The Importance Of Following A Madhab, And Sticking To Only One

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The Importance Of Following A Madhab, And Sticking To Only One



Some people say that taqleed [following the school of an Imam] is unlawful in Sharia. They insist that a true Muslim should only follow the Holy Qur’an and Sunna, and they say it is equivalent to shirk [polytheism] to follow an Imam in the matters of Sharia. They also claim that the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali schools were formed some two hundred years after the Messenger’s (saw) death, and therefore, these schools are a reprehensible innovation [bid’ah].
Some also stress that a Muslim should seek guidance directly from the
Qur’ an and Sunna and no intervention of an Imam is needed to practice upon the Sharia.

This view is based on certain misunderstandings arising from unnecessary
treatment of the complicated issues involved.
It is true that obedience, in its true sense, belongs to Allah alone.
We do not obey anyone other than Him. This is the logical requirement
of the doctrine of tawhid [belief in the oneness of Allah].
The obedience of the Messenger of Allah (saw) has been ordered upon
us, only because he is the Messenger of Allah who conveyed to us the
divine commandments, otherwise he has no divine status deserving
our obedience. By obeying and acting according to the teachings of
the Messenger (saw), we obtain the pleasure of Allah (saw).

However, the crux of the matter is that the interpretation of the
Qur’an and the Sunna is not a simple one. It requires an intensive
and extensive study of the sacred sources of Shari a, which cannot
be undertaken by a person unqualified in the field. If every Muslim
was obligated to consult the Holy Qur’an and Sunna on each and
every problem arising before him, it would burden him with a
responsibility that would be almost impossible to fulfill. This is
because the derivation of the rules of Shari ‘a from the Qur’an and
Sunna requires a thorough knowledge of the Arabic language and
all the relevant sciences- a combination which every person is not
known to have. The only solution to this problem is that a few people
should equip themselves with the required knowledge of Shari’a and
others should ask them about the rulings in their day-to-day affairs.

This is exactly what Allah has ordained for the Muslims in the
following words:
“Of every troop of them, a party only should go foeth, that they [who
are left behind] may get instructions in religion, and that they may warn
their people when they return to them, so that they may beware [of evil]”

(al-Qur’an 9:122).

This verse of the Holy Qur’an indicates in clear terms that a group
of Muslims should devote themselves to acquiring the knowledge
of Shari a and all others should consult them for their rulings. Now,
if a person asks a reliable scholar [alim] about the juridical [shar’i]
ruling in a specific matter and acts upon his advice, can any reasonable
person accuse him of committing shirk on the ground that he
has followed the advice of a human being instead of the Qur’an and
Sunna? Certainly not.

The reason is obvious, because he has not abandoned obedience
to Allah and His Messenger (saw). Rather, he is in search of a way to
obey them. However, being unaware of the shar’i commands, he has
consulted a scholar in order to know what he is required to do by
Allah. He has not taken that scholar as the subject of his obedience,
but rather as an interpreter of the divine commands. Nobody can
accuse him of committing shirk.

This is taqleed in essence: a person who is not able to understand
the Holy Qur’an and Sunna, and so consults a Muslim jurist, often
termed an Imam, and acts according to his interpretation of the
sharia. The person never considers the Imam worthy of obedience,
but seeks his guidance in order to know the requirements of Shari’a
due to not having direct access to the Holy Qur’ an and Sunna or not
having adequate knowledge for deriving the rules of Shari’a from these
sources. This behavior is called taqleed of that jurist or Imam. Thus,
how can it be said that taqlid is equivalent to shirk?

The qualified Muslim jurists or Imams, who have devoted their
lives to ijtihad, have collected the rules of Shari’a according to their
respective interpretations of its sources in an almost codified form.
This collection of the rules of Shari’a according to the interpretation
of a particular jurist is called the madhhab or “school” of that jurist.
Thus, the school of an Imam is not something parallel to the Shari’a
or something alien to it. In fact, it is a particular interpretation of the
Shari’a and a collection of the major shar’i rules derived from the Holy
Qur’an and Sunna by a reliable jurist, and arranged subject-wise for
the convenience of the followers of the Shari’a. So, the one who follows
a particular school actually follows the Holy Qur’an and Sunna
according to the interpretation of a particular reliable jurist, whom
he or she believes to be the most trustworthy and most well-versed
in the matters of Sharia.

