NOTE: THIS ENTRY IS QUITE LONG BUT VERY IMPORTANT. PLEASE READ.
Introduction Question to the Ulama:
Some people say that Taqleed (Adherence to a madhab of an Imam) is Haraam in the Shari'ah (na'udzubillah). They insist that a true Muslim should only follow the Qur'an and Sunnah, and they say that it is equivalent to shirk (polytheism) to follow an Imam in matters of Shari'ah. They also claim that the Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki and Hanbali schools were formed some two hundred years after the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW, therefore they are bid'ah (na'udzubillah) i.e. an innovation not approved in the Qur'an and Sunnah. They also stress that a Muslim should seek guidance directly form the Qur'an and Sunnah, and that no intervention of an Imam is needed to practice upon the Shari'ah. Please explain to what extent this view is correct?
The answer to the above mentioned question follows and among the first things to be determined is what is Taqleed.
Definition of Taqleed
Literal: Taqleed is a verbal noun of the root ‘Qa' 'la' 'da' in the second form. The verb Qa-la-da means - to place, to gird or to adorn with a necklace. When used in conjunction with human beings, it refers to the wearing of a necklace, pendant or any other such similar ornament.
Technical: Taqleed is the acceptance of a statement of another without demanding proof or evidence on the belief that the statement is being made in accordance with fact and proof, or, for the purist - Taqleed-ush-shakhsi.
Taqleed – A Qur'anic Command
The basis for Taqleed is a Qur'aanic command -
"And, ask the People of Knowledge if you do not know." (Al-Qur'an)
Thus the general principle of Taqleed is enshrined in the Qur'an. Denial of this principle is, therefore, an act of kufr which expels the denier from the fold of Islam.
Daleel (Proof) of Taqleed
Aswad bin Yazid narrates:
"Mu'adh came to us in Yemen as a teacher and commander. We questioned him regarding a man who had died leaving (as his heirs) a brother and sister. He (then gave the ruling and) decreed half the estate for the daughter and half for the sister. This was while Rasulullah SAW was alive." (Kitaabul Faraa'idh - Bukhari and Muslim)
It will be realised from the above Hadith that Taqleed was in vogue even during the time of the Prophet SAW. The questioner in the Hadith did not demand proof or basis for the decree. He accepted the ruling, relying on the integrity, piety and up-righteousness of Mu'adh bin Jabal RA. This is precisely Taqleed. Secondly Rasulullah SAW did not criticise or reject the people of his age, who followed Mu'adh bin Jabal RA, nor has any rejection or difference on the issue been narrated by anyone else. The permissibility and validity of Taqleed are therefore evident, especially so because of it's prevalence in the glorious time of Rasulullah SAW.
The above Hadith further furnishes proof for the concept of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi. Rasulullah SAW had appointed Mu'adh RA to provide religious instruction to the people of Yemen. It is, hence, evident and certain that Rasulullah SAW granted the people of Yemen the right and permission to refer to Muadh bin Jabal RA in all affairs of Deen.
Huthail bin Shurgbeel RAsaid:
"(Once) Abu Musa was questioned, then Ibn Mas'ud was questioned. Ibn Mas'ud was informed of Abu Musa’s statement. Ibn Mas'ud differed with it. Thereafter Abu Musa was informed (of his difference). He (Abu Musa RA) then said: "Do not ask me as long as this 'Aalim of Deen is among you."
It will be understood clearly here that Abu Musa RA in directing the people towards Ibn Mas'ud RA by his command, "Do not ask me as long as this 'Aalim of Deen is among you," was mandatory regarding all matters of Deen.
This, in fact, is Taqleed-us-Shaksi which means to refer every religious question to a particular 'Aalim because of some determining factor, and to act according to his verdict. The Ahadith above indicate that "Taqleed-us-Shakhsi" is not a new concept. Its existence is from the very epoch of Khairul Qurun (the three golden eras of Islam adjacent to the age of Rasulullah SAW) is an established fact).
Taqleed in General
The faculty of Taqleed is inherently existent in us. If we had refrained from the Taqleed of our parents and teachers then today we would have been deprived of even the basic and preliminary needs of humanity. By nature, man is endowed with the ability to imitate and follow others. If this was not the case, we would not have been able to learn our home language. If we had refused to accept unquestioningly without demanding proof on every command, beck and call of our teachers, then we would have been ignorant of even the alphabet of a language, let alone the study and writing of our books. Our whole life – every facet of it, eating, drinking, donning garments, walking, earning, etc, is connected with this very concept of Taqleed. If the fundamentals and technical terminology of every branch of knowledge was not acquired on the basis of Taqleed, i.e. without questioning the authority of the masters, then the proficiency in such knowledge could not have been attained.
