Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: I read an article on consensus (ijma’) and it gave the views of classical scholars like Imam Juwayni and Imam Fakhruddin Razi that the Quranic and Hadith proofs for consensus are weak and unclear.They argued that how can you have consensus as a source of law, when there is no solid proof for consensus in Islam.
Can you please explain why such major scholars disputed the basis of consensus as a source of law?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
This is not an accurate representation of the views of the scholars mentioned in the question.
Imam al-Juwayni certainly held consensus (ijma`) to be a legal source. His issue with the primary texts and their lack of decisiveness in establishing consensus as a source of law never translated into a denial of consensus itself. These two considerations are not causally linked. Rather, Imam al-Juwayni felt that the strongest evidence for consensus as a source of law was empirical and experiential. For more, one can refer to the discussion in Imam al-Juwayni’s al-Burhan fi usul al-fiqh.
The case of Imam al-Razi is also similar. While he forwarded rebuttals of earlier proofs presented for consensus as a primary source, his rebuttals were not due to his denial of consensus itself but because he saw such evidence as insufficient. A cursory glance at his many books will demonstrate that he held consensus to be a source of law.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani