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Guidelines concerning Taqleed
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Takhreej of the issue of Taqleed according to the majority of the scholars among the madhahib and the hufaadh and fuqaha which consist of a clear repudiation of the empty claims of the muqalideen that "salafis" abandon following qualified scholarship rather it is an abridgement to that which is just and upright in between two extremes in todays environment
takhreej done by troid publications

THE EXACT DEFINITION OF TAQLEED:

The scholars specializing in the fundamentals of jurisprudence (usooliyyoon) have defined taqleed in a number of ways; though they differ in wording, they are, nevertheless, similar in meaning. So from them:

Imaam al-Ghazzaalee - rahimahullaah - said, “Taqleed is to accept the saying of someone without a proof.” [1]

Al-Aamidee – rahimahullaah – said,

“It is acting upon the saying of someone, without a proof to necessitate this.” [2]

Imaam ash-Shanqeetee - rahimahullaah – said,

“As for taqleed in the terminology of the jurists, it is: To adopt the view of someone without knowing the evidence.” [3]

The Standing Committee of Senior Scholars - presided over by Shaykh ’Abdul-’Azeez Ibn Baaz – said,

“The scholars specializing in the fundamentals of jurisprudence (al-usooliyyoon) have mentioned (various) definitions clarifying the true meaning and essence of taqleed. From them is the saying of some that: “Taqleed is to accept the saying of someone without knowing its evidence.” Others held the view that taqleed is: “To accept the saying of someone without a proof.” Abu Ma’aalee al-Juwaynee preferred the definition of taqleed that it is: “The following of someone, the following of whom is not based upon a proof, nor does it rely upon knowledge.” And these definitions of the usooliyyoon are all close in their meaning, but have in them differences [in wording] which originate in the skill of enunciation. However, the point here is to clarify the essence of taqleed by means of approximation.” [4]

Imaam ash-Shawkaanee – rahimahullaah - said,

“Technically taqleed means: To act upon the saying of someone without a proof. Excluded from this (definition) is: Acting upon the saying of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam); acting upon the scholarly consensus; the layman (’aammee) referring back to the muftee; and the judge accepting the testimony of trustworthy people - since there is proof to establish all of this.” [5]

THE POSITION OF TAQLEED:

Imaam ash-Shanqeetee said,

“Examination shows that from taqleed is (a type) which is permissible, from it is that which is not permissible, and from it is that about which the later scholars differed with the earlier ones; the Companions and the others from the first three excellent generations.” [6]

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan - hafidhahullaah – said,

“As for the permissible form of imitation (at-taqleedul-mubaah), then it is that the layman who, if he does not follow the people of knowledge, then he will stray from the path. Allaah the Mighty and Majestic said:

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Sooratun-Nahl 16:43]

And taqleed is not done of just anyone. Rather, it is done to one who is accredited with knowledge and piety and he is known to the people for this.” [7]

Imaam Muhammad al-Ameen ash-Shanqeetee, said,

“Investigation shows that there is from taqleed that which is permissible, that which is not permissible and that about which the later scholars differ with the earlier ones; the Companions and the others from the first three excellent generations. As for the permitted form of taqleed, about which no one from the Muslims differ, it is that the layman performs taqleed of a scholar who is from those who can give verdicts (fataawaa) concerning the various situations that occur. This type of taqleed was in vogue during the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), and there is no difference about it. So the layman asked whomsoever he wished from the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), about the ruling for a particular situation; when a verdict was given, he acted upon it. If another situation arouse, he was not bound to the first Companion who had given him a verdict, rather he asked whomsoever he wished from the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and acted upon that verdict ... Some of the scholars have said that the (type of) taqleed that has just been mentioned, whereby the layman makes taqleed of a scholar and acts upon his verdict, is actually ittibaa’ and not taqleed. What is correct is that it is the prescribed form of taqleed, about which there is an agreement as to its being legislated.” [8]

Shaykh al-Albaanee - hafidhahullaah - said,

Taqleed is Permitted to One Who is Incapable of Knowing the Evidence: Someone may say: Not everyone has the ability to become a scholar with this meaning. So we say: Indeed, this is so. However, no one disputes this; and Allaah the Mighty and Majestic said:

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Sooratun-Nahl 16:43]

And He said:

So ask the knowledgeable about it.” [Sooratul-Furqaan 25:59]

And the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said to the one who gave a verdict without due knowledge: “Would that they had asked when they do not know. For indeed, the cure for ignorance is in the asking.” But our discussion was not to define who has the ability [to be a scholar] and who does not. Rather, the discussion was for attribute themselves to the elite (khaassah); those who think that they are from the people of knowledge and about whom it is thought that they have the ability to know proofs, at least in some matters ...So the question is not really relevant, especially since I mentioned at the start of this chapter the fundamental rule which benefits us with two important matters:

Firstly: That taqleed is not beneficial knowledge; and this has been sufficiently clarified, if Allaah Wills.

The Second Matter: That taqleed is the responsibility of the unlearned layman. The scholar who is able to understand proofs is excluded from it, they are the ones whose responsibility it is to perform ijtihaad.