As for the differences in the schools, they have emerged through the
different possible interpretations of the rules mentioned in or derived
from the Holy Qur’an and Sunna. In order to understand this point
properly, it will be relevant to know that the rules mentioned in the
Holy Qur’an and Sunna are of two different types.

The first type of rules are those which are stated in these sacred
sources in such clear words that they allow only one interpretation.
No other interpretation is possible thereof, such as the obligation of
prayer, zakat, fasting and pilgrimage; and the prohibition of pork and
adultery. With regard to this set of rules, no difference of opinion
has ever taken place. All the schools of jurists are unanimous in their
interpretation; hence there is no room for ijtihad or taqleed in these
matters. Also, since everyone can easily understand them from the
Holy Qur’an and Sunna, there is no need for consulting an Imam
or jurist.

On the other hand, there are some rules of Shari’a derived from
the Holy Qur’an and Sunna where any of the following situations
may arise:

(1) The wording used in the sacred sources may allow more than one
interpretation. For example, while mentioning the duration of the
waiting period [‘idda] for a divorced woman, the Holy Qur’an has
used the following expression:
“And divorced women shall wait [as regards their marriage] for three
periods of quru'”
(2 :228).

The word quru’ used in the above verse has two meanings. It stands
both for the “period of menstruation” and the “period of cleanliness”
[i.e. tuhr]. Both meanings are possible in the verse and each of them
has different legal consequences.

The question that requires jurisprudential efforts here is: “Which
of the two meanings is intended here?” While answering the question,
the juridical opinions may naturally differ, as is the case. Imam
Shaf’i (ra) interprets the word quru’ as the “period of cleanliness,” while
Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) interprets it as the “period of menstruation.” Both
of them have a number of reasons in support of their respective views,
and neither can be completely rejected. This example highlights one
of the causes for differences of opinion among different schools.

(2) Sometimes disparity appears between two hadiths of Allah’s
Messenger (saw), and a jurist has to reconcile them or prefer one of them
over the other. In this case also, the view points of the jurists may
differ from one another. For example, there are two sets of traditions
found in the books of hadiths narrating different behaviors of the
Messenger (saw) while bowing [ruku] in prayer. The first set of hadiths
mentions that he used to raise his hands before bowing, while the
other hadiths mention that he did not raise his hands except at the
beginning of prayer. The jurists, while accepting that both ways are
correct, have expressed different views regarding the question: “Which
of the two ways is more preferable?” Thus, situations like these also
cause differences of opinion between various schools.

(3) There are many issues which are not specifically addressed in the
Holy Qur’an and Sunna. The solution to these issues is sought either
through analogy or through examples, found in the sacred sources,
that have an indirect bearing on the subject. Here again, the jurists
may have different approaches to extracting the required solution
from the Holy Qur’an and Sunna.

Such are the basic causes of differences of opinion between the
schools. These differences are in no way a defect in shari’a, rather
they are a source of flexibility composing a vast field of academic
research governed by the principles of Shari’a and settled by means
of the Holy Qur’an and Sunna for all time to come.

A Muslim jurist who has all the necessary qualifications for ijtihad
is supposed to attempt his utmost to extract the actual meaning of the
Qur’an and Sunna. If he does this to the best of his ability and with
sincerity, he will be rewarded for accomplishing his duty, and nobody
can accuse him of disregarding the shari’a, even though his view may
seem to be weaker when compared to others. This is a natural and
logical circumstance, certain to be found in every legal system.
The established laws in every legal framework do not cover every
minute detail and possible situation. Also, these laws are often open
to more than one interpretation, and different courts of law, while
attempting to understand them, often disagree about their meanings.
One court may interpret the law in a particular way while another
court may understand it in quite a different sense. Thus, nobody can
say that the jurists have disrespected the laws of Islam by arriving at
different opinions. And since every court of law intends to apply the
established law to the best of its ability, its duty towards the Lawmaker
(Allah) will be discharged, and its jurists will be rewarded for it.

For example, if one of the courts mentioned earlier were a high
court, all the lower courts and the people living under its authority
would be bound to follow judgements made by the high court, even
though their personal opinion might not conform to the opinion of
the high court. In such a case, if the lower courts follow the decision
of the high court, nobody can say that they are not following the
law or that they take the high court to be a legislator of the law. This
is because, in actual fact, the lower courts are following the decision
of the high court as a trustworthy interpreter of the law, and not as
a legislator.

