Taqlid  Following the Fatwas

Environmental Obstacles
Moral Credentials
Rules of Taqleed
Taqlid (following others)
The Two Continous Tasks
The Positions of the Scholars
Three Ways to Obey God
Qualifications of a Mujtahid
Ja'far Ibn Muhammad (as)


Certain terms will often be seen in this book. The readers unfamiliar with the meaning of such terms, in the context of this book, may not have the desired benefit from their translations. Thus, an explanation will help them to have a better and more clear idea of the applications of such terms. A specialist in the Islamic Laws, 'Mujtahid' and the collection of 'fatwas' are the ones which require a detailed explanation more than any other terms.

The translation of a Mujtahid as a specialist in the Islamic Laws is almost good enough, but if one would know how one becomes a Mujtahid, he will no doubt realize the difference between one's idea about a 'Mujtahid' perceived from the translation of the term and what takes one to become a 'Mujtahid'.

One may summarize what a Mujtahid faces during his task of Ejtihad into; environmental obstacles; the subject matter of Ejtihad and the achievement of moral and learning credentials. We do not have to mention what a Mujtahid has to study before he enters into the substance of the subject, the study of the texts or the sources of the Islamic Laws, for the study of the philosophy of language, general history, the history of learning, general logic, and philosophy and the philosophy of social Laws and jurisprudence all are common knowledge. A student and one with some experience in education can easily tell us what takes one to satisfactorily study these subjects.

The earliest time to complete one's courses of Ph. D., as we know, is in one's late twenties.

A Mujtahid before entering into the substance of the subject of Ejtihad must be able to form out of his studies of the subjects mention above, a world pattern purely Islamic and acceptable to the Islamic philosophy and theology. The subject of Ejtihad has two main branches; the principles of jurisprudence (usulul fiq) and Laws, (Shari'a). It is beyond the scope of this brief foreword, to present to the readers an account of even the smallest topics from the subject of Ejtihad because of their technical nature and complicated forms. Our only choice would be to simply describe (a) what a student of the subject of Ejtihad does during all those years and (b) how he achieves learning credentials.

It takes one six years from the day he attends classes on the subject of the principles of jurisprudence to the end of this subject. After this if he is lucky, and had not dropped out, he starts teaching the same subject to others. Practically, such people form a very small percentage of the students attending with him on the subject.

In the school of Najaf, Iraq or Qum, Iran classes and teachers of the subject of the principles of jurisprudence are not restricted or limited. Anyone capable of teaching may start a class anywhere in some Mosque anytime. There no other factors exist to make the students to attend the lectures of a certain teacher on the principles of jurisprudence except the degree of the teacher's knowledge of the subject and his communicating skill. Because of the kind of freedom students are free to attend any class anywhere and find the teacher of their choice.

The best teacher will have the greatest number of students attending his lectures. There are people who start lectures on the subject and one may see few people attending his lectures but not very long after one can see no one attending his lectures but the teacher himself. If a teacher can prove his capability in the subject, more people will attend his lectures.

Also, if a student who attends the lectures of a teacher can raise relevant question and challenge the teacher's ability of presenting evidence in support of his point, he also will have potential credit for his intelligence and it may damage the learning credentials of the teacher. In this way at this stage every one's learning credentials practically become public to the intelligent students.

If a lucky teacher can complete teaching this subject by the help of using the text books on the subject, which is very rare to happen, he then starts lectures on the same subject without using a text book in the class. Text books on this subject are numerous and of different styles. Traditionally the specialist on this subject would always express their own new findings in the matter in the form of footnotes and explanations to the existing text books of the most scholarly and technical styles. But since the early sixties the prominent scholars have changed the tradition of footnote writing into independent form of scholarly works on the subject.

The learning credentials of a successful teacher cannot give him, at this stage, the right to be considered as man of independent views. For his learning ability of teaching by the help of text books still cannot be considered mature or 'hujjah' which means having authoritative power.

Teaching successfully, without the help of text books, with the ability of attracting the greatest number of intelligent student to one's lectures on the vast subject of the principles of jurisprudence, one will have the right to be called an Ayalullah, which in this context means having the right to be considered independent in one's views of due authoritative power.

Such teacher who are just a few in the community of the religious scholars are well known to all the intelligent students because of the teachers successfully completing his lectures on the subject with of hard work to meet the avalanche of the intelligent students challenges against the credibility of the teachers views on the subject, for at this stage a teacher logically and traditionally must form his own views in all the topics of the whole subject.

This requires that every single point in the subject must satisfactorily and with the best possible logical accuracy be analyzed.

The whole matter analyzed during the long years of teaching with the help of the text books and then without such help must he organized and put back together to form one's view point in every topic. One's view point as such are a product of great many far reaching general principles, each individually formed out of a whole process of logical inference on the topic. At the same time since such general principles in many cases are inter related, for a practical Legal purpose one can very often find more than one such general concepts of decisive guide line to determine the precept of a single act in practice.

There is no doubt, that the task of handling abstract general principles for practical reasons is not easy, especially, when it comes to supporting one's final decision in a legal matter by the help of more than one such principle. If one can line up a great number of such principles as a support behind one's decision in a Legal matter, his learning ability to the same degree, will be entitled to scholarly recognition and credibility.

One who can successfully complete his Lectures on the whole subject of the principles of jurisprudence independent of the help of the text books without leaving untouched any of the others' views in every single topic, regardless of how many they may have been, and accurately analyzing and answering them as well as teaching the whole text of Shari'a which re4required much more pains taking scholarly work, sharper intelligence and a longer time then will be called a 'Mujtahid', Mujtahids are practically different from each other. A Mujtahid in the sense just mentioned does not practically publish his legal view points in a book form called one's collection of 'Fatwas'.

