(This post is for advanced students and graduates only – the Arabic citations herein will not be translated.)
Using the fear of Talfiq to justify the obligation of TS is a fringe view, virtually non-existent pre-19th century Uttar Pradesh
In stereotypical fashion, TS fanatics almost always justify because of ‘the fear of Talfiq.’ For the sake of academic honesty, it should be noted from the outset that the only scholar in history, pre-Gangohi and pre-Laknawi who utilised this line of argument – as far as I am aware – was al-Maziri of the Malikis (d. 536 A.H.): He cites an example of potential Talfiq to be a reason behind the prohibition of leaving the school of Malik for Malikis in North Africa, in an answer he provided to a question in which he asked whether Ibn ‘l-Musayyab’s view on divorce could be adopted. But in the discourse of the later-day TS proponents, there is no mention of al-Maziri – ever. They sure have never used him as a precedent, ostensibly because they are unaware of what he said (until very recently). The TS camp’s absolute reliance is on Gangohi in India from the 19th century, and to an extent al-Laknawi, also from the same time and place.
The example of touching a woman and bleeding has blown the matter of Talfiq out of proportion
Now, there is always one classic example provided: Suppose a man did ablution, then he touched a woman (which breaks ablution in the Shafiʿi School, but not the Hanafi School), and he also bled from his body (which breaks the ablution in the Hanafi School, but not the Shafiʿi School), his Salah would be invalid by the consensus of both schools. That means a person not doing TS would be prone to taking the views of ablution not breaking in both instances, which means he thinks his Salah is valid when in fact both schools would have ultimately told him his Salah is invalid.
This example is in some of the later texts of Fiqh, but has spilled over onto the internet so much it has now flooded over. Nowadays, the fanatics have complete ownership of the trajectory of any discussion on Talfiq (like how Western and so-called anti-Islamist governments have ownership on how discussions on Jihad should be conducted).
But I refuse to bow down to the fanatics. They do not own any part of this discussion. And most certainly, they are ill-equipped and ill-deserving to be participants in it.
What exactly is Talfiq anyway? An all-encompassing definition
In Fiqh, in its most primitive technical definition, Talfiq simply means to adopt one view or a variety of views from different sources. That’s it, that’s the bare bones, without additions and without the spice. According to Oxford Islamic Studies Online, Talfiq is a “piecing together”, and it is a legal term describing the derivation of rules from material of various schools of Islamic law. Talfiq is also referred to as Tarkib in the texts, as can be see below.
(Talfiq also has a technical definition in the study of Qira’at, which can be realised in that topic and is beyond the scope of this post, but the concept there is similar to the one here.)
Talfiq is of different levels – a spectrum of benignity and severity
So Talfiq can range between anything – from mundane and non-controversial (unless you are a fanatic, in which case all Talfiq is prohibited – except when it suits you, examples of which will follow), to a severest and a most reprehensible level of Talfiq, which is absolutely prohibited. And there are levels in between, depending on the nature of the example and the Talfiq occurring therein.
So where are the points of agreement re: Talfiq, where are the points of disagreement, and who said what? These need to be spelled out. Let’s start from the most mundane level of Talfiq, and progress from there to the most severe:
1. Talfiq in two unrelated issues in different chapters of Fiqh, which have no impact on each other whatsoever. So you take the position of Malik in eating lobster, but the position of Abu Hanifah in the obligation of Zakah in jewellery. This Talfiq is absolutely fine, as it is purely TM.
2. Talfiq in one’s practice in the same issue but at a different time, like praying Zuhr and ʿAsr according to the timings of the majority view on Monday, and according to the timings in Abu Hanifah’s view on Tuesday. Almost all the pro-TM scholarly camp allow this format of Talfiq (except when there is a financial element that involves benefiting from one opinion at one time and benefiting from the opposite opinion at another time, like issues to do with Shufʿah (following different opinions as seller and buyer) and Zakah (following the most advantageous opinion for yourself as recipient and then as a dispenser). But this exception, in practice, is very rare indeed). In Fiqh, this is expressed as الرجوع عن التقليد.
3. Talfiq in two unrelated issues but in the same chapter of Fiqh, like raising hands before and after Rukuʿ as per the non-Hanafi view, and saying amen silently in Salah as per the Hanafi view. This is fine as well, as it is part of TM.
