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Acting upon a incorrect ruling of a mujtahid

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

When an mujahid strives towards achieving what’s haq (truth) by doing ijtihad and doing qiyas; without following his nafs and desires, Allah rewards him double for his efforts if he gets it correct. However, if the mujtahid gets it wrong, Allah still rewards him and gives him the reward of one good deed…then how is possible for a layman (a person without any knowledge in deriving rulings from Qur’an and Sunnah) to be sinned if he acts upon the ruling of the mujtahid, even if the mujtahid gets it wrong?

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.


The literal meaning of ijtihad is to strive with one’s total ability and efforts to reach a goal, which in this case is to endeavour to deduce the divine laws of Sharia from the reliable sources and proofs.

  • An adequate knowledge of the Holy Qur’an in terms of the events surrounding their revelation and also must be fully acquainted with its legal contents approximately some 500 verses.
  • An adequate knowledge of the sunnah. He needs to know the relative reliability of the narrators of the hadith and be able to distinguish between the reliable from the weak. He needs to be able to distinguish between the general (Aaam) and specific (Khaas), the absolute (Mutlaq) and the qualified (Muqayad). This applies to those hadiths which is of a legal nature approximately 3,000 hadiths.
  • He should be able to verify the consensus Ijma of the Companions of the Prophet, the Tabieen and the Imams and mujtahideen of the past.
  • He should have a thorough knowledge of the rules and procedures for qiyas (analytical reasoning) so he can apply revealed law to an unprecedented case.
  • He must be well versed with the Arabic languages, the syntax, the grammar etc… (Nurul Anwar, Mullah Jewan, p.246)

The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam has said, ”If a ruler practices ijtihad and reaches a right decision, he will get double reward (i.e. one for his ijtihad and the other for his right decision.) And if he is to reach a wrong decision, he gets one reward only.” (Sunan Abu Dawud p.147 v.2)

With regards to you question, it is the opinion of the Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaat that a mujtahid can be correct or incorrect on a legal issue. However, one of the rulings is correct, but we do not know which one it is. Therefore, we do not criticize any mujtahids opinion. (Nurul Anwar p.246)

Keeping what has been mentioned above in mind we can derive that when a layman acts upon a particular opinion of a mujtahid he is not considered to be acting upon something incorrect or against the Sharia.

Only Allah Knows Best

Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham.

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.