In exactly the same way, the school of a Muslim jurist provides
nothing more than a reliable interpretation of the Sharia. Another
qualified jurist may disagree regarding the interpretation of that jurist,
but neither can he be accused of disregarding the laws of Shari aJ nor
can anyone accuse the followers of a particular school of following
something other than the Shari a or of committing shirk. The reason
for this is that these Muslims are following the school as a trustworthy
interpretation of Sharia.

The next question which may arise here is: “What should a person
do with regard to these different schools, and which one of them
should he follow?” The answer to this question is very simple. All
of these schools have been sincere in their efforts to infer the true
meaning of the Shari’a; therefore they are all equally valid. A person
should follow the school of any of the recognized Imams whom he
believes to be most knowledgeable and most pious.

Although the Muslim jurists who have undertaken the exercise
of ijtihad have been many in number, the schools of the four
Imams – Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’i and Imam
Ahmad (raa) – are found to be more comprehensive, well-arranged, and
well-preserved up to the present day. The Muslim Umma as a whole
has taken these four Imams as having the most reliable interpretations
of Shari’a.

The four schools are known as the Hanafi, Shaf’i, Maliki, and
Hanbali schools. The rest of the schools [madhhabs] are either not
comprehensive enough, in the sense that they do not contain all
aspects of Shari’a or have not been preserved in a reliable form.
For this reason, the majority of the Muslim Umma belongs to one
of these four schools. If a person adopts a school of Islamic law as
an interpretation of the Shari’a, his obligation to follow the Sharia
stands fulfilled.

This is the true picture of the term taqleed with reference to the
jurisprudential schools. I hope this explanation will be sufficient to
show that taqlid has nothing to do wi th shirk or “ascribing partners to
Allah,” but is in fact a simple and easy way of following the Shari’a.

Following One Particular Imam In Every Juristic Issue
It is generally believed that each one of the four schools
(Hanafi, Shaf’i, Maliki and Hanbali), all being possible interpretations
of the Shari’a, are correct and none of them can be held as something in contradiction
with the Shari’a. However, a nonprofessional who lacks the ability to compare
between the arguments of each school cannot pick and mix between different views to
satisfy his personal desires.The reason for this approach is twofold.

Allah has empathically ordered in a number of verses of the
Holy Qur’an to follow the guidance of the shari’a, and has made it
suictly prohibited for one to follow one’s desires vis-a.-vis the rules of
the Shari’a. The Muslim jurists, when interpreting the sources of the
Shari’a, attempt never to satisfY their personal desires. They attempt
to make their best effort to discover the spirit of Shari’a, and they
base their opinions on the force of evidence and not merely on the
search for convenience. They do not choose an interpretation on the
basis of its suitability to their personal fancies; they choose it only on
the basis of the strength of the evidence before them.

Now, if someone who has not studied Islamic law is allowed to
choose any juristic view without consulting the arguments pertaining
to those views, he will be at liberty to select only those views which
seem to be more fulfilling to his personal requirements. This attitude
will lead him to follow his own desires and not the guidance-a practice
totally condemned in the Holy Qur’an.

For example, Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) is of the opinion that bleeding
from any part of the body breaks the wudu’, while Imam Shaf’i (ra)
believes that bleeding does not break the wudu: On the other hand,
Imam Shaf’i (ra) says that if a man touches a woman, his wudu’stands
broken and he is obligated to make fresh wudu’before offering prayer,
while Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) insists that merely touching a woman does
not break the wudu.

How can the practice of “pick-and-mix” be allowed? A layman may
well choose the Hanafi opinion in the matter of touching a woman
and the Shaf’i view in the matter of bleeding. Consequently, he will
deem his wudu’ unbroken even when experiencing both situations
together (i.e. he has bled and happened to touch a women) even
though his wudu’stands broken now according to both Hanafi and
Shaf’i opinions.

Similarly, according to the Shaf’i view, a traveller can combine
the two prayers of Zuhr and ‘Asr. However, at the same time, if a
traveller makes up his mind to stay in a town for four days, he is no
longer regarded as a traveller in the Shaf’i view. Hence, he cannot
avail himself of the concession of shortening the prayers [qasr] nor
of combining two prayers. On the other hand, the period of travel,
according to the Hanafi view, is fourteen days, and a person can
continue to shorten his prayers as long as he does not resolve to stay
in a town for more than fourteen days.

