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

There is a famous opinion among people who are well known for their classical Urdu acumen that the famous Urdu poet Ghalib, (whose full name is Mirza Asadullah Khan) was someone who was born a century before his time. The reason that people say this is because many  of them are of the opinion that some of the things he mentioned in his poetry were way ahead of his time and hence, because of this, he remained a controversial figure his entire life. However, one century later, only now people are beginning to understand and appreciate some of his Urdu poems.


If this had to be applied to any religious scholar, then certainly Shah Waliullah Muhaditth Dehlwi May Allah have mercy on him would fit this description. He lived in India between 1116 until 1176. As we have said, people continued to praise him years after he had died and yet, the time for Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlwi May Allah have mercy on him has not yet seem to have arrived. Yes, many groups in India who claim to have started on the basis of Islam and Sunnah admit to his greatness and many of them also bring forward some of his words and statements to back their own perspective, yet, no one is fully prepared to accept him.


Everyone used his name and status to back their arguments in this own manner, but no one seems to be able to fully accept him into their ranks. This is applicable to that person who is a muqallid, a ghair muqallid, a sufi and salafi and whether the person is a Sunni or a non Sunni. It seems like everyone is playing the wait and see game with his name and his acceptance. There is no doubt that from the beginning his name was used in such a manner that it created doubt in everyone’s mind. There is a famous statement in Urdu which says, “The Mufti of Islam has branded me a kaafir, while the kaafir believes I am a Muslim.” In fact such was the controversy about his personality from the beginning that two groups fought over him.


Each felt that he supported them. However, it must be understood that he was considered a very learned scholar and due to this, there were a few statement of his which were completely misunderstood by a large segment of the Muslim population. At the same time, there was also plenty of propaganda against his name and sadly, most of this false propaganda was accepted without question. Sadly, also, the actual benefit that people would have been able to acquire from him was also lost. At the same time, certain false groups are still using his name to further their nefarious activities who if you look carefully have no real religious connection with him in the first place.


There have been three types of false propaganda against his name. They are:

  1. False books and writing attributed to him.
  2. False rumour and statements attributed to those books which he did write.
  3. A completely false façade presented on his actual belief.


A famous Ahle Hadith historian, Ghulan Rasool Mehr has also admitted that the book, “Al Baaghatul Mubeen” is a book which is falsely attributed to him. Allamah Shibli Numani and the famous Urdu scholar, Molwi Abdul Haq have also completely refuted another two books which are falsely attributed to him called, “Qurratul Ain fi Abtaal Shahaadat Al Husain” and Al Jannatul Aaliyah fi Manaaqib Mu’awiyah”. Another book falsely attributed to him is also “Qoul Sadeed”. Wakeel Ahmed Sikander has also made it clear that the book “Al Balaaghul Mubeen” was also printed by another corrupt sect in India. All of these five books are not found in the list of books which the famous scholar has written not has any of his students or mureeds ever mentioned the names of these books in any of their writings. In fact among the people who have written his biography, from Professor Yaseen Mazhar Siddique to Faqeer Mohammed Jhelimi none have mentioned any of these books.


Another important point to bear in mind that besides this attack on him, another dangerous factor which has affected his personality is the open and flagrant editing of his original works.  Some parts have been removed to suit the needs of a certain group and other points have been added to suit their own private agenda. Whether it is the famous “Hujjatul laahul Baaligha” the “Tafhimaat”, you will find many statements and points which are completely contrary to his original writing.


The third attack on him has been the complete misinterpretation of some of his original thoughts and this has created even more confusion in the minds of people. One of the examples of this devious methods was the statement of “Moulana” Mas’ud Ahmed Nadwi who compared Shah Waliullah as being the ibn Abdul Wahab of India. What words we can use to describe such ignorance and evil? Eminent messages which he presented in his books such as Fuyuzul Haramain, Anfaasul Aarifeen, Ad Durruth Thameen, Al Qolul Jameel, Al Intibah fi Salaasil Awliyah and Al Qolul Jalee fi  Zikr Asaarul Wali, all of these books, what common things do they have with a filthy piece of material like “Kitaabut Tauheed”? At the same time, a concerted effort was made to make it look like Shah Saheb had nothing to do with Sufis or Tasawwuf and yet when some of his writings were revealed, it shut most of these people  up who tried to make him look like an open enemy of sufis.


