Islamic Correspondence Course Volume 3

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Islamic Correspondence Course Author:
Publisher: www.alhassanain.org/english
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Islamic Correspondence Course

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Sayyid Muhammad Rizivi
Publisher: www.alhassanain.org/english
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Islamic Correspondence Course

Islamic Correspondence Course Volume 3

Author:
Publisher: www.alhassanain.org/english
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Islamic Correspondence Course (Book 3)

Author: Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Table of Contents

Lesson 21: The Shari‘a 4

1. The Place of Shari’a in Islam 4

2. The Need for the Shari’a4

3. The Superiority of God-made Laws over Man-made Laws5

Lesson 22: Sources Of The Shari’a 7

1. The Qur’an & the Sunna of the Prophet7

2. The Example of the Imams7

Lesson 23: Ijtihad, Taqlid & Ihtiyat11

1. Introduction 11

2. Ijtihad 11

3. Taqlid 12

(A) Is Taqlid Reasonable?12

(B) Support from the Qur’an & Sunnah:13

Lesson 24: More About The Shari‘a 16

1. The Roots & Branches of Religion 16

2. The Classification of Shari’a Laws16

3. The Five Types of Decrees17

Lesson 25: Islam’s Spirtual Program (1)19

1. Introduction 19

2. Purpose of Creation 19

3. Program for Spiritual Training 20

(A) THE ANNUAL SPIRITUAL TRAINING 20

Lesson 26: Islam’s Spirtual Program (2)22

(B) THE DAILY SPIRITUAL TRAINING 22

Lesson 27: The Islamic Community 126

1. The Brotherhood of Islam 26

2. The Prophet & Islamic Brotherhood 26

3. The Moral Rights of Brotherhood 27

Lesson 28: The Islamic Community 229

1. Equality of Believers29

(A) THE CONCEPT 29

(B) EXAMPLES FROM HISTORY 29

(C) PROMOTION OF EQUALITY & BROTHERHOOD 32

Lesson 29: The Islamic Community 335

1. AMR BI ‘L-MA’RUF & NAHI ‘ANI ‘L-MUNKAR BIDDING THE GOOD & FORBIDDING THE EVIL35

2. Importance of Amr & Nahi35

3. Amr & Nahi: An Expression of Brotherhood 36

4. Conditions & Levels of Amr & Nahi37

Lesson 30: Islamic Economic System (1)38

1. The Middle Path 38

2. The Economic Equality 40

Lesson 31: Islamic Economic System (2)42

1. Importance of Zakat42

2. Obligatory Zakat42

(A) SHARING THE NATURAL RESOURCES 42

(B) ZAKATU ‘L-FITRA: SHARING ON THE DAY OF ‘IDDU ‘L-FITR:43

3. Recommended Zakat43

Lesson 32: Islamic Economic System (3)45

1. Khums in the Qur’an & History 45

(A) THE MEANING OF “GHANIMTUM”45

(B) THE HISTORY OF KHUMS 45

from the ‘spoils of war’, but from a buried treasure (which is one of the seven items eligible for khums.)46

(D) THE INTERPRETATION OF THE QUR’AN 46

Lesson 33: Family Life in Islam (1)48

1. Introduction 48

2. Extended & Nuclear Family Systems48

3. The Islamic View 48

4. Examples in History 49

Lesson 34: Family Life in Islam (2)51

1. Children’s Status & Rights51

2. Some Basic Rights51

3. Three Stages of Life52

Lesson 35: Family Life in Islam (3)55

1. Parents’ Status55

(A) FATHER 55

(B) MOTHER 55

2. Parents’ Rights in the Qur’an 56

3. Importance of Silatu ‘r-Rahm 57

Notes59

Lesson 21: The Shari‘a

1. The Place of Shari’a in Islam

The word “shari’a” literally means “a way.” In Islamic terminology, it means the legal system of Islam. It is normally translated as the laws of Islam or the Islamic laws.

Islam is a din-religion. The word din bears a concept wider and more comprehensive than the word ‘religion’.

