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Verdict on Taqleed (Adherence) - Some people say that Taqleed (Adherence to a madhab of an Imaam) is haraam in the Shariah.

(The necessity of Taqleed from the Shari’ point of view)
By a student of Darul Uloom, Holcombe, Bury, U.K.


* Introduction
* Definition of Taqleed
* Taqleed - A Quraanic Command
* Taqleed in General
* The Necessity of Taqleed
* Evils of Discarding Taqleed
* Taqleed Restricted to the Four Madhaa'hib
* A Baseless Question
* Why is it Necessary to Make taqleed of One Imaam Only (Taqleed-us-Shakhsi)
* Talfeeq and Changiung Madh'habs is not Permissable
* Madhab of the Convert
* The Disease of Admut-Talqeed
* The Sunnah

see also: Taqleed (Mufti Mahmud Hasan Gangohi)

Question: Some people say that Taqleed (Adherence to a madhab of an Imaam) is haraam in the Shariah. They insist that a true Muslim should only follow the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and they say that it is equivalent to shirk (polytheism) to follow an Imaam in matters of Shar’iah. They also claim that the Hanafi, Shaaf’i, Maliki and Hanbali schools were formed some two hundred years after the Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam, therefore they are bid’ah (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 Imaam 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 Qalada 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: 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, is called Taqleed, or, for the purist, Taqleed-ush-shakhsi.

Taqleed – A Qur’aanic Command

The basis for Taqleed is a Qur’aanic command.

"And, ask the People of Knowledge if you do not know."

Thus the general principle of Taqleed is enshrined in the Qur’aan Majeed. 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'aath 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 decreed half the estate for the daughter and half for the sister. This was while the Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam was alive."
[Kitaabul Faraa-idh: Bukhari and Muslim Shareef]

It will be realised from this Hadith Shareef that Taqleed was in vogue during the time of the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam. 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 Hazrat Mu,aath radiyallahu anhu. This is precisely Taqleed.

Secondly Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam did not criticise or reject the people of his age, who followed Hazrat Mu-aath radiyallahu anhu, 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 sallallahu alaihe wasallam.

This Hadith further furnishes proof for the concept of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam had appointed Hazrat Mu-aath radiyallahu anhu to provide religious instruction to the people of Yemen. It is, hence, evident and certain that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam granted the people of Yemen the right and permission to refer to Hazrat Mu-aath radiyallahu anhu in all affairs of Deen.

Huthail bin Shurgbeel said, ‘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 then said: "Do not ask me as long as this Aalim of deen is among you."

It will be understood that Abu Musa radiyallahu anhu in directing the people towards Ibn Mas’ud radiyallahu anhu 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.

These Ahaadith indicate that ‘Taqleed-us-Shakhsi’ is not a new concept which can refuted. Its existence is from the very epoch of Khairul Qurun (the three eras adjacent to the age of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam 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) 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 wujoob (compulsory nature of something) in jurisprudence: 1) wujoob biz zaat 2) wujoob bil ghair.

1) Wujoob biz zaat means compulsory in itself, for example the commission or omission brings about the compulsion, as the commission of salaah and the commission of polytheism etc.

2) Wujoob bil ghair – these are such acts which are not normally compulsory in themselves, but they constitute the basis for actions commanded in the Qur’aan and hadith and normally it is not possible to execute the commanded practises without also executing their basis. Therefore, wujoob 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 are well aware of this. It is for this reason (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 have claimed that the command of wudhu for salaah 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 salaah without wudhu.

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 where there exists no danger of dispute, the Nikah will be valid without witnesses.

Another evil resulting from the discarding of Taqleed us Shukhsi is to practice in accordance if the esoteric (zahir) façade of certain Ahaadith 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 nafs. An example of this type of Hadith is as follows:

"Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam performed Zuhr and Asr together and Maghrib and Isha together without (the expediency) of fear and journey.
[Muslim Shareef]
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 salaah without reason is not held permissible by any authority. The correct meaning of the hadith is arrived at by ta’weel (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 (viz., acting in accordance with the commands of the Shariah) 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 Masa’il 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, 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 To The Four Madhaa’hib

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 Madhaa’hib?

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 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 Madhaa'hib. It is therefore imperative to adopt one of the four Madhaa'hib’. 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 Ahle-Sunnah wal jama within the confines of the four Madhaa'hib.

A Baseless Question

The anti-Taqleed lobby attempts to hoodwink unwary Muslims by asking the question: " Did the Madh’habs exist during the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam and the Sahaabah?

In response it could be asked: Did Bukhari Shareef exist in the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam. Did the Qur’aan (in the form we have it) exist during the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam)? If they respond by saying "Yes", then we to shall retort that the Madh’habs did exists in the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam.

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 sallallahu alaihe wasallam and the Sahaabah, the logical conclusion is that the entire Shar'iah which the illustrious Imaam have expounded is not the Shar'iah taught Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam and the Sahaabah. But, this is absurd and preposterous.