4. Talfiq in connected issues in the sense that one will be based on the other. An example of this is ablution in a manner that would make it valid according to one school only – must you pray the subsequent Salah according to that school as well, or can you perform Salah as per another school’s rulings? Another case example would be a traveller: Can he legally establish himself as a traveller according to the Hanafi view (15 days), then proceed to combine prayers for the entirety of his travel as per the other schools’ view? This is because the other schools only consider him to be a traveller if his intention was for 3 or 4 days of travel. I am happy to announce that this level of Talfiq was tackled head on, especially by al-Haytami and the Shafiʿis after him. In Zayn ‘l-Din al-Malibari’s فتح المعين, he spells out the difference between al-Haytami and Ibn Ziyad:
وقال شيخنا المحقق ابن زياد رحمه الله تعالى في فتاويه: إن الذي فهمناه من أمثلتهم أن التركيب القادح إنما يمتنع إذا كان في قضية واحدة، فمن أمثلتهم إذا توضأ ولمس تقليدا لابي حنيفة وافتصد تقليدا للشافعي ثم صلى فصلاته باطلة لاتفاق الامامين على بطلان ذلك، وكذلك إذا توضأ ومس بلا شهوة تقليدا للامام مالك ولم يدلك تقليدا للشافعي ثم صلى فصلاته باطلة لاتفاق الامامين على بطلان طهارته، بخلاف ما إذا كان التركيب من قضيتين، فالذي يظهر أن ذلك غير قادح في التقليد، كما إذا توضأ ومسح بعض رأسه ثم صلى إلى الجهة تقليدا لأبي حنيفة، فالذي يظهر صحة صلاته لان الإمامين لم يتفقا على بطلان طهارته، فإن الخلاف فيها بحاله
لا يقال: اتفقا على بطلان صلاته، لأنا نقول: هذا الاتفاق ينشأ من التركيب في قضيتين، والذي فهمناه أنه غير قادح في التقليد، ومثله ما إذا قلد الامام أحمد في أن العورة السوأتان وكان ترك المضمضة والاستنشاق أو التسمية الذي يقول الإمام أحمد بوجوب ذلك، فالذي يظهر صحة صلاته إذا قلده في قدر العورة لأنهما لم يتفقا على بطلان طهارته التي هي قضية واحدة، ولا يقدح في ذلك اتفاقهما على بطلان صلاته، فإنه تركيب من قضيتين، وهو غير قادح في التقليد كما يفهمه تمثيلهم، وقد رأيت في فتاوى البلقيني ما يقتضي أن التركيب بين القضيتين غير قادح. انتهى ملخصا
In fact, Taqi Usmani and his predecessor Ashraf Ali Thanwi allowed this format of Talfiq as well. See the section dedicated to Taqi Usmani, below.
5. Talfiq in two separate issues leading to one ultimate ruling in the same space, like the issue of the validity of ablution after bleeding and touching a woman. Whereas the principle is centuries old, the first person to popularise this particular example was Ibn ʿAbidin in the introduction of his Radd ‘l-Muhtar, expounding on al-Haskafi’s rather vague principle of والحكم الملفق باطل بالإجماع (the irony here is Ibn ʿAbidin was one of the biggest opponents of TS himself, as were many other anti-Level-5 Talfiq scholars). The reality is there is no consensus of this being prohibited. Though many, many scholars disallowed this, a few Hanafis have allowed this type of Talfiq, like Ibn Nujaym, Ibn ‘l-Humam, Muḥammad bin ʿAbd ‘l-ʿAẓīm al-Makkī Munla Farrukh (died 1061 A.H.) who wrote a book in its defence, and he was supported by ʿAbd ‘l-Fattah Abu Ghuddah. Another example of this scenario is conducting a marriage without both a Wali and witnesses. The marriage is invalid without a Wali in the non-Hanafi Schools; it is invalid without witnesses in the non-Maliki Schools. Whereas the obvious temptation would be to label such a marriage an outright abomination and clear fornication, I would like the reader to see how the Hanbali Mufti of Syria al-Shatti dealt with it – it is clear from his dealing of the issue that the matter, even in one as delicate as marriage without Wali and witnesses – even if it is potentially forbidden (which in itself disputed) – is in not exactly an act of fornication outright:
لكن جعله زنى فهذا لا تساعده عبارة الأصحاب، لأنهم نصوا على أن هذا عقد فاسد لا باطل كما ذكروه في باب الشروط في النكاح، وقد فرقوا بين النكاح الباطل والفاسد، فالباطل ما أجمع على بطلانه كنكاح خامسة ومعتدة من غير زنى ونحو ذلك، وهو زنى، وأما الفاسد وهو ما اختلف فيه فلا، وعدوا من الفاسد هذا العقد الذي صوره الشيخ كما هو صريح في كلامهم.