Only those who have successfully completed their lectures on the sources and texts of the Islamic Laws in the light of the principles of jurisprudence which usually takes one about eight to ten years, provided, their other credentials are well established have the right to publish the collection of their legal views. The amount of labor require in The final stage can some how be figured out from the volume of literature involved.

(1) The scholarly examination and study of hadith, i.e. 34000 statements published in the form of Was'il Ashshi'a in more than twenty volumes each having at least 500 pages.

(2) The biography of all the thousand of narrators of these Ahadith also published in more than twenty volumes.

(3) Also using one's final view points formed out of his studies of the principles of jurisprudence to make sure that the utmost possible scholarly effort is made in issuing a final decision about each single legal rule. At the final stage the degree of criticisms and challenges of the intelligent students against the points in the lectures of an Ayatullah, a grand Mujtahid, becomes greater than ever for a student who can raise relevant objection at this stage has to be learned enough, who on the other hand at the same time will receive a great degree of credentials for his learning ability, also, as part of the system it encourages a Mujtahid not to leave unchecked all the possible questions against his 'Fatwas', final decision in the legal rules. No single rule in this book is recorded without being examined in the light of the principles of Ejtihad, the results of the above mentioned long years of scholarly efforts, and in the best possible logical manner.

Although, every Mujtahid forms each single rule of the collection of his 'Fatwas' independently and uses all the relevant principles to clarify each rule and make sure that no doubt what the Islamic Shari'a requires people to do or stay away from. In practice, most of the rules in this book coincide with the 'Fatwas' of all the Mujtahids. Only a small number of them which are mostly abstract one's may not coincide the 'Fatwas' of all the Mujtahids.

Environmental Obstacles

There are few Mujtahids because of the following reasons:

(a) Ejtihad is the stage of the highest Level of human ideological thinking at a given time. It is natural that starting from zero, that is, human childhood to reach to such level is a long way to go with so many obstacles on the way. Ph. D. has something common with Ejtihad in terms of thinking but Ejtihad has much more than Ph. D. as regards the quality and quantity of knowledge and thinking. This is one reason which makes Ejtihad so rare.

(b) The subject of Ejtihad is an abstract thinking which makes it difficult to get through. It is not easy to organize the ideas analyzed through the years and years of hard work and put them together, coincide and apply them to particular purposes. An accord between the analytical and synthetic process in a system requires a properly educated mind.

This is another reason why it makes it difficult for one to get through the subject of Ejtihad.

(c) The conditions demanding a certain standard of moral discipline are other factors contributing to make it more difficult. A Mujtahid is required by the system of Ejtihad to carry on this task as a social obligation which means that one has to do the work without any intention to have worldly gains thereby like to become famous, or get to the post of Leadership or have greater part in the material gains of life. A Mujtahid is required to have the best possible accuracy in his ideas and practice if he likes to be a Mujtahid, away from worldly gains which in practice is another reason to make Ejtihad difficult.

(d) Because of the western influences, religion was thought of as having nothing to do with the system of government, economy and other social activities. Isolation from the society, deprivation from the social opportunities combined with many other factors had been making it almost impossible for one to get through the subject of Ejtihad. The school of Ejtihad had no other place to flourish and it was forced to take refuge of the desert in Najaf (a city in Iraq) where there is no economical resources. There the students of Ejtihad had to continue their task and many of them would tell us that because of financial hardships time and again they could only spare their lives with the skins of watermelons after being thrown away. Because they did not want to show others their difficulties they could only get those skins at night in the dark when no one could see them collecting or washing then using them instead of food. Thanks to their patience, courage and persistence which kept the school flourishing. For these reasons it is not easy to become a Mujtahid.

Moral Credentials

It takes one only one phrase to tell what a Mujtahid is required to do to achieve this goal. That phrase is 'to always maintain justice'. It is very easy to say this phrase but very difficult to practice. First of all it is very difficult to know what is just or unjust, for the learned ones among men have not yet been able to reduce the various definition of justice to a united form. However, Islam has saved us from the confusion in the definition of justice, for Islamic Shari'a has clearly categorized all human activities into five major categories, as it will be mentioned latter, and sanctioned a definite rule for every act.

A just person, according to Islam, is the one who has not violated any of the Islamic orders and prohibitions and does not persist in trivial sins. Since the rule of every act is known in Islam, a Mujtahid does not have to face the difficulties emerging from the confusion in the definition of justice. A Mujtahid's task is to maintain justice in practice throughout his career.

In a religious environment, although it is not easy to maintain justice, but it is not impossible either, for faith and knowledge makes it easier. Thus, we have Mujtahids in every generation who practically do over come all the above mentioned difficulties to achieve the qualifications necessary for a Mujtahid.

Rules of Taqlid   (Following Opinions of Mujtahid Sharia)

Rule 1. In the matters of the principles of belief it is necessary for a Muslim to prove for himself that such principles are true and it is not lawful to follow others in such matters without proper reason and logical proofs, but in matters of the rules of Sharia one must either himself be a Mujtahid to form his own logical opinion of the rules from the original sources of the Islamic laws or follow the opinion of a Mujtahid who is well qualified or fulfill one's obligations by means of observing proper precaution to make sure that whatever is obligatory is fulfilled and no unlawful matters is done, for example if a group of Mujtahid is of the opinion that a certain act is unlawful while another group is of the opinion that it is not unlawful he, in order to be sure that rules of precaution are observed, stays away from doing such an act or if a group of Mujtahids are of the opinion that a certain act is obligatory and an other group consider it as preferable, in such a case he performs that act to make sure that he has not missed to act.

