THIS is apropos Asghar Ali Engineer’s article, “Is Sharia immutable?” (Feb 1). He hasn’t said anything new in the article.
Many people have urged ijtehad. Iqbal was its champion.
Some scholars like Ghulam Ahmad Pervez even did attempt some ijtehad under which he approved “interest” on lending.
The reason why ulema are reluctant to use ijtehad is, perhaps, due to the fear that it will open the doors wide for manipulation.
Individual ulema will induct their own interpretation, leading to further cracks in the community.
The only new thing the writer has said is about inducting female theologians, which is a most welcome idea.
Nonetheless, it does seem that ijtehad has been going on quietly.
For example, pictures of human beings are now printed on currency notes which people carry in their pockets even during prayers.
Loudspeakers are now permissible as well as the use of many other scientific gadgets.
Even stem-cell research is kosher. For ijtehad to be uniformly binding on the ummah it is necessary first of all to establish a school comprising expert theologians of both genders, who should thrash out questions and then issue an authentic opinion.
S.G. JILANEE Karachi