Question: Is it necessary to act upon the consensus of the Sahaba? Does not acting upon it take one out of the fold of Islam? Does one leave the fold of Islam by rejecting that which the scholars agree upon? If someone chooses not to follow ijma or Ijma (Qat’i) and just follows Quran and sound/authentic hadith, does he go outside Islam?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate,
It is obligatory to act on the consensus of the Sahaba. Not acting on their consensus is not disbelief, but it is sinful. [Bukhari, Bazdawi; Kashf al-Asrar Sharh Usul al-Bazdawi]
In order to answer your other questions, it is best to address the question common theme; what takes one out of the fold of Islam?
What is Disbelief?
Imam J’afar al-Tahawi states, “Nothing removes a slave [of Allah] from belief except the denial of that which actually brought him into it in the first place.” [Tahawi, al-‘Aqida al-Tahawiyya]
Along with this, scholars have determined that denial of that which is necessarily understood of the religion is also disbelief.
That Which is Necessarily Understood Of the Religion
Those aspects of Islam which are common knowledge amongst all Muslims – both the scholars as well as the commoners – are what is meant by necessarily understood of the Religion. Some examples of this are the following:
(1) The obligation of praying
(2) The obligation of fasting Ramadan
(3) The prohibition of forbidden actions, such as drinking wine and fornication, etc.
The Definitive Consensus (الاجماع القطعي) Of the Sahaba
If the issue upon which the Sahaba reached a consensus is (a) definitive, (b) is mass transmitted, and (c) is something that both the scholar and the commoner would have knowledge of, it is disbelief to reject. This is similar to what was mentioned above. [Bukhari, Bazdawi; Kashf al-Asrar Sharh Usul al-Bazdawi]
If the point, however, is definitive but either not mass transmitted or a nuanced issue that many common Muslims are ignorant of, it is not disbelief; rather such a belief is sinful and erroneous. An example of this is the prohibition of intercourse during Hajj before the standing of ‘Arafa, the nuanced issues of inheritance laws, etc. [Ibid.]
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I hope this helps,
Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences