Al-Allamah al-Shaykh Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi, in his book Qawaâ€™id al-tahdith, says:
â€œWhoever looks into conditions of the Companions and Followers, and their followers, will verily find them concurrent upon acting according to the preponderant rule and abandoning the preponderated. The ways of preponderation are so many, and pivot of preponderation would increase the investigator in strength of his insight, in a proper manner congruent to the legal channels, the product of which will be valid and preponderant. And preponderation can be got through the isnad, and the text, and the denotation, and an external aspect.â€
Then he cited many aspects and factors of preponderation according to the isnad (chain of transmission), of which I state the following:
1. Preponderation by abundance of narrators: Al-Karkhi said: They are equivalent, and there may be a reliable narrator who was equal to a thousand thiqah (trustworthy) men, as said in regard of Shuâ€™bah ibn al-Hajjaj that he was compared to two hundred men. Also the Companions used to give priority to narration of al-Siddiq over others.
2. Preponderating the narration of the faqih, since he being better knowledgeable of the denotations of words.
3. Preponderating the narration of that who being more authentic and better in memorizing.
4. One of them being one of the Four Caliphs not the other.
5. When the reliability of one of them be established through exculpation (tazkiyah), and the other by external aspect only.
6. Priority of the narration of that who was not disapproved over narration of that who was disapproved.
7. Priority of narration of that who was more known of reliability and trustworthiness than the other, as this can prevent falsity.
On the other side, the preponderation in consideration of other factors:
1. Priority should be given to what was supported by another evidence over that which was not supported.
2. Priority should be given to the narration that was applied in practice by the ancestors over that one which was not followed, as the former is more entitled to be correct.
3. If one of them be in agreement with the acts of the Four Caliphs.
4. The one that be more similar to the exterior of the Qurâ€™an should be given priority.771
In al-Qasimiâ€™s book Tanbih al-talib ila maâ€™rifat al-fard wa al-wajib,772 there are regular rules, of which I state the following:
1. It is concurred that the wujub (obligation) being one of the legal decrees (hukm). The ulamaâ€™ defined the hukm thus: It is an address (khitab) from Allah, related to acts of the mukallafun (responsible, charged with duties). And khitab is to address people with speech for making them comprehend. While the wujub is a hukm, and the hukm canâ€™t be but from a hakim (ruler) and the ruler is Allah the Most High alone, no one else.
2. In regard of the product: Know that fairness tells us that there is no means for certainty to benefit from these verbal evidences, unless when they be yoked with contexts indicating yaqin (certainty), whether these contexts be witnessed or reported to us through tawatur. Because if they be neither witnessed nor mutawatir, they should be reported through ahad which indicating nothing but conjecture. That was a brief excerpt from Minhaj al-Baydawi.
3. Some of the Hashwiyyah inferred the hadith â€œEvery serious matterâ€ to indicate wujub of initiating with Basmalah in his view, when he said: Since the hadith is a predicate verbally, and composition of a meaning, as it gives the meaning of imperative, which indicates wujub; and it is said to him: the condition of the imperative (amr) indicating wujub lies in two facts:
First: Its establishment should be definite, that may be with a verse of the Book of Allah, or mutawatir tradition.
Second: Its indicating the meaning be definite, that it is improbable for the word to have another meaning. If one of the two factors of the imperative loses consideration, it will not indicate wujub.
Then he became dumbfounded and amazed.
4. Only the mujtahid can issue fatwa: This was declared by Ibn al-Hammam (may Godâ€™s mercy be upon him). Ibn Yusuf and Zafar and others said: It is not lawful for anyone to issue fatwa on our utterance, unless he be aware of the source of our saying. That is because if he gives decision to obligate or prohibit anything, he should rely upon a manifest evidence, in which he has to do his utmost. Whereas the imitator is not permitted to do so since he has closed all the doors in front of him, loosening as much as he could of veil and cover. Al-Ghazali, in his book Faysal al-tafriqah, writes: It is more proper for the imitator to keep silent and to be left free (not to speak against him). That was the excerpt I quoted from this book.773
771. Qawa’id al-tahdith, pp.301, 304.
772. Ibid., pp.13, 14, 37, 38.
773. See pp.47, 55, 57.
Adapted from: “Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah” by: “Mahmud Ali Riyyah”