitterness and the sweetness of something and hence the mind can judge upon it. This is contrary to the action which does not possess a matter that human beings can sense so as to judge upon it as qubh or husn. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for them to judge upon such an action as husn or qubh from the action itself. Thus they must take this judgement from another source, that is from Allah (swt).
We as Muslims come to conclusive belief in Allah (swt) and the Quran as the final revelation from Allah (swt) based upon the objective reality which everyone can sense. We recognise that we do not have the ability to decide right and wrong for ourselves, rather the depiction of actions must come from a power beyond the mind i.e. the Shariah of Allah (swt). The fact that Allah (swt) is al-Hakim (The Legislator) is established by definitive meaning in numerous verses of Quran.
Allah (swt) says: "The right of rule is solely for Allah." [TMQ Yusuf: 40]
Allah (swt) has made this a matter of Iman, “But no, by Your Lord, they can have no (real) faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest submission.” [An-Nisa: 65]
Also Allah (swt), the All Wise, states, “O you who believe, obey Allah, obey His Messenger and those in authority amongst you and if you differ over a matter then refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you believe in Allah and the Last Day.” [An-Nisa: 59]
Also Allah (swt) says in Surah al-Ma’idah, “And whosoever does not rule by what Allah has revealed then such are the kafireen (disbelievers)” [Al-Ma’idah: 44]
He (swt) also says, “Judge between them by that which Allah has revealed and follow not their desires and beware of them lest they seduce you from some part of that which Allah has revealed to you.” [Al-Ma’idah: 49]
There are also numerous texts from the ahadith of the Prophet (saw) that establish this, such as:
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Aisha (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Whoever inserted anything in this our matter (Deen) that is not part of it, it is rejected."
Islam as the everlasting and universal ideology determines that the description of actions as qabeeh and hasan should be the same for all human beings in all ages. Therefore the depiction of an action being hasan or qabeeh should come from a power beyond the mind; so it must come from the Shari’ah. Thus the characterisation of the human action as qabeeh and hasan comes from Shari’ah. We say treachery is qabeeh and loyalty is hasan, and sinfulness is qabeeh and piety is hasan, and the alliance with the Kuffar against Muslims is qabeeh and the da’wa to re-establish the Islamic Khilafah, is a hasan action, because Shari’ah has demonstrated that.
The speech of the Legislator came related to the actions of the humans (’Ibad), and obliged the people to restrict themselves to it in all their actions, thus the organisation of actions comes from Allah (swt). The Islamic Shari’ah came in relation to all the actions of people, and all their relationships, whether the relationship was with Allah, with themselves, or with others. So there is no place in Islam for the people to put forward canons or laws for organising their relationships, because they are restricted to the Ahkam Shari’ah.
The Prophet (saw) said: “Verily Allah puts down obligations so do not neglect them, and put down limits so do not transgress them, and forbade some things so do not indulge in them, and remained silent about some things, as permitted to you not out of forgetfulness, so do not ask about them.”
The Islamic Shari’ah contains rules of all past events, current problems and all possible incidents that may happen. Nothing has happened in the past or is happening at present or will happen in the future except that each and every one of those things has a ruling from the Islamic Shari’ah.
The Islamic Shari’ah encompasses all actions of man, completely and comprehensively, at every time and place. He (swt) said:
وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِّكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ
“And We have sent down to you the Book (the Qur’an) as an exposition of everything, a guidance, a mercy, and glad tidings of those who have submitted for those who have submitted themselves to Allah” [TMQ An-Nahl: 89].
And He (swt) said;
مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِي الكِتَابِ مِن شَيْءٍ
“Nothing have we omitted from the book” [TMQ Al-An’am: 38].
And He (swt) said:
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلاَمَ دِينًا
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and chosen for you Islam as your way of life (Deen)” [TMQ Al-Ma’idah: 3].
Thus, the Islamic Shari’ah did not neglect a single thing from the actions of the servants of Allah (swt) whatever they may be.
The Shari’ah either states an evidence for the action as a text in the Qur’an and the Hadith, or it places a sign in the Qur’an and the Sunnah to indicate the aim of an action, and the illah (legal reason) of its legislation. So the Shari’ah rule applies to any and every action that includes that sign or that reason. It is not possible that a human action does not have an evidence or a sign that indicates its rule. This is due, to the general, and definite meaning of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala) saying تِبْيَانًا لِّكُلِّ شَيْءٍ “exposition for everything” [TMQ An-Nahl: 89], and due to the explicit text that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’aala) has completed this Deen.
