Originally Posted by Urban Turban
Certainly. Before I go on, I took this stance based upon what Imam Ibn Hazm has said, that Muslims should ask about Fatwas from scholars asking for the basis of the Qur'an and Sunnah. My stance is merely to not blindly accept Fatwas, but investigate into them and if possible, investigate into the scholar if they are not well-known. Obviously, the muhadditheen are above this and they have detailed their reasons for passing Fatwas. We see online on different websites how scholars have given the reasoning for their Fatwas based on the Qur'an and Ahadith. So what I am saying is nothing out of the ordinary, but the scholars are themselves aware that they should provide proof of their reasoning.
First of all, I am taking this position of investigation from the Qur'an. It says
49:6 O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done.
4:94 O ye who believe! When ye go abroad in the cause of Allah, investigate carefully, and say not to any one who offers you a salutation: "Thou art none of a believer!" Coveting the perishable goods of this life: with Allah are profits and spoils abundant. Even thus were ye yourselves before, till Allah conferred on you His favours: Therefore carefully investigate. For Allah is well aware of all that ye do.
And in the Ahadith:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: I heard the Prophet saying, "Allah will not deprive you of knowledge after he has given it to you, but it will be taken away through the death of the religious learned men with theirknowledge. Then there will remain ignorant people who, when consulted, will give verdicts according to their opinions whereby they will mislead others and go astray." (Book #92, Hadith #410)
'Urwa b. Zubair reported that 'A'isha said to him: This news has reached me that 'Abdullah b. 'Amr al-'As would pass by us during the Hajj season, so you meet him and ask him (about religious matters) as he has acquired great knowledge from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). I thus met him and asked him about things which he narrated from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). And amongst these the one he mentioned was that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge from people directly but he takes away the scholars and consequently takes away (knowledge) along with them and leaves amongst persons the ignorant as their leaders who deliver religious verdicts without (adequate) knowledge and themselves go astray and lead others astray. 'Urwa said: When I narrated this to 'A'isha, she deemed it too much (to believe) and thus showed reluctance to accept that (as perfectly true) and said to, 'Urwa: Did he ('Abdullah b. 'Amr) say to you that he had heard Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: ('Urwa had forgotten to ask this from 'Abdullah b. 'Amr). So when it was the next year, she ('A'isha) said to him ('Urwa): Ibn Amr has come (for Hajj), so meet him. talk to him and ask him about this hadith that he narrated to You (last year on the occasion of the Hajj) pertaining to knowledge. He ('Urwa), said: So I met him, and asked about it and he narrated to me exactly like one that he had narrated (to me) for the first time. So when I informed her ('A'isha) about that, she said: I do not think but this that he has certainly told the truth and I find that be has neither made any addition to it, nor missed anything from it. (Book #034, Hadith #6465)
Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘Whoever is given a Fatwa that is not based on knowledge, his sin is borne by the one who gave the Fatwa.” Sulaiman Al-Mahri (a narrator) added in his Hadith: “The one who gives advice to his brother, knowing that what is better for him lies elsewhere, he has betrayed him.” This is the wording of Sulaiman. (Hasan)
(Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith #3657)
I do not doubt that even those who are considered the most knowledgeable scholars could also go wrong in giving Fatwas, since this is what the Holy Prophet (saw) warned about. So why should Muslims not question the Fatwas and ask for their basis of ruling? Every Muslim should ask what the basis for a Fatwa is. As long as it is based upon the Qur'an and Sunnah, then all is good and well. But if a scholar deems it fit to make a Fatwa based on an opinion not supported by the Qur'an and Sunnah, then that Fatwa is to be rejected.
Piety is based on what you see. If you see someone who is considered a scholar acting contrary to what Islam prescribes knowingly, then don't take Fatwas from him. It is obvious that he isn't worthy of giving Fatwas. Otherwise, when you haven't seen anything wrong with a scholar, then you can follow their Fatwas when you have inquired about their correctness.
And what is this about the Muslims who are not scholars considered ignorant and unworthy of inquiry? Every Muslim man and woman must make themselves knowledgeable. A scholar is there to pass rulings because they have the best knowledge on Islam. Otherwise, it is the duty of every Muslim man and woman to become learned about their own religion. If you cannot determine what it means to base a Fatwa on the Qur'an and Sunnah, then I don't know what to say except that you don't know the difference between someone's quoting a verse of the Qur'an or not.
