Methods to Know Who Is Mujtahid / the Most Learned Mujtahid, and to Obtain His fatwās
Q 24: I verified the competence of a certain mujtahid as marji‘ through the testimony of two just persons, is it obligatory for me to ask other persons about this matter also?
A: The testimony of two just experts regarding the competence of a certain mujtahid and that he meets all requirements is enough to consider his following as permissible and it is not necessary to ask others thereafter.
Q 25: What are the methods for selecting a marji‘ and obtaining his fatwās?
A: Ijtihād of a marji‘ and that he is the most learned one is verified through examining him and becoming certain, even if due to publicity which makes one certain or confident, or the testimony of two just experts. The fatwā of a marji‘ could be obtained:
a) by hearing it from him, from two or one just person(s) or from a reliable person; or
b) by referring to his book on practical laws of Islam provided that there is no mistake in it.
Q 26: Is it correct to make another person one’s agent in selecting a marji‘, such as the representation of a son by his father or a student by his teacher?
A: If what is meant is to entrust to one’s father, teacher, etc., the task of searching for a qualified mujtahid, there is no objection to it. Their opinion in this matter is valid in shar‘ and considered as a proof provided that their opinion induces knowledge or confidence, or it meets the criteria of evidence and testimony.
Q 27: I asked several mujtahids about the most learned mujtahid. They told me that following so-and-so (may Allah, the Exalted, elevate his spiritual ranks) would discharge me of my obligation. May I rely on their opinion if I personally do not know whether or not he is the most learned or I doubt, or I am certain, that he is not the most learned mujtahid due to the existence of others with similar evidences in their favor?
A: If shar‘ī evidence is established that a qualified mujtahid is the most knowledgeable, it is binding proof upon which one may rely as long as there is no contradicting evidence, even if it does not induce certainty or confidence. In such a case, it is not necessary to search for opposing evidence and make sure that it does not exist.
Q 28: Someone does not have formal permission (from a mujtahid to transmit his fatwās). Moreover, he occasionally makes mistakes in relating fatwās. Is it permissible for him to relate the mujtahid’s opinions? What is our duty if he relates fatwās by reciting the book on practical laws of Islam?
A: Permission is not required to transmit a mujtahid’s fatwā or to explain religious rules. However, undertaking this task is not permissible for someone who makes mistakes while performing it. If a person notices his mistake in relating a fatwā, it is obligatory for him to inform the listener about the mistake. In any case, it will not be permissible for the listener to act upon the statements of someone who relates fatwās unless he obtains confidence regarding the correctness of his statements.
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