Boundaries of Islamic Legal Reasoning: A Critical Analysis of the Limits of Ijtihad

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Dr. Muhammad Zahid Ullah


Islamic legal doctrine that is based on the Quran and Sunnah employs ijtihad-based reasoning (independent one) to handle complicated situations and obtain impromptu decisions. This article aims reasonably at the boundaries or the confines of the limits acceptable of ijtihad. The course encompasses the principles on which ijtihad is founded, preciseness of references and the objectives of Islamic law that underline all legislation (maqāsid al-sharī‘ah). The article will look at the different islamic madhhabs (schools of thought) and how they have varied in their application of the principles in the realm of legal matters. Though the paper discusses the weakness of ijtihad in possibilities like not obeying the spirit of Islamic law or not tackling modern problems, it also considers extra ijtihad benefits like being more capable of solving modern problems. Such understanding will be achieved through the evaluation of the boundaries and limits of ijtihad and the aim of the paper will be to contribute to a more detailed understanding of its role in the emergence of Islamic legal thoughts and to its applicability under the dynamics of the developing needs of the Muslim communities.

Keywords: Legal Reasoning, Ijtihad, Limits, Quran, Sunnah, Spirit of Islamic Law

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