Download the entire book in PDF: The Concept of Taqleed in Islam
There is no doubt that the institution of Taqleed in every generation has acquired the rank and status of Ijma’. The history of Islam is testimony to this. This is the reason that whenever people have spoken against this important institution, they have been rejected and disowned. These rejecters have used the fake term “pure Tauheed” to hide their true irreligious beliefs but still, people have always rejected them. In the third century after Hijrah when the leader of the corrupt Zaahiriyah sect appeared, namely Abu Daud Zaahiri, he was publicly removed from the folds of the Ahle Sunnah wa Jamaah. In the fourth century, ibn Hazm rejected Taqleed and such was the anger against him that his books were set alight and he was even expelled from his own country. In the eighth century, people like ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Qayyim appeared and spoke against Taqleed and the Ulama present at the time, proved it clearly that these heretics were either insane or lacked any common sense whatsoever.
Even though reports about following an Imam were recorded properly in the second century, yet according to Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlwi, even from the time of the blessed Ashaab, Muslims were in the habit of following and accepting that Imam whom they felt confident in. This method among Muslims continued until the appearance of the four Mazhabs. If this was something which Muslims felt uncomfortable with, they would have certainly not acted in this manner.
(Aqdul Jayyid. 33)
As a matter of fact, the same Shah Saheb has mentioned that this institution of Taqleed seems to be a Divinely Inspired action. In the book, “Ghaayatul Insaaf” page 67, he writes, “In brief, to make Taqleed of an Imam is a secret which the Almighty has placed in the hearts of the Ulama”.
If one looks at the explanation of Shah Saheb, we will see that it summarises the complete story and background of Taqleed. For further elaboration on this subject, we can refer to the books of Asmaaul Rijaal and numerous other authentic books; such as Tahzeeb Al Tahzeeb, Tahzeeb Al Asmaa wal Lughaat Imam Nawawi, Tadkiratul Huffaaz, Taarikh Baghdad, Jaami’ul Bayaan wal Ilm wa Fadlihi, Miftaahus Sa’aada, Taarikh Al Khulafah by Imam Suyuti, Taarikh ibn Khalladun, Al Jawaahir Al Madeeyah etc. However, there are a few people who in spite of their claim that they accept Shah saheb, completely refute their words. This is the state of the ghair muqallid in the presented era. They make the false claim that from the first era until the fourth century, there was no such thing as Taqleed and this concept of Taqleed is a bid’ah of the fourth century.
However, in the manuscripts which we have presented, their argument is completely refuted. In fact, in these manuscripts, it is clearly mentioned that Taqleed did exist before this and people did follow a specific Imam of their era. In fact, some of the followers of these Imam were eminent scholars of their period as well and some even included various Qadis of that era. From the first period of Islam until the complete appearance of the four mazhabs, there were many Mujtahid Mutlaq who appeared and these eminent Imams were followed by the majority of Muslims. These would include Hadrat Imam Awzaa’i, Hadrat Imam Khuzaymah, Imam ibn Jareer al-Tabari and Imam Abu Thur to be specific. Allamah Burhaanuddeen Ebrahim bin Ali Maliki in his manuscript, Ad Debaaj Al Mazhab explains, “In Syria and Andulusia, the teachings of Imam Awzaa’i was dominant. However, two centuries later, his mazhab had disappeared. The Mazhab of Imam Malik became the dominant mazhab”.
The followers of Imam Hasan Basri and Imam Sufyan Thouri were not in large numbers and the taqleed of these eminent saints did not last very long. As for the taqleed of Imam Abu Thur and Imam Tabari, it also did not last very long, the mazhab of Imam Abu Thur disappeared in the third century and the taqleed of the latter disappeared at the end of the fourth century. After this, according to what has been explained by Shah Saheb, except for the four dominant mazhabs all other mazhabs vanished from the Islamic horizon. This is when it became accepted by consensus that Sawad Azam constituted of only these four Mazhabs. Anyone who separated himself from these four mazhabs was declared as someone who had left the folds of the Sawad Azam (Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah).
