It is necessary for a Muslim to believe in the fundamentals of faith with his own insight and understanding, and he cannot follow anyone in this respect, i.e. he can not accept the word of another who knows them, simply because he has said it. Howere, one who has faith in the true tenets of Islam, and manifests it by his deeds, is a Muslim and Mu’min, even if he is not very profound, and the laws related to a Muslim will hold good for him. 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 (Fatàwà) of a 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. For example, if some Mujtahids consider an act to be unlawful (Halal (allowed)), while others say that it is not, he should not perform that act.
Similarly, if some Mujtahid consider an act to be obligatory (Wàjib) while others consider it to be recommended (Mustaa*àb), he should perform it.
Therefore, it is obligatory upon those persons who are neither Mujtahids, nor able to act on precautionary measures (Ihtiyat), to follow a Mujtahid.
Taqli’d in religious laws means acting according to the verdicts of a Mujtahid it isnecessary for the Mujtahid who is followed, to be male, shi ‘ah Ithna-`Ashariyyah, adult (Bàligh), sane, of legitimate birth, living and just (`Adil).
A person is said to be just when he performs all those acts which are obligatory upon him, and refrains from all those things which are forbidden to him.
And the sign of being just is that one is apparently of good character, so that if enquiries are made about him from the people of his locality, or from his neighbours, or from his neighbouers, or from those persons with whom he lives, they would confirm his good conduct. And it is necessary that the Mujtahid who is followed be A’lam (the most learned), who is more capable of understanding the divine laws than any of the contemporary Mujtahids.
There are three ways of identifying a Mujtahid, and the A’lam:
· When a person is certain that a particular person is a Mujtahid, or the most learned one. For this, he should be a learned person himself, and should possess the capacity to identify a Mujtahid or an A’lam;
· When two persons, who are learned and just and possess the capacity to identify a Mujtahid or the A’lam, confirm that a person is a Mujtahid or an A’lam, provided that two other learned and just persons do not contradict them. In fact, being a Mujtahid or an A’lam can also be established by a statement of only one trusted and reliable person;
· When a number of learned persons who possess the capacity to identitya Mujtahid or an A ‘lam, certify that a particular person is a Mujtahid or an A’lam, provided that one is satisfied by their statement.
There are four ways of obtaining the verdicts of a Mujtahid:
· When one hears from the Mujtahid himself.
· When the verdict of the Mujtahid is quoted by two just persons.
· When one hears the verdict from a person whose statement
· By reading the Mujtahid’s book of Masa’il (religious rules or matters), provided that, one is satisfied about the correctness of the book. If an A’lam Mujtahid gives a Fatwa on some matter, his follower cannot act in that matter on the Fatwà of another Mujtahid. But if he does not give a Fatwà, and expresses a precaution (Ihtiyat) that a man should act in such and such a manner, for example if he says that as a precautionary measure, in the first and second Rak’ah (unit) of the prayer (Salat) he should read a complete Surah after the Surah of A*amd, the follower may either act on this precaution, which is called obligatory precaution (Ihtiyat-ul-Wàjib), or he may act on the Fatwa of another Mujtahid, while consideringthe srquence of learnedness hence, if he (the second Mujtahid) rules that only Surat-ul-A*amd is enough, he (the person offering prayers) may drop the second surah. The position will be the same if the A’lam Mujtahid expresses terms like Ta’ammul (contemplation) or Ishkal (objection).
If The A’lam Mujtahid observes precaution after or before having given a Fatwà, for example, if he says that if a Najis (impure) vessel is washed once with a kurr water (about 388 litres), it becomes Tahir (pure ), although as precatonary measure, it should be washed three times, his followers can abandon acting according to this precaution. This precaution is called recommended precaution (Ihtiyat-ul mustahab).
If a Mujtahid, who is followed by a person dies, his category will be the same as when he was alive. Based on this, if he is more learned than a living Mujtahid, the follower must continue to remain in his Taqlid. And if the living Mujtahid is more learned, then the follower must turn to him for Taqlid.
And if their differencein learnedness is not lenouin or they are identical, he has the option to act on the verdicts of either of them, except in cases of pief knowledge about the duty or raising a pief argument on it, like the cases of diversity of the verdicts in full or shortened (Qa?r) prayer, in which, as an obligatory precaution, both verdicts should be observed. The term. ‘Taqli’d’ used here implies only an intention to follow a particular Mujtahid, and does not include having acted according to his Fatwa.
It is obligatory for a follower to learn the Masa’il (matters) which he considers probable that if they are not learned, he may commit sins (i.e. abandon an obligatory act or do an unlawful act).
If a person performs his acts for some time without Taqli’d of a Mujtahid, his former actions would be valid if they were according to the verdicts of the new Mujtahid, who can be his Marja’, otherwise they would be valid only when he is considered as ignorant but not negligent, and the defecf of the actions was not in elementals (Rukns) and the like. The actions would be valid also when the person has been negligently ignorant and the defect of the action has been like reciting loudly instead of silently or vice versr, in which the action would be correct in case of ignorance.
The previous actions are valid also when the person does not know their quality, except in some cases menticned in Minhaj-us-salihin.
A Brief of Islamic Law
The Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani
[Vol. 1, p. 2-3].