Download the entire book in PDF: The Concept of Taqleed in Islam

When we speak about the nature of man and when he says to himself that I am following someone, then his inner being feels lowly. In other words, a person would ask, shall I become the follower of someone else or should I be the leader? On the other hand, if I say to myself that the Mujtahid whom I am following is someone who had made mistakes, then these lies will not sit very well. In today’s world, this is the inner war which seems to be taking place. That person who does not feel insult in following anyone, he will happily follow an Imam.


As for that person who feels insulted by this, he will never feel like following an Imam. Another reason that this topic seems to have become a contentious issue is that the true meaning of Ijtihad and Taqleed has not been properly understood by people. The muqallid would accuse a ghair muqallid and vice versa. In other words, a person would say that since Fiqh is something which is set in stone, there will be no changes and we should accept blindly whatever the great Imam have said. As for the ghair muqallid, he is on the opposite side of the road. He feels that nothing should be accepted of the Imams and that he is free to do whatever he wishes and decides.


Bear in mind that one of the meanings of Ijtihad is to search the Quran and Ahadith and to come up with a proper solution. This can be clearly seen from the hadith of Hadrat Sayyiduna Mu’az bin Jabal May Allah have mercy on him where he clearly mentioned that he will use his own intellect to find a solution. One of the important lessons which should borne in mind is that if there are issues which face us in the modern world, we should look for solutions for this in the Quran and Sunnah. If we look at the Quran and Sunnah, there are numerous laws which can be found. However, which is Fard, which is Waajib and which is Mustahab is something which we have to ponder on. There has to be a set of rules which is able to help us in this regard. Those who do not seem to understand the meaning of Ijtihad are sometimes stuck in this time zone.


As we have also stated that Islam is a religion of fitrat and therefore, answers in this religion will always be found until the day of judgement for every question we have. This is not only applicable for the early period of Islam but for all generations to come in the future. Bear in mind that there are many things which we see in front of us and yet we take this for granted. For example, the Quran has called itself the Quran but where in the Quran has it commanded us that we should gather this in one book? If we look at the Sahih Bukhari shareef, where in the Quran and Hadith are we commanded to show respect towards it?


Yes, the mind of a Muslim has adopted this and Muslims in the large have accepted this without question. If we look at it, we would certainly be considered as people without any intellect if we say that we only respect the Quran which was revealed on the Holy Prophet peace be upon him and not the Quran which was compiled by Hadrat Sayyiduna Uthman May Allah have mercy on him. In like manner, if someone says that he would not like to read the Quran because it contains harakaat like Zabar, Zer, Pesh because this was invented at the instruction of Hujjaj bin Yusuf, people will certainly give him a strange look.


In like manner, it is my opinion that Ijtihad and Taqleed which is to follow a certain mazhab is not something which can be substantiated directly from the Quran and Hadith and yet, at the same time, it cannot even be said to be separate from the Quran. The conditions of the time demanded that there be Ijtihad and the greatest scholars of their era fulfilled that need. However, if we find someone who says that he is not prepared to follow anything which is not found in the Quran and Sunnah or if he says that he is not prepared to accept the Ijmah or the sunnah of the pious predecessors of Islam, then we can safely say to him that he will never be able to practise on the Quran and neither the Hadith. Bear in mind that Islam has always given people the opportunity to have good and pious thoughts first.


The Holy Prophet peace be upon him has advised us to have good thoughts about a Muslim. This is a very important fact of Islam. If we then start to doubt everything which is found in the books of Islam which has been written by the greatest scholars of Islam, then sooner or later, people will even start to doubt the Quran and sunnah. In fact, real Islam will become something which is always in doubt.

After reading through these words, we ask the question, who did the Ashaab make Taqleed of? Where is there mention of Talqeed in the Quran and Sunnah? Who did the Mujtahid make taqleed of? When the Quran and Sunnah is present, why should we follow any Imam? Many of these questions would become very difficult to answer if we continue to display doubt in the source material of Islam.


Yes, we may ask the question, was it necessary to make Ijtihad and was it necessary for the Ummah to be become muqallids of some Imam? These are important questions and it is important for us to look at it from all directions. The reason for the importance of these questions is because there have now appeared in this world those who believe that there is no need for the Ahadith and there is also another group who believe that only the Quran and Sunnah should be accepted and nothing else. Therefore, it is not only important to answer the questions of those who object to been a muqallid but we also have to be able to answer their questions in this regard.