It means believing in the fundamentals as well as living according to the Islamic laws. This concept of religion is beautifully conveyed in the terms used by Islamic scholars to describe the fundamental beliefs and the practical laws of Islam.

The “beliefs” are described as “usulu ‘d-din- the roots of religion”. The “shari’a laws” are described as “furu’u ‘d-din - the branches of religion”.

Beliefs without practice is incomplete Islam; and practice without belief may be useful in this world but not of much use in the hereafter.

The shari’a is a complete way of life; no aspect of human life is outside its domain. Islam expects a Muslim to follow its laws in every aspect of life: personal and familial, religious and social, moral and political, economic and business, etc. After all, “Muslim” means one who submits to God.

The Qur’an says, “When Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter, it is not for any believing man or believing woman to have a choice in their affairs. And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has gone astray into clear error.” (33:36)

2. The Need for the Shari’a

Man’s nature dictates that he can only function properly within a society. Human beings are interdependent by nature. This interdependency of human beings on each other is beautifully expressed in the following passage:

“The baker told me to bake my own bread; the tailor told me to cut and sew my own clothes; the shoemaker told me to make my own shoes; similarly, the carpenter, the engineer, the farmer, and all the labourers and workers told me to do everything by myself. It was then that I looked at myself and realized that I am naked, hungry and powerless with no shelter over my head, waiting for death to overcome me.

It was then that I realized that I cannot survive without my fellow human beings; my survival depends on living in the society.”1 A society, however, depends for its existence on laws and regulations.

If there are no laws in a society, it is overtaken by the law of the jungle: the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. So the need for laws to regulate the lives of human beings is beyond any doubt.

Islam teaches that because of the imperative need of laws for a civilized society, God has sent a series of messengers and prophets with divine laws for man’s guidance from the very first day of his creation.

The last Messenger was Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family) who brought the final and the perfect set of laws, Islam, as a guide for mankind till the end of time.

Many people think that there is no need for God-made laws, we can make laws by ourselves. Islam believes that a human being is a very sophisticated creature; and since he has not made his own body, nor did he create the world in which he lives, he, therefore, is not the best candidate for making laws about himself.

Common sense says that when you buy a complicated piece of equipment, like a computer, you should use it according to the ‘instruction manual’ prepared by the manufacturer of that particular machine.

To learn the computer by trial and error is not the smart way. Similarly, God as the Creator of man and the earth knows better how the human being should live.

The ‘instruction manual’ that God sent for us is known as the Qur’an. But the human being is not just any ordinary machine; rather he is more complicated than the most advanced computer a human can ever produce. So God did not only send the Qur’an-

He also sent an instructor known as Prophet Muhammad.

The Prophet of Islam brought the Qur’an to us and also provided practical examples in how to conduct our lives. According to Shi’a Islam’, after the Prophet, the Imams of Ahlu ‘1-bayt are the protectors of the Qur’an and the interpreters of its laws.

3. The Superiority of God-made Laws over Man-made Laws

At this point, I would like to show the superiority of Islamic laws over man-made laws.

Man-made laws are by necessity influenced by the law-makers’ social and racial biases. The United Nations Organization is the best example of how policies are enforced only when it suits the interest of the super-powers. The rule of the game in man-made laws is not honesty and justice, it is “the might is right”.

God-made laws are superior because of the following facts:

• God is above class status;

• God is above racial prejudice;

• God is above gender rivalry;

• God, as the Creator, fully knows humans as well as the world in which they live.

God-made laws will be just and based on fully informed decisions. Let me demonstrate the superiority of God-made laws by using the example of capital punishment.

The secular system always swings according to the mood of the people: sometimes, the people feel that capital punishment for murder is not right and so they pressure their representatives to vote against capital punishment.

But when crimes rates increase and serial murder cases occur more frequently, public opinion changes and the legislators are influenced in favour of capital punishment.

Actually both sides of this issue reflect the Judeo-Christian basis of the Western society. Judaism, on the one hand, insists on the principle of justice which demands “an eye for an eye”. On the other hand, Christianity promotes the principle of mercy by saying “turn thy other cheek.”