A traveler who has entered a city to stay there for five days, cannot
combine two prayers, according to both Imam Shaf’i and Imam
Abu Hanifa (raa). This is because, by staying for five days, he cannot use
the two concessions of qasr and of combining two prayers according
to Imam Shaf’i, and because combining two prayers is not allowed
according to Imam Abu Hanifa. Nevertheless, the approach of “pick
and mix” still leads some people to adopt the Shaf’i view in the
matter of combining prayers and the Hanafi view in the matter of
the period of journey.

It is evident from these examples that the selection of different views
in different cases is not based on the force of arguments leading to
them, but on the facility provided by each. Obviously this practice
is tantamount to following one’s desires, which is totally prohibited
by the Holy Qur’an. If such an attitude is permitted, it will render
the Shari’a a plaything in the hands of the ignorant, and no rule of
Shari’a will remain immune to distortion. This is why the practice
of “pick-and-mix” has been condemned by all the renowned scholars
of Sharia. Imam Ibn Taymiya (ra), the famous hadith scholar and jurist,
says in his Fatawa:

Some people follow at one time an Imam who holds marriage invalid,
and at another time they follow an Imam who holds it valid. They do
so only to serve their individual purpose and satisfY their desires. Such
a practice is impermissible according to the consensus of all the Imams.

(Fatawa Ibn Taymiya 2: 285-286).

This was the basic cause for the policy adopted by the later jurists, who
made it necessary for the common people to adopt a particular school
in its totality. If one prefers the madhhab of Imam Abu Hanifa (ra), then
one should adopt it in all matters and with all its details. However, if
one prefers another madhhab one should adopt that one in full. One
should not pick and mix between the different views of the schools
for one’s own benefit.

The benefit of the validity of the madhhabs, according to the jurists,
is that a person can elect to follow anyone of them. But once a person
has adopted a particular madhhab, then he should not follow any
other madhhab in any matter, whether it be to seek convenience or
to satisfy his personal choices, both of which are based on his desires
and not on the force of argument. Thus, the policy of “allegiance to
a particular school” was a preventive measure adopted by the jurists
to preclude anarchy in the matter of the Shari’a.

However, this policy is meant for those who cannot carry out
ijtihad themselves or cannot evaluate the arguments advanced by all
the madhhabs in support of their views. For such people, the best
approach is to follow one particular school as a credible interpretation
of the Shari’a.

Nevertheless, those equipped with the necessary qualifications of
ijtihad need not follow a particular school [madhhab]. They can derive
the rules of Shari’a directly from the original sources. Similarly, those
who are not fully qualified for the exercise of deriving rulings [ijtihadJ,
but are so well-versed in the Islamic disciplines that they can evaluate
the different juristic views on purely academic grounds (Le. without
being motivated by their personal desires), are not forbidden from
preferring one school over the other in a particular matter. There
are many Hanafi jurists who, despite their allegiance to Imam Abu
Hanifa, have adopted the view of some other jurist in some juristic
issues. Nevertheless, they are considered Hanafis.

This partial departure from the view of Imam Abu Hanifa could
be based on either of the following grounds: sometimes jurists, after
an honest and comprehensive study of the relevant material, come
to the conclusion that the view of another Imam is stronger. Jurists
may also find that the view of Imam Abu Hanifa, although based
on analogy, does not conform to an authentic hadith, which is usually
due to its not having been conveyed to the Imam; otherwise he
most probably would have adopted a view in conformance with that
hadith also.

Another case in which jurists have departed from the view of their
Imam is when they have felt it a necessity for the collective good of the
Umma. These jurists would follow another Imam not in pursuance of
their personal desires, but to meet the collective needs of the Umma
and in view of the changed circumstances prevailing in their time.
These examples are sufficient to show that the followers of a particular
school do not take their school as a substitute for the Sharta or
as its sole version to the exclusion of every other madhhab. Followers
of a madhhab do not give any madhhab a higher place than it actually
deserves within the framework of Shari’a.

