Interpreting Islam

Question

It is generally held that Islamic interpretations are can only be done by ahl al-Ra'y (people of the opinion, i.e. scholars) and not everyone. I wanted to learn the true Islamic perspective on the issue.


Answer

This question can be resolved in the light of common sense. We know that the physical maladies are to be treated by the person who knows the anatomy of the body and its functioning so is the case of legal matters. It is only the doctors of law who understand the anatomy of the legal injunctions and crimes. Since the Islamic Shari'ah was given to a particular group of people, living in a particular culture, speaking a particular language, and having particular historical facts and problems specific to them and their environs, we will expect from someone who speaks about the interpretation of the sacred text revealed in the seventh century to have enough knowledge of the related issues. However, this qualification cannot be termed in the form of degrees or certificates. It is only a person's expertise in the field recognized by the society in which he works in which decides whether he is an able doctor or not.

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