Islam, the final version of God-made laws, takes a balanced look at the issue of capital punishment and has beautifully accommodated both the principles of justice and mercy in its system.

The Western system did not realize the difference between the two principles of justice and mercy: while justice can be demanded and legislated, mercy cannot be forced or made into a law. You can always plead for mercy but you can never demand mercy.

Islam takes this difference into full consideration, and, therefore, it talks about capital punishment on two different levels: legal and moral. On the legal level, it sanctions the principle of justice by giving the right of retaliation to the victim.

But, immediately, the Qur’an moves on to the moral level and strongly recommends the victim to forgo his right of retaliation and either to forgive the criminal or to settle for monetary compensation. This issue has been clearly mentioned in the following verse of the Qur’an:

In it (the Torah), We wrote to them: “A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and there is retaliation for wounds.” But (before you act according to your right, remember that) whosoever forgoes (his right of retaliation), it shall be expiation for him (against his own sins). 5:45

Thus Islam has very beautifully provided the legal safeguard for human life on the social level and also encouraged mercy from a moral point of view on the individual level.

If human beings are left on their own in this issue, they will always swing between the two extremes of justice and mercy-only Islam, the final version of God-made legal system can accommodate both these principles.

This lesson is based on An Introduction to the Shari’a by Sayyid M. Rizvi

Lesson 22: Sources Of The Shari’a

1. The Qur’an & the Sunna of the Prophet

The Muslims during the days of Prophet Muhammad lived by the shari’a by following the Qur’an and the sunna. Sunna means the example of the Prophet.

(Sunna is sometimes written as ‘sunnat’.) Was not the Qur’an enough on its own? The Qur’an is a book of guidance which was sent for the entire human world till the end of time. As such, it only deals with the general issues and mentions only the basic principles underlying the Muslim way of life.

The Qur’an is more like a constitution than a book of law. The deals were left to the Prophet.

The Qur’an itself clearly explained this relationship between the Prophet and itself in the following verses:

He raised up among the common people a Messenger from among themselves to recite to them His revelations, to purify them, and to teach them the Book and the wisdom. (62:2)

And We have revealed, to you (O Muhammad) the Reminder (that is, the Qur’an) so you may clarify to the people what has been revealed to them, and so that they may reflect. (16:44)

These two verses definitely prove that Prophet Muhammad was not just a ‘mail-man’ whose only job was to deliver the Qur’an to us. He was a teacher and a commentator of the Qur’an. Even his actions are a source of guidance for Muslims:

You have a good example in Allah’s Messenger for whosoever hopes for God and the last day, and remembers God oft. (33:21)

The obedience to the Prophet has been considered as the proof of loving Allah:

Say (O Muhammad), ‘If you love Allah, then follow me; (if you do so) Allah will love you and forgive for you your sins.’ (3:31) To show the importance of obeying the Prophet, Allah further says: Whoever obeys the Prophet has surely obeyed Allah, (4:80)

The Qur’an is not only silent on the details of things which can change over time, it is also silent on the rules of worship which can never change. For example, the Qur’an in twenty-five different places commands the Muslims to say the daily prayers (salat), but not once has Allah explained how the Muslims are to say their prayers.

(The only exception to this statement is that of salatu ‘lkhawf, the prayer said in a battle-field or when one is in danger.) This silence on the part of the Qur’an, I believe, was for the specific purpose of forcing the people to go to the Prophet, ask him for details and follow his example.

2. The Example of the Imams

After the Prophet’s death, the Muslims were very much divided on the issue of leadership. This gave birth to the two groups known as the Shi’a and the Sunnis. The Shi’a lived by the shari’a by following the Qur’an, and the sunna of the Prophet and of the Imams.

The sunna, in Shi’a definition, means “the sayings, deeds and silent approval of the Prophet and the twelve infallible Imams of Ahlu “l-bayt.”

