Taqlīd (Blind Following)
Question asked by .
Answered by Tariq Haashmi

What are the arguments of those who think that one must blindly follow a jurist? What are your rebuttals to these arguments?


Many arguments are forwarded by the proponents of Taqlīd (Blind Following) in its favor. What follows is a critical appraisal of some of these arguments.

One of the arguments given is based on the following verse:

O you who believe, obey God and obey his messenger and those in authority. (4:59)

 It is said that according to some of the scholars of the early times the words ‘those in authority’ refer to religious scholars.

The context and the usage of the words in Arabic language do not support this claim. In the previous verse, Muslims are given principles for their collective life. A little deliberation makes it clear that those in authority refer to the rulers of the society.

Another argument presented is based on the following verse:

 When there comes to them some matter regarding [public] safety or fear, they divulge it. If they had referred it to the messenger, or to those charged with authority among them, those are able to grasp matters in depth would have understood it completely. (4:83)

 The Holy Qur’ān here depicts the character of the hypocrites who would spread anything they heard threatening public safety. They would do so in order to create unrest and unease among Muslims. It is stated that had they any sympathy with the faith they would have passed on the news to those who held the realm of affairs. It cannot be in any way said that the verse has any thing to do with the religious scholars as the matter concerns state affairs and the verse is addressed to the state.

Another of the arguments proffered is based on the following verse:

 It was not possible for the entire Muslim population to set out for this purpose. Why did it not happen that some people from among them would travel to acquire religious knowledge and [after coming back to their people] warn them so that they might save themselves? (9:122)

 It is said that the verses direct that some of the people should acquire religious education and others should follow them. Whereas the full message in the verse is that though it is not possible for the entire population to set out of their towns and get religious education so some of them should go and do so. These people should come back and do Indhār. The word Indhār means ‘to warn people of the Hereafter’. It deals with inviting others to the guidance provided by the Almighty. To earn awareness of religion and teach others is the basic purpose and all other things are secondary in nature. The verse does not indicate that others should blindly follow these people. In other places, it has been stated that we should not blindly follow others. 25:73 states that it is the great virtue of the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) that they would not fall over the verses of the Divine Book without understanding them and pondering over them.

Still another argument presented in favor of Taqlīd is based on the following verse:

 Before you also the messengers We sent were but men to whom We granted inspiration; if you realize not, ask of those who possess the message. (21:7)

 It is commonly held that the words ‘ask of those who possess the message’ refer to religious scholars whereas the context shows that they refer to the People of the Book. 21:7 is addressed to the Idolaters of Makkah and occurs in the context that the denial of the Messengers of God can lead them to worldly punishment. It is the established practice of God that when a people deny one of His Messengers after being convinced of his veracity, they are punished in this world. The Idolaters are directed to ask the People of the Book since they know the history of all the Messengers and are aware of the fact. Thus this verse also does not refer to religious scholars of the Muslims.


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