What is Taqleed?
Taqlid is a part of everyday life:
Taqlîd or Ittibâ in essence, simply refers to the practice of an unqualified, lay person (in a specific field of specialisation) submitting to and accepting the authority of an expert in that field, without demanding proof and justification for every view, opinion or verdict expressed by such an expert authority. This is a natural state of human existence, practised by millions of people worldwide in every facet of life. The simplest and most tangible example of Taqlîd or Ittibâ is that of a child learning his basic alphabets at school. Every child learning his alphabets is unconsciously practising Taqlîd. A learner driver taking instructions from a driving instructor is practising Taqlîd. People going to a specialist doctor for medical treatment and following his instructions is another glaring example of Taqlîd or Ittibâ. A lay person soliciting a legal opinion from an advocate or following the advice of a tax consultant is another common case of Taqlîd. A client at an engineering firm, asking for the engineer’s advice on complex engineering calculations is yet another instance of Taqlîd or Ittibâ in action. The millions of ‘facts’ in the myriad of sciences such as astronomy, archaeology, etc. are all distinct examples of Taqlîd or Ittibâ Who ever questions the ‘fact’ or asks for proof that the sun is really 93 million miles away from the earth! It is taken for granted that this is the findings of the ‘experts’ in these fields and everyone simply accepts it as such. School teachers teach these to their pupils as ‘gospel truth’ and children learn and memorise these ‘facts’ with the hope of succeeding in their exams. There are countless such examples of Taqlîd or Ittibâ in everyday existence. It is quite clear from the above, that Taqlîd or Ittibâ is a natural way of life, and is not specific to Islam or Islamic Fiqh alone.
Taqlid is the easy option for ordinary people:
In the context of Islamic Fiqh or Law, Taqlîd or Ittibâ simply refers to accepting and following the verdicts of expert scholars of Islamic Fiqh in their exposition and interpretation of Islamic Law, without demanding from them an in-depth explanation of the intricate processes required in arriving at such a verdict, called Ijtihad. It simply means that ordinary folk do not have to do Ijtihâd, i.e. the intricate and complicated procedures involved in deriving Islamic rulings that scholars exercise when issuing a Fatwâ (legal verdict). The duty of ordinary people is to trustingly accept the authority of the learned scholars in this matter and act upon their verdicts.
In this sense, Taqlîd is a great blessing for common people, for it is beyond their capacity to understand the extremely complex and complicated mechanics of Ijtihâd. The ability to do Ijtihâd requires many long years of study and erudition and a great deal of exertion (Ijtihâd means to exert one self) in acquiring a mastery of various Islamic sciences, among other varying requirements.
Misunderstandings regarding Taqlid:
Recently, misunderstandings have arisen regarding the issue of Taqlîd. It has become a theme of major debate in many parts of the world among Muslims. This debate has naturally resulted in arguments being promulgated by both the protagonists and the antagonists of Taqlîd.
The best way of removing such misunderstanding is to view the original sources of Islam – the Qurân and Hadîth and the teachings of the learned elders of Islam on this subject. After a study of this subject, the correct interpretation and understanding of Taqlîd and Ittibâ would emerge. This would lead to a better understanding and analysis of the arguments and counter-arguments of protagonists and antagonists. (Elsewhere in this issue, check the article on Taqlîd and Ittibâ in the light of Qur’an and Hadith)
THE SHAR’EE ROLE OF TAQLEED:
The essence of guidance is derived from the Holy Qurãn – “Hudan li al-Nas” (“A Guidance for Mankind). But this guidance and its laws are based on fundamental principles, the details of which have been entrusted to and consigned by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) in order to explain them to mankind.
For example, the Holy Qurãn says: “Aqimus-Salaat” (“establish prayer”). It does not define the method as to how the prayer should be established; how the various postures should be performed; the mode of recitation of Surah, etc. The complete method of prayer i.e. “Salaat” is explained by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam).
1. “Wa ‘Atuz-Zakat” (“And give charity”). Now the Zakaat amounts payable on gold, silver, cattle, land, produce, etc. are only known through the Ahadith and there is no mention of it in the Holy Qurãn.
2. “Wa Lillahi `ala an-Nas Hij Al-baiti” (“It is obligatory on people to perform the Hajj of the House of Allah.) Here again, the method of Tawaf, the number of circumambulations, the details regarding Arafat, Mina, Muzdalifah, the stoning at the Jimar, etc. have all been explained by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam).
