The default rule for a mufti who is a muqallid is that he does not issue fatwa but on the madhhab of his Imam, according to the principles we discussed from ‘Uqud Rasm al-Mufti. However, that which we outlined in the discussion on taqlid and adopting a madhhab – that [the obligation of] taqlid of a specific Imam is a fatwa based on blocking the means and the interests of the Shari‘ah, in order that people do not fall into following desires, since collecting the concessions [i.e. the easiest positions] of the madhhabs due to desire and whim is prohibited – should not be forgotten. Otherwise, the truth is that all the madhhabs of the mujtahids are interpretations of the Shari‘ah itself, and there is no room to vilify any one of them, because every mujtahid expended all that is in his capacity of effort in arriving at the intent of the texts, and deriving the rules from them.
Browsing: Taqlid and Ijtihad
People would seek fatwa from ‘ulama’ since the earliest of times in matters which they were in need of, because the majority of people are not able to derive the rulings of the Shari‘ah from their original sources. Thus, it would be necessary for them to refer to those who have knowledge of these rulings. This is what Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) ordered in His noble saying: “So ask the people of remembrance if you do not know.” (16:43) And as long as a mufti is trusted in his knowledge and his piety, they would not demand evidence for what he said – and this is the technical meaning of taqlid, since they defined it as: “Acting on the opinion of another without knowing his evidence or demanding proof.”
However, in the best of generations, they would not restrict themselves to taking fatwa from a single scholar, such that they would not permit seeking fatwa from another scholar, although when individuals had a particular affinity with a scholar of a certain land, their reliance on him would be greater than others, so by virtue of that affinity, they would refer to that scholar in all matters or most of them.
The Islamic Ummah is united that Imam A‘zam Abu Hanifah Nu‘man ibn Thabit (may Allah mercy him) is one of the four followed imams — Malik, al-Shafi‘i, Ahmad and Abu Hanifah (may Allah mercy them all and be pleased with them).
Among those issues upon which all of the people of knowledge from both the early and latter times are agreed is that these four jurists, and their likes from among the mujtahid imams whose followers have gradually died out, only derived fiqh issues (masa’il) and Shari‘ah rulings from the book of Allah Most High and the Sunnah of His Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and that which these two sources indicate towards such as consensus (ijma‘) and legal analogy (al-qiyas al-shar‘i) etc.
The knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah are the basis of ijtihad and the process of deriving rules; it is because of this that the mujtahid jurists were leaders in the knowledge of the Noble Qur’an and the pure Sunnah because without these two core sciences it would not be possible for them to carry out ijtihad and derive rulings and masa’il.