THE CONCEPT OF TAQLEED

AND ITS PRINCIPLES BASED ON THE GLORIOUS QUR’AN

 

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.  All praise is due to Allah, the Most High, and peace and blessings of Allah be upon His beloved messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions.  Ameen.

 

What is Taqleed?  In Islamic terminology, Taqleed is the following of the opinions of any one of the four Schools of Thought viz. Hanafi, Shafe'i, Maliki, Hanbali.

 

The Hanafi School was founded by Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) and has the largest following in the Muslim World.

The Shafe'i School was founded by Imam Muhammad bin Idrees Al-Shafe’i    (Rahmatullahi Alayhi).

The Maliki School was founded by Imam Malik bin Anas (Rahmatullahi Alayhi).

The Hanbali School was founded by Imam Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal (Rahmatullahi Alayhi). 

May the choicest mercy of Allah be upon them all.  Ameen.

 

The main purpose of the Religion of Islam is to obey Allah alone in all spheres of our lives.  It is incumbent and obligatory upon all Muslims to follow our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) because he interpreted and practised the commands of Allah completely and in great detail.  By obeying the Messenger of Allah we are in fact obeying the commands of Allah.  It is for this very reason that Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an:

WHOEVER OBEYED THE MESSENGER, HE HAS INDEED OBEYED ALLAH.  (Surah An-Nisaa: 80)

 

Therefore, if a person claims to be obeying the commands of any other person besides Allah, then he is in complete error and is not fit for the title of 'Muslim'.  The question may then be asked: Why then should we make Taqleed?  We follow the teachings of the Islamic Jurists (Fuqaha) solely with the belief and intention that because they were very obedient to the laws of the Shari’ah, their teachings will also conform to the Shari’ah.  We follow their teachings with complete trust in them for their immense knowledge, understanding and insight into the Qur’an and Ahaadith. Thus, following the teachings of any one of the four great Imam (Fuqaha) will essentially be following the Shari’ah.  The only 'abnormality' being that we have made the great Imams our mediators.  But this is the price we have to pay because of our lack of those qualities, both intellectual and spiritual to understand the real essence of the Shari’ah.

 

Those self-proclaimed 'scholars' who interpret the Quranic verses incorrectly according to their own limited knowledge and imagination and underestimate the Ahaadith will never be able to follow the Shari’ah in reality.  They instead, being deficient in the necessary qualities and morals, will be guilty of the heinous crime of following their own lowly desires.  Their claim to follow the Qur’an in this state will be useless.   Instead of being guided aright, they will be led astray.   As Allah says:

BY IT (i.e. THE QURAN) HE CAUSES MANY TO GO ASTRAY AND BY IT MANY HE LEADS ONTO THE RIGHT PATH.  BUT HE CAUSES NOT TO LEAD ASTRAY EXCEPT THE EVIL ONES.   (Surah AI-Baqarah: 26)

 

The following of one's lowly desires and deliberately making mischief is highly condemned by Allah in the Qur’an.  To quote a few verses, read the following wherein Allah says:

AND HE FOLLOWED HIS LOWLY DESIRES, THEN HE IS SIMILAR TO THE DOG.  IF YOU ATTACK HIM HE LOLLS OUT HIS TONGUE OR IF YOU LEAVE HIM ALONE, HE (STILL) LOLLS OUT HIS TONGUE.         (Surah AI-A'raaf: 116)

 

In another verse, the following of one's lowly desires is compared to a form of idol worship.  Allah says:

HAVE YOU NOT SEEN HIM WHO HAS TAKEN FOR HIS GOD HIS LOWLY DESIRES.   (Surah Al- Jaathiya: 23)

 

In another verse Allah says:

AND DO NOT FOLLOW THE LOWLY DESIRES AS IT WILL LEAD YOU ASTRAY FROM THE PATH OF ALLAH.  (Surah Saad: 26)

 

Nevertheless, the permissibility or perhaps the necessity (wujoob) of TAQLEED (i.e. following the teachings of the Islamic Jurists) is evident from the Holy Qur’an itself. How then can such an act be SHIR-K.  Those who say so have not studied the Qur’an thoroughly.  It is only a claim that they are Quranic Scholars.  Let such so-called Quranic scholars ponder over the following verses of the Holy Qur’an wherein Allah says:

IT IS NOT DESIRABLE THAT ALL OF THE BELIEVERS TAKE THE FIELD (IN TIME OF WAR).  FROM WITHIN EVERY GROUP IN THEIR MIDST, SOME SHALL REFRAIN FROM GOING FORTH TO WAR, AND SHALL EXERT THEMSELVES IN ACQUIRING A DEEPER KNOWLEDGE OF THE RELIGION.  AND TEACH THEIR HOME COMING BRETHREN SO THAT THEY TOO MIGHT GUARD THEMSELVES AGAINST EVIL. (Surah AI-Tawbah: 122)

 

The verb FAQIHA means to comprehend or understand. Therefore FIQH means comprehension.  It is for this very reason that FIQH is the name given to the whole science of Islamic Jurisprudence because it implies the exercise of intelligence in deciding a point of law not specified explicitly in the Qur’an or the Prophetic Tradition.  The very permission of exercising one's intelligence is granted by Allah, the Most High, in the verse just quoted above.  This verse shows us the very essence and principle of FIQH.