When they realised that this was not working, they then started to make a concerted effort to alter some of his writing and twist the meaning in such a manner which confused the ordinary Muslim. In one of his books called Al Qolul Jameel, Shah saheb has presented the great spiritual benefits of the names of the Ashaabe Kahaf and he had also mentioned that these were names which would protect a person against drowning, against theft and against fire etc.” However, to change the meaning and intent of these words, “Moulana” Syed Abul Hasan Nadwi saheb goes on to say that, ‘none of these were his writings before he went on his journey to the Haram shareef’.


At the same time, prior to uttering these words, he goes on to praise the great effort of reviving Islam by Shah Saheb. In other words, he wants to give the people the impression that Shah saheb only believed in these things prior to going to Mecca shareef and when he came back, his beliefs had changed. This is the manner in which they hoped to discredit him and also uplift the status of ibn Abdul Wahab. This was the actual and true intent in mentioning things like this. In fact, this was also warmly accepted by the religiously ignorant and they continued to use this method to dishonour him. Whenever they found something which did not suit their beliefs uttered by Shah shab, very quickly they mentioned that these were his statements before he visited the Haram.


Yet, people such as Doctor Mazhar Baqa and others have clearly proven that books like Al Qolul Jameel were actually written by Shah saheb after he had returned from the Haram shareef. In this evil manner of theirs, they wanted to make it look like the beliefs of Shah saheb was also the same as ibn Taymiyah and ibn Abdul Wahab. They also had the audacity of trying to place him in the same rank as ibn Qayyim and Shokaani so that he would look like a clear ghair muqallid in the eyes of the common masses. In fact, some idiots had actually gone so far as to state that he was the actual leader of the ghair muqallids in India. Yes, like certain scholars, there were a few issues in which he made his opinion very clear and obviously, this was taken over by his dis-tractors and more controversy was created through this. However, as we begin to look at his original writings, we will see that he was certainly someone who considered himself a genuine muqallid.


Even though he had written a number of manuscripts, for the sake presenting his real beliefs, we will present excerpts from three books namely, Hujjatul laahul Baalighah, Ghaayatul Insaaf and Aqdul Jayyid. What is important to understand is that the behaviour of Shah saheb was such that even before he left for the Haram shareef, he was a Hanafi and after he returned, he remained a Hanafi muqallid in all of these times. All of his students and family are unanimous in this regard. The famous ghair muqallid, Nawab Siddique Hasan says, “Shah Waliullah made his behaviour very clear that as far as Ijtihadi issues are concerned, he presents these in front of Quran and Sunnah and this is the behaviour of one who is a Hanafi.” Let us now look at the opinion of Shah saheb from one his books Aqdul Jayid in regards to supporting the act of taqleed. He writes in chapter three, “He had chosen steadfastly to remain on one of the four mazhabs and has also prohibited the act of divorcing oneself from any of them.”


The words at the beginning of this chapter are, “Bear in mind that to choose one of these four mazhabs is something based on wisdom and there is great evil in turning away from one of them and we will explain the reasons for this. The first reason is that there is Ijmah of the ummah in this fact that they have relied on the opinion of the past predecessors of Islam. In other words, the Taaba’een have relied on the Ashaab and the Taaba taba’een have relied on the Taaba’een. Another important point to bear in mind is that; the knowledge of the shariah is achieved through two methods. One is from the actual source and the second is from acquiring this from someone else. Obviously, the important point is the actual source (and once this is achieved), then the group after achieves this from the group before. At the same time, it is also important that we understand the manner of the initial people so that by accepting their opinion, we are not guilty of opposing them in their actions.”


The necessity of making taqleed of one of the Imaams has been explained by him in this manner, “The Holy Prophet peace be upon him has made it clear that we should follow the Sawade Azam and since besides the four mazhabs no other groups exist which were based on truth, following (the four mazhabs) would be following the Sawade Azam.”


