You may have heard the term mujtahid before. But what does it mean? Let’s break it down into two parts: the linguistic and technical meaning.
This word is an ism fa’il اسم فاعل from the form VIII verb root ج ه د. It is from the same root as the word jihad, which is form III.
We see from the “VIII” part that it means to put onself out, work hard, and then it gives us the technical usage as well, which is “to formulate an independent judgement in a legal or theological question (based on the application of the 4 usul; as opposed to taqlid).”
We also find similar meanings by checking the masdar.
From the book Wajeez fi Usul Al-Fiqh, we find the following definition:
“The mujtahid is the one who possesses the aptitude to do ijtihad. And he is the one who is capable of utilizing these guidelines and making it a pathway to understanding the rulings and deriving from the sources.”
So what does that mean? Basically the mujtahid can:
- Use the principles of usul al-fiqh to derive new rulings
- Use the principles as a pathway to understand existing rulings