Fiqh, The Legal Status of Following a Madhab / Monday, August 18th, 2008

Sayyidina Ikramah reported:

“Some people of Madinah asked Sayyidina lbn Abbas about the woman who menstruated after the farewel tawaf: (Should she wait to perform tawaf wada, or may return without performing it?) He said, ‘She rnay go home (without performing it).” The people of Madinah said, “We cannot act on your ruling and forsake Zayd ibn Thabit’s ruling.” (Bukhari)

The same Hadith on the transmission of Abdul Wahab ath-Thaqafi quotes the people of Madinah:

“We do not care whether you give an edict or not. The verdict of Zayd ibn Thabit is that she cannot go away (without tawafal-wada’).” (Fath al-Bari v3 p468)

The same incident is reported by Qatadah. The people of Madinah are quoted thus:

“O lbn Abbas! We will not follow you in the matter you disagree with Zayd ibn Thabit. He said, “Ask Umm Sulaym (When you go to Madinah whether my ruling is correct).” (Abu Dawood p229)

Two things come to light from this incident. The people of Madinah abided by Sayyidina Zayd ibn Thabit’s rulings and Sayyidina Ibn Abbas also cited the Ahadith of Sayyidah Umm Sulaym. But, they had confidence in Sayyidina Zayd , so did not abide by the verdict of Ibn Abbas .

The second thing is that Sayyidna Ibn Abbas , too, did not object to their conduct. He did not say that by choosing one person to follow they were committing sin or polytheism. Rather, he advised them to consult Sayyidah Umm Sulaym and refer it again to Sayyidina Zayd ibn Thabit. When they did so, Sayyidina Zayd re-assesed the case and revoked his previous verdict and informed Sayyidina Ibn Abbas of it. This is explained in Muslim, Nasai, Bayhaqi and others. (Fath al-Bari v3 p468-469)

Some people have asked that if the Madinans were muqallid (followers of an imam), why should they investigate the Hadith of Sayyidah Umm Sulaym? (Tahreek Azadi Fikr p136).

But they are under a misconception that it is forbidden to investigate a Hadith after following a mujtahid. Most of the arguments of the ghayr muqallid are based on this misconception. As I have stated already, the reality of taqleed is merely that if anyone is unable to understand the Qur’an and Hadith on his own, to clear the superficial doubts, know the abrogated and ‘abrogating’ then without seeking a detailed study from a mujtahid, he relies on his (mujtahid’s) knowledge and conducts himself on his edict. Such a person is in no way disallowed thereafter to study the Qur’an and Ahadith. In fact, this door remains open even after taqleed. There are many scholars who have written exegesis of the Qur’an and Ahadith in spite of having adopted the mazhab of an imam. If they come across a Hadith that contradicts the ruling of a mujtahid, and there is no evidence against it then they conduct themselves on the Hadith, not the imam’s rulings. We will see this in detail later. Hence, it is not against talqeed to investigate a Hadith if an imam’s verdict seems to be against it. In the foregoing Hadith, both investigation and taqleed are observed. Sayyidina Zayd ibn Thabit was alive and could have been informed of the results of investigating the Hadith. So, that was done and he corrected his verdict accordingly and his followers were in no risk of contradicting the Hadith and their imam, too.

However, what is worth paying attention to is the assertion of the people that they could not neglect Zayd’s RA verdict and adopt Ibn Abbas ’. If this is not taqleed of an individual, what is it?

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