Thus it becomes imperative to understand the Holy Qurãn in the light of the Ahadith even for major obligatory acts like Salaat, Zakat and Hajj without which it is impossible to act and understand the commands of the Holy Qurãn. The believers are commanded to attain guidance from the Holy Qurãn in accordance with the details explained by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam). Therefore Allah specifies: “Whosoever obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah.” This obedience to the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) would in reality be obedience to Allah Himself.
A direction from the Hadith informs us:
“Also perform your prayer just as you see me perform my prayer.” (Bukhari Vol. 1, p. 1076)
It is not said: “Perform your prayer in the manner you may infer from the Holy Qurãn.”
Hadith is divided into different categories:-
The sayings of the Holy prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam),
1. The acts and doings of the Holy prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam),
2. The sayings, acts and doings of others, approved by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam).
All these categories of Ahadith give guidance to the Umma.
When the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) was asked a question he answered and also counter-questioned the questioner, on a similar (analogical) matter, the answer of which was known to him. On the correct reply being given by the questioner, the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) would say: “The question you had asked is in the same category as this answer of yours.”
EXAMPLE: A lady once asked: “Hajj was obligatory on my mother but she passed away. Can I perform it on her behalf?” The Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) replied: “Yes, it would be accepted on her behalf. Tell me, if your mother had a debt would you pay it.” She replied in the affirmative. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: “Fulfill what is on her behalf. Certainly, the duty and right of Allah would be more acceptable.” This kind of reasoning is called Qiyas, Ijtihaad, or Istimbat in Shari`a.
These are only used in Shari`a when the Qurãnic or Traditional directives are not specifically spelt out. The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) sent Hadrat Mu`adh ibn Jabal (Radhiyallaahu Ánhu) as a Governor and Qaadhi to Yemen. The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) gave to Hadrat Mu`adh many instructions and advices even while he held the reins and led the horse with Hadrat Mu`adh mounted on it. The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) also asked: “By which law would you dispense justice.” He replied: “By the Law of the Holy Qurãn.”
“And if you do not find it (i.e. what you seek) in the Holy Qurãn.”
He replied: “By the Prophetic Traditions.”
“And if you do not find it in there also, then!”
He replied: “Then I would make Ijtihad.” The Holy Prophet, (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) expressed his happiness with his reply and fully endorsed and supported his stand and thanked Allah for it. (Abu Daawud Vol 2. p. 149)
When after such an Ijtihad all the scholars agree to its conclusion, it is termed “Ijma”, for it must be understood that Qiyas or Ijtihad does not prove an order or command; it only makes it evident and known. It was hidden in the Holy Qurãn or the Ahadith; the Mujtahid, by Dalalatan, ‘Isharatan or Iqtdha’an, brought it in the open for the generality of people.
The person who does not have the power of Ijtihad is bound and compelled to follow a Mujtahid and this act of following a Mujtahid is termed Taqlid. The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) sent Hadrat Mu`adh ibn Jabal as Qadi so that people could act upon his instructions and guidance derived from the Holy Qurãn, the Ahadith and his Ijtihad. To accept all three would in reality be obedience to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) as mentioned in Mishkãt Sharif (p. 310). Hadhrat Abu Hurayrah (Radhiyallaahu Ánhu) reported that the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said, “Who has obeyed me, has obeyed Allah and who was disobedient to me has been disobedient to Allah and who obeyed the Amir was obedient to me and who was disobedient to the Amir has been disobedient to me.”
PRECEPTS, PROPOSITIONS AND THEIR KINDS:
Masa’il or precepts are of four kinds:-
1. Clear instructions from the Holy Qurãn and Ahadith. No Qiyas is allowed nor Taqlid permissible. The order is to practice on the clear injunction.
2. In such propositions where there are two injunctions, one earlier, and one later, and through historical evidence both renown, then the earlier proposition is abrogated (Mansukh), whilst the latter command is ordered. Here too Qiyas and Taqlid ~ not permitted.
3. Those propositions that have two clear injunctions but it is not known which is earlier and which later, i.e. no historical evidence.
