The Forbiddence of Adhering Blindly to the Saying of a Scholar in Opposition to an Authentic Text
The forbiddence of adhering blindly to the saying of a scholar in opposition to an authentic text, and the severe rebuke due upon one who is guilty of this
*Shaykh `Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn `Abdil-Wahhaab – rahimahullaah – said in „Fathul-Majeed‟ (2/532), in explanation of the saying of Imaam Ahmad:
“I am amazed at a people who are aware of the chain of narration and its authenticity, and yet they hold on to the opinion of Sufyaan, whereas Allaah – the Most High – says:
لَّا تَجْعَلُوا دُعَاءَ الرَّسُولِ بَيْنَكُمْ كَدُعَاءِ بَعْضِكُم بَعْضًا ۚ قَدْ يَعْلَمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ يَتَسَلَّلُونَ مِنكُمْ لِوَاذًا ۚ فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَن تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
“Do not hold the Apostle's calling (you) among you to be like your calling one to the other; Allah indeed knows those who steal away from among you, concealing themselves; therefore let those beware who go against his order lest a trial afflict them or befall them a painful chastisement.”
[[Meaning: So let those who oppose the Messenger‟s command beware, lest a fitnah (affliction) befalls him, or a painful torment be inflicted upon him.]]
Do you know what the affliction is? The affliction is Shirk. Perhaps if he rejects something from his saying, some deviation will fall into his heart and he is destroyed.”
“So the saying of Imaam Ahmad – rahimahullaah – “I am amazed at a people who are aware of the chain of narration and its authenticity...” is a criticism from him of that; and shows that it leads to deviation of the hearts, which causes a person to become a Disbeliever.
So this evil has become extremely widespread, particularly amongst those who claim attachment to knowledge. They do whatever they can to prevent people from acting upon the Book and the Sunnah; and they block people from following the Messenger r, and from honouring and respecting his commands and prohibitions. So from that is their saying: „No one except a „mujtahid‟ can use the Book and the Sunnah as proof, and „ijtihaad‟ has ended‟, and the saying: „This person who I am blindly following knows better than you do about hadeeth, and about the abrogating and abrogated narrations‟, and the like of these sayings, whose goal is just the abandonment of following of the Messenger r: he who does not speak from his own desires, in favour of dependence upon sayings of those who can err, and who is contradicted by other imaams and whose saying can be nullified by a textual proof. So there is not an imaam except that he only possessed a portion of knowledge; he did not possess all of it.
So what is obligatory upon every legally responsible person, when a proof from the Book of Allaah or the Sunnah of His Messenger -pbuh- reaches him, and he understands its meaning, is that he accepts it and acts upon it, no matter who contradicts it.
It is just as He – the Most High – said:
اتَّبِعُوا مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۗ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ
Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord and do not follow guardians besides Him, how little do you mind.
[[Meaning: Follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and do not take others besides Him: obeying them in disobedience to Him. Little do you remember!]]
And He – the Most High – said:
أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِهِمْ أَنَّا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَرَحْمَةً وَذِكْرَىٰ لِقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
“Is it not enough for them that We have revealed to you the Book which is recited to them? Most surely there is mercy in this and a reminder for a people who believe.”
[[Meaning: Is it not sufficient for them that We sent down to you this Book which is recited to them?! In it there is mercy and a reminder for those who believe in it.]]
A statement of the consensus (ijmaa`) upon that has already preceded1, and an explanation that the blind-follower (muqallid) is not from the people of knowledge; and Aboo `Umar ibn `Abdil-Barr and others also report ijmaa` (consensus) upon that.
I say: And no one disagrees with this except for the ignorant ones from the blind-followers, because of their ignorance of the Book and the Sunnah, and because of their turning away from these two. So those people, even if they think that they are following the imaams, then in reality they have only contradicted them and followed other than their way. So we have already quoted the saying of Maalik, ash-Shaafi`ee, and Ahmad. However in the speech of Ahmad – rahimahullaah – there is an indication that „taqleed‟ (blind-following) before the proof reaches is not blameworthy; rather it is only criticised for one whom the proof has reached, and he opposes it in favour of the saying of one of the imaams.
So this only comes about as a result of their turning away from seeking to understand the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger -pbuh-; and turning instead to the books of the later people, and sufficing with them to the exclusion of the two parts of Revelation. So this resembles what occurred with the People of the Book: those about whom Allaah said:
اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَـٰهًا وَاحِدًا ۖ لَّا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
“They have taken their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah, and (also) the Messiah son of Marium and they were enjoined that they should serve one Allah only, there is no god but He; far from His glory be what they set up (with Him).”
[[Meaning: They took their scholars and monks as lords besides Allaah]], an explanation of which will follow in the hadeeth of `Adiyy ibn Haatim.
So what is binding upon the one who is sincere is that when he reads the books of the scholars, and examines them, and becomes aware of their sayings, that he submits them to what is found in the Book,
1 Transl. Note: [i.e. from Imaam ash-Shaafi`ee.]
and the Sunnah; for every mujtahid from the scholars, and those who follow him and ascribe themselves to his madhhab, must mention his evidence; and the truth in any matter is one; and the imaams are rewarded for their ijtihaad.
Therefore the justly balanced person makes examination of their speech, and consideration of it a path to acquiring awareness of the different issues, and a means to bring them to mind, and a way to distinguish what is correct from what is incorrect – by means of the evidences which those who use the evidences mention; so that in this way he will become aware of which scholar was most fortunate in having the proof.
So the proofs for this fundamental principle are more than can be enumerated, in the Book of Allaah and in the Sunnah likewise....
And the imaams – rahimahumullaah – did not fall short in clarifying this matter. Rather they forbade that they be followed blindly when the Sunnah becomes clear, because they knew that there were matters of knowledge unknown to them, and that this knowledge could reach others, and this occurs a great deal; and this will not be hidden from one who examines the sayings of the scholars.
Aboo Haneefah – rahimahullaah – said: “When a hadeeth comes from Allaah‟s Messenger -pbuh- then it is upon the head and the eyes; and if something comes from the Companions – radiyallaahu `anhum – then upon the head and the eyes; and if something comes from the Taabi`een, then we are men and they were men.”
And he said: “If I say a saying, and the Book of Allaah contradicts it, then abandon my saying in favour of the Book of Allaah.” It was said: „If the saying of Allaah‟s Messenger -pbuh- contradicts it?‟ He said: “Abandon my saying for the narration of the Messenger -pbuh-. It was said: „If the saying of the Companions contradicts it?‟ He said: “Abandon my saying for the saying of the Companions.”
And ar-Rabee` said: I heard ash-Shaafi`ee – rahimahullaah – say: “If you find in my book something contrary to the Sunnah of Allaah‟s Messenger r, then take hold of the Sunnah of Allaah‟s Messenger -pbuh- and leave whatever I said.”
And he said: “When a hadeeth is authentic with something contrary to my saying, then throw my saying against the wall.”
And Maalik said: “Everyone is such that some of his sayings are taken and some are left, except for Allaah‟s Messenger -pbuh-.”
And the like of this has already been mentioned from him, so there is no excuse for a blind-follower (muqallid) after this... .”
[Translated by Aboo Talhah Daawood ibn Ronald Burbank -rahimahullaah- ]