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The Truth About Taqlid (Part 1)

Shaykh Abu Aaliyah Surkheel

Published

taqlid.JPGThis article addresses some fundamental questions, misconceptions, and “truths” about this often misunderstood and controversial issue of Taqlid, including:

  • The etymology, literal and religious meaning of Taqlid
  • Is taqlid “blind following”and is there a “prescribed” taqlid?
  • The conundrum and Ghazalian metaphor.
  • Where is Taqlid allowed and what does “Ittiba” really mean?
  • Is there Ijma’ on Taqlid, and which type of it?
  • Were Ibn Baz, al-Uthaymin, al-Albani “anti-taqlid”?
  • Give me some proof:
    • Taqlid in hadith authentication.
    • Should we be asking for proofs?
  • What for the layman?
  • Is it allowed for a person to give a ruling while he is unlearned, even of the Arabic language?

Read and download here: The Truth About Taqlid-Part 1 (PDF)

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Abu Aaliyah is the founder of The Jawziyyah Institute, a leading institute for Islamic moderation and contemporary thought in the United Kingdom. Sidi Abu Aaliyah has been in involved in Dawah and Islamic teachings since 1986. He has translated a number of books from the Arabic language into English such as "The Exquisite Pearls". Abu Aaliyah's written works and audio lectures can be found online.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Amad

    Amad

    November 9, 2007 at 11:27 AM

    Mashallah, what an amazing article. It really provides a lot of answers that have been asked here and there throughout this and other blogs.

    Must-read!!

  2. Avatar

    MR

    November 9, 2007 at 11:28 AM

    Good read. The part where it talks about “Taqlid and the Salafis” is confusing to me. You said the top Salafi scholars said it’s okay for a laymen to do taqlid to a scholar, but why didn’t they just say follow one of the 4 madhab’s? From what I understand, if the person can’t find the proof then they must do taqlid. With the age of technology anyone can find a hadith, thus from my understanding, the top Salafi scholars say that’s fine, because they found the proof.

    The parts after that talking about how one shouldn’t ask “What is the proof?” to the scholar, since we have no right to was good. Also the part where it’s not permissible for one to give a ruling without any sound knowledge or knowledge of the Arabic language. That was an excellent point. SO MANY young Muslims need to read that part.

    JazakAllah khair for this.

  3. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    November 9, 2007 at 12:51 PM

    jazakAllahu khairan abu Aaliyah for this beneficial article.

    MR, I’ll wait for the second part before making any conclusions, and I think it will clarify your confusion. But, I will say a few things. You said: “Taqlid and the Salafis” is confusing to me. You said the top Salafi scholars said it’s okay for a laymen to do taqlid to a scholar, but why didn’t they just say follow one of the 4 madhab’s?

    The right and majority opinion is that a layperson should make taqlid of anyone he/she trusts as learned and that the scholar will give fataawa from Quran and Sunnah (i.e. with knowledge). However, the “madhabhis” restrict a layperson to ONE madhab only…saying that he should seek fataawa from scholars who belong to the same madhab. And, what br. Abu Aliyah is saying or will say is that as laypersons you make taqlid of anyone, Hanafis, Shafi, whatever), you trust. So, one day you had a Hanafi scholar but he moves away and a Hanbalis comes and lives in your town, the right opinion is that you then just make taqlid (ask question and accept the answer if you are satisfied) of that new scholar and not being concerned that he is not Hanafi. In other words, there is NO madhab for laypersons. You are deserving of being called a Hanafi, etc. if you actually undertake the Hanafi, etc. fiqh and usul al-fiqh curriculum. Otherwise, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to scholars from one particular madhab. And, this is decidingly different than what “non-salafis” preach, in my experience.

    Also, as br. Abu Aaliyah has said, there are different level of taqlid but a scholar, a formal student of knowledge IS NOT allowed to become a “muqallid”, by which I mean that his goal should not be to fanatically stick to one madhab’s rulings across the board. Rather, as the brother said, he is muqallid in issues he can’t find or have time to find evidence for. But, nobody among the scholars and actual students of knoweldge should be muqallid across all fiqh rulings.

    So, at the end it is all about your approach to fiqh. For laypersons, the approach is to make taqlid of somebody learned they trust regardless of what madhab the scholar follows, and there is no problem in laypersons taking fataawa from scholars belonging to different madhabs as long as they are not ‘fatawa shopping’ or seeking an easy way out. For scholars and formal students of knowledge, the approach is to study fiqh from a madhab without fanatically attaching oneself to every single ruling of the particular madhab and doing taqlid when they are unable for some reason to find evidence for themselves. Their goal should be to develop the maturity to research fiqh topics rather than open a fiqh book (or by memory!) and read off the response in all circumstances.

