Rasm al-Mufti (Verse 9b): The experts

[The following is part (3) of a series on two commentaries of Allm. Ibn Abidin Shami's Uqud Rasm al-Mufti. The first commentary is an elaboration by Muhammad Saifur Rahman placed under summary. The second commentary is a translation of Allm. Ibn Abidin Shami's Sharh Uqud Rasm al-Mufti.]


The expert (faqih) is one who is qualified in fiqh to the appropriate level. As experts differ in ability it is imperative that one relying on or referencing an expert must know their standing within the grades or classes of fuqaha lest one gives the weak priority over the strong.

The qualification of fiqh includes the knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah pertaining to rulings along with Usul al-fiqh and the conclusions of the community of fuqaha. Correspondingly, the criteria include the knowledge of nasikh, mansukh, Arabic language, linguistics, arithmetic and the urf (custom) of the time and place. Also efficiency (tayaqquz)1, certification and experience under an experienced expert qualified faqih are a requirement.

In terms of ability the fuqaha can be categorised into three grades each with two sub-classes. Grade 1 fully meets all the criteria for the qualification of fiqh whilst grade 2 lacks some ancillary criteria and grade 3 lacks some of the primary criteria. Grade 4 is used to signify those who are unqualified.

  1. Grade 1 is mujtahid mutlaq which comprises of mujtahid fi shar'i (class 1) and mujtahid fi mazahib (class 2). This grade is able to form usul and extract ruling from the primary sources. Class 1 outlines the usul and class 2 acquiesces to the given usul in objective agreement even though they may differ in edicts.
  2. Grade 2 is mujtahid muqayyad which comprises of mujtahid fi masa’il (class 3) and ashab takhrij (class 4). This grade posses the primary qualifications to derive rulings but is unable to oppose the grade above. Class 3 is a specialist and is able to exercise ijtihad on issues where their limitation has no effect and it has not been addressed by the grade above. As opposed to class 4 who qualify but derive no rulings rather extend the conclusions of the mujtahidin.
  3. Grade 3 is hafidh mazhab which comprises of ashab tarjih (class 5) and ashab tamyiz (class 6). This grade knows the fiqh deduced and extended by the grades above. They are unable to utilise usul to derive ruling, but are able to evaluate it. Class 5 is able to follow up evaluation with preponderance as opposed to class 6 which suffices on evaluation and evasion of weak and non-preponderate positions.
  4. Grade 4 is naqilin which corresponds to class 7 which is described as those incapable of the above or unable to distinguish between strong from weak. This grades quotes without any appreciation of the reliability, validity or accuracy of the content. This class is unqualified and must not be relied upon.

Note! placement of the fuqaha within these classes differ as some classify based on activity or era rather than ability alone such as the placements of Ibn Kamal Pasha where the fuqaha despite being a higher grade are ranked lower due to a focus on activity and contribution rather than ability.

The suggested grades and classifications are based on a combination of types forwarded by Allm. Ibn Kamal Pasha and Allm. Nawawi (may Allah have mercy upon them both). See the article "The classes of fuqaha"2 for further details.

Sharh Uqud Rasm al-Mufti

[Allamah Ibn Abidin (may Allah have mercy upon him) says:]

Allm. Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Sulaiman commonly known as Ibn Kamal Basha states in some of his articles, It is necessary for a muqallid mufti that he know about the person from whom he is giving fatwa. By this we do not mean knowing the name, lineage and place of origin of the person, as this is insufficient and inadequate, on the contrary it is necessary to know his status in regards to narrations and understanding in addition to his standing amongst the classes of fuqaha so that a complete insight may be attained in distinguishing between two opposing advocates and gain sufficient ability in giving preponderance between two conflicting views. Thus, we suggest there are seven classes of fuqaha.

[Class 1] Mujtahidin fi al-Shar’i (legists in law) such as the four Imams and those who organised their own methods by forming legislative codes and extracted derivative edicts using the four sources3 without following anyone; neither in derivative issues nor in principles.

[Class 2] Mujtahidin fi al-Mazhab (legists in Mazhab) such as Abu Yusuf and Muhammad4 and all of the disciples of Abu Hanifa who are able to form judgments using the aforementioned sources whilst following the principles established by their teacher. Although they may differ from the founder in derivative issues they adhere to his legal code.

[Class 3] Mujtahidin fi al-Masa’il (legists in issues) which have not been stated by the founder such as Khassaf, Abu Jafar Tahawi, Abu Hasan Karkhi5, Shams al-A’imma Sarakhsi, Fakhr al-Islam Bazdawi, Fakhr al-Din Qadhi Khan amongst others. They are incapable of contradicting the Imam; in both principle and derivative issues. However, they are able to extract edicts on issues which have no precedents using established principles and appropriately extending the rules.

[Class 4] ‘Muqallids who deduce edicts’, such as Razi [Abu Bakr al-Jassas]6 and the like. Traditionally, [this class] is not capable of ijtihad, however, they possess comprehensive understanding of Usul and retain knowledge of sources which enables them to elaborate on ambiguous statements which may have multiple meanings. They are able to decide on possible meanings of assertions, made by the originator of the mazhab or one of his legist companions, using their opinions, insight in Usul and appraisal of similar examples in derivatives edicts.

[Class 5] ‘Muqallids who give preponderance’, such as Abu Hasan Quduri, the author of Hidaya 7, and others such alike. They are distinct in that they give preponderance to some views over others using terms such as ‘هذا اولى’, ‘هذا اصح الرواية’, ‘هذا اوضح’, ‘هذا اوفق للقياس’ and ‘هذا ارفق للناس’.

[Class 6] ‘Muqallids who are able to distinguish between ‘الاقـوى’, ‘القـوى’, ‘الضعيف’, ‘ظـاهر الرواية’, ‘ظاهر المذهب’ and ‘رواية النادرة’; [strong and weak statements]’ such as the authors of the authoritative primary texts [Matn] e.g. ‘الكنز’, ‘المختار’, ‘الوقاية’ and ‘المجمع’. They are distinctive in respect of the fact that they do not include any refuted or weak views.

[Class 7] ‘Muqallids who are incapable of that which has been stated [above]’. They are not able to differentiate between meagre and stout or left from right; they collect all they can find like a person gathering wood at night [i.e. aimlessly]. Woe unto those who follow them!


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
19 Dhul Qa'dah 1435
14 September 2014

  • 1. Quick or immediate access to edicts.
  • 2. Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. (2014). The classes of Fuqaha. Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Number 4. Available at http://uloom.com/dibaj/article/140813501
  • 3. Quran, Hadith, Ijma and Qiyas Shari’i
  • 4. Although in terms of activity Imams Abu Yusuf and Muhammad fall broadly in this class. However, In terms of capacity they firmly are from the first class of the fuqaha as stated by Allm. Abd al-Hayy Lacknawi (see Umdat al-Ri’ayah).
  • 5. Imams Khassaf, Tahawi and Karkhi in terms of capacity are classified higher that Class 3.
  • 6. In terms of calibre Imam Jassas is considered above that of Imam Qadi Khan.
  • 7. Imam Quduri and the author of Hidaya (Allm. Mirghinani) are considered equal or superior to Qadi Khan (may Allah almighty have mercy upon them) who is classified as a class 3 Mujtahid.

Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. (2014). Rasm al-Mufti (Verse 9b): The experts. Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Number 5. Available at http://uloom.com/dibaj/article/140914501