The kind of taqlid that is forbidden by the shari'a
Adopted from the book : "The Principles of Ijtihad in Islam" by : "Shahid Murtadha Mutahhari"
Let us now turn to taqlid. It is [as was said before] of two kinds: licit and illicit [in terms of the shari'a]. There is a kind of taqlid which is the blind following of one's surroundings and of habit, which is, of course, forbidden, and it is this which is condemned in the Qur'an when those who say : Behold, we found our forefathers agreed on what to believe - and verily, it is but in their footsteps that we follow. (42:23) are condemned. We have said that taqlid is of two kinds: licit and illicit. What we meant by illicit taqlid is not confined solely to the kind of taqlid which is the blind imitation of one's surroundings, of habit, of one's parents or ancestors, but we wanted also to say that taqlid between those who do not have [the necessary] knowledge (al-jahil) and those who do (al-'alim), the consultation of the faqih by the ordinary person, is of two kinds: licit and illicit.
We occasionally hear these days from some people who are looking for a marja' al-taqlid, that they are looking to find someone to whom they can give unqualified allegiance. We want to say that the taqlid which Islam has commanded is not "unqualified allegiance"; it is the opening, and keeping open, of one's eyes, of awareness. If taqlid takes on an aspect of devotion, thousands of evil affects will come about. Now there is a well-known and detailed hadith on this subject which I shall quote for you : Whichever of the fuqaha can protect his self34, who can preserve his religion, who fights his desires and is obedient to the commands of his Master, should be followed by the people in taqlid.
This is one of the textual proofs for taqlid and ijtihad. The Shaykh al-Ansari said about this hadith that the signs of truth are evident in it. It is an appendage to the following verse from the Qur'an : And there are among them unlettered people who have no real knowledge of the divine Book, only wishful beliefs, and they depend on nothing but conjecture.(2:78)
This verse comes in condemnation of the ignorant and illiterate Jews who followed, and practiced taqlid of, their religious scholars and leaders, and it comes after some verses which mention the unattractive behaviour of the Jewish religious scholars. It points out that a group of them were such ignorant and illiterate people that they knew nothing of the divine Book except a string of imaginary beliefs [about it] and such things as they wished to believe, and that they had gone after surmise and illusion.
34. Protecting the nafs, the soul, the greater, moral jihad, as opposed to the lesser jihad of protecting Islam against the external enemy.
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