In the Al Hujjah and the Al Aqd, in both of them, Shah saheb narrates a statement of ibn Hazam Zahiri in which it is mentioned that it is completely haraam to make talqeed and some people have tried to make this look like it is the statement of Shah saheb. In other words, they have also tried to make it look like he is also against taqleed. In fact, they have hidden the fact that Shah saheb had actually refuted this statement and even tried to prove who this statement belonged to. He continues, “the accusation of Ibn Hazam is baseless against that person who solely believes that the words of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him are pure religion and only considered those things as haraam and halal which the Almighty and His Prophet peace be upon him have made halal and haraam. However, since he is unaware of the actual meaning of these words and neither is he aware of the different statements in this regard and neither can he analyse this himself, hence he follows a rightly guided scholar and he believes that he is correct in his word and fatwah”


After making it clear to the common masses that making Ijtihad of the four Imams is Ijmah, he then makes it clear that following a person is clearly permissible. He says, “there is no doubt that the entire ummah or the large majority of the ummah have accepted the following of one of these four mazhabs and their laws as part of Ijmah. At the same time, the wisdom behind following these four groups is also not hidden. Especially in this time when we have really being pushed back. People have also become victims of their nafs and that person who follows his own personal wishes continues to do so.”


In fact, in one place, he actually considers following someone (one of the four Imams) as something which is Divinely inspired. He writes, “In brief, the taqleed of the Aimmah is such a Divine secret which the Almighty has revealed upon the Ummah and He also united them in this whether they understand this or not.” In the Aqdul Jayyid, he narrates from Imam Baghwi and says that, “That (person) who does not possess the qualities of Ijtihad, he has to make taqleed and this is waajib upon him”. He has also mentioned that taqleed was practised from the time of the Ashaab until the appearance of the four mazhabs and he has also mentioned that no self respecting person has ever refuted this taqleed. He says that if Taqleed was false, people would have objected to it and also refuted it.


In another place, he writes that Taqleed is such a natural phenomena whose permissibility is only unanimously accepted by this ummah and no one else. At the same time, he also writes that everyone has accepted this. The tragedy is that when certain people see these type of statements of Shah saheb, as we have said earlier, the only comment that make is that this was something he had mentioned prior to going to the haram shareef. However, a tragedy for them is that he has also left a writing for us which completely negates this claim. The book Fuyuzul Haramain which is obviously something which he wrote after visiting the haram shareef, hence the name of the book. In this book, he made a very clear and open statement.


At one point in this book he writes, “I became aware of three very important things through the spiritual grace of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him through which I have also changed my opinion about a certain point. Another important thing to remember is that the Holy Prophet peace be upon him gave me advice that I should follow one of the four mazhabs and that I should not divorce myself from them.”


From this point, we clearly come to realize if anything, that after returning from the haram shareef, Shah saheb became an even more staunch supporter of taqleed. Therefore, those who claim to follow him and accept his words, should do the right thing and obey his words and advice. In other words, they should at least become a muqallid like he became one and they should actually accept the same view of Tasawwaf which Shah saheb had mentioned in his books.


They should also stop calling these actions as shirk and bid’ah because they are actually directing this statement at Shah saheb himself. It is shocking that they would continue to accuse the Muslims and Shah saheb of committing shirk and bid’ah and yet they continue to make it public that they accept Shah saheb as one of their leaders. In fact, according to the words of Shah saheb, not only was he commanded to make taqleed of one of the four Imams, he admits that he was also informed about the special quality of Fiqh Hanafi.


He writes further, “The Holy Prophet peace be upon him informed me that the Hanafi mazhab is such a good mazhab compared to others because it is closer and more in keeping with sunnah and this was assimilated and compiled by Imam Bukhari May Allah have mercy on him and his companions.”


As far as common people in India is concerned, Shah saheb has advised them to follow the Hanafi mazhab and has made it clear that it is haraam to divorce oneself from this. In fact, he has also made it clear that to divorce oneself from this is actually divorcing oneself from the folds of Islam. He continues, “It is waajib upon him to follow and make taqleed of the mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifah May Allah have mercy on him and to remove oneself from this mazhab is haraam. The reason for this is because when he does this, then he removes the lock of shariah from around his neck and in this manner, he becomes a useless person.”


Even in the present time, there are many ghair muqallids who still believe that whatever type of muqallid Shah saheb was, he remained a muqallid and that whatever their teachers or elders may have taught them, none of this is true. In fact recently, the Shah Waliullah research under the Ulum Islamiyah Alighar and subsequently in the seminar held in this regard had unanimously agreed that Shah Waliullah was also a victim of false propaganda. They also agreed that if this was the beliefs of Shah saheb why was he a victim of these attacks and in fact, some people in this seminar also separated themselves from him when his true beliefs were mentioned.