قال في الإقناع وشرحه: وإذا تزوجها بغير ولي ولا شهود فالوطء فيه وطء شبهة يلحق الولد فيه ويرث ولده ويرثه ولده، وإن لم يدخل بها فلا مهر ولا متعة عليه لفساد العقد، وإن دخل بها فعليه مهر المثل ولا يثبت به إحصان ولا إباحة للزوج الأول ولا يتوارثان ويستحقان العقوبة أي التعزير لتعاطيها عقدا فاسدا. انتهى
إذا علمت هذا فانظره مع قول الشيخ: إنه زنى، إذ لو كان زنى لصرحوا به ولوجب الحد ولما استحقت المهر بدخوله بها ولما لحقه الولد ولما كان يرث كل منهما الآخر، وإنما لم يكن كذلك لشبهة العقد وإنما جاء تحريمه من جهة كونه عقد فاسدا فلهذا عزرا، ويحرم أيضا من جهة قصد تتبع الرخص إن قصدها، فتأمله. وقال الشيخ م ص في حاشية الإقناع: قال أبو يعلى الصغير في رجل وامرأة في سفر ليس معهما ولي ولا شهود: لا يجوز أن يتزوج بها وإن خاف الزنى. قال في الإنصاف: قلت: وليس بظاهر مع خوف الزنى. انتهى
قال ابن نصر الله في حواشي الزركشي: هذا القول بهذا القيد فيه بشاعة فإن مواقعة الزنى من أكبر الكبائر، فإذا أمكن العدول إلى ما فيه شبهة ما فهو أولى، ولا شك أن النكاح بلا ولي مختلف في صحته فهو أولى من الوقوع في زنى مجمع على تحريمه. انتهى
فعلم بهذا أنه لو تزوج بها لا يكون زنى لكنه محرم، على أن صاحب الإنصاف وغيره نازع في التحريم في حالة الخوف، فمقتضاه الميل إلى الجواز في تلك الحال، ثم إن تحريمهم النكاح الفاسد حيث كان من غير تقليد لمن يراه كبلا ولي، وعليه فحيث عدوا هذا النكاح المذكور فاسدا، وإنه يحرم تعاطيه لذلك فهل يجوز فيما إذا كان بتقليد بأن قلد بعدم اشتراط الولي الإمام أبا حنيفة، وبعدم اشتراط الشهود الإمام مالكا على ما نقل عنه (لكن الذي رأيناه في كتبهم اشتراط الشهود)، فالجواب الظاهر أن من يقول بجواز التلفيق فهذا جائز عنده وصحيح، وأما عند من يقول بالمنع من التلفيق ولو على سبيل الضرورة والاتفاق فيقول: هو نكاح فاسد حكما لشبهة العقد، ويحرم تعاطيه ولو بتقليد للتلفيق، فتدبر وأمعن في النظر
6. When two opinions coincide as opposites due to opposite circumstances. I can think of only one example of this for now: The Funeral Prayer for an absent martyr. The Hanafis perform the Funeral Prayer over a martyr but not over an absent body. The non-Hanafis perform the Funeral Prayer over an absent body but not over a martyr. An absent martyr should therefore not have the Funeral Prayer conducted for him by the agreement of all schools. In practice, however, many Hanafis – especially in Pakistan – still perform the Funeral prayer for absent martyrs. Although this example is a rather benign one due to the lack of significant consequences, the Talfiq committed therein is in itself worse than a Level-5 Talfiq. (add.: Another example is in Hajj, on the Day of ʿArafah: One cannot refuse to combine prayers as per Abu Hanifah’s view, then proceed to perform ʿAsr after just one shadow length as per the non-Abu Hanifah view, since that camp all agree to combine Zuhr with ʿAsr during the time of Zuhr. Many Hanafis are caught committing this type of Talfiq in Hajj.)