To say that you have to be a scholar to question a scholar is like putting the scholars on an infallible status, as if the rest of us Muslims are too stupid to know anything about Islam. Scholars are human, and humans make errors. We may not know it every single time, but this is the reality. We follow the Qur'an and Sunnah, not the scholars' words as the Word of God.
I never said we need to assess the scholar's knowledge, but we must assess what they have said.
As for the Sunnah which tells us to question the opinions of scholars, the obvious proof of this is that we are supposed to follow the Qur'an and Ahadith. All I can say is that when you see the actions of the Khulafa-e-Rashidin, you notice that they were all questioned about certain actions of theirs and they refrained from doing certain things if they were seen to forget something of the Qur'an and Sunnah. No everyone knows everything about Islam at one time, because there are thousands of Ahadith and the Qur'an is a reminder which is to be recited daily. Thus, when we tend to forget easily, why should all of us not accept it when others correct us?
Case in point. Hazrat Umar (ra) intended to harm someone who said something foolish. But he was stopped when a verse of the Qur'an was recited to him:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas: Uyaina bin Hisn bin Hudhaifa bin Badr came and stayed (at Medina) with his nephew Al-Hurr bin Qais bin Hisn who has one of those whom 'Umar used to keep near him, as the Qurra' (learned men knowing Quran by heart) were the people of Umar's meetings and his advisors whether they were old or young. 'Uyaina said to his nephew, "O my nephew! Have you an approach to this chief so as to get for me the permission to see him?" His nephew said, "I will get the permission for you to see him." (Ibn 'Abbas added: ) So he took the permission for 'Uyaina, and when the latter entered, he said, "O the son of Al-Khattab! By Allah, you neither give us sufficient provision nor judge among us with justice." On that 'Umar became so furious that he intended to harm him. Al-Hurr, said, "O Chief of the Believers!" Allah said to His Apostle 'Hold to forgiveness, command what is good (right), and leave the foolish (i.e. do not punish them).' (7.199) and this person is among the foolish." By Allah, 'Umar did not overlook that Verse when Al-Hurr recited it before him, and 'Umar said to observe (the orders of) Allah's Book strictly." (See Hadith No. 166, Vol. 6) (Book #92, Hadith#389)
My point is to demonstrate human fallibility. The Prophets of God are on a whole other level, but us followers are bound to make mistakes now and then. We also forget things now and then. Thus, we need reminders from others. Scholars are not infallible if the Khulafa-e-Rashidin were not infallible to errors now and then as well. Hazrat Umar (ra) was humble and not proud. This situation did not involve a Fatwa, but it does demonstrate the humanity which we need to remember.
If you feel I am wrong here in anything then show it. This is how I look at this. A person must have Taqwa, otherwise they are not reliable and they cannot pass anything. Only the pious can determine matters of Fiqh. Why would you go to someone who isn't pious? I was stating the obvious, which I assumed everyone here knows already. Out of over a hundred scholars, you may find one who is, in reality, not pious. Again, you do not judge anyone but give them the benefit of the doubt, until you see clear evidence in their actions that they are not actually pious. But according to the Holy Prophet (saw), this knowledge will one day be taken away, and thus the pure ones would be taken away, because only the pure can understand the Qur'an (56:79).
We know that the four main schools, Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki and Shafi'i are reliable, obviously. So I am not questioning their authenticity. But we have to inform ourselves of why the Fatwas were passed and see if we agree with them or not, by seeing what is said in the Qur'an, Sunnah and Ahadith. In the end, we follow Allah's Book and follow the ways of the Messenger of Allah (saw), we are not told to blindly follow anyone else but the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). If you think we should, then you are seriously mistaken and need to look back at the books of Aqidah. No where are we told by any scholar to blindly accept them and follow them. That would be like putting them in the same position as the Holy Prophet (saw). They are definitely not in that position of infallibility, neither were the Khufala-e-Rashdin. Therefore, why place anyone else after them in that position which even they could not reach? This point of view, to me, seems the most logical based upon the beliefs we Muslims hold.
My question to you: Do you consider the scholars of Islam as infallible? I am not talking about the majority view, but the scholars in general. Do you think they are above speculation of any sort?