(Al Aqdul Jayyid. 38)
Substantiating this claim, Shah Saheb further elaborates, “The entire Ummah and the most eminent individuals of this ummah considered it permissible to declare the following of these four mazhabs as being part of Ijma’ and this has continued until the present day.”
(Hujjatullaah al-Baalighah. 1/23)
Allamah ibn Khalladun has also summarised this fact and had explained the wisdom behind this in great detail. In the Muqaddimah of his Tarikh, he explains that, “In various cities, Taqleed of the four Imams was something which was confined (to only the four Imams). As for those Imams who were followed previously, their followers also did not exist any longer. In this manner, the doors of dispute were also closed. Since there was also a danger that unqualified people would suddenly appear and claim to be Mujtahids, this door was closed when eminent Imams of their period also made it clear that they themselves did not have the qualification to make Ijtihad. They also clearly mentioned the difficulties of being able to do something like this. They themselves in spite of being eminent scholars also began to follow one of the four Imams.
They also felt that if one chooses an Imam today and then suddenly another Imam tomorrow, the religion itself would become a mockery. Therefore, until the present age, the only thing which continues is the continuous rerecording of established laws by these Imams and everyone has decided after careful analysis to follow his own Imam. As for those who claim to be Mujtahids in this era, their words and claims are considered as nothing but a joke since the Muslims have already established themselves as following one of the four Imams. Explaining the immense wisdom behind this, Shah Saheb also explains many reasons for this. None of these are issues which are hidden from a common man. He explains that, “In this era, the religious acumen of people has certainly decreased. People have also been overtaken by their carnal desires and every person is proud about his own personal opinion.”
(Hujjatul laahu Baalighah)
Ijithad and its preconditions
Some of the conditions which have been described by ibn Khalladun and Shah Saheb clearly prove to us that people are certainly not qualified to have the religious acumen to be Mujtahids. One of the questions which arises that what are those branches of knowledge that one needs to have which has made this such a difficult position to fulfil and because of this, the door of Ijtihad has been closed. In fact, so difficult is this position that some of the most eminent scholars and saints have also made it clear that they are unable to fulfil this position. The complete explanation to the immense knowledge which one needs to possess to be called a Mujtahid is clearly mentioned in books; such as Nurul Anwaar, Musallamuth Thabut, Fawaatihur Rahamut, At Tauzeeh wat Talweeh, Kitaab Al Milal wan Nahl, Minhaajul Usul etc. Among these books, there are five conditions which are explained and if one is able to study these conditions, it would certainly make it very clear that it is impossible for anyone except the four Imams to be able to fulfil any of these conditions.
The conditions of being a Mujtahid by Sayyidi Ala Hadrat – May Allah have mercy on him
The great Imam has also refuted the ghair Muqallid in his famous manuscript, “Al Fadlul Mauhabi fi Ma’ani idha Sahha al-hadeeth fa huwa Mazhabi”. In this masterpiece, the great Imam has outlined the various conditions which have to be met before a person is referred to as a Mujtahid. In fact, when we look at this manuscript, we will also come to realise the immense encyclopedic knowledge of this great Imam and yet be amazed to realise that in spite of this vast knowledge, he still considers himself a muqallid. The great Imam has outlined four conditions in this masterpiece. After presenting all of these conditions, the great Imam then presents the words of Imam Shaikhul Islam Zakariyah Ansari – May Allah have mercy on him – who states, “Where are these conditions and where are these people (who self proclaim to be Mujtahids)?” He then further warns people, “Be extremely cautious about refuting the statement or verdict of any of the Imams or claim that an Imam has made a mistake especially when you do not and cannot encompass all the testimony which is to be found in Shariah. One of the simple points to bear in mind is that if you cannot understand all the Arabic words and grammar and all the meaning of these words which entails the Shariah, then where is your status and this vast ocean of knowledge?”
