TAQLEED ACCORDING TO THE SAHAABAS

(May Allah be pleased with them all)

 

All praise is due to Allah, the Most High, and blessings be upon His Beloved Messenger Muhammad.  Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam.  Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family and all his companions.  Ameen.

 

TAQLEED is the following of a specific Jurist (Faqih) in matters of Religion not explicitly dealt with by the Qur’an and the Ahaadith.  In the present age, it is normally referred to the following of the opinion and ruling of any ONE of the four well-known Schools of Islamic Law namely Hanafi, Shafe'i, Maliki and Hanbali.

 

In my previous article 'TAQLEED AND ITS PRINCIPLES BASED ON THE HOLY QURAN', with the help and guidance of Allah, I proved that TAQLEED was necessary and that it was completely in accordance with the Divine Will as contained in the Glorious Qur’an.   Here I will suffice it to say that even in the opening chapter of the Qur’an, Allah defines the Straight Path (Siraat-ul-Mustaqeem) and encourages us to pray to Allah, the Most High, to guide us on the path of those people upon whom He had bestowed favours.  Refer to verse 6 of Surah Al-Fatihah.  Let us ask Allah, the Most High, the question: Who are those people upon whom He had bestowed favours?   We find the answer to  this question  in  verse 69 of Surah Al-Nisaa wherein Allah says  that this group of people are the prophets (nabiyyeen),  the truthfuls (siddeeqeen),  the martyrs (shuhadaa) and the righteous and pious ones (saaliheen).   Why did Allah not mention the name of a specific book when defining the Straight Path?   Why did He NOT say "the path of the Qur’an" or "the path of the Hadith"?

 

The answer is simple.  Everyone's reasoning and understanding is not the same.   When following the Qur’an and the Ahaadith, everyone will build their own interpretations into it, thereby detracting from the Straight Path.   We need to be in conformity with people who were bestowed the favours of Allah in being rightly guided.

 

We need to be in the company of those scholars (ulama in the true sense of the word) who are always conscious of Allah (muttaqee) and who follow the simple and plain instructions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).  By the way, I have just one correction. By Ulama, I do not mean the crash-course graduate molvis of to-day who are found in abundance but fail to exhibit the basic necessary qualities of an Alim (scholar).  These so-called molvis of today do not have even the basic knowledge of Arabic grammar and Tajweed but they claim to be a 'Maulana'.   By Ulama,  I mean those scholars  who  have great  insight  into  the Religion,  who are well versed  in  the various sciences of the Glorious Qur’an, Ahaadith and Fiqh.  Those who are well grounded and have a good command of the Arabic language through  which the various sources of Islamic Law can easily be accessed.

 

Nevertheless, our highly westernized group of anti-ulama ‘scholars’ frequently ask the question: 'Where can we find such true ulama today who fear Allah (muttaqee)?'  The answer is simple.  If we improve on our deeds (a'maal) we will definitely find such Ulama.   Our deeds are so shocking and debasing and we are out to seek Ulama of the calibre and status of Hazrath Abu Bakr and Hazrath Umar (may Allah be pleased with them).  How can we do this?  There are Ulama present today who do fear Allah (muttaqee) but we must make an effort to find them.  According to the Qur’an, in every age we will find the true and God-fearing Ulama as indirectly implied in the following verse:

0 BELIEVERS! FEAR ALLAH AND BE IN THE COMPANY OF THOSE WHO ARE TRUE (SAADIQEEN).  (Surah Al-Tawbah : 119)

 

Since the Qur’an is for all ages,  this command implies  that there  will  always  be  people  present  who  will  fear  Allah (muttaqee)  and be truthful.   How then can we be justified to be antagonistic against the Ulama?  Can't our westernized "scholars' ponder over such verses of the Glorious Qur’an?   Or have they not come across these verses especially when they are in the habit of selectively reading the Qur’an to suit their immediate and limited thoughts and fancies?

 

After  having  said  so much on what the  Qur’an  says  about TAQLEED,  let  us  look  at the life history of Rasoolullah's Companions (Ashaab) and see what was their practice  of  Islam.  Did they follow the teachings of any specific person in matters of Religion?   Did any of the great Sahabas ever object to this method of practising Islam?   The answers are found in only the most authentic recordings of the Ahaadith, some of which are quoted below:

 

(1)      Hazrath Hudhaifah (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:  "I do not know how much longer I will stay amongst you.  Therefore follow (iqtadoo) the two persons after me:  Abu Bakr and Umar."  (Tirmizi).

 

(2)      Hazrath Umar (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:  "My companions (ashaab) are like the stars, so whichever one you follow (iqtadaitum) you will be guided aright".  (Mishkaat-ul­-Masaabeeh)

 

(3)      It is reported by Irbaad bin Saariya (RA.)  that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:  "Hold fast to my Sunnah and the sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs".   (Tirmizi, Abu Dawood, Ahmad, Ibn Maajah)

 

(4)      On being appointed the Governor of Yemen, Mu'adh bin Jabal (R.A.) was asked by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as to the rule by which he would abide.   He replied: 'By the law of Allah.'  ‘But if you do not find any direction therein’, asked Rasoolullah.  'Then I will act according to the practice (Sunnah) of the Messenger of Allah', was the reply.   'But if you do not find any direction therein', he was asked again.   'Then I will exercise my judgement (ajtahidu) and act on that’, came the reply.   The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) raised his hands and said:  'Praise be to Allah Who guides the messenger of His Messenger as He pleases'".    (Abu Dawood)

 

From the first three Ahaadith quoted above, the principle and permission of TAQLEED is evident.   From the last Hadith mentioned above, four main points emerge and these are worth noting:

 

i.        There  are and will be many matters in the  religion  of Islam which  is  not  explicitly dealt with  in  the  Qur’an  and Ahaadith.

ii.       To  exert  oneself and use one's own reasoning to  give rulings in matters not explicitly dealt with in the Qur’an or  the Ahaadith  is  permissible and approved by the Messenger of  Allah (peace be upon him) and is in conformity with the Will of Allah.

iii.      Individual   reasoning   (ra'iy)  and the exertion (ijtihaad) is one of the favours of Allah on which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) praised Allah.

iv.      The very fact that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) asked Hazrath Mu'adh bin Jabal (R.A.) these questions  prove that  the Holy Prophet knew that the people of Yemen will  follow Hazrath Mu'adh  in many matters of  Religion. It specifically shows the Holy Prophet's consent for the people of Yemen making TAQLEED of Hazrath Mu'adh (R.A.).

 

TAQLEED is of two kinds:

1.       TAQLEED-E-MUTLAQ: i.e. to follow some rulings of one Jurist (Faqih) and some rulings of another Jurist.  In other words, it means the following of more than one Jurist in matters of Religion.

2.       TAQLEED-E-SHAKHSEE:  i.e.  to follow the rulings of only one particular Jurist.

 

Both types of TAQLEED were prevalent amongst the Sahabas and those who followed them.   This is evident from many Ahaadith of which some will be quoted below.   Even the great Traditionist (Muhaddith) Shah Waliyullah of Delhi wrote in his famous book called Iqdul Jeed as follows:

"From the time of the Sahabas till the emergence of the four Schools of Law (mazaahib), it was the same custom and practice of making Taqleed of a specific learned Jurist.   Never did any great, learned or reputed Sahabi or Tabi'ee ever object to this practice.   If the practice of Taqleed was contrary to the spirit of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, then those great personalities would have indeed objected to it."

 

It is recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawood that a certain question was put forward to Abu Musa al-Ash'aree (RA.) and the same question was put forward to Abdullah ibn Mas'ood (R.A.).  The reply of Abdullah ibn Mas'ood (R.A.) was contrary to the reply of Abu Musa al-Ash'aree (R.A.).  When the latter heard the reply of the former, he realized that Abdullah ibn Mas'ood's reply was correct.   Abu Musa Al-Ash'aree then said: 'Do not ask me for rulings as long as you have amongst you this great scholar (Hibr).'   This Hadith proves that the practice of Taqleed-e-Shakhsee was in existence even amongst the Sahabas.

 

In another Hadith in Bukhari, it is also reported that on one specific occasion the Sahabas of Madinah asked Abdullah ibn Abbas concerning a woman who started menstruating after the Fard Tawaaf during the Hajj.   He replied that the woman can go back home without the Tawaaf-ul-Widaa.   The people of Madinah then said that they will not abandon the ruling of Zaid bin Thabit with that of Abdullah ibn Abbas.   This Hadith proves that the people of Madinah was making Taqleed of Zaid bin Thabit.   A fact worth noting here is that Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA.)  did not object to them saying that they prefer following Zaid bin Thabit.  He did not tell them that they were committing SHIR-K or that they were introducing a new concept in Islam (bid'ah) or that it was a great sin to do so.   If Taqleed of a specific scholar was not permissible or SHIR-K or HARAM, then Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) would have definitely objected to the practice  of  the people of Madinah.   But we find no trace of any such objections in the books of the Ahaadith.  Despite this fact, we also find in the books of Ahaadith evidence that Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) was following the rulings of Hazrath Ali  (R.A.) in spite of the former himself being a great Jurist.

 

Many more examples can be quoted from the Ahaadith on Taqleed and its practice amongst the Sahabas.   How then can such a practice be regarded as SHIR-K, HARAM or BID'AH?  Let those who say so study the history of the Sahabas for they have not done so adequately.

