Ijtihad Like the more commonly known term jihad, the word ijtihad stems from the Arabic
root jahada, meaning 'to strive' or 'to struggle.' It is sometimes translated into English as 'reasoning,' but traditionally the concept has a more specific meaning: it describes the efforts undertaken to apply the lessons of the Quran and Sunnah in different social contexts.
The practice of ijtihad has traditionally required a high level of scholarly authority and expertise. A person who practises ijtihad therefore is known as a mujtahid. Today, even the most open-minded scholars insist that to undertake the practice requires a detailed knowledge of Islamic thought and tradition.
This has at times been taken to extremes. For instance, some twelfth century ulama claimed the world had become so complex that the 'doors of ijtihad' needed to be closed for good. Today, however, the majority of Islamic scholars still consider the concept to be a useful tool for considering modern problems in light of the traditional sources. One such thinker is Tariq Ramadan:
"The doors of ijtihad have never been closed; no scholar would have had the right to make such a decision in the name of Islam because a declaration such as this is, by its very nature, against Islam. In fact, ijtihad, as the third source of Islamic law and jurisprudence, is a collective responsibility."
 See for example Abdal Hakim Murad, ‘Book review: The Qur'an, Liberation and Pluralism, by Farid Esack’. Available on-line.
 Tariq Ramadan, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 48.