Regarding Taqlīd
Question asked by .
Answered by Tariq Haashmi

Would it not be prudent to follow one of the four famous jurists. Take for instance Abū Hanīfah. People have been at a consensus that he was an extremely learned and extraordinary scholar. They are of opinion that his rulings are something that should be taken without question not because these judgments and rulings of his were from him only, but because he was learned and capable enough to derive the correct ruling (Ijtihad) from the Qur’ān and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). So in essence, following him (or any one of the four imams), is actually equivalent to following the Qur’ān and Sunnah. These four imams have been tried and tested to be correct. And since no other person after the time of these four imams is thought to be capable enough to derive the correct ruling from the original source. So the safest way would be to blindly follow any of the four imams. I hope you get what I am trying to say.

Anyway, in conclusion therefore, following any of the four imams would be the best option and the safest way to salvation as opposed to following any other scholar or doing your own Ijtihad (because not everyone can do Ijtihad)? Please comment.


The basic argument you provided in favour of Blind Following is that all four of the Imams have been proved and accepted free of fault and that their rulings are tantamount to the Qur’ānic rulings itself. I am afraid I cannot agree with you on the point. No matter how learned any of these four Imams was he could not be declared absolutely fault free because of human limitations. This status is exclusive for the Messengers of God whose opinions regarding religious matters are guarded and corrected by the Almighty Himself. Had any or all four of these scholars had the status of being absolutely fault free they would not have differed on any one of the matters. All of them differed with one another and their students differed with them.

Sometimes we consider some person to be an authority in some discipline but another man comes up with better reasoning. A man cannot get to the ultimate level of knowledge in a particular field. Therefore you need to reconsider the statement that they were the only personalities capable of doing Ijtih#ad and that no other can get the status of being Mujtahid. How do you close the doors for others?

You write:

 And since no other person after the time of these four imams is thought to be capable enough to derive the correct ruling from the original source.

 How does common human thought get the status of Divine ruling. This thinking is the result of biased adherence to a particular school. God did not make guidance the subject of any one particular person. This thinking is contrary to the religious teachings of Islam. If we study the Holy Qur’ān we come to know that it teaches us not even to follow the Divine message blindly. It urges us every now and then upon using our intellect. It states that it was the great virtue of the companions of the Prophet (sws) that they would not fall over the verses of the Divine Book without understanding them and pondering over them.

The safe way would not be blind following and considering the wrong views of a cherished Imām to be true and declare the correct views of others to be wrong.  Rather than the safe way for lay men is to use intellect and weigh the reasoning the scholars give in support of their conclusions and follow the one that is most sound. Divine law cannot be in contradiction to the human intellect, basic moral values and the human nature. These are the abilities bestowed upon every human being. Therefore we need to consider the opinion held by the scholars and judge them on the basis of the above mentioned criteria. Thus, after having the various views analyzed we could come to a conclusion and follow the one that we consider to be most appropriate and in keeping with the spirit of the teachings and directives of the Sharī‘ah. Even after due care on our part, if the view we hold is erroneous we will not be held accountable as all we are required to do is to follow what we believe to be right. We should not in any case declare our own Imam free of error and should be ready to accept any counter view if found more sound then what we hold.

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