    Lastly, I think a person can ask for evidence from a mufti but the mufti can decide not to give them if he thinks the person doesn’t have the capability to understand. However, it is from higher ability and knowledge that a mufti gives evidences on many issues. Look at Islam Q&A and Shaykh al-Munajjid is certainly not “anti-taqlid”. And, also look at lajnah’s responses. Most of them include some degree of evidence.

    All this taqlid talk is between people like us who have learned little but have decided to project what what we think the scholars think about taqlid for layperson.

  4. Avatar

    joyhamza

    November 9, 2007 at 2:39 PM

    salaam alaik shaikh Abu Aaliyah,

    it was a super duper important writing and something i was looking for so much.

    all praises to Allah who makes the one who knows to spread his knowledge to those who dont. it makes so much sense alhamdulillah.

    really ‘ilm is so beautiful. May Allah bless u shaikh.

  5. Avatar

    anonymoous

    November 9, 2007 at 4:56 PM

    Assalamo alaykum wa rahmatulla

    JazakAllah for that beautiful article – it clarified a lot of things for me..

    I just wanted to know whether you agreed with the motion mentioned above that the laymen in reality does not have a madhhab even though he is meant to ascribe to one – is his madhhab simply that of the mufti he follows.

    Secondly – when should/can one leave there madhhab for the opinion of the majority – eg if there madhhab is alone on a matter and they want to follow the position of the three madhhabs which are united on the other opinion?

    wassalam

  6. Avatar

    talib

    November 9, 2007 at 5:33 PM

    salam aleykum

    I hope the articles coming deal with the issue of “hujja” meaning taking the fatwa of a scholar and do taqlid and use this sheikh as a hujja infront of allah swt at the day of judgement.

  7. Avatar

    anonymoous

    November 9, 2007 at 5:45 PM

    where then do the scholars of the salafi approach differ with the other scholars with regards to appraoch in matters of fiqh for a layman or otherwise. Or is there no difference amongst them?

  8. Avatar

    MR

    November 10, 2007 at 1:19 AM

    JazakAllah khair Ibrahim. That was a good explanation.

    Can’t wait for part 2!

  9. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    November 10, 2007 at 4:04 AM

    anonymoous, br. Abu Aaliyah can answer your questions but this is what I know.

    This opinion that somebody can’t switch from one madhab ruling to another is a minority one. If your heart leans towards another opinion because you think it’s closer to Quran and Sunnah, not because there is nifaaq, then you can switch.

    Also, I think it’s incorrect to say laypersons have the same madhab as the madhab of the mufti they follow or that he is meant to ascribe to one madhab . What I said was that laypersons have no madhab at all, meaning laypersons shouldn’t really worry about what fiqh madhab the mufti is exactly following. There is no madhab-by-association. Madhab association only comes after undertaking the whole fiqh curriculum of the particular madhab. And, even then the goal shouldn’t be to become a complete muqallid of a particular madhab rulings across the border.

    In my experience, “salafi-approach” in fiqh is different than “madhabis” in that madhabis teach unhealthy “loyality” to a madhab…you can’t take fataawa from different madhabs…while salafi appracoh says layperons should make taqlid of whatever scholar they trust, regardless of what madhab he follows, and tomorrow they can switch to another mufti if they find him more knowledgeable even if he is on another madhab.

    As far as scholars are concerned, there is no real difference in salafi approach and others. The only issues is that in some Muslims areas, the madhabi scholars have become staunch, staunch muqallid and salafis discourage such taqlid for scholars. By way of curriculum, salafis put emphasis on fiqh al-muqaran (comparative fiqh) while teaching a certain madhab with its usul. However, salafis differ from region to region in how much emphasis they place of fiqh al-muqaran as the main course of study and how much usul al-fiqh knowledge from one of the four schools they emphasize. Also, I will warn you that “salafi” is not a singular body. Some salafi scholars do lean more towards dhahiri madhab, both usul and furu’, while others (majority) stick to one of the four madhabs. The madhabis differ from region to region as well in how much fiqh al-muqaran they teach: at al-Azhar fiqh al-muqaran is on the rise while in Darul Uloom systems it is not taught at all (this is what I know).

