Al-Ijmaa' refers to the agreement of all scholars worthy of making legal decisions from the Ummah (Nation) of Muhammad after his death on a religious matter in any period in time.
Linguistically it carries two meanings:
1. Agreement - you say, “the people agreed on something.” If they come together and agree and this cannot come about except from a group.
2. Firm determination - It is said, “Someone has made his opinion firm on such a matter,” if he is determined to it and this can come about by one person or by a group.
Technically, it means: The agreement of all scholars worthy of making legal decisions from the Ummah of Muhammad after his death on a religious matter in any period in time.
Explanation of The Definition
“The agreement” is a general word that comprises many things. It includes all that is not pertaining to it by the following reasons. The exemption of “all scholars worthy of making legal decisions” is the scholar that does not reach the level worthy of making legal decisions let alone the common people and those who are in their category, there is no consideration for their agreement or disagreement. Also an exception to this is the agreement of some scholars and excluding others.
Exception to “From the Ummah of Muhammad" is Ijmaa‘ of other nations and the meaning of Ummah is those who have accepted his message and not those who only received the message (not accepting it).
The meaning of “after his death” explains the beginning of the Ijmaa‘. During his life there was no need for Ijmaa‘ as it was the period of revelation of the message.
“In any period in time” indicates considering Ijmaa‘ in any time possible after the time of prophethood whether it was in the time of the Sahaabah or not.
Exception of “on a religious matter” is the agreement of the scholars of this Ummah on any intellectual or customary affairs, for example.
Examples of Ijmaa‘
Examples of Ijmaa‘ have been mentioned already under the heading “Specification (al-Khaass)” and other than it. Now you will be given as a whole, some affairs agreed upon by scholars taken from the book Maraatib-ul-Ijmaa‘ by Ibn Hazm and we have chosen from various topics.
- They agreed that the divorced woman from a revocable divorce during her waiting period is entitled to adequate financial support and residence.
- They agreed that sexual intercourse nullifies I‘tikaaf (seclusion in Masjid).
- They agreed that committing a major sin and openly committing minor sins are injurious by which one’s evidence can be rejected.
- They agreed that the grandmother does not inherit with the presence of the mother.
- They agreed that the legacy (will) for an inheritor is not possible.
- They agreed that there is no blood retribution on one who kills accidentally.
- They agreed that the divorced woman in a revocable divorce can be inherited by her husband and she can inherit from him so long as she is in her waiting period.
- They agreed that the journey of a woman in which she is allowed to travel with her husband or a Mahram (one who cannot marry her) is permissible.
- They agreed that the slaughtering of cattle in the sacred place and by a Muhrim (one in the state of restrictions during Hajj or ‘Umrah) is lawful.
- They agreed that there are not more than fifteen prostration verses in the al-Qur’aan.
- They agreed that the menstruating woman must make up for the days she has missed during her menses.
- They agreed that it is not permissible to fast for someone who is alive.
Proof That Ijmaa’ Is Evidence (In Islaam)
The majority of scholars agreed that Ijmaa‘ is proof and it is compulsory to work with it. The Nizaamee, the Shee‘ah and the Khawaarij disagreed with this. The jumhoor (majority of scholars) have proven its evidence by many proofs among them are:
- Allaah’s words in al-Qur’aan,
“If anyone contends with the Messenger (Salallahu Alayhi wassalam) even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him and follows a path other than that becoming to men of faith, we shall leave him in the path he has chosen and make him enter - Hell - what an evil refuge!” (Soorah an-Nisaa’, 4: 115)
Allaah the Supreme has warned those who follow a path other than that of the Believers with punishment so it becomes incumbent to follow their way. What is this save an evidence!
2. The saying of the Prophet
“A group of my followers will always remain on the right path.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol. 9, no. 552)
So if the people of a particular time agreed on something evil, it would have negated the correctness of this Hadeeth in that time due to the absence of supporters of the truth and this is invalid.
Therefore, the possibility of their agreeing on what is contrary to the truth is invalid too.
Source: Chapter on Ijmaa' by Shaykh Muhsin Al-Abbaad (translated by Dr. Bilal Philips)