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

Taqleed of Forefathers in The Qur’an

1. The first objection is that the Qur’an has condemned taqleed:

“And when it is said to them, “follow that which Allah has revealed”, they say, “Nay, we follow that (way whereon we found our fathers.” What! Even though their fathers understood not anything, nor were they rightly guided.” (2:170)

If what we have said already is pondered over impartially, this doubt is removed automatically. The following of the imams and mujtahids is not condemned in this verse. It mentions the basic beliefs and that the polytheists, instead of believing and accepting the truth about tawheed, messengership, and Hereafter, used to forward the plea that they had seen their forefathers on the path they walk on, as though their taqleed was among the basic beliefs of religion. Now, we do not hold taqleed to be lawful as a basic belief of religion. It is stated in all books of principles of fiqh that taqleed is not part of belief and basic essentials of religion, for, these things are neither bound to ijtihad nor taqleed. Allamah Ameer Badshah Bukhari writes in Sharah of Tahreer al- Usul:

“The issues on which it is allowed to seek legal opinion are conjectural commands, not intellectual injunctions concerning beliefs. Absolute knowledge is required there. Accordingly, taqleed is not lawful in basic beliefs. Rather, they are to be adopted through correct reasoning, like existence of Allah.” (Tayyasir at-Tahreer v4 p243)

Therefore, the taqleed that the verse condemns is also declared unlawful by the muqallids of the imams and mujtahids. Thus, Allamah Khateeb Baghdadi has cited this verse in Usul Aqaid while terming taqleed as unlawful. (al-Fiqh wal-Muttafiqah v2 p66)

Besides, Allah has condemned taqleed of forefathers for two reasons, (i) They reject Allah’s commands and declare that they would not believe in them. And they declare clearly that instead they would believe in what their forefathers believed. (ii) Their ancestors were devoid of understanding and guidance.

However, the taqleed that we talk of is not concerned with both these reasons. None of those who make this taqleed rejects the commands of Allah and His Messenger in order to believe a mentor of his. Rather, he regards his imam and mujtahid as an exponent of Qur’an and sunnah and acts on the Qur’an and sunnah in the light of his explanation. The second reason is also lacking here because no matter how much one may differ with the imams and mujtahids on opinions, everyone confirms their high level of intelligence. So, this taqleed cannot be co-related with the taqleed of the disbelievers.

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