Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Taqleed is when a person is followed such that every act and word of him is blindly obeyed.It is irrespective of the fact whether the person so followed is worthy of being idolized in such manner (Al-Fawzaan, 2014)
Allah says in Surah Az-Zukhruf that whenever a messenger was sent to any town, the affluent always rejected the message under the pretext of obeying the creed of their forefathers blindly. It has been mentioned repeatedly in the Qur’an to signify that blind following has been a tradition amongst the people of jahilliyah.
WHEN IS TAQLEED PERMISSIBLE?
When the methodology of taqleed is applied positively, it may take two forms- as ittibaa (following) and iqtidaa (taking example). It is mentioned in Surah Yusuf that Yusuf (alayhis salam) said that he follows the religion of his forefathers – Ibraheem (alayhis salam), Ishaaq (alayhis salam) and Yaqoob( alayhis salam). He thereby declared his faith in Allah as the only one worthy of being worshipped (Yusuf, 38).
There are two types of taqleed–
- General: This is when a person follows the madhab of an imam, accepting every ruling of it. Some scholars say it is obligatory for a person who is incapable of doing ijtihad. While others, like Ibn Tayyimah, declare it to be prohibited since it leads to taqleed of an imam in matters of religion other than the Prophet and this is against the ijmaa.
Shaikh Ibn Tayyimah said that a person choosing to obey certain things from a madhab and then going against its ruling without any evidence from shari’ah is a person who follows his desires. Whereas, it is obligatory upon a person following a madhab to reject the ruling of his madhab if he finds an evidence in shari’ah or a ruling of a more knowledgeable scholar.
- Specific- It is when a person capable of doing ijtihaad, does taqleed of a more knowledgeable person on a specific matter due to his inability to derive a conclusion. Ibn Uthaymeen said that a grave mistake that people make is when the words of Rusool Allah (salallahu alayhi wasallam) is told and they oppose because their leader gave a view otherwise. Wherein, Allah asks us in the Qur’an what response we gave to the words of Rusool Allah (salallahu alayhi wasallam) and not to the words of any other imam/ scholar. If the scholar made the statement bona fidely, then we must make dua’a for his forgiveness. However, we cannot declare any person to be infallible and use his words as an evidence against the words of Rusool Allah (salallahu alayhi wasallam).
WHETHER DENIAL OF TAQLEED AMOUNTS TO KUFR:
It is important that we differentiate between taqleed (blind following)and ittibaa (reasoned following). We know that Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam) mentioned that the generation of sahabis, the tabi’een and tabe-tabi’een to be the best (Muslim, 6153). However, Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu) said that except the Prophet, we cannot take from someone everything he says about religion (Imam Ahmad)
Therefore, we must not even obey earlier interpretations blindly. To follow a particular imam or leader blindly, despite seeing errors is forbidden and the guilty is to be severely criticized. It has been reported that Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu) severely rebuked the people when they gave preference to the opinion of Umar and Abu Bakr (radiallahu anhum) which was opposed to the hadith of Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam) of joining the Umrah with the Hajj (at-tamattu). He cursed them that stones would shower from the sky on them (Ibn Abdul Wahhab).
A person who does not have knowledge of religion cannot be looked up to as a role model. A person who comprehends and is on the straight path, is one worthy of being idolized. Blind following is a form of fanatical attachment. Allah says in Surah Luqman, verse 21 that the devil invites us into hell fire by tempting us to follow the creed of our forefathers who were neither guided nor did they understand anything. All they have as proof for their deeds is that their forefathers did the same (Ibn Katheer)
Allah says in the Qur’an, “ask the people of knowledge if you do not know” (An-Nahl, 43). The ahlul-dhikr mean the people of knowledge. A muqallid is not considered to be amongst the ahlul ilm. The scholars agree that there are those who are ignorant and incapable of comprehending evidence. Taqleed is for them. Those who can search for evidence are not counted amongst them. The intelligent ones can logically deduce evidence. (Ibn Uthaymeen)
The four imams have been known to declare their affiliation to the Qur’an and sunnah (Philips, 1990). Imam Shafi’e went to the extent of elaborating that everyone including him unknowingly skips certain sunnah of Allah’s messenger (salallahu alayhi wasallam), therefore there are bound to be rulings made by him that will be contrary to the rulings of Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam). In such a scenario the ruling of Allah’s messenger (salallahu alayhi wasallam).will be his ruling
This is evidence to the fact that all four imams were against blind following. They gave preference to Qur’an and Sunnah over their saying. Allah says in the Qur’an, “Follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and do not take any Awliya besides Him. Little do you remember!”[Al-A`raaf, 3]. This implies that we must follow and imitate the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam).who brought us the revelation from Allah. Disregarding him and following someone else will lead to being misguided (Ibn Kathir). It is thus important that a man with logic must ponder and investigate about those from whom he takes ‘ilm.
Keeping the above evidences in mind, we may deduce that taqleed is not permissible as a general rule. The only exception being when a personal analysis (ijtihaad) is not possible to make due to lack of resources or on matters not directly available in Qur’an and Sunnah. The statement in question is therefore incorrect.
Imam Ahmad however quoted that for matters where taqleed is done until evidence reaches them, a person is not blameworthy. Rather those who reject the truth in favor of taqleed, despite being presented with evidence, must be rebuked.
Allah warns those who oppose the Messenger’s (salallahu alayhi wasallam).commands that a fitnah will befall upon them (An-Noor, 63). The fitnah implies that they will be afflicted with shirk or will be struck by hypocrisy or innovation (Ibn Katheer).
When people are called to obey the Messenger (salallahu alayhi wasallam). the hypocrites shun it (An-Nisa, 61). A believer, therefore, always acts upon the shari’ah and sticks to the truth on basis of evidences. When evidence is not apparent, he does not oppress a brother on basis of ijtihaad, rather sincerely advises him (bin Baaz). Indeed a person of truth and sunnah does not follow anyone blindly except the Prophet(salallahu alayhi wasallam) whose words were revelation and whoever differs from him is a person of innovation and sectarianism (Ibn Uthaymeen)
1) Al- Qur’an
2) Ibn Uthaymeen, Mohammad, (1999) On Ijtihad and Taqleed (http://www.spubs.com/sps/sp.cfm?subsecID=MNJ06&articleID=MNJ060001&articlePages=1)
3) Al Fawzaan, Saalih, (2014), Blind Following and its Dangers (https://abdurrahman.org/2014/09/29/blind-following-and-its-dangers-shaikh-saalih-al-fawzaan/)
4) Ibn Hasan, Abdur Rahmaan, (2015), The Forbiddence of Adhering Blindly to the Saying of a Scholar in Opposition To An Authentic Text, and the Severe Rebuke due Upon One Who is Guilty Of this
5) Ibn Tayyimah, Taqi ad-din; Ibn Baz, Abd al-Aziz, Misplaced Loyalty, (2015), https://thewayofsalafiyyah.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/misplaced-loyalty-ibn-taymiyyah-and-ibn-baz/
6) Philps, AA Bilal,(1990), The Evolution of Fiqh, India: Tawheed Publications
7) Ibn Katheer
8) Sahih Muslim,
9) Sahih Bukhari