Friday, 2 March 2007

Taqlid 103



The essence of guidance is derived from the Holy Qur'an - "Hudan li al-Nas" ("A Guidance for Mankind"). But this guidance and its laws are based on fundamental principles, the details of which have been entrusted to and consigned by the Holy Prophet SAW in order to explain them to mankind.

For example, the Holy Qur'an says: "Aqimus-Solat" ("establish prayer"). It does not define the method as to how the prayer should be established; how the various postures should be performed; the mode of recitation of Surah, etc. The complete method of prayer i.e. "Solat" is explained by the Holy Prophet SAW.

"Wa 'Atuz-Zakat" ("And give charity"). Now the Zakat amounts payable on gold, silver, cattle, land, produce, etc. are only known through the Ahadith and there is no mention of it in the Holy Qur'an.

"Wa Lillahi 'ala an-Nas Hij Al-baiti" ("It is obligatory on people to perform the Hajj of the House of Allah.") Here again, the method of Tawaf, the number of circumambulations, the details regarding Arafat, Mina, Muzdalifah, the stoning at the Jimar, etc. have all been explained by the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW.

Thus it becomes imperative to understand the Holy Qur'an in the light of the Ahadith even for major obligatory acts like Solat, Zakat and Hajj without which it is impossible to act and understand the commands of the Holy Qur'an. The believers are commanded to attain guidance from the Holy Qur'an in accordance with the details explained by the Holy Prophet SAW. Therefore Allah specifies: "Whosoever obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah." This obedience to the Holy Prophet SAW would in reality be obedience to Allah Himself.

A direction from Rasulullah SAW in the Hadith informs us:

"Also perform your prayer just as you see me perform my prayer." (Bukhari)

It is not said: "Perform your prayer in the manner you may infer from the Holy Qur'an."

Hadith is divided into different categories:

1. The sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW
2. The acts and doings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW
3. The sayings, acts and doings of others, approved by the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW

All these categories of Ahadith give guidance to the Ummah.


When the Prophet Muhammad SAW was asked a question, he (SAW) answered and also counter-questioned the questioner, on a similar (analogical) matter, the answer of which was known to him. On the correct reply being given by the questioner, the Prophet SAW would say: "The question you had asked is in the same category as this answer of yours."


A lady once asked: "Hajj was obligatory on my mother but she passed away. Can I perform it on her behalf?" The Prophet SAW replied: "Yes, it would be accepted on her behalf. Tell me, if your mother had a debt would you pay it?" She replied in the affirmative. Rasulullah SAW then continued: "Fulfill what is on her behalf. Certainly, the duty and right of Allah would be more acceptable."

This kind of reasoning is called Qiyas, Ijtihad, or Istimbat in Shari'ah. These are only used in Shari'ah when the Qur'anic or Traditional directives are not specifically spelt out.


The Holy Prophet SAW sent Mu'adh ibn Jabal RA as a governor and qadhi to Yemen. The Holy Prophet SAW gave to Mu'adh RA many instructions and advices even while he held the reins and led the horse with Mu'adh RA mounted on it.

The Holy Prophet SAW also asked:

"By which law would you dispense justice?"

Mu'adh RA replied:

"By the Law of the Holy Qur'an."

The Holy Prophet SAW counter-questioned:

"And if you do not find it (i.e. what you seek) in the Holy Quran?"

Mu'adh RA replied:

"By the Prophetic Traditions."

The Holy Prophet SAW continued:

"And if you do not find it in there also, then?"

Mu'adh RA responded:

"Then I would make Ijtihad."

The Holy Prophet SAW expressed his happiness with Mu'adh RA's reply and fully endorsed and supported his stand and thanked Allah for it. (as narrated in Sunan Abu Dawud)

When after such an Ijtihad is made, and all the Ulama (scholars of Islam) agree to its conclusion, it is termed "Ijma", for it must be understood that Qiyas or Ijtihad does not prove an order or command; it only makes it evident and known. In other words - it was actually in the Holy Qur'an or the Ahadith; and the Mujtahid, by Dalalatan, 'Isharatan or Iqtdha'an (these are technical terminologies), brought it in the open for the generality of people.

The person who does not have the power of Ijtihad is bound and compelled to follow a Mujtahid and this act of following a Mujtahid is termed Taqlid. The Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW sent Mu'adh ibn Jabal RA as Qadi so that people could act upon his instructions and guidance derived from the Holy Qur'an, the Ahadith and his Ijtihad. To accept all three would in reality be obedience to Rasulullah SAW as mentioned before.

Abu Hurairah RA reported that the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

"Who has obeyed me, has obeyed Allah and who was disobedient to me has been disobedient to Allah and who obeyed the Amir was obedient to me and who was disobedient to the Amir has been disobedient to me."


Masa'il i.e. rulings or precepts are of four kinds:

1. Clear instructions from the Holy Qur'an and Ahadith. No Qiyas is allowed nor Taqlid permissible. The order is to practice on the clear injunction.

2. In such propositions where there are two injunctions, one earlier, and one later, and through historical evidence both renown, then the earlier proposition is abrogated (Mansukh), whilst the latter command is ordered. Here too Qiyas and Taqlid are not permitted.

3. Those propositions that have two clear injunctions but it is not known which is earlier and which later, i.e. no historical evidence.

