Ruling on acting in accordance with Imam Malik's School of Jurisprudence
A certain person strictly follows and urges others to follow the Madh-hab (School of Jurisprudence) of Imam Malik. He argues that:
- We are not qualified to examine evidence and know the authentic and the weak. Therefore, it is necessary to follow one madh-hab until we become qualified to practice this juristic reasoning.
- Most differences among the four late Imams were raised due to the different fundamental principles they applied. Thus, it is necessary to know the principles each one employs in order to judge their views. The supporters of taqlid accuse their opponents of lacking knowledge and claim that if one reads more and deeply on jurisprudence, one will back the view of following one of the Four Grand Imams.
All praise be to Allah Alone, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger, and his family and Companions. To proceed:
People differ in preparedness, knowledge, reasoning, and background; some are intelligent and others are simple, some are well educated and others are illiterate. Then, whoever is qualified with preparedness, sound reasoning, and the sufficient knowledge to infer legal judgments from textual proofs concerning all or some juristic issues - is obliged to employ Ijtihad (juristic effort to infer expert legal rulings). Such a person should not follow other scholars regarding the evidence he perceives and believes in. If he fails to resolve an issue, he can ask the people of knowledge about the proof or the problematic matters concerning this evidence. Allah (Exalted be He) says: “So ask the people of the Scripture, if you do not know.” [al-Nahl: 43]
Thus, Allah advises all to seek the evidence when problems arise. Allah also commands Muslims to cooperate in righteousness and piety, as He states: “Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwâ (virtue, righteousness and piety)” [al-Maidah: 2] Undoubtedly, helping each other to reach Shar’i-based proofs and understand their implications is the first meaning to which this and other Ayahs refer. This was the conduct of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet -may Allah be pleased with them). They would ask each other about what they had heard from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and occasionally about the meanings of the evidence they could not understand.
As for unlettered and educated people who are not qualified to arrive at legal decisions through the evidence, they must ask the religious scholars who are knowledgeable in Shari’ah. Allah (Exalted be He) states: “So ask the people of the Scripture, if you do not know.” [al-Nahl: 43] This is a well-established tradition followed by people throughout generations. On the other hand, if some regard themselves as Mujtahids (a scholar qualified to exercise juristic effort to infer expert legal rulings), they should follow the path of Ijtihad, become versed in the sciences required for Ijtihad and train themselves on juristic examination and research. They should imitate the late scholars and make use of the wealth of information they left until Allah favors them with being able to infer the rulings from the proofs. Thus, they can employ Ijtihad in some issues.
For more information on Ijtihad and Taqlid (strictly following a specific School of Jurisprudence), refer to the books written by the great scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim including his book entitled A’lam Al-Muwaqi’een and other relevant books.