SHAFAQNA –Taqleed is the most practical way for people to resort to. It is quite natural to seek the guidance and help of those specialized in the different disciplines. Taqleed is therefore an obligatory duty on everybody who has not attained the level of ijtihad.
The person who should be followed must be adult, sane, of a legitimate birth, believer, mujtahid – practicing ijtihad is a prerequisite – and just. As for the condition that the mujtahid be male, it is a matter for contemplation. As a matter of ihtiyat, it is also conditional that the mujtahid be among the living, if he was to be followed for the first time. This should not the case, if the follower were to adhere to the fatwa of the mujtahid, he followed during his life time, even after his death; this is also true, if the follower has sought the approval of a fully-fledged living mujtahid for remaining on his following of the dead mujtahid.
5. Suppose there were many jurists around. Is it permissible to emulate any of them, or does it have to be the most learned among them? A. It is not obligatory to emulate the most knowledgeable. It suffices to follow any one of them, provided that he is a practicing mujtahid as has been discussed.
6. How can a person know the mujtahid so described? A. He can be recognized by a number of ways, among which are: a. The testimony of two just witnesses among the competent mujtahids, or luminaries, who are capable of academic appraisal. The meaning of ’just’ will be discussed under paragraph (27) of this chapter. b. The follower’s own experience and first hand knowledge, i.e. if he had the knowledge that allows him to express an opinion, even though he is not a mujtahid himself. Finally, any other means that may lead the follower to reach certitude that particular alim he has followed is a jurist. Thus, he can be justified in following the jurist in matters of religious practice. An example of this method is the jurist’s popularity, in that it could be widely believed within the circles of Ulama and dignitaries, or within the Islamic nation (Ummah) that he is capable of deducing legal opinion. This may lead to personal satisfaction that the alim you have entrusted your religious affairs to is really mujtahid.
7. Is it permissible to switch one’s following from one jurist another?
Yes, it is.
8. In taqleed, is it good enough to follow a particular jurist in certain matters and another in other matters? A. Yes, it is permissible, provided that when you switch to another jurist in a particular matter, you should abide by his fatwa, especially when you know that changing your mind again would certainly entail committing a wrongdoing (mukhalafah). For example, if you have shifted to a jurist who is of the opinion that a given act is haraam, then changed course again to another jurist who sees it is wajib (an obligatory act of worship), you are not allowed to change again.
9. The follower can know the fatwa of his jurist by one of these ways: a. Face to face contact. b. The fatwa can be communicated to him through two witnesses of impeccable character. Their testimony should serve as evidence. c. The follower can be notified by a person of unblemished character, or another whom he knows to be truthful, and reluctant to tell lies, even though he may not be just or devout in all his conduct; we describe this type of person as ’trusted’, and wherever we mention such an adjective, it also covers that of the “just”. d. The follower may find the fatwa in a book written, or endorsed, by the marji’, such as the dispensation on matters of religious practice (ar- risalal amaliyah).
10. Suppose that the follower came to know, from two different people – both are of impeccable character, of two conflicting fatawas. What should he do? A. If the two sources were quoting two different dates for their knowledge of the fatwa, the follower has to act on the fatwa with the more recent date. For example, the first person may be talking of a fatwa he knew of a year ago, whereas the second may be talking of a fatwa he knew of a month ago; the fatwa which should be acted upon should be the one related by the second person. If both of them were talking of the particular fatwa, quoting the same date, the follower should not rely on any one of them. Instead, he should resort to ihtiyat until the matter is clarified.
11. The follower may doubt that the fatwa of the marji’ has changed, and that it is possible that he has already changed to a new one. In this case, he must stick by the previous fatwa on the basis that it is still valid, unless there is a legal proof to the contrary. The follower may doubt that the marji’ has failed in meeting all the conditions necessary to be marji’. In this case, he must take the initiative to investigate the matter. During the investigation period, he must adhere to the fatwa of his existing marji’. If he finds out that the marji’ is still fulfilling all the conditions, he should stay loyal to him. He may find out that the marji’ has fallen short of satisfying all the conditions. Or he may not find anything, yet the doubts have dented his confidence. In such a case, he should change to the marji’ who fulfils all the conditions. As for legitimizing his past acts, he should resort to the new marji’, if he knows how to go about it. Otherwise, he should consider them correctly executed.
12. While offering prayer, the follower may experience a situation where he thinks it could have detracted from the validity of his prayer. He may not be that conversant with the guidelines of rectifying the situation. What should he do, especially when it is known that he cannot ask about the remedial action while praying?
A. It suffices that he does what he believes to be right under the spur of the moment. However, he should consult his marji’ for the right directive and act upon it. He cannot forsake such a consultation and rely solely on the action he took there and then.
13. If the marji’ dies, what should the follower do? A. He has the choice of sticking by the marji’ or changing to another one.
14. If the follower chose to change to another marji’, how should he go about the acts of worship he had performed, such as prayer and fasting? A. He is not required to repeat any of the previous acts of worship, where the opinion of the newly adopted marji’ differs from the previous one in such matters where the person who is not conversant with the rules cannot be held responsible. For example, under the previous marji’, the follower was required to say once, the tasbih (utterance of subhanal lahi wal hamdu lillahi, wala illaha illal lahu wallahu akbar) in the third and fourth ruku’ (the bowing position) of prayer. However, under the new marji’, he must repeat it three times. Differences of this kind do not warrant repeating previous prayers.
However, the differences between the two marji’s may be in the rules governing wudhu (ablution required before the performance of certain acts of worship), tayamum (lit. intending or proposing to do a thing – dry ablution, i.e. using dust instead of water, as in the cases of wudhu and ghusl when, for specific reason, these acts are not possible), ghusl (obligatory bathing which is required after certain acts or occurrences), or the fundamental parts of prayer. In such a case, the person who is not aware of the rules would be held accountable, when contravening them. In ghusl, for example, the previous marji’ may not call for the sequential washing of both the sides of body, whereas the new believes that the order of washing must be observed. Here, the follower should regard all his bygone acts of worship [of this nature] as null and void. Thus, he should hasten to repeat the same, time permitting. If not, he should perform them qadha(in lieu – when any act of worship is performed at a later time, see ada’).
15. The agent or the guardian of any person should act according to the taqleed of that particular person, for the simple reason that if he were to resume his affairs in person, he would certainly abide by the fatwa of his own marji’.
However, if a certain action runs contrary to the agent’s own taqleed, he should resort to ihtiyat. This is the case in ibadaat (acts of worship). Insofar as mu’amalaat (transactions) are concerned, the agent should act according to the remit of the power of attorney without exception.
As for the actual person, he should be acting pursuant to his own taqleed, in that he has to consider the opinion of his marji’ as the final authority; this should be the case not only when conducting his own affairs, but rather in all matters relating to him. For example, a particular person embarks on a given transaction, by selling one Pound sterling in cash to be repaid in a Pound sterling and a half at a later date; his arbiter in so doing is the fatwa of his own marji’. That said, the other party to the deal happened to be following a marji’ who sees otherwise. In such a case, the second party should abide by the fatwa of his marji’, thus ruling the deal to be null and void, and the money received by the first party illicit. He should therefore not allow himself to be party to such a transaction.
Any two parties may enter into a sale contract which involves offer by the seller and acceptance by the buyer. In this case, it is not permissible to either party to rule the deal valid, unless it concurs with the opinion of their respective marji’. The party who concludes that it does can go ahead, should the other party be intent on agreeing on the text of the contract.
The only exception here is when a person commits a wrongdoing through ignorance, i.e. not knowing the rules. In such a case, his action is deemed correct.