The Necessity of Taqleed
There are two types of wujub (compulsory nature of something) in Islamic jurisprudence:
1. wujub biz zaat
2. wujub bil ghair
Wujub biz zaat means compulsory in itself, for example the commission or omission brings about the compulsion, such as the commission of Solat and the commission of polytheism etc.
Wujub bil ghair refers to such acts which are not normally compulsory in themselves, but they constitute the basis for actions commanded in the Qur'an and Hadith and normally it is not possible to execute the commanded practises without also executing their basis. Therefore, wujub bil ghair means compulsory by virtue of an external factor. It is from here we derived the universal rule, "the basis of a wajib is also wajib" and this is the exact rule which governs the compulsory nature of Taqleed-ush-Shakhsi.
Evils of Discarding Taqleed
It is established by observation and experience that in this age most people are governed by selfishness, baneful motives, lust, insincerity, mischief, strife, anarchy, opposition to the consensus of the Ahdul-Haq, and subjection of the Deen to desire. This is manifest and self-evident. The Ahadith on fitan (strife) have forewarned us of the rise of these baneful traits in man. The Ulama (scholars of Islam) are well aware of this. It is for this reason (i.e. baneful traits) that in the absence of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi, great harm, mischief, disruption and corruption will reign in the Deen. One of the destructive evils which will raise its head in the absence of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi is self-appointed Mujtahids. Some persons will consider themselves to be Mujtahids and embark on the process of Qiyas (Shar'i analogical reasoning) and they will consider themselves to be of equal or greater rank than the illustrious Mujtahideen of the early ages of Islam. The previous Mujtahideen have reliably stated that some laws are Mu'all'al (based on certain causes). Citing this some modernists and liberalists have claimed that the command of wudhu for Solat is mu'all'al, it being the consequence of the early Arabs being camel-herds and goatherds. Since their occupation of tending animals exposed them constantly to impurities, the command of wudhu was formulated. On this basis they claim that since people of the present time live in environments and occupations of greater hygienic conditions, wudhu is no longer necessary for salaah. They conclude thus - the permissibility of Solat without wudhu (na'udzubillah).
Similarly, it is claimed (by such self-styled mujtahids) that the wujub of witnesses in the Nikah ceremony is mu'all'al, the need of witnesses being occasioned by the occurrence of a dispute which may arrive in the future. The presence of witnesses will facilitate the resolving of disputes between the contending marriage parties. On this basis they conclude that should there a time exist when there would no longer be danger of dispute, the Nikah will be valid without witnesses (na'udzubillah).
Another evil resulting from the discarding of Taqleed-us-Shukhsi is to practice in accordance if the esoteric (zahir) façade of certain Ahadith whereas such a practice is certainly not lawful. Since the discarder of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi sees himself unchecked and unfettered he follows the dictates of his desires. An example of this type of Hadith is as follows: "Rasulullah SAW performed Zuhr and Asr together and Maghrib and Isha' together without (the expediency) of fear and journey (as narrated in Sahih Muslim). At face value the Hadith indicates the permissibility of performing Zuhr and Asr as well as Maghrib and Isha even if there exists no valid reason for this practice. But, without any doubt, the unification of Solat without reason is not held permissible by any authority. The correct meaning of the above Hadith is arrived at by Ta'weel i.e. interpretation via the faculty of Ijtihaad. Practice in accordance with the mere façade of the words used in such cases will result in an opposition to Ijma (consensus of the Ummat), and such conflict is Haraam. The summary of what has been said is - Taqleed-us-Shakhsi is the basis for a wajib aspect (i.e. acting in accordance with the commands of the Shari'ah) and the basis of a Wajib is also Wajib, hence Taqleed-us-Shakhsi is likewise Wajib. One who has discarded Taqleed, even if he does not resort to Ijtihaad himself, nor follows the meaning conveyed superficially by the words, will, in difficult Masaa'il (juristic ruling) accept the verdict of any authority. He will at times follow one Imaam and at other, another. In this way he will sometimes practice in opposition to Ijma (consensus of the Ulama), and on occasions, even if the result is not in conflict with Ijma he will resort to the verdict which appeals to his whims and fancies and by means of which worldly motives are available. Thus, he will submit the Deen to the dictates of the nafs. We seek Allah’s protection from such deviation.
