SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Every Muslim knows that Allah (SWT) has established certain acts of worship (e.g. Salah, Sawm, Hajj, etc.) and certain ways of dealings (e.g. Marriage, Contracts, Inheritance, etc.). This knowledge by the person is not something they are doing Taqleed in because it falls under the “clearly defined” or “indisputable” exceptions in the statement above.
If one knows that she must perform certain acts and conduct dealings in accordance with Allah's instructions, it follows logically that she must learn these instructions and attain them in order to follow them. Learning the laws of Allah (SWT) can only be accomplished by studying and progressing until one can be a Mujtahid or by following a Mujtahid and learning the rules from him.
We see that in many aspects of life where we cannot easily attain a level of expertise we rely on those who have attained that level and seek their advice/instruction. When a layperson has a sickness he goes to a doctor, or a legal problem he goes to a lawyer or a tax problem he goes to an accountant. We do not expect every person to be an expert in everything nor do we look down upon someone who seeks a professional's advice for material needs. Thus, it should be clear that one should seek guidance and instructions for Religion which is the most important aspect of one's life.
What Do the Shia Scholars Say?
Most Shia scholars agree on the basics of Taqleed and the statement of their position is:
In matters of religious laws, apart from the ones clearly defined, or ones which are indisputable, a person must:
either be a Mujtahid (jurist) himself, capable of inferring and deducing from the religious sources and evidence;
or if he is not a Mujtahid himself, he should follow one, i.e. he should act according to the verdicts (Fatwa) of the Mujtahid;
or if he is neither a Mujtahid nor a follower (Muqallid), he should act on such precaution which should assure him that he has fulfilled his religious obligation. Therefore, it is obligatory upon those persons who are neither Mujtahids, nor able to act on precautionary measures (Ihtiyat), to follow a Mujtahid. (Islamic Laws, Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani)
Mujtahid is a jurist competent enough to deduce precise inferences regarding the commandments from the holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the holy Prophet by the process of Ijtihad. Ijtihad literally means striving and exerting. Technically as a term of jurisprudence it signifies the application by a jurist of all his faculties to the consideration of the authorities of law with a view to finding out what in all probability is the law. In other words Ijtihad means making deductions in matters of law, in the cases to which no express text is applicable. (See, Sayyid Baqir Sadr, A Short History of 'llmul Usul, ISP, 1984).
Is all Taqleed Proper?
Many of the people questioning the concept of Taqleed dwell on the idea that you are blindly following someone without knowing their proof and they label it as ignorance. They also use verses such as “And when they are told come to what Allah has brought down and to the Messenger, they said it is sufficient for us what our fathers left us. What if their fathers did not know anything and were not guided” (Ma'ida, 114). First, these verses are in relation to the core of the religion and that is not something we advocate doing Taqleed in. Secondly, we must make a clear distinction between two cases:
An ignorant person doing Taqleed to another ignorant person. This just leads to more ignorance and obviously no one is advocating this sort of action.
An ignorant person doing Taqleed to a person who is qualified to give guidance in the matter. This is what the Shia believe in and insist on and it is what we do regularly in many fields in life.
The Actions of a Person Who is not Doing Taqleed and not a Mujtahid:
If one has not reached the level of Ijtihad and is not doing Taqleed (or Ihtyat), their acts of worship would face a number of problems. These acts could fall under one of the following scenarios:
Did not know whether the action is in accordance to Allah's Law or not, and did not know if it is in accordance to the instructions of the Marji' or not:There is no assurance that this act was done in accordance with the the true law of Allah (SWT) or in accordance with a religiously reliable authority (the correct Marji').
If the person relies on his own knowledge and claims that the act is part of the Religion:This action is considered establishing a new part of the Religion (Bid'a). Not only is the action not accepted but the person has also committed a sin by claiming something is part of the Religion without proper support.
If the person uses his own knowledge to do an act of worship without claiming it is part of the Religion:Acts of worship are meant for seeking closeness to Allah (SWT). One cannot seek closeness to Allah (SWT) by doing something which they are not sure if Allah (SWT) would want them to do or not.
Support for the Concept of Taqleed from Quran and Hadeeth:
As we established above the idea of doing Taqleed is based on Reason and the individual's drive to meet the instructions of Allah (SWT) to the best of their abilities. However, in addition to that we include some additional support from the Quran and Hadeeth.
Needing Proof for actions:
“that he who perished may perish after a clear proof and he who liveth may live after a clear proof” (Anfal, 42)
“bring ye proof if ye be truthful” (Baqara, 111)
Relying on Others for Religion Instructions:
“And nor is it for the faithful that they should go forth all together; why should not then a company from every party of them go forth that they may acquire understanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return unto them, so that they may be cautious” (Tawbah, 122)
“Ask the people of Thikr if you know not”. (Alanbya', 7) [the scholars explain the people of thikr as the people of knowledge. Even though the verse may have specific application given the verses around it, the verse is also left unrestricted so it may be applied here as well.]
“Ahmad Ibn Ishaq asked Imam Alhadi (A:( From whom should I take and whose words should I accept? Imam said: Alamri is my trusted one and whatever he gives from me is from me and whatever he says to you narrated from me is narrated from me; so listen to him and obey him, he is the trusted one”.
“Hassan ibn Ali ibn Yaqteen said I asked Imam Alridha: It is very difficult to come to you and ask you for what I need from my religion, is Yunus Ibn Abdurrahman trustworthy for me to take my religion from him? Imam said: Yes” (Altanqeeh Fi Sharh Alurwa al Wothqa, Sayiid Abul Qassim Alkhoei)
Setting Standards on Who Can Do Fatwa:
Imam Alsadiq (A) said to Abban Ibn Taghlub: “Sit in the masjid of Madeenah and give Fatwa [answer people's religious questions], because I like others to see people like you in my Shia” (Alijtihad Wa Altaqleed, Alkhilkhali)
Imam Alsadiq (A) said: “Whoever gives Fatwa to the people without knowledge or guidance from Allah, he will be cursed by the angles of mercy and the angles of punishment and the responsibility of those who follow him will be with him” (Alijtihad Wa Altaqleed, Alkhilkhali)—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Shia Answer