I would like to clarify another
point which is extremely important in this context. Some people who
have no systematic knowledge of Islamic disciplines often become
deluded by their superficial knowledge based on self-study (in many
cases, it being only through the translation of the Holy Qur’ an and
hadiths). Following this kind of cursory study, they assume themselves
to be masters of Islamic learning and begin criticizing the
former Muslim jurists. This attitude is based on ignorance and has
no justification.

The extraction of juridical rules from the Holy Qur’an and Sunna
is a very meticulous process that cannot be carried out on the basis of
sketchy study. While studying a particular juristic subject, one has to
collect all the relevant material from the Qur’an and hadiths found in
the various chapters and books and undertake a combined study of
the scattered material. One must examine the veracity of the relevant
hadiths in light of the well-established principles of the science of
hadith [usul al-hadith]. One must study the historical background of
the relevant verses and traditions. In short, one has to first resolve a
number of complicated issues involved. This whole exercise requires
very intensive and extensive knowledge which is seldom found in
the contemporary scholars who have specialized themselves in the
subject, let alone the common people who have no direct access to
the original sources of Sharta.

The conclusion of the above discussion is that since all the four
schools are based on solid grounds, it is permissible for a competent
scholar to adopt another school’s juristic view, if he has the required
knowledge and ability to undersrand the merits of each madhhab on
the basis of adequate academic research, without being indulged in
pursuing his personal desires. The people who do not fulfill these
conditions should not dare to do so, because it could lead to anarchy
in the matter of Shari’a.

Taqleed During The Time Of The Companions And Their Followers (raa)
There are abundant references to Taqleed
of a particular individual in the books of Sunnah. A few examples are offered below.
Imam Bukhari narrates from Ikrimah that the people of Madinah asked Ibn Abbas
about a woman who – during Hajj – makes her first Tawaaf and then enters her menstrual
period before she can make her final Tawaaf. Ibn Abbas told them that she could go
home without completing her final tawaaf. The people of Madinah said:
“We will not take your opinion over the opinion of Zaid ibn Thabit.”
This narration is found in the Mu’ajjam of Isma’ili from Abdul Wahhab Thaqafi.

The words of the people of Madinah in this narration are : “We do not care
whether you give us this Fatwa or you don’t. Zaid ibn Thabit hold the opinion that this
woman should not go home [but wait until she is able to complete the final tawaaf].”

Also, this narration is found in the musnad of Abu Dawood Tayalisi from Qatada
where the words of the people of Madinah are:
“We will not follow you, O Ibn Abbas as you go against the opinion of Zaid.”
Ibn Abbas replied: “Ask your companion Umme Saleem when you reach Madinah
[Whether my opinion is correct or not]”

Two points are clear from this dialogue between Ibn Abbas (ra) and the people of
Madinah. The first is that the people of Madinah regarded and followed Zaid ibn Thabit (ra)
as an authority. His opinion was given preference over any other scholar. In fact, the
narration in the Mu’ajjam of Ismai’ili tells us that Ibn Abbas gave the people of Madinah
proof of his Fatwa by referring them to Umme Saleem.(43) Despite this proof, the people of
Madinah still maintained that they trusted the opinion of Zaid ibn Thabit and his
statement was proof enough. Ibn Abbas did not object to this behavior from the people of
Madinah. He did not approach the people nor has anything different been narrated. He
instructed them to return to Zaid and confirm the ruling with Umme Saleem. Zaid did
confirm the opinion of Ibn Abbas with Umme Saleem and retracted his previous opinion.
The latter part of the narration is confirmed in the books of Muslim, Nisaai, Baihaqi and
others.(44) Certain quarters contend that if the people of Madinah were among those who
practiced Taqleed, why did they bother to confirm the Hadith from Umme Saleem?(45)
This contention is based on the misunderstanding that while making Taqleed of a
certain Mujtahid, continuing research into the Quran and Sunnah is somehow forbidden
or dormant. Those who reject Taqleed base many arguments on this misconception.

The nature of Taqleed in essence is that a person who does not have the immediate tools to
derive Hukm Shari’ah from the Qur’an and Sunnah directly relies upon the opinion of a
Mujtahid and acts upon it. The concept of Taqleed does not hinder seeking knowledge of
the Quran and Sunnah. This seeking of knowledge continues even whilst practicing
Taqleed. For this reason hundreds of scholars – who practiced the Taqleed of an
individual – continued to write commentaries of the Quran and Sunnah and expand their
scholastic horizons. If during research an opinion of a certain Mujtahid was conclusively
proven to be against the Quran and Sunnah, the “unsound” opinion would be relinquished
and the stronger evidence would be adopted.