7. The severest level of Talfiq is when two different rulings are anchored to one data point, so if one subscribes to one position in one of the rulings, the subsequent ruling in the other is automatically applicable. A crude but obvious example of this is the ending time of Zuhr and the beginning time of ʿAsr – for those who say there is no buffer between the two prayers, they all agree that Zuhr is to be performed before that point (whether one shadow length or two) and ʿAsr after it. In other words, it is not legally valid to – on the same day – perform Zuhr just after one shadow length as per the majority opinion, then perform ʿAsr before two shadow lengths are reached as per Abu Hanifah’s opinion. Another example is the end of Suhur time, which is the end of ʿIsha time, and the beginning of Fajr time. Everybody agrees that, whichever Suhur timetable you go by, Fajr has to be performed after Suhur time has ended. It is impermissible to perform Fajr early as per one timetable that allows early Fajr, and on the same day consume Suhur after performing Fajr according to another timetable. Another example of this type of Talfiq is marriage and slaughter: If one believes in that the meat of the Shia is illegal, then the marriage of their women is also forbidden; if the women are legal then their meat must be considered legal. (I should point out at this stage that the prohibition of this Talfiq is not because it is Talfiq, but because it goes against consensus. The reason why Level-7 Talfiq is prohibited is not even because of Talfiq per se, but because of the individual consensuses/scholarly agreements in the examples provided therein, that the beginning of Fajr is the end of Suhur; the beginning of ʿAsr is the end of Zuhr; and the legality and illegality of women and their slaughter is intertwined. Talfiq is an act that does not carry a ruling – it is the result of Talfiq that is subject to a fatwa.)
Preliminary verdict: No blanket consensus on the prohibition of Talfiq in most of its types
It is absolutely clear that, besides Level-7 Talfiq, there is absolutely no consensus whatsoever on the prohibition of Talfiq. Those who claim there is are being stubborn for no apparent reason. Al-Shatti came down on this fake consensus like a ton of bricks, stating:
قد نقل بعض العلماء الإجماع على ذلك، قلتُ: نقله الإجماع إما باعتبار أهل مذهبه، أو باعتبار الأكثر والغالب، أو باعتبار مجرد السماع، أو بالنسبة للظن، إذ لو كانت المسألة مجمعا عليها لنص فقهاء مذهبنا على ذلك، إذ المجمع عليه لا بد وأن يكون بين أهل العلم مشهورا ظاهرا منصوصا عليه فلا يكفي السكوت أو الاحتمال، فما بال فقهائنا لم ينصوا عليه صريحا في كتب الفروع حيث كان مجمعا عليه… ونقل الإجماع في المسائل الخفية قد لا يكون صحيحا، وقد وجد كثير من ذلك وتتبع فوجد الخلاف، على أن الإجماع الذي يجب اتباعه ولا يجوز خرقه وهو حجة قاطعة إنما هو اتفاق مجتهدي الأمة على أمر، وأنى به في مسألتنا هذه
Examples of Talfiq
It would be good to point out at this stage that nobody can escape Talfiq. The early Imams did Talfiq in their Ijtihad all the time. The school of Abu Hanifah (i.e. Abu Hanifah personally, as a scholar, not the combined views of him and his students) itself is a Talfiq of the positions of various scholars in his vicinity, either in the generation of his teachers or his peers. But there are examples that are far closer to home.
So when did an omelette made with non-Hanafi prawns, sprinkled with Hanafi-only balsamic vinegar, become legal? That prawn salad sprinkled with balsamic vinegar that you are lapping up is 100% illegal from at least two different angles by the Hanafi fanatics’ own standards: a) for going against TS, and b) for embracing Talfiq. To escape this evident embarrassment, perhaps the anti-Talfiq crew from amongst the Hanafis have been obsessed for decades in trying to prove that prawns are actually legal in the Hanafi School. Aside from their absurd marine biological analysis claiming that prawns are fish, I must ask them in return – since they like to make the accusation on others: “How does it feel when you yourselves are accused of committing Talfiq?”
