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Ijtihad Now

by Mike Ghouse

Ijtihad, the intellectual effort to understand a new situation and make sense out of it is alive and puzzled with sentences like, “Muslim thinkers are demanding the right to individual interpretation.” The question is, who are we demanding the right from?

We have fallen into the trap that “some one” owns and controls our faith. Let’s clarify that first, on the Day of Judgment; it is our deeds that determine how we would be judged by the Lord. Please remember, it is not our teacher’s knowledge, the wealth of our family or the spiritual status of some one other than me or you. On that day, you are on your own and the salvation comes from enough good things you have done to benefit the humankind. Given that, the responsibility to understand the religion squarely falls on each one of us. The stress is on individual responsibility and contribution for a better world.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was clear on these items:

  1. Qur’aan is book of guidance and that is the only reference for Muslims besides the example of his own life,

  2. No one was assigned to interpret the book for us, nor he created a clergy system to administer the religion,

  3. He was a signatory to Pluralistic laws of the Madinah pact along with the Jews and Christian leaders of the time, whereby he was a secular & a pluralistic administrator working with other faiths functioning under his administration, while he was also the head of the religious institution.

  4. The separation of church and state was the form of his administration.

Wikipedia “ Ijtihad (Arabic اجتهاد) is a technical term of Islamic law that describes the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The opposite of ijtihad is taqlid, Arabic for "imitation". A person who applies ijtihad is called a mujtahid, and traditionally had to be a scholar of Islamic law, an Islamic lawyer or alim.
To become a mujtahid in theological terms is similar to having a doctorate in divinity in Islamic kalam, or in legal terms to reaching the status of a high or supreme court judge.

Ijtihad is alive in every spehere of life, we make decisions in our daily dealings based on Justness and truthfullness, the core aspects of Islam and for that matter, every religion.

Thanks to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for freeing us from the shackles of the clergy, thanks to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for liberation from ignorance and thanks to him for helping us imbibe the simplicity of God’s plan – Justice and liberty for all.

Indeed, to be a Muslim is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and matter. Indeed that is the purpose religion.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website He can be reached at 

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