Rule 2. In matters of Sharia Taqlid means to follow the opinions of a Mujtahid. A Mujtahid must be a male, adult, follower of Ahlebayt (a.s.), born of wedlock, living free and possessing the noble quality and ability to observe justice.

A person who has the noble quality of justice is the one who fulfills all of his obligations, stays away from all unlawful acts and if his neighbors and associates are asked about his manners they would speak of him as a man of good deeds.

Rule 3. A Mujtahid can be identified in the following ways:

1. One's own certainty because of being of the people who study in the Islamic Seminaries.
2. Report of two Scholars of the Islamic Seminaries who possess the noble quality of justice, as mentioned earlier, who are able to identify a Mujtahid and that their report would not contradict the report of such two other scholars.
3. The testimony of a group of knowledgeable people who are able to identify a Mujtahid and are reliable in their reporting. Apparently, the testimony of one reliable person is enough proof in the matter.

Rule 4. Considering that it is obligatory to follow the most knowledgeable Mujtahid, if it would become difficult to identify such Mujtahid it is necessary, in such case, to follow the opinion of a Mujtahid about whose being the most knowledgeable Mujtahid one's degree of knowledge would be more than 50 % or even if such knowledge would be less than 50 % and one has no knowledge of some one else's being the most knowledgeable. If every one in a group would be just like the others in one's opinion he may follow the opinion of any one of them that he choose. However if one the of Mujtahids would be more strict (Awra`) in observing the rules of Sharia he should be given preference over the others.

Rule 5. In the following four ways one may learn about the opinions of a Mujtahid:

1. Hearing directly from the Mujtahid.
2. Hearing from two people who possess the noble quality of justice and who report the opinions of the Mujtahid.
3. Hearing from reliable people whose reports could be trusted.
4. Finding the Mujtahids opinions in written form which could be trusted as reliable and authentic and safe from mistakes.

Rule 6. As long as one does not know of any change in the opinions of Mujtahid he can still follow such opinions found in reliable and authentic written forms but when one thinks that a change may have taken place in th Mujtahid's opinions it is not necessary to find out about it unless the possibility of change is strongly reasonable.

Rule 7. When a Mujtahid pronounces his opinion it is not lawful for his follower to follow other Mujtahids in that Fatwa and opinion, according to Ehtiyat ( precaution) but if the Mujtahid did not express his fatwa ( definite opinion) and instead said, " it is a precaution to do so and so.. like saying that it is a precaution to say three times the four tasbihat in the two last Rakats of a prayer that has four Rak'ats.. " in such case it is necessary for the follower either to follow such opinion based on precaution which is called a necessary precaution or follow the opinion of another Mujtahid who says that saying such tasbihat only once is enough. The same is the rule if one's Mujtahid would say, " this case requires some thinking or it is not free from difficulties.."

Rule 8. If a Mujtahid expresses a precautionary statement after pronouncing his opinion in a case like saying, " an object after becoming unclean is cleansed by washing once with water that is a large quantity although it is a precautionary way to wash it three times.." in such a case his followers may follow some other Mujtahid in this case.

Rule 9. If the Mujtahid whom one follows dies he must either continue following that Mujtahid's opinions or find another living Mujtahid to follow.

Rule 10. In case that it would be lawful to continue following a deceased Mujtahid, if one acts according to the Fatwa of a Mujtahid in a case and then acts in the same case according the Fatwa of a living Mujtahid in the same case he is not allowed to act in the same case according to the Fatwa of the deceased Mujtahid whom he had followed in the past.

In the same way if his living Mujtahid instead of Fatwa has a precautionary opinion and he has acted according to such precautionary opinion for some times, now he is allowed to begin acting in this particular case according to the Fatwa of his deceased Mujtahid.

Rule 11. It is necessary to learn the rules that one often needs to practice.

Rule 12. If one faces a case without knowing the rule for it, if possible he must wait until he learns the Fatwa of his Mujtahid about it or act according to precaution if possible for him.

Rule 13. If one explains the Fatwa of a Mujtahid to some one and then later it is discovered that such Fatwa is changed, it is not necessary to inform one's audience of such change, but if one finds out that he has made a mistake in his explanation of the Fatwa then it is necessary to inform one's audience if possible.

Rule 14. If one performs his worship acts without Taqlid for some times, such acts will be valid only if they are according to the Fatwas of the Mujtahid whose taqlid is obligatory for such person or they were according to the Fatwas of the Mujtahid whose taqlid is definitely obligatory for him now or he learns through other ways that his acts were according to the rules of Sharia and that he has in fact performed his duties the way he was required.

Taqlid (Following others' [Fatwas] Decisions)

 How did the need to follow the (Fatwas) decisions of a qualified specialist in the Law emerge on the part of common people? From the time men came into this world, they have always been facing situations similar to those mentioned above in almost every walk of life. In almost all of the activities of life, with the exception of a few manageable ones with less effort, some sort of skill and know how is required. For instance, to treat an illness people have to visit a physician; they themselves do not know how to treat it. The physician on his part needs a certain degree of study and investigation. The same is true of all the specialists in different fields of knowledge. This situation has made men realize that it is impracticable for everyone to undertake all the scholarly efforts needed in different fields of knowledge, for this is beyond the ability of every individual.

One can never become a specialist in all the branches of knowledge. Practically, in each of the branches of knowledge we have specialists to whom people refer whenever the need arises, a tradition of civilization to meet the requirements of life. The system of (Ejtihad), the scholarly study of the Law, and the duty sanctioned upon the Muslim masses to refer to the qualified specialists in the Islamic Laws is the practical approval of this tradition by the Islamic system.