So I say: Ibn ’Abdul-Barr said at the end of what was previously quoted from him: “This is all for other than the lay people (’aammah). As for the lay people, then they must perform taqleed of their scholars in those situations that require it, since they are not able to understand proofs or knowledge, due to their lack of comprehension. This is because knowledge is of levels, and there is no way to reach the top level, except by (first) acquiring what is lower than it. This is the barrier between the lay people and the seeker of proofs and evidences; and Allaah knows best. And the scholars do not differ over the fact that the lay people must perform taqleed of their scholars, who are the ones intended in the saying of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic:

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Sooratun-Nahl 16:43]

They are in agreement that a blind person must emulate (taqleed) someone whom he considers trustworthy in order to ascertain the direction of the Prayer (qiblah), if it becomes difficult for him to do so by himself. Similarly, whoever does not possess knowledge of the meanings of what he has been ordered to submit with, then he is required to perform taqleed of a scholar. Likewise, scholars have no disagreement about the fact that it is not permissible for the lay people to give religious verdicts.” [9]

Further issues that need to be considered here:

Firstly: Is it necessary for the layman who, when asking a scholar, to ask for a proof?

Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee - rahimahullaah - said:

“As for one to whom taqleed is permissible, then it is for the layman who does not know the path [to arrive at] the Sharee’ah rulings. So it is permitted for him to do taqleed of a scholar and act upon his saying ... And it has been stated by some of the Mu’tazilah who said: It is not permissible for the layman to act upon the saying of a scholar, until he knows the effective cause (’illah) for the ruling. So when he asks a scholar, he should ask him so that he knows how the ruling came about. So when he knows and grasps this, then he should act upon it. (Al-Khateeb said:) This is wrong, since there is no way for a layman to know and grasp this, except after gaining knowledge and understanding for many years and mixing with the scholars for long periods of time ...” [10]

Shaykh al-Albaanee - hafidhahullaah - said: “... so you see a layman, who does not understand anything, yet when he asks a scholar about the ruling concerning a particular matter, then even if the answer is a prohibition, he quickly asks: What is the proof? And sometimes it is not possible for that scholar to establish a proof, especially if the proof is something arrived at by way of deduction and extraction; not being textually stated as such in the Book and the Sunnah so that the proof can be quoted. So in the likes of this situation the one asking the question should not try to delve into the matter by saying: What is the proof? Rather, he must realize his own state: Is he from those who (understand) proofs or not? Does he have any knowledge concerning the general (’aamm) and the specific (khaass), the unrestricted (mutlaq) and the restricted (muqayyad), or the abrogating (naasikh) and the abrogated (mansookh)? Yet he does not have any understanding of that, so will his asking: ‘What is the proof,’ or ‘What is it based upon,’ be of any benefit to him? ... Thus we sometimes say: It is not always the case that a question will have a detailed proof which will be understood by every Muslim; regardless of whether he is an unlearned layman, or a student of knowledge, this will not be the case in every matter. Therefore, Allaah the Exalted said:

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Sooratul-Anbiyaa‘ 21:7]

So from the immoderate behaviour which I have just indicated - and because of which the most ignorant of people refuse the proof - is that many of those who ascribe to the call to the Book and the Sunnah, give the false impression that when a scholar is asked about a matter, that he has to add to his answer: Allaah said such and such, and His Messenger said such and such. However, I say: This is not an obligation, and this is one of the benefits of being attached to the way and methodology of the Pious Predecessors (as-Salafus-Saalih), may Allaah be pleased with them all; and their religious verdicts are a practical proof of what I have said. Therefore mentioning the proof is obligatory when the situation requires it. However, it is not obligatory that whenever the scholar is asked a question that he should reply: Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said such and such, particularly if the question is a difficult fiqh question about which there is a difference of opinion. And the saying of Allaah the Exalted, “Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know,” is first of all, unrestricted, so it is upon you to ask one whom you think is from the people of knowledge. So when you hear the reply, then it is upon you to follow, unless you have a doubt which you have heard from another scholar; in which case there is no harm in mentioning it. What is then obligatory upon the scholar, is that he should put forward whatever knowledge he has in order to remove the doubt which was mentioned by the questioner.” [11]

Secondly: What should the layman do when faced with two or more differing verdicts for the same issue?

Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee - rahimahullaah - said:

“If someone says: What do you say concerning the one seeking a scholarly verdict (al-mustaftee) from the lay people (’aammah), when he is given conflicting verdicts by two people. Which one of them should he do taqleed of? It is said to him, if Allaah wills, (the reply) is from two angles:- Firstly: If the ’aammee possess a firm intellect and strong comprehension; such that when he applies his intellect, he understands and when he applies his comprehension, he comprehends, then it is upon him to inquire into the proofs of the two variant views and to accept that which is the most strongest in his view. But if he has deficient intellect, or does not possess firm comprehension, then he should perform taqleed of [whom he deems to be] the best of the two.” [12]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah - rahimahullaah – said,

“As for the mustaftee, then that which the four Imaams, as well as the rest of the scholars are upon, is that it is not prescribed upon anyone to cling solely to the saying of one particular individual in all that he may declare obligatory, prohibited or permissible, except to Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). However from the scholars are those who say: It is upon the mustaftee to perform taqleed of the one whom he considers to be the most knowledge and most pious in the issue. From them are those who say: Rather he should choose from any of the muftees. It is (also) said: He should follow whatever view he thinks is more preferable, in accordance with his ability to discern this. Indeed this is more preferable to just choosing without (qualified) restriction. It is (also) said: He should not exert himself to ascertain the ruling, unless he is from the people of ijtihaad. However, the previous view is more preferable, which is that the mustaftee gives preference to one of the views; either by preferring the evidences of one of the views, in accordance with his ability to discern this, or because of preferring the view of the one deemed to be the more knowledgeable and pious of them. This is what is upon him, even if it opposes his school of thought (madhhab).” [13]

