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Questions regarding Ijmaa’

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

Can you clarify the method for concluding an ijma among the companions verses the method employed among the generation(s) of fuqaha that followed them? 

To what extent was ijtihad employed in the process of concluding an ijma in these different generations?

I was previously under the impression that ijma on a specific issue would be reached when

1) the mujtahid conducts his individual ijtihad on a specific issues then

2) if all of the mujtahideen of that age agree then we could say there is a scholarly consensus.  It was recently brought to my attention that the ijma of the companions (radi Allahu anhum) may not necessarily have followed this model.  For example their ijma may have been a clarification or confirmation of specific narration from Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) that hadn’t been related out of carefulness, and didn’t involve discovery into an issue using ijtihad. 

Can you clarify some of the ‘procedural’ differences between the eras, as well as the tools employed in reaching ijma?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

The issue of Ijmaa’ (consensus) is a highly academic issue involving complex and intricate principles of Shari’ah. One needs to study many books of Usool al-Fiqh in order to understand the intricate principles governing Shari’ah known as Usool al-Fiqh, such as, Usool as-Sarakhsi (Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Sarakhsi), Kashf al-Asraar (‘Abdul ‘Azeez bin Ahmad al-Bukhari), Noor ul-Anwaar (Mulla Jeewan), Jam’I ul-Asraar (Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Kaaki) and others. Usool al-Fiqh is generally taught in the third and fourth year of the traditional six-year ‘Alim course.


There are four basic sources of Fiqh:

  • The Qur’an
  • The Sunnahof His Rasulullah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)
  • The Consensus (Ijmaa’) of the ummah
  • Analogy (Qiyaas)

In the subject of Usool al-Fiqh, the details of the principles governing the laws extracted from the above four are explained in much detail. In the discussion of sources (usool) from the Qur’an, the issues of specification (khaass) and generality (‘aam), unconditional (mutlaq) and conditional (muqayyad), commonality (mushtarak) and interpreted (mu’awwal), command (amr) and prohibition (nahy) with the diminutives of all the above are explained in detail. Likewise, the mode of expression for example, apparent (zahir), clear (nass), explained (mufassar) and the unequivocal (muhkam) expressions, and those that oppose them, obscure (khafi), problematic (mushkil), unclear (mujmal) and the ambiguous (mutashabih) expressions.

With regards to the issue of Ijmaa’, there are of different degrees. Different rulings are stipulated for each degree of Ijmaa’. Some will be at the level of a verse from the Qur’an while others are at the level of mutawatir, or at the level of khabar al-wahid. Furthermore, other classifications of Ijmaa’ are discussed, such as murakkab, ghayr murakkab as well as ‘adamul qaa’il bil fasl.

Nevertheless, a direct understanding of this intricate topic without having the preliminary knowledge to understand the issue of Ijmaa’ may be counterproductive as understood from the above very brief explanation. Moreover, we have not touched the intricate principles from Hadith and Qiyas (analogy).

The intricacies of law with its definition and application will also be appreciated by a student of secular law as well. For example, the issue of “dolus eventualis” may not be easily understood by a person not having understood the basics of secular law. Even a judge may err in the understanding and interpretation of such a terminology.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Fahad Abdul Wahab

Student Darul Iftaa


Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai                                                                                                                                                                                                                


This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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