7. Absolute Taqleed & Taqleed Shakhsi during times of Sahabah رضی اللہ عنھم & Tabi’een رحمۃ اللہ علیھم
Shah Waliullah رحمۃ اللہ علیہ states in “Fayoosul Haramain” that taqleed was prevalent in the blessed era of the Sahabah رضی اللہ عنھم and Tabi’een رحمۃ اللہ علیھم without objection.
People who were not occupied in gaining knowledge or could not deduce a particular issue using their own ijtihad, consulted other jurist Sahabah رضی اللہ عنھم.
First we will see some examples of absolute taqleed also known as taqleed mutlaq.
In Majma’ uz Zawaid the following is recorded:
"Ibn ‘Abbas said that Umar رضی اللہ عنہ delivered a sermon at Jabiyah saying, “O People! If anyone wishes to ask anything about the Qur’an, he must go to Ubayy ibn Ka’b رضی اللہ عنہ. He, who wishes to know about injunctions on inheritance, must go to Zayd bin Thabit رضی اللہ عنہ. And one who intends to learn about fiqh must go to Mu’az ibn Jabal رضی اللہ عنہ. And if anyone wishes to know about wealth and property he must come to me because Allah سبحانه و تعالى has made me its guardian and distributor.”
In the above hadith, Umar رضی اللہ عنہ informed the people about those who excelled in certain fields and told them to approach them and rely on their opinions in concerned matters. This is nothing but taqleed.
In Muwatta Imam Malik it is stated:
“Saalim رحمۃ اللہ علیہ said that someone asked Abdullah ibn Umar رضی اللہ عنہ that a man borrowed some amount of money from another for a specified period. The creditor was willing to waive a portion of the debt if the debtor repaid before the due date. Ibn Umar رضی اللہ عنہ did not like it and he disallowed it.”
This question is not answered by any clear hadith which can go back to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and thus Ibn Umar did ijtihad. Neither the person enquiring asked for any reason for the ruling, nor was any reason given by Ibn Umar رضی اللہ عنہ. The ruling of Ibn Umar رضی اللہ عنہ was acted upon. If this is not taqleed then what is?
Like these there are numerous incidents which clearly show taqleed in the times of the Sahabah. For detailed arguments and further evidence refer to the book by Mufti Taqi Uthmani titled “The Legal Status of Following a Madhhab.”
Shah Waliullah رحمۃ اللہ علیہ, as quoted by Mufti A.H. Elias in his book “Taqleed”, has said:
“The Sahabah رضی اللہ عنھم were spread in different countries and in every place one Sahabi was followed, for example:
Mecca: Ibn Abbas رضی اللہ عنہ
Medina: Zayd Ibn Thabit رضی اللہ عنہ
Kufa: Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud رضی اللہ عنہ
Yemen: Mu’az رضی اللہ عنہ
Basra: Anas رضی اللہ عنہ”
Just like there are numerous examples of Absolute Taqleed in the times of the Sahabah رضی اللہ عنھم, there are abundant evidences of Taqleed Shakhsi during the times of the Sahabah رضی اللہ عنھم and Tabi’een رحمۃ اللہ علیھم.
In Sahih Bukhari a tradition is recorded as follows:
"Ikramah رحمۃ اللہ علیہ reported: Some people of Madina ask Ibn Abbas about the woman who menstruated after the fard tawaf. (Should she wait to perform tawaf wada or may return without performing it?) He said, 'She may go home (without performing it).' The people of Madina said, 'We cannot act on your ruling and forsake Zayd ibn Thabit’s ruling.'”
This incident is also reported by Qatadah in Musnad Abu Dawood Tiyalsi. The people of Madina are quoted to have said:
"'O Ibn Abbas! We will not follow you in the matter you disagree with Zayd ibn Thabit.' He replied, 'Ask Umm Sulaym (when you go to Madina whether my ruling is correct).'"
The people of Madina adhered to the ruling of Zayd ibn Thabit رضی اللہ عنہ despite the fact that Ibn Abbas رضی اللہ عنہ gave them ahadith of Umm Sulaym رضی اللہ عنہ. Is this not taqleed shakhsi?