Imaam Ibnul-Qayyim - rahimahullaah – said,

“If two or more muftees differ, then what view should be adopted? Should it be the severest one; or the more lenient one; or is there a choice; or should it be the view of the one who is most knowledgeable and most pious; or should another muftee be turned to and then see which of the views he agrees to, then act upon that; or is it obligatory to research into what is the strongest view in accordance with one's ability? These are the seven views; and the seventh one is the most strongest and preferable.” [14]

Imaam ash-Shaatibee - rahimahullaah – said,

“Conflicting scholarly verdicts (to the ’aammee) is like conflicting evidences to the mujtahid. So just as the mujtahid is not permitted - due to the duty of following the proofs - to merely follow any one of the evidences, without first engaging in ijtihaad in order to ascertain what is the strongest evidence; then likewise, it is not permitted for the 'aammee to merely follow any of the fatwaas without first striving to ascertain what is the most correct of them.” [15]

Shaykh Ibnul-’Uthaymeen - hafidhahullaah - said,

“With regards to the mustaftee, in the case where there are two conflicting verdicts from two scholars, then he follows whoever he deems to be closer to what is correct; either due to [deeming] one to have more knowledge, or due to having more piety. This is just like the case of a person who is ill and two doctors differ (over the remedy), then he takes what he deems to be closer to what is correct. If he is unable to prefer one scholar over another, due to them being equal in his view, then he selects whichever he chooses, or whatever (view) provides greater tranquility to his soul.” [16]

Thirdly: That just as mujtahids have varying levels and abilities, then so do the lay people (’aammah). Due to this, some scholars classify the ’aammah into two categories: the emulator (muqallid), and the follower of evidences (muttabi’):

Shaykh Muhammad ’Eed ’Abbaasee - hafidhahullaah – said,

“However, the people are of differing types with regards to understanding and comprehension. So from them is the unlearned one who does not understand the meanings of the Glorious Book and the noble Hadeeth, nor does he have the ability to deduce (rulings) from them, nor can he comprehend what is sought from them. From them is the scholar who has understanding (fiqh) of the verses and the ahaadeeth and is aware of what rulings can be derived from them; he has the ability to deal with the apparent differences between them and he understands the Arabic language and its ways. And from them are those that are (at a level) between this. They are not ignorant, but nor do they have the knowledge to derive rulings, nor do they have the ability to understand what is being indicated to by the text; rather, they have some knowledge, awareness, understanding and contemplation. However, they do not reach the level of the scholar and the one who has penetrating insight into the Book and the Sunnah. So these are the levels of the people; and between them there are many varying grades. The scholars call the first type of people muqallid, the second type are technically referred to as mujtahid, and the third type are technically referred to as muttabi’. The obligation upon the people of the first type is to perform taqleed any scholar of the Book and the Sunnah who is reliable in his knowledge and Religion. The obligation upon the second type of people is to perform ijtihaad in understanding what is indicated by (the texts of) the Book and the Sunnah, and [then] to follow it and to direct the people upon it. The obligation upon the third type is to follow (ittibaa’) those Sharee’ah evidences that they are aware of from the scholars. So whoever has the ability to perform ijtihaad, then taqleed and ittibaa’ of others is not lawful to him, except in cases of necessity...Whoever has the ability to perform ittibaa’ then taqleed and ijtihaad are not lawful for him. Whoever does not have the ability to perform ijtihaad nor ittibaa’ then taqleed is obligatory upon him. The proof for this is that the basic rule upon everyone is to follow (ittibaa’) the Book and the Sunnah if they have the ability, just as Allaah, the Most Perfect, said,

Follow what has been sent down from your Lord, and do not make ittibaa’ of friends and protectors other than Him.” [Sooratul-A’raaf 7:3]

Take what the Messenger gives you, and abstain from that which he prohibits you.” [Sooratul-Hash 59:7]

So if the Muslim does not have the ability to understand the Book and the Sunnah, nor to deduce rulings from them, then he descends to the level of ittibaa’. If he does not have the ability to do this, then he descends to the lowest level, which is taqleed; and this is when he enters into Allaah, the Exalted’s, saying,

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Sooratun-Nahl 16:43].” [17]

The Prohibited Types of Taqleed: All that has preceded is in reference to the permissible form of imitation (taqleed). As for the taqleed that is prohibited, Ibnul-Qayyim said about it,

“It is of three types:- Firstly: Turning away from what Allaah has revealed and not resorting to it, but instead being satisfied with the imitation (taqleed) of one's for-fathers. Secondly: Performing taqleed of someone and you do not know whether that person is from those whose saying can be taken. Thirdly: Performing taqleed after the proofs have been established and it becomes apparent that the evidence oppose the view of the one being emulated (al-muqallad). The difference between this and the first type is that in the first case taqleed is done before knowledge and proofs have been established, whereas in this case taqleed is done after the proof has been made evident. Thus this is more deserving of being censured and is (a greater) act of disobedience to Allaah and His Messenger. And Allaah the Most Perfect has censured these three types of taqleed in many places in His Book; such as in His, the Exalted’s, saying,