If a Muqallid (someone who follows a Mujtahid) finds that the opinion of his Imam is
contrary to a Hadith, this is not necessarily antithetical to Taqleed. The narration in
question, rather, prove that both Taqleed and constant examination and re-evaluation of
primary evidence were both in vogue simultaneously. The people of Madinah took
counsel from Zaid who confirmed the Hadith with Umme Saleem and retracted from his
original position. This approach enabled reconciliation between a confirmed Hadith and
the opinion of an Imam, but the key to this narration is the firm stand of the people of

“We will not take your opinion over the opinion of Zaid ibn Thabit”
If this is not following (making Taqleed of) an individual, then it begs the
question what is?

Imam Bukhari has narrated from Huzail ibn Shurahbail that some people asked
Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (ra) a question on inheritance. Abu Musa replied advising them to ask
Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (ra). They did so and Abdullah gave them an answer, which was very
different from that of Abu Musa. When Abu Musa heard of Abdullah’s Fatwa, he
acknowledged his learning and said:
“Do not ask me anything as long as this great scholar is present amongst you.”

The fact that Abu Musa acknowledged the superior knowledge of Abdullah ibn
Mas’ood and then actually instructed others to ask him all their questions concerning the
Deen, is in fact a mandate for following an individual.

Certain quarters contend that although Abu Musa instructed people not to follow
him as long as Abdullah was present, this does not necessitate that he prevented them
from asking other Companions who were still present. Abu Musa was merely
emphasizing that since Abdullah is more knowledgeable than myself; people should refer
to him in all matters. The answer to this contention is that this incident occurred in Kufa
during the time of Uthman (ra) where Abdullah ibn Mas’ood was the established scholar. As
of yet Ali (ra) had not arrived in Kufa. So of the understanding of Abu Musa’s statement is
merely that “when a superior scholar is present, why go to a lesser scholar?” then it still
refers to the fact that Abdullah should be followed in Kufa since there was no one who
could match his knowledge.

A narration in the Mu’ajjam of Tabarani tells us that Abu
Musa was asked a question about suckling and he made a similar statement: “Do not ask
me while this (scholar) from the companions of the Prophet is present amongst us.”
So it
is clear that the circumstances and environment under which Abu Musa made this
statement supports the idea of following a specific individual. Taqleed of a specific
individual was not unfamiliar to the Companions.

Imam Tirmidhi and Imam Abu Dawood have both narrated that when the Prophet sallalahu
alaihi wa sallam sent Mu’adh ibn Jabal to Yemen (as a governor), he asked him:
“How will you judge if you are asked to do so?”
Mu’adh (ra) said: “I will judge according to the Book of Allah.”
The Prophet (saw) said: And if you do not find it in the Book of Allah?”
Muadh said: “Then I will judge according to the Sunnah of His messenger.”
The Prophet (saw) said: “And if you do not find it in the Sunnah of the Messenger, or in the Book of

Muadh said: “Then I will exercise my opinion and I will not be negligent with it.”
The Prophet (saw) then patted the chest of Mu’adh with his hands and said: “All praise is due
to Allah Who has guided the emissary of His Messenger towards that which He guided
His Messenger.”

The Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam sent one of the best scholars from amongst the
Companions (raa). He appointed Mu’adh (ra) as a governor, judge, mentor and Mujtahid for
the people of Yemen and ordered, him to be followed. He allowed him, not only to give
Fatwas based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, but also to use and exercise his own judgment.

It is clear that the Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam decreed the people of Yemen to practice
Taqleed of an individual.
(47) To argue that this Hadith deals with judicial practices and not
with Ijtihad and Taqleed (48) is misguiding. Aswas ibn Zaid said that Mu’adh ibn Jabal
came to us in Yemen as a teacher and as a governor. We asked him regarding how the
inheritance should be distributed of a man who had died leaving behind a daughter and a
sister. He ruled that both the daughter and the sister should receive half each.(49)

Here Mu’adh (ra) ruled as a Mufti and did not offer any proof for his ruling. His view was
implemented by merely accepting and following it as in Taqleed. However, even
though Mu’adh (ra) did not offer any explanation for his ruling, his opinion was based on
the Qur’an and Sunnah. There is another Fatwa of Mu’adh (ra) in which he used his
discretion and exercised his Ijtihad. Abu Aswad Al-Dailami said that when Mu’adh (ra)
was in Yemen, people came up to him with a case of a Jew who had died and left a
Muslim brother him. Mu’adh said:
“I have heard the Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam say that Islam increases (gives)
and does not decrease (take away).”