To this effect, Imaam Sayf ud al Amidi (d.631 Hijri) wrote, in his famous work on jurisprudence, al-Ihkam fi Usul al-Ahkam:
“You should know that there is no judge (or arbiter) except Allah, that there is no judgement but His. A necessary entailment of this (proposition) is that human reasoning cannot declare things to be good or bad and that it cannot necessitate gratitude towards the conferrer of bounties. There is indeed, no rule (or judgement) before the revelation of the Shari’ah.” [al-Ihkam fi Usul al-Ahkam, 1:113]
History of modernism & some examples
The Muslims saw the domination of Capitalism after the turn of the 19th century; it had technological advancements and a complete functioning system while the Muslims had nothing but the declining Uthmani Khilafah. Fundamentally the Muslims had lost the understanding of the Islamic thought and the method of its implementation, and also how the thought and its method were inextricably linked together. Some were sent to the West, and were smitten with it. Rifa’a Rafi’ al- Tahtawi of Egypt (1801-1873), on his return from Paris, wrote a biographical book called Takhlis al-ibriz ila talkhis Bariz (The Extraction of Gold, or an Overview of Paris, 1834), praising their cleanliness, love of work, and above all social morality. He declared that we must mimic what is being done in Paris, advocating changes to the
Islamic society from liberalising women, and to the systems of ruling. This thought, and others like it, marked the beginning of the reinventing trend in Islam; and it has continued into modern times. The original advocates of such thoughts were those like Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1839-1897) and Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), who was appointed as Sheikh al-Azhar during the rule of the British colonialists who took over Egypt in 1882.
Muslims became mesmerised by the advancement of science and technology by the West and began questioning the ability of Islam to deal with modernity. An extract from a letter by Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1839-1897) demonstrates this, Afghani was the teacher of Muhammad Abduh and is considered to be the founding father of Muslim modernist thought. The letter is a response to a lecture by Ernest Renan, Renan, in his lecture ‘Islam and Science’ given at Sorbonne and published in the Journal des Débats, March 29, 1883, attacked Islam and Arabs as innately incapable of doing philosophy and producing science.
Afghani’s language remains apologetic throughout his letter to the Journal des Débats. On the question of religion being an obstacle for the development of science and philosophy, Afghani basically agrees with Renan that all religions are intolerant in one way or another and that they suppress the “free investigation” of scientific and philosophical truth. Even though Afghani asserts that religions have played a vital role in bringing humanity from “barbarism” and myths to the level of advanced civilizations, both Islam and Christianity have turned against the free use of reason and thus stifled scientific progress at some point in their history. Here Afghani seems to forgo his essential distinction between revelation and its unfolding in history, viz., the distinction between Islam and Muslims. With the rise of the Enlightenment, European nations have freed themselves from the tutelage of Christianity, that is, religion, and carried out stunning advancements in all fields of knowledge. Afghani is convinced that there is no reason for us not to hope for a similar thing happening in the Islamic world:
“If it is true that the Muslim religion is an obstacle to the development of sciences, can one affirm that this obstacle will not disappear someday? How does the Muslim religion differ on this point from other religions? All religions are intolerant, each one in its way. The Christian religion, I mean the society that follows its inspirations and its teachings and is formed in its image, has emerged from the first period to which I have just alluded; thenceforth free and independent, it seems to advance rapidly on the road of progress and science, whereas Muslim society has not yet freed itself from the tutelage of religion. Realizing, however, that the Christian religion preceded the Muslim religion in the world by many centuries, I cannot keep from hoping that Muhammadan society will succeed someday in breaking its bonds and marching resolutely in the path of civilization after the manner of Western society…No I cannot admit that this hope be denied to Islam.” [‘Answer of Jamal al-Din to Renan Journal des Debats’, May 18, 1883 in N. R. Keddie, An Islamic Response to Imperialism, p. 183]
The following statement highlights to what extremes some Muslim thinkers went to when they even began throwing doubt on the sources of Shariah and the whole of Fiqh.
In 1885 Maulana Chiragh Ali of India wrote ‘A critical exposition of the popular Jihad’ in which he said: “The Mohammadan Common Law is by no means divine or superhuman. It mostly consists of uncertain traditions, Arabian usages and customs, some frivolous and fortuitous analogical deductions from the Koran, and a multitudinous array of casuistical sophistry of the canonical legists. It has not been held sacred or unchangeable by enlightened Mohammedans of any Muslim country and in any age since the compilation in the fourth century of the Heijra.”
This trend attempting to re-interpret Islam to make it palatable to Western tastes has continued until the present day. Most of this ‘re-interpretation’ has occurred in the non-individualistic areas of Islam such as the transactions (mu’amalat) like the ruling, social and economic ahkam, the rules of punishments (uqoobat) as well as some of the Ibadat (worships) which are not individualistic like Jihad.
