The terms ‘talfiq’ (and ‘takhayyur’) have gained prominence in the Islamic legal discourses as tools of legal reasoning in fatāwā, especially in Islamic Finance. Increasing use of related legislation, in contemporary Islamic Finance has led to an intense debate regarding their legitimacy.
Talfiq is the merging of the opinions of several schools of thought into one conclusive issue which is often dissimilar to all. Apparently a tool of ijtihad, it is used as a conclusive legal ruling where no such ruling exists; or when a divergent opinion exists amongst jurists. It is indeed “a jurisprudential principle that suggests that a jurist adhering to a particular school of law should abandon the jurisprudence of that school on a particular matter and adopt a competing point of view offered by another school if the latter is more practical and conforms most to the need of the time” . Thus, the jurist merges together various selected opinions to formulate an entirely new ruling, dissimilar from existing ones.
Talfiq is applied in ijtihad as the four major sunni schools of thought are treated as a common heritage; thus opinions are freely selected best serving the purposes of law. Since it eliminates the restraints proposed by taqlīd shakhsi, it is disapproved by the proponents of taqlīd shakhsi. And therefore we find various fatāwā declaring invalidity of talfīq and changing of madhāhib.
With merging of opinions approved, diverging opinions are integrated by a qualified scholar who may employ the method of choice (takhayyur) or draw solutions, employing sub-methods of choice including utilitarian choice (maslahāh). If done mechanically it is referred to as “patching” (talfīq) , which is according to the contemporary scholars of Fiqh in Pakistan, not admissible.
Source: Application of Talfiq in Modern Islamic Commercial Contracts, Ghazala Ghalib Khan. Republished with permission.
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