When it is said to them: Follow what Allaah has revealed. They say: Rather, we shall follow what we found our forefathers following. Even though their for-fathers understood nothing, nor were they rightly-guided.” [Sooratul-Baqarah 2:170]

And similarly, We did not send before you any warner into a city, except that its affluent ones said: Indeed we found our fore-fathers upon a religion and we are following in their footsteps (each warner) said: Even if I brought to you guidance better than that which your fore-fathers were upon?” [Sooratuz-Zukhruf 43:23-24]

When it is said to them: Follow what Allaah has revealed. and to the Messenger They say: Sufficient for us is what we found our forefathers upon.” [Sooratul-Maa‘idah 5:104]

The censure of those who turn away from what is revealed but instead content themselves with the taqleed of their fore-fathers occurs a lot in the Qur‘aan. But if it is said: This is a censure of those who make taqleed of the unbelievers and the fore-fathers who did not understand anything, nor were they rightly-guided. This is not a censure of those who perform taqleed of the rightly-guided. Rather, there is an order to ask the people of remembrance - who are the people of knowledge - and this is taqleed of them; as Allaah said,

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Sooratun-Nahl 16:43]

So the reply to this is: That Allaah, the Most Perfect, censured those who turn away from His Revelation and instead do taqleed of their fore-fathers. This is the type of taqleed that the Salaf, as well as the four Imaams, were agreed as regards to it being censured and unlawful. As for the taqleed by one who strives hard in following what Allaah has revealed, but some portions of it are hidden to him and so he performs taqleed of one who is more knowledgeable in it, then this is praised and not censured; rewarded and not punished - as shall be explained later, if Allaah Wills, when mentioning the obligatory and permissible (types of) taqleed.” [18]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said,

“When a person reaches the age of maturity and discernment, it is upon him to intend to obey Allaah and His Messenger, wherever he may be. He should not be of those who:

When it is said to them: Follow what Allaah has revealed. They say: Rather, we shall follow what we found our forefathers following.” [Sooratul-Baqarah 2:170]

So anyone who turns away from following the Book and the Sunnah and obeying Allaah and His Messenger; turning (instead) to his own custom and habit (’aadah), or the customs and habits of his forefathers or community, is from the people of ignorance; liable to punishment. Likewise, in any issue, if the truth which Allaah sent His Messenger with is clarified to someone, but he then turns away from it to his customs and habits, then he is from those who are censured and liable to punishment. As for someone who does not have the ability to know the ruling of Allaah and His Messenger, and so follows one of the people of knowledge and Religion - knowing of no other view that is more preferable to it - then he is praised and rewarded; he is not censured for this, nor (liable to be) punished.”[19]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said,

“And that which the majority of the ummah are upon is that ijtihaad is permissible in general and taqleed is permissible in general. Ijtihaad is not obligated upon everyone whilst taqleed forbidden to them; neither is taqleed obligated upon everyone whilst ijtihaad forbidden. Rather, ijtihaad is permissible for the one who has the necessary skills and taqleed is permissible when ijtihaad cannot be performed. As for the one who has the skills to perform ijtihaad, is it permissible for him to do taqleed? About this there is a difference of opinion. The correct opinion is that it is permissible in cases where he is unable to perform ijtihaad; either due to the proofs being similar [in strength], or due to a time constraint in being able to perform ijtihaad, or due to the proof not being apparent to him. So in cases where he is unable, the obligation of ijtihaad is lifted from him due to the inability.” [20]

Ibn Taymiyyah also said in,

“As for the one who possesses the skills of ijtihaad, it is said: Taqleed is prohibited to him absolutely. It is also said: It is permitted absolutely. And it is said: It is permitted in cases of necessity; such as a time constraint in being able to derive a ruling. This view is the most balanced view.” [21]

Summarizing the Types of Taqleed: The Standing Committee of Senior Scholars of Saudi

Arabia - headed by Shaykh ’Abdul-’Azeez Ibn Baaz - was asked to explain the various types of taqleed and their rulings. So they said,

“As for its types, along with the ruling for each category, then it is as follows:-
[1] Taqleed by the one who has the skill to perform ijtihaad, to others from the scholars, after the truth has been made clear to him with confirmed evidences from the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). (In such a case) it is not permissible for him to perform taqleed in that which opposes the evidences or the ijmaa’ that has reached him.

[2] Taqleed by the one endowed with the skills of ijtihaad, to one other than him from the mujtahidoon, before he reaches a ruling with his [own] ijtihaad. Then it is not allowed for him to perform taqleed of others. (This is what) ash-Shaafi’ee, Ahmad and others - may Allaah have mercy upon them - held as their opinion; and it is the more correct view, due to his ability to arrive at a ruling by himself. Thus, he is responsible for performing ijtihaad in order to ascertain what the Sharee’ah has made him liable for, due to the saying of Allaah, the Exalted:

So fear and obey Allaah as much as you can.” [Sooratut-Taghaabun 64:16]

And due to what has been confirmed from the saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), “What I command you with, then do of it as much as you are able.” [22]

[3] Taqleed by the one who is not able to research into the evidences, nor derive rulings from them, to a scholar endowed with the skills of ijtihaad concerning Sharee’ah evidences. This is permissible, due to the saying of Allaah, the Most High, “Allaah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear. [Sooratul-Baqarah 2:286]

And His, the Exalted’s saying:

"Then ask the people of knowledge if you do not know." [Sooratun-Nahl 16:46]

As well as other texts similar to these, which indicate the lifting of difficulty and the protection of the one legally responsible (mukallaf) from straying with regards to the rulings and from speaking about Allaah without due knowledge.