4. Those propositions of which there exist no clear injunctions.

So here - Propositions 1 and 2 are clear; the last two i.e. Propositions 3 and 4 need explanations.

Since 3 and 4 are not clear, what must a person do?

If he does not practice upon them, he is yet not allowed to go free.

The Qur'anic verses state: "Is man under the notion that he will be left free?"; and

"Do you think that you have been created in vain?"

It is thus - not so. So we have to obey Allah's command every second.

So now how are we going to obey when it is not known, which is abrogated and which is not.

In the fourth kind of proposition when one has no knowledge what is he going to practice on?

Allah says: "Do not practice on anything without knowledge:"

Thus the need of Qiyas and Ijtihad.

In the third kind of proposition the need is to verify the clear injunction and in the fourth kind it is to find a clear order and command.

It is thus a known fact that everybody does not have the ability or power to make Ijtihad and this verse also makes it clear. Everybody makes claims of giving opinions but only that ruling is accepted which is in accordance with Shar'iah and of a Mujtahid. The verdict of a Muqallid will not be accepted. The Mujtahid makes Ijtihad while the Muqallid makes Taqlid. Even if the Mujtahid makes a mistake he is rewarded and this is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari.


Here exists a doubt that there were many Mujtahids among the Sahabah RA, the Tabi'in and Tabi-Tabi'in; But only the "I'ima Arba'a" i.e. Imam Abu Hanifah RA, Imam Maalik RA, Imam Shafi'i RA and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal RA are followed and Taqlid made of them. So what is wrong in following the Sahabah RA, whose virtues have been abundantly mentioned in the Holy Qur'an and the Ahadith?

Let us be absolutely clear here that there is no doubt that the Sahabah RA have a far greater status and position than the I'ima Arba'a. Anyone does not make Taqlid of any one of the I'ima Arba'a ever thinking them to be greater than the Sahabah.

Its simple reason is that it is necessary to know those injunctions in which Taqlid has to be made. The detailed knowledge which can be found in every section and chapter from Kitaab- at-Taharat to Kitab al-Fara'idh, whether it concerns acts of worship, or social and cultural aspects, in every department of knowledge, these Imams were the first and only Ulama that gathered them all in every detail. They were schools of knowledge in their own right that codified knowledge in every field. We do not find such codification either of the Sahabah RA or other Tabi'in. Thus - the only choice we have is to follow them.

It must also be borne in mind that Allah had bestowed on them the perfection of knowledge of the Holy Qur'an and the Ahadith.

It is said by Shah Waliullah RA in the commentary of Muwatta' Imaam Malik that these four Imams together have encompassed the entire knowledge of the Holy Qur'an and Ahadith to such a degree that not a single Hadith which was reported by the Sahabah RA was omitted by them.

Clarification is further required regarding another doubt in most minds - What is the necessity of making Taqlid of only one Imam? One should be allowed to follow any of the Four Imams in the different issues as was the method in the time of the Sahabah RA. Madhab was not confined to a single Imam. Why must such concessions not be allowed in our times?

A solid answer is imperative here. The response is - in the time of the Sahabah RA, which was the best of times, there was no ulterior motives regarding religious questions. Thus, a question was asked to know the correct method and to practice on it. It was not asked for one's convenience as in later times.

For example, a person with Wudhu touched his wife which according to the Shafi'i Madhab nullifies Wudhu. Now when he is told to make Wudhu, he replies: "I make Taqlid of Imam Abu Hanifah RA and it is not a breaker of Wudhu according to his Madhab, therefore my Solat will be valid." Now this same person then vomits, which according to the Hanafi Madhab, breaks Wudhu. He is now told to make Wudhu. He then replies: "I now make Taqlid of Imam Shafi'i RA; and in his school, it is not a nullifier of Wudhu, therefore my Solat is valid".

If this person (who has on the one hand, touched his spouse, and on the other hand, vomited) has to perform his Solat with such a Wudhu, it would neither be correct by Imam Abu Hanifah RA nor by Imam Shafi'i RA. In terminology this is known as Talfiq which is agreed upon unanimously to be void and not permitted. This is not Taqlid but following one's passions and desires for one's personal convenience which lead one astray. The necessity of following a Madhab, Imam or Mujtahid is so that one would not fall into the temptations of following one's own desires.

The Holy Qur'an states:

"And do not follow desires. You would be led astray from the path of Allah."

Thus the need of following only one Imam.

For centuries we have heard of great scholars, jurists, the Ulama - who had the treasures of knowledge, who were in their personal capacities libraries with encyclopaedic knowledge. Their piety constituted perfect examples in emulation of the Sahabah RA. Their entire life was spent in accordance with the Sunnah of Rasulullah SAW. And yet they also followed one of the Four Imams; and it would not be incorrect to say that it was because of this Taqlid that they attained the heights of perfection. Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) is confined to the Four Schools only.

Today people claim that they can open a hadith kitab and pick out Hadith here and there and "establish" rulings for their lives. But do they know that the noble personalities who collected, sifted and authenticated these Ahadith themselves, during the golden age of Islam, with great pain and patience - ALL were Muqallids? Such ignorance and arrogance only fumbles a person's ego into stupidity. May Allah SWT save and guide us all. Ameen.

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