Taqleed For the Absolute Mujtahid
He is one who has all the qualifications for ijtihad and he is able to determine principles of deduction from the Qur’an and sunnah and can deduce injunctions from the Qur’an on the basis of these principles. They are the Imams Abu Hanifah, Shafi’ee, Maalik, Ahmad and others. They are mujtahids in issues of fundamental and branch natures, but they too have to make a kind of taqleed. If the questions are not explained in the Qur’an and authentic Ahadith, they try to locate sayings or deeds of any of the Sahabah and Tabi’een instead of depending on their own verdicts and deduction. If they get a saying or deed then they make taqleed of it. Here are some examples from the first generation.
The base of this procedure the letter of Sayyidina Umar to Qadi Shurayh. Imam Sha’bi said:
“Sayyidina Umar ibn al-Khattab wrote to Shurayh: If you get a problem that has an answer in the Book of Allah, judge according to it, do not let personal opinion of anyone cause you to drift. If it is not in Allah’s Book, look for it in the sunnah of His Messenger and judge accordingly. If it is not there, too, then search for an example on which the earlier people were united, and act accordingly. But, if you do not find an answer in any of them then choose one of two things you like: Make your ijtihad and take steps accordingly, but if you wish to retreat from such cases then retreat. And I consider it better for you to retreat.” (Darami v1 p55)
Shurayh was an absolute mujtahid, yet Sayyidina Umar gave him advice to practice ijtihad as a last resort. We have seen a similar saying of Sayyidina Ibn Mas’ood in examples of absolute taqleed.
Abdullah ibn Abu Yazeed said:
“Whenever Sayyidina lbn Abbas was asked about something and there was an answer in the Qur’an, he gave that answer. If it was not there then he gave an answer according to the Hadith, but if it was not there and something was known from Sayyidina Abu Bakr or Sayyidina Umar, then he gave an answer accordingly. If it was not there then he made ijtihad and gave his opinion.” (Darami)
Though he himself was a mujtahid, Sayyidina Ibn Abbas first tried to make taqleed of Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Umar, before attempting his own ijtihad.
Here is another Hadith:
“Someone came to Imam Shabi and asked a question and he quoted Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Mas’ood’s saying about it. But the man requested him to give his own opinion, Imam Sha’bi exclaimed to the people, “Are you not surprised at him? I give him the ruling of Abdullah ibn Mas’ood and he asks me for mine. My religion is more preferrable to me (than his wish). By Allah! It is better for me to roam about singing than giving my personal opinion (against ibn Mas’ood’s).” (Darami v1 p45)
Imam Sha’bi was an absolute mujtahid (and a teacher of Imam Abu Hanifah) but he preferred taqleed of Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Mas’ood to his own ijtihad.
Imam Bukhari has transmitted, in a suspended chain, Mujahid’s saying about the verse:
“And make us leaders for the God-fearing.” (25:74)
“(Make us) a community that follows the righteous people who preceded us, and whom those succeeding may follow.”
Ibn Hajr said that this is Mujahid’s saying which Ibn Jarir and Faryabi and others have reported with a correct chain of transmission. He then reproduced many other aathar (companion’s ahadith) on the exegesis on this verse and finally quoted Suddi on the authority of Ibn Abu Hatim:
“It does not mean that we should lead the people, but that: O Allah! Make us their imam in the matter of the lawful and the unlawful that they may follow us (make our iqtida).”
While lbn Abu Hatim cited these words of Ja’far ibn Muhammad.
“Its meaning is: Grant me acceptance of the people so that when I say something, they confirm it and approve what I say.” (Fath al-Bari v13 p210-211)
Anyway, these aathar came up in our discusion, by the way, our real purpose is that Sayyidina Mujahid was a mujtahid. But, he too preferred to follow his predecessors which is an example of following an absolute mujtahid. And he liked that his successors should follow his lead which is the example of the general body of ulama and laymen.