What was the need for Ijtihad?

One of the main intentions of Ijtihad was to search deeply in the Quran and Sunnah and to find out the true meaning or implication of a certain issue. And after analysing this, to make Qiyas and find a solution. Bear in mind that Taqleed is as old as Islam itself. There are numerous examples in the Ahadith where eminent Ashaab made a decision and this was accepted and followed by other companions. If we look at the Quran, we will see that alcohol has been banned in the Quran and been declared as Haraam. However, if a person becomes guilty of this crime. What should be done to him?


This is not mentioned in the Quran! When this was discussed between Hadrat Sayyiduna Umar and Hadrat Sayyiduna Abdur Rahman bin Auf May Allah have mercy on them during the era of the former, it was decided that this person be given eighty lashes. In other words, the least amount of lashes which is stipulated in shariah would be given to this guilty person. When Hadrat Sayyiduna Abdur Rahman bin Auf May Allah have mercy on him searched the entire Quran, he found this to be the lowest form of punishment. And this was stipulated as the punishment for a person found guilty of drinking alcohol. In other words, in the Quran and Sunnah, there is nothing which is lessor than this. The other Ashaab also accepted this decision.


Therefore, if we had to clarify this, we can say that this was the Ijtihad of Hadrat Sayyiduna Abdur Rahman bin Auf May Allah have mercy on him and the rest of the blessed Ashaab were muqallids! This was also accepted by Hadrat Sayyiduna Umar May Allah have mercy on him and the same instruction was sent to all the governors of the different regions.


Through this, Ijtihad became a specialist field in which a person is able to delve deeply into the Quran and Sunnah. The person who actually became a master in this field and is said to be founder of this branch of knowledge which is called Ijtihad is Imam Abu Hanifah May Allah have mercy on him. In other words, he made this into a deeply qualified faculty. After him there were many others who appeared and practised upon this. Obviously, they themselves were scholars who were learned in Islam. There was a special set of rules which were laid out. It was also mentioned that these would only pertain to those issues which were not specifically mentioned in the Quran and Ahadith.


We are obviously talking about the actual inception of Ijtihad as a specific faculty. Obviously as we have already seen, it was performed during the time of the blessed Ashaab, but we are now talking about taking this faculty and making it into a specialist field. There were also certain people who objected to this and felt that this was going against the Quran and Sunnah. In spite of this, there were many eminent scholars who participated in this and at the same time, there were many who objected to this faculty. At the same time, it must be remembered that this was not the name of merely following any Imam for the sake of following an Imam.


Rather, the issue was that since a certain set of rules of a certain Imam was preferred, hence Muslims decided to follow that Imam. In like manner, the people who are ghair muqallids are also people who can be considered as muqallids without them realising it because they also completely and totally accept the opinion and views of their leaders. In fact, whatever proof and testimony these leaders of the ghair muqallid movement have presented, the people who are followers of their leaders have completely accepted all of this. This is the same state with those who are muqallids, they also completely accept the views and opinions of their specific Imam without question. The muqallid believes that whatever his Imam has mentioned is also according to the Quran and Sunnah. They also believe that the statements and opinions of their Imam is also fulfilling the needs of the Quran and sunnah.


As for the common people, they will come to know about all of this from the people of knowledge. In fact, there is no way that anyone can run away from the learned. Now the question which arises is; why was there a need for Ijtihad? We can understand this very easy if we place two examples in front of us.


During the time of the blessed Ashaab, the only person they looked at for guidance and the way forward and was the blessed being of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him. The person who acquired the most knowledge from him was considered as the most learned. In that period there was no specialists faculty in which only the Quran was taught separately, the Hadith separately etc. All branches of knowledge was attained from the blessed Prophet peace be upon him himself. Those who approached him, took whatever they could and left. The knowledge that was given to the blessed companions was something which could be considered total comprising different faculties. One companion was learned in Quran and also learned in hadith and various other branches of knowledge.