Let’s move on the argument a little. The entire Islamic finance and banking model is based on Talfiq. Nobody can deny this. Many Muslims, even the most ardent of TS fanatics, have not only thrown TS out of the window in this case, but have embraced Talfiq lock, stock and barrel. Maybe it is because of personality worship, that the author of the most-read pro-TS book of all time Taqi Usmani happened to have violated all the principles of TS and embraced Talfiq. I do not have a problem with his efforts at all – the problem is with his juristic inconsistency. Yet, to this day, Taqi Usmani’s book on Taqlid is presented as the ultimate evidence on everybody else who opposes TS. The harsh reality is, academically speaking, it is substandard. Concurrently, his model of Islamic finance is championed across the world.
To a more conventional yet overlooked example that might strike a chord with Hanafis: Used water from ablution is impure according to Abu Hanifah (which gets on the clothes, public towels and carpets in mosques all the time); and Abu Yusuf said water from the tap is not allowed (صب is a prerequisite for purification according to him). This leaves the anti-Talfiq Hanafi to carry through to Salah in a valid fashion only through the path of Muhammad bin ‘l-Hasan. Now, Muhammad says Zuhr ends at one shadow, yet there are many Hanafis who perform Zuhr between one shadow and two shadows (as per Abu Hanifah’s view). Should a Hanafi’s clothes get drenched in dripping ablution water (which happens a lot), or he performed ablution from the tap (which happens a lot), then he performs Zuhr after one shadow length (which happens a lot), his Salah is not valid according to any of the top three Hanafi Imams!
Is intra-school Talfiq allowed but not inter-school Talfiq?
To counter the accusation of illegal Talfiq here, I believe it was Ibn ʿAbidin who concocted the rule: Talfiq does not occur within one school(!) In other words, one can mix and match as much as he wants so long as he does not escape the boundaries of the school. This is just sophistry and legal gymnastics designed to save face. Otherwise, there is no reason why Talfiq between Abu Yusuf’s and Muhammad’s views would be valid, but between Muhammad’s and Malik’s views are invalid. And to say it is valid because Abu Yusuf and Muhammad had the same Usul is absurd – no sane person believes their Usul were the same. They had clear and distinct legal methodologies of their own, and this is evident to anybody who has studied their views in any depth. Claiming they have different Usul is as ridiculous as claiming they were Mujtahids of a lower level than Abu Hanifah.
Taqi Usmani, TS, Talfiq, and the fanatics
Perhaps to the surprise of many, Taqi Usmani allowed Level-4 Talfiq as well (i.e. Talfiq over two issues). See his book on the methodology of Ifta, أصول الإفتاء وآدابه, from bottom of pg. 213 onwards up to mid-pg. 216, where he ends by citing from Ashraf Ali Thanwi.
In this same book, I must admit that his discourse on TS was extremely disappointing. In fact, it was outright disconcerting. Apart from the lack of discussion on the hundreds of scholars that allowed TM, it really saddened me that on pp. 67-68, he quoted al-Munawi citing from al-Dhahabi on the necessity of TS, when in fact al-Dhahabi did not say that at all; rather they are the words of al-Munawi himself. What capped off my disheartening is that Taqi Usmani placed an ellipsis (i.e. three dots …) on line 4 of pg. 68. If one actually reads the full text of al-Munawi, this is what one would see:
وعلى غير المجتهد أن يقلد مذهبا معينا، وقضية جعل الحديث الاختلاف رحمة جواز الانتقال من مذهب لآخر والصحيح عند الشافعية جوازه، لكن لا يجوز تقليد الصحابة وكذا التابعين كما قاله إمام الحرمين
What Taqi Usmani wrote was:
وعلى غير المجتهد أن يقلد مذهبا معينا… لكن لا يجوز تقليد الصحابة وكذا التابعين كما قاله إمام الحرمين
Decide for yourself if this was appropriate. In my opinion, this behaviour constitutes an abuse of the ellipsis and is dishonest, as it is a cover-up of a statement by al-Munawi that diametrically opposes his thesis of obligating TS upon the layman. It does not make it any better when al-Dhahabi was not the one saying any of this at all; rather it was al-Munawi, Fayd ‘l-Qadir, pg. 210: http://ia700208.us.archive.org/3/it…
(perhaps getting the quoted person wrong was an honest mistake on Taqi Usmani’s part, insha’allah).
In a nutshell, Taqi Usmani has become prey to self-contradiction on this issue. In that book he wrote on the methodology of Ifta, it was pretty nonsensical to firstly assert that “TS is obligatory”, yet 200 pages later claim that “Talfiq over two issues is allowed”!
But nowadays, you have the fanatics translating Taqi Usmani’s entire discourse on Taqlid from that book (as if his old book, Legal Status of Following a Madhab, was not sufficient):
Yet we are called extreme/blind/bigots/Salafis if we point out these blatant errors.
Let’s not forget that the fanatics administering the Deoband.org website deleted an entire translation from Taqi Usmani’s discourse on the Attributes of Allah, because it was seemingly too accommodating of Ibn Taymiyya’s view. The admins of that site really do believe that they are more Deobandi than Taqi Usmani himself.
TM can lead to any level of Talfiq
TM has two prerequisites as part of its checks and balances: Reliability and trustworthiness in the scholar (as per فاسألوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون), and that the Muqallid is confident that the reliable scholar in question has not got that view completely wrong (استفت قلبك). In reality, a person talking to two scholars can potentially end up committing any form of Talfiq. This is absolutely fine and his practice would be valid, except in Level 7, in which case he would be excused until he is informed regarding the absolute illegality of committing a Level-7 Talfiq. It would also be safer – nothing more – not to commit Talfiq in Level 5, due to the strong opposition to it, as well as Level 6 (though I have not seen anyone really discuss it directly, probably due to its rarity as it requires a lot of things to go to plan for such a Talfiq to occur). However, it is not something that is religiously necessary to avoid, and there many scholars from the past – as listed – who do not consider Level-5 Talfiq to be illegal, just as there are many scholars in our own times. Just go to Egypt and Syria and see what their scholars’ attitude to Talfiq is like.
Does Talfiq = following desire?
Many from the anti-Talfiq camp have said “Talfiq = Tashahhi” (following desire). This is false. For sin to be established on the basis of following desire, two items need to be met: a) the action being disallowed, and b) one doing it knows it is disallowed. Firstly, the illegality of Talfiq is not even agreed upon across most of its levels, and secondly, some examples of Talfiq are clearly not out of desire, like the Funeral Prayer for the Absent Martyr (add.: and ʿAsr after one shadow length on the Day of ʿArafah). One following multiple opinions may even unknowingly end up in Level-7 Talfiq, which is disallowed, but he would not be sinning until he is educated. Most certainly, these individuals cannot be accused of following desire.
In fact, it can be argued that many of those who accuse others of following desire are following their own desires, as they have no solid juristic basis to be making these accusations against others, nor are they properly trained or qualified to make such a call, and they know this in their own selves very well. Their attitude is destructive to the unity of the Ummah.
Logical proofs for the legality of Talfiq
The proofs for the permissibility of Talfiq are the same proofs for the permissibility of TM. Furthermore, history suggests Talfiq was not even a major consideration. Discussions on the various levels of Talfiq sprung up in the later centuries of Islam at various times in various schools. The main point is that, had there been any inclination of the early scholars, let alone consensus, to the opposition of Talfiq, they would have voiced it. They didn’t.
Additional scholarly precedents on the permissibility of Talfiq
I have done a fair bit of research to establish the validity of TM. In the process, I have come across many, many other factoids. Looking back at my notes, I can see many statements to the effect of allowing Talfiq. I copy some quotes here – there are many more but I have omitted them as I do not have their quotes ready at hand. Just read Farrukh or al-Bani’s books to retrieve them as well.
1. Munīb bin Maḥmūd bin Muṣṭafā al-Hāshimī al-Jaʿfarī al-Nāblusī (died 1343 A.H.) said in his al-Qawl al-Sadīd Fī Aḥkām ‘l-Taqlīd (taken from ʿUmdat ‘l-Taḥqīq Fī al-Taqlīd Wa-‘l-Talfīq by al-Bānī (died 1351 A.H.), pg. 204, Dār ‘l-Qādirī Damascus, 2nd edition, 1418 A.H.): What has become apparent for this weak slave is that there is no text from any Mujtahid or scholar of Takhrīj in the Nuʿmānī School preventing mixing up…
2. Muḥammad Salīm al-Āmidī al-Bukhārī (died 1347 A.H.) commissioned al-Bānī (died 1351 A.H.) to write an answer to a question on following and mixing up (See ʿUmdat ‘l-Taḥqīq Fī al-Taqlīd Wa-‘l-Talfīq, pg. 50, Dār ‘l-Qādirī Damascus, 2nd edition, 1418 A.H.), and al-Bānī allowed it.
3. Abū ‘l-Ḥasan Muḥammad bin ʿAbd ‘l-Hādī al-Sindī (died 1138 A.H.) said (taken from a questions posed to Ghannām al-Najdī al-Ḥanbalī (died 1237 A.H.), Ajwibah Laṭīfah ʿAn Arbaʿ Su’ālāt Sharīfah, audio transcript with commentary by Ṣāliḥ bin ʿAbd ‘llāh al-ʿUṣaymī, tinyurl.com/bd5xllk
, retrieved 13/2/2013): Mixing up [is] allowed.
4. Regarding Muḥammad al-Ṣaghir (died pre-1189 A.H.), ʿAlī bin Aḥmad al-Ṣaʿīdī al-ʿAdawī (died 1189 A.H.), al-Ṣāwī (died 1241 A.H.) said (taken from Ḥāshiyat ‘l-Ṣāwī ʿAlā al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīr by al-Ṣāwī (died 1241 A.H.), printed under al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīr by al-Dardīr (died 1201 A.H.), 1/19, Dār ‘l-Maʿārif Cairo edition): What our teacher al-Amīr said from his teacher al-ʿAdawī from his teacher al-Ṣaghīr and others is that the correct position is the permissibility of [mixing up], and it is leeway.
5. Regarding ʿAlī bin Aḥmad al-Ṣaʿīdī al-ʿAdawī (died 1189 A.H.), al-Ṣāwī (died 1241 A.H.) said (taken from Ḥāshiyat ‘l-Ṣāwī ʿAlā al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīr by al-Ṣāwī (died 1241 A.H.), printed under al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīr by al-Dardīr (died 1201 A.H.), 1/19, Dār ‘l-Maʿārif Cairo edition): … the relied-upon position is the permissibility of mixing up between two schools in worship, as ʿAllāmah al-ʿAdawī passed verdict by…
6. Muḥammad bin Muḥammad al-Sinbāwī al-Azharī al-Amīr (died 1232 A.H.) said (Ḥāshiyat Ibn ‘l-Amīr, printed under Itḥāf ‘l-Murīd Sharḥ Jawharat ‘l-Tawḥīd by ʿAbd ‘l-Salām al-Laqqānī (died 1078 A.H.), pg. 252, Dār ‘l-Kutub al-Jahliyyah Beirut, 1st edition, 1422 A.H.): There is difference in mixing up and following [another Imām] post-action.
7. Yūsuf al-Zayyāt (died post-1271 A.H.) said (taken from al-Wasm Fī Ḥukm ‘l-Washm by Aḥmad bin Aḥmad bin Ismāʿīl al-Khalījī al-Ḥalwānī (died 1308 A.H.), Azhar University Cairo manuscript 48382(?), pg. 146-147 (manuscript page count starts from 126)): If a follower is a Shāfiʿī, performs ablution according to his school and wipes part of his head, [then] follows the Mālikīs in the eradication of filth being [of the status of] prophetic tradition, his prayer would be correct, because the relied-upon position is the permissibility of mixing up between two schools in worship… Following in that situation, even without necessity, is permissible.
8. ʿAbd ‘l-Qādir bin ʿAbd ‘l-Karīm al-Shafshāwanī (died 1313 A.H.) said (taken from ʿUmdat ‘l-Taḥqīq Fī al-Taqlīd Wa-‘l-Talfīq by al-Bānī (died 1351 A.H.), pg. 169-170 and 209, Dār ‘l-Qādirī Damascus, 2nd edition, 1418 A.H.): The Uṣūlīs differed in this issue of mixing up – the correct position from an analytical viewpoint is its permissibility.
9. Regarding Abū Ḥafṣ ʿUmar bin Raslān al-Bulqīnī (died 805 A.H.), Ibn Ziyād al-Zabīdī Abū al-Ḍiyā’ ʿAbd ‘l-Rahmān bin ʿAbd ‘l-Karīm bin Ibrāhīm al-Maqṣarī (died 975 A.H.) said (taken from Fatḥ ‘l-Muʿīn Bi-Sharḥ Qurrat ‘l-ʿAyn Bi-Muhimmāt ‘l-Din by al-Mulaybārī (died 987 A.H.), pg. 223-224, Markaz Tawʿiyat ‘l-Fiqh al-Islāmī, Hyderabad Deccan, 2nd edition, 1424 A.H.): In the edicts of al-Bulqīnī, I [read something] requiring that joining up two issues is not damaging.