Although the issue of the leadership has already been discussed in another lesson in Part One, I would like to mention one reason why the Imams of Ahlu 1-bayt are preferable as the source of the sharia than anyone else.

The Muslims of the early days realized the importance of the Prophet’s sunna and started to memorize his sayings known as hadith. Later generations preserved the saying they had heard from the companions of the Prophet in the books of hadith.

Even the actions of the Prophet, observed by his companions, were preserved in writing. But this process of preserving the sunna of the Prophet “was not immune from mistakes and forgery.

Many sayings were invented and wrongfully attributed to the Prophet during the early period of the Islamic history, especially during the Umayyid era.

At times, the rulers bribed the companions to fabricate ‘hadith1 in their favour and/or against their opponents. At other times, some people invented ‘hadith’ for apparently good causes not realizing that they were using the wrong means of trying to make people more religious!

Abu ‘Ismah, Faraj bin Abi Maryam al-Marwazi was asked: “From where have you got all these traditions narrated through ‘Ikrimah, from Ibn ‘Abbas, from the Prophet, describing the reward of reciting each and every surah (chapter) of the Qur’an?”

He said, “I found people interested only in the fiqh of Abu Hanifah and maghazi of Ibn Ishaq; therefore, I forged these ahadith for the pleasure of God to bring them back to the Qur’an.”

In this background of the early development of hadlth, we must find an authentic and informed source for the sunna of the Prophet.

When you look at the Muslims of the Prophet’s days, you can find no one who was more knowledgeable, informed, reliable and closer to the Prophet than the Ahlu 1-bayt, the family of the Prophet: Fatimah, ‘Ali and their sons.

After all, it is the Qur’an which testifies to their spiritual purity of the highest form by saying: “Verily Allah intends to purify you, O the Ahlu ‘l-bayt, a thorough purification.” (33:33) Combine this verse about the Ahlu ‘1-bayt’s purity with the following: “It is the holy Qur’an in a preserved tablet, none shall touch it but the purified ones.” (56:79)

The real sense of this verse is that the Qur’an which is “in a preserved tablet” is not accessible to anyone except those who are purified by Allah. This shows that the Ahlu ‘1-bayt could understand the Qur’an better than any other Muslim.

It is for this very reason that Allah commanded His Messenger to ask the people to love his Ahlu 1-bayt: Say (O Muhammad), ‘I do not ask from you any reward (for teaching Islam to you) except to love my near ones.’ (42:23)

This love was made obligatory because it would automatically entail obedience of those whom one loves. If the Ahlu ‘1-bayt were not truthful, reliable, and worthy of following, would Allah command us to love them?

These few verses of the holy Qur’an are enough to show that the best commentators of the Qur’an and the most authentic source for the Prophet’s sunna are the Imams of Ahlu ‘1-bayt.

The Prophet himself said, “I am leaving among you two worthy things. As long as you hold fast on to them both, you will never go astray after me. One is greater than the other: the Book of Allah (which is a rope suspended from the heaven to the earth) and my descendants, my Ahlu ‘1-bayt.

They will not separate from each other until they come to me at the (fountain of) Kawthar (in the hereafter). Therefore, see how you recompense me by the way you deal with them.”

This is not the place to discuss the authenticity of this hadith, but it will suffice to quote Ibn Hajar al-Makki, a famous Sunni polemicist.

After recording this hadlth from various companions who had heard it from the Prophet at various places and times, Ibn Hajar says, “And there is no contradiction in these [numerous reports] since there was nothing to prevent the Prophet from repeating [this statement] at those various places because of the importance of the holy Book and the pure Family.”2

We can conclude from these verses and the hadith mentioned above that the Ahlu 1-bayt are the divinely appointed commentators of the Qur’an, and the most authentic and the best source for the sunna. It is for this reason that we prefer them to all other sources.

