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

It is reported by many of the tabi’een that they had chosen to follow one or another Sahabi. Here are the examples:

Imam Sha’bi said:

“To whom it pleases to gain authority in judgement let him adopt the sayings of Umar RA.” (I’lam al-Muqi’een, Ibn al-Qayyim v1 p15)

Sayyidina Mujahid said:

“When people disagree about an affair, see how Sayyidina Umar acted. Thus, follow him.” (I’lam al-Muqi’een, Ibn al-Qayyim v1 p15)

Imam A’mash said about Ibrahim Nakh’ee:

“When Sayyidina Umar and Sayyidina Ibn Mas’ood agreed about a question, Ibrahim Nakh’ee did not regard any verdict equal to theirs. But when they differed, he went by Abdullah’s (Ibn Masood) verdict.” (I’lam al-Muqi’een, Ibn al-Qayyim v1 p13-14)

Sayyidina Abu Tamimah said:

When we came to Syria, we saw that people had gathered round a man. They moved around him. I asked who he was and I was told that of the surviving Sahabah, he was the greatest jurist, that is Amr al-Bikali.” (I’lam al-Muqi’een, Ibn al-Qayyim v1 p14)

Imam Muhammad ibn Jarir Tabari said:

“There is no one (among the Sahabah) who may have as many famous students and whose rulings and juristic teachings may have been compiled as lbn Mas’ood’s. In spite of that, he preferred Umar’s rulings and sayings to his own. He almost did not disagree with him. He withdrew his rulings against Umar’s. And Imam Sha’bi said that Abdullah did not recite the qunoot but if Urnar recited it then he too recited it surely.” (I’lam al-Muqi’een, Ibn al-Qayyim v1 p16)

These are examples of Taqleed of Individual. However, there are different ranks of those who make taqleed. In accordance with that, though a man is muqallid of an imam, he disagrees with him on certain issues, yet his taqleed is said to be individual. For instance, many scholars of the Hanafi school have issued edicts contrary to the sayings of Imam Abu Hanifah yet they are called his muqallid. We will discuss it later on in this book, Insha Allah. Hence, the reference of Ibn al-Qayyim and others to the juristic differences among the Sahabah and Tabi’een in response to these examples does in no way upset our conclusion. (I’lam al-Muqi’een, Ibn al-Qayyim v2 p170)(see Inha as-Sukan v2 p4-69 for a reply to Ibn Qayyim’s objections)

In short, the foregoing narrations confirm that the Sahabah observed both kinds of taqleed (individual and absolute). One who is not qualified or able to deduce the commands directly from the Qur’an and sunnah is justified to observe both kinds of taqleed; it is both proper and lawful for him to do so.

Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dahlavi wrote:

“That (which is said in condemning taqleed) is not applicable to one who does not regard as liable to observe anyone’s saying, except the Prophet’s and believes that only that is lawful which Allah and His Messenger have made lawful and that is unlawful what they have made unlawful. However, since he is not acqainted with the sayings of the Prophet nor is he able to reconcile apparently contradictory versions and he is not adept at deducing commands from his sayings, so, he follows a guided scholar who is truthful, righteous and who observes the Prophet’s sunnah. But, if he finds him otherwise then he may cease his taqleed without dispute or quarrel. How can anyone reject this conduct (of taqleed) while right from the Prophet’s time, the practice of requesting a ruling and giving one is observed. So, (if that this valid then) a man may always ask the same person for a ruling. (This is taqleedof the individual). Or, he may ask different people at different times (which is absolute taqleed) provided the aforementioned conditions are met. (Hujjatallah al-Balighah v1 p156)

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