The messenger of Allah (saws) said: ‘Indeed, Allah sends for this Ummah, at the onset of every century, those who renew (literally: make Tajdeed) of the religion for it.’ Therefore, the one who calls for Tajdeed should not be denounced since the first to utter this term was the Messenger of Allah. Rather, the discussion should revolve around the intended meaning of this Tajdeed.
The default in the religion is that it remains unchanging, and most of what is meant by renewal is via reviving or cleansing. The first refers to reviving what Sunan (Traditions) have faded and promoting them among the people. The second refers to cleansing the religion from the innovations and customs of people that conflict with the revelation. Aside from that, there remains another type of renewal, and that is the Ijtihâd-based renewal. Of its examples are ‘Umar (ra) preventing al-Mu’allafati Quloobuhum from receiving their share when he saw that Allah had empowered Islam and the Muslims during his blessed caliphate. Similarly, ‘Uthmân (ra) commanded during his caliphate that the stray camel be taken, sold, and its price kept for its owner. This was contrary to the default, wherein taking them is prohibited, but was resorted to because of the moral corruption [in that time]. Similarly, it was undisputed among most of the early scholars that taking a wage for teaching Qur’an was unlawful, and then was consented later when the volunteers became few – out of fear that the Qur’an would be lost.
Did these greats change the legislated ruling? Never that, for the legislation of Allah is not subject to change. Allah, the Most High, said: “They took their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah,” – and the Messenger of Allah (saws) explained to ‘Adi ibn Hâtim (ra) that this occurred by following them in considering the unlawful as permissible, and the permissible as unlawful. Moreover, would this not be exactly what the Messenger of Allah (saws) prohibited when he said: “Whoever introduces into this matter of ours, what is not from it, it will be rejected.”?
Therefore, it is impossible that they changed the Hukm (Ruling), even if some of the scholars used that phrase, for they only meant the Fatwâ (Religious Edict) and not the actual ruling in Sharia. A single act can have two different rulings because of the respective circumstances of each.
To further clarify; let us take the example of receiving wage for teaching Qur’an. Its prohibition was a matter of agreement between the early Hanafi scholars, and then was permitted by them later. The question is: were the prohibition and consent with regards to the same thing? It appears that way, but upon taking a closer look, it becomes clear that we cannot equate between accepting a wage for teaching Qur’an at a time when many were enthusiastic about doing this as an act of devotion [to Allah], and were sufficed financially from the state treasury, and between a time when the teachers were not sustained by the state treasury. If they occupy themselves with teaching, their families will be lost, and if they occupy themselves with earning a livelihood, their students will be lost.
Thus, a particular scenario may call for a different set of rulings that suit it, and the Mujtahid chooses from among them what is most suitable to him. Sometimes, the matter may fall between two rulings or two principles, in which case the judge attributes the matter to whichever of the two it seems closer. Closeness is determined by either technical deductions, or through considering the ultimate objectives [of Sharia], though it is preferred to give precedence to considering the ultimate objectives. Regarding this, Imam ash-Shâtibi – may Allah bestow mercy upon him – said: “Rulings differing whenever customs differ is not really a difference in the narrative itself, for the Sharia was revealed to be permanent and eternal. Hypothetically, were this world to remain without end, and the people remained liable [to uphold the Sharia] as well, the Sharia would not need any additions. In other words, whenever the customs change, they will fall under another principle of Sharia that will govern them…” In the example of taking wage for teaching Qur’an, the first of the two principles was intending nothing but [the pleasure of] Allah in acts of devotion – and this supported the view of impermissibility in the first era – and the second was preserving the Qur’an by teaching it to youngsters – and this supported the view of impermissibility in the second era.
Finally, this Ijtihâd-based renewal, which does not apply to ritual acts of worship or constants of our Sharia like the Hudood (Prescribed Punishments) and Kaffârât (Expiations), can only be performed by the most distinguished Mujtahid scholars of every era. If the matter is left to others who have not reached the degree of Ijtihâd in its absolute sense, the religion would fall into peril and be subject to distortion, and the enormity committed by the non-scholars who perform this is beyond needing to be mentioned. This involves the greatest calamity, forging lies about Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – and speaking about Him without knowledge. Allah (st) said: “And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.” [al-Isrâ’:36]
 Collected by Abu Dâwud and al-Hâkim who authenticated it on the authority of Abu Hurayrah. [Sunan Abi Dâwud] (4/109) – Printed by Dâr al-Fikr, and verified by Muhammad Muhyid-Deen ‘Abdil-Hameed.
 Translator: al-Mu’allafiti Quloobuhum are the new or non-Muslims whose hearts the Muslims hope to win over.
 [Sunan al-Bayhaqi al-Kubrâ] (10/116) in the chapter on [The Manners of the Judge, and What the Judge Rules By] – Printed by Dâr al-Bâz, Mecca (1414H).
 [Saheeh al-Bukhâri] (2/959) in the chapter on [Treaties: Agreeing Upon Unfair Terms Nulls the Treaty] – Printed by Dâr Ibn Katheer wal-Yamâmah, Beirut (3rd Edition, 1407H) – and [Saheeh Muslim] (3/1343) in the chapter on [Verdicts: Nulling False Rulings and Rejecting Innovations] – Printed by Dâr Ihyâ’ at-Turâth al-‘Arabi, Beirut.
 [Al-Muwâfaqât] (2/217) by ash-Shâtibi. Verified by ‘Abdullâh Drâz, and printed by Dâr al-Ma‘rifah, Beirut.