A person legally responsible for his voluntary deeds must ask a qualified specialist about the rules of his activities if such rules are not commonly known. God has not imposed on everyone the duty of Ejtihad, the scholarly effort in the study of the Law, to create difficulty in meeting other requirements of life. Also, He has not allowed a non specialist to himself refer to the sources for a certain precept.

His duty is to find out a precept by the way of referring to a qualified specialist, a Mujtahid. Therefore, following the decisions of a qualified scholar in the Islamic Laws is one of the obligations of a Muslim. The Arabic word (TAQLID) which means to place something around ones neck, symbolically means to consider the specialist responsible before God for his issuing his Fatwa in a precept. It does not mean following blindly without reason on the basis of prejudice and ignorance. There is a big difference between accepting others' view points without reason and accepting what is based on a well established principle.

In Islam the former case is disapproved, but the latter is considered reasonable when due precaution is observed. In the matters of Law, one must follow only that specialist, whose degree of knowledge is greater than others, in case their views differ. The specialist must be a just person, not following his unlawful desires of getting involved in trivial or serious sins, so that the person following him may have the greatest degree of confidence in the accuracy of his decision, safe from following him on the basis of prejudice and ignorance.

On this basis Taqlid became an Islamic tradition during the time of the Imams (a.s.) and is valid to this day. The Imams (a.s.) would recommend Muslims to refer for the precepts guiding their activities to the local scholars of their school of thought, and would accept no excuse from them in their shortcomings to ask the scholars.

No Taqlid In Matters of Beliefs
In practical matters, as we noted, the Law has made it compulsory for the common people to follow the (Fatwas) decisions of a qualified specialist in the sense described, while in matters of beliefs and basic principles the above method is vigorously rejected; what is required in the matters of beliefs is to have certainty about the existence and supremacy of one's Creator, the life hereafter, His religion and guides. The Law requires one to find sufficient reasons in support of the truthfulness of one's beliefs, instead of following others' view points. The holy Quran has, in different ways, severely belittled the beliefs that are in any respect based on the views of others.

The reasons such as to believe in something because one's fore fathers had believed in it or because it serves one's national interest or not to have any belief due to carelessness or laziness in searching for reasonable beliefs are not acceptable in Islam. Since the basic beliefs in Islam are limited in number, harmonious with human conscience, easy to understand and of greatest significance in human life, thus, the demand of the Law from every responsible person to do his best in a direct search to find out the reality is a natural process that creates no difficulty in one's other affairs.

Even if one would face hardships in the search for proper belief, still it is important to have patience because of the significant effects beliefs can have in life. Besides, the Law has not ignored different peoples' ability of approach, their thinking power and cultural attitudes. No one is responsible for what is beyond his ability. Everyone has simply to do his best according to his capability to support the truthfulness of his beliefs, thus, have enough psychological comfort and sufficient answers before the Creator.

The Two Continous Tasks

Both, the scholarly efforts in the studies of the Laws called 'Ejtihad', and the following of the (Fatwas) decisions of a qualified scholar in this field called 'Taqlid' are continuous tasks on the part of common people. The whole Quran as a text of law is with us in the same form as it was revealed. The same is true of a great number of the Ahadith, saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family). What is required is a logical practice of the Law which naturally demands scholarly efforts in order to find out the exact precept of an event, a process that requires greater experience and farsightedness from the specialists.

The specialists have to manage for greater safety measures by means of more profound inferences than their predecessors. This gives the common people the logical opportunity of not limiting themselves within the view points of the specialist of the remote past, just as modern medical progress tells us not to accept the outdated theories in the medical field. For this reason, the relationship between the specialist in the studies of the Law and the common people is an ever new relationship and of a continuous nature. The scholars, especially, the well qualified ones have a holier position as being the representatives of the Imams (a.s.), in the general sense.

The Positions of the Scholars

Ever since the Law had considered the two tasks 'following' and the 'scholarly efforts' as the best possible way to maintain social order, it also has sufficient means to make the order practically successful. Scholarly effort is a social obligation which any individual may fulfill for the whole community.

In other words, although every member of the community is responsible for this, yet whin one person fulfills this task on behalf of the others, the obligation of others ends. "All believers do not have to become specialists in religious learning. Why not some people from each group of believers seek to become specialists in religious learning to guide their group after completing their studies so that they will have fear of God?" (9:122). "Ask of those who possess the message" 16:43, is a statement from the holy Quran that gives a high position to the scholars and considers them the heirs of the Prophets. The holy Prophet said, "Lord, forgive my successors, for they will be the ones who will teach my traditions, and people will learn from them."

It is narrated from Imam Ali (a.s.) who said, "The scholars who know about God have the authority in lawful and unlawful matters, being the trustees of His guidance." A look at the faces of the scholars is considered an act of worship so that people can have more benefit from their knowledge. Equal to the extent of the privilege given to them the scholars are enjoined to strengthen their faith in God, to observe piety, have purity of character and to take all the necessary measures against the misuse of their knowledge, so that they may represent the prophets as their true heirs. It is narrated from Imam Al'askari (a.s.) who said, "The common people have to follow the Scholars of the Law who safeguard their souls (against sin), protect their religion, oppose their desires and obey their Master."

It is narrated from Imam As sadiq who said, "One who uses his knowledge as a means of earning will become poorer." Someone asked, "What do you say about those of your followers who have learnt from you, propagate their knowledge among other followers and receive something in exchange? " He replied, "They are not of those who make a living out of their knowledge by issuing decrees without guidance from God, and spoil others' rights for their own worldly gains." The Prophet said, "The scholars are the trustees of the Prophets as long as they stay out of the worldly interests." The system of Ejtihad, scholarly effort in the study of the law, and following the decisions of the scholars, on the part of the common people, which must continue as a lawful process, are also the proper ways to preserve the religion.

The scholars by maintaining the standard system of Ejtihad will have the chance to understand the Law, remove the doubts about it, and make others understand. The Prophet said, "In every generation there will be just scholars who will defend this religion against the innovations of the straying ones and purify it from the false interpretations of the liars, and the inferences of the ignorant people, as a furnace that purifies iron from unwanted matters."

The Sources of a Mujtahid's (Fatwas) Decision
The sources of the decisions of a Mujtahid are almost always the holy Quran and the Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet) with its continuity in the form of the traditions of his successors, the twelve Imams (a.s.) from his family, whom he regarded being as important as the holy Quran for the guidance of the Muslims. The other sources such as Qiyas, analogy, or Estihsan, what may look acceptable to a scholar, have never been considered as sources of the decisions in a Law handbook, containing a set of collected rules for practical purposes called 'Risalah 'amaliyah', for such sources were not approved by any of the Imams (a.s.).

'Aql (Reason), although has a great potential to serve as a source of Law, is controversial among the scholars. Despite its great chance to be considered a practical source in a Law handbook,reason alone has not been the source of any decision that may be mentioned; whatever could be proved by reason as a legal precept has enough proof in the holy Quran and Sunnah. Consensus so far is not a source equal to the holy Quran and Sunnah. It is not a dependable source except in some instances where it may serve as a means to support some hadith as regards its authenticity. Therefore, the only sources in a Law handbook or a collection of Fatwas are the holy Quran and the Sunnah (the traditions of the holy Prophet).

Three Ways to Obey God

1. Man will be questioned about the religion, the guidance of God, His orders and prohibitions. There is no other way to fulfill this responsibility and be sure that one has obeyed God unless (a) one is himself a scholar in the matters of the Law, or (b) he follows the decisions of a well qualified scholar (c) or follows the law by means of observing precaution in order to be certain that whatever is done is within the Law, and no obligation is given up. No scholarly effort, following a scholar or observing precaution is required in the case of the obligations and prohibitions that are commonly known; such as the daily prayers, fasting during the month of Ramadan, unlawfulness of adultery and many others of the obligatory nature. Nor in the case of preferable and allowable acts known to people living in a religious community; that a young divorced woman after sexual intercourse, or a widowed woman, has to wait for a certain period of time before a second marriage; that there are certain informal preferable prayers to pray and that one is allowed to eat an apple, etc.

The same rule applies to the natural objects such as to see if some liquid is intoxicating or not. However, one who knows that the above ways are the only ones to obey God, but he follows none of them, his acts have no value according to the Law. Whatever is done according to none of the above ways is of no value except in the case of one who is ignorant of the whole matter and whatever he has done by chance are as required by the Law or according to the decisions of the qualified scholars.

Qualifications of a Specialist (Mujtahid)

(1) Maturity as regards age i.e. sixteen lunar years.
(2) Soundness of reason.
(3) To be a male.
(4) Born of wedlock.
(5) To be a follower of the twelve Imams (a.s.).
(6) To be a just one in his dealings.
(7) To be a living person.

The Ahadith of the Imams (a.s)

Dealing with the intellectual or spiritual aspects of the Imam's Ahadith or the narrators and their quantity is beyond what can be explained here. In brief the following is a mention of the situations which were surrounding the Ahadith of the Imams (a.s.). The Ahadith, our heritage and the back ground of our ideology, are subject to criticism; we do not want to afflict ourselves with ignorance. No doubt, a great number of the Ahadith are falsely ascribed to the Prophet, and it is not possible for an ordinary Muslim, a non specialist, to discern a genuine hadith from a forged one for a practical purpose. The significance of Ahadith in general is beyond question. They contain the fundamentals of our beliefs and the teachings of religion.

Muslims have always been careful to safeguard this invaluable treasure against falsehood. With the expansion of the Islamic community many factors came into being which made the Muslims worry about foreign ideas getting into the Islamic teachings. Of those who became part of the Islamic community were people who accepted Islam just for worldly gains, and joined those who accepted Islam on the basis of understanding and under the influence of the spiritual power of the holy Prophet.

As a result, forgery and false reports began to emerge in the very life time of the Prophet who admonished and threatened the forgers with Hell fire and the punishment of God. Dealing with the phenomenon of forgery was not new to the holy Prophet. It was, in fact, to expose forgery that God sent Prophets from time to time. Muslims believe, and it is true that with the holy Quran God has put an end to forgery. The holy Prophet also had to take effective measures against this phenomenon by means of getting his teachings recorded and setting up standards for the narrators with respect to their dependability. After the death of the Prophet once again the market of forgery boomed.

People began to practice according to the forged Ahadith instead of the authentic ones. Trading with forged Ahadith became more popular, especially, during the time when the Muslims began to fight with each other for the leadership. Many Ahadith were forged in support of the power seekers who had no sympathy with Islam or interest in its teachings, like Muawia who brought the Islamic community under his sway by force and injustice. Under the influence of un lslamic political systems, forged Ahadith were accommodated in the Islamic Literature and with it new generations were brought up.

Muslims began losing ground, partly because of the political situation and also because of the way in which they had been brought up by the unjust leaders. The Islamic Literature got mixed with false Ahadith so much that without scholarly effort and extensive logical work it is almost impossible to discern the genuine Ahadith from the forged ones. The Imams (a.s.) had always been the patrons of the Islamic heritage. They were well aware of the situation and the dangers surrounding the purity of the Islamic teachings.