[4] Taqleed of the one who opposes the Sharee’ah of Islaam; from the forefathers, leaders and rulers, due to partisanship, or the following of false desires. This is prohibited by consensus (ijmaa'). Indeed, many texts from the Qur‘aan and the Sunnah have been mentioned concerning this. Allaah, the Most High, said:

And when it is said to them: Follow what Allaah has revealed. They say: Rather we shall follow what we found our forefathers following. Even though their forefathers did not understand anything, nor were they rightly-guided.” [Sooratul-Baqarah 2:170]

Allaah the Most High said:

But no, by your Lord, they can not have faith until they make you the judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decision, but accept it with the fullest submission.” [Sooratun-Nisaa‘ 4:65]

And Allaah the Exalted said:

And it is not fitting for a Believer - man or woman - that when Allaah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should (thereafter) have any choice about that matter.” [Sooratul-Ahzaab 33:36]

And Allaah the Exalted said:

Let those who oppose the command of the Messenger beware, lest some trial should befall them, or a painful punishment be afflicted upon them.” [Sooratun-Noor 24:63]

And Allaah the Most High said:

Say: If you do indeed love Allaah, then follow me, Allaah will love you and forgive you your sins. [Soorah Aali-’Imraan 3:31]

And Allaah the Most High said:

Indeed Allaah has cursed the unbelievers and prepared for them a flaming Fire. In it they will abide forever, nor will they find any protector or helper. On the day when their faces will be turned over into the Fire, they will say: Oh if only we had obeyed Allaah and obeyed the Messenger. And they will say: Our Lord, indeed we obeyed our leaders and our great ones, and they misled us away from the right path. Our Lord, give them double torment and curse them with a tremendous curse. [Sooratul-Ahzaab 33:64-68].”

FORMS OF TAQLEED:

Firstly: What is meant by the term madhhab? Ibnul-’Uthaymeen - hafidhahullaah - said,

“Technically, madhhab means: The evidence-based opinion of a mujtahid which he died upon. If (at any time) he changed his opinion, his final opinion is (considered as) his madhhab...And know that when the scholars say: The madhhab of such and such, then one of two things is intended by this:- Firstly: The view of the individual (mujtahid). Secondly: The view of the juristic school of thought (i.e. the view of a body of scholars who ascribe themselves to a particular corpus of juristic rules and fundamentals, which has come to be representative of that school). It may even be that the Imaam, after whom the madhhab is named, actually holds a different opinion to the madhhab itself.” [24]

Secondly: Were these madhhabs in existence during the initial period of Islaam? Shaah Waliyyullaah ad-Dihlawee - rahimahullaah – said,

“Know that the people in the first and second century were not united upon the following a single particular madhhab. Abu Taalib al-Makkee said, “These books and collections are a later development, as is speaking in accordance with views people have formulated; giving verdicts according to the madhhab of a single person; taking his sayings and quoting them in every affair and only gaining knowledge of fiqh in accordance with his madhhab. This was not what the previous people of the first and second generations were upon.” [25] Rather the people were of two levels: the scholars (’ulamaa‘) and the lay people (’aammah). In issues of agreement about which there was no difference between the Muslims, or between the majority of mujtahids, then the ’aammah would follow the conveyer of the Sharee’ah (i.e. the Prophet). They used to learn the manner of performing ablution, the ritual bath, the rules of Prayer, zakaat and its like, from their fathers, or from the scholars of their land and then act upon that. If something unusual occurred, then they sought the verdict for it from any muftee they found, without specifying any juristic school (madhhab). Ibnul-Hammaam said at the end of at-Tahreer: They would at one time ask one muftee and then at another time a different one, not clinging to any single muftee.” [26]

Imaam ash-Shanqeetee said,

“As for the type of taqleed about which the later scholars differ with the Companions and others from those generations whose excellence has been testified to, then it is the performing of taqleed of one particular scholar, to the exclusion of all other scholars. This type of taqleed is not proven by the texts of the Book and the Sunnah, nor was it the view of any of the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) nor anyone else from the first three generations who excellence has been testified to. Likewise, it opposes the saying of the four Imaams (rahimahumullaah) since none of them held the view that it was binding to adhere to the saying of a single person to the exclusion of others, from all of the scholars. Rather, the taqleed of one particular scholar is an innovation of the fourth century...” [27]

Ibn Taymiyyah - rahimahullaah - also said,

“It has been established in the Book, the Sunnah and the ijmaa’ that Allaah the Most Perfect obligated upon the creation obedience to Him, and obedience to His Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). It is not obligatory upon this Ummah to obey any one specific person in all that he may command and prohibit, except the Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam); to the extent that the most truthful of this Ummah and the most virtuous after its Prophet (i.e. Aboo Bakr) said, “Obey me in what is obedience to Allaah. But if I disobey Allaah, then there is no obedience to me upon you.” [28] They are all agreed that there is no single person who is infallible in all that he may order or prohibit, except for Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). That is why more than one of the scholars have said, “Every person’s saying can be taken or left, except for Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam.” [29] And the four Imaams, may Allaah be pleased with them, all forbade the people from blindly following them in all that they may say; and this was an obligation upon them (to do).” [30]

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan - hafidhahullaah - was asked, ‘Is it permitted for someone who adheres to a particular madhhab in his acts of worship to move away from it and stick to another madhhab whenever he wishes Or is it binding upon a Muslim to stick to only one particular madhhab until he dies? And are there any differences between the four madhhabs as to how the Prayer is to be performed? What is the manner of the Prayer that has been recorded from the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam)?’

