While I have done my best to write on the subject, my aim has never been to debate and argue. I have endeavoured merely to explain the viewpoint of the majority of the Muslim ummah who have been following one or the other mujtahid. If I have hurt anyone unwillingly then I apologise for that. I hope to remove misgivings about this majority section which is termed unlawful and polytheistic. If anyone continues to differ even after reading this book, then let him retain his views, but accusing the mujtahids and imams of law making and being polytheistic is a very dangerous trend. We must seek refuge in Allah from that.
Finally, just as personal opinion in opposing taqleed and legal issues is blame worthy so too is inactivity and exaggeration in taqleed. This is visible in such cases:
1. Regarding the mujtahids as givers of law and innocent, and like Prophets free of mistakes.
2. Refusing to act on an authentic Hadith because to command is fortcoming from the imam concerning it. Thus, many people do not raise their index figure while reciting:
and neglect this sunnah because the Imam does not say anything about it. Some people pass a very rude comment about it. Theirs is perhaps the dormant taqleed which the Qur’an and Hadith renounce.
Hanafis & Observance of Hadith
(10) It is also argued that the Hanafis rely on weak Ahadith. But, this is wrong. The correct answer is that their books must be examined to find out the truth. The following are some of those books.
- Sharah Ma’ani al-Aathar, (Tahawi)
- Fath al-Qadeer, (Ibn Numan)
- Nasb ar Rayah, (Zayl’ee)
- Al-Jawhar an Naqi, (Mardini)
- Umdatul Qari, (Ayni)
- Fath alMulhim, (Uthmani)
- Bazlal Jamhud, (Saharanpuri)
- Ala us Sunan, (Zafar Ahmad Uthmani)
- Ma’arifus-Sunan, (Binnori)
- Fayd ul-Bari, Sharah Saheeh Bukhari
Nevertheless, we do point out some basic points in brief.
Taqleed & New Issues
(9) Another objection to Taqleed of an individual is that it impedes progress and presents no solution to new problems.
We have pointed out earlier that the taqleed of an erudite scholar is not the same as that of the layman. Taqleed of the individual allows for ijtihad in issues. If no answer is found in a mujtahid’s rulings, then his principles should be used to deduce conclusion from the Qur’an and sunnah. This ijtihad can be done in spite of taqleed of an individual. So, there is no impediment, at all.
Is Taqleed a Defect?
(7) We have established in the beginning of the book that even the Sahabah observed taqleed. Those of them who could not make ijtihad turned to the more learned among them. Some people alleged that taqleed was a defect created by poor knowledge, so to say that the Sahabah practiced taqleed is to find fault with them (we seek refuge in Allah from such thought). “They were all learned and there was no difference among them of jurist and non-jurist.”
However, this downpour is emotional. If anyone is not a jurist or mujtahid then that is not a defect. The Qur’an says:
How may a Layman Recognise the Mujtahid?
(6) We have stated in the beginning that taqleed, whichever of the two kinds you consider, is nothing more than to ask one who is in adept in the science of Qur’an and sunnah and whose understanding, insight and juristic knowledge is reliable, that one who is incapable may know.
Some people wonder how an ignorant seeker will distinguish an adept imam? (Tahreek Azadi Fikr p13)
Let us suffice by reproducing Imam Ghazali’s text on the subject.
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:
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)
Taqleed of Ahbar & Ruhban
2. Some people cite the following verse to renounce taqleed of imams and mujtahids:
“They have taken their rabbis and their monks as their Lords besides Allah.” (9:31)
However, we have made it clear in the previous pages that taqleed of a mujtahid, or obedience to him, is not as a maker of laws. Rather, he is an exponent of law. He is not bound to be followed. Rather, his explanations are believed and the Qur’an and sunnah are followed.
Mawlana Muhammad Isma’il Salfi commented on my article. He said:
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.