10. Ibn Ziyād al-Zabīdī Abū al-Ḍiyā’ ʿAbd ‘l-Rahmān bin ʿAbd ‘l-Karīm bin Ibrāhīm al-Maqṣarī (died 975 A.H.) said (taken from Fatḥ ‘l-Muʿīn Bi-Sharḥ Qurrat ‘l-ʿAyn Bi-Muhimmāt ‘l-Din by al-Mulaybārī (died 987 A.H.), pg. 223-224, Markaz Tawʿiyat ‘l-Fiqh al-Islāmī, Hyderabad Deccan, 2nd edition, 1424 A.H.): The damaging [scenario of] combining is only when it occurs in a single issue, like when one, performing ablution, follows Abū Ḥanīfah in the issue of touching private parts, and al-Shāfiʿī in phlebotomy. His prayer would be void in that case due to the agreement of both Imāms on his ritual [im]purity. As for when combining is [in] two [separate] matters, like purification from legal impurity and purification from real impurity, it appears that [combining in this scenario] is not damaging, as the two Imāms are not united on his legal [im]purity. [Objection] should not [be raised] that they agreed on the illegality of his prayer, because we [would respond by] saying that this has risen from the mixing of two [separate] matters, and this is not damaging to [his] following, as the example [the scholars] provided [which support this] explains. In the edicts of al-Bulqīnī, I [read something] requiring that joining up two issues is not damaging.
12. Regarding Aḥmad bin Aḥmad al-Ujhūrī (died 1293 A.H.), al-Bānī said (taken from ʿUmdat ‘l-Taḥqīq Fī al-Taqlīd Wa-‘l-Talfīq by al-Bānī (died 1351 A.H.), pg. 204, Dār ‘l-Qādirī Damascus, 2nd edition, 1418 A.H.; al-Ujhūrī’s book printed by al-Maṭbaʿah al-Azhariyyah Cairo – 4th edition 1352 A.H.): The difference [in mixing up] has also been reported by… Shaykh Aḥmad al-Ujhūrī in his footnotes on Ḥawāshī ‘l-Bājūrī
13. Marʿī bin Yūsuf al-Karmī (died 1033 A.H.) said (Jawāb Su’āl Ḥawl ‘l-Talfīq Fī al-Taqlīd, reproduced in Tajrīd Zawā’id ‘l-Ghāyah by al-Shaṭṭī (died 1307 A.H.), printed under Maṭālib Ulī ‘l-Nuhā by al-Ruḥaybānī (died 1243 A.H.), 1/670, al-Maktab al-Islāmī Damascus, 1st edition, 1381 A.H.)): The position I adopt and choose is the permissibility of mixing up in following – not with the intent of constantly seeking that out, because the one who constantly seeks for dispensations would have transgressed – but rather when that occurs by chance, especially from laymen who have no choice other than that.
14. Ghannām bin Muḥammad bin Ghannām al-Najdī al-Dimashqī (died 1237 A.H.) said (Ajwibah Laṭīfah ʿAn Arbaʿ Su’ālāt Sharīfah, audio transcript with commentary by Ṣāliḥ bin ʿAbd ‘llāh al-ʿUṣaymī, tinyurl.com/bd5xllk
, retrieved 13/2/2013): As for the fourth issue, then it is – as stated by [Abū ‘l-Ḥasan al-Sindī (died 1138 A.H.)], i.e. the permissibility of mixing up, as was chosen by the great scholar of his era, Shaykh Marʿī. I do not know anybody from the Imāms of our school who differed with him other than Shaykh al-Saffārīnī…
15. Muṣṭafā bin Saʿdī al-Ruḥaybānī (died 1243 A.H.) said (Maṭālib Ulī ‘l-Nuhā Fī Sharḥ Ghāyat ‘l-Muntahā, 6/446, al-Maktab al-Islāmī Damascus, 1st edition, 1381 A.H.): … and it is not reported from any one of [the Companions or their followers] that they told the one asking them for a legal ruling, “It is obligatory on you to take care of the rules of the position you are following so that you do not mix up between two positions or more in your worship”; rather whosoever asked them regarding an issue, he would give him the ruling in it based on what he [took] as his