Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Ijtihad Definition:

A further proposed source of divine Muslim Law; Ijtihad, though, is contrived on an as -needed basis (pronounced) by Sharia law scholars, or groups of scholars.

Related Terms: Sunnah

"When a matter cannot be solved by appeal to the Qur'an or Sunnah," writes Kinker Benton in his 2012 article, "and there is no consensus on the topic (Islamic law )scholars turn to their reasoning abilities (ijtihad).

"Specifically, ijtihad refers to the "personal effort undertaken by the jurist in order to understand the source and deduce the rules or, in the absence of a clear textual guidance, formulate independent judgments. . .,"" Such reasoning is supposed to reflect how the Prophet himself would adjudicate cases before him."

As both the law and religion of a theocracy, MUslsims are poorly served by a basis of law so open not just to interpretation and change, but interpretation and change that serves the political needs of the relevant Islamic government.


  • Kinker, Brenton, An Evaluation of the Prospects for Successful Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Islamic World, 35 MJIL 443 at 455 (2012)

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