In fact many of the proponents of such re-interpretation would condemn the extreme views of Irshad Manji, Salman Rushdie and the like. However this makes them more dangerous as they are seen as more acceptable by the common man and are reference points for some. It must be understood that there is spectrum of various shades of modernist thought ranging from the extreme such as of Irshad Manji to the more subtle such as that of Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Amongst this spectrum are people from various backgrounds including academics, activists and traditional Ulema. All are dangerous as they propagate the moulding of Islam in order to fit with contemporary realities instead of working to change the reality in order to fit Islam.
The Prophet (saw) warned us of this. It is narrated on the authority of 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr who said: 'Abd Allah b. 'Amr b. al-'As overcame us with proof. I heard him say: “Allah will not deprive you of knowledge after he has given it to you, but it will be taken away through the death of the religious learned men with their knowledge. Then there will remain ignorant people who, when consulted, will give verdicts according to their opinions whereby they will mislead others and go astray.” [Sahih Bukhari]
Awf b. Malik al-Ashja'i narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “My Ummah will become divided into some seventy sects, the greatest will be the test of the people who make analogy to the deen with their own opinions, with it forbidding what Allah has permitted and permitting what Allah has forbidden.” [Al-Tabarani in Al-Kabeer wal-Bazaar, Al-Haithami in Majma' Al-Zawaa'id, Part 1/ the Book of Knowledge]
I want to take some key examples of these claimed ijtihadat, some from the past and some more recent in order to expose them as nothing more than attempts to twist Islam. The examples mentioned from the past are also relavent today as similar arguments are used by contemporary modernists often borrowing from their predecessors.
Example 1: Ruling by man-made law
Let us look at an example from Muhammad Abduh’s ‘Tafseer al Manar’.
In relation to the verse:
“And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the Fasiqun (transgressors).” [TMQ 5:44]
He permitted the Muslims of India to adopt English laws and submit to the rulings of English judges. In pages 406-409 he was asked: ‘Is it permitted for a Muslim to be employed by the English to rule by English laws some of which constitutes ruling by other than what Allah has revealed?’ He gave long reply: 'In short, the abode of war (dar al-harb) is not a place for the establishment of the rules of Islam, therefore it is obligatory to make hijra unless there is an excuse or benefit for the Muslims due to which he will be safe from the fitna (test) on his deen. It is incumbent on the one who resides (in India) to serve the Muslims according to the best of his abilities and to strengthen the rules of Islam as much as he can. And there is no means of strengthening the influence of Islam and protecting the interests of the Muslims like the assuming of government posts especially if the if the government is lenient and fairly just between all nations and religions like the English government. It is well known that the laws of this country are closer to the Islamic Shari'a more than others because it delegates most matters to the ijtihad of judges. So whoever is qualified to be a judge in Islam and takes up a post in the judiciary in India with the correct aim and good intention, it is possible for him to do a great service for the Muslims. It is obvious that the abandonment of the judiciary and other government posts, by the people of knowledge and insight due to being sinful for working according to their laws, will forfeit the interests of the Muslims in their deen and dunya.' Then he said: 'It is obvious from all of this that the Muslim's acceptance to work in the English government in India 'and any other similar work' and his ruling according to their laws is a dispensation (rukhsa) which comes under the principle of doing the lesser of two evils if there is no 'azeema by which support of Islam and protecting the interests of Muslims is intended.' [Tafseer al-Manar, Volume 6, p. 406-409, Muhammad 'Abduh]
What he stated is not ijtihad at all as it directly contradicts the hukm that judging by other than what Allah (swt) revealed is prohibited in a definitive (qat’i) manner by the texts.
Let us compare his statement with that of the great classical scholars upon the same issue. There are two main opinions that either the one who judges and rules by kufr is becomes a Kafir (disbeliver) or that it if he does not believe in it then it is Kufr doon Kufr (Kufr less than Kufr i.e. a major sin). Regarding the verse in Surah al-Maida:
“Whosoever does not rule by what Allah has revealed then such are the kafireen (disbelievers).” [TMQ 5: 44]
The companion of Muhammad (saw), Ibn Abbas (ra) stated in his Tafseer of this verse that anybody who denies a definitive judgement of Allah contained in the Shariah then such a person is a Kafir. Ibn Jarir at Tabari says that this is agreed upon. Ibn Abbas (ra) went on to say that anyone who says that the Rule of Allah does not have to be established then he is a Kafir. The one who says that the rule of man is better than the Rule of Allah then he is a Kafir. The one who states that the rules of man are just as good as the Rule of Allah then he is a Kafir. He also said that the one who does not deny Allah’s (swt) Hukm but believes that it is allowed to rule by other than what Allah has revealed then he is a Kafir because he is denying that the right of Rule is solely for Allah. This is the case even if he says that the rule of Allah is better than the rule that such a person is implementing. However if someone rules by the rules of Kufr i.e. by other than Islam and does not believe in them but rather he hates them and believes what he is doing is a major sin. Then such a person has committed Kufr doon Kufr a Kufr which is less than Kufr i.e. a major sin which is definitely haram but is not a Kafir. This is the soundest position in my view.
