Taqlid and Marja'iyyah in the Shi'ah View
It is incumbent upon every mature (mukallaf) Muslim, if not being a mujtahid -i.e. who can deduce legislative rules from the Scripture and Sunnah-to imitate (in all his religious acts) a mujtahid having all necessary requirements (Shara'it) including knowledge ('ilm), justice, piety, asceticism (zuhd) and righteosness, as ordained by the Almighty Allah: "Ask the followers of the Remembrance if ye know not!" (16:43).
If we probe into this subject, we come to know that the Imamiyyah Shi'ah have kept pace with events, and the chain of marji'iyyah (religious authority) has been followed up continuosly by them without any interruption since after the Prophet's demise till the present time.
The Shi'ah have persevered on imitating the Twelve Imams of Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them), whose presence continued at one order for three centuries, without any contradiction between any two of them.That was due to the fact that they all have been following the Shar'i texts (nusus) derived from the Book (Qur'an) and the Prophetic Sunnah, and they never acted according to qiyas or ijtihad .Had they applied these practices, difference would have prevailed among them, as occured among Ahl al-Sunnah.
The fact concluded from this is that every school of Ahl al-Sunnah, whether being Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i or Hanabali, is based upon on opinion of one man being too remote from the message era, having no link whatsover with the Prophet (S).
Whereas the creed (madhhab) of the Imamiyyah Shi'ah is mutawatir (successive) from the Twelve Imams from the Prophet's Progeny, the son reporting from his father, by saying: My discourse is my father's discourse, my father's is my grandfather's, and my grandfather's is that of Amir al-Mumineen 'Ali, and 'Ali's discourse is that of the Prophet, and the Prophet's is of Jabriel (A) which is in essence Allah's word, Who says in His Book:
"If it had been from other than Allah they would have found therein much incongruity".(4:82)
Then came the stage of post-conclution of the Infallible Imam, who told people to refer to and imitate the faqih scholar ('alim) possessing all requisties (shara'it) .
From that time till today, the chain of mujtahid fuqaha 'has continued its succession without interruption. Every time has witnessed emergence of one marji' or several marji' (religious references) for the Shi'ah to imitate in all their acts, according to the practical reference book (risalah amaliyyah), which every marji 'infers from the Book and Sunnah. And he never practises ijtihad but only in the recently emerged affairs in the current century, due to the scientific and technological advancement, like transplanting of the heart or any other bodily organ from someone to another, or artificial gestation, or banking transactions, and similar things
From among the religious authorities (mujtahidun), one may emerge as the most knowledgeable of them, so he will be called the higher religious authority (al-marjai'al-'ala) for the Shi'ah, or the head of the sect or theological school (al-hawzah al-'ilmiyyah), and he will be venerated and respected by all other marji'.
Thus the Shi'ah have continued, throughout ages, to imitate the alive faqih, who experiences problems of people and takes care of their concerns, through giving replies to their inquires.
That is why the Shi'ah kept preserving the two essential sources of the Islamic Shari'ah, the Book and the Sunnah, with texts (nusus) reported through the Twelve Imams (A), that made the Shi'ah scholars needles for practices like qiyas and exertion of opinion, since the Shari'ah cared for writing down the Prophetic Sunnah from the lifetime of 'Ali, who used to keep al-Sahifah al-Jami'ah with him, that contained all rules needed by people till the Doomsday, being inherited by one from the other, and hoarded by them as people hoard up gold and silver.
I have previously quoted the words uttered by the martyr Ayatullah (Muhammad Baqir) al-Sadr in his risalah, assuring that he never depended but on the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
We have mentioned al-Sadr just as an example, but in fact all the Shi'ah marji' hold the same belief, with no exception.
Through this brief discussion about legal imitation and religious marjiyyah, we come to the conclusion that the Imamiyyah Shi'ah are the true followers of the Qur'an and Prophetic Sunnah, reported directly from 'Ali (the gate of the city of knowledge), the Lord's 'alim and the second guide for the Ummah after the Prophet, who was like the Prophet's self (nafs) in the Qur'an.128
Whoever enters the city from its gate, he will get through the serene spring-water, attaining the adequate measure and remedial cure, and will gasp the firm hand-hold which will never break, as affirmed in the Qur'an : "So go to houses by the gates thereof". (2:189)
Whoever goes into houses from other than their gates, is called a thief, and can never enter, nor be able to recognize and comprehend the Prophet's Sunnah, and consequently will be liable to God's wrath and punishment for his disobedience.
128. A reference to the Almithty's saying: ''.... Say (O Muhammad): Come! We will summom ...ourselves and yourselves ...''and then he summoned 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. This hadith reported by Muslim in his Sahih, bab fada'il 'Ali (A).
Adapted from the book: "The Shi'ah; The Real Followers of the Sunnah" by: "Dr. Muhamad al-Tijahi al-Samawi"
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