"Verily Allah has cursed the disbelievers and prepared for them a flaming fire. They will abide in it forever, they will find no protector nor helper. On the day when their faces will be turned over in the Fire, they will say: 'Oh would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger. And they will say: 'Our Lord! Verily we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones, and they misled us from the right way. Our Lord! Give them double torment and curse them witht a mighty curse!" [al-Ahzaab:64-68]
Q) There are some that say that taqleed is disbelief (kufr) without exception and sinfulness (fisq) and association (shirk), and attribute disbelief (kufr) and misguidance to the four imaams. So what is
the ruling concerning such a person. They [also] say that this is the opinion of
the scholars of the two sanctuaries [Masjid al-Haraam and Masjid an-Nabawi], the
Saudi Kingdom, and Kuwait.
A) All praise is for Allah alone and may the Peace and Blesssings be on His messenger, and his family, and his companions.
a) Not all taqleed is kufr without exception or fisq or shirk, rather the truth is that its ruling requires explanation, which can be found out from the answer to the second question from what has preceded.
b) Not one of the four imaams called to their madhhab, nor were fanatic about it, nor did they require the people to act upon it or any [other] madhhab in particular. But they only called to act upon the Book and the Sunnah, may Allah have mercy on them. They explained the texts of the religion, made clear its principles and what stems from them, and they gave verdicts (Fataawaa) in what was asked [of them] with evidences from the Book and the Sunnah, without requiring their students or others with the opinion of any one in particular from the scholars of the ummah. Rather they censured that, and they ordered to throw their opinions against the wall if it differed with a authentic (saheeh) hadeeth. And one of them said, "If a hadeeth is proved to be authentic, then it is my madhhab." And it is upon a Muslim to strive to know the truth by themselves if he is able to do that, and to seek help from Allah, then from the wealth of knowledge that the predecessors from the Muslim scholars have left for the ones after them, and that which is easy for them in the path to the understanding of the texts and its application. And whoever is not able to understand the rulings from its evidences and its derivations for a matter, he is to ask the poeple of knowledge trustworthy to him about what he needs from the rulings of shareeah, seeking to know the truth with its evidences as much as is able, due the Most High saying, "Then ask those of the remembrance [scholars] if you do not know." And upon him is for him to inquire who he trusts from those who are known for their knowledge, merit, piety, and righteousness. And from this is known that the four imaams are free from those who [overly] concern with it [madhhabs] and about those who attribute to them kufr, misguidance, falsehhod and lies.
There is not anyone from the scholars of the two sanctuaries, Makkah or Medinah, nor from the rest of the scholars of the Saudi Kingdom who criticize the imaams of fiqh, Malik, Abu Hanifah, ash-Shaafi'i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and those of their likes from the scholars of Islamic fiqh, or who thinks little of them. Rather, it is known from them that they honor them and acknowledge their merit. And [they know] that they led the way for truth in the service to Islam, its protection, and the comprhension of its texts, its principles and clarifying them, its conveyance, their jihad in aiding it, defending it, warding off the doubts from it, and in falsifying the claims of those who falsely ascribe to it and the innovations of the liars, so may Allah reward them from Islam and the Muslims a good reward.
And what gives evidence to the position of the scholars of the two sanctuaries and the rest of the scholars of the Saudi Kingdom towards the four imaams of honoring and valueing their concern, is the teaching of their madhhabs and their works in Masjid al-Haraam in Makkah al-Mushrifah, al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, the rest of the masjids of the Saudi Kingdom, and in its universities, and their concern of publishing many of their books and its distribution and spreading among the Muslims in all the countries which Muslims are in.
And from Allah is tawfeeq, and may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be on His messenger, his family, and his companions.
The Standing Committee for Islamic Research and Ifta:
Member: Abdullah bin Ghudayaan,Vice President:
Abdur-Razaaq Afeefee ',President: Abdul-Aziz ibn Baaz
The following is a translation from Majallat al Buhooth al-Islamiah, No. 51 Rabi' al Awal-Jumadi al-Aakhar, 1418h.
From fatwa number 4272