4. Those propositions of which there exist no clear injunctions. Propositions 1 (and 2) are clear. the last two (Propositions 3 and 4) need explanations. Since 3 and 4 are not clear, what must a person do? If he does not practice upon them, he is yet not allowed to go free. The Qurãnic verses state: “Is man under the notion that he will be left free?”‘
“Do you think that you have been created in vain?” It is not so, you have to obey Allah’s command every second. Now how are we going to obey when it is not known, which is abrogated and which is not. In the fourth kind of proposition when one has no knowledge what is he going to practice on? Allah says: “Do not practice on anything without knowledge:”
Thus the need of Qiyas and Ijtihad. In the third kind of proposition the need is to verify the clear injunction and in the fourth kind it is to find a clear order and command. This is a known fact that everybody does not have the ability or power to make Ijtihad and this verse also makes it clear.
Everybody makes claims of giving opinions but only that ruling is accepted which is in accordance with Shar`iah and of a Mujtahid. The verdict of a Muqallid will not be accepted. The Mujtahid makes Ijtihad while the Muqallid makes Taqlid. Even if the Mujtahid makes a mistake he is rewarded as mentioned in Bukhari, Vol. 1 p. I1092.
Here exists a doubt that there were many Mujtahids among the Sahaaba (Radhiyallaahu Ánhum), the Tabi`in and Tabi` Tibi`n; But only the ‘I’ima ‘Arba` i.e. Imaam Abu Hanifah, Imam Maalik, Imam Shaafi`i and Imam Ahmad (Rahmatullaahi Álayhim) are followed and Taqlid made of them. What Is wrong in following the Sahaaba (Radhiyallaahu Ánhum) whose virtues have been abundantly mentioned in the Holy Qurãn and the Ahadith?
There is no doubt that the Sahaaba (Radhiyallaahu Ánhum) have a far greater status and position than the I’ima Arba`a does not make Taqlid of any one of the I’ima Arba` ever thinking them to be greater than the Sahaaba but its simple reason is that for Taqlid it is necessary to know those injunctions in which Taqlid has to be made. The detailed knowledge which can be found in every section and chapter from Kitaab- at-Taharat to Kitab al-Fara’idh, whether it concerns acts of worship, or social and cultural aspects, in every department of knowledge, these were the first and only ‘I’ima that gathered them all in every detail. They were schools of knowledge in their own right that codified knowledge in every field. We do not find such codification either of the Sahaaba or other Tabi`in. The only choice we have is to follow them. It must also be borne in mind that Allah had bestowed on them the perfection of knowledge of the Holy Qurãn and the Ahadith. It is said by Shah Waliullah (Rahmatullaahu Álayhi) in the commentary of Muwatta’ Imaam Malik, p.6 that these four Imaams together have encompassed the entire knowledge of the Holy Qurãn and Ahaadith to such a degree that not a single Hadith which was reported by the Sahaaba was omitted by them.
Clarification is further required regarding another doubt in most minds: What is the necessity of making Taqlid of only one Imaam? One should be allowed to follow any of the four Imaams in the different Masa’il as was the method in the time of the Sahaaba and Tabi`in. Mazhab was not confined to a single Imam. Why must such concessions not be allowed in our times?
In the time of the Sahaaba, which was the best of times, there was no ulterior motives regarding religious questions. A question was asked to know the correct method and to practice on it. It was not asked for one’s convenience as in later times. For example, A person with Wudhu touched his wife which according to the Shafi Mazhab nullifies Wudhu: Now when he is told to make Wudhu, he replies: “I make Taqlid of Imaam Abu Hanifah and it is not a breaker of Wudhu according to his Mazhab, therefore my Salaat will be valid.”
Now this person vomits, which according to Hanafi Mazhab, breaks Wudhu. He is now told to make Wudhu. He replies: ‘I make Taqlid of Imam Shafi`i; it is not a nullifier of Wudhu, therefore my Salaat is valid’. If this person (who has on the one hand, touched his spouse, and on the other hand, vomited) has to perform his Salaat with such a Wudhu, it would neither be correct by Imaam Abu Hanifah nor by Imam Shafi`i. In terminology this is known as Talfiq which is agreed upon unanimously to be void and not permitted. This is not Taqlid but following one’s passions and desires for one’s personal convenience which lead one astray. The necessity of following a Mazhab, Imam or Mujtahid is that one would not fall into the temptations of following one’s own desires. The Holy Qurãn states:
‘And do not follow desires. You would be led astray from the path of Allah.” Thus the need of following only one Imam.
For centuries we have heard of great scholars, jurists, ‘Ulama’ and Auliya who had the treasures of knowledge, who were in their personal capacities libraries with encyclopedic knowledge. Their piety constituted perfect examples in emulation of the Sahaaba. Their entire life was spent in accordance with the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam). They also followed the ‘I’ima Arba’` and it would not be incorrect to say that it was because of this Taqlid that they attained the heights of perfection.
Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) is confined to the four schools. Those that do not confirm to any one of them are called Ahle Hadith or Ghair Muqallid.
Taqleed or following of an Imam on matters of Shariah
A.) This view is based certain misconceptions arising out superfluous treatment of the complex issues involved. The full clarification of these misconceptions requires a detailed article. However, I would try to explain the basic points as briefly as possible.
1. It is true that “obedience”, in its true sense, belongs to Allah Almighty alone. He is the only One who deserves our obedience, and we are not supposed to obey any one other than Him. This is the logical requirement of the doctrine of “Tawhid” (belief in the Oneness of Allah). Even the obedience of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) has been prescribed for us only because he is the Messenger of Allah who conveys to us the divine commandments. Otherwise he has no divine status deserving our obedience per se. We are ordered to obey and follow him only because Allah’s pleasure has been epitomised in his sayings and acts.
We are, therefore, required to follow the Holy Quran, being the direct commandment of Allah, and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) being an indirect form of the divine commandments.
But the point is that the interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah is not an easy job. It requires an intensive and extensive study of both the sacred sources of Shariah, which cannot be undertaken by every layman. If it is made obligatory on each and every muslim to consult the Holy Quran and the Sunnah in each and every problem arising before him, it will burden him with a responsibility which is almost impossible for him to discharge, because the inference of the rules Shariah from the Quran and sunnah requires a thorough knowledge of the Arabic language and all the relevant material which a layman is not supposed to have. The only solution to this problem is that a group of persons should equip themselves with the required knowledge of Shariah, and the others should ask them about the injunctions of Shariah in their day-to-day affairs. This is exactly what the Holy Qur’an has ordained for the muslims in the following words:
“So, a section from each group of them should go forth, so that they may acquire the knowledge and perception in the matters of religion, and so that they may warn their people when they return to them that they may be watchful.”
This verse of the Holy Quran indicates in clear terms that a group of muslims should devote itself for acquiring the knowledge of Shariah, and all others should consult them in the matters of Shariah.
Now, if a person asks an authentic ‘alim (knowledgeable person) about the Shariah ruling in a specific matter, and acts upon his advice, can a reasonable person accuse him of committing shirk on the ground that he has followed the advice of a human being instead of Quran and sunnah? Certainly not. The reason is obvious. He has not abandoned the obedience of Allah and His Messenger; rather, he wants nothing but to obey them. However, being ignorant of their commands, he has consulted an ‘alim in order to know what he is required by Allah to do. He has not taken that ‘alim as the subject of his obedience, but he has taken him as an interpreter of the divine commandments. Nobody can blame him for committing shirk.
This is exactly what the term taqleed’ means. A person who has no ability to understand the Holy Quran and Sunnah consults a muslim jurist, often termed as imam, and acts according to his interpretation of Shariah. He never deems him worthy of obedience per se, but he seeks his guidance for knowing the requirements of shariah, because he has no direct access to the Holy Quran and sunnah or does not have adequate knowledge for inferring the rules of Shariah. This behavior is called taqleed of that jurist or imam. How can it be said that taqleed is tantamount to shirk?
The qualified muslim jurists or imams have devoted their lives for the study of the Holy Quran and sunnah and have collected the rules of Shariah; according to their respective interpretation of shariah, in an almost codified form. This collection of the Shariah rules according to the interpretation of a particular jurist is called the ‘madhhab’ of that jurist. Thus the madhhab of an imam is not something paralell to shariah, or something alien to it; in fact it is a particular interpretation of Shariah and a collection of the major Shariah rules inferred from the Holy Quran and sunnah by some authentic jurists and arranged subject wise for the convenience of the followers of the Shariah. So, the one who follows a particular madhhab actually follows the Holy Quran and sunnah according to the interpretation of a particular authentic jurist whom he believes to be the most trustworthy and the most knowledgeable in matters of Shariah.
As for the difference of the madhahib it has emerged through the different possible interpretations of the rules mentioned in or inferred from the Holy Quran and sunnah.
