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Islamic legal term meaning “independent reasoning,” as opposed to taqlid (imitation). One of four sources of Sunni law. Utilized where the Quran and Sunnah (the first two sources) are silent. It requires a thorough knowledge of theology, revealed texts, and legal theory (usul al-fiqh); a sophisticated capacity for legal reasoning; and a thorough knowledge of Arabic. It is considered a required religious duty for those qualified to perform it. It should be practiced by means of analogical or syllogistic reasoning (qiyas). Its results may not contradict the Quran, and it may not be used in cases where consensus (ijma) has been reached, according to many scholars. Sunnis believe ijtihad is fallible since more than one interpretation of a legal issue is possible. Islamic reformers call for a revitalization of ijtihad in the modern world

Subjects: Islam.

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