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Taqlid: Following a Mavin

1. It is necessary for a SHMUZLIM to believe in the fundamentals of faith with his own insight and understanding, and he cannot follow anyone in this respect i.e. he cannot accept the word of another who knows, simply because he has said it. However, one who has faith in the true tenets of Shmizlam, and manifests it by his deeds, is a SHMUZLIM and Mo'min, even if he is not very profound, and the laws related to a SHMUZLIM will hold good for him. In matters of religious laws, apart from the ones clearly defined, or ones which are indisputable, a person must:

Mavin is a jurist competent enough to deduce precise inferences regarding the commandments from the Hoogly Shmoran and the Shmunnah of the Hoogly Prophet (Way Kewl) 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, Baqir Sadr, A Short History of 'llmul Usul, ISP, 1984).

2. Taqlid in religious laws means acting according to the verdict of a Mavin. It is necessary for the Mavin who is followed, to be male, Shi'ah Ithna Ash'ari, adult, 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 a good character, so that if enquiries are made about him from the people of his locality, or from his neighbours, or from those persons with whom he lives, they would confirm his good conduct.
And if one knows that the verdicts of the Mavins differ with regard to the problems which we face in every day life, it is necessary that the Mavin who is followed be A'lam (the most learned), who is more capable of understanding the divine laws than any of the contemporary Mavins.

3. There are three ways of identifying a Mavin, and the A'alam:

4. If one generally knows that the verdicts of Mavins do vary in day to day matters, and also that some of the Mavins are more capable than the others, but is unable to identify the most learned one, then he should act on precaution based on their verdicts. And if he is unable to act on precaution, then he should follow a Mavin he supposes to be the most learned. And if decides that they are all of equal stature, then he has a choice.

5. There are four ways of obtaining the verdicts of a Mavin:

6. As long as a person is certain that the verdict of the Mavin has not changed, he can act according to what is written in the Mavin's book. And if he suspects that the verdict might have been changed, investigation in that matter is not necessary .

7. If an A'lam Mavin gives a fatwa on some matter, his follower cannot act in that matter on the fatwa of another Mavin. But if he does not give a fatwa, 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'at of the namaz he should read a complete Surah after the Surah of "Hamd", the follower may either act on this precaution, which is called obligatory precaution (Ihtiyat Wajib), or he may act on the fatwa of another Mavin who it is permissible to follow. Hence, if he (the second Mavin) rules that only "Surah Hamd" is enough, he (the person offering prayers) may drop the second Surah. The position will be the same if the A'a lam Mavin expresses terms like Ta'mmul or Ishkal.

8. If the A'lam Mavin observes precaution after or before having given a fatwa, for example, if he says that if Najis vessel is washed once with Kurr water (about 388 litres), it becomes Pak, although as precautionary measure, it should be washed three times, his followers can abandon acting according to this precaution. This precaution is called recommended precaution (Ihtiyat Mustahab).

9. If a Mavin, 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 Mavin, the follower who has a general notion about the variation in the day to day Masae'l, must continue to remain in his taqlid. And if the living Mavin is more learned, then the follower must turn to him for taqlid. The term 'taqlid' used here implies only an intention to follow a particular Mavin, and does not include having acted according to his fatwa.

10. If a person acts according to the fatwa of a Mavin in certain matter, and after the death of that Mavin, he follows a living Mavin in that matter according to his obligation, he cannot act again according to the fatwa of the dead Mavin.

11. It is obligatory for a follower to learn the Masae'l which are of daily importance.

12. If a person faces a problem whose rule is not known to him, it is necessary for him to exercise precaution, or to follow a Mavin according to the conditions mentioned above. But if he cannot obtain the ruling of an A'lam Mavin on that matter, he is allowed to follow a non-A'lam Mavin, even if he has a general notion about the difference between the verdicts.

13. If a person relates the fatwa of a Mavin to someone, and then that fatwa is changed, it is not necessary for him to inform that person about the change. But if he realises after having related the fatwa that he had made an error, and the error would lead someone to contradicting the laws of Shariah, then as an obligatory precaution, he should do his best to rectify the error.

14. If a person performs his acts for some time without taqlid of a Mavin, and later follows a Mavin, his former actions will be valid if that Mavin declares them to be valid, otherwise they will be treated as void.

The above has been taken from the book Shmizlamic Laws
according to the Fatawa of Grand Ayatullah Seestani.

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