Taqlid of the Mujtahid Imams: Shaykh Kiranawi’s reply to Ibn al Qayyim

The following work is an English translation of a treatise known as al-Din al-Qayyim by Shaykh Habib Ahmad al-Kiranawi of India, it was originally written in Arabic as a riposte to Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 751 AH) of Damascus, on the latter’s treatment and claims on the issue of Taqlid.  Thus, it is esentially a scholarly defence of the need and permissibility of following qualified scholarship (Taqlid) of the highest ranking Imams known as Mujtahids, like Abu Hanifa (d. 150 AH), Malik ibn Anas (d. 179 AH), al-Shafi’i (d. 204 AH) and Ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH). 

These Imams are the founders of the four most accepted schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Madhhabs) in Sunni Islam for more than 1200 years.  Their schools represent the real understanding of the teachings of the earliest Muslims, meaning, the Way of the Sahaba, and what they received from the Companionship of Allah’s Messenger, sallallahu alaihi wa sallam.  Till this day, most Muslim scholars and laiety on the surface of the earth are adherents of one of these four recognised Madhhabs.  It is only a small minority who have distanced themselves from Taqlid via the centuries as the books of Islamic scholarship and history attest to for more than a millenium.

The  English edition was translated from Arabic by Shaykh Zameelur Rahman from England, and with his permission it has been uploaded here for the benefit of all readers who wish to understand the issue of Taqlid, and why it is necessary for most Muslims to practice Islam in their lives with the conviction that it is based on not only the sources of the Sharia, but explained and detailed accurately by premier authorities known as Mujtahid Imams.  It was originally uploaded here

Translator’s Preface

“In Allah’s Name, the Infinitely Merciful, the Beneficent. All praise to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. May blessings and peace shower on His final Messenger, Muhammad, his family and his companions.

This book is a translation of the treatise al-Din al-Qayyim by the late Indian scholar, Mawlana Habib Ahmad al-Kiranawi, published with a number of his other writings under the title Fawa’id fi ‘Ulum al- Fiqh. Al-Din al-Qayyim was written as a detailed refutation of Shaykh Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah’s (691 H/1292 CE – 751 H/1349 CE) arguments against taqlid from his I’lam al-Muwaqqi’in which offers the most thorough denunciation of taqlid and its proofs to date. The refutation was written in Arabic by Mawlana Habib Ahmad under the supervision of Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi (d. 1362 H/ 1943 AD) as part of the general introduction to the 20-volume compendium of hadith- proofs for the Hanafi madhhab, I’la al-Sunan.*

Mawlana Habib Ahmad in a rigorous and precise manner shows not only that taqlid, which is the non- mujtahid’s deference to a mujtahid Imam in rulings of the Shari’ah without asking for detailed proofs, is established from the Qur‟an, Sunnah and the practice of the Salaf, but that it is so fundamental and necessary for Islamic scholarship and practice to function at any level that its detractors have no option but to resort to taqlid, while repackaging it as “adherence to proof.” It is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the structure of Islamic scholarship and the weakness of the arguments presented by those who wish to deny the legitimacy and necessity of taqlid.”


Author’s Introduction

In the worst of generations, a misguided group arose, insulting the Imams and criticising taqlid, and calling people to abandon it, although most of their invectives and all of their proofs are based on imitation (taqlid) of those who came before them, since when they say, “In such and such an issue, Abu Hanifah opposed a sahih (authentic) hadith,” and you ask, “How do you know it is a sahih hadith?” they reply, “Hafiz [ibn Hajar al-„Asqalani] in Fath [al-Bari] authenticated it and so-and-so and so-and-so authenticated it.” Do they not understand that since it is not permissible for them to imitate Abu Hanifah, how can it be permissible for them to imitate the likes of Ibn Hajar? Since you prohibit taqlid, why is it necessary for Abu Hanifah to do taqlid of Ibn Hajar and his likes in authenticating that which they authenticated and weakening that which they weakened? Why is it necessary for him to understand the hadith, assuming it is authentic, that which Ibn Hajar and others understood from it?

Therefore, these people are in reality stronger in imitation than the muqallids, because the muqallids only consider it necessary for a non-mujtahid to imitate a mujtahid, and these people consider it necessary for the mujtahid to imitate themselves by imitating those that they imitate even if he is a non-mujtahid. Moreover, they call people to abandon taqlid of the mujtahid Imams and deem it necessary to imitate them in authenticating what they authenticate and weakening what they weaken and understanding what they understand and saying what they say and permitting what they permit and prohibiting what they prohibit, in imitation of their predecessors, and cursing those they curse and praising those they praise. Although the ignorance of these people and their misguidance reach such a degree that their opinions and deeds are self-contradicting, since they criticise something in others and prefer something worse than it for themselves and prohibit something for others and deem something uglier necessary, such that any sane person will have no doubt about their ignorance and misguidance, their misgivings and deceptions, however, they have misled those who are unaware and have spread amongst them, and thus we saw fit to expose their deceptions.

Since the subject-matter of ijtihad and taqlid is one of the greatest battlefields between us and them and is its foundation, we took up this discussion in this introduction [to I’la al-Sunan] in the most elaborate manner and most expressive speech because we saw that Ibn al-Qayyim who is the father of this kind of group spoke at length on this subject in I„lam al-Muwaqqi„in whereby he left no speech [in opposition to taqlid] for those who came after him. We called it al-Din al-Qayyim so it becomes an independent treatise on this subject and it is possible to circulate it independently for whoever wishes to circulate it as it is or in translation.

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  1. Salam, can you please translate only the ahadith mentioned in Imam Kattani’s book of Mutawatir Ahadith? There are more than 120 Ahadith in that book. I have never seen a website like this, may Allah bless you.

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