In order to understand this point properly, it will be pertinent to note that the rules mentioned in the Holy Quran and sunnah are of two different types. Some rules are mentioned in these holy sources in such clear and unambiguous expressions that they permit only one interpretation, and no other interpretation is possible thereof, such as the obligation of Salah, Zakah, fasting and Hajj, the prohibition of pork, wine, etc. With regard to this set of rules, no difference of opinion has ever taken place. All the schools of jurists are unanimous on their interpretation, hence there is no room for ijtihad or taqleed in these matters, and because every layman can easily understand them from the Holy Quran and sunnah, no intervention of a jurist or imam is called for. But there are some rules of Shariah derived from the Holy Quran and Sunnah where either of the following different situations may arise:
1. The expression used in the Holy Sources may permit more than one interpretation. For example, while mentioning the period of ‘iddah (waiting period) for the divorced women, the Holy Quran has used the following expression:
“And the divorced women shall wait for three periods of ‘Qur’ ”
The word ‘Qur’ used in this verse has two meanings lexically. It covers both the period of menstruation and the period of purity (i.e. the tuhr). Both meanings are possible in the verse and each of them has different legal consequences. The question that requires juristic effort is which of the two meanings are intended here. While answering this question, the juristic opinions may naturally differ, and have actually differed. Imam Shafi’i interprets the word ‘Qur’ as the period of tuhr (purity) while Imam Abu Hanifah interprets it as ‘the period of menstruation.’ Both of them have a number of arguments in support of their respective views, and no one interpretation can be rejected outright. It is in this way that the differences among certain madhahib have emerged.
2. Sometimes there appears some sort of contradiction between two traditions of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and a jurist has to reconcile them or prefer one of them over the other. In this case also, the viewpoints of the jurists may differ from each other.
For example, there are two sets of traditions found in the books of hadith attributing different behaviors to the Holy Prophet while going for ruku in prayer. The first set of ahadith mentions that he used to raise his hands before bowing down for ruku while the other traditions mention that he did not raise his hands except in the beginning of the Salah.
The muslim jurists, while accepting that both methods are correct, have expressed different views about the question which of the two methods is more advisable. This is another cause of difference between various madhahib.
3. There are many problems or issues which have not been mentioned in the Holy Quran and Sunnah in specific or express terms. The solution to such problems is sought either through analogy or through some expressions found in the Holy Sources which have an indirect bearing on the subject. Here again the jurists may have different approaches while they infer the required solution from the Holy Quran and Sunnah.
Such are the basic causes of difference between the madhahib. This difference is in no way a defect in Shariah; rather, it is a source of dynamism and flexibility.1
A muslim jurist who has all the necessary qualifications for ijtihad is supposed, in the aforesaid situation, to exert the best of his efforts to discover the actual intention of the Holy Quran and Sunnah. If he does this to the best of his ability and with all his sincerity, his obligation towards Allah is discharged, and nobody can blame him for violating the Shariah, even though his view seems to be weaker when compared to the other ones.
This is a natural and logical phenomenon certain to be found in every legal system. The enacted laws in every legal framework do not contain each and every minute detail of the possible situations. The expressions used in a statute are often open to more than one interpretation, and different courts of law, while applying such provisions to the practical situations, often disagree in the matter of their interpretation. One court explains the law in a particular way while the other court takes it in a quite different sense. Nobody ever blames any one of them for the violation of the law.
Not only this, if the former court is a High Court, all the lower courts and all the people living within the jurisdiction of that High Court are bound to follow the interpretation laid down by it even though their personal opinion does not conform to the approach of the superior court. In this case, if they follow the decision of the superior Court nobody can say that they are not following the law, or that they are holding the Court as the Sovereign authority instead of the real legislator, because, in fact, they are following the decision of the Court only as a trust-worthy interpreter of law, and not as a legislator.
Exactly in the same way, the madhab of a muslim jurist is nothing but a credible interpretation of the Shariah. Another competent jurist may disagree with this interpretation, but he can never accuse him of the violation of Shariah, nor can anyone blame the followers of that particular madhhab for following something other than Shariah, or for committing shirk by following the imam of that madhhab instead of obeying Allah and His Messenger, because, they are following the madhhab as a credible interpretation of Shariah, and not as a law-making authority.
The next question which may arise here is what a layman should do with regard to these different madhahib, and which one of them should be followed. Answer to this question is very simple. All of these madhahib being sincere and competent efforts to discover the true intention of Shariah, all of them are equally true, and a layman should follow the madhhab of any one of the recognized imams whom he believes to be more knowledgeable and more pious. Although the muslim jurists who have undertaken the exercise of ijtihad are many in number, yet the madhahib of the four jurists are more comprehensive well-arranged and well-preserved even today, and the muslim ummah as a whole has taken them as the most reliable interpretations of Shariah. These four madhahib are called Hanfi, Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali schools. All the rest of the madhahib are either not comprehensive in the sense that they do not contain all aspects of Shariah or they have not been preserved in a reliable form. That is why the majority of the muslim Ummah belongs to either of these four madhahib, and if a layman adopts any one of these schools in the matter of interpretation of the Shariah, his obligation of following the Shariah is discharged..
