A common question posed by many people is: “If the Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) are a commentary of the Noble Qur’an, then what is the need for making Taqleed of an Imaam?”
In order to understand the answer to this question, a brief discussion of the history of the Mazaahib (schools of thought) is necessary.
It is the divine system of Allah Ta’ala that he provided means for the fulfilment of every need of man. Furthermore, in proportion to the need, adequate means have been provided for its fulfilment. Consider the need for water and air. Besides raining down water from the skies, Allah Ta’ala made it possible to acquire water from many sources with relative ease. As for air, since man requires air every second, it has been provided free everywhere. All one needs to do is breathe. Thus Allah Ta’ala has provided for all the physical needs of man.
More important than every physical need is the spiritual need of man. He needs to recognise his creator and worship him. This is the purpose of his existence on earth. Hence Allah Ta’ala instituted divine measures to fulfil this greatest need of every human being.
Allah Ta’ala declares in the glorious Qur’an:
Certainly We are the ones who revealed the Qur’an and surely we have taken the responsibility of safe guarding it. (Surah Hijr 15/9)
In this verse Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala explicitly and emphatically declares that He himself has taken the responsibility of protecting the Qur’an. For the enactment of this divine responsibility, of protecting the greatest book “Al-Qur’an”, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala utilized the greatest of His creation after the Ambiyaa (Alayhimus Salam), who were none other than the auspicious Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum).
Then came the time for the compilation and preservation of the commentary of the Qur’an (i.e. the Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)). For this mammoth task Allah Ta’ala utilized the Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) as well as the Taabi’een and the Tabe-Tabi’een (Rahmatullahi Alaihim).
Thereafter the need arose for the laws of the Qur’an and Hadith. Systemizing the laws of Shari’ah required discerning and differentiating between the previous abrogated laws and the latter laws which replaced them, deciphering between the authentic and unauthentic narrations, categorizing the status of injunctions and prohibitions (Farz, Wajib, Sunnat, Mustahab, Mubaah, Haraam, Makroo-e-Tahrimi, Makrooh-e-Tanzihi, Kilaaf-e-Awlaa) and finally formulating principles in the light of Qur’an and Hadith which govern the deduction of non-textual situations. All of the above needed to be accomplished in order to correctly practice upon each law of Shari’ah in the manner it was revealed by Allah Ta’ala upon Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
The accomplishment of such a tremendous task was only possible by a selected class of Allah’s servants, whose phenomenal expertise and unparalleled proficiency cover every science of Deen. This class of people are classified in the terminology of the jurists as Mujtahideen. Continue reading The History of the Taqleed of the Four Imaams →