Even when we quote a hadith from the Imams of Ahlu ‘1-bayt, it is actually the hadith of the Prophet which they have preserved as the true successors of the last Messenger of God. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.), the sixth Shi’ite Imam, says:

My hadith is the hadith of my father, the hadith of my father is that of my grandfather, the hadith of my grandfather is that of Husayn [bin ‘Ali], the hadlth of Husayn is that of Hasan [bin ‘Ali], the hadlth of Hasan is that of Amiru ‘1-mu’minin [‘Ali bin Abi Talib], the hadith of Amiru ‘l-mu’minm is that of the Messenger of God (s.a.w.), and the hadith of the Messenger is a statement of Allah, the Almighty, the Great.”3

The historical circumstances did not allow the opportunity to the first three Imams of Ahlu 1-bayt to formally teach and train their followers in the matters of the shari’a. It was after the tragedy of Karbala that the Imams, especially the fifth and the sixth Imams, got the opportunity to formally train their followers in the shari’a laws.

The training by these Imams actually laid the foundation for the development of ijtihad among the Shi’as after the occultation of the twelfth Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (a.s.).

During the Minor Occultation (ghaybat) of the Present Imam, it was still possible for the Shi’as to present their problems to the Imam through his specially appointed representatives. These representatives were ‘Uthman bin Said al-Amri (260-265 AH), Muhammad bin ‘Uthman al-’Amri (265-305 AH), Husayn bin Ruh (305-326 AH), and ‘All bin Muhammad al-Samiri (326-329 AH).

However, after the Imam went into the Major Occultation, the problems of the shari’a were resolved through the process known as ijtihad and taqlid-the two most important ways of living by the shari’a.

Ijtihad, in Shi’a jurisprudence, means “the process of deriving the laws of shari’a from its sources.” A person who can do ijtihad is known as a “mujtahid”. Taqlid means “to follow the mujtahid in the laws of shari’a.”

This lesson is based on An Introduction to the Shari’a by Sayyid M. Rizvi

Lesson 23: Ijtihad, Taqlid & Ihtiyat

1. Introduction

As mentioned in the previous lessons, a Muslim must follow the shari’a in every aspect of his or her life. If Islam is a religion which is to stay till the end of time, then there must always be some people who can guide the Muslims in the changing circumstances of time and of place.

After the Prophet of Islam, the most ideal persons to guide the Muslims were the Imams of Ahlu 1-bayt.

However, the Present Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi (a.s.) has gone into the Occulation and will re-appear when Allah wishes him to appear. So what is to be done in the meantime? Are the Shi’as to suspend the shari’a? No, of course not! Islam is the religion for all times and places.

2. Ijtihad

The Imams of Ahlu 1-bayt had foreseen the time of the Occulation and had prepared their followers for the situation in which they will not be in direct contact with their Imam.

This preparation was done by training the Shi’as in the science of Islamic laws, or in other words, in ijtihad. (Ijtihad means “the process of deriving the laws of the shari’a from its sources.”) Ijtihad is an essential phenomenon for the survival of the Islamic shari’a during the Occultation of the Imam (a.s.).

Without the system of ijtihad, we would not be able to apply Islamic laws in the rapidly changing circumstances of human society.

Ijtihad is not only permissible, but essential from the Islamic point of view. It is an obligation in Islam to study everything that is necessary for the spiritual development and material wellbeing of the Muslim community.

However, this obligation is of the category which is known as wajib kifa’i.4 In the present instance, for example, Islamic society needs experts in the medical sciences, in physics and chemistry, in engineering, education; and as long as there is a lack of expertise in these areas, it is an obligation on the community as a whole to acquire it. This means that a group of Muslims must devote themselves to research so as to benefit the Muslim community.

Similarly, an Islamic society without experts in the shari’a cannot properly consider itself Islamic, and so it is an obligation for a group of persons from this society to devote themselves to the study of the religious sciences to provide proper guidance to all Muslims.