This is the true picture of the term ‘taqleed’ with reference to the recognized juristic madhahib. I hope this explanation will be able to satisfy your question and will be sufficient to establish that ‘taqleed’ has nothing to do with shirk. It is, in fact a simple and easy way to follow the Shariah.
QUESTION Importance of Taqleed of one imaam
Why is it important to do Taqleed of only one Imam? What harm is there in following one Imam for one mas’alah, then another Imam for some other mas’alah, the way it was in the time of the Sahabah and the Tabi’een. They were not dependent on one individual in following the whole Mazhab.
In the time of the Sahabah, virtue and prosperity had the upper hand and generally there was no part in deen for fulfilling personal desires. That is why when someone inquired about a Mas’alah, he asked with a good intention and he would act upon it as well, regardless of whether he liked it or not.
In later times, this was not the case. Instead, people started having the urge to ask one mas’alah from a certain Alim and if the answer was against their desires, they would walk off to another Alim in search of ease. Still not content with this, they were stricken with a growing concern about how they could find a way out in every Mas’alah which would satisfy them. It is apparent that this can not be the motive for the search of truth.
Sometimes this can cause a lot of damage. For example, a person made wudhu then touched his wife. Somebody following the Mazhab of Imam Shafi’ee (rahmatullahi alaihe) said to him “Repeat your wudhu because touching your wife breaks the wud-hu.” He replies, “I do Taqleed of Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullahi alaihe) and wudhu does not break in his opinion of this situation.” Then this person vomits. Somebody following the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullahi alaihe)says to him, ‘Repeat your wudhu because vomit breaks the wudhu in the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullahi alaihe).” He replies, “I am following the Mazhab of Imam Shafi’ee (rahmatullahi alaihe) and in his view, wudhu does not break by vomiting.” Now, this persons salaah is not valid in accordance with the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullahi alaihe) or Imam Shafi’ee (rahmatullahi alaihe) This is known as Talfeeq which is void and not permissible, by unanimous decision.
Following in this manner is in actual fact doing Taqleed of neither of the Imams. Instead it is fulfilling personal desires, which is forbidden in the Shari’ah. It leads a person astray and away from the path of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’aan, ‘And do not follow your personal desires, for they will lead you astray from the path of Allah.’
This is why it is important to do Taqleed of only one Imaam. The Qur’aan has associated obedience with repentance, ‘And follow the path of he who turns towards me,’
On this basis, any individual who had strong presumption about Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullahi alaihe), that he was repentant, correct and that his Ijtihad was in accordance with the Qur’aan and Ahadeeth, he chose to do his Taqleed. Anybody who had the same thought regarding Imam Sha-fi’ee (rahmatullahi alaihe), Imam Malik (rahmatullahi alaihe) or about Imam Ahmad (rahmatullahi alaihe), he started doing his Taqleed. Now, this is incorrect to leave one’s own Imam whenever a person feels and start following a different Mazhab, because without permission of the Shari’ah it becomes Talfeeq and fulfilment of personal desires. In result of which a person is lead astray.
Hence, Molana Mohammad Hussain Sahib has written in his compilation Ishaa’atus-Sunnah Vol 11 No.2 pg.53. After opposing Taqleed for a very long period of time and then becoming affected with bitter experience for not doing Taqleed, he writes, “We found out from 25 years of experience that those people who abstain from entire Mujtahids and Taqleed, they end up saying farewell to Islam. Some become Christians whilst others end up without any Mazhab at all. Rebellion and disobedience of the Shari ‘ah is a petty result of this freedom.”
This is why those learned Ulama who have deep insight of the Qur’aan and countless treasures of the traditions of the Prophet May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and the Sahabah, in front of their eyes. Whose hearts are enriched with the fear of Allah and whose lives are enlightened with the lamp of the Sunnah of the Prophet May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, still choose to do Taqleed, despite having these qualities and virtues.
It would not be an exaggeration if it was said that these Ulama reached such a status only through following the Prophet May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and doing Taqleed of the pious servants of Deen and the great Mujtahideen.