Fatwas on Caution, Ijtihād, and Taqlīd
Q 1: Is taqlīd an absolute rational issue or is it also grounded on jurisprudential evidence?
A: Taqlīd has its jurisprudential evidence in addition to reason which also admits that a person who is ignorant of religious rules should refer to a qualified mujtahid.
Q 2: Is it better, in your opinion, to act with caution or to follow a marji‘?
A: Acting according to caution depends upon knowledge of its cases (instances in which it is applied) and its method. In addition, acting according to caution is time consuming. Thus, it is preferable to follow a qualified mujtahid.
Q 3: What are the limits of acting upon caution with respect to the fatwās of mujtahids? Is it necessary to take into consideration the fatwās of the past mujtahids as well?
A: Acting according to caution, when it is applicable, means observing all jurisprudential probabilities so that the mukallaf feels confident that he is really doing his duty.
Q 4: My daughter will reach the age of shar‘ī puberty in a few weeks, and consequently, she will have to select a marji‘ (to follow). Since she has some difficulties in understanding this matter, kindly advise us about our duty in this regard?
A: If she could not recognize her religious duty in this regard, you should educate and guide her.
Q 5: It is well-known among mujtahids that identifying the subject of a rule is the responsibility of the mukallaf whereas the determination of the rule itself is the duty of the mujtahid. But in many instances we notice that mujtahids give their opinion with respect to the identification of the subject. Is it obligatory to act upon them in this regard?
A: The responsibility of identifying the subject rests with the mukallaf. Therefore, he is not obliged to follow the identification of his mujtahid unless he feels confident of the mujtahid’s identification or the subject is something the identification of which requires jurisprudential derivation.
Q 6: Will one be considered a sinner if he is careless in learning the religious rules that he frequently encounters?
A: If his carelessness in learning religious rules leads to forsaking an obligation or committing a ḥarām action, he will be a sinner.
Q 7: When some individuals who are not well informed are asked whom they follow, they reply: "We do not know" or say: "We follow this or that marji‘" without feeling any obligation to refer to his book on practical laws of Islam and act upon it. What is the rule concerning their actions?
A: If their actions are in accordance with caution, the actual rule, or the fatwā of the mujtahid to whom they must refer, their actions will be valid.
Q 8: In cases where the most learned mujtahid gives a fatwā of obligatory caution, we can refer to the second most learned one. Our question is that if he also calls for obligatory caution, is it permissible to refer to the third most learned one and so on? Please explain this rule.
A: In case the most learned mujtahid has no fatwā, there is no objection to referring to the second most learned one who has a clear-cut fatwā on the issue and does not call for obligatory caution. If he calls for obligatory caution, one may refer to the third most learned one and so on.
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