Ibn al-Qayyim said: "The correct view is that ruling according to something other than that which Allah has revealed includes both major and minor Kufr, depending on the position of the judge. If he believes that it is obligatory to rule according to what Allah has revealed in this case, but he turns away from that out of disobedience, whilst acknowledging that he is deserving of punishment, then this is lesser Kufr. But if he believes that it is not obligatory and that the choice is his even though he is certain that this is the ruling of Allah, then this is major Kufr." [Madaarij as-Saaliheen, 1/336-337]
Al Hafidh Ibn Katheer (ra) in his tafseer of verse 151 of Surah an-Nisa made reference to the Tartars at his time, “…who put together for them a law book extracted from different laws of the Jews, the Christians and the Deen of Islam. It also contained many rules taken only from their own opinion and desires that later became a system of law followed by the people and given precedence over the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of his Messenger (saw) so the ruler who does that is a Kafir.” [Tafseerul Quran ul Atheeem, Ibn Kathir ad-Dimishqi]
Ibn Taymiyyah said: "Undoubtedly, whoever does not believe that it is obligatory to rule according to that which Allah has revealed to His Messenger is a Kafir, and whoever thinks it is permissible to rule among people according to his own opinions, turning away and not following which Allah has revealed is also a Kafir...So in matters which are common to the Ummah as a whole, it is not permissible to rule or judge according to anything except the Quran and Sunnah. No one has the right to make the people follow the words of a scholar or Ameer or shaykh or king. Whoever believes that he can judge between people according to any such thing, and does not judge between them according to the Quran and Sunnah is a Kafir." [Minhaj as-Sunnah, 5/130-132]
Ash-Shawkani said in one of his essays:
a) That referring for judgement to Taghoot (evil i.e. non Islam) constitutes major Kufr.
b) That referring for judgement to Taghoot is just one of a number of actions of Kufr, each of which in its own is sufficient to condemn the one who does it as a Kafir.
c) He gives examples of Kufr, such as people agreeing to deny women their rights of inheritance and their persisting in co-operating in that, and he states that is major kufr. [Ar-Rasaa'il as-Salafiyah by Ash-Shawkani, pg. 33-34]
Somewhat related to this issue is a statement of another well known Muslim thinker from our age, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of India’s famous Aligarh Muslim University. He said, “we have been told by our religion, by our god, by our prophet to obey the authority, no matter he be a negro or a slave” As for the British their authority is legitimate he writes: “They are much better than the negroes, they are the white people and there is no reason why we shouldn’t obey these white people whom God has appointed as our rulers. We must obey them and in this way willingly accept God’s verdict”. [Safar Name-e Punjab p.117]
It should come as no surprise that Sir Syed had a close relationship with the British. He was the member of the Viceroy’s Legislative Council from 1878-82. He presented evidence to Hunter Education Commission of 1882, and served on the Public Service Commission of 1887. He was knighted in 1888. [http://www.amu.ac.in/syed2.htm ]
He tried to justify the rule of the British by twisting the meaning of the following hadith:
Anas b. Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Do hear and Obey, even if you were ruled by an Abyssinian slave, whose hair is like the raisin". In another narration He (saw) said: "As long as he leads you by the Book of Allah"
His view is a clear manipulation of the text and cannot be considered even remotely as ijtihad. Allah (swt) has clearly established that we refer to Allah and his Messenger in our affairs and obedience to the rulers is conditional upon this. He (swt) says:
“O you who believe, Obey Allah, Obey His Messenger and those in authority from amongst you and if you differ then refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you believe in Allah and the Last Day.” [TMQ 4:59]
Example 2: Collective ruling
Even well known respected thinkers made the blunder of claiming something as a valid ijtihad when it clearly contradicted definitive matters in Islam. Due to his literary and poetic skills some revere Sir Muhammad Iqbal as a great scholar of Islam, unfortunately he too was affected by the modernist trend. This is clear from his book ‘The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1934)’, in Chapter 6 he says:
“Let us now see how the Grand National Assembly has exercised this power of Ijtihad in regard to the institution of Khilafat. According to Sunni Law, the appointment of an Imam or Khalifah is absolutely indispensable. The first question that arises in this connexion is this - Should the Caliphate be vested in a single person? Turkey’s Ijtihad is that according to the spirit of Islam the Caliphate or Imamate can be vested in a body of persons, or an elected Assembly. The religious doctors of Islam in Egypt and India, as far as I know, have not yet expressed themselves on this point. Personally, I believe the Turkish view is perfectly sound. It is hardly necessary to argue this point. The republican form of government is not only thoroughly consistent with the spirit of Islam, but has also become a necessity in view of the new forces that are set free in the world of Islam.”
