According to Islamic scholars, there was another large group of Sahabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) who remained in the service and presence of Nabi (sal Allaahu alaihi wasallam). Rasulullaah (sal Allaahu alaihi wasallam) used to send these Faqhis into their tribes and their people used to ask Mas`ala Masaa`il from them. This is called TAQLEED. There appear thousands of Masaa`il and Fataawa from these Fuqaha Sahabah (radhiAllaahu anhum), which are reported in books such as Musannif Abdur Razzaaq, Ibn Abi Shaibah, etc. In these Books only the Mas`alas are reported. No mention is made of the proofs. There were also no objectors or sceptics to these Masaa`il. All these Masaa`il are reported with numerous narrators from amongst the Sahabah (radhiAllaahu anhum). It is therefore apparent that even the Sahabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) consented and approved these Masaa`il. TAQLEED was practised during the era of the Sahabah (radhiAllaahu anhum), and there was not a single Ghair Muqallid. It is ascertained from the history books that at least one person was sent from every tribe to acquire knowledge, and the entire tribe would seek Fataawa and rulings from this one person. This is known as TAQLEED-E-SHAKHSI. Shah Waliullaah (rahmatullahi alaih) states: “The Sahabah and Taabi`een were not all of the same rank and standing. In fact some of them were Mujtahid and others were Muqallid”. [Qurratul Ainain, page 251].
Shaykh Gibril Haddad points out a list of the requisites of Ijtihad summarized from the book "PRINCIPLES OF ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE" by M Kamali p374-377
*Knowledge of the substance of the Furu` works and the points on which there is Ijma`.
*Knowledge of the Maqasid (objectives) of the Shari`ah
Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller states that whoever makes Ijtihad (striving to know the ruling) without the sound knowledge of everything the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wasallam) taught relating to the question is a criminal. As a proof he points out a hadith that the Companion Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah said: We went on a journey, and a stone struck one of us and opened a gash in his head. When he later had a wet-dream in his sleep, he then asked his companions, "Do you find any dispensation for me to perform dry ablution (tayammum)?" [Meaning instead of a full purificatory bath (ghusl).] They told him, "We don't find any dispensation for you if you can use water." So he performed the purificatory bath and his wound opened and he died. When we came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), he was told of this and he said: "They have killed him, may Allah kill them. Why did they not ask?-for they didn't know. The only cure for someone who does not know what to say is to ask" (Abu Dawud, 1.93). This hadith, which was related by Abu Dawud, is well authenticated (hasan), and every Muslim who has any taqwa should reflect on it carefully, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) indicated in it-in the strongest language possible-that to judge on a rule of Islam on the basis of insufficient knowledge is a crime. And like it is the well authenticated hadith "Whoever is given a legal opinion (fatwa) without knowledge, his sin is but upon the person who gave him the opinion" (Abu Dawud, 3.321).
The different ways methods of Ibaadat, etc., which the Madhabs are applying, are the ways and methods of the Sahaabah which they had acquired from Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam. The differences were inherited from the Sahaabah and such differences are by Divine Decree, hence Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam said: "The differences of my Ummat is a Rahmat". Thus, there is nothing detestable in the differences prevailing among the Madhabs. These valid and authentic differences do not bring about disunity, as is stupidly asserted by the modernist deviants'. The ignorance of people and their desires are the causes of disunity. While the terms, Hanafi, Shaaf'i, etc. did not exist in the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam and the Sahaabah, the teachings of these Madhabs, all had existed. While Bukhari Shareef did not exist, the Ahaadith contained in the book did exist. It is, therefore, stupid to pose the question of the Madhabs during the time of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam. There is unity in this diversity. Deen is the product of wahi, not the result of man’s desires. Since the hawa (desire) cannot find free-play within the chains of Taqleed the aim of the deviates is to refute the concept of Taqleed. But, breaking the chains of Taqleed is to enchain oneself with the shackles of the nafs.
It is necessary to make Taqleed of one Imaam only. Allah Taa’la says in Surah Hud Ayaat 26: ‘And do not follow your desires (in future too) for it will lead you astray from the path of Allah.’ It is for this reason that the Qur’aan-e-Kareem has commended adherence towards Allah (repeatedly). Allah Ta'aala says: "And follow the way of that person that person who turns towards me." Generally someone feels according to his strong presumption that Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi alaihe is most probably correct and munib (has the quality of ibaadat), that is, his Ijtihaad conforms more with the Qur'aan and Hadith. That is why he has opted to make Taqleed of Imaam Abu Hanifa Rahmatullahi alaihe. Another person has this strong feeling that Imaam Maalik Rahmatullahi alaihe ijtihaad conforms with the Qur’aan and Hadith, therefore, he makes Taqleed of Imaam Maalik Rahmatullahi alaihe. Someone has this feeling regarding Imaam Shaaf'i Rahmatullahi alaihe ijtihaad, that is why he makes Imaam Shaaf'i Rahmatullahi alaihe taqleed and someone for this very reason makes taqleed of Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal Rahmatullahi alaihe. Simply stated, we cannot mix up the Taqleeds of the four Imams. If you are a Hanafi, follow the Taqleed of only Imam Abu Hanifa. If you are a Hanbali, follow the Taqleed of Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal and so on. Mixing up is but following of one’s own desire is called Talfeeq and not Taqleed. This is another trick played sometimes by the Wahhabis who make a show by saying that they follow the four Imams of the Schools of Thought but in fact they just do the talfeeq. There is ijma (consensus of opinion) that talfeeq is ba’til and impermissible.