Whenever there appeared a chance, they did their best to educate the people and teach them the Divine guidance.

In order to discern a genuine hadith from a forged one, the Imams set up the following standards:1. None of the Ahadith must contradict a self evident fact that is proven to be true by reason. Any hadith that contradicts the self evident proof established by reason must not be accepted, for a Prophet or an infallible Imam never speaks against reason.

In fact, no statement in the holy Quran or genuine Ahadith contradicts reason in the logical sense of contradiction.

A logical contradiction only takes place when two statements state the same single matter each in the opposite sense; one affirmative and the other negative. Besides, the fact in both statements must be one and the same in all respect with regard to time, place, quality and conditions. For instance, something may happen and it might be true at one time and not true at another time. The same is true of the factors of place, condition and other aspects. A contradiction in the above sense does not and cannot exist between the holy Quran, Ahadith and the self evident proof established by reason. 2. A hadith can only be accepted when it is not contradicting the holy Quran and other genuine Ahadith, or is not contrary to them. Therefore, any hadith that is against the meaning of the holy Quran or genuine Ahadith is not acceptable.

3. The narrator of every hadith must hc a just, trustworthy or a person who possesses a high degree of truthfulness. Any hadith that does not meet any of the said conditions is not acceptable. 4. Another hadith of the same degree with regard to the required conditions must not be against it. If there is no way to reconcile their meanings, neither of them can be accepted.

Ja'far Ibn Muhammad (as) (The Founder of the Shia School of Law)

I had regularly been visiting Imam Assadiq for a long time. I never saw him, except in one of these conditions: (1) praying, (2) fasting, or (3) reading the holy Quran. I never saw him narrating a hadith from the holy Prophet without a formal purification (Taharat). He was one of the most God fearing, pious, and most learned scholars after the time of the holy Prophet, Muhammad (p.b.). "No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard and no mind has ever thought of someone exceeding Ja'far Ibn Muhammad in worship, piety and knowledge." Malik Ibn Anas, Tahdhib Al Tahdhib. Vol. 2: 104. "I never saw a jurist of greater understanding than Ja'far Ibn Muhammad". Imam Abu Hanifah said. During a discourse, Mansoor, the ruler of the time, tried to convince Abu Hanifa that people were very much attracted towards Ja'far Ibn Muhammad because of his knowledge and That he (Abu hanifah) should prepare some difficult questions to ask him (Ja'far Ibn Muhammad) in a debate. Mansoor had planed to defeat Ja'far Ibn Muhammad in this way and to prove to the people that he did not know much.
Abu hanifa has said, "Mansoor called me while I was in Hirah (a city in Iraq). When I entered his Court, I saw Ja'far Ibn Muhammad sitting besides Mansoor. Seeing Ja'far Ibn Muhammad, my heart almost dropped from its place out of the fear that overcame me, more so of Ja'far Ibn Muhammad than of Mansoor. After salutations and greetings, Mansoor asked me to sit down and he introduced me to Ja'far Ibn Muhammad who said," Perhaps he dislikes people's words, "Abu hanifah knows the 'man"' (Probably Ja'far Ibn Muhammad noticed the feelings of Abu hanifah that appeared on his face). Abu hanifah has said, "Then Mansoor turned to me saying, 'Ask Ja'far Ibn Muhammad your questions.' I began asking him questions, one after another and he answered them one by one, explaining not only each of the view of the jurists of Iraq and Medina, but also his own view and whether he agreed or disagreed with the views of others until hc had answered all of the forty most difficult legal questions that I had arranged".

Abu hanifah has said, "Don't we say that in the matters of Law, the most Learned person is the one whose knowledge of others' views is greater?" After this experience, Abu hanifah has said, "I never saw a jurist of greater knowledge and understanding than Ja'far Ibn Muhammad." Manaqib of Abu hanifah by Muwaffaq Vol. 1. P. 173, Jami'ul Asanid of Abu Hanifah P. 222., Tadhkirat 'ul Huffaz by Dhahabi Vol. 1. P. 157. "In all times, God through a person from us, the Ahl al Bait (family of the Prophet), leaves no excuse for mankind to say that they did not know His laws. In our time that person is my nephew, Ja'far; one who opposes him will never find guidance." Zaid Ihn Ali, Manaqib of Shahr Ashub. Vol. 3. P. 147. "Ja'far Ibn Muhammad established the principles of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence and it is said that Abu Hanifah and Sufyan Althury were among his pupils." Abu Bahr Al Jahiz, Risa'il al Jahiz by Sadubi P. 106. "Ja'far was of those about whom God has said, `Then we give the Book in inheritance to those whom We choose from among our servants'. Ja'far was of those whom God had chosen, and of those who exceeded others in good deeds. From the family of the Prophet there had always been a scholar who knew the whole tradition of the Prophet and taught it to others.

In our time that person is Ja'far Ibn Muhammad. Mansoor Al Dawaniqi, History of Ya`qubi Vol. 3. P. 117; Al Manaqib of Shahrashub Vol. 3: 302. "During the time of Ja'far Ibn Muhammad learning became greatly popular, this set the minds free from wrong beliefs. Philosophical discourses became public in all the great cities of the Islamic world. The grandson of Ali Ibn Abu Talib, called Imam Assadiq, was a leading personality in the propagation of knowledge. He was a man of powerful reason and of deep and wide thought. He, in fact, is the founder of the Islamic school of philosophy, jurisprudence and the schools of Law. Among his pupils were many scholars and young men who had come from distant lands to learn from him. Sayyed Amir Ali Hindi. "This is not a man. If in the world there had been a spiritual personality who could appear in physical or spiritual form whenever he wanted, he would have been no other than this". Pointing to Imam Assadiq said, Ibn Abil 'wja, History of Arabs P. 179.