The madhab of all the teaching of the Madhabs are in fact the teachings of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. Nothing in the Madhabs conflicts with the Qur’aan and Hadith. The different ways methods of Ibaadat, etc., which the Madhabs are applying, are the ways and methods of the Sahaabah which they had acquired from Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam. The differences were inherited from the Sahaabah and such differences are by Divine Decree, hence Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam 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 sallallahu alaihe wasallam 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 the causes of disunity.

While the terms, Hanafi, Shaaf'i, etc. did not exist in the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam and the Sahaabah, the teachings of these Madhabs, all had existed. While Bukhari Shareef did not exist, the Ahaadith contained in the book did exist. It is, therefore, stupid to pose the question of the Madhabs during the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam. There is unity in this diversity. Deen is the product of wahi, 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 Imaan (Taqleed-us-Shakhsi).

The question arises, Why is it necessary to follow one Imaam only? What is wrong if one mas’ala is taken from one Imaam and another from another Imaam, as was done in the time of the Sahaabah radiyallahu anhum and Tabe’ien. In those times the whole Madhab was not confined to one person. The answer is that in those times good was prevalent. Generally the lowly desires did not have any matters in the matters of Deen. Whoever used to refer to any of his elders regarding any mas’ala, 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’ala, if it did not suit them, then they referred that mas’ala to another Aalim until they found a verdict that suited their desires. Gradually, for every mas’ala 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 Shaaf'i madhab tells him that "Your wudhu is broken, therefore remake your wudhu". He replies "No, I am a muqalid of Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi alaihe; according to him this does not cause the wudhu to break. I can read salaah 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, according to Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi alaihe; this person replies that I am making Taqleed of Imaam Sha’fi Rahmatullahi alaihe, (in this mas’ala) and according to Imaam Shaaf'i Rahmatullahi alaihe vomiting does not cause the wudhu to break. A person can read salaah with such a wudhu. If this person reads his salaah with this wudhu then his salaah will not be valid according to Imaam Sha’fi Rahmatullahi alaihe and not according to Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi alaihe. This is called talfeeq and there is ijma and consensus of opinion that talfeeq is ba’til and impermissible. In reality by doing this a person does not make taqleed of Imaam Shaaf'i Rahmatullahi alaihe or Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi alaihe, but he is following his desires, and the Shariah has prohibited us from following our desires. Its result is going astray from the path of Allah Taa’la.

Allah Taa’la says in Surah Hud Ayaat 26:

‘And do not follow your desires (in future too) for it will lead you astray from the path of Allah.’

Therefore it is Necessary to make Taqleed of one Imaam only.

It is for this reason that the Qur’aan-e-Kareem has commended adherence towards Allah (repeatedly). Allah Ta'aala says:

"And follow the way of that person that person who turns towards me."

Generally someone feels according to his strong presumption that Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi alaihe is most probably correct and munib (has the quality of ibaadat), that is, his Ijtihaad conforms more with the Qur'aan and Hadith. That is why he has opted to make Taqleed of Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi alaihe. Another person has this strong feeling that Imaam Maalik Rahmatullahi alaihe ijtihaad conforms with the Qur’aan and Hadith, therefore, he makes Taqleed of Imaam Maalik Rahmatullahi alaihe. Someone has this feeling regarding Imaam Shaaf'i Rahmatullahi alaihe ijtihaad, that is why he makes Imaam Shaaf'i Rahmatullahi alaihe taqleed and someone for this very reason makes taqleed of Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal Rahmatullahi alaihe.

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 Shariah 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 The Convert.

What is the hukm (law) 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?

If such a person lives in a place where a particular Madhab is dominant, then he should follow the Madhab by virtue of its dominance. If he happens to be in a place where several madhaa’hib are in operation on a more or less equivalent basis, then he will be free to choose any Madhab acceptable to him. However, once the choice is made he will be obliged to remain steadfast on the Madhab of his choice.

In cases where it is difficult to act in accordance with one’s Madhab due to a dearth 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 predominant in the place where one happens to be. For a person in such circumstances Taqleed-us-Shakhsi of his former Madhab will not be compulsory. He will be obliged to choose from the four madhaaib the madhab which is dominant in his particular circumstance. However, such cases are rare. The general rule in force is the wujub of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi.

The Disease Of Admut-Taqleed

Admut-taqleed (abandonment of taqleed) is a disease spread by Shaitaan. Shaitaan’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 Imaams. In so doing, he follows the base desires of his nafs.

Once the authority of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen 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 shaitaan has prepared for him. Admut-taqleed is thus a fatal spiritual disease which can lead to the destruction of one’s Imaan.

The Sunnah

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’aan and the Sunnah, deviation therefrom is to deviate from the Sunnah. Those who deviate from the Sunnah are destined for Jahannum according to the explicit pronouncement of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam who said:

"Bani Israael 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 sects which will be saved from the fire Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam said:

"That path on which I and my Sahaabah 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 Shaitaan to drag us with him into eternal punishment.