There is no dearth of books on the subject of taqleed and ijtihad, and I had no idea that I would be writing anything on it. However, certain reasons compelled me to write down this treatise.
When, in 1963, the editor of ‘Faran’, Mahir ul-Qadri, suggested that I should contribute an article on taqleed, I was disinclined to engage in debate on the question, as, indeed, my respected father, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi, always kept himself away from it. However, I acceded to his request in the hope that I might explain the issue and invite the warring parties to think coolly and cease to argue.
Praise belongs to Allah, the article was well received when it was published in May 1963, in the ‘Faran’, and several other magazines of India and Pakistan and some Muslims of Junagadh reprinted it in the form of a booklet.
Nevertheless, though I had avoided a debate on the issue, the people, who disvow taqleed and reject that the imams of ijtihad should be followed responded with heavy criticism, Muhammad Ismail Salfi was one of them.
His criticism was published in ‘al-I’tisam’ in its thirteen issues and then annexed to his book ‘Tahreek Azadi-e-Fikr aur Shah Waliullah ki Tajdeedi Masai’l’.
Another response came from a man who accuses the imams of if ijtihad as inventors of Shari’ah and their followers as infidels and polytheists and the Islamic fiqh as self-tailored. It was entitled ‘at-Tahqeeq fi Jawab at-Taqleed’.
A Third response was published in a monthly magazine of Hyderabad Daccan.
On my part, I refrained from engaging in the debate, as always had been my wont. The articles had been read by many discerned people and had been published in India, so, many friends desired that I should publish it in book form. Therefore, thirteen years later, I revised it in the light of the criticism and comments that had been made on it.
The original work has been enlarged and the criticism answered as part of text without referring to personalities as far as possible. Let me reiterate that this work is in no way an argument or debate. It is purely an academic approach aimed at explaining the stand of a vast majority of the ummah who follow the mujtahid imams. I have observed moderation and tried to give the view point of a large section of the ulama of ahle sunnat.
Therefore, I request my readers to follow the same scholarly path and avoid an argumentative approach. And, I hope I have been able to set at rest doubts and misgivings on the issue created by exaggerated propaganda by the careless.
May Allah accept my effort and make it beneficial for the Muslims.
“And only Allah has enabled me. In Him I place my trust and to Him is my return.”
Muhammad Taqi Usmani
4th Jumadi uth Thani 1396.