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THE CONCEPT OF AL-IJMA IN ISLAM AND ITS RELEVANCE TO THE CONTEMPORARY MUSLIM (A CASE STUDY OF SOKOTO NORTH LGA)

ISLAMIC STUDIES UNDERGRADUATE PROJECT TOPICS, RESEARCH WORKS AND MATERIALS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Possessing an ideology of belief is inevitable or fundamental for the advancement of progress of a people, religion or country.

They must have a belief that explains several supernatural things especially the existence of mankind as well as every aspect of life. The view held is equally important as it goes a long way in determining a coexistence of people of different background.

These views in islam can be basically said to be Al-ijma. A lot has been said and done about al-ijma and the contemporary muslim as regards their relationship with other folks from other religion. Al-ijma can basically be viewed as a consensus or an agreement between islamic scholars on religious issues. Various schools of thought within the Islamic jurisprudence may hold their different views on issues pertaining to islam.

Different school of thoughts within islam ranging from the sunni to the shia and then the mu’tazilite hold their divergent views on issues and doctrines in islam. A critical examination and understanding of these views would go a long way in ensuring an adequate coexistence and fostering of unity. An agreement of consensus between schools of Islamic thoughts has long being elusive and these have led to the divergent practice of islam.

In the Arabic language, Ijma' means 'Azm or determination. It can also mean Ittifaq or agreement. As a term among the scholars of Usool, ''it is the agreement over a rule for an incident that already existed that it is a Hukm Shari'ah."'' While they agreed on this definition, they disagreed on whose Ijma' is valid. And based on their opinion, they defined Ijma'. While all Muslims are in agreement that Ijma' is a Daleel Shari' (legal evidence), they disagreed on whose Ijma' is binding. All agreed that the Ijma' of the Sahabah is a Daleel Shari'e but then deferred after the Sahabah era. Some said that the Ijma' of the Ummah in any era is binding, while others opined that it is not the Ummah but the Ijma' of the Ulama' or scholars at any time. Others viewed the Ijma' of the Itrah or the family of the Prophet as the only proper Ijma'. While these are Islamic opinions, they have been used nowadays by the West as tools in the hands of their Islamic ''reformers'' to reinterpret Islam. They are also used by scholars to legitimize the rulers' Haram actions and their illegitimate Kufr systems. How many times have we heard about the Ijma' of the scholars of regarding the British calling Saudi Arabia an Islamic state, the King being legitimate, seeking the protection and alliance of the American troops is allowed, etc.? How many times have we heard that there is Ijma' al Ulema stating that the Deen is based on Maslahah (benefit) of the people?
All of these examples demonstrate how an Islamic idea is used to legitimize Kufr ideas and systems. We also hear of an Ijma' of Ahl us Sunnah scholars that questioning the rulers and holding them accountable to the Ummah for the systems they rule by and the actions they perform based on Islam and discussing their affairs runs counter to the path of Ahl us-Sunnah. Therefore, discussing the issue of Ijma' should not be viewed as an academic or theoretical discussion. It is very practical and is directly related to our daily lives and the obligation of initiating Islamic revival. Now let us address the issue at hand.
For example, Imam Ash-Shawkani in his book Irshad ul-Fuhool said, ''It is the agreement of the Mujtahideen of the Ummah of Muhammad (saaw) after his death in a certain era on something.''
Imam Ar-Razi is of the same opinion as Imam Ash-Shawkani, with the exception that he includes the Ijma' of the Ummah. He said in his book Al-Mahsool, ''The Ijma' of the Ummah is an evidence.'' [vol., p.9]

Statement of the general problem

Al-ijma in islam has often been misinterpreted by different muslim groups and school of thoughts, this has led to conflicting views and ideologies. Islamic scholars’ difficulty in finding a common ground interms of their beliefs has equally done more harm than good as this has led to muslims holding on to some erroneous belief which has by extension affected the peaceful coexistence of people especially in Nigeria that is a multi lingual and multi religious society.

One notable problem on the lack of Al-ijma in Islamic teachings and practices is the current case of boko haram insurgency that has crippled the economy of the north east while at the same time painting islam in bad light. The conflicting doctrines taught by Islamic scholars has led to the divergent behavior and understanding of their followers. The current economic retrogression in once booming and peaceful north eastern Nigeria may have been as a result of the lack of Al-ijma in teaching islam by the scholars and its practice by their numerous followers.

Objectives of the study

A major objective or aim of this study is to examine the relevance of Al-ijma to the contemporary muslim in sokoto north LGA. Other aims of this study are

  1. To examine the importance of Al-ijma in maintaining peaceful coexistence in Nigeria.
  2. To study the role of Al-ijma in ensuring socio economic development in Sokoto North LGA and Nigeria in general.
  3. To examine the importance of al-ijma in strengthening islam in Nigeria.
  4. To examine the sunni,shia and mu’tazilite views in achieving Al-ijma in Nigeria.

Research Questions

  1. What is the relevance of Al-ijma to the contemporary muslim in sokoto north LGA?
  2. What is the importance of Al-ijma in maintaining peaceful coexistence in Nigeria?
  3. What is the role of Al-ijma in ensuring socio economic development in Sokoto North LGA and Nigeria in general?
  4. What is the role of al-ijma in strengthening islam in Nigeria?

Significance of the study

This study would be of immense benefit to the muslim community as it would help to achieve a common ground on doctrines of Islam both in teaching on the part of the scholars and its practice by their followers. This study also would help in achieving a peaceful coexistence amongst the different muslim sects and also with people of other religions which would by large help in achieving economic development as development would only occur in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

This study would be beneficial to Islamic scholars and researchers who are interested in the relevance of al-ijma in islam.

Scope and limitation of the study

This study would be limited to the concept of al-ijma and its relevance to the contemporary muslim with sokoto north LGA.

Limitation of the study

The study was limited basically by two factors;

Financial Constraint: Insufficient fund tends to restrict the ability of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant research materials both online, through libraries and data collection through questionnaire or interview.

Time Constraint: The researcher simultaneously engaged in this with other academic work. This constantly limited the time devoted for the research work.

Operational definition of terms

Islam: the religious faith of Muslims, based on the words and religious system founded by the prophet Muhammad and taught by the Koran, the basic principle of which is absolute submission to a unique and personal god, Allah.

Scholar: The definition of a scholar is a learned or well-educated person, especially one who excels in a particular field or subject.

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