This is such an important obligation that Allah has exempted those who go to seek religious knowledge from the duty of jihad. He says:

“It is not (right) for the believers to go forth all together (for Jihad). So why should not a party from every section of them (i.e., the believers) go forth to become learned in the religion, and to ivarn their people when they return to them-so that haply they may beware.” (9:122)

It is clear from many narrations that the Imams of Ahlu ‘1-bayt (a.s.) used to be pleased whenever any of their companions taught religion or gave legal rulings (fatwa) to others. There are several documented cases of Shi’as who lived far from Medina asking the Imam of their time to appoint someone in their area to adjudicate between them in religious problems:

Zakariyyah ibn Adam al- Qummi and Yunus bin ‘Abdu ‘r-Rahman, for example, were named by Imam ‘Ali ar-Riza, to solve disputes in their own districts.

In a famous hadlth, ‘Umar ibn Hanzalah asked Imam Ja’far as- Sadiq (a.s.) about the legality of two Shi’as seeking a verdict from an illegitimate ruler in a dispute over a debt or a legacy. The Imam’s answer was that it was absolutely forbidden to do so.

Then Ibn Hanzalah asked what the two should do, and the Imam replied:

“They must seek out one of your own who narrates our traditions, who is versed in what is permissible and what is forbidden, who is well-acquainted with our laws and ordinances, and accept him as judge and arbiter, for I appoint him as judge over you...”

Besides these ahadith, we have quite a few sayings of the Imams that tell us what to do if we come across two ahadith which are contradictory or semi-contradictory-and solving the contradictory ahadith is one of the functions of ijtihad.

These types of ahadith are known as al-akhbdr al-’ilajiyyah, the ahadith which solve the problems in the studying of the hadith.

In conclusion, we can say that one way of following the shari’a is to study the science of shari’a, learn the process of ijtihad and become a mujtahid.

3. Taqlid

Although we have mentioned ijtihad as the first of the possible ways of following the shari’a, it is not something which every person can do.

To become a mujtahid means spending the major part of your life in studying the Islamic sciences in general and the Islamic legal system in particular. A person must, first of all, study the Arabic language (especially classical Arabic) since all the sources of the sharifa are in classical Arabic.

Then he must study and gain expertise in Usulu ‘1-Fiqh (the Principles of Jurisprudence) which involves the methodology of defining and using the sources of the shari’a.

One also has to study the Qur’anic verses on laws, the hadith literature, and also the conclusions reached by the past mujtahids. In studying the hadith literature, one has to also study ‘ilmu ‘r-rijal which deals with the narrators of hadith- otherwise he will not be able to distinguish the authentic hadith from the inauthentic ones. In short, ijtihad is not everyone’s cup of tea.

The social life of human beings is based on mutual cooperation: each one of us takes the duty of fulfilling one of the needs of the society, and, in return, each one of us expects to benefit from the expertise of the others.

Just as not everyone can become his or her own doctor, in an Islamic society, not everyone can become a mujtahid. Those who are not mujtahid will follow the shari’a by doing taqlid-following the opinions of a highranking and pious mujtahid.

(A) Is Taqlid Reasonable?

First of all, taqlid is not “blind following,” it is based on an informed decision taken by the individual Shi’a man or woman. Before you start following the opinions of a mujtahid in the shari’a laws, you have to ascertain that he has the required expertise and that he is of upright character.

Secondly, it is not always unreasonable to follow others and to hold uncritical faith in them. We can logically distinguish four possible forms of imitation:

1. an ignorant person imitating another ignorant person;

2. a more learned person imitating a less learned person;

3. a less learned person imitating an ignorant person;

4. a less learned person imitating a more learned person.

It is quite clear that the first three forms of imitations are unreasonable and can serve no purpose. However, the fourth kind of imitation is obviously not only reasonable, but also necessary and a matter of common sense;

in our everyday life we follow and imitate others in many things; we like to take the advice of experts in matters outside our own knowledge.

Someone who wishes to build a house, explains the basic idea of what he wants to the builder and then submits to his advice as to how he should go about the actual construction.

The patient follows the treatment advised by the doctor; a litigant consults a lawyer when drawing up his case for a court. The examples are abundant;

in most cases the advice is taken voluntarily, but sometimes the citizen may be required by law to seek expert advice and act upon it, before, for example, he is allowed to take some particularly dangerous drug. The clearest example is obviously a case of a legal dispute between two parties, when they are required to take their grievances before a judge and abide by his decision if they cannot settle their dispute amicably.

