Sayyidina Huzayl ibn Shurahbeel reported that someone asked Sayyidina Abu Musa Ash’ari a ruling. He gave an answer but also advised them to ask Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Mas’ood . They went to him and told him that they had asked Abu Musa Ash’ari already. His ruling was contrary to Abu Musa’s who, when they told him about it, said:
“Do not ask me (for rulings) as long as this great scholar is among you.” (Bukhari v2 p997)
The words in Musnad Ahmad are:
“As long as this major scholar is among you do not ask me anything.” (Ahmed v1 p464)
This is taqleed of individual which Sayyidina Abu Musa al-Ash’ary recommended.
Some people have wondered that Abu Musa al-Ash’ari disallowed recourse to him when Ibn Mas’ood was present, but it does not imply that he disallowed recourse to other Sahabah too, for, how could he prevent people from approaching the senior of them who were alive at that time? He could have meant that when the senior were there, the junior should not be approached. (Tahreek Azadi Fikr p138)
The truth is that this incident took place in Kufah were Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Mas’ood was the most learned man available. It took place in the times of Sayyidina Uthman, (Fath al-Bari v2 p14) and Sayyidina Ali was also not in Kufah then. Thus there was no one else of the calibre of Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Mas’ood . So, if the saying of Abu Musa were to mean, “When the senior is there, the junior should not be consulted,” it would mean the same thing that as long as Abdullah ibn Mas’ood is there, only he should be asked for rulings. There was no scholar in Kufah more learned than him. It is stated in Mu’jam Tabarani that Sayyidina Abu Musa Ash’ari was asked a question about suckling and he said the same thing thus:
“Do not ask me anything as long as this (Ibn Mas’ood) of the Sahabah is among us.” (Majma’ az-Zawa’id v4 p262)
So, the situation in which Sayyidina Abu Musa, said this is a clear advice to make taqleed of an individual. It was not disallowed in the times of the Sahabah.