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If a layman falls into a situation and wants to know the Islamic ruling regarding it by asking someone, he must be aware that not every individual is qualified to be asked such questions. Rather there are specific conditions which must be fulfilled in order to qualify to be asked. From amongst these conditions: He must have knowledge of the evidences of the shari’ah in general and in detail. He also must be capable of applying the principles of usul to the evidences. However, there still remains a pertinent question: how can a layman know whether the person he asks has met all the conditions of ijtihad?
If a person purely intends by his action worldly gains, he will fall into one of two categories, either the action is a type of worship that can only be considered an act of worship like prayer for example. In this case the action will be invalid and will not be legally recognised. Or, the action could be considered to be an act of worship or other than that such as providing for one’s family, keeping family ties and leaving prohibited matters. In this case the action will be valid (saheeh) by which the obligation is fulfilled and the sin removed. However he will not deserve the reward for that in the hereafter.
Muslims in the West are in need of learning these issues just like any other group of Muslims. However, their need is greater due to the scarcity of scholars that they have. This becomes especially apparent to the one who looks into their affairs and is aware of their uniqueness and the needs by living amongst non-Muslims and adhering to their systems. Thus the importance of this topic should now be apparent.
The specifics regarding the birth of the final Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) sent to mankind have been the…