The God the Most Highest ordered: "Ask the knowledgeable people if you don't know." And the people of remembrance or people of knowledge are those who are followed. Whereas the muqallid is not a person of knowledge so he becomes a follower of someone else.
This is what makes me feel not comfortable when people walking behind me or praying behind me and making me an imam though only for a salat service, hehe. I am just a muqallid and my imam also does not like people to walk behind him. I am taking his example on how I behave as a mean to respect my imam as I read everything about all imams and their characters.
Ibnu Abdul Barr (d.463) and others mentioned: "The people are united in the ijma' that the muqallid is not counted as being from the people of knowledge. The knowledge is the realization of guidance along with its proof."
Ibnu Qayyim mentions: "And it is as Abu Umar bin Abdul Barr said - Indeed the people do not differ about the fact that knowledge is the realization attained from proof but without proof, it only becomes a taqleed."
Sayings on the Permissibility of Issuing the Fatawa Based upon Taqleed
Ibnu Qayyim stated that there are three sayings about this:
I. It isn't permissible to issue a fatawa or guidelines based upon taqleed since it is not in category of knowledge. Issuing a fatawa without a knowledge about particular field, issue, and sciences of divine law is forbidden and haram! So, based from this, people could judge on the level of knowledge possessed by 'clerics' in Pakistan, Bangladesh or India's rural village when they issued ridiculous fatawas or guidelines like poking people's eyes, raping women for crime committed by men and etc which Western medias always put into highlight when talking about Shari'a Islamiah or the Way of Nature. This one is from the saying by most of Hanbali scholars and majority of Shafi'ie scholars.
II. It is permissible for a cleric to issue guidelines with regards to himself, but it is not permissible to issue fatawa to others based upon taqleed.
III. It is permissible to issue fatawa based upon taqleed when there is a need for it and when there is no mujtahid scholar. Mujtahid scholar refers to scholars who do researches based on his knowledge on particular sciences of the path. This is the most correct of the sayings and is what is acted upon.
Sheikh Albanee says that hadith is a proof in itself after mentioning the statements of the imams on taqleed as found in the introduction of "The Prophet's Prayer Described" where it has a heading "Taqleed for whoever Can't Search for the Evidence for Himself" in page 94.
Some may question: "Not all of the people are able to be the people of knowledge as what has been explained." The answer of Hanbali scholars is yes, indeed. Nobody has any doubt on this fact but Allah has mentioned in Surah an-Nahl verse 63: "So ask the people of knowledge if you don't know!" The same verse also appears in Surah al-Furqan verse 59.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w mentions: "For those who issued fatawa without knowledge, why don't they ask if they don't know? The cure for those in confusion is to ask!" However, the scholars did not mention all of the above evidence to show who is eligible or not eligible to be a scholar. Their research is with regards to those who are considered to be the people of knowledge in their society. Taqleed is upon the common person and ignorant one. Scholars who can and able to search for the evidence are excluded from being a muqallid. The responsibility of a scholar is not to do taqleed because their responsibility is to perform ijitihad.
The saying of Ibnu Abdul Barr explains further that: "All the rules are for common folk, they are those who have to perform taqleed on their scholars whenever necessary. They are incapable to understand or comprehend evidence or sciences. Sciences has grades where one cannot attain the top most grade unless if he goes up through the basis. Scholars don't differ in the matter of common folk having to follow their scholars."
Sheikh Muhammad Uthaimeen who wrote the article believes that it is not correct to generalize common folk by saying that all of them must perform taqleed. Taqleed only happens when a person follows a scholar if he has no access to evidence or could not search for the evidence. Many people are smart enough as they could clearly understand evidence if it is presented to them. For example, we can't deny that a common person could also understand evidence contained in the hadith: "Tayammum is one strike (of the hands on the dust) for the face and hands". People who are lacking of intelligence could also understand the hadith.
The conclusion from the article is that, taqleed is allowed for who ever that could not search for or understand the evidence from sciences of the path. Ibnu Qayyim also hold this opinion. In certain times, scholars would also have to depend on taqleed where they could not find any document and text from the sunnah except which came from the knowledgeable scholars.
The God knows more than His creatures...
Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace, and love, amin!