However, this is only one side of the story and one of the key factors which we have proven is that indeed he was a muqallid. He used to also practise upon the Hanafi mazhab. Yes, there has also been concerted effort to make it look like he was a different type of muqallid. Whether this is true will be looked at in future pages but at this point, there are two important points to be mentioned.


  1. The first is that if Shah saheb did mention words which seemed like he objected to the normal manner of making taqleed, what has this to do with the ghair muqallid? In fact, what he did do was actually go against baseless laws and things which seem to contradict proper taqleed. He mentions, “The zaaheris are those people who refute Qiyas and the words and statements of the Ashaab and the Taaba’een. These would include people like Daud Zaahiri and Ibn Hazm.” In the Aqdul Jayyid after mentioning the names of Imam Baghwi and Imam Bahiqi May Allah have mercy on them as eminent jurists and muhaddith, he states, “These (muhaditheen and jurists) are certainly completely separate from those Zaaheri people of hadith who do not accept Qiyas, neither Ijmah. And these people, (the people of hadith belonging the Zaaheri sect) as also distanced from the past scholars of Hadith and were people who did not pay any attention to the words of the Mujtahideen.”


In fact, Shah saheb has also on a number of places have also commanded people to choose the company of the Muhaditheen who were jurists as well and has also commanded people to follow them and he has also advised that (one should) protect oneself from the ghair muqallid ahle hadith. He mentions further, “(Refrain from the company of) a jahil sufi, a jahil worshipper, those so called jurist who only create difficulty, those ahle hadith who worship only outwardly, those who insult (Islam) and the mutakallimeen. In fact, live as a learned Sufi who refrains from the world and is always looking at the Almighty. Someone who has a lofty status, someone who is attracted to the sunnah. That person who obeys the command of the Holy Prophet peace be upon him and the words of the Ashaab and also translates these words according to the established opinion of the jurists.”


In the At Tafheem he completely divorces himself from the friends of the Zaahiri cult and from the ghair muqallid sect and mentions, “That person is not from among us who separates himself from those Ulama who are true Sufis and they who have complete knowledge of the Quran and sunnah. Or he refrains from the company of that scholar who is fully aware of the laws of Tasawwaf. Or he refrains from the company of that muhaddith who has a wide and expansive knowledge of fiqh or he refrains from the company of the jurists who always looks at the hadith. As for those who are jaahil sufis and those who refute tasawwaf, both of them are thieves and robbers of religion and one should protect oneself against them.”


From these words, we can clearly see that the statements made on behalf of Shah saheb that he supported idiots like ibn Abdul Wahab or Ismail Dehlwi is certainly false. At the same time, when we see his statements and words, we will find that he used many of those Ulama who were muqallids. Yes, he did mention certain things about them differing in their opinions about certain fiqh issue among themselves which is a reality. As we have already mentioned in the different categories of Ijtihad, there were those who had the knowledge and the acumen to differ on certain issues but, nevertheless, all of them were muqallids of one of the Imams. Not one of them them had ever mentioned that they had divorced themselves from a being a muqallid.


When the ghair muqallids saw these words, they suddenly felt that they now had the opportunity to refute the idea of taqleed because even Shah saheb was questioning the idea of difference of opinion. Yet, they actually hid the background to the real discussion. They took some of his words and tried to empower their false opinion about taqleed and tried to use his status to back themselves. Bear in mind that this was a leaderless movement and they were looking for someone famous so that this would give credence to their claim.


Another important point which must be noted as we have already mentioned is that, if these people were brazen enough to alter some of his statements in his books and also falsify some of his words, imagine the number of books they could have written and attributed this to him. We have already proven that from the three books attributed to him none are his books.


Another important point to bear in mind is that these changes to some of his writings were certainly not the work of a single person. We can safely say that this was work of an entire group of people. Therefore, we can safely conclude two things, the first is that certain of his material were changed and secondly, it seemed to have been changed by people who certainly did not agree with Taqleed or Sufism. In other words, these were those people who felt that taqleed and sufism were nothing but new and evil inventions in Islam.


Therefore, it is vitally important that when we look at some of the books which are being circulated around the world which is rumoured to have been written by this person, we should bear in mind the advice which has been given in this article. There is also no doubt that the ghair muqallid has the resources of the rich corrupt Arab countries to completely change whatever they wish and have it mass printed. Hence, all the more reason that we should first make the book into a Sunni and then read this book or article.