Similarities & Differences Between Titles of Respect in Islam.
The words ‘aalim, faqeeh and mujtahid all carry the same meaning: they refer to one who strive to reach the shar‘i ruling and who has the ability to derive shar‘i rulings from the evidence.
This means that he has to acquire the tools (pre-requisites) of ijtihaad. No one can be described in these terms (‘aalim, mujtahid or faqeeh) except one who meets the pre-requisites of ijtihaad.
The scholars paid attention to these pre-requisites so that the door is not open to just anyone, old or young, to say about the religion of Allah that of which he has no knowledge.
But we will content ourselves with just two reports from which we will demonstrate what these pre-requisites are.
Al-Shawkaani summed up in five points, listing five pre-requisites:
He should have knowledge of the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah.This does not necessarily mean that he should have memorised the Sunnah; rather it is sufficient for him to be able to find reports in their places and be familiar with the contents of the books of Sunnah, foremost among which are the well-known compilations of the Sunnah (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Saheeh Muslim, Sunan Abi Dawood, Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Sunan al-Nasaa’i and Sunan Ibn Maajah), and so on. He should also know what is saheeh (sound) and what is da‘eef (weak) in the texts of the Sunnah.
He should have knowledge of the issues of consensus (ijmaa‘)
He should be well versed in the Arabic language. It is not stipulated that he should have learned it by heart; rather he should be able to understand the meanings and structure of the language.
He should have knowledge of usool al-fiqh (basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence), including analogy (qiyaas), because usool al-fiqh is the foundation for deriving rulings.
He should have knowledge of what abrogates and what is abrogated (al-naasikh wa’l-mansookh).
See: Irshaad al-Fuhool, 2/297-303
The second report was narrated from Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen [raheemullah]: He mentioned the pre-requisites of the mujtahid without differing greatly from what al-Shawkaani mentioned, but he put it more clearly and said:
Ijtihaad is subject to several conditions, including the following:
He (the mujtahid) should have knowledge of the shar‘i evidence that he needs for the purpose of ijtihaad, such as verses of the Qur’aan and ahadeeth that speak of rulings.
He should have knowledge of the matters pertaining to the soundness or weakness of ahadeeth, such as the isnaad, the men in the isnaad and so on.
He should be aware of what abrogates and what is abrogated (al-naasikh wa’l-mansookh) and issues on which there is consensus (ijmaa‘), so that he will not issue a ruling on the basis of something that has been abrogated or that is contrary to scholarly consensus.
He should have knowledge of various matters affecting the ruling, such as reports of specific meanings, reports that set limits, and so on, so that he will not issue a ruling that is contrary to that.
He should have knowledge of the Arabic language and usool al-fiqh that has to do with verbal evidence, such as what is general and what is specific, what is absolute and what is restricted, what is mentioned in brief and what is mentioned in detail, and so on, so that his rulings will be in accordance with what is indicated by that evidence.
He should have the ability to derive rulings from the evidence.
End quote from al-Usool fi ‘Ilm al-Usool, p. 85, 86; Sharh (commentary thereon), p. 584-590.
It should be pointed out that referring to the Sunnah now is much easier than it was before, because of the books that have been written on the Sunnah.
The one who fulfils these conditions is a scholar (‘aalim) who can derive shar‘i rulings from the evidence. Anyone who does not fit this description cannot be described as a ‘aalim, faqeeh or mujtahid.
It should also be noted that these words (‘aalim, mujtahid and faqeeh) are technical terms, as it were; according to the scholars they have specific meanings and pre-requisites. So it is not permissible to use them readily about anyone who speaks about Islamic rulings or teaches Islamic material in schools and universities, or who works in the field of da‘wah (calling people to Allah). A man may be a daa‘iyah, calling people to Allah, and putting a great deal of effort into that, without having reached the level of being a scholar (‘aalim).
The faqeeh is the mujtahid who derives shar’i rulings, explains the principles of sharee’ah and teaches people the rulings of their religion. The focus of his specialty is the aims and goals of sharee’ah, the clear verses of the Qur’aan and achieving sound understanding of what Allaah wants from His slaves.
This is something that can be done by only a few individuals, because it requires extensive study of the texts, lengthy study and examination of the words of the scholars, and intelligence in studying real life situations and applying the rulings of sharee’ah to them.
The term muhaddith refers to a specialist who profoundly knows and narrates hadith, the chains of their narration isnad, and the original and famous narrators.
Shaykh al-Albaani – may Allaah have mercy on him – was asked:
‘What is the connection between the knowledge of Fiqh (understanding of the religion) and the knowledge of hadeeth? Is it necessary for a Muhaddith (scholar of hadeeth sciences) to be a Faqihi (scholar of Sharia’), or is he just a Muhaddith?’