The Shaykh responded by saying, “The issue of sticking to a madhhab has in it some detail. If a person has the ability to know the ruling from its proof and to deduce the ruling from its proof, then it is not permitted for him to cling rigidly to one particular madhhab, rather it is upon him to take the ruling from the evidence if he has the ability to do so. However, this is rare amongst the people, since this is a quality of the mujtahids from the people of knowledge; those that have reached the levels of ijtihaad. As for one who is not like that, then he cannot take the rulings directly from the evidences; and this is the predominant case amongst the people, especially in these later times. So (in such a case) there is no harm in adopting one of the four madhhabs and making taqleed of one of them. However, he should not make blind taqleed such that he takes all that is in the madhhab, whether it is correct or incorrect. Rather, it is upon him to take from the madhhab that which, in his view, does not clearly oppose the evidence. As for those views in the madhhab which clearly oppose the evidence, then it is not permissible for the Muslim to take it. Rather it is upon him to adopt what is established by the proof, even if it is in another madhhab. So his leaving one madhhab for another madhhab, in order to follow the evidence, is something good. Rather it is obligatory, since following the evidence is an obligation. As for a person following one madhhab sometimes and following another madhhab at other times, then this (type of) shifting will open up the doors to the following of whims and desires and to the following of concessions, and this is not allowed.

What is meant (here) is that whatever agrees with his desires, from the views of the scholars, he adopts it; even though it may oppose an evidence; and that whatever does not accord with his desires, he rejects it; even though it may be proven by an evidence, then this is following desires - and Allaah’s refuge is sought from this. So the shifting from one madhhab to another in order to seek ease or convenience, then this is not permitted. As for moving from one madhhab because of following a proof and (because of) leaving that view which does not have a proof, or because of it being an error - then this is a matter that is encouraged and sought after from a Muslim. And Allaah knows best...” [31]

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan was also asked, ‘Is it permitted to have stringent allegiance to a school of thought (at-ta’assubul-madhhabee) such that a person follow it in each and every ruling, even if it opposes the truth? Or is it permissible to leave it and follow the correct view in certain situations? Also what is the ruling concerning the adherence to only one madhhab?’

The Shaykh responded by saying, “He who has the skill to perform ijtihaad, then taqleed is not permitted to him. He who does not have the skills, then he should perform taqleed of one who is more knowledgeable than him...” [32]

Shaykh Ibnul-’Uthaymeen - hafidhahullaah - was asked, ‘You mentioned - may Allaah reward you with good - that to rely upon the saying of just one person is an error and is harmful to the student of knowledge. So is it to be understood from this that one should not adhere or turn to a particular madhhab, in that which is difficult from the rulings?’

So he answered by saying, “If what is intended by sticking to a madhhab is that a person sticks to a particular madhhab and turns away from everything else; whether the correct view lies in his madhhab or another madhhab, then this is not permissible and it is from the blameworthy and bigoted partisanship. But if a person ascribes to a particular madhhab in order to benefit from its principles and guidelines, but he refers it back to the Book and the Sunnah; (such that) if it becomes clear to him that the preferred view lies in another madhhab and so he adopts that view, then there is no problem with this. The verifying scholars, such as Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah and others, were of this category; they were verifying scholars who ascribed to a madhhab, but did not oppose the evidences when it was made clear to them.” [33]

The Shaykh - hafidhahullaah - was asked, ‘We desire from the noble Shaykh, may Allaah the Exalted protect you, a clarification of the correct methodology in seeking knowledge of the various Islaamic sciences? May Allaah reward you with goodness and grant you forgiveness.’

After explaining the correct methodology of how best to seek knowledge of the Qur‘aan and its tafseer; the Sunnah; and the correct creed (‘aqeedah), the Shaykh then mentioned,

“Knowledge of Fiqh (Jurisprudence): There is no doubt that it is essential for a person to focus upon a particular madhhab; memorizing it and memorizing its fundamentals and its principles. However, I do not mean by this that we should cling to what the Imaam of this madhhab said, in the same manner as we cling to what the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said. Rather, (knowledge of) fiqh should be built upon this, whilst adopting the view of other madhhabs when the proof has been established as to the correctness of doing so; which was the way of the scholars who followed madhhabs, such as Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, an-Nawawee and others. This is because, in my view, those who take hadeeths without returning to what the scholars have written concerning their Sharee’ah rulings, you will see from them many escapades, even if they are strong in (the knowledge) of Hadeeth and its understanding. However, you will see from them many escapades, because of them being far from what the jurists (fuqahaa‘) have said.” [34]

The Shaykh - hafidhahullaah - was also asked, ‘What is the obligation upon the ’aammee who does not have the ability to seek knowledge?’