So Mu’adh then ruled that the Muslim should inherit from the Jew.(50) Here
Mu’adh (ra) used a Hadith whose background had nothing to do with inheritance, but still
used it to form an opinion which was accepted and followed by the people of Yemen.(51)

There is yet another incident which has been narrated in the Musnad of Ahmed
and in the Mu’ajjam of Tabarani which says that when Mu’adh came to Yemen, a woman
from Khaulan met him and offered salaams to him.
“O dear man! Who has sent you?” she asked him.
“The Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam has sent me” replied Mu’adh.
“The Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam sent you so that makes you the messenger of the
Messenger of Allah. So won’t you inform me of Islam O’ messenger of the Messenger?”
she continued
“Ask me what you wish,” replied Mu’adh.(52)

It is clear that Mu’adh (ra) was sent as a representative of the Prophet sallalahu
alaihi wa sallam. People would ask of him questions about Islamic issues and he would
answer. The above mentioned woman verified his status and then proceeded to ask him
questions. Mu’adh (ra) obliged her and answered her questions. One of her question was
“What are the duties of a wife towards her husband?” In reply to this question, Mu’adh
(ra) did not quote the Quran nor Hadith, but merely explained the broad Islamic
principles. He did not offer any proofs for his answer. After all, Mu’adh (ra) is the one
about whom the Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam said that he was the most informed of
what is Halal and what is Haram.(53) The Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam also said:
“Mu’adh will be raised on the Day of Judgment far ahead of Scholars to a
distance that one can shoot an arrow.”

Not only did the people of Yemen follow Mu’adh (ra), but so too did other
Companions. Abu Muslim Khaulani said that he went to the mosque in Damascus and
saw a group of Companions gathered there (and in the narration of Kathir ibn Hisham,(55)
there were close to 30 Companions of the Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam ). Among them,
there was a young man whose eyes had antimony in them and who had white teeth. Each
time they differed in an issue, they would refer to the Young man. Abu Muslim asked
who the young man was and he was informed that it was Mu’adh ibn Jabal. (56)

In yet another narration of this incident, the words are:
“And whenever they differed in an issue, they would refer it to Mu’adh and accept his
decision as final.”

Mu’adh ibn Jabal (ra) was among those Companions (raa) who were scholars and
about whom the Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam said that: [colr=blue]”the most informed about what
is Halal and what is Haram.”[/color]
He was also followed by several other Companions.
The Prophet sallalahu alaihi wasallam sent him to Yemen as a governor, judge and as a scholar whose opinion should be
listened to and followed. The people of Yemen obliged and this is the essence of Taqleed
of an individual. There is a narration in the Sunnan of Abu Dawood in which Amr ibn
Maimoon Al-Awdai said:

“Mu’adh ibn Jabal RA came to us in Yemen as the messenger of the Messenger of
Allah. I heard his Takbeer in Fajr and found that he had a deep voice. I developed an
affinity with him and I did not leave his company until I buried him in Syria. Then, I
searched for the most learned scholar after him and found Abdullah ibn Mas’ood. I
stayed with him until he died.”

In this narration, Amr ibn Maimoon searched for a scholar after Mu’adh (ra)
passed away. He stayed with Mu’adh (ra) and Ibn Mas’ood (ra) merely to seek
knowledge of Islamic Law. So as long as Mu’adh was alive, he consulted him and when he died, he
consulted Ibn Mas’ood RA. Referring to only one scholar is known as
following an individual.

Likewise, the Tabi’een followed individual Companions. The following are some

Imam Sha’bi said:
“Whoever wishes to take an authority in rulings and judgments should apply the
statements of Omar (ra).”

Imam Mujahid said:
“When people disagree about an issue, they should see what Omar (ra) did and
accept it.”