 

In the verse just quoted above, Allah uses the words LI-YATAFAQQAHOO FID DEEN meaning 'so that they shall exert themselves in acquiring a deeper knowledge of the Religion'.  Allah the Most High did not use the words LI-YATA’ALLAMUD DEEN meaning 'so that they shall acquire the knowledge of the Religion'.  But Allah uses the word TAFAQQUH instead of TA'ALLUM.  This is not an accidental usage of  words.  It is used specifically to convey the message to men that mere acquisition of Islamic knowledge is not enough because this task is and has been done by many Jews and Christians, Satan acquiring the most of it.  What Allah is emphasizing here is the exertion of one's self in the understanding and comprehension (Fiqh) of the knowledge of our Religion.  This is what is meant by the word TAFAQQUH and it is this word from which FIQH is derived.

 

Another point worth noting is that Allah did not use the words LI-YAFQAHOO FID DEEN i.e. to understand the Islamic Religion. But instead he used the more emphatic LI-YATAFAQQAHOO FID DEEN i.e. to exert oneself with all efforts to understand the Islamic Religion.  This means that we should exert ourselves and use our intelligence to understand from the Islamic education that all our speech and actions will be accountable on the Day of Resurrection.  We should exert ourselves in understanding how we should spend our life on earth in view of our accountability. This is what is meant by the word TAFAQQUH.

 

Thus, it must be emphasized that TAFAQQUH was the very basis on which the great Islamic Jurists (Fuqaha) worked, and it was on this very basis that the enormous wealth of Islamic Jurisprudence came into being.  That is why it is called FIQH.

 

In another verse of the Quran, Allah the Most High says:

AND IF THEY WOULD BUT REFER IT UNTO THE MESSENGER AND UNTO THOSE FROM AMONG THE BELIEVERS WHO HAVE BEEN ENTRUSTED WITH AUTHORITY, SUCH OF THEM AS ARE ENGAGED IN OBTAINING INTELLIGENCE WOULD INDEED KNOW.  (Surah AI-Nisaa: 83)

 

Specifically this verse refers to the information received about peace treaties and wars.  The Muslims are ordered to refer the information to the Holy Prophet and to those who are in authority so that they could give the correct meaning and interpretation of the information.  Generally, this verse applies to the great Islamic Jurists (Fuqaha) who have explained and given many inner meanings and interpretations of the verses of the Qur’an, and have deduced laws based on the spirit of the Qur’an and Ahaadith.

 

In yet another verse, Allah the Most High says:

AND FOLLOW THE PATH OF THOSE WHO TURN TOWARDS ME.  (Surah Luqman: 75).

 

Once again the concept of Taqleed is explicitly mentioned here.  Did the great Islamic Jurists (Fuqaha) not turn towards Allah?  How then can following the teachings of such learned scholars be SHIR-K?  Let those who say so read the Holy Qur’an with a clean and open mind free from all types of jealousy and hatred for the illustrious Jurists and Ulama of Islam.

 

Allah the Most High again says:

0 YOU WHO BELIEVE!  OBEY ALLAH AND OBEY THE MESSENGER AND OBEY THOSE FROM AMONGST YOU (BELIEVERS) WHO ARE ENTRUSTED WITH AUTHORITY.  (Surah AI-Nisaa: 59)

 

In this verse, Allah has commanded us to obey Him, His messenger and even the Muslim rulers or Caliphs provided they rule by the bounds of the Shari’ah.  In this un-Islamic age of ours with many western-orientated scholars, can we include them in the category of those entrusted with authority?  Is it not better and safer to include the Islamic Jurists (Fuqaha) and follow their teachings than to follow today's westernized 'Satanic Scholars' who are influenced by the whispers of Satan?

 

In another verse Allah the Most High says:

AND FOLLOW THE CREED OF IBRAHEEM WHO TURNED AWAY FROM ALL THAT IS FALSE.  (Surah Ali-Imraan: 95).

 

Allah the Most High also says:

AND WE MADE THEM LEADERS WHO USED TO GUIDE OTHERS BY OUR COMMAND, AND WE INSPIRED THEM TO DO GOOD WORKS.     (Surah AI-Anbiya: 73).

 

For the prophets to be leaders, others had to follow them as is evident from the verses just quoted above.  Here again the spirit and principle of Taqleed is evident. Therefore, whatever Allah the Most High allows us to do can never be regarded as SHIR-K.   Let this be clearly known to the so-called ‘Quranic Scholars’.

 

Thus, we have seen from some of the many verses of the Holy Qur’an that TAQLEED i.e. following the teachings of one of the great Islamic Jurists viz. Imam Abu Haneefa, Imam Shafe'i, Imam Malik or Imam Hanbal, is completely in accordance with the spirit of the Holy Qur’an.  Let us not be misled by such mischief-makers who like to cling to their lustful desires and create FITNAH and confusion amongst Muslims.

 

Finally, it must be emphasized that the main sources of Islamic Law, in order of their priority, are as follows:

 

1.       The Glorious Quran

2.       The Sunnah (i.e. the authentic traditions of the Holy Prophet)

3.       Ijma'  (i.e. the consensus of opinion of the illustrious companions of the Holy Prophet on certain specific matters in Islam)

4.       Qiyaas (i.e. judgement upon juristic analogy)

 

The enormous wealth of Islamic Jurisprudence came into existence via the last source i.e. Qiyaas.  What is Qiyaas?  Imam Muhammad bin Idrees AI-Shafe’i (RA) very clearly explained it in his famous book called Al-Risaalah as follows:

 

"For every issue concerning a Muslim, either there is a binding text (in the Qur’an and Ahaadith) that rues it, or there is a guidance that indicates the way to the truth.  If there is a text, then the Muslim has to follow it.  In the case where there is no text directly applicable, then he has to seek guidance to the truth by way of Al-Ijtihaad. Al-Ijtihaad is Qiyaas."

 

May Allah the Most High guide us all on the Right Path.  Ameen.

 

Abdul Haq Abdul Qadir

Umhlanga Rocks, KZN

South Africa