What is ijaza?

Question:

Salam Ya Shuyukh,
May I know what is the definition of Ijazah? What is the purpose of having it and also what are the steps of getting an Ijazah from different Shaykhs?
Sorry for my bad adab.
Syukran

Answer:
wa `alaykum salam,
The lexical definition of ijaza is “permission” while its technical meaning is “permission to narrate.”

The purpose of ijaza is to establish narration with a chain of transmission (isnad) as the means by which hadith scholars have preserved the integrity and soundness of texts whether through oral or written transmission, since “This matter is Religion, so be careful from whom you take your religion” (Abu Hurayra, Ibn Sirin, Za’ida and others). “Were it not for isnad anyone can say anything” (Ibn al-Mubarak as narrated in the introduction to Muslim’s Sahih). ” “All the scholars agree that no Muslim is allowed to say: ‘The Messenger of Allah (upon him blessings and peace) said this or that’ until one has acquired the actual narration of that hadith even in the remotest sense of qualified narration due to what the Prophet has said: ‘Whoever knowingly attributes a lie to me, let him from now take his seat in Hellfire!’” (al-Qari, introduction to al-Asrar al-Marfu`a).

Obtaining an ijaza takes place at the end of a cursus of study but can also be granted after a single reading, or even a single meeting devoid of reading but only for those whom the shaykh delivering the ijaza deems qualified, such as other shaykhs in mid-career or promising juniors whom they meet. “Ijaza is impermissible for other than someone who is highly proficient in that art [narration] and aware of how to handle it” (Ibn `Abd al-Barr in Jami` Bayan al-`Ilm 2:18).

There are many different types of ijaza and various preconditions as to their validity which this is not the place or time to discuss. For further reading see the books of hadith nomenclature (mustalah) such as Ibn al-Salah’s Muqaddima and its commentaries.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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