Political Ijtihad In Islam

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The creation of a monolithic global politico-religious Islam has severe implications. A monolithic understanding of Islam would leave no room for opinion or ijtihad (individual reasoning or interpretation). Ijtihad is generally defined as “the exertion of mental energy in the search for a legal opinion to the extent that the faculties of the jurist became incapable of further effort or, in other words, ijtihad is the maximum effort expended by the jurist to master and apply the principles and rules of usul al-fiqh (legal theory) for the purpose of discovering God’s law” (Zia 119). If every mujtahid (an Islamic scholar competent in interpreting sharia by ijtihad) applied their own ijtihad to interpreting religious text, it is highly unlikely …show more content…
They believe that ijtihad strengthens a believer’s faith by propelling them to gain a better understanding of the Qur’an through further studies in order to come to their own conclusions about its teachings and message. This presents a paradox between religious and political ijtihad since ijtihad weakens political unity by promoting pluralism. For this reason, some Wahhabi groups have come to reject ijtihad‍ ' s legitimacy. This contradiction in their ideology is due to their support of ijtihad when it validates their own fanatical ideologies and rejection of ijtihad when it contradicts, or does not advance, their …show more content…
This has basis in the notion that the existence of sects presents a threat to their established order, an obstacle for the majority Sunni community—specifically the Wahhabis—in their quest for developing a pure Islam. The power dynamics between the majority Sunni and minority Shi’a populations of Saudi Arabia are reminiscent of Arjun Appadurai’s theory regarding the relationship between numbers and categories. He explains that “the idea of a majority is not prior to or independent from that of a minority, especially in the discourse of enumeration and political nomination as are minorities. Indeed, majorities need minorities in order to exist, even more than reverse” (Appadurai 50). Inasmuch as the Sunni majority needs the Shi’a minority in order to stay a majority, the existence of the Shi’a minority causes the Sunni majority to develop, what Appadurai termed, an ‘anxiety of incompleteness’ about their sovereignty. Sunni majorities also have a fear of their ‘pure Islam’ morphing with ‘deviated Islams.’ This fear is intensified by globalization because global-connectivity increases this possibility through increased information flow and global migration across and within boundaries. There is also the fear that the minority will

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