The Shaykh responded by saying, “It is obligatory upon one who does not possess knowledge, nor possess the ability to perform ijtihaad, to ask the people of knowledge; due to the saying of Allaah the Most High,

Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Sooratul-Anbiyaa‘ 21:7]

Indeed, Allaah the Exalted did not command that they be asked, except for the purpose of accepting their sayings; and this is taqleed. However, what is not allowed is the taqleed [whereby one] sticks to a particular madhhab; taking hold of it in every circumstance; believing this to be the path to Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic; and clinging to it even if it opposes the proof. As for the one who has the ability to perform ijtihaad; such as a student of knowledge who has acquired a huge portion of knowledge, then it is upon him to perform ijtihaad in [weighing up] the proofs and selecting what he deems to be correct, or what is closest to being correct. As for the ’aammee, or the beginner student of knowledge, then they should strive in performing taqleed of whoever is deemed to be closest to the truth; due to their copious knowledge and strength of Religion and piety.” [35]

The view of Shaykh al-Albaanee - hafidhahullaah - has been given by one of his most senior students, Shakyh Muhammad ’Eed al-’Abbaasee, who said whilst discussing the view of Shaah Waliyyullaah ad-Dihlawee,

“When we look at why ad-Dihlawee permitted taqleed of one madhhab, we see that he did so due to what had become prevalent in the later generations, with regards to blameworthy taqleed, prevalence of false desires and the severe weak resolve of the Muslims. So he - rahimahullaah - deemed that sticking to one of the four madhhabs entailed less harm and ignominy than the evils of leaving the people. He - rahimahullaah - said, “Indeed these four codified madhhabs which the ummah - or at least those whose opinions are worth considering - are agreed upon performing taqleed of up until our time, then in it lie certain benefits that are not concealed; especially in these times in which people's resolve have become greatly deficient, souls have become drunk with desires and every person is enamoured with his own opinion.” It is worth mentioning here, that this is the opinion of our teacher (i.e. Shaykh al-Albaanee) himself (hafidahullaah). Indeed, he has mentioned on more than one occasion that it is obligatory for the people in our time to begin learning fiqh by way of one of the four madhhabs; learning the Religion from its book. Then the next level in traversing the path of correct knowledge is to select a book from the books of the madhhabs that explains the evidences and clarifies the way of juristic inference (istinbaat); such as al-Majmoo’ of an-Nawawee, with the Shaafi’ees, or Fathul-Qadeer of Ibnul-Hammaam, with the Hanafees, or other than these. Then any view which becomes apparent that it is based upon a weak proof, or is an error in inference, should be left. The third level is that the books of the other madhhabs that (also) discuss the evidences and expounds the ways (of juristic inference), should also be looked into; so whatever is deemed correct from these books is to be adopted. The view of our Shaykh is that this is the correct and firm path that should be traversed in these times.” [36]

Shaykh ’Abdul-’Azeez Ibn Baaz - hafidhahullaah - was asked, ‘Does his eminence follow a (particular) juristic school of thought (madhhab) and what is your methodology concerning verdicts and proofs?’

The Shaykh responded by saying, “My madhhab in fiqh is the madhhab of Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal - rahimahullaah; not by way of taqleed but rather by way of following the fundamentals (usool) upon which he traversed. As for issues involving differences of opinion, then my methodology is to give preference to whatever the proofs necessitate and then give verdicts accordingly, whether this conforms to the Hanbalee madhhab or opposes it, since the truth is more deserving of being followed. Allaah the Mighty and Majestic said,

O you who Believe. Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger and those in authority amongst you. If you differ in anything amongst yourselves, then refer it back to Allaah and His Messenger, if you truly believe in Allaah and the Last Day. This is better and more suitable for final judgement.” [Sooratun-Nisaa‘ 4:59].” [37]

Similarly, Shaykh Muhammad Ibn ’Abdul-Wahhaab - rahimahullaah - said,

“If a person is learning fiqh from one of the four madhhabs, then he sees a hadeeth that opposes his madhhab; and so he follows it and leaves his madhhab, then this is recommended, rather it is obligatory upon him when the proof has been made clear to him. This would not be considered as opposing his Imaam that he follows, since they – Aboo Haneefah, Maalik, ash-Shaafi’ee and Ahmad - radiyallaahu ’anhum ajma’een - were all agreed upon this fundamental principle ... As for the case whereby a person does not have any evidence which opposes the view of the scholars of the madhhab, then we hope that it is permissible to act upon it, since their opinions are better than our own opinions; they took their proofs from the sayings of the Companions and those who came after them. However, it is not essential to declare with absolute certainty that this is the Law prescribed by Allaah and His Messenger, until the proof that is not contradicted in this issue is made clear. This is the action of the Salaf of this ummah and its scholars, both previous and present, as well as that which they criticized (which was): Bigoted adherence to particular schools of thought (at-ta’assubul-madhaahib) and leaving off following the proof.” [38]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah - rahimahullaah - said,