“These lines clearly indicate the trend of modern Islam. For the present every Muslim nation must sink into her own deeper self, temporarily focus her vision on herself alone, until all are strong and powerful to form a living family of republics. A true and living unity, according to the nationalist thinkers, is not so easy as to be achieved by a merely symbolical overlordship. It is truly manifested in a multiplicity of free independent units whose racial rivalries are adjusted and harmonized by the unifying bond of a common spiritual aspiration. It seems to me that God is slowly bringing home to us the truth that Islam is neither Nationalism nor Imperialism but a League of Nations which recognizes artificial boundaries and racial distinctions for facility of reference only and not for restricting the social horizon of its members.”
“The truth is that among the Muslim nations of today, Turkey alone has shaken off its dogmatic slumber, and attained to self-consciousness. She alone has claimed her right of intellectual freedom; she alone has passed from the ideal to the real - a transition which entails keen intellectual and moral struggle. To her the growing complexities of a mobile and broadening life are sure to bring new situations suggesting new points of view, and necessitating fresh interpretations of principles which are only of an academic interest to a people who have never experienced the joy of spiritual expansion. It is, I think, the English thinker Hobbes who makes this acute observation that to have a succession of identical thoughts and feelings is to have no thoughts and feelings at all. Such is the lot of most Muslim countries today. They are mechanically repeating old values, whereas the Turk is on the way to creating new values. He has passed through great experiences which have revealed his deeper self to him. In him life has begun to move, change, and amplify, giving birth to new desires, bringing new difficulties and suggesting new interpretations. The question which confronts him today, and which is likely to confront other Muslim countries in the near future is whether the Law of Islam is capable of evolution - a question which will require great intellectual effort, and is sure to be answered in the affirmative, provided the world of Islam approaches it in the spirit of ‘Umar - the first critical and independent mind in Islam who, at the last moments of the Prophet, had the moral courage to utter these remarkable words: ‘The Book of God is sufficient for us.”
“We heartily welcome the liberal movement in modern Islam, but it must also be admitted that the appearance of liberal ideas in Islam constitutes also the most critical moment in the history of Islam. Liberalism has a tendency to act as a force of disintegration, and the race-idea which appears to be working in modern Islam with greater force than ever may ultimately wipe off the broad human outlook which Muslim people have imbibed from their religion. Further, our religious and political reformers in their zeal for liberalism may overstep the proper limits of reform in the absence of check on their youthful fervour. We are today passing through a period similar to that of the Protestant revolution in Europe, and the lesson which the rise and outcome of Luther’s movement teaches should not be lost on us. A careful reading of history shows that the Reformation was essentially a political movement, and the net result of it in Europe was a gradual displacement of the universal ethics of Christianity by systems of national ethics.” [The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1934), Chapter 6, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal,
His justification of the abandonment of a single Khalifah for the Muslim world and the replacement of it by a Turkish republic clearly contradicts definitive ahkam in Islam and it is absurd to believe that it was a legitimate ijtihad. After the destruction of the Khilafah in 1924, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk established a democratic state upon the principle of collective ruling where sovereignty belongs to the people rather than the Shariah of Allah. It is well known that Ataturk vehemently opposed Islam and worked to eliminate its influence within Turkey. Dr. Iqbal is not the only one to have used this argument, many modernist authors have justified using the division within the Muslim world into separate countries with multiple rulers.
The Islamic evidences are clear that having more than one Khalifah for the Muslims is prohibited and that the division of the Muslim lands into separate independent entities is forbidden (haram).
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet (saw) said: "When the oath of allegiance has been taken for two Khalifs, kill the latter of them". [Muslim]
Abdullah b. ‘Amru b. al-‘A'as said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: "Whoever pledged allegiance to an Imam giving him the clasp of his hand and the fruit of his heart, he should obey him as long as he can, and if another comes to dispute with him, you must strike the neck of the latter". [Muslim]
Afrajah said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: "Whosoever comes to you while your affairs has been united under one man, intending to break your strength or dissolve your unity, kill him." [Muslim]
Muslim reported that Abu Hazim said: I accompanied Abu Hurayra for five years and heard him talking about the Messenger of Allah (saw), he said: "The children of Israel have been governed by Prophets; whenever a Prophet died another Prophet succeeded him; but there will be no prophet after me. There will soon be Khulafa’a and they will number many (in one time); they asked: What then do you order us? He (saw) said: Fulfil allegiance to them, the first of them, the first of them, and give them their dues; for verily Allah will ask them about what he entrusted them with". [Muslim]
Some use a strange argument to legitimise ignoring the Ijma of the Sahabah, they claim that as one of the Sahabah initially proposed having two rulers after the death of the Prophet (saw) this means that it is allowed.