(1) Responsibility

Responsibility is a sign of honor and respect from God to man. God has given him reason and the power to purify his soul, discipline his instincts and undertake responsibility. This quality is the reality that makes man distinct from the other beings around him. If he fulfills his responsibility, God will give him due reward.

Responsibility and Rights:

If we take responsibility in its philosophical sense, apart from what we understand it as a legal term, it means that it is a means to protect and to safeguard oneself from danger. Obviously, to be able to protect oneself from danger is one's unquestionable right. This makes it difficult to make a distinction between a 'responsibility' and a 'right'. A complete account of the difference between these two terms can only be found in the subject that deals with the principles of Islamic jurisprudence. Here for the convenience of the readers it should be observed that RIGHTS are mostly concerned with the section of the Law dealing with contracts, property and social relations while RESPONSIBILITY has its application in almost all the branches of the Law. Is a right something natural and responsibility something imposed by the Law, or do both of them have the Law as their source? The answer for such a question is beyond the scope of this outline. In brief, one of the differences between the two terms is that 'Right' is something that one is entitled to give up or use, while in matters of responsibility one has no choice, because of the Law, but to fulfill that responsibility. For instance, one has the right to take back what he may have given to someone as loan or decide to give it to the borrower as a gift. On the contrary the borrower because of his responsibility of paying his debts has no choice but to pay back what he has borrowed. Another difference is that in the case of 'rights' no qualification is required on the part of the person entitled to it, while this is not true of responsibilities. For example, a child may have property and have the right to be considered the owner, but he is not responsible to fulfill the terms of a contract or complete certain worship acts, because he does not have the qualifications required for responsibilities such as age, reason, etc.

(2) Qualifications:

The general requirements of responsibility are these qualifications:

(a) Maturity as regards age is fifteen lunar years in the case of a male and nine years in the case of a female. A person who does not have this qualification is not responsible on the Day of Judgement for the violations of the Law, such as drinking wine or not praying the daily prayers. This however, does not mean that the guardians of such people have no responsibility to educate or prevent them from doing wrong. The holy Quran says, "Man, save yourselves and your family from the fire in which people and stones will be burnt as fuel" 6. 66. Children will not be punished for what they may have done against the Law, but this does not mean that their good deeds also will not be of any value. All that is recommended for a mature person to do is true of a child, provided, it is not harmful for the child. It is recommended that the child should begin praying at the age of seven and fasting at nine or should fast part of the day if not the whole. There, however, are cases in which a child too will be held responsible for the damage which he may have done to someone property.

(b) Reason, the natural ability that enables one to discern between right and wrong and realize responsibility.

(c) Ability and power to fulfill the responsibility. "God does not hold one responsible for what is beyond his ability." Ch. 2. 284. There is no responsibility for those who cannot complete certain worship or fulfill a social duty such as a person who is sick or cannot avoid what he has been forbidden to do; a person who is drowning and has no power to avoid the danger. Sometimes one has the ability but the act performed through such ability may endanger his life. In such a case, he will not be considered responsible except in these cases:

(a) When one's life is lost in an armed expedition that is carried out by the state, duly authorized by the Law, the duty is more important than life.

(b) When one has enough power to kill someone is forced to kill an innocent one, in this case too, he is not allowed to kill the innocent person even if it may cost him his own life. Sometimes one may face two obligations to be fulfilled at the same time, and may only have the ability to fulfill each at a time, not both of them together. For example, at a time that one has to say his prayer, a fire starts to burn some valuables. In such a case, only what is of greater significance is required to be fulfilled. There is no difference in ignoring an obligation directly or creating a situation which would cause one to miss a duty. For instance, when the time for a prayer has already come, to start a journey by train wherein the prayer cannot be said is to disobey the Law and it must be avoided.

To be a Muslim is not among the general qualifications required for responsibilities. The Legal responsibilities equally apply to both a Muslim and a non Muslim except for the remedy for the prayers and fasts that are missed in the case of a non Muslim before he accepts Islam. A non Muslim at the time of prayers is also considered responsible by the Legislator, not for a remedy of the same.

Signs of Maturity

Maturity, as we noted, is one of the general requirements for a person to be considered responsible for an obligation. Besides the limit of one's age as described before, there are two other ways to know if one has become mature or not:

(a) Discharge of semen (the genital fluid) through having sex, or in a dream or for some other reason.
(b) Growing of the hard hairs around the genital organs. Soft hairs are not considered as the signs of maturity. If one doubts whether he has become mature or not, he has to wait until his maturity is certain. If one doubts about one's ability to fulfill a responsibility, he should not dictate to himself that he does not have it. He must do his best, but if hc still is not able to fulfill the duty, he is not responsible.

(3) General Effects of Responsibility

(a) Once the responsibility comes into being all the means that are required to fulfill that responsibility also become obligatory to acquire, that is, if the duty is prayer, to have a formal purification such as Wudu, and cleaning one's clothes and body also becomes obligatory. (b) If one is not allowed to do certain things, another person also is not allowed to make him do what he himself is not allowed to. For example, a person after having sex and before having Ghusl is not allowed to enter a Mosque. As a result, another person also is not allowed to make him enter the Mosque. (c) If one is certain that something has become his duty to do, but doubts whether such a duty was fulfilled or not, he must fulfill that duty again, provided, there is enough time.