Imam Aa’mush said about Ibrahim al-Nakha’i:
“Ibrahim did not consider anybody’s opinion to be better than Omar (ra) and Ibn
Mas’ood (ra) when they both agreed upon an issue. When they disagreed, Ibrahim would
prefer Ibn Mas’ood’s opinion over Omar’s.”

Abu Tamimah said:
“We came to Syria and found people were forming an entourage around one
person. I asked someone who this person was and he told me that he was the most
learned of the Companions of the Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam and who was still alive.
He was Omar al-Bakkali (ra).”

Imam Ibn Jarir Tabari said:
“No scholar had students who wrote his Fatwas and arranged his views in Islamic
except for Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (ra). Even Abdullah used to forsake his view completely
and give preference to Omar if he disagreed with him, but they disagreed very

Sha’bi said:
“Abdullah did not recite the Qunut in Fajr. Had Omar (ra) recited the Qunut,
then Abdullah would have most definitely recited it also.”

The several examples provide ample evidence of following one particular
individual during the illustrious era of the Companions (raa).


39 Kanzul Ummal – vol. 3, page 317
40 ‘Illamul Muqi’een – vol. 1, page 9
41 Fathul Bari – vol. 3, page 468 and Umtadul Qari – vol. 4, page 777
42 Abu Dawood Tayalisi in his Musnad – page 229
43 The people of Madinah met with Ibn Abbas again and informed him that the Hadith (from Umme
Saleem) was as he mentioned. Umtadul Qari – vol. 4, page 777
44 Fathul Bari – vol. 3, page 468/469
45 Tahreeke Azade Fikr, by Maulana Ismail Salfi – page 132
46 Abu Dawood in the chapter of judgements by opinion
47 A certain critic – who has labelled myself and others who practice Taqleed as infidels – has written the
following comments: “before offering the hadith as a proof, perhaps he should have examined whether the hadith
was sound or not” (At-Tahqeeq fi Jabawab Taqleed: Page 47), Then, the above mentioned critic has quoted the
famous objection stated by Shaykh Zurqaani from the footnotes of Abu Dawood. Perhaps the person in question
himself would like to observe how – in the process of condemning Taqleed – he has used the principle of taqleed
himself by quoting Shaykh Zurqaani’s objection to the hadith as sufficient proof against my argument. Morever, he
seems to have found it sufficient to quote the footnotes of Abu Dawood in arguing in the integrity of the Hadith. If
anything, perhaps he could have read and summarised the comments Ibn Qayyim has made on this hadith refuting
Zurqaani’s objections. Ibn Qayyim has argued that none of the transmitters of this hadith have been classified as
liars or as weak. Their memory and integrity have not been questioned at all. Besides, there is another chain from
Khatib of Baghdad which links us directly to hadith of Mua’adh RA whose narrators are all known as authentic and
reliable. Also, the Ummah’s acceptance of this hadith is a very important factor in seeing the authenticity of the
hadith. (Ilaamul Muq’ieen vol.1 page 172)
48 as mentioned in Tahreeke Azadi Fikr, by Muhammed Ismail
49 Bukhari vol. 2, page 99
50 Musnad of Ahmed: vol. 5, page 230 and 236 Hakim has also narated this Hadith and classified as
sound even though Bukhari and Muslim did not narrate it. Dhahabi said that it is a sound hadith
(Mustadrak of Hakim vol. 4, page 345)
51 It should be noted that this ruling was Mua’dh’s own conclusion. The opinion of the majority of other
Companions is based on a hadith which says that a Muslim does not inherit from a non-Muslim.
52 Al-Haithami in Majma’us Zawaid vol.4 page 307/308. Also Ahmed and Tabarani from the narration of
Abdul Hamid ibn Bahraam from Shahar who were known to weak, but they also have been authenticated.
53 Nisaai; Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah – all with sound narrators (Tadeebul Asmaa wal Lughaat by Nawawi
vol 1, page 99)
54 Musnad Ahmed from Omar RA (Fathur Rabbani: Vol 21, page 352)
55 Musnad of Ahmed vol. 5 page 236
56 Ibid
57 Ibid page 233
58 Abu Dawood: vol 1, page 62 and Ahmed: vol. 5, page 231
59 ‘Ilaamul Muqi’een vol.1, page 15
60 Ibid
61 Ibid Page 13 and 14
62 Ibid page 14
63 Ibid page 16