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Last Updated: 2006/11/22
Summary of question
Why is it not permissible to do taqlid to a deceased Mujtahid?
question
Why is it not permissible to do taqlid to a deceased Mujtahid?
Concise answer

            Scholars of jurisprudence which say that it is not permissible to do taqlid to a deceased Mujtahid, have a basis for this reasoning and in order to understand it we must refer to legal manuscripts. However, this question can be presented in another way and that is; what is the benefit and philosophy of such a ruling from these scholars' point of view?

 

          In answering this question we can point out a few things:

 

  1. Studying and learning various religious sciences in order to reach the level of ijtihad, is the basis for the continuation and progression of the Islamic seminaries.

  2. Even though many of the great scholars of the past have answered many of the issues and questions, there are still many left which will need to be answered by future scholars.

  3. Muslims, in the everyday personal, social, domestic and foreign lives are constantly facing new issues, and they may not be aware of their duties. In these cases a living Faqih (jurisprudent scholar) is needed to answer their question and make them aware of their [Islamic] duty.

  4. Many issues and topics are subject to or in a state of change and it takes a living Mujtahid to be able to take into consideration the time and place and to consider the altered issues in order to give the proper ruling on them.

  5. The simultaneous advancement of Islamic sciences along with other sciences.

Detailed Answer

            A group of Shia jurisprudent scholars[1] do not allow initial taqlid from a deceased Mujtahid, and they state that: doing taqlid from a deceased Mujtahid is only correct if you were already doing taqlid to him when while he was alive, and a living Mujtahid has given a fatwa stating that it is permissible to continue to do taqlid to the deceased Mujtahid. The fact that our scholars recognize 'being alive' as a condition in order to be a legal authority or Mujtahid, and say that it is not permissible to do taqlid to a deceased Mujtahid, has its own specific jurisprudential reasons which are discussed in the field of technical Fiqhi issues, but we will not elaborate on that here. However, this question can be presented in another way and that is; what is the benefit and philosophy of such a ruling from these scholars' point of view?

In answering this question we will make reference to only a few of the points:

 

  1. This viewpoint is the basis for the continuation and progression of religious sciences. According to this view the doors to ijtihad will remain open and with the teaching and education of other scholars in the Islamic seminary it makes way for new Mujtahids and legal authorities.

  2. Many of the issues and misgivings of the past have been answered by great scholars of the past; however there are still many left which will need to be answered by future scholars. Taking into consideration the advancement of science throughout the world, even some of the resolved issues could be better elaborated on, and more comprehensive answers can be given.

  3. Considering that the knowledge and teachings of Islamic sciences such as; tafsir (exegesis), Islamic law, theoretical jurisprudence, etc.; continue to advance simultaneously with the advancement of other sciences.

  4.  Muslims, in the everyday personal, social, domestic and foreign lives are constantly facing new issues, and it is the job of a living Faqih (jurisprudent scholar) to make them aware of their duties. In principal this is taught to us in hadiths, and it is also the reference key for Mujtahids. Imam Mahdi (Peace be upon him) has stated that: in the matters which you will incur (phenomenal incidents), refer to our hadith transmitters.[2] "Phenomenal incidents" are the new and constantly occurring affairs which happen from one time to another time and from century to century, year to year, and perhaps even day to day. It is the living faqih of that time that can solve these matters. Studying fiqhi books has shown us that gradually, according to the needs of the people, new issues arise in Islamic law which must be solved by legal jurisprudents. The progression of Muslim jurisprudence in the years to come is in the hands of the jurisprudent scholars of various eras.

  5. Many of the issues and topics of the past have been subject to change and have evolved into new issues, and it takes a living Mujtahid to be able to extract the rulings from the appropriate sources (Quran and Sunnah) and to explain them.[3]



[1] According to our viewpoint: initial taqlid to a deceased Mujtahid is permissible, and if the deceased Mujtahid is more knowledgeable than the living Mujtahid, then it is wajib (obligatory) to do taqlid to him. Secondly, in social matters one must only follow the Rahbari (Supreme Islamic Leadership), and in non-social matters one can do taqlid to someone other than the rahbari.

[2] Tabarsi Ihtijaj – Vol.2 Pg.283

[3] For more information please make reference to : Ten Dialogues - Dr. Shahid Mutahari (May Allah have mercy on his soul) – Dialogue on the Principals of Ijtihad in Islam

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