Is Isnad (chain of transmission) a requirement for anyone who claims to be a scholar?
Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
I have read one of your recent articles and I wanted to know what is the legal requirement for someone to be considered a knowledgeable scholar whom we can take knowledge from. Is Isnad one of the requirements and is there any evidence for this deduced from the sources? Also, I have noticed that Isnad is not usually mentioned by the scholars as a prerequisite for someone to be considered a Mujtahid. Can one therefore become a Mujtahid Mutlaq without Isnad – i.e. self taught?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
There are two aspects to your question. The first is regarding the importance of the chain of transmission (Isnad/Sanad) in relating Islamic knowledge, and the second concerns the status of learning from a qualified teacher. I will attempt to shed some light, Insha Allah, on both of these topics in the light of the Qur’an, Sunna and the statements of classical scholars.
Isnad (chain of transmission)
Allah Almighty has honoured the Ummah of the best of creation, our master Muhammad (Allah bless him & give him peace) with many special characteristics that were not given to any other nation before.