It is true that it is narrated that Al-Habbab Ibn ul-Munthir (ra) said when the Sahaba met in the wake of the death of the Prophet (saw) (at the thaqifa hall) of Bani Sa'ida:
"Let there be one Amir from us and one Amir from you (meaning one from the Ansar and one from the Muhajireen)".
Have they forgotten what Abu Bakr replied: "It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Amirs (rulers)..." Then he got up and addressed the Muslims. [‘As-Sira’ of Ibnu Kathir, ‘Tarikh ut-Tabari’ by at-Tabari, ‘Siratu Ibn Hisham’ by Ibn Hisham, ‘As-Sunan ul-Kubra’ of Bayhaqi, ‘Al-fasil-fil Milal’ by Ibnu Hazim and "Al-A'kd Al-Farid" of Al-Waqidi]
It has additionally been reported in "as-Sirah" of Ibnu Ishaq that Abu Bakr went on to say on the day of Thaqifa: "It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Amirs for this would cause differences in their affairs and concepts, their unity would be divided and disputes would break out amongst them. The Sunnah would then be abandoned, the bida'a (innovations) would spread and Fitna would grow, and that is in no one's interests".
Just because Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) after the Prophet (saw) passed away initially was adamant that the Prophet (saw) was not dead, this doesn’t mean that it makes it a legitimate opinion. He was clearly mistaken and accepted this when Abu Bakr (ra) corrected him just as Habbab Ibn ul-Munthir realised this and was the first to give the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr (ra)
In fact if we read another narration of the incident it is clear that Habbab was emotional when he made the suggestion and it is clear that he wasn’t arguing on the basis of evidence.
When Al-Habbab b. Al-Munthir b. Aljamouh, one from the Ansar, noticed that everybody was at ease with Abu Bakr's proposal, he was afraid that the meeting might be adjourned without pledging allegiance to a Khaleefah from the Ansar. So he stood up and said: “O people of Al-Ansar, have control of your own matters, for the people are in your shadow, and nobody would dare to disagree with you. People will not express except according to your opinion. You are the people of power and wealth. You are the majority and people of strength, experience, fortitude and help of others. People are ever watchful of your actions. So do not differ, otherwise this will weaken your opinion, and your affair will crumple. These people will only take what you just heard. An Ameer from amongst us and an Ameer from amongst them.”
The moment Al-Habbab finished his speech, Umar b. Al-Khattab stood up and said: “There is no way for two (leaders) together at any one time. By Allah the Arabs will not accept to make you leaders and their Prophet is from other than you. The Arabs have no objection to surrendering their affairs to those in whom the Prophethood came, and the man in authority of their affairs is whoever is from amongst them. Thus we have with this the clear proof and evident evidence against whoever from the Arabs who might refuse. Who disputes with us regarding the authority of Muhammad and his leadership, when we are his close friends and his tribe, except someone dispensing falsehood, or indulging in sin, or involved in a catastrophe.”
When Al-Habbab heard this, he stood up and replied: “O people of Al-Ansar control yourselves, and do not listen to the words of this man and his companions, otherwise they take your share of this matter (authority). If they refused your demands then oust them from these lands, and hold this matter over them. For by Allah, you are more deserving in this matter than them, since it was by your swords that those who did not submit to this Deen were forced to submit. I am the one who is most fit, and most experienced for it. However, by Allah, if you wish, we will go back to where we started.'”
When Umar heard him he became angry and said: "If so, may Allah kill you". Al-Hubab answered "But you whom He will kill", reaching for his sword as he spoke, but Umar hit his hand, making his sword fall, and Umar seized it.
At this crucial moment Abu Ubaydah b. Al-Jarrah, having kept silent until then, interfered in the matter. He stood up and spoke to the Ansar: "O people of Al-Ansar, you were the first of who helped and supported, so do not be the first of those who changed and reverted."
Besides this, what about the Ijma as-Sahabah that took place when Umar bin al-Khattab was stabbed. He said:
"You have this group whom, when the Messenger of Allah (saw) died, he was pleased with them, and he said about them: They are the people of paradise: Ali b. Talib, Uthman b. Affan, Sa’ad b. Abi Waqqas, Abdur Rahman ibn Awf, Az- Zubayr b. Al Awwam, and Talha b. Ubaydullah. Let Abdullah ibn Umar be with them, but let him have only an opinion without having anything in the matter of Khilafah."