Also note that Ibn Abbas رضی اللہ عنہ did not say that they are committing a sin by doing taqleed shakhsi or they are committing polytheism or anything of that sort.
Ibn Abbas رضی اللہ عنہ simply told them to refer to Umm Sulaym and then refer the matter back to Zayd رضی اللہ عنہ. As explain in Muslim, Bayhaqi etc, when this matter was re-referred to Zayd رضی اللہ عنہ, he changed his verdict.
A question arises. When people of Madina made taqleed to Zayd رضی اللہ عنہ, why would they investigate the hadith of Umm Sulaym رضی اللہ عنھا?
Mufti Taqi Uthmani answers in “The Legal Status of Following a Madhhab“, explaining that this question is based on a misconception that if you do taqleed of a mujtahid then you cannot investigate a Hadith. The majority of the questions by the ghair muqallideen are based on this one misconception.
He further writes:
“As I have stated already, the reality of taqleed is merely that if anyone is unable to understand the Qur’an and Hadith on his own, to clear the superficial doubts, know the abrogated and abrogating then without seeking a detailed study from a mujtahid, he relies on his (mujtahid’s) knowledge and conducts himself on his edicts. Such a person is in no way disallowed thereafter to study the Qur’an and Ahadith. In fact, this door remains open even after taqleed. There are many scholars who have written exegesis of the Qur’an and Ahadith in spite of having adopted the Madhhab of an imam. If they come across a hadith that contradicts the ruling of a mujtahid, and there is no evidence against it then they conduct themselves on the hadith, not the imam’s rulings.”
In Sahih Bukhari it is mentioned:
"Huzayl Ibn Shurahbeel رحمۃ اللہ علیہ reported that someone asked Abu Musa Ash’ari رضی اللہ عنہ a ruling. He gave an answer but also advised them to ask Abdullah ibn Mas’ud رضی اللہ عنہ. They went to him and told him that they had asked Abu Musa Ash’ari رضی اللہ عنہ already. His ruling was contrary to Abu Musa Ash’ari رضی اللہ عنہ. When Abu Musa Ash’ari رضی اللہ عنہ was told about this, he said, 'Do not ask me (for rulings) as long as this great scholar is among you.'”
Musnad Imam Ahmed also records this narration but the words in it are:
“As long as this major scholar is among you, do not ask me anything.”
This was a clear example of Abu Musa Ash’ari رضی اللہ عنہ recommending the taqleed shakhsi of Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud رضی اللہ عنہ.
Some ghair muqallideen argue that Abu Musa Ash’ari رضی اللہ عنہ meant ‘do not come to juniors when seniors are present’. Meaning, he did not say ‘only ask Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud رضی اللہ عنہ’.
Mufti Taqi Uthmani explains:
“The truth is that this incident took place in Kufah where Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud رضی اللہ عنہ was the most learned man available. It took place in the times of Uthman رضی اللہ عنہ. During this time Ali رضی اللہ عنہ was also not in Kufah. Thus there was no one else of the caliber of Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud رضی اللہ عنہ. So, if the saying of Abu Musa رضی اللہ عنہ were to mean ‘when the senior is there, the junior should not be consulted,’ it would mean the same thing that as long as Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud is there, only he should be asked for rulings. There was no scholar in Kufah more learned than him.”
In Abu Dawood is the following famous tradition:
"Mu’az ibn Jabal رضی اللہ عنہ reported that when Allah’s Messenger ﷺ sent him to Yemen, he asked him how he would decide cases when they were brought to him. He said, “According to Allah’s Book.” The Prophet ﷺ asked, 'If you do not find them there?'
'Then according to your Sunnah.'
'But if they are not there?'
Mu’az said, 'I will make ijtihad and extract judgment with my opinion (and try to arrive at a true conclusion), not being negligent in that.'
The Prophet ﷺ was pleased and patted him lightly on the chest saying, 'All praise belongs to Allah Who caused the envoy of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ to conform to what pleases Allah’s Messenger ﷺ.'”
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ sent Mu’az رضی اللہ عںہ as a governor, judge, teacher and mujtahid to the people of Yaman and bound them to obey him. He was also given permission to issue a verdict on his personal judgment. The people of Yaman were permitted to make taqleed of an individual. The prophet ﷺ made it binding to him.
