Understanding The Taqleed

There are broadly two groups of muslims present today. One group believes in taqleed while the other does not believe it at all. What is taqleed? Taqleed in the meaning of religion is the following of some pious religious figure and to seek guidance in the matters of deen from that particular personality.

Currently, there are four imams of the muslims who they follow. The followers of these four imams are called;

1- Hanafi, the followers of imam abu hanifah
2- Maliki, the followers of imam malik
3- Hanbali, the followers of imam ahmed bin hanbal
4- Shafi, the followers of imam ash-shafi

It is not wrong to seek guidance from the pious when it comes to deen, but it is wrong to follow anyone blindly. Taqleed takes the wrong turn of the followers of a particular imam follow each and everything said by their imam. Many great scholars of islam acquired their knowledge from within a school of thought or madhab. But they did not follow their imam blindly in all matters. Rather they differed where they should have.

This takes us to another point that every school of thought contains two kind of people, one are mujtahid that is, the revivers, and others are followers. Now, one should not just be a follower but he should stand and speak where it is going against the religion. It does not mean at all to insult your imams and teachers. Remember, no one in his knowledge and capacity is perfect. The chance of making mistakes and comprehension of deen are present. And if an imam makes a mistake, one should rather point it instead of following it blindly. Such people existed in past for example; Al-Buwayti, al-Muzani, al-Nawawi and Ibn Hajr were followers of Imam ash-Shafi. But all these scholars differed with their imam in a very respectable manner where they found their school of thought going out of the way. Similarly, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr was from maliki school of thought but he differed from his imam wherever he found his school of thought going out of the way.

Now, if one gives attention to the matter of taqleed, he would find that all these four imams were from no school of thought. They learnt and they acquired knowledge all their life but without associating themselves with any particular school of thought. Imam abu hanifah rahimullah was a great faqeeh and scholar, but he himself said that “ wherever my words contradict with islam, throw them on the wall”. This shows how much he was concerned about the words he utters. This also shows that he never regarded himself higher or above. But he has a concern if he might say a word which goes against the deen. Similarly, none of the great scholrs of the old times fought with each other over issues where they disagreed. Instead, they maintained a very respectable tone for each other.

After all, it is the matter f comprehension of deen. One may not understand something better than the other. Just like in our daily lives, we see some people getting the core point more easily than others. It does not make the rest of the world wrong, but it only means that comprehension of some people is better in some subjects then others. All the leading imams advice that the students should take the knowledge but they should not take those words which differ from the sunnah and quran.
Imam ahmed said;
“Do not follow me blindly, and do not follow Malik or ash-Shafi or al-Thawri blindly. Learn as we have learned.” 
This clarifies the myth that imams are perfect, it shows that they urged us to learn, rather then following them blindly. 
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