TAQLID IS NOT “BLIND FOLLOWING

By Abu Yusuf

In a recent discussion with a talib al ‘ilm (student of knowledge) he argued both the linguistic (lughawi) and istilahi (technical) meaning (ma’na) of taqleed is effectively “blind following”.

I was disappointed how he deliberately distorted the lughawi wordings (lafz) of taqleed in the classical books. It was his own interpretation in adding that word “blind”, which was not there! The literal (haqiqi) of qalada is “to bind”, “to tie”, “to hold tightly”, “leashed” etc

What the scholars do say when explaining (in meaning) those linguistic wordings of taqleed, it is taking something without thinking (tafkeer) or pondering (tadabbur). In the general Arab Bedouin usage was to trust, to respect, to rely upon etc. Some fuqaha used analogy that is of a blind-man is to imitate one in whose report he has confidence with respect to the Qibla (direction of prayer) because he is not able to do more than that. But some like to reinterpret these to mean “blind-following”, which has negative connotations.

They jump to this as that serves their interest to demean the position and to mock the person that does Taqleed.

As to the istalahi meaning this is derived by ijtihad since taqleed has a legal ruling (hukm) of mubah and fard. One cannot give rulings to it without defining it from the Islamic legal texts. It was clear he misunderstood why the fuqahah added “Laisa Hujjah” or “Bila Hujjah” (ie absence of evidence) in its istilahi (technical) meaning. They added that as the follower cannot understand the primary evidence (hujjah), if he did he would be a Mujtahid and no need to refer to another mujtahid (i.e do taqleed)

If he had studied how definition (tahrif) are derived he’d be aware of al jaami wa a maani. For example, Qur’an has an istalihi meaning (linguistically it’s “to recite”). The usuliyyun related everything (jaami) included in it and everything that must be excluded.

Hence the istilahi meaning of Qur’an was derived from the legal text which has a comprehensive definition.

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