Taqleed Restricted Only To The Four Madhabs
There are numerous Mujtahideen. It may therefore be argued that Taqleed of any Mujtahid should suffice. What is the reason for restricting Taqleed to the four Imams only? It was realised from the exposition of the wujub of Taqleed that adoption of different verdicts leads to anarchy. It is therefore imperative to make Taqleed of a Madhab which has been so systematically formulated and arranged in regard to principles (Usul) and details (Furu) - that answers to all questions could be obtained either in specific form or in deducted form based on principles, thereby obviating the need to refer to an external source. This all-embracing quality by an act of Allah Ta’aala is found existing in only the four Madhabs. It is therefore imperative to adopt one of the four Madhabs. This has been the accepted practice coming down the ages from the early times in an unbroken chain of transmission, from generation to generation. The emphasis on this aspect of Taqleed is so profound that certain Ulama have restricted the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah within the confines of the four Madhabs only.
A Baseless Question
The anti-Taqleed lobby attempts to hoodwink unwary Muslims by asking the question:
"Did these Madhabs exist during the time of Rasulullah SAW and the Sahabah?"
In response it could be asked:
"Did the compilation - Sahih Bukhari - exist in the time of Rasulullah SAW? Did the Qur'an (in the form we have it) exist during the time of Rasulullah SAW?"
If they respond by saying "Yes", then we to shall retort that the Madhabs did exists in the time of Rasulullah SAW. In fact, this very question posed by deviants, exhibits either their gross ignorance or their deliberate to hoodwink the unwary. If the madhab did not exist during the time of Rasulullah SAW and the Sahabah RA, the logical conclusion is that the entire Shar'iah which the illustrious Imams have expounded is not the Shar'iah taught by Rasulullah SAW and the Sahabah RA. But, this is absurd and preposterous. So it is important to clearly understand that the teaching of all the Madhabs are in fact the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Nothing in the Madhabs conflicts with the Qur'an and Hadith. The different ways e.g. methods of Ibadah, etc. which the Madhabs are applying, are the ways and methods of the Sahabah RA which they had acquired from Rasulullah SAW. The differences were inherited from the Sahabah RA and such differences are by Divine Decree, hence Rasulullah SAW said: "The differences of my Ummat is a Rahmat". Whether anyone understands this fact that, 'Rahmat' (Mercy) is emanating out of the authoritative differences of the Fuqahah of the Ummat is of no substance. The fact that Rasulullah SAW proclaimed such differences to be the effects of Allah's Mercy is sufficient. Thus, there is nothing detestable in the differences prevailing among the Madhabs. These valid and authentic differences do not bring about disunity, as is stupidly asserted by the modernist deviants. The ignorance of people and their desires are infact the causes of disunity. While the terms, Hanafi, Shafi'i, etc. did not exist in the time of Rasulullah SAW and the Sahabah RA, the teachings of these Madhabs, all had existed. While Sahih Bukhari did not exist, the Ahadith contained in the book did exist. It is, therefore, stupid to pose the question of the Madhabs during the time of Rasulullah SAW. There is unity in this diversity. Deen is the product of wahi (revelation), not the result of man's desires. Since the hawa (desire) cannot find free-play within the chains of Taqleed the aim of the deviates is to refute the concept of Taqleed. But, breaking the chains of Taqleed is to enchain oneself with the shackles of the nafs.
Why Is It Necessary To Make Taqleed Of Only One Imam (Taqleed-us-Shakhsi)
The question arises, Why is it necessary to follow only one Imam? What is wrong if one mas'alah (ruling) is taken from one Imam and another from another Imam, as was done in the time of the Sahabah RA and Tabi'in. In those times the whole Madhab was not confined to one person.
The answer to this question is that in those times good was prevalent. Generally the lowly desires did not have any effect, influence or agendas in the matters of Deen. Whoever used to refer to any of his elders regarding any mas'alah, used to do so sincerely and he also used to act upon the verdict given to him whether it be to his benefit and desires or not. Later, sincerity to that degree and piety did not remain amongst the people. Such urge was present in people to ask one Aalim a mas'alah, and if it did not suit them, then they referred that mas'alah to another Aalim until they found a verdict that suited their desires. Gradually, for every mas'alah - they had the urge to look for a suitable reply. It is obvious that such people are not seeking the truth. Sometimes the consequences is very serious, e.g. a person in the state of wudhu touches his wife. A person following the Shafi'i madhab tells him that - "Your wudhu is broken, therefore remake your wudhu". He replies "No, I am a muqalid of Imam Abu Hanifah RA; according to him this does not cause the wudhu to break. I can read Solat with the wudhu. Then the person vomits a mouthful, a person following the Hanafi madhab advises him to make wudhu as his wudhu has broken; then this person replies that I am making Taqleed of Imam Shafi'i RA and according to Imam Shafi'i RA vomiting does not cause the wudhu to break. A person can read Solat with such a wudhu. If this person reads his Solat with this wudhu then his Solat will not be valid according to both - Imam Shafi'i RA as well as Imam Abu Hanifah RA. This is called Talfeeq and there is Ijma and consensus of the Ulama that Talfeeq is ba’til and impermissible. In reality by doing this a person does not make taqleed of Imam Shafi'i RA or Imam Abu Hanifah RA, but he is following his desires, and the Shari'ah has prohibited us from following our desires. Its result is going astray from the path of Allah Ta'ala.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
"And do not follow your desires (in future too) for it will lead you astray from the path of Allah." (Surah Hud: Ayat 26)
Therefore it is NECESSARY and WAJIB to make Taqleed of one Imaam only. It is for this reason that the Qur'an has commended adherence towards Allah repeatedly.
