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IJMA AS A SOURCE OF MUSLIM LAW

INTRODUCTION

Muslim law is one of the world’s most complex and diverse legal systems. It has evolved over centuries and encompasses a vast array of sources including the Quran, Hadiths, Qiyas, Ijma[1], and others. Among these sources, Ijma holds a significant place as it represents the consensus or agreement reached by Muslim scholars on any given issue. According to the classical theory of failing Quran and traditions, the consensus amongst the companions of the prophet is recognized as the best guide of law[2]. Thus it is the third source of law both in the point of time and importance.[3]

IJMA AS A SOURCE OF MUSLIM LAW

Ijma, a fundamental concept in Islamic jurisprudence, plays a crucial role as a source of Muslim law. It refers to the consensus or agreement among Islamic scholars on specific legal issues not explicitly addressed in the Quran or Sunnah[4]. Ijma enables Muslims to adapt their legal framework according to changing situations and contemporary needs. Ijma has been defined by Sir Abdul Rahim as the “agreement of the jurists among the followers of Prophet Mohammad in a particular question of law”[5].

The principle of Ijma ensures that Islam remains relevant across generations and cultures by allowing for flexibility within its legal system. This approach fosters unity among Muslims worldwide while preventing discord stemming from divergent interpretations of religious texts. When scholars reach an Ijma on a particular issue, it becomes binding on the entire Muslim community[6]. In this way, Ijma serves as an essential guiding force that shapes the lives of millions adhering to Islamic teachings.

Such consensus–driven decision-making demonstrates how Islam values collective wisdom over individual opinions. The process also safeguards against potential misinterpretations or deviations from core principles enshrined in sacred texts like the Quran and Sunnah. In essence, Ijma empowers communities with practical solutions derived from authentic sources while maintaining harmony between tradition and modernity –ensuring relevance within contemporary contexts without compromising fidelity to divine guidance.

ESSENTIALS OF A VALID IJMA

For an Ijma to be considered valid in Muslim law, certain essential criteria must be met. First and foremost, a consensus must be reached by the scholars of a particular community or region[7]. The majority of the jurists believe that Ijma will not be constituted even though there is a small disagreement by a small community[8]. However, some of the jurists also believe that Ijma may also be constituted if the majority of the community agrees with [9]. It is binding in action, but it is not obligatory, it is not absolute like Ijma constituted by unanimity[10].

Secondly, A Muslim jurist should give Ijma, only their opinions are relevant[11]. Thirdly, the Ijma should not contradict any clear injunctions of the Quran or Sunnah. In other words, it cannot go against any established Islamic teachings[12].

These are the few essentials critical for ensuring that Ijma remains an authoritative source of Muslim law in India and around the world. It upholds consistency throughout Islamic Jurisprudence while still allowing room for interpretation based on changing circumstances and contexts.

KINDS OF IJMA

The Ijma is of three kinds-

  • Ijma of the companions of the Prophet[13] – These are Ijma given by the companions of the Prophet Mohammad. It is universally acceptable, throughout the Muslim world and is unrepeatable & unalterable[14].
  • Ijma of Jurists[15] – These are Ijma given by the Muslim jurists, those who are not the companions of the Prophet Mohammad but have studied the Quran & followed the way of living of the Prophet Mohammad[16].
  • Ijma of people[17]-These are Ijma given by common people of the Muslim community. It consists of what a majority of the Muslim community agreed. However, it is rarely invoked[18].

IMPORTANCE OF IJMA

Ijma or consensus among Muslim Jurists, holds a significant place in the development of Islamic Jurisprudence. With the march of time, the development of civilization, and the expansion of Islamic influence numerous problems arose which could not be decided by reference to only the Quran and Ahadis[19]. The jurists, therefore, evolved the principle of Ijma for the benefit of the community, therefore the Divine Legislator has delegated power to lay down laws by the resolution of those men in the community who are competent in that behalf i.e. jurists[20].  Since the Muslim religion does not admit the possibility of further revelation after the death of a prophet, the principle of Ijma is the only authority for legislation in the present Muslim system[21]. Its importance lies in its ability to provide unity and continuity within the Muslim Community as it helps to determine what is permissible and what is not.

One of the main benefits of Ijma is that it allows for a collective decision-making process. When scholars come together to reach a consensus on an issue, they can weigh all perspectives and opinions before arriving at a final decision. This ensures that any ruling made through Ijma takes into account all relevant factors and provides a comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand. Furthermore, Ijma serves as an important source of authority in matters where there may be ambiguity or uncertainty[22]. In cases where neither the Quran nor Hadith provides clear guidance on certain issues, relying on Ijma can help fill those gaps with scholarly opinions based on established traditions[23].

Given its role in facilitating collective decision-making and serving as an authoritative resource when other sources may prove insufficient, Ijma can be seen as one of the most significant contributors to the development of Muslim law in India and beyond. It provides unity and continuity within the Muslim Community while also offering a comprehensive way to understand Islamic jurisprudence[24].

CONCLUSION

To sum up, Ijma is an essential source of Muslim law in India. It refers to the consensus of opinions among a group of qualified Islamic Jurists on a particular legal issue[25]. For Ijma to be considered valid, it must meet specific conditions and requirements. Ijma plays a crucial role in shaping Muslim jurisprudence and helps resolve complex legal issues that cannot be resolved through other sources of law. It is seen as an effective way to ensure the continuity and consistency of Islamic legal traditions. Understanding the importance and significance of Ijma can help us gain insight into how Muslim law operates in India today. As such, it remains one of the most critical sources for forming judgments concerning various legal issues within Islam’s rich tradition.

Author(s) Name: Nikita Sigchi (North-Bengal University, Siliguri)

References:

[1] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),15

[2] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),15

[3] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23

[4] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23

[5] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23

[6] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),24

[7] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),24

[8] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),24

[9] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),24

[10] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),24

[11] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),24

[12] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),24

[13] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),25

[14] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),25

[15] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),25

[16] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),25

[17] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),25

[18] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),25

[19] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23

[20] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23

[21] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23

[22] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23

[23] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23

[24] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),24

[25] AQIL AHMAD,MOHAMEDDAN LAW ,(27TH EDITION ,2021),23