“When a Muslim is faced with a new or unusual occurrence, then he seeks a verdict from whomsoever he believes can give him a verdict in accordance with what Allaah and His Messenger have prescribed; whatever madhhab he may be from. It is not obligatory upon any of the Muslims to make taqleed of all the views of any one particular individual from the scholars. Neither is it obligatory upon any of the Muslims to cling to the madhhab of a specific individual, in all that obligates or informs, except for that of the Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). Rather, each person's saying can be taken or left, except for that of the Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). Following a particular madhhab of a particular individual, due to an inability of knowing what is prescribed as Law, from other than this angle, is from that which is permitted to him. It is not something that is obligatory upon every person, if they have the ability to know what is prescribed without taking this path (of taqleed). Rather, it is upon each person to fear Allaah as much as he is able and to seek knowledge of what Allaah and His Messenger have commanded; doing what has been ordered and keeping away from what has been prohibited. And Allaah knows best.” [39]

Two further discussions: Firstly: What if the layman lives in a place where there is no scholar, except for those of one particular madhhab? About this Shaah Waliyyullaah ad-Dihlawee - rahimahullaah - said,

“Upon this it is essential to draw an analogy about the obligation of performing taqleed of one particular scholar, which (at times) is obligatory and (other times) is not obligatory. Thus, if there is an unlearned, ignorant person in the lands of India, or the lands across the river, and there is no Shaafi’ee, Maalikee, or Hanbalee scholar present there; nor any of the books of these madhhabs - then it is obligatory upon him to perform taqleed of Aboo Haneefah’s madhhab. Indeed, it would be forbidden for him to leave it; since in this case he would be removing the yoke of the Sharee’ah from around his neck, remaining blocked and forsaken. This is contrary to if he was in the two Sanctuaries (al-haramayn).” [40]

Secondly: How are the statements of the four Imaams - in which they prohibited taqleed of themselves, but urged the people to take from where they took - to be understood? Dr. Sulaymaan al-Ashqar said about this,

“As for what is recorded from the four Imaams, as well as many of the other scholars from this ummah, who said the likes of the saying: “Do not do taqleed of me, nor do taqleed of Maalik, nor of ash-Shaafi’ee, but take from where they took,” then they are to in the context of their saying this to their students who were qualified to do so. Their saying was not directed at the lay people who are incapable of this.” [41]

Footnotes:

[1] al-Mustasfaa (2/385)

[2] al-Ihkaam (4/297)

[3] Adwaa‘ul-Bayaan (7/317)

[4] Fataawaa al-Lajnatud-Daa'imah lil-Buhoothul-’Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa‘ (5/123)

[5] Irshaadul-Fuhool (p. 265)

[6] Adwaa‘ul-Bayaan (7/318) of Muhammad al-Ameen ash-Shanqeetee

[7] Muntaqaa min Fataawaa (5/363)

[8] Adwaa‘ul-Bayaan (7/318-319)

[9] Jaami' Bayaanul-'Ilm (2/140) of Ibn ’Abdul-Barr

[10] al-Faqeeh wal-Mutafaqqih (2/68-69)

[11] From the words of the Shaykh, as occurs in al-Asaalah magazine (no. 8, pp. 76-78; Jumaadal-Aakhar 1414H).

[12] al-Faqeeh wal-Mutafaqqih (2/204) of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee

[13] Majmoo’-Fataawaa (33/168) of Ibn Taymiyyah

[14] I’laamul-Muwaqqi’een (4/264)

[15] al-Muwaafaqaat (4/131)

[16] Kitaabul-'Ilm (p. 215) of Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen

[17] Bid’ah Ta’assubul-Madhhabee (p. 13-14)

[18] I’laamul-Muwaqqi’een (2/161-162) of al-’Allaamah Ibnul-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

[19] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (20/225)

[20] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (20/203-204)

[21] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (20/212) of Ibn Taymiyyah

[22] Related by Muslim (1/68)

[23] Fataawaa al-Lajnatud-Daa‘imah lil-Buhoothul-’Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa (5/123)

[24] Sharhul-Mumti’ ’alaa Zaadil-Mustaqni’ (1/14-15)

[25] Qootul-Quloob (1/324)

[26] al-Insaaf fee Bayaani Sababil-Ikhtilaaf (p. 40) of Shaah Waliyyullaah ad-Dihlawee

[27] Adwaa‘ul-Bayaan (7/319-320)

[28] Saheeh: The narration from Aboo Bakr (radiyallaahu ’anhu) was related by Ibn Katheer in as-Seeratun-Nabawiyyah (4/439) where he said, “Its chain of narration is authentic.”

[29] This is derived from a statement by Imaam Maalik (d.179H)  - rahimahullaah, it was related by Ibn ’Abdul-Haadee in Irshaadus-Saalik (1/227), Ibn ’Abdul-Barr in Jaami’ Bayaanul-’Ilm (2/91) and Ibn Hazm in Usoolul-Ahkaam (6/145, 179).

[30] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (3/346-347)

[31] Muntaqaa min Fataawaa (5/365-366)

[32] Muntaqaa min Fataawaa (5/367-368)

[33] Sahwatul-Islaamiyyah (no. 50) compiled by Aboo Lawz

[34] Kitaabul-’Ilm (p. 114-115) of al-’Allaamah Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen

[35] Kitaabul-’Ilm (p. 219-220)

[36] Bid’ah Ta’assubul-Madhhabee (p. 112-113) of Muhammad ’Eed al-’Abbaasee

[37] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawwi‘ah (4/166) of Shaykh Ibn Baaz

[38] Durarus-Saniyyah (4/7)

[39] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (20/208-209)

[40] al-Insaaf (p. 49) of Shaah Waliyyullaah ad-Dihlawee

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