(Al Fadlul Muhibi, page 14 from Mizaanus shariah atul kubra)
After explaining these four preconditions, Ala Hadrat – May Allah have mercy on him – further explains that, “If there is someone who fulfils these four preconditions, he still does not become a Mujtahid Mutlaq, he will only be considered as a Mujtahid of Mazhab. These would include such luminaries as Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Mohammed – May Allah have mercy on them – within the Hanafi mazhab. In spite of their immense knowledge, these giants of Islam are still the muqallid and followers of Imam Azam – May Allah have mercy on him. Even though, it seems that they differed with Imam Azam – May Allah have mercy on him – on certain issues, but the words of Imam Abu Yusuf – May Allah have mercy on him – clearly clarifies his humility, he states, “There has never been a moment when I differed with Imam Azam – May Allah have mercy on him – on a certain point and then pondered carefully on this and finally concluded that his opinion was something which created more salvation and success in the hereafter. Many times, I studied carefully a certain Hadith shareef and I always found that the great Imam knew much more than me about that Hadith shareef.”
(Al Fadlul Muhibi. 15)
Allamah ibn Aabideen Shami in the Raddul Muhtaar clearly explains that even the eminent jurists of Islam, besides being able to properly oppose any of the Imams (in their opinions), they could not even be able to explain which law or regulation is more acceptable or should be followed. Quoting the opinion of Allama ibn Kamaal Paasha he writes, “Imam Kabeer, Allamah Khasaaf, Imam Ajal Allamah Abu Jafer Tahaawi, Imam Abul Hasan Kharkhi, Imam Shamsul Aimmah Halwaani, Imam Shamsul Ulama Sarkhasi, Imam Fakhrul Islam Ali Bazdawi, Imam Fakhrudeen Qadi Khan, Imam Abu Bakr Razi, Imam Abul Hasan Quduri, Imam Buhaanudeen Maghinani none of these eminent scholars of Islam were able to dispute any rule or law either in Usul or Furuh.” (Al Fadlul Muhibi. 16).
Those individuals who oppose Taqleed should look at the list of these eminent Islamic scholars and certainly feel a little shame when they claim that they see no reason to be a Muqallid and they themselves are Mujtahids. All of this clearly proves to us that those eminent scholars of Quran and Hadith were fully aware of the difficulties of Ijtihad and therefore never made a claim of being a Mujtahid Mutlaq. They were certainly people who had fear for Allah Almighty in their hearts and that is the reason that they displayed humility and never boasted of being a Mujtahid. This is clear from the statement presented by Ibn Khaldun. We will present one more statement from Imam She’rani from his masterpiece “Mizaan Shariatul Kubra”.
As a matter of fact, one of the leaders of the ghair muqallids and spokesperson, Mia Nazeer Husain Dehlwi in one of his fatwah mentions about Imam She’rani in the following words, ‘Without doubt, that person who is fair will not doubt the status of Imam She’rani in his status of being a true Mujtahid’, the same Imam She’rani gives his opinion about being a muqallid. In the same masterpiece he writes, “It is waajib upon a muqallid to follow that which is prevalent in his mazhab. This has been the manner of the Ulama is every generation.” (An Nahyul Aqeed. 43).
The same Imam has also mentioned that even eminent scholars such as Imam Ghazzali, ibn Sam’aan etc were people who emphasised upon their students that they should follow on Imam and they also mentioned to their followers that if they exceeded their nominated Imam then they will have no excuse to present in front of the Almighty. (Al Fadul Muhibi. 41).