(d) If after fulfilling the responsibility one doubts whether the duty was fulfilled as it was required or not, if the doubt has come into being alter the act, it is not necessary to do it again. This is either because the duty performed cannot be fulfilled in the same way again or because the time for the same no more exists. For example, if one doubts whether a certain prayer was said in the proper way or not; in fact, in such a case, it is not possible to complete the same prayer. What can be done is to say another prayer as a remedy for that prayer and this is not the prayer said before. Or if in the ease of Adhan which is supposed to be said before the Eqamah, if when saying Eqamah, one doubts whether Adhan has been said or not, in this case, since the time for Adhan no more exists, he does not have to say it again.

(4) Kinds of Obligations

(a) Worship acts. (b) Non worship acts. The difference between these obligation can be described as follows: In general, all kinds of obligation have some conditions. Among the conditions of the Worship acts the most important one, not necessarily found in the other obligations, is 'intention'. A non worship act is valid without intention and identifying the kind of worship that one is going to complete. The meaning of intention is to decide to complete a certain worship in obedience to God's order, and thereby get nearer to Him, which means to discipline oneself and have the ability of receiving reward from God. Intention must purely be for this purpose alone. If other things are also included in the intention in the sense that in completing a worship, besides the aim mentioned, other purposes are also intended, such as to show off and become popular thereby, such association invalidates the worship and the person will he considered a sinner.

Another difference is that the worship acts have a definite form and all its particulars are described in the Law. On the other hand, other obligations do not have such limits. What is required in the non worship obligatory acts is to achieve the purpose. For instance, one is required to maintain his dependents but no definite form is needed. It can be fulfilled by means of business or any of the other ways of earning.

(5) Other Division of Obligations

(a) Personal obligations (b) Social obligation (c) Replaceable obligation (d) Irreplaceable obligation (e) Independent obligation. (f) Introductory obligations (g) Obligations of limited time. (h) Obligation of no time limit, of a longer period. (i) The Original obligations. (j) Obligation that are a replacement or a remedy.

Personal obligations are those that one himself has to fulfill. Social obligations are those that are obligatory for mankind in general but even one person may fulfill it on behalf of the others. For example, if different kinds of social needs as teaching medical studies are undertaken by a few people, it will set the others free from such social duties. Replaceable obligations are those in which one has the choice to do one out of several forms. For instance, a murderer may pay blood money or accept capital punishment. Irreplaceable obligations are those which one is required to fulfill without having other choices, such as daily prayers. The introductory obligations are those that in themselves have no purpose, or if there is some benefit it is not re4required. Such obligations are required to be fulfilled as a means to achieve the purpose behind another obligation such as the obligation of cleaning one's clothes for prayer. Wudu by itself is not obligatory but is re4required for prayer, although by itself also is not without benefit.

(6) Major Sections of the Law

Although the rules in the Law are inter related, they can be classified under the following sections:

(a) Rules of worship that consist of Formal purifications, Prayer, Fasting, hajj, 'umrah and the remedies, in case some such obligation is missed.
(b) Rules of public properly such as Zakat, Khums and the rules pertaining to private property and its various precepts, such as the means of ownership, the means of earning and the rights of the owner.
(c) The rules of the properties used in trade and different forms of contracts.
(d) Personal laws:   (1) The rules of family relations and marriage.   (2) The rules of food, clothing and places to live.  

(e) The Social Laws, the Administrative System and Leadership. Worship acts have various forms. Every worship act besides its form has certain conditions and rules. Most of the worship acts in their forms are acts. Only one thing regarded in worship is not an action. It is 'intention', the attitude of one's mind. As mentioned before, in worship one's intention must be to obey God alone. If anything else is included in one's intention his whole act or worship will be considered void. The intention must not be hypocritical which means that one worships God and at the same time intends to be praised by the people.    

After a worship is completed, to include something else in one's intention will be considered of no effect to the validity of the worship. If people think of one as careless towards worship, and to remove people's doubts one may need to worship in public, this also will be considered of no effect to the validity of his worship. It is undesirable, not forbidden, to tell people about one's worship in obedience to God. There is, however, a case in which it is not even undesirable. Thus, if one thinks that telling people about one's obedience to God may encourage them to worship, there is no harm to tell the others about it.

If one is worshipping with the intention of obeying God but because of someone presence he feels happy that someone has seen him worshipping, this situation too, will be considered of no effect to the validity of one's worship. To be proud of one's worship and to think that one has done God a favor, although a sin, has no effect on the validity of one's worship. However, just to feel happy because of one's worship does no harm.

If one's worship may have some physical benefit and one's intention is strong enough to make him worship even without the worship's physical benefit but one is only aware of such benefit, his worship will be considered valid. However, if the situation is such that one is not ready to worship without the physical benefit, his worship will be considered void.

Belief is the most important condition for the validity of a worship act. No worship will be considered valid without belief. It is not necessary to pronounce one's intention. If one's mind is made up to worship God alone, this will be considered enough for the validity of one's worship. If one knows that a certain act is not acceptable to God, hc is not allowed to do it or else it will be an innovation in the

Dissimulation and Insincerity
Dissimulation takes place when something is done to help make one popular among the people or to make them think of one's act with greatness. To assume such an attitude in one's worship is illegal. The worship act performed with such an attitude is invalid and the person committing such an act is a sinner, no matter whether it is done to please both God and the people or the people alone.

In some of the Ahadith from the Prophet, dissimulation is considered as Shirk (considering things equal to God). Worship is a private matter between one and his Creator. It is not valid to complete a worship on behalf of a living person.