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

(3) Sayyidina Mu’az ibn Jabal reported that when Allah’s Messenger sent him to Yemen, he asked him how he would decide cases when they were brought to him. He said, “According to Allah’s Book.” The Prophet asked, “If you do not find them there?”“Then according to your sunnah.”“But, if they are not there, then?” Mu’az said, “I will make Ijtihad and extract judgement with my opinion (and try to arrive at a true conclusion), not being negligent in that.” The Prophet was pleased and patted him lightly on the chest, saying, “All praise belongs to Allah Who caused the envoy of Allah’s Messenger to conform to what pleases Allah’s Messenger.” (Abu Dawood)

This incident is the light of guidance on taqleed and ijtihad. We wish to touch on only one aspect of this question that the Prophet SAWS sent only one of his competent Sahabah as governor, judge, teacher and mujtahid to the people of Yemen and bound them to obey him. He permitted him to issue edicts not only on the basis of the Qur’an and sunnah, but also on personal judgement and deduction. What else does it signify but that the people of Yemen were permitted to make taqleed of individual. Rather, he made it binding on them.

Sayyidina Mu’az was not sent only as a governor to Yemen, but also as a teacher and a mufti. So, it is wrong to suppose that this Hadith has nothing to do with rulings and edicts.

Aswad ibn Yazeed said that Sayyidina Mu’az ibn Jabal came to them in Yemen as their ameer and teacher. They asked him for a ruling on a man who had died leaving behind a daughter and a sister (what was their inheritance)? So, he gave half legacy to each. (Bukhari)

Here, he acted as a mufti and gave no reasoning for that. This has been accepted in taqleed, but his judgment is based on the Book and sunnah. Here is another edict based on his ijtihad.

Abu al-Aswad Deeli said that when Mu’az was in Yemen the people brought to him the case of a Jew who had died leaving behind a Muslim brother. (Would the Muslim brother inherit from him?) He said, “I have heard Allah’s Messenger say that Islam increases, does not decrease (so the Muslim brother cannot be deprived of inheritance).” And, he gave him his share of inheritance. (Ahmed v5 p230-236; This was his deduction otherwise the consensus is that a Muslim does not inherit from a non-muslim)

Observe that he deduced from a Hadith that had nothing to do with inheritance. It was merely his independent judgement which the Yemenis accepted.

There is also this Hadith:

When he came to Yemen, a woman of Khwalan met Sayyidina Mu’az and, after salutation, said to him, “O man! Who has sent you?” He said, “Allah’s Messenger has sent me.” She said, “You are sent by Allah’s Messenger and you are his envoy. So, O Messenger of Allah’s Messenger will you not teach me (religion)? He said, “Ask any question you like.” (al-Haythami in Zawaid)

Clearly he was not sent merely as a governor, but also as an envoy of Allah’s Messenger charged with teaching people the religion. The woman asked him what rights a husband had over his wife. In answer, he did not mention a verse or Hadith, but gave his answers according to Islam’s principles and gave no reasoning. What other evidence is required that he was sent not only as a judge and administrator, but also as an envoy of the Prophet to teach the people injunctions of Shari’ah and that the people might make taqleed of him.

Furthermore, Sayyidina Mu’az ibn Jabal was the Sahabi of whom the Prophet said, (The most learned of the Sahabah about the lawful and the unlawful.)’ (Nasai, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah). He also said about him:

“He will be raised on the Day of Resurrection while he is so much ahead of the ulama (leading them) as far as an arrow flies.” (Ahmed)

So, not only the Yemenis but also the other Sahabah followed him.

Abu Muslim Khawlani reported that when he went to the mosque of the people of Damascus, he saw old-aged Sahabah sitting in a circle (who, according to a version, were about thirty). There was a young man among them, antimony applied to his eyes and teeth bright white. When they differed about some issue, they referred it to him. Abu Muslim asked the man next to him who he was and he answered, “Muaz ibn Jabal .” (Ahmed v5 p236)

Observe that about thirty of the Companions followed Mu’az in debated issues. The words in another version are:

That is, “They asked Mu’az to decide and accepted his judgment.” (Ahmed v5 233)

So he is one of whom the Prophet said that he was the most learned about the lawful and unlawful and whom the other Sahabah followed — that is, made taqleed. The Prophet had required the Yemenis to turn to him in religious matters. This is taqleed.

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