You can be the jack of all trades, a lot of us claim to be one, but let me ask you, is it possible to master everything as well?
Can you cook, be a teacher, repair cars, and fly planes, all at the same time? You gotta be God if your answer is yes.
When we all seek expertise in every worldly aspect of our lives, how do you expect to get away without it when it comes to God?
So that’s what we’re going to discuss today, “seeking expert advice in religion” – Taqleed.
Comes from the Arabic root word [قلّد] [يقلَّد] [تقليد], it means “following one thing”, and in our discussion it refers to following a person in Islamic legislations.
-It does not mean “blind following” – rather, it simply means that since we are not able to extract the laws of Islam from the sources ourselves, we follow the person who has this ability.
-We are not obligated to perform Taqleed, rather as the scholars and the Ahadith tell us, our first option is to become a Mujtahid ourselves. Since this may not be possible for everyone, we can then perform Ihtiyat (Precaution) in all areas. This too is difficult so thus, as a last resort, we refer to an expert who has the ability to guide us to our responsibility.
In other words, Taqleed is to act according to the judgements/ verdicts of a fully qualified Mujtahid. A Mujtahid is someone who has the power of deriving and understanding the rules from the original sources such as: the intellect, consensus, Quran and narrations. And how does one become a Mujtahid? To obtain this ability, one must learn the following sciences: Arabic literature, acquaintance with commentary on the Quran, understanding the meaning of traditions, Rijal (recognition of the narrators of traditions), the principles of jurisprudence (the way rulings are derived), mastery of jurisprudence, etc.
Ijtihad is the process by which a scholar extracts the laws of Islam from their four primary sources: the Quran, Sunnah, Ijma and Aql. Thus, Mujtahid is the person who has reached to the level of Ijtihad or the ability to extract the laws of Islam.
Another term, Marja-e-Taqleed, or plural, Maraja-e-Taqleed refers to the title given to the highest level of Usuli Shia authority, a Grand Ayatollah with the authority given by a hawzah to make legal decisions within the boundaries of Islamic law for followers and lower-ranking clerics. It literally means “source to follow” or “religious reference”.
Of course, one must note that ijtihad is different from Marja’iat Taqleed. Every marja’e taqleed is mujtahid but not every mujtahid is a Marja-e-Taqleed.
While the one followed is called a Muqallad, the follower who performs Taqleed is called a Muqallid.
Well, now let me give you the logical proof of Taqleed:
Just as any other sphere of our lives, since it’s not possible for us to acquire know-hows in every aspect, like engineering, medicine, optometry, or car repair altogether, referring to the field experts is the best choice!
The religious interpretations and rulings are no different and thus, logic tells us that if we are not at the level of understanding the Shariah, we must ask those who have specialised in it.
Not just it, but let me tell you, there’s even the Quranic proof for Taqleed:
Yes, Many verses that give us a general and specific commandment to ask those who have more knowledge if we do not know.
1. The verse of the Ahlal Dhikr:
فَا ْسأَلُوا أَ ْه َل ال ِّذّ ْك ِّر ِّإ ْن ُك ْنتُ ْم َلَ تَ ْعلَ ُمو َن
“So then ask the people of the reminder if you do not have any knowledge.”
Repeated twice in the Qur`an in two contrasting meanings, once in Surah Al-Anbiyah, Verse 7 and Surah Al-Nahl, Verse 43.
This verse is in regards to the non-Muslims that they should ask those who were sent with the Message if they are in doubt in regards to the Prophet of Allah (blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny).
2. The second example, Surah Al-Nahl, verse 43 is a direct announcement to the Believers where it says:
وَمَاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنَا مِنۡ قَبۡلِكَ اِلَّا رِجَالًا نُّوۡحِىۡۤ اِلَيۡهِمۡ فَسۡـئَلُوۡۤا اَهۡلَ الذِّكۡرِ اِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَۙ
“(O Muhammad), whenever We raised any Messengers before you, they were no other than human beings; (except that) to them We sent revelation. So ask those who possess knowledge if you do not know.”
Those who are to explain the Quran and in turn the Islamic laws and beliefs are none other than the Prophet and his rightful successors (the 12 A’immah from the family of the Prophet saw) and then in their absence, those whom they place in authority over us to perform this task (the Ulama).
3. The Verse of Tafaqqah:
ََََََََََوَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُوا كَافَّةً فَلَوْلَا نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ
“And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious.”
This verse shows that a group of people must go forth to gain a deeper understanding of the religion. Upon returning from their studies, others must refer to them to learn the religion.
So that’s it for today, I hope we all have understood the meaning and importance Taqleed holds in our lives as Muslims.
Insh’Allah, tomorrow we’ll learn the importance of another essential aspect of Islam, Taharat which means “purity”.
Until then, Wassalam