The author of “at-tahqiq fi jawab at-taqleed” criticized Mufti Taqi Uthmani for using this hadith as evidence. While quoting him Mufti Taqi Uthmani writes:
“One who calls me and everyone who observes taqleed infidels and polytheists has commented on my conclusions thus, ‘He should have seen first if the hadith is authentic.’ He then reproduces the objections of Allamah Jauzqani رحمۃ اللہ علیہ from the marginal notes of Abu Dawood against this hadith. First of all, while he rejects taqleed, he himself practices it when he finds Allamah Jauzqani’s words enough. Secondly, it sufficied him to see the marginal notes of Abu Dawood to verify the Hadith; if he had only seen Allamah Ibn Qayyim’s رحمۃ اللہ علیہ investigation, his doubts would have been set at rest. The Allamah has given answers to the objections of Imam Jauzqani رحمۃ اللہ علیہ and asserted that none of the narrators of this hadith is a liar or in any way defective. Besides, he has also named another chain of narrators for this Hadith:
Ubadah ibn Nusayi from Abdur Rahman from Ghanam from Mu’az رضی اللہ عنہ.
He has written that (the sanad and the narrators are known for reliability).
Also on reference to Khatib Baghdadi that the Hadith is worth citing for encouragement of the ummah. (I’lam al-Muqi’een)”
Another clear example of taqleed shakhsi is given by Ibn Jarir رحمۃ اللہ علیہ. According to him, six of the seven readings of the Qur’an were abolished by Uthman رضی اللہ عنہ. From the time of the prophet Muhammad ﷺ down to the time of this event, reading from all of the seven readings was allowed.
Ibn Hajar رحمۃ اللہ علیہ is quoted in Tafsir ibn Jarir:
“In the same way, the ummah were instructed to protect the Qur’an, and to recite it. They were allowed to choose one of the seven ways of reciting. Then the same ummah made it binding on them that they would retain only one recital and recite according to that, and forego the remaining six recitals.”
Ibn Jariri answers possible objections:
“That which those people did was wajib on them. Whatever they did was for the good of Islam and the followers of Islam. Hence, it was better for them to do this than to keep Islam and its people open to harm (by retaining all the seven recitals).” (Tafseer Ibn Jarir, Muqaddamah)
As for the objection of those who will say that scholars say Uthman رضی اللہ عنہ did not abolish the six readings, Mufti Taqi Uthmani writes:
“It is that Uthman رضی اللہ عنہ did not eliminate the six recitals. Rather all seven readings prevail to this day. However, he did determine a style of writing for the Qur’an.
If we adopt this point of view, which most scholars have, even then this is an example of taqleed of an individual because before that the Qur’an could be written down in any script. In fact, the sequence of the surah differed in different copies.”
Many tabi’een have reported that they chose to follow one or another Sahabi رضی اللہ عنہ.
In I’lam al-Muqi’een by Ibn Qayyim رحمۃ اللہ علیہ the following narrations are reported:
1. Imam Sha’bi رحمۃ اللہ علیہ said, “To whom it pleases to gain authority in judgment let him adopt the sayings of Umar."
2.Mujahid رحمۃ اللہ علیہ said, “When people disagree about an affair, see how Umar رضی اللہ عنہ acted. Thus, follow him.
3.Imam A’mash رحمۃ اللہ علیہ said about Ibrahim Nakh’ee رحمۃ اللہ علیہ, “When Umar رضی اللہ عنہ and Ibn Mas’ud رضی اللہ عنہ agreed about a question, Ibrahim Nakh’ee رحمۃ اللہ علیہ did not regard any verdict equal to theirs. But when they differed, he went by Abdullah’s (Ibn Mas’ud) verdict.”
Shah Waliullah رحمۃ اللہ علیہ in al-Baligha has written:
“They (ibn Abbas and other Sahabah) differed in many rulings and many from the people of Mecca gave preference to his (ibn Abbas’s) rulings over others.”
To give preference to the rulings of one person over others is Taqleed Shakhsi.
All these were just a couple of examples given from the large database of evidences proving taqleed shakhsi i.e. taqleed of an individual during the times of the Sahabah رضی اللہ عنہ and Tabi’een رحمۃ اللہ علیھم.