What is wrong if one Refers to the Qur’an and Hadith Directly?

If one who is not a mujtahid refers to the Qur’an and Hadith directly in order to extract shar’ee laws and find solutions to his problems, he will land himself in clear disaster and encounter many difficulties. It is akin to an ignorant layman trying to find a solution to legal or medical issues by directly referring to the sources. He is bound to misunderstand many fundamental issues and bring great disaster upon himself. Let us examine some of the problems he will encounter:

The First Problem

The first problem is that some people will begin to consider themselves as mujtahids. They will refer to translations of the Qur’aan and the books of Hadith (such as the translations of Saheeh Bukhaari, Saheeh Muslim, etc,).  Subsequently, they will arrive at their own incorrect conclusions. This is undoubtedly detrimental not only to their own Deen, but also equally destructive to the Deen of the general public. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) foretold the coming of such crucial times where people will confine the truth to their own logic and they will shun all emulation of the pious predecessors. Hence, he is reported to have said that from amongst the signs of Qiyaamah:

إذا رأيت شحا مطاعا وهوى متبعا ودنيا مؤثرة وإعجاب كل ذي رأي برأيه

You will witness people fulfilling their greed, following their base desires, giving preference to dunya over deen and being satisfied with their own reasoning and understanding. (Mishkaat Pg. 437)

واعجاب المرء بنفسه وهي أشدهن

A person will be satisfied and pleased with his independent reasoning and understanding. (Mishkaat Pg. 434)

Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has also mentioned that from amongst the signs of Qiyaamah is:

ولعن آخر هذه الأمة أولها

The latter of this ummat will curse the former. (Mishkaat Pg. 470)

Consider the following two incidents which reveal the outcome of the one who is not a mujtahid but, refers directly to the Qur’an and Hadith. The following two incidents are narrated by Allamah Kowthari (Rahimahullah). He says:

“A person was accustomed to performing Salaat-ul-Witr after making istinja (cleaning himself after urinating). When asked about it, he quoted the Hadith:

من استجمر فليوتر

He who uses mud pebbles for istinja should “perform witr” (Mishkaat Pg. 42)

Since the same verb فليوتر which is used for Salaat-ul-Witr is also used for ‘doing something in an odd number’, the person misunderstood this Hadith to be referring to witr Salaah. The correct meaning of this Hadith is that, he who uses mud pebbles for istinja, should use an odd number.

Another person declared that it was forbidden to water one’s neighbour’s garden. He substantiated it by quoting the following Hadith:

لا يحل لامرئ يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر أن يسقي ماءه زرع غيره

It is not permitted for one who believes in Allah and the last day to irrigate someone else’s crop with his own water. (Mishkaat Pg. 290)

The Hadith actually implies that, if someone acquired a pregnant slave woman (when slavery was still in practise), then he is prohibited from copulating with her until she gives birth.


The Status of Taqleed

Q: What is the status of Taqleed (following one of the four Imaams of fiqh) in Deen? e.g. Fardh, Waajib, Sunnah or Mustahab?

A: Following one of the four Imaams of fiqh viz. (Imaam Abu Hanifah, Imaam Maalik, Imaam Shafi’ee and Imaam Ahmad [Rahimahumullah]) is waajibli-ghairihi [1] (compulsory) in Deen. The reason for it receiving the status of wujoob is that without taqleed of the four Imaams, one will not be able to correctly practice upon the entire Deen. Especially in this time and age where we see science and technology at its peak, new inventions and developments have become a norm in current times. In short, the world has evolved to such limits which were never witnessed previously throughout the annals of human history. The progress and advancements of the world in the present era poses a host of challenges before the Ulama’. Thus, we find the masses constantly referring their Deeni matters and problems to the Ulama’ seeking Islamic rulings and guidance due to the unfolding of new events and developments.

