Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
I pray that this finds you well, and in the best of health and spirits. May Allah grant you all good and success in this life and the next.
It is important to understand a few concepts:
(1) We don''t follow individual scholars, but rather the scholarly methodology of Sunni scholarship.
(2) Shah Waliullah went through phases in life. His work al-Insaf is earlier than other writings (such as `Iqd al-Jeed) that are much closer to the mainstream majority understanding on matters of following qualified scholarship in certain critical issues.
(3) The position of the majority of Islamic scholarship is that the responsibility of one morally responsible is to follow a sound position of a true mujtahid imam for each of their actions. It is not specifically obligatory to stick to one madhhab for all one''s actions--as long as one doesn''t merely follow one''s whims or engage in mixing between the positions of mujtahids in a way not valid according to either (talfiq--because this entails non-fulfillment of the Divine Command to follow one of the scholars of understanding).
If you search the SunniPath QA (http://qa.sunnipath.com) for: following another madhhab, you''ll find a number of answers related to this, as well as an explanation of the Indian scholars'' stating otherwise.
(4) Taqlid--following qualified scholarship--is a duty according to the consensus (ijma`) of Islamic scholarship. Shah Waliullah didn''t argue against it in al-Insaf, by any means.
We have to distinguish between (a) the agreed-upon obligation of following qualified scholarship (taqlid), and (b) the position of many classical scholars and most Indian ulema that it is personally obligatory to follow one madhhab in all one''s affairs (taqlid shakhsi), except when there is genuine hardship.
[See: Related QA, top right]
And Allah alone gives success.
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