The practice of taqlid is an example of the same kind: the person who is not an expert in Islamic jurisprudence is legally required to follow the instructions of the expert, that is, the mujtahid.

(B) Support from the Qur’an & Sunnah:

This sensible practice of following the mujtahid in shari’a laws has been endorsed by Islam.

As mentioned in a verse quoted earlier, the Qur’an strongly exhorts at least a group of Muslims to devote their time and energy in studying religion.

This obligation is of such importance that Allah has exempted such persons from the duty of jihad. More interesting is the reason and purpose of their knowledge: “...to warn their people...” (9:122) This verse divides the people into two groups: those who are learned in religious sciences and those who are not.

It is the duty of the learned to “warn” (a broad term which implies advice and guidance) the common people, and it is expected of the common people to “beware” (take heed of the learned persons’ advice and follow).

In shari’a matters, this process of guiding the common people is technically known as “ijtihad,” and the process of following the guidance by the common people is technically known as “taqlid”.

The Imams of Ahlu ‘1-bayt (a.s.) have endorsed this system in theory as well as in practice:

In Theory: In a famous hadith quoted earlier, ‘Umar ibn Hanzalah asked Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) about the legality of two Shi’as seeking a judgment from an illegitimate ruler or a judge appointed by such a ruler in a dispute over a debt or inheritance.

The Imam’s answer was that it was absolutely forbidden to do so; and then he read the following verse: “...(Yet in a dispute) they desire to summon one another to the judgment of the tdghut though they were commanded to reject and disbelieve in him.” (4:60)

Then ‘Umar ibn Hanzalah asked, “What should the two (Shi’as) do then?” The Imam replied, “They must seek out one of your own who narrates our traditions, who is versed in what is permissible and what is forbidden, who is well-acquainted with our laws and ordinances, and accept him as judge and arbiter for I appoint him as judge over you. If the ruling which he based on our laws is rejected, then this rejection will be tantamount to ignoring the order of Allah and rejecting us, and rejecting us is the same as rejecting Allah, and this is the same as polytheism.”

In another hadith, Abi Khadijah relates that Imam Ja’far as- Sadiq (a.s.) sent him to his companions with the following message: “If a dispute or a difference occurs among you about a property then take care not to seek judgment from those illegitimate [judges]; instead, you must seek a person who knows what is permissible and what, is forbidden by us, for I appoint him as a judge over you. And take care that you do not seek judgment against one another with an unjust ruler.”

The least that these two narrations prove is that Shi’as are not allowed to refer to unauthorized jurists for solutions to their problems instead they are advised to seek the guidance of those who are well-versed in the teachings of the Ahlu 1-bayt. In these ahadith, the practice of seeking the advice of experts in shari’a laws is taken for granted.

In Practice: There are several documented cases of Shi’as who asked the Imams of their time to appoint someone to adjudicate between them in religious problems. Such questions were raised by those who lived far from Medina or those who could not gain access to their Imam in Medina itself.

4.1htiyat

If a person is not a mujtahid and does not even want to do taqlid of any mujtahid, then according to the laws of shari’a he must do ihtiydt.

Doing ihtiydt means taking precaution. In the context of our present discussion, it means that one must adopt a line of precautionary action by which he or she can be sure of fulfilling the requirements of God’s commandment.

In practical terms, ihtiydt means that a person, in each and every problem, will have to study the views of mujtahids on that issue and act on the most precautionary of all views.

For example, if one mujtahid says that “it is disliked to smoke” and another says that “it is haram to smoke,” then one has to follow the second view. Or if one mujtahid says that “you must shave your head during the first pilgrimage to Mecca” while another says “you have a choice between shaving or just cutting a little of your hair,” then one has to follow the first view. This has to be done in each and every issue.

In short, during the Occultation (ghaybat) of the Present Imam (a.s.), there are three ways of following the shari’a: ijtihad, taqlid and ihtiyat.