Those Who Are Imitated In Islam

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

(al-muqalladûn fî al-Islâm)

Baqiyya ibn al-Walid said that al-Awza`i said: “O Baqiyya! Do not mention any of your Prophet’s Companions except kindly. O Baqiyya! Knowledge (al-‘ilm) is whatever came to us from the Companions of Muhammad . Whatever did not come to us from them, is not knowledge.”

Imam Malik — Allah be well-pleased with him — founded his school on the principle of imitation of the scholars of Madina the Resplendent because he considered that they were the closest of all people on earth to accurately represent the practice of the Prophet and his Companions. The Muwatta’ therefore abounds with the remark: “This what I have seen the knowledgeable people of Madina do.”

Ibn al-Qayyim said: “There is an obligatory imitation (taqlîd wâjib), a forbidden imitation, and a permitted imitation.. . . The obligatory one is the imitation of those who know better than us, as when a person has not obtained knowledge of a proof from the Qur’an or the Sunna concerning something. Such an imitation has been reported from Imam al-Shafi`i in many places, where he would say: ‘I said this in taqlid of ‘Umar’ or ‘I said that in taqlid of `Uthman’ or ‘I said that in taqlid of ‘Ata`.’ As al-Shafi`i said concerning the Companions: ‘Their opinion for us is better than our opinion to ourselves.’ ”

A similar, though more strictly imitative path is reported from Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal: ”

Know that the Religion is nothing but imitation itself (al-dîn innama huwa al-taqlîd). This imitation is for the Companions of Allah’s Messenger .” Ahmad also said: “Allah, Allah! [Remember Him] concerning your soul. Cling to the transmitted reports, those who transmit them, and imitation. For Religion is nothing other than imitation itself. That is, imitation of the Prophet , his Companions — Allah be well-pleased with them –, and those who came before us and did not induce us into error – imitate those without fear.

Al-Dhahabi said in Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ (Dar al-Fikr ed. 7:410):

Those who are imitated (al-muqalladûn) are:

* The Prophet’s Companions — Allah be well-pleased with them — provided the chain of transmission back to them is firmly established.

* Then the [senior] imams of the Successors such as:
`Alqama [ibn Qays] (d. 62);
Masruq [ibn al-Ajda’] (d. 63);
`Abîda al-Salmani (d. 74);
Sa`id ibn al-Musayyib or al-Musayyab (d. 93);
Abu al-Sha`tha’ [Jabir ibn Zayd al-Azdi] (d. 93);
Sa`id ibn Jubayr (d. 94);
`Ubayd Allah ibn `Abd Allah (d. 98 or 99);
`Urwa [ibn al-Zubayr] (d. 93-101?);
al-Qasim [ibn Muhammad] (d. 106);
al-Sha`bi (d. 104 or 105 or 106);
al-Hasan [al-Basri] (d. 110);
Ibn Sirin (d. 110);
and Ibrahim al-Nakha’i (d. 96) — Allah be well-pleased with them –.

* Then [the junior imams of the Successors] such as:
al-Zuhri (d. 124),
Abu al-Zinad (d. 130),
Ayyub al-Sikhtyani (d. 131),
Rabi`a (d. 136), and their biographical layer — Allah be well-pleased with them –.

* Then such as:
Abu Hanifa (d. 150),
Malik (d. 179),
al-Awza`i (d. 157),
Ibn Jurayj (d. 150),
Ma`mar [ibn Rashid] (d. 154),
[Sa`id] Ibn Abi `Aruba (d. 156),
Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 161),
the two Hammads [ibn Salama (d.167) and ibn Zayd (d. 179)],
Shu’`ba [ibn al-Hajjaj] (d. 160),
al-Layth [ibn Sa`d] (d. 175),
Ibn al-Majishun,
and Ibn Abi Dhi`b (d. 158) — Allah be well-pleased with them –.

* Then such as:
Ibn al-Mubarak (d. 215),
Muslim al-Zanji (d. 180),
al-Qadi Abu Yusuf (d. 208),
al-Hiql ibn Zyad (d. 179),
Waki’ (d. 196),
al-Walid ibn Muslim (d. 195), and their layer — Allah be well-pleased with them –.

* Then such as:
al-Shafi`i (d. 204),
Abu ‘`Ubayd [al-Qasim ibn Sallam] (d. 224),
Ahmad [ibn Hanbal] (d. 241),
Ishaq [ibn Rahuyah] (d. 238),
Abu Thawr (d. 240),
al-Buwayti (d. 231),
and Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shayba (d. 235) — Allah be well-pleased with them –.

* Then such as:
al-Muzani (d. 264),
Abu Bakr al-Athram (d. 260),
al-Bukhari (d. 256),
Dawud ibn `Ali [al-Zahiri] (d. 275),
Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marwazi (d. 294),
Ibrahim al-Harbi (d. 285),
and Isma`il [ibn Ishaq ibn Isma`il] al-Qadi (d. 282) — Allah be well-pleased with them –.

* Then such as:
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 310),
Abu Bakr ibn Khuzayma (d. 311),
Abu al-`Abbas [Ahmad ibn `Umar] ibn Surayj (d. 303),
Abu Bakr [Muhammad ibn Ibrahim] ibn al-Mundhir (d. 318),
Abu Ja`far al-Tahawi (d. 321),
and Abu Bakr al-Khallal (d. 311) — Allah be well-pleased with them –.