Ok, so this controversy, I’m going to work my way towards it, inshaAllah, instead of giving you the final verdict. Also, this discussion isn’t just about people, it’s has a lot to do with understanding the principles of our religion.
I got this advice from a friend not too long ago. ‘Stay away from the Ghair Muqallids’. A couple years back, I read a book about how one should not do Taqleed (the book wasn’t really impressive by the way.) Just the other day, I was talking to another friend, and he talked about his cousin was pressuring him to not become a Ghair-Muqallid. He didn’t even know what the term meant. Yeah, so this controversy is all the rage here in Pakistan. But what do these terms even mean? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Why? Let’s take a step back and reexamine this issue.
So the first question, what is Taqleed?
In the Arabic language, Taqleed literally means placing something around the neck. The word for necklace in Arabic is Qilaadah. Technically speaking, however, it means following a qualified scholarship. Some add to this “uncritical following of a qualified scholarship”.
The Four Madhabs
Taqleed stems from the concept of following the four Madhahib, schools of thought. To summarize this whole concept, in the early days of Islam, starting from the era of the Tabi’een, the generation after the Sahabah, there were huge scholars of our religion whom people would listen to and learn from. Each scholar had his own way of understanding the religion. (Which is normal really, we all think differently, no two people think alike in all circumstances.) All of these scholars each had many, many students and so they formed their own ‘schools’ in a sense where they would teach the religion in a particular way and their students would follow them. These different ways were very similar and in fact the scholars agreed on more things than they differed.
There were about a dozen of these scholars (some were contemporaries, others were of different generations), but in the end only 4 (in some senses 5) of these schools survived. (A side note, as Imam Shafi said the reason for the survival of some of them and not of others was because of their students. Those who had students zealous in spreading the Madhab caused the Madhab to prosper. ) And they are the schools of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Each of these schools has its own set of rules with regard to Ibadah and Ma’llamaat (dealings). Though these rules and regulations differ from each other to some extent, they are all based upon each scholar and his students’ understanding of the Quran and Sunnah.
To explain, how these scholars differed let’s take an example which inshaAllah, if you study properly you’ll be able to learn a lot from it.
Issue: Are you allowed to face the Qiblah when relieving yourself?The scholars had three major (note the word major here) opinions concerning this issue:
- One is forbidden to face or turn ones back to the Qiblah.(Imam Abu Haanifa’s Madhab, One narration of Imam Ahmed’s Narration, Abu Ayub Al-Ansari (R) )
- It is permissible to face the Qiblah while
answering the call of nature.
(Imam a-Dhaahiri’s opinion – his Madhab is non-existent these days but still codified, Urwa Ibn Zubayr (R) )
- It is permissible if you are inside, and there is a partition between you and outside. If you are not inside then it is not allowed. (Imam AshShafi’s Madhab, Imam Malik’s Madhab, Abdullah Ibn Umar (R), and a stronger narration of Imam Ahmed).
Proofs used by the Scholars on this Issue:
1. Proof used by the scholars who supported the first opinion:
Abu Ayoub Al-Ansaaree(R) reported from Allah’s Messenger (SAW ) that he said:
This hadith is of an extremely high level of authenticity. Furthermore, this hadith was directed to the people of Madinah because to them the Qiblah was facing the direction of the south. In the first hadeeth of Abu Ayoub (R), turning towards the east or west was specified because Madinah was located towards the south. So facing East or West would be away from the Qiblah.
2. Proof used by the scholars who supported the second opinion:
Ibn ‘Umar (R) narrated:
Another Hadith that has a very high level of authenticity.
3. Proof used by scholars who supported the third opinion:
Abdullah Ibn Umar(R) narrated:
As you can see, all 3 opinions with regards to this matter have proof established from the Quran and Sunnah. In other words, all of them are correct to follow. But here’s the real question. What should I do? Which one is strongest? First of all, let us look at critically look at the issue,
Reasons for Disagreement and Conclusions
The Prophet’s (SAW) actions in the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar (see above) contradict his saying in Abu Ayub’s (R). To resolve this, the majority of scholars state that if one is within the confines of one’s home, it is okay to face the Qiblah. Those who say that it’s not permissible at any place say that while the Prophet (SAW) was urinating, he did not know that anybody else saw him. This was done in private. He wasn’t expecting anybody to see it. So, this could specifically be just for the Prophet (SAW). For example, the tahajjud prayer was obligatory on the Prophet (SAW), but not on us.
The Companions themselves (Abu Ayub Al-Ansari, Abdullah Ibn Umar and Urwah ibn Zubair) differed on this issue. If they differed, and it is not from the four khulafah (the four great successors), then we need to go back to the Sunnah.
If there is an order from the Prophet (SAW) “to do” and “not to do,” then the order “not to do” takes over.
We should try to follow the order as much as we can, but we should never come even close to a prohibition.
The Strongest Opinion
According to Shaykh AbdulBary Yahya (who taught me about this issue), his verdict was that Imam Abu Hanifa’s opinion is the strongest. Why? Because of the following established principle of Islam:
Why? Because the Messenger’s (SAW) sayings are directed to us, the Muslim Ummah. His (SAW)’s actions might be applicable and permissible only to him alone. For example, the tahajjud prayer was compulsory for the Messenger (SAW) but not for us. Allahu'alam.
End of this part for now. InshaAllah, I'll try to finish the discussion in the next part.