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Taqlid- Blind Following

Allah tells us in many places of the Qur'an, that the Qur'an is a guide for the individual person. That is, the actual verses within it are guidance. The following Quranic verses clearly support individual responsibility, self verification and oppose the notion of  'blind following' (Arabic: taqlid). Seeking knowledge and information form teachers, scholars will help but one must use his mind as well. Ironically, verses of the Quran are often misquoted to support the ideology that the verses are actually attempting to negate.

"That is the Book, without any doubt. A Guide for those who guard against evil." (Qur'an 2:2)

"These are the verses of the wise Book. A Guide and mercy for those who do good." (Qur'an 31:2-3)

"We clarify the verses for a people who reflect." (Qur'an 10:24)

"We have made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: will anyone take heed?" (Qur'an 54:17)

"We clarify the verses for a people who reflect." (Qur'an 10:24)

"And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.

And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying."(6:115-116)

" ...... Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful. (5:6)
"..... Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship...."(2:185)

"O you who have believed, do not ask about things which, if they are shown to you, will distress you. But if you ask about them while the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be shown to you. Allah has pardoned that which is past; and Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing".(5:101)

"And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you..."(2:143)

Individual Responsibility & Accountability:

“O believers! You are accountable for none but for yourselves; anyone who has gone astray cannot harm you if you are on the Right Way. To Allah you shall all return and He will let you know the truth of all that you did.” (Qur’an;5:105)

“Give the warning to those in whose (hearts) is the fear that they will be brought (to judgment) before their Lord: except from Him they will have no protector nor intercessor: that they may guard (against evil).”(6:51)

“Leave those people alone, who take their religion as mere play and amusement and are deceived by the life of this world. However, keep on admonishing them with this (The Qur'an), lest their souls be damned by their own sinful deeds. They will not have any protector or intercessor to rescue them from Allah,” (6:70)

No blind following:

Image result for blind following in islam

From a Quranic perspective, associations with God or to set up partners with God is not merely restricted to worshipping idols. It can take the form of desire (25:43), intercessors (10:18), property, goods and assets (18:34-42), other sources of knowledge holding authority in religion (6:19), religious leaders, scholars and revered personalities (9:31).

"...Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful"(27:64)

“(O man), do not follow that of what you have no knowledge. Indeed! the hearing and the sight and the heart - of each of these it will be asked”(17:36)

Throughout the Quran, the narratives engage with its audience appealing to make use of their intellect and reason (Arabic: Aql)

"Indeed, the vilest of living animals, in God's sight, are the deaf, the dumb and those that do not use their intellect (Aql - Arabic: yAQLun)"(8:22)

Image result for blind following in islam

"And a soul and Him Who perfected / proportioned it. And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it. He is indeed successful who causes it to grow (purifies it), and he is indeed a failure who corrupts it (buries it)"(91:7-10)

"... Will you not use your intellect?" (Arabic: afala tAQLun?)(7:169)

"And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will mislead you from the way of God. They follow but assumption / conjecture (Arabic: Zana) and they only guess / lie (Arabic: Yakhrasun)"(6:116)

"Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way."(25.44)

"And indeed, he did lead astray a great multitude of you. Did you not, then use your intellect /reason (Arabic: tAQLun)? (36:62)

“They have taken as Lords beside God their Rabbis and their Monks and the Messiah son of Mary , when they were bidden to only worship One God”(9:31)

"And they shall say: O our Lord! surely we obeyed our leaders (Arabic: Sadatana) and our great men (Arabic: Wakubaraana), so they led us astray from the path"(33:67)

And when it is said to them, "Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger," they say, "Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers." Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided? O you who have believed, upon you is responsibility for] yourselves. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is you return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do. (4:104-105)

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart -about all those [one] will be questioned. (17:36)

 When he said to his father and his people, "What are these statues to which you are devoted?" They said, "We found our fathers worshippers of them." He said, "You were certainly, you and your fathers, in manifest error."(21:52-54)

Rather, they say, "Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are in their footsteps [rightly] guided."And similarly, We did not send before you any warner into a city except that its affluent said, "Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are, in their footsteps, following."[Each warner] said, "Even if I brought you better guidance than that [religion] upon which you found your fathers?" They said, "Indeed we, in that with which you were sent, are disbelievers." (21:22-24)

Ask those who know:

“And before you also the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if you do not know, ask of those who possess the Message”(16:43)

“Before you, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If you do not know, ask of those who possess the Message. Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death”(21:7-8)

In both verses, Almighty God informing the Prophet that before him, Prophet's were only men like him who He had granted inspiration. They consumed food and they were not exempt from death. This was clearly a measure of reassurance for the Prophet so that there would remain no doubt in his mind that he was indeed a Prophet. It is to be noted that these verses are not directed at anyone but the Prophet and are context specific. What sense would there be to ask the 'believers' to consult 'people of knowledge' if the messenger himself was amongst their midst? This would also contradict many verses where God clearly asks the believers to refer their matters to the Prophet, especially in disputes. (4.59)

Also these verses are one of the most powerful support for verification. Even though God is revealing the message to the Prophet, he is still being asked to verify it for himself. This is one of the most powerful cues for the use of volition and self verification.

In this verse, God Himself is asking the Prophet to verify a particular claim. If any wisdom is to be extracted, it is one of verification not of blind following.

"And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few." (4:83)

"And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed! the hearing and the sight and the heart - of each of these you will be questioned"(17:36)

This does not imply that knowledge of learned people and their opinions should not be considered. Indeed, they should deserve appreciation according to their merits and sincere efforts. However, the opinions of others should not become beyond reproach or become cemented as indisputable fact. Only the word of God can attract such a designation. Otherwise, the critical enquiry of the opinions of humans should remain open. The four great Imams did a great work synthesising their knowledge of Quran and Hadith to the contemporary issues, through Ijtehad where possible. This practice should not freeze modern scholarship use their intellect and knowledge similarly to resolve modern issues. The common Muslims should also study and question the scholars to find answers in this era.

According to Dr.Khalid Zaheer; If a person is following a scholar because he himself is unable to understand the true meanings of certain verses or ahadith, it is understandable. You are either a scholar or a commoner. If you are a commoner, you can normally interpret the Qur'anic text yourself. To that extent, following a scholar is not only allowed but under normal circumstances

However, if a commoner decides that he is going to follow a certain scholar blindly (does his taqlid) then it is indeed a curse. When you follow somebody blindly, you don't listen to anyone else except your own scholar. And even if you listen to someone else, your intention is not to be open to the truth. You are so emotionally attached to your scholar's views that you don't even read the Qur'an with an open mind. If someone has made a scholar an Imam in that sense, it is indeed a seriously misleading approach which
the Qur'an describes as making scholars Rabb other than Allah. (9:31)


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