So he answered:
‘It is necessary for a Faqihi to be a Muhaddith but it is not necessary for a Muhaddith to be a Faqihi, since a Muhaddith is already naturally a Faqihi.
Did the Companions of the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- study Fiqh or not? What was the Fiqh that they used to study? It was what they used to take from the Messenger of Allaah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam-, so they used to study hadeeth.
As for these Fuqaha (scholars of Sharia’), who study the statements of the scholars and their Fiqh and do not study the hadeeth of their Prophet which is the spring of Fiqh, then it is said to these people: it is obligatory to study the knowledge of hadeeth since we cannot conceive there being a correct Fiqh without knowing, memorizing and authenticating the hadeeth and knowing the weak hadeeth, while at the same time we cannot imagine a Muhaddith not being a Faqihi.
The Qur’aan and the Sunnah are the two sources of Fiqh, of all Fiqh. As for general Fiqh today then it is the Fiqh of scholars and not the Fiqh of the Book and the Sunnah.
Yes, some of it is present in the Book and the Sunnah and some of it is expression of opinions and Ijtihaad (deriving an opinion from the Book and the Sunnah) but much of what they have opposes the hadeeth because they did not comprehend the knowledge.’
He also said the following in a recorded lecture on cassette tape entitled: ‘Haqeeqat al-Bida’ wal-Kufr’:
‘The Sharia’ is not just taken from the texts nor from just one Ayaah or one hadeeth, rather it is all that is collected on that specific issue. Therefore it is not just obligatory to collect all the texts regarding Fiqh issues so that we can know what abrogates from what is abrogated, the specific from the general, the absolute from the limited and …… and….etc, rather gathering the texts for ‘Aqeedah is foremost by a long way.
A mufti is a scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law (Sharia).
A Mufti will generally go through an Iftaa course and the person should fulfill the following conditions set by scholars in order that he may be able to issue verdicts (fataawa). They are eight:
Mastering the science of principles of jurisprudence,
Mastering the science of Hadith,
Mastering the science of Maqasid ash-Shari`ah (Objectives of Shari`ah),
Mastering legal maxims,
Mastering the science of comparative religions,
Mastering the foundations of social sciences,
Knowing Arabic, and
Having sufficient knowledge of social realities.
Shaykh- The term is used to address learned men of various Islamic sciences, such as faqihs, muftis, and muhaddiths, and more generally to convey respect for religious authorities. The word in Arabic stems from a triliteral root connected with age and ageing: ش-ي-خ, shīn-yā’-khā’. The term literally means a man of old age, and it is used in that sense of all men in Qur'anic Arabic.
Henceforth, the word shaykh can be used as a synonym to the word mujtahid of various categories and verily, Allah knows best.
A person whose daughter was to get married wanted some perfume to give to his daughter but found none. He came to the Beloved Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) and said, “Ya RasoolAllah (SallAllahu Alayka wa Sallam)! Please provide me some perfume.”
No perfume was present that time. So the Noble Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) asked for a container in which he put some of his blessed sweat. Thereafter the Holy Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “Give it to your daughter.” The man did so and the whole of Madinah Munawwarah became fragrant due to its fragrance and the house came to be known as “House of Fragrance.”
The Noble Hadith Masters (Muhadditheen) have further stated: “For seven generations from the off-springs of the bride which was blessed with this perfume of the Beloved and Blessed Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam), the fragrance of Musk and Ambar would emerge from their bodies.”
Sayyiduna Shaykh Najibuddin Mutawakkil Alaihir raHmah is the brother and caliph of Sayyiduna Shaykh Fariduddin Ganj Shakar Alaihir raHmah, his title is Mutawakkil (the one trusting Allah). He lived in the city for seventy years and his family led a very comfortable life despite having no apparent means of sustenance. He remained so engrossed in the remembrance of Allah that he didn’t even know what day or month was, and he didn’t even know what the worth of a coin was.
Once many guests came to his house on the day of Eid. Coincidentally, there was no food at his home to serve the guests. He went to the upstairs where he remembered Allah and prayed in his heart in this way, ‘Ya Allah! Today is Eid and guests have come to my house.’ Suddenly a man appeared and presented a tray full of food and said, ‘O Najibuddin! You are famous for your trust (Tawakkul) even among angels, and you are asking for food!’ He said, ‘Allah knows that I didn’t do so for myself, but for my guests.’
