6.Who should the layman ask when there are a number of mujtahidūn?

6.Who should the layman ask when there are a number of mujtahidūn?

(part 9)

The majority of the scholars viewed the permissibility of a layman to ask any mujtahid when there are a number of them, and to act upon his verdict whether he be the more distinguished and virtuous amongst them or not. They cited as proof for that a number of different evidences such as:

“And ask the people of remembrance if you do not know.” (an-naḥl: 43).

The mujtahid who is less distinguished and learned (mafḍūl) is considered to be from the people of remembrance and so it is permissible to ask him.

Also, according to the consensus (ijmāʿ) of the salaf, the mafḍūl can pass verdicts whilst the more distinguished and learned scholar (fāḍil) is existent. This reality became a well-known matter and continued to exist without any form of condemnation and thus it became a consensus i.e. to ask the mafḍūl for fatwa whilst it was possible to ask the fāḍil.

The scholars also cited as proof that at times the layman cannot outweigh opinions (tarjīḥ) due to his inadequacy. This is because tarjīḥ between individual scholars requires ijtihād and knowledge.

However, the last point can be objected to since the ability to make tarjīḥ between scholars can be possible for the layman if he carefully listened to their arguments and constantly referred back to the scholars (with rebuttals etc), or due to the multiplicity of scholars that adopt a particular view or by other scholars giving preference to that view.[1]

[1] See: Sharḥ al Kawkab al Munīr: (4/571), al Majmūʿ 1/94, al Musawwadah p.462, al Mustaṣfā 2/390 etc.

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