Allah Ta'ala says:
"And follow the way of that person who turns towards me."
Generally someone feels according to his strong presumption that Imam Abu Hanifah RA is most probably correct and munib (has good quality of ibadah), that is, his Ijtihaad conforms more with the Qur'an and Hadith. That is why he has opted to make Taqleed of Imam Abu Hanifah RA. Another person has this strong feeling that Imam Maalik RA's Ijtihaad conforms with the Qur'an and Hadith, therefore, he makes Taqleed of Imam Maalik RA. Someone has the similar feeling regarding Imam Shafi'i RA's Ijtihaad, that is why he makes Imam Shafi'i RA Taqleed and someone for this very reason makes Taqleed of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal RA.
Talfeeq And Changing Madhabs Is Not Permissible
It is not permissible to leave taqleed made upon one Imaam and follow another Imaam when one wishes. When this is done without permission from the Shari'ah it leads to talfeeq, it also causes one to follow one's desires resulting in going far away from the truth and being led astray.
Madhab Of A Revert To Islam
Another frequently asked question arises as to what is the hukum (ruling) for a convert to Islam; or for one who wishes to switch from his state of non-taqleed to taqleed? Which Madhab does he have to follow?
The answer to the above is - if such a person lives in a place where a particular Madhab is dominant, then he/she should follow the Madhab by virtue of its dominance. If he/she happens to be in a place where several Madhabs are practiced on a more or less equivalent basis, then he/she will be free to choose any Madhab acceptable to him/her. However, once the choice is made he/she will be obliged to remain steadfast on the Madhab of his/her choice. In cases where it is difficult to act in accordance with one's Madhab e.g. due to a death of Ulama of one's Madhab; moreover for the one who is not an Aalim - it will be permissible, in fact compulsory, to adopt the Madhab which happens to be dominant in the place where one happens to be. For a person in such circumstances Taqleed-us-Shakhsi of his/her former Madhab will not be compulsory. He/she will be obliged to choose from the four Madhabs - the Madhab which is dominant in his particular circumstance. However, such cases are rare. The general rule in force is the wujub (compulsion) of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi.
The Spiritual Disease Of Admut-Taqleed
Admut-taqleed (abandonment of taqleed) is a disease spread by Shaytaan. Shaytaan's plot is always to destroy the Deen and the best and the most effective way to achieve this evil aim is to negate the concept of taqleed. The Sunnah is inextricably interwoven into the fabric of taqleed. Once a man abandons taqleed of the Madhabs he is left with no guidance other than the deviation of his nafs. While he pretends to possess the ability to formulate the Shari'ah directly from the Qur'aan and Hadith, he can venture no further than picking and choosing from the various opinions and rulings of the illustrious Imams. In so doing, he follows the base desires of his nafs. Once the authority of the Four Imams has been shrugged off, the Muslim is cut off from his Imaani moorings. He will then drift in the ocean of deception and desire which Shaytaan has prepared for him. Admut-taqleed is thus a fatal spiritual disease which can lead to the destruction of one’s Imaan.
In the present time the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah is confined to the four Madhabs. Whoever searches for the path of the Sunnah beyond the confines of the four Madhabs will deviate in to Baa'til. Since every teaching of the four Madhabs is the Qur'an and the Sunnah, deviation therefrom is to deviate from the Sunnah.
Those who deviate from the Sunnah are destined for Jahannam according to the explicit pronouncement of Rasulullah SAW who said:
"Bani Israel split into seventy-two sects. My Ummat will split into seventy-three sects. All of which, save one, will be in the fire."
When he was asked regarding the sect which will be saved from the fire.
Rasulullah SAW said:
"That path on which I and my Sahabah are."
Salvation (Najaat) in the Hereafter (Aakhirah) therefore depends on donning the mantle of Taqleed. We should strive to ensure our safety from the ingeniously subtle designs of Shaytaan to drag us with him into eternal punishment. Shaytaan has nothing to loose. Remember that.
(Based on the advice of Darul Uluum Student-Aalim, Holcombe, Bury, United Kingdom)