Kitab Rohmatul Ummah: A Book of Mercy for the Ummah in the Differences of the Imams
Kitab Rohmatul Ummah is a classical book written by Abu Abdillah Muhammad bin Abdurrahman al-Dimasyqi al-‘Utsmani, a scholar from Damascus who lived in the 13th century CE. The book discusses the reasons and benefits of the differences of opinions among the four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali. The author argues that these differences are a mercy for the ummah (the Muslim community) as they allow for flexibility and diversity in applying the Islamic law according to different contexts and circumstances.
The book is divided into three parts: the first part deals with the general principles of ijtihad (independent reasoning) and taqlid (following a qualified jurist); the second part explains the causes of differences among the imams, such as linguistic, methodological, evidential and contextual factors; and the third part provides examples of some disputed issues and how each school has its own valid interpretation based on its own sources and reasoning.
Kitab Rohmatul Ummah is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the history and development of Islamic jurisprudence, as well as to appreciate the diversity and richness of the Islamic legal tradition. The book also promotes tolerance and respect among Muslims who follow different schools of thought, and encourages them to seek knowledge and understanding rather than conflict and division.
You can download Kitab Rohmatul Ummah in PDF format from various websites, such as , , or . However, please note that these are scanned copies of the original Arabic text, and there may be some errors or missing pages. If you want to read a translation or commentary of the book in English or other languages, you may have to look for other sources or wait for future publications.
In this article, we will explore some of the main topics and arguments that Kitab Rohmatul Ummah covers in its three parts. We will also highlight some of the benefits and wisdoms that the author derives from the differences of opinions among the imams.
Part One: The Principles of Ijtihad and Taqlid
The first part of Kitab Rohmatul Ummah lays down the foundations of Islamic jurisprudence and the roles of ijtihad and taqlid. Ijtihad is the process of deriving legal rulings from the primary sources of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah (the teachings and actions of Prophet Muhammad). Taqlid is the act of following a qualified jurist who has performed ijtihad on a certain issue.
The author explains that ijtihad is a duty for those who have the necessary knowledge, skills and qualifications to perform it. He also clarifies that ijtihad is not limited to a specific time or place, but rather it is an ongoing and dynamic process that responds to new situations and challenges. He cites many examples of how the companions of the Prophet and their successors practiced ijtihad in various matters.
The author also acknowledges that not everyone is capable or required to perform ijtihad, and that most people need to rely on taqlid for their legal guidance. He argues that taqlid is not a blind or irrational imitation, but rather a rational and prudent choice based on trust and confidence in the authority and expertise of the jurist. He also states that taqlid does not contradict the Quranic command to use one’s reason and intellect, as long as one does not follow one’s desires or whims.
The author then discusses the criteria and conditions for choosing a jurist to follow in taqlid. He advises that one should look for a jurist who is knowledgeable, pious, upright, sincere, independent, impartial, well-versed in the sources and methods of ijtihad, aware of the needs and circumstances of the people, and respectful of other opinions. He also warns against following a jurist who is ignorant, corrupt, biased, influenced by worldly interests, rigid, narrow-minded, or disrespectful of other opinions.
Part Two: The Causes of Differences among the Imams
The second part of Kitab Rohmatul Ummah analyzes the reasons and factors that led to the differences of opinions among the four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali. The author categorizes these factors into four types: linguistic, methodological, evidential and contextual.
Linguistic factors refer to the different ways that the imams understood and interpreted the words and expressions of the Quran and the Sunnah. For example, some words may have more than one meaning or usage in Arabic, or some expressions may be literal or figurative. The author gives many examples of how these linguistic nuances affected the legal rulings of the imams.
Methodological factors refer to the different approaches and principles that the imams used to derive legal rulings from the sources. For example, some imams gave more weight to certain types of evidence over others, such as analogy (qiyas), consensus (ijma’), public interest (maslahah), or custom (urf). Some imams also differed in how they dealt with conflicting or ambiguous evidence, such as abrogation (naskh), preference (tarjih), or reconciliation (jam’). The author illustrates how these methodological differences resulted in different legal opinions among the imams.
Evidential factors refer to the different availability and accessibility of evidence that the imams had at their disposal. For example, some imams may have had more or less access to certain reports or narrations from the Prophet or his companions due to geographical or historical reasons. Some imams may also have had more or less knowledge of certain fields or disciplines that were relevant to certain issues. The author demonstrates how these evidential differences influenced the legal judgments of the imams.
Contextual factors refer to the different circumstances and situations that the imams faced in their respective times and places. For example, some imams may have encountered different challenges or opportunities that required them to adapt or innovate their legal rulings accordingly. Some imams may also have considered different aspects or implications of certain issues that were relevant to their contexts. The author shows how these contextual differences shaped the legal views of the imams.