According to an Islamic student, one who has discarded Taqleed, even if he does not resort to Ijtihaad himself, nor follows the meaning conveyed superficially by the words, will, in difficult Masa’il accept the verdict of any authority. He will at times follow one Imaam and at other, another. In this way he will sometimes practice in opposition to Ijma, and on occasions, even if the result is not in conflict with Ijma he will resort to the verdict which appeals to his whims and fancies and by means of which worldly motives are available. Thus, he will submit the Deen to the dictates of the nafs. One of the destructive evils which will raise its head in the absence of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi is self- appointed Mujtahids. Some persons will consider themselves to be Mujtahids and embark on the process of Qiyas (Shar’i analogical reasoning) and they will consider themselves to be of equal or greater rank than the illustrious Mujtahideen of the early ages of Islam. The previous Mujtahideen have reliably stated that some laws are Mu’all’al (based on certain causes). Citing this some modernists have claimed that the command of wudhu for salaah is mu’all’al, it being the consequence of the early Arabs being camel-herds and goatherds. Since their occupation of tending animals exposed them constantly to impurities, the command of wudhu was formulated. On this basis they claim that since people of the present time live in environments and occupations of greater hygienic conditions, wudhu is no longer necessary for salaah. They conclude thus, the permissibility of salaah without wudhu. Similarly, it is claimed (by such self-styled mujtahids) that the wujub of witnesses in the Nikah ceremony is mu’all’al, the need of witnesses being occasioned by the occurrence of a dispute which may arrive in the future. The presence of witnesses will facilitate the resolving of disputes between the contending marriage parties. On this basis they conclude that where there exists no danger of dispute, the Nikah will be valid without witnesses. Another evil resulting from the discarding of Taqleed us Shukhsi is to practice in accordance if the esoteric (zahir) façade of certain Ahaadith whereas such a practice is certainly not lawful. The summary of what has been said is; Taqleed-us-Shakhsi is the basis for a wajib aspect (viz., acting in accordance with the commands of the Shariah) and the basis of a Wajib is also Wajib, hence Taqleed-us-Shakhsi is likewise Wajib. Since the discarder of Taqleed-us-Shakhsi sees himself unchecked and unfettered he follows the dictates of his nafs. Thus there are many other examples.
Shortly stated, abandonment of Taqleed is the snare spread by Satan to destroy the Deen. We seek Allah’s protection from the accursed Satan.
As Islamic scholars say: In the present time the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah is confined to the four Madhabs. Whoever searches for the path of the Sunnah beyond the confines of the four Madhabs will deviate into Baa’til. Since every teaching of the four Madhabs is the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, deviation therefrom is to deviate from the Sunnah. Those who deviate from the Sunnah are destined for Jahannum according to the explicit pronouncement of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam who said: "Bani Israael split into seventy-two sects. My Ummat will split into seventy-three sects. All of which, save one, will be in the fire" When he was asked regarding the sects which will be saved from the fire Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam said: "That path on which I and my Sahaabah are." Salvation (Najaat) in the hereafter (Aakhirah) therefore depends on donning the mantle of Taqleed.
Subhan Allah Salafis are now 6 different groups, with each group making tabd'iee or tafsiq of the other.. all this while claiming to be "the true followers of the Salafs aqida and manhaj"...They are:
1) Neo-Salafi/Madkhali/Jami/Murji'ia Salafis: their shaikhs are Rabee Madkhali, Shaikh Al-Jami, Shaikh Ali Halabi Al-Athari
2) Salafiyya Mashyakhiyya: Ibn Baz, Ibn Uthaymeen, Albani, Muqbil Wad'iee
3) Salafiyya Ilmiya: Abdul Rahman Abdul Khaliq, the Ansarul Sunnah movement
4) Ikhwani Salafis: Abdul Majeed Zandani, Omar Al-Ashqar
5) Suroori/ Sahwa Salafis: Safar Hawali, Salman Oadah
6) Salafi Jihadi: Osama bin Laden & Al-Qaeda
Muslim scholars inform us that the Wahhabi/Salafi Sect has been breaking into as many as One Hundred and Fifty sects out of which at least thirty-three have been distinctly identified by them. However, some of the traits that are common to these breakaway groups are militancy, aggression and intolerance, in addition to their trying to outdo one another in their disrespect of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) and destroying the graves of his Companions, parents, progeny, family, as well as the graves of Awliya-Allah.
So how they dare say that the people who follow the four schools are upon bid’ah, or at worse are committing Kufr and Shirk? And they expect common Muslims to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah by themselves. Will it not lead to confusion and anarchy and cause harm to Islam? The Wahhabis/Salafis look upto Ibn Taimiyya with admiration. Surely they know that Ibn Taimiyya said (in Majmu’a al-Fataawa) that Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah are agreed upon the fact by consensus of opinion (Ijma) that Ijtihad is permissible for a scholar of adequate qualification and Taqleed is permissible for common people who are incapable of performing Ijtihad!
Lastly, lest it be confused, Taqleed is not permissible in matters of ‘Aqida (Belief). One must believe because one is convinced of what one believes; not merely because someone else believes. This issue is discussed in detail in the classical books of Ash‘ari ‘aqida, such as the Jawharat al-Tawhid and the commentaries on the Sanusiyya.
Also, some of the derivative Masaa`il are such that there exists a consensus of opinion of the Sahabah (radhiAllaahu anhum). There also exists a consensus of opinion of all four the Imaams. There are some Masaa`il upon which there exists a difference of opinion between the Sahabah (radhiAllaahu anhum), and the four Imaams have each taken a certain aspect (of this difference) and included it into his Madhhab (in this way every action of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) is being practised upon by this Ummat).