Taqleed in the Quran

Chapter Five

The Proof of Taqleed being Wajib

Let us look at the Qur’an and the Hadith of the evidence there is for following Taqleed.

1. Guide us in the straight path, The path of those whom You favoured. 1

1 Surah Fatiha. Surah No: 1. Verse 5-6

2 Surah Baqarah, Surah No: 2, Verses: 286

We find from this that the straight path is the path that the friends of Allah have followed, and all Mufassireen (commentators of the Qur’an), Muhaditheen (commentators of the Hadith), Fuqaha (Jurist), Friends of Allah (Awliya), Ghous (helpers) etc. are all favoured by Allah and where all Muqalids. None of the above was a Ghair Muqalid but would follow one of the four Imams.

2. Allah places not burden on any soul, but to the extent of his strength 2

This verse shows that Allah (The Exalted) does not cause hardships to a man which he cannot endure. It means that the man who is incapable of Ijtihad, is unable to extract problems (masail) from the Qur’an as it amounts to over-burdening him if he is restrained from Taqleed and to expect him to derive problems from the Qur’an is not justifiable. When a poor man is exempted from Zakat and Hajj on account of his poverty, then how can an illiterate or a semi-literate man be burdened with the scholarly task of deducing and searching new things from the Holy Qur’an?

3. And the first and the foremost are Moohajirs (emigrants) and Ansaars (helpers) and those who followed them with good. Allah is pleased with them and they with Allah.3

3 Surah Taubah. Surah No: 9. Verse 100

4 Surah Taubah, Surah No: 9 Verse 122

5 Surah Nisa, Surah No: 4. Verse 83

6 Tasfeer Kabir. Vol: 3. Page 272

It means that Allah is pleased with those who followed the footsteps of the Muhajirs and the Ansar. This is nothing but Taqleed.

4. “Then why should not a party from each group should come out that they may gain understanding of religion and warn their people after coming back to them, haply they may guard themselves.”4

The verse supports that not all Muslims should go out and become preoccupied in jihad. There should be a group who devotes themselves exclusively to learning and understanding the religion so that they can teach Islamic rules and regulations to those who are not able to dedicate themselves to learning.

5. “…Had they referred it towards the Rasool (Messenger of Allah) and their men of authority, then surely they would have known its reality…” 5

Imam Razi writes: “So it is established that Istinbat (the legal process of extracting rules from the Qur’an and Sunnah) is a proof. Analogy is either Istinbaat in itself or is included in it. So, analogy (Qiyas) should also be a proof. This verse denotes several rules. The first is that there are some incidents and issues, which are not apparent from (Divine) text. The second is that Istinbaat is a proof the third is that a person should follow scholars in the rules of events and in issues.”

6. “The day when We (Allah) shall call every people with their leaders.”

7 Surah Bani Israeel. Surah No: 17. Verse 71

8 Surah Nisa. Surah No: 4. Verse: 59

9 Ibn Jarir. Vol: 5. Page 88. A very sound chain.

10 Tafseer Kabir. Vol: 3. Page 334

11 Surah Nahal. Surah No: 16, Verses 43

This shows that on the day of judgment, each individual shall be called (for accountability) in the company of his leader (Imam). The question is that if a man had not taken any Imam in the world, with whom shall he be called on the Fateful day? The mystics (Sufiya) are of the view that Shaytan will be the Imam of the people without an Imam!

7. “O believers! Obey Allah and obey the messenger, and those who have power (Amr) of command amongst you…”

That of authority has been explained by some as Muslim rulers while others have viewed them as the jurists. The latter view was the opinion of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas9, Mujahid, ‘Ataa ibn Abi Rabah, ‘Ataa ibn Saib, Hasan of Basra, Abu ‘Aliyah and many others. After substantiating the proofs for this second view, imam Razi gives preference to it and writes:

“So taking those of power (Amr) to mean scholars is more appropriate.”

8. “O people! Ask the men of knowledge if you know not.”

The verse points to seeking advice and knowledge from the persons of learning if the common men do not know the real meaning or nature of any command. The men of learning explicitly refer to the Mujtahids. It is also said that this verse is in respect of historical incidents which require exact knowledge. This is correct only to the extent of making enquiry, but it cannot be confined to only the historical incidents / facts. 

9. “And accompany them in the world very well and follow him who turned to Me repently.”

12 Surah Luqman. Surah No: 31, Verses 15

13 Surah Alfurqan. Surah No: 25, Verses 74

14 Noor-ul-Irfan.

15 Surah Baqarah. Surah No: 2, Verses 13

The verse indicates that the following (Taqleed) should be done of those persons who have devoted themselves to Almighty Allah. Here there is no restriction on the nature of matters in which guidance is needed.

10. “And those who submit: O our Lord! Grant us from our lives and off spring the coolness of eyes and make us the leaders of those who guard themselves against evil.”

From this we learn it is commendable to seek religious leadership. 

11. “And when it is said to them: ‘Believe as others have believed’, they say: shall we believe as fools.”

Taqleed has been a practice since the 4th century. Those who do not follow Taqleed say very similar things. Remember to hurl insults at the pious is the custom of the hypocrites and misguidance.

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