Umar advised these six people to select a Khaleefah, and appointed to them a three day time limit. After a long talk with them he said: "When I die, consult for three days, and let Suhaib (in these days) lead the Muslims in prayer. Do not let the fourth day come without having an Ameer upon you." He also appointed Abu Talha Al-Ansari to protect the gathering and to encourage them in their task, and he said to him: "O Abu Talha, Allah (swt) has helped Islam by you (i.e. the Ansar) so select fifty men from the Ansar, and urge these (six) people to select one from amongst them." He asked Al-Muqdad ibn Al-Aswad to select the place of the meeting and said to him : "After you put me in my grave, gather these (six) people in a house till they select one man from themselves." Then he asked Suhaib to monitor the meeting and said to him: "Lead the people in prayer three days, and let Ali, Uthman, Az-Zubayr, Sa’ad, Abdul Rahman b. Awf, and Talha, if he came back (from his travel) and bring in Abdullah b. Umar, without allowing him any personal interest in the matter, and stand at their heads (i.e. supervise them). If five agreed and accepted one man, while one man rejected, then hit his head with the sword. If four consented and agreed on one man, and two disagreed, then kill the dissenters with the sword. If three agreed on one man and three disagreed then let Abdullah bin Umar arbitrate. The group which Abdullah b. Umar judged for, let them select one from them. If they did not accept the judgement of Abdullah b. Umar, then be (all of you) with the group in which is Abdul Rahman b. Awf, and kill the rest if they declined to accept what the people agreed upon."
If having more than one Khalifah was allowed why did Ali (ra) fight against Mu’awiya for not giving him the Bay’ah as the Khalifah, why did Abdullah ibn Zubair (ra) fight against Yazid – they could have easily avoided bloodshed and the death of many of the Sahabah by permitting more than one Khalifah, but they didn’t as they knew it was prohibited to do so. If the issue was about Maslaha (interests) of the Muslims, then surely stopping the Fitna and spilling of Muslim blood is a great Maslaha, yet they the Sahabah didn’t see that as an excuse to legitimise having more than one Khalifah.
It is true that some of the classical scholars discussed scenarios such as:
- If there were two Khulafah in different parts of the world and they did not know of each other then both would be legitimate until they found out then one would have to step down.
- If there was a rebellious part of the Islamic state like at the time of Mu’awiya’s rebellion against Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) it would still be considered as Dar al-Islam.
- If the Imam’s were so far apart (which was a possibility then) that it was impossible for one of them to supervise the other region.
Ibn Khaldun says:
“It is not possible to appoint two men to the position (of imam) at the same time. Religious scholars generally are of this opinion, on the basis of certain traditions. Those traditions are found in the book, "On Leadership (imarah)," in the Sahih by Muslim. They expressly indicate that this is so.
Others hold that (the prohibition against two imams) applies only to two imams in one locality, or where they would be close to each other. When there are great distances and the imam is unable to control the farther region, it is permissible to set up another imam there to take care of public interests.
Among the famous authorities who are reported to have held this opinion is Professor Abu Ishaq al-Isfariyini, the leading speculative theologian. The Imam al-Haramayn also showed himself inclined toward it in his Kitab al-Irshad. The opinions of the Spaniards and Maghribis often make it evident that they, too, were inclined toward it.” [Al-Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun]
Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni wrote:
“On Election, It's Characteristics, and How the Imamate is to Be Invested
On investing the imamate in two individuals
Our associates agree on precluding the investing of two different individuals with the imamate at either end of the world. But, they add: If it should happen that two different persons were invested with the imamate, that would be analogous to the situation of two guardians contracting a marriage for the same woman to two different suitors without either being aware of the other's contract. The decision in the matter rests on the application of jurisprudence. My opinion on this issue is that investiture of two individuals with the imamate in a single locality within relatively restricted boundaries and limited provinces is not permitted and the investiture should be in accord with a consensus. But, when the distances are great and the two Imams quite remote from each other, there is room to allow it, although this cannot be established conclusively.” [A Guide o the Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief" (Kitab al-irshad ila qawati' al-adilla fi usul al-i'tiqad) p 234]
Imam Mawardi wrote:
“The investment of two sovereigns in two different cities is invalid in both cases, for the Community may not have two rulers simultaneously, even though there are some dissenting voices who would make that permissible. Jurists are disagreed regarding which one of the two should be sovereign. One party take him to be the one elected in the city where the previous leader died, because its residents are more entitled to make the choice, the rest of the Community in other districts delegating the task to them and investing the one they elect, so that no disunity is caused by differences of opinion and multiplicity of private interests. Others have suggested that each one of the two must give up the office in favour of his opponent, thus allowing the electors to opt for one or the other, in order to secure peace and ward off civil strife. Still another group have argued that lost must be drawn to prevent discord and end the dispute, the stronger claim to leadership being determined by the winner. Now, the truth of the matter is that the greater claim really belongs to the one who receives the vote of allegiance before the other, as in the case of a woman married off by her guardians to two men, for the marriage is effective only with the first of the two to conclude. Thus once the earlier appointee has been determined, the office is his, and the runner-up must concede him the leadership and vow allegiance to him. If the two, however, are invested simultaneously, their investment is invalid and the process is resumed either to choose one of them or a different candidate not known to whom, the issue is settled by evidence of priority in time. Thus, if the two adversaries claim each to have been invested earlier than the other, the claim is not considered and neither is sworn in support of it because the matter does not concern them alone but all Muslims. Neither the taking of the oath nor declining to take it is relevant to the question; indeed, were one to give up the fight and hand the office over to his opponent, the latter's right to it is still only established on the basis of evidence of his earlier investment. Even the admission by one that the other has preceded him merely excludes the testifier from office, albeit without confirming the other's right to it, for the testimony given applies to a right that pertains to the Muslim Community in its entirety. A concession of temporal precedence rendered by the adversary, on the other hand, is admitted provided it is corroborated by the testimony of an independent witness and he asserts that he had not been sure of the facts at the time when the quarrel started, but it is rejected if he does not mention his uncertainty, on account of the contradiction between the two statements.” ["The Ordinances of Government” (Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya w'al-Wilayat al-Diniyyya) pg. 7-8]
They discussed scenarios which were possible in their time when the means of communication was the pen and the means of transportation was via animals and ships. They did not discuss the reality of what exists today. Today it is clearly possible for one Khalifah to supervise the affairs in a geographically large state spanning the globe, therefore what these scholars said does not apply.
Ash-Shawkani wrote: "It is known from Islam by necessity (bi-dharoorah) that Islam has forbidden division amongst Muslims and the segregation of their land". [Tafseer al-Qur'an al-Atheem, Shawkani, volume 2, p. 215]
Imam Al-Juzairi, an expert on the Fiqh of the four Sunni schools of thought said regarding the opinion of the four Imams, “...It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Imams in the world whether in agreement or discord." [‘Fiqh ul-Mathahib ul- Arba'a’ (the fiqh of the four schools of thought), al-Juzairi, volume 5, p. 416]
Ibn Taymiyyah says: "It is essential that we know that leadership is one of the most greatest obligations of Deen. As a matter of fact, there is no Deen without it. The children of Adam will not fulfil their needs unless they get together for their needs. And when they get together, they must have a leader. For this reason, the prophet (saw) says: "If three are travelling, there must be a leader amongst them." So, the prophet (saw) mandated that one is to be appointed as the leader in a simple situation where three people are travelling. This is to make us aware of other important types of get-togethers." [Book As-Siyasah As-Shar'iyah, p.138 & 139]
Al-Imam Al-Mawardi in his book Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyah page 9 says: "It is forbidden for the Ummah to have two Imams at the same time."
Al-Imam Al-Nawawi in his book Mughni Al-Muhtaj, volume 4, page 132 says: "It is forbidden to give an oath to two Imams or more, even in different parts of the world and even if they are far apart".
Al-Imam Al Qalqashandi in his book Subul Al-Asha, volume 9, page 277 says, "It is forbidden to appoint two Imams at the same time".
Al-Imam Ibnu Hazm in his book Al-Muhalla, volume 9, page 360 says, "It is permitted to have only one Imam in the whole of the world."
Al-Imam Al-Sha'rani in his book Al-Mizan, volume 2, page 157 says: “It is forbidden for Muslims to have in the whole world and at the same time two Imams whether in agreement or discord."
Al-Imam Al-Qadi Abdul-Jabbar in his book Al-Mughni fi abwab Al-Tawheed, volume 20, page 243, says: "It is forbidden to give the oath to more than one."
The Shia schools of thought and others expressed the same opinion about this, whoever wishes to explore this in detail can refer to the book of Al-Fasl Fil-Milal, volume 4, page 62, and the book of Matalib Ulil-Amr and the book of Maqalat Al-Islamyin, volume 2,page 134, or the Book of Al-Moghni Fi Abuab Al-Tawhid, volume 20, pages 58-145.
Abu Ismael al-Beirawi
Exposing the call for the reformation of Islam - Part 3
Exposing the call for the reformation of Islam - Part 2