Subsequently, in the face of these challenges we find the Ulama’ completely reliant and dependent upon the works of the four Imaams. They refer to the books of these Imaams who were blessed with such foresight and illuminated knowledge that despite living approximately thirteen hundred years ago, yet they were able to produce accurate solutions for situations surfacing centuries later. These answers and solutions they presented were directly sourced out from the Qur’an and the Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

We mentioned that Taqleed of the four Imaams is waajib-li-ghairihi. An elucidation of this statement is that though we do not find any explicit injunction neither in the Qur’an nor in the Hadith commanding in specific to make Taqleed of the four Imaams, however the Qur’an instructs us with two injunctions:

1. To follow those who are capable enough to guide us to Allah:

Qur'an: Ayah 57 15Follow the path of those who turn to Me [Allah Ta’ala] (Surah Luqman 31:15)

2. To refrain from following our desires and temptations against the command of Allah:

Qur'an: Surah 38 Ayah 26

Do not follow your desires for that will cause you to go astray (Surah Sawd 38:26)

Keeping the above in mind, we conclude that since it is not possible to find any person in this age and time possessing the capabilities of the four Imaams, it will indefinitely be waajib to follow any one of the four Imaams. Furthermore, apart from the four Imaams we cannot find any Aalim (even Imaam Bukhaari and others) from the Salaf (Ulama’ of the past) whose Mazhab has been entirely recorded like that of the four Imaams.

Hence, if a person wishes to follow any other Mazhab other than that of the four Imaams, it is highly possible that he will incorrectly practise upon the verdict of that specific Imaam due to the necessary details or conditions of his Mazhab not being entirely recorded. Continue reading The Status of Taqleed →

Following one of the Four Imaams of Fiqh

Q: Can you please present to me the proofs from the Qur’an and Hadith commanding us to follow one of the four Imaams of fiqh? I believe that we are all followers of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Hence Allah Ta’ala obligated us to follow our beloved Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said in his Mubarak Hadith: “I leave behind two things; the Qur’an and my Sunnah. As long as you hold firm to these two; you will never go astray.” From this Hadith we understand that in solving our Deeni matters we should directly refer to the Qur’an and Hadith. However, if one is non-conversant in the Arabic language and thus unable to extract Shar’ee laws from the Qur’an and Hadith, he may refer to any Aalim of Deen. Why do people emphasise on following one of the four Imaams of Fiqh?

A: Allah Ta’ala commands us in the Holy Qur’an to refer our Deeni matters to people of knowledge. Allah Ta’ala says:

Ayah_16_43Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. (Surah An-Nahl 16:43)

From this verse we conclude that each person is not obligated to refer directly to the Qur’an and Hadith. Rather, he is commanded to refer the matter to a specialist. Furthermore, “consulting a specialist in the field” is not confined to Deeni matters. Instead it is a common principle adhered to amongst all classes of people in worldly matters as well. A patient, who has to undergo a major heart operation refers to the most qualified and recognised heart surgeon around. Similarly, the victim who has to appear in court on account of alleged treason or suspected murder employs the services of a professional advocate to defend his case. Each of the above (the patient and the victim) understands the seriousness of the situation and the fatal consequences that follow. Thus they hand over the matter to the most capable person. Similarly, we need to understand that in matters of Deen we ought to follow those who will correctly guide us to the straight path. Allah Ta’ala says:

Qur'an: Ayah 31/15Follow the path of those who turn towards me. (Surah Luqman 31:15)

From this verse we understand that we are obligated to follow the one who will guide us to Allah. If one takes an incapable person as his guide and thus incorrectly practises upon the laws of Shari’ah, will such a person ever be absolved of his obligation in the court of Allah Ta’ala? Definitely not. Rather he will be worthy of punishment for adopting the incorrect procedure in searching for the truth. Let us illustrate this point through few examples from the mubaarak life of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and his illustrious Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum). Continue reading Following one of the Four Imaams of Fiqh →

Are there any Mujtahids in this day and age?

Allamah Shihab Ar-Ramli (Rahmatullahi Alayh) (957 A.H.) states: “The person who has a true understanding of what ijtihaad actually means would feel ashamed before Allah from attributing it to anyone of this day and age. In fact, Ibnus-Salah (643 A.H.) and his followers stated that it had become extinct three hundred years ago. Ibnus-Salah himself passed away three hundred years ago, hence, it had become extinct about six hundred years ago.”

