Limits and Controversies
Author(s): L. Ali Khan & Hisham M. Ramadan
Contemporary academic discussion on the Shari[ah focuses on the need for fresh ijtihad. Muhammad Iqbal and Mawlana Mawdudi, in the twentieth century, championed the cause of ijtihad. Iqbal’s concept of empowering people’s representatives in elected parliaments, with power to conduct ijtihad, was further crystallized by Mawdudi in his writings on political and social change and the concept of state in Islam. Ijtihad, nevertheless, remains a major intellectual tool to respond to emerging social, economic, political cultural and legal issues. It is rather unfortunate that in the circles of traditional ‘Ulama’, all over the Muslim world, a mujtahid (legal expert) is often considered a jurisconsult in personal matters of divorce, acts of worship or in matters of inheritance. Nonetheless, ijtihad is a core methodology approved by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself, and applied and kept alive by his immediate successors and later generations.