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

Hadith of Sayyidina Adi ibn Hatim

(3) Frequently the following Hadith is presented to denounce taqleed:

“Sayyidina Adi ibn Hatim said that he went to the Prophet SAWS while he had a golden cross round his neck. He said, “Adi! Throw away this idol,” And Adi heard him recite the verse of surah al-Bara’ah (at-Tawbah) (They have taken their rabbis… 9:31) He then said (in explanation of the verse), “These people never worshipped their rabbis and monks but when their monks and rabbis made something lawful for them, they took it as that and when the monks and rabbis made it unlawful they took it as that.” (Tirmizi)

However, even this Hadith does not in any way apply to the taqleed of the ulama and mujtahids. The differences are discussed by us under the first objection. We may add here that the People of the Book did not in fact regard their Popes as exponents of law but as givers of law and as innocent of all in and authorised to legislate. The Encyclopaedia Britannica writes about the authority of the Pope:

“Since the Pope holds the highest authority in beliefs and doctrines, his authority is unquestionable. He is in fallible. This authority is then vested in the entire church through him. As a legislator and judge, he enjoys all authority vested in the council of priests.” (paraphrased fom urdu text v18 p222-223)

The pope’s innocence is explained again:

“The innocence of the Pope preached by the Roman Catholic Church means that he cannot err when he proclaims a law on beliefs or manners.” (As above v12 p318)

How then can we compare the authority vested in the Popes with the taqleed of the Imams and Mujtahids? The Britannica goes on to state:

The Pope is an authority by himself, while we have clarified already that a mujtahid’s word is not final in Shäri’ah. This is part of the definition of taqleed.

The Pope has authority to legislate, but the mujtahid cannot and taqleed is not observed on that.

Christianity regards the Pope as a legislator, but no muqallid gives the same rank to a mujtahid. He is only an interpreter who explains.

Christians regard the Pope to be infallible and innocent, but the imams and mujtahids are as liable to err in ijtihad as any.

The Pope has full legal authority over all Christians who cannot demur, but the muqallids have choice to ignore opinions of the imams and mujtahids in some cases as we have seen earlier.

There is a wide differences between the two. How can the imams and mujtahids be included in the captioned Hadith. Of course, if anyone transgresses and goes to the limits of the Christians then he will come within the purview of this Hadith for having the same beliefs about imams and mujtahids as Christians have for their Popes.

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