Despite possessing saintly miracle, Sayyiduna Najibuddin Mutawakkil was extremely humble. Once a man came to meet him travelling a long distance and asked ‘Are you Najibuddin Mutawakkil?’ He humbly replied, ‘I am Najibuddin Muta'akkil (the one eating a lot).’
Akhbar al-Akhyar fi Asrar al-Abrar by Shaykh Abd al-Haq Muhaddith al-Dehlawi, Page 60
al-Imam al-Bazzar wrote a long, first hand account of the life of Ibn Taymiyyah, who was his personal friend and companion. The book is called ‘al-A’lam al-’Aliyyah fi Manaqib Ibn Taymiyyah,’ and this is a very, very small glimpse from it:
“During the nights, he would separate himself from everybody, secluding himself with his Lord, strictly maintaining his recitation of the Mighty Qur’an, and repeating the various types of daily and nightly worship.
When the night was over, he would rejoin the people for the Fajr prayer, praying the optional prayer before meeting them. When he would begin the prayer, your heart would want to fly from its place just from the way in which he would make takbirat al-ihram. When he would begin the prayer, his limbs would shake, moving him left and right. When he would recite, he would elongate his recitation, just as was authentically reported in regards to the recitation of the Messenger of Allah. His bowing and prostration, as well as his coming up from them, are from the most complete of what has ever been reported in regards to the obligatory prayer. And he would severely lighten his sitting for the first tashahhud, and would say the first taslim out loud, to the point that everyone who was present would hear it.
And I came to know that it was his habit that nobody would speak to him unless absolutely necessary after the morning prayer. He would remain in a state of dhikr of Allah, listening to himself. Sometimes, he would let those sitting next to him listen to his dhikr, all the while constantly turning his eyesight to the sky. He would remain in such a state until the Sun rose, and the time in which prayer is forbidden had passed.
During my stay in Damascus with him, I would spend some of the day and most of the night with him. He would draw me near to him, sitting me beside him. I would hear what he would recite and repeat, and I saw that he would repeat ‘al-Fatihah’ over and over again, and would spend all of his time between Fajr and sunrise doing this.
So, I kept thinking to myself, wondering: why would he recite this specific chapter of the Qur’an in exclusion to the others? Eventually, it became clear to me – and Allah Knows best – that his intention in doing so was to combine with his recitation between what was narrated in the ahadith and what was discussed by the scholars, in regards to whether the narrated adhkar should take precedence over recitation of the Qur’an, or vice versa. So, he saw that in repeating ‘al-Fatihah,’ he could combine between both opinions, and reap the benefits of both actions, and this was from his strength in logic and depth of insight.
After this, he would pray Duha, and if he wanted to hear Hadith in another place, he would rush to that place with whoever was with him at the time.It was rare that any intelligent person would see him and not come and kiss his hands. Even the busiest of businessmen would walk from what they were doing to greet him and seek his blessings. With all of this, he would give everyone of them their share of time, greetings, etc.If he saw any evil in the street, he would work to remove it, and if he heard of a funeral taking place, he would rush to pray in it, or would apologize for missing it. Sometimes, he would go to the grave of the deceased after he finished listening to Hadith and pray over it.
Afterwards, he would return to his mosque, where he would remain either giving fatawa to the people or fulfilling their needs, until it was time to pray Dhuhr in congregation. He would spend the rest of the day in such a manner.His classes were general for the old, the young, the wealthy, the poor, the free, the slave, males, and females. He appealed to everyone that would pass by him of the people, and everyone of them would feel that Ibn Taymiyyah was treating them better than he was treating anyone else present.He would then pray Maghrib, and would follow it up with as much optional prayer as Allah made possible. I, or someone else, would then read his writings to him, and he would benefit us with various points and notes. We would do this until we prayed ‘Isha’, after which we would continue as we were before, delving into the various fields of knowledge. We would do this until much of the night had passed. During this entire time – night and day – Ibn Taymiyyah would constantly remember Allah, mention His Oneness, and seek His forgiveness.And he would constantly raise his eyesight to the sky, and would not stop doing this, as if he saw something there that kept his eyesight hooked. He would do this for as long as I was staying with him.
So, Subhan Allah! How short were these days! If only they were longer! By Allah, until this day, there has never been a time in my life that is more beloved to me than the time I spent with him, and I was never seen in a better state than I was at that time, and this was for no other reason than the barakah of the Shaykh, may Allah be Pleased with him.Every week, he would visit the sick, especially those at the hospital.I have been informed by more than one person – whose trustworthiness I do not doubt – that the entire life of the Shaykh was spent in the way that I witnessed (and described above). So, what worship, and what jihad is better than this?