Shias have a system of Ijtihad when a person is qualified after a meticulous and exhaustive study to issue a Fatwa on certain jurisprudential issues. These persons are mostly alive and they can issue Fatwas on prevalent or current issues which were not present few (hundred) years ago. While I see Sunnis believe on just four such Imams (Malik, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Abu Hanifa, Shafie). I wonder what do Sunnis do when they are confronted with everyday issues. Do they search and research themselves from books of Hadith which is not correct. They do refer to local or prominent religious scholar. But I want to ask if there is any standard which a person must have before he can answer people's question? If there is a standard or a system then what is this?
3Well shortly they do the same as you described for shi'i Scholars but according to the osol al fiqh of their school or their own. And the Hanafi school was even well known for elaborating answers for Questions that may occur in the future such as to which direction one should pray if he is living on the moon!– Medi1Saif ♦Mar 7, 2016 at 8:25
@Medi1Saif, why don't you post that as an answer instead of a comment?– AtataMar 8, 2016 at 16:12
@Atata because with a bit search one could deduce this islam.stackexchange.com/questions/14624/… islam.stackexchange.com/questions/17371/… islam.stackexchange.com/questions/1796/… islam.stackexchange.com/questions/1306/…– Medi1Saif ♦Mar 9, 2016 at 6:40
I'm voting to close as "unclear". It seems to be a long-winded way of asking "How does one become a Sunni scholar?" (Which is: Who is eligible to be called as scholar in islam?) In this question, the mention of Shia Islam seems only to be a distraction (and it's a bit confrontational: "which is not correct").– Rebecca J. StonesMar 19, 2018 at 15:24
The Sunni school alternative to the Shi'as' ijithād is also called ijtihād (independent reasoning), and it may be done by scholars who are alive or may have been done by scholars over the centuries (the four Imams included, but not limited to them).
The basic rule of ijtihād in the Sunni view is when a matter has its core in agreement with another, then the ruling that applies to one of its branches applies to the other branch provided that the 'illah is the same. For example, wine (first core) is prohibited (ruling) because it is an intoxicant ('illah). Japanese saké (second core) intoxicates (shares the same 'illah); therefore, Japanese saké is also prohibited (shares the same ruling).
The differences that you may have heard of between Sunnis and Shias is that Sunnis in regards to terminology of jurisprudence use exclusively the descriptive term (Arabic: تعريف الاجتهاد في الاصطلاح باعتبار معناه الوصفي), whereas Shias lately have attempted to use descriptive as well as taxonomical term (Arabic: تعريف الاجتهاد في الاصطلاح باعتبار معناه الاسمي) . This is from the science of fundamentals of jurisprudence (Arabic: علم الأصول) aspect. Imam Ash-Shātibi discussed this in his book Al-Muwāfaqāt, Vol. 6, pp. 51 in particular (and the entire chapter he had on the topic pp. 7-340 of the same volume, where he covers the topic at length). Based on this definition, defining who is qualified to do ijtihād comes next. There are two opinions:
- Those who have specific Islamic jurisprudence qualifications, which is the opinion of Al-Baramāwi, At-Taftazāni, Ibn Al-Hājib, Ibn Al-Humām, Ibn An-Najjār, Ibn As-Subki, Ibn Muflih, among others.
- Those who have knowledge (need not be constrained to Islamic jurisprudence), which is the opinion of Ar-Rāzi, As-Safi Al-Hindi, Ash-Shātibi, At-Tabrīzi, Az-Zarkashi, Ibn Juzai, Ibn Qudāmah, among others.
The second opinion allows the inclusion of subject matter experts (e.g., doctors on organ transplants, bankers and economists on the trade of stock options, etc.) in the committee that would do ijtihād.
In both the Sunni and Shia sects, the jurists have their own grades (Arabic: طبقات العلماء). You may refer to, for instance, the following references (Arabic only) on the Sunni perspective (and general discussions of ijithād):
- Al-Qawl al-Mufīd fi Adellat al-Ijtihād wa at-Taqlīd by Ash-Shawkāni
- Irshād an-Nuqqād ila Taisīr al-Ijtihād by As-San'āni
- Tabaqāt al-Fuqahā' by Ash-Shirāzi
- Tabaqāt ash-Shāfi'iyyah al-Kubra bu As-Subki