 

Thus, it has been conclusively proved that TAQLEED was an established and common practice amongst the Sahabas.   As far as those who followed them from among the Tabi'een, Shah Waliyullah, a great Traditionist (Muhaddith) says in his book Insaaf:

"After  the  2nd  Century Hijree,  it has  been  the  common practice amongst the people to follow the rulings of a  specific Jurist  (Mujtahid),  and there were very few people who  did  not like  following a specific Jurist.   This practice of following a specific Jurist was also regarded as absolutely necessary (waajib)".

 

Even the great Islamic Scholar like Shaikh ibn Taymiyah in his famous book of rulings (fatawa) known as Fatawa ibn Taymiyah has  confirmed  that  in  this age  of  ours,  it  is  absolutely necessary for the masses to follow a specific Jurist (Faqih) in matters of Religion not specifically dealt with by the Qur’an  and the  Sunnah.   On  page  240 of the same book he also  says  that following one Imam on some matters and following another on other matters is NOT permissible and that this has  been  unanimously agreed (ijmaa) by great scholars of the ummah.   The  reason  for this  kind  of practice not being allowed is because the  person acting on such a basis will be acting by the dictates of his passions and lowly desires.

 

Another great scholar Shaikh Abdul Wahhab Najdi is reported as  of the opinion of the permissibility of following  the  Imams (Jurists) and is reported as saying that he is the follower of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.  (Refer to the book titled Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab by Professor Abdul Gafoor Attaar - Beirut edition - pages 174-175).  His son Shaikh Abdullah, in his book called Al­-Hadiyyatus Saniyyah (pages 38-39) is reporting saying as follows:

"In  the  principles (usool) of Deen our  rule of conduct (maslak) are the same as those of the Ahle Sunnah wal Jama'ah, and our ways (tareeqah) are those of the Salaf-e-Saliheen and on the rulings of the Fuqaha (Jurists) and we follow the  School  of  Law (mazhab) of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal.   Whoever follows any ONE of the four Imams (Jurists), we do not object to them doing so".

 

Our westernized "bright-spark scholars" of today say that it is SHIR-K to follow the various Schools of Law viz.  Hanafi, Shafe'i, Maliki and Hanbali.  They base their "verdict" on the following verse of the Qur’an:

 

AND THEY HAVE MADE THEIR PRIESTS AND RABBIS AS THEIR LORDS BESIDES ALLAH.    (Surah Al-Tawbah:31)

 

They quote the above verse so profoundly and confidently as if the great Sahabas and Tabi'een had not come across this verse during their recitation.  As mentioned  earlier,  why  did Hazrath  Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.) NOT object to the practice of  the people  of Madinah who were following the rulings of Zaid bin Thabit?   Being  a  great  commentator (Mufassir) of the Qur’an himself,  why did he NOT object to the practice of the people  of Madinah on the basis of this verse?

 

By considering the circumstance and time in which this verse was revealed (Shaane Nuzool) which is recorded in many Ahaadith, it is evident that this verse IN ESSENCE relates to the practice of the Jews and Christians.   They followed their rabbis and priests in matters of their religion which were contrary to what was recorded in their scriptures.   When a thing was unlawful in their scriptures, their rabbis and priests used to make them lawful and vice versa.   They used to make their priests and rabbis their legislators side by side with Allah.   They were considered as those who had the choice even to go against their own scriptures.

 

As far as the basis on which Muslims follow their great Imams (Jurists),  it is NEVER done on the basis of how Christians and Jews follow their priests or how the Shiahs  follow their Imams.  However, the concept of Imamate amongst the Shiahs is completely contrary to the beliefs of the Ahle Sunnah wal Jama'ah and is not even worth talking about.  We Sunni Muslims do NOT believe that the Imams or Fuqaha (Jurists) have any right to change the Laws of Allah and the Sunnah of His Beloved Messenger.   However,  we DO believe that their  teachings are complementary to the  Qur’an and the Sunnah in explaining the details on matters not specifically dealt with by the Qur’an and the Sunnah.   Their teachings are NOT BINDING on Muslims but by the Unanimous Consensus of Opinion (IJMA-E-UMMAH) of the great Ulama, it is regarded as a necessity for the uneducated Muslim masses of our age.   If the Muslim masses are told to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah alone, who will they follow on matters not specifically dealt with by the two main sources of Islamic  Law?   They will then turn to our half-baked westernized "scholars" who are themselves misled and will in turn mislead others.  They will then eventually be driven by their lowly desires to follow whatever seems appealing to their passions.   Practising Islam on this basis is expressly forbidden both by Allah and His Beloved Messenger.   Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

 

May Allah, the Most High, give us the TAWFEEQ (courage and insight) to create the real understanding of Islam in its true perspective and pristine purity.   Ameen.

 

Abdul Haq Abdul Qadir

Umhlanga Rocks, KZN

South Africa.