There was no specialist field that they sought. However, when the Holy Prophet peace be upon him left this world and the blessed companions also began to leave this world, there was now a great need to start recording this knowledge because very soon these companions would also leave the world. Some scholars specialised in amassing the various Ahadith, some began to specialise in Quran, some in Asmaa’ul Rijaal etc. At that time also, the need for a set of Islamic laws also became a necessity. It was then that Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence needed to be outlined and set out. All of this was certainly considered as bid’ah and even though this was bid’ah, the ummah felt a great need for this. In the present era, if we start to call everything Bid’ah, it would actually effect the very foundation of Islam and not only Ijtihad and Qiyas.


The question which arises is; Was Imam Bukhari May Allah have mercy on him not a Mujtahid and was Imam Azam May Allah have mercy on him not a Muhaddith? These types of thoughts can only enter the mind of that person who does not understand the meaning of specialisation. The reason that this confusion has arisen is because of the Western culture which has affected us. It must be remembered that the speciality of Imam Bukhari May Allah have mercy on him and others like him was different in the field of Ahadith and the speciality of Imam Azam May Allah have mercy on him and the other Imams in the field of Fiqh and Ijtihad were also different.


Is Taqleed necessary or not? by Professor Doctor Mohammed Mas’ud Ahmed May Allah have mercy on him. (complete).


There is no doubt that Taqleed is something which is necessary upon every human. A Muslim is also someone who has to practise upon Taqleed. In every department of our life, we find that people are always following someone else in whatever they are doing or practising upon. We will enumerate this in a point format.


  1. The Holy Prophet peace be upon him has stated that, “I am leaving two things with you and if you hold fast to them, you will never be misled. They are the Quran and Sunnah.


  1. The Quran was already compiled in the time of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him and this continued to be compiled in a book form in the time of first and third leaders of Islam. It also reached many parts of the Muslim empire during the time of Hadrat Sayyiduna Umar May Allah have mercy on him. In the same manner, the issue of the Ahadith, they were also collated and compiled into various books and then distributed through the Ashaab to many other people after them. At the same time, not every companion was so learned to give an Islamic ruling and they relied on those more learned to give them advice. In other words, they also performed taqleed of others without any question. It is mentioned that the Islamic ruling left behind by Hadrat Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Abbas May Allah have mercy on him numbered about twenty volumes. At the same time, we have also been commanded in the Quran to ask those who have more knowledge. Hence this also continued over the ages.


  1. The sahaba made the taqleed of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him and the Taaba’een made their Taqleed etc. If we look at the eminent scholars who appeared later on, we will see this clearly. Imam Bukhari May Allah have mercy on him who was an expert in the scinece of hadith, was a muqallid of Imam Shafi May Allah have mercy on him. Ibn Maja May Allah have mercy on him was a Maliki, Imam Tahaawi May Allah have mercy on him was a Hanafi etc.


  1. Those Aimmah which the world follows until the present were spread from the first century to the third century.


  1. All of these source materials in Islam was placed in front of the Aimmah and it was through them that the laws of Islam were formulated.


  1. For someone to believe that the Aimmah were not fully conversant with the Ahadith is pure stupidity. There is no basis in this claim. Every issue was thoroughly investigated before any ruling was made.


  1. Some of the earlier Muslims were specialist in certain fields, but the Aimmah were specialist in all the fields of Islam and they were also surrounded by various other experts in their respective fields. If we had to look at the Ahadith collection of the various Imams, this would become clear and apparent.


  1. Imam Abu Hanifah May Allah have mercy on him was one of those Imams who had met many eminent Ashaab and had acquired immense knowledge from them.


  1. After he had completed this task, over eighty thousand issues lay in front of him and this was then collected in many volumes. At the same time, when he had completed this task, he called a special meeting of his students and the masses and gave them a stern warning. He advised them among other things:


  1. I request you never to waste or disgrace this knowledge.
  2. A person who is a judge, should make sure that he is pure internally and externally.
  3. Those who have become judges should also make sure that the common person has access to him.
  4. If a ruler displays transgression, you should refrain from his company.


If a person wishes to achieve success in this world and the next, then he has to make sure that he is within one of the four mazhabs. Anyone who leaves this blessed group actually separates himself and enters the fire of hell. We make dua that the Almighty always protect the four mazhabs who are another name for the Ahle Sunnah wa Jamaah.