In the book Return to Islam, His Excellency Allamah Mansoor has said that ijtihad is obligatory for every Muslim, while every human being has a unique aspiration and talent. Some have an aspiration and talent for medicine, some for engineering, and some for another work; therefore, it is impossible for them to practice ijtihad in religion. So what should one who does not have an aspiration and talent for practicing ijtihad do? Is it not permissible for him to imitate one of the mujtahids?
The intended meaning of His Excellency Mansoor, may God Almighty protect him, by ijtihad is seeking knowledge of religion, and there is no doubt that it is obligatory for every Muslim, and it does not come under the heading of medicine, engineering, and other worldly works so that people would have a choice in it, but rather it comes under the heading of prayer, fasting, and other religious deeds that are obligatory for them regardless of their aspirations and talents; because God has commanded it as He has commanded those, where He has said: ﴿وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ﴾; “Do not follow what you have no knowledge of,” and said: ﴿نَبِّئُونِي بِعِلْمٍ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ﴾; “Inform me with knowledge if you are truthful,” and said: ﴿إِنْ عِنْدَكُمْ مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ بِهَذَا ۚ أَتَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ﴾; “You have no authority for this. Do you say against God what you do not know?!” and said: ﴿قُلْ هَلْ عِنْدَكُمْ مِنْ عِلْمٍ فَتُخْرِجُوهُ لَنَا ۖ إِنْ تَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ وَإِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلَّا تَخْرُصُونَ﴾; “Say: ‘Do you have any knowledge that you can produce for us?! You follow nothing but conjecture and do nothing but guess,’” and said: ﴿وَمَا لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ ۖ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ ۖ وَإِنَّ الظَّنَّ لَا يُغْنِي مِنَ الْحَقِّ شَيْئًا﴾; “They have no knowledge about it; they follow nothing but conjecture, while conjecture is not sufficient for (proving) the truth,” and it is clear that the human being has not been created to do what he likes and leave what he does not like, but rather he has been created to do what God likes and leave what God does not like; because he is a servant of God, not a servant of himself, and he is not allowed to take his desires as his god; as God Almighty has said: ﴿أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ﴾; “Have you seen one who takes his desires as his god?!” and said: ﴿وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنِ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَيْرِ هُدًى مِنَ اللَّهِ﴾; “And who is more astray than one who follows his desires without any guidance from God?!” and said: ﴿وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴾; “And you do not will unless God, the Lord of the worlds, wills,” and said: ﴿وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ﴾; “And I did not create the jinn and humankind except that they may worship Me,” and said: ﴿وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ ۗ وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُبِينًا﴾; “And it is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when God and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have a choice regarding the matter, and whoever disobeys God and His Prophet has gone far astray”; especially considering that he may like something that is evil for him and not like something that is good for him; as God Almighty has said: ﴿فَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا﴾; “Perhaps you hate something and God has placed much good in it,” and said: ﴿وَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَى أَنْ تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ﴾; “And perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you like a thing and it is evil for you, and God knows and you do not know.”
Based on this, it is obligatory for every Muslim to seek knowledge of the principles and branches of religion, even if he dislikes it, and not act on conjecture about anything of its beliefs and deeds, even if it conforms to his desires; because God is not satisfied with him without it, and it is clear that imitation of the fallible benefits conjecture rather than knowledge because they may be mistaken in their fatwa. Therefore, one of two things must be done: either imitating the infallible, considering his existence in every time, or directly referring to the Quran and the proven Sunnah through mutawatir reports, and there is no doubt that the first one is easier, and it is what God has decreed for people; as He has said: ﴿وَمِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ﴾; “And among those We have created there are some who guide with the truth and establish justice with it,” and said: ﴿وَلِكُلِّ قَوْمٍ هَادٍ﴾; “And there is a guide for every nation,” but they were forced to resort to the second one due to their bad deeds; because they abandoned following the guide that God appointed for them, that is, Imam Mahdi, peace be upon him, ﴿وَاتَّبَعُوا أَمْرَ كُلِّ جَبَّارٍ عَنِيدٍ﴾; “and followed the command of every rebellious tyrant,” so they forced him to hide from them so that they would not kill him as they killed the guides before him, and there is no doubt that if they repent from that and reform, their guide will show himself to them and teach them religion in ease and well being, but if they do not do so, they must refer directly to the Quran and the proven Sunnah, and if there is hardship in it for them, it is because of what their hands have sent forth, ﴿وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَيْسَ بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ﴾; “and undoubtedly, God is not unjust to (His) servants.” Today, God has made it easier for people by His grace and mercy; He has made many books on interpretation and Hadith available to people and made it easy for them to print and distribute them. He has also provided them with new tools for research and investigation, allowing them to quickly access different opinions and evidence. Nonetheless, the reality is that they have become lazy, and nothing concerns them except the life of the world. Therefore, they make excuses and cling to any pretext to justify imitating the fallible; like those who ﴿يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّا أَنْفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ﴾; “seek to deceive God and those who have faith, while they deceive no one but themselves, and they do not realize.”
Is it obligatory for a layperson to search in religious evidence so that a ruling becomes clear to him with certainty?!! Is this possible or reasonable? Considering that the layperson may need to spend years of his life searching in every issue so that the correct opinion on it will become clear to him! The layperson who works long hours to provide for himself and his family does not have sufficient time for this matter, nor does he possess the tools of research, including knowledge of the Arabic language, grammar, Hadith, interpretation, Quranic sciences, abrogating and abrogated verses, and other related sciences. Please clarify the issue and state your opinion on it. Thank you.
We have already clarified this issue in the above answer and other published answers on the website and said that «طَلَبَ الْعِلْمِ فَرِيضَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ»; “seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim,” as the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, has explicitly said so, and that is a mutawatir and well-known Hadith narrated from him by Ali ibn Abi Talib, Husain ibn Ali, Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, Anas ibn Malik, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, Jabir ibn Abdullah, Ubayy ibn Ka‘b, Nubayt ibn Shurayt, ibn Umar, Abu Hurairah, and others, and knowledge in it is absolute and includes the principles and branches of religion, as it is so in the words of God Almighty, and it can be easily obtained by going to God’s Caliph on the earth. However, if going to him is impossible at present, ﴿ذَلِكَ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ لَيْسَ بِظَلَّامٍ لِلْعَبِيدِ﴾; “it is because of what your hands sent forth, and undoubtedly, God is not unjust to (His) servants”; because his disappearance is a result of your failure to protect and support him, so you must remedy it so that he will appear and make it easy for you to seek knowledge of the principles and branches of religion. But before that, there is no choice but to bear the hardship and seek knowledge by referring to the Quran and the proven Sunnah without imitating those who are associated with knowledge, and there is nothing wrong with asking them as a way of research and investigation and acting on their fatwas if they have sufficient evidence; because it is not considered imitation, ﴿وَمَنْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ يُسْرًا﴾; “and whoever fears God, He makes ease for him in his affairs”.