Allamah Munawi (Rahmatullahi Alayh) (1031 A.H.) says: The Alim of the Syrian region, Imam Ibn Abid-Dam (642 A.H.) writes after mentioning all the conditions of ijtihad: “It is hardly possible to find these conditions in any scholar of our age. Instead, there is no Mujtahid-e-mutlaq on the surface of the earth today.”

During the tenth century of Islam, Imam Suyuti (Rahmatullahi Alayh), (911 A.H.) claimed to have reached the level of ijtihad. Allamah Shihab Ibn Hajar Haitami (Rahmatullahi Alayh) (974 A.H.) says: “When Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti claimed ijtihaad, all his contemporaries confronted him. They presented a questionnaire to him about some issues. Therein, they stated two possible answers to each question, and said: “If you have even reached the lowest degree of ijtihad, which is ijtihad in fatwa, then you should stipulate the preferred view, substantiated with proof, in conformance with the maxims laid down by the Mujtahideen.

However, he returned their questionnaire without any answer, excusing himself that he was too busy, and was therefore unable to look into those questions.” [1]

Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Rahmatullahi Alayh) writes in this regard: “The rejecters of taqleed object by saying: “Did the Hanafis (or muqallids) receive wahy (revelation) that ijtihad has come to an end?” However, they do not understand that it is a divine principle that the means of fulfilling every need comes into existence at the time when that necessity occurs. Rainy seasons generally occur during the months of need for rain, which vary according to the different regions. Winds also blow at times of need. Where temperatures become intensely low, animals have thicker wool; and there are countless such examples. Likewise, when there was a need for the recording of Hadith, Allah created people with phenomenal memories. Such memories are nowhere to be found today. The rejecters of the four mazaahib also, who sing slogans of following Hadith, are not able to bring forth one individual who has memorized even Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim with their chains of narrations, as was done by the illustrious authors of these blessed books.

“In the same way, when the need arose to document the shari’ah, Allah granted many people grand talents and capabilities in fiqh and ijtihad. Now that Deen has been recorded, and its laws and fundamentals outlined, this need no longer exists. Yes, to the extent of need, some ability of ijtihad is still to be found, whereby rulings for contemporary issues are deduced, through the medium of the principles laid down by the Mujtahidin. [2]


[1]مقدمة فيض القدير ص16

[2]Who are the blind followers Pg. 50 (An excerpt from Ashraful Jawaab)

Why are there only four Mazhabs?

Many great Ulama’ of the past have clearly affirmed that taqleed has become confined to only one of the four mazhabs. In this regard ‘Allamah ‘Abdurrahman Ibn Muhammad Al-Maghribi (808 A.H) writes: “… Taqleed became confined to these four Imams in all the cities of the Muslim world. All the followers of other Imaams gradually became extinct. Thus, when the terminologies of the various sciences became wide-spread in the earth, the scholars closed the doors of differences (and confined taqleed to one of the four Imaams) as they feared that someone unworthy would begin claiming ijtihad. Hence they (the scholars) stated: “The ability to reach the rank of a mujtahid has become virtually impossible.” Thereupon they directed the people towards making taqleed of one of the four Imams and warned them against changing mazhabs for convenience, as this will amount playing fools with the Deen of Allah. Thus anyone who claims to have acquired the level of ijtihad in this age will be rejected and will not be followed. The entire Muslim world now have consensus about the taqleed of these four Imams.” [1]


[1] ووقف التقليد في الأمصار عند هؤلاء الأربعة، ودرس المقلدون لمن سواهم. وسد الناس باب الخلاف وطرقه لما كثر تشعب الاصطلاحات في العلوم ولما عاق عن الوصول إلى رتبة الاجتهاد، ولما خشي من إسناد ذلك إلى غير أهله، ومن لا يوثق برأيه ولا بدينه، فصرحوا بالعجز والإعواز، وردوا الناس إلى تقليد هؤلاء، كل من اختص به من المقلدين. وحظروا أن يتداول تقليدهم لما فيه من التلاعب. ولم يبق إلا نقل مذاهبهم. وعمل كل مقلد بمذهب من قلده منهم بعد تصحيح الأصول واتصال سندها بالرواية، لا محصول اليوم للفقه غير هذا. (مقدمة ابن خلدون – علم الفقه وما يتبه من الفرائض)