    And, as you can see, properly teaching comparative fiqh will allow a scholar to develop a balance approach to fiqh, where he/she knows that all the rulings in his particular madhab don’t necessarily have to be strongest/correct opinions. This is all! If attaining this level of maturity means that salafi scholars are anti-madhab, anti-taqlid, ghayr-muqallid, then so be it. These are just labels, and they don’t make salafis un-orthodox at all…rather, this is the most orthodox way, walhamdulillah. In fact, I think this is pure misunderstanding or even propaganda to make accusations that salafis teach that laypersons can obtain rulings themselves by opening up a hadith book, etc. This is hogwash, and I’ve never heard a single scholar utter or write such words. Never! And, I’ve seen such accusations on “madhabi” sites.

    I will leave you with one of Shaykh ibn Baz’s quotes: “My madhab in fiqh is the Madhab of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, not by way of taqleed but instead by following the juristic principles (usul) upon which he traversed. As for issues of differences, my methodology is to give preference to whatever the proof necessitates and then give verdicts accordingly, whether this agrees with the madhhab or disagrees with it.” [Majmua’ fatawa wa maqalat al mutanawia’, vol. 4 pg. 166]

  10. Avatar

    Nasir

    November 10, 2007 at 8:17 AM

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    Taqlid is defined most simply as following the statement of someone without knowing the evidence.

    This is the definition mentioned by Ibn Al Qayyim al Jawzi rahimullah among others.

    And MR you are right, many salafis tell you not to do Taqliud of the 4 imams, then do Taqlid of Shaykh Nasir Al Baani (rahimullah)

  11. Avatar

    Sis Shaykha

    November 10, 2007 at 4:29 PM

    Asalaamu Alaaikum,

    JazaakAllah Khair Shaikh, I will definetly give this one a read….

    Wa’alaykum Asalaam

  12. Avatar

    coolguymuslim

    November 10, 2007 at 10:46 PM

    assalamu alaykum,
    all i gotta say is this is a baller article
    jazakallahkhair shaykh

  13. Avatar

    Islam Blog

    November 12, 2007 at 11:36 PM

    Salaamualaykum,

    Jazakallah! Understanding taqlid is a pain point for so many in my community and it leads to a lot of confusion. I pray that Allah benefits everyone with this article.

  14. Avatar

    Sis Shaykha

    November 14, 2007 at 9:56 PM

    Asalaamu Alaiakum to the Sheikh and all brothers and sisters,

    Masha’Allah this is such a beneficial read!!! May Allah reward you greatly for sharing this with us, ameeen
    Insha’Allah looking forward to part 2!! :D

    Wa’alaykum Asalaam

    -Sister Shaykha

    P.S. “Ok So Do You Really Have to Follow a Madhhab?” was also a nice article, thanks brother for sharing your experiences so that others might gain some insight into the matter of taqlid…
    May Allah reward you and all the writers here, ameen

  15. Pingback: Blind Following a Shaikh? The Truth about Taqlid « True and Good Words

  16. Avatar

    Suleman

    November 29, 2007 at 4:18 AM

    The original attachment seems to have gone; can someone confirm that this is the same attachment from Abu Aaliyah’s website:
    http://web.mac.com/jawziyyah/The_Jawziyyah_Institute/Home_files/Taqlid%201.pdf

    Thanks

  17. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    November 29, 2007 at 9:45 AM

    its the same… we seem to have lost uploads when the site crashed

  18. Avatar

    Tuwaylib

    January 28, 2008 at 1:41 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    Abuz Zubair of Islamic Awakenings has dealt with some of these questions in some articles he has written. I posted them on almaghrib forums in this thread: http://forums.almaghrib.org/showthread.php?t=11944&page=2&pp=10

  19. Pingback: No facial har/Shaving/trimming beard haram? - Page 2 - Forums - Islamica Community

  20. Avatar

    Abutoam

    February 13, 2008 at 6:29 AM

    Shaykh, when are you posting the part 2 of this discourse? May Allah reward you with khayr.

  21. Avatar

    nuqtah

    April 9, 2008 at 10:41 PM

    when can we expect part 2?

  22. Avatar

    IbnAbbas

    June 17, 2008 at 3:28 PM

    Assalaamu a’laikum wa rahmatullah.

    Jazakallahu khairan ustaadh Abu Aaliyah for such an excellent article. I can see you must have put SO MUCH effort in compiling such an elquoently-written and thoroughly researched article.

    Waiting eagerly for the 2nd part inshllah.

  23. Avatar

    Omar Valder Hipolito

    February 26, 2016 at 8:51 PM

    I love that part on the 3 stages of knowledge: in the first stage, one indeed may become arrogant of his little knowledge, in the second stage, one may become humble, and in the last stage, one is surprised how little he knows despite the voluminous books he’s got, One truly needs a good scholar to refer to,
    Kudos to Surkheel (abuaaliyah) Sharif

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