If one studies the history of Islam from the second century onwards, millions of Muslims have followed one of the four Imams. Ibn Khaldun in his Muqaddimah writes, “The followers of Imam Abu Hanifah May Allah have mercy on him are to be found in Iraq, Hindustan and various parts of Asia. Another scholar also admits that the majority of people belong to the mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifah May Allah have mercy on him. This would include Turkey, the Balkans, Russia and various other parts of the Arabia. However, people in certain parts of Syria, certain parts of Hijaz, Yemen, Africa, Java, Indonesia and Kurdistan follow Imam Shafi May Allah have mercy on him. Certain parts of the Western region and central Africa and certain parts of Egypt follow Imam Malik May Allah have mercy on him. There are people in certain parts of Arabia, Syria and certain Arab countries who follow Imam Ahmed bin Hambal May Allah have mercy on him.”
At the same time, if we have to list the eminent scholars in this region who are muhaddith, mufassir etc, it would be to numerous to mention. For a proper perspective, one needs to refer to Tabqaat Mufassireen, Tabqaat Al Muhadditheen, Tabqaat Al Fuqaha, Tabqaat Al Mu’arikheen, Tabqaat Hanafiyah, Tabqaat Shaafiyah, Tabqaat Hanaabilah, Ad Dibaaj Al Mazhab and many other historical material.
The opinion of the Ulama from the Indo Pak subcontinent in the matter of Taqleed.
If one looks at the history of this region, we will find that prior to the entry of the English into this part of the world, there was no such group as the ghair muqallid. This impurity and fitnah was deliberately brought into this region by the English. We will present a short brief on this. We have already presented the words of Shah Waliullah that he was indeed someone who considered himself as a Muqallid. In fact, he has also mentioned that through his spiritual insight, he was also able to determine that the manner of the Hanafi mazhab was something extremely laudable. In fact, in his book “Fuyuzul Haramain”, he writes, “I was informed by the Holy Prophet peace be upon him that the Hanafi mazhab is extremely laudable and is according to his Sunnah. This is also fully substantiated from the era of Imam Bukhari May Allah have mercy on him and (material) in this regard has also been compiled.”
This is the reason that he always supported the Hanafi mazhab and educated people on practising upon this mazhab. He also warned people about the hidden and apparent dangers of the ghair muqallid. In his book, Aqdul Jayyid, page 36, he writes, “There is great wisdom in adopting one of these four mazhabs and it also damages the ghair muqallid.” In fact in the writing of another famous scholar, namely Moulana Abdul Hayy Faranghi Maheli this is clearly to be seen. In one of his books, “Kitaab Al Asaar Al Marfuh fi Akhbaarul Mouduh”, he writes, “I swear by Allah Almighty that the fasaad of the ghair muqallid has become very famous. They are those people who call themselves the Ahle Hadith. Yet, what connection do these people have with the Muhadditheen. These people have also spread in Hindustan and other countries and through these people, the only thing which has spread is fitnah and fasaad. We make dua to Allah Almighty for protection against this fitnah. There is no doubt that Islam began with the poor and will return to the poor and for those who are in this state, there is glad tidings for them. Such mischievous people have appeared in the past, however, the rulers of Islam made sure that they removed them from the face of the earth. The fitnah of these people were destroyed. However, since there is now no Islamic government in Hindustan, this fitnah has become common and through this fitnah, great problems have been created for the Muslims”.
In fact, even one of the famous scholars of this movement, Mohammed Husain Bataalwi has also admitted that those who make the claim of being a Mujtahid Mutlaq and completely divorce themselves from being a muqallid, in the end they end us as people without religion. He writes further, “For nearly twenty five years I have seen that those who have no knowledge and yet completely reject a Mutajid Mutlaq and being a Muqallid, in the end they also greet Islam goodbye as well. There are also many other reasons why people have become kaafirs, murtads and faasiqs, yet one of the main reasons for people to become irreligious is to divorce themselves from being a muqallid.” (Khayrut Tanqeed. 6).
The history of the Indo Pak subcontinent we find that it was only through the power of the English that this fitnah was able to spread and take hold in this part of the world.
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