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

Sayings of The Mujtahid lmams

(5) Some people say that the mujtahid imams have themselves said that their sayings should not be followed until the evidence is known. “If our opinion is against Hadith, throw it off and follow the Hadith.”

However, honestly, these words are directed to those who are capable of making an independent judgment, not those who cannot make ijtihad. Shah Waliullah said about such sayings:

“These words apply to him who has ability to make ijtihad of some kind and he knows that which the Prophet allowed and what he disallowed, and also that this saying is not abrogated. Either he has examined all Ahadith and words of both who disagree and who agree and concluded that there is no evidence of its abrogation or he has observed a large number of learned ulama conducting themselves on it. And he is assured that the imam who disagrees with the Hadith, has no evidence except verdicts and deductions. In such cases, disagreement with the Prophet’s Hadith is either because of concealed hypocrisy or open foolishness, nothing else.” (Hujjatullah al-Balighah v1 p155)

This is very obvious. The imams were asked, all through their lives, and they gave answers without giving reasons. If this was not allowed, in their sight then they would not have done that. Besides, we have many of their sayings whereby they held taqleed necessary for the one who is not a mujtahid. For example:

(i) It is stated in Kifayah Sharah Hidayah:

“And if the mufti has this quality (that is, mujtahid) then the layman must follow him even if the mufti might err. No one else is reliable. This saying is reported by Imarn Hasan from Imam Abu Hanifah, Ibn Rustum from Imam Muhammad and Bashir ibn al-Waleed from Irnam Abu Yusuf.” (Khayr at-Tafiyyad)

(ii) We have seen this saying of Imam Yusuf already:

(Hidaya v2 p226)

(iii) Allamah Taymiyah wrote about Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal:

“Imam Ahmad instructed the common people to learn the, rulings from Imam lshaq, Abu Ubayd, Abu Thawr and Abu Mus’ab. And, he disallowed those of his companions who were scholars from making taqleed of anyone. They were Imam Abu Dawood, Uthman ibn Sa’eed, Ibrahim al-Harabi, Abu Bakr al-Athram, Abu Zar’ah, Abu Hatim Sajistani and Imam Muslim. And he instructed them that it was wajib for them to turn to the Book and sunnah.” (Fatawa Ibn Taymiyah v2 p240)

It is very clear from this text of Ibn Taymiyah that the mujtahids who disallowed taqleed had actually disallowed those of their students who were by themselves great scholars of Hadith and expert jurists and were fully qualified to make ijtihad. As for those who were not mujtahid, not only did they not disallow them but instructed them to fbllow the mujtahids named. In fact, only the’mu’tazallah opposed taqleed even by those who were not mujtahids. Allamah Sayfuddin Aamdi said:

“It is wajib for the common people and those who have studied some reliable sciences on ijtihad but have not qualified to make ijtihad to follow the sayings of the mujtahids and act on their rulings but some Mu’tazalah of Baghdad disallow.” (Ahkam ul-Ahkam v4 p195)

After stating that the non-mujtahid masses are bound to make taqleed, Allamah Khateeb Baghdadi writes:

“It is ascribed to some Mu’tazallah that even a layman cannot observe the sayings of a scholar until he knows the reasoning behind the instructions but this idea is very wrong. For, the layman has no way to know the reasoning unless he acquires knowledge of fiqh for years together, keeps company of the jurists for long times, studies the methods of qiyas. All people cannot undertake this task.” (Al-Faqih wal-Mutaffaq v2 p69)

The area where the mujtahids differ is whether one who is qualified to make ijtihad may make taqleed. Khateeb Baghdadi has cited Suf’an Thawri that even such a man may make taqleed, while Imam Ahmad has said that he may make taqleed of one more learned than him. (Al-Faqih wal Mutaffaq v2 p69)

Ibn Taymiyah has cited Imam Muhammad that a mujtahid is allowed to make taqleed while Imam Shafa’ee and Imam Ahmad say that he is not allowed at all. (Fatawa Ibn Taymiyah v2 p240)

Mawlana Abdul Hayyi Lakhnawi has cited Imam Abu Hanifah in the account of Imam Halwani:

“For a mujtahid, taqleed of a scholar greater than him is allowed.” (At Ta’leeqat us-Sunnah)

The books on principle of fiqh generally treat the subject, exhaustively. Though the mujtahid imams differed on whether a mujtahid may make taqleed, yet, except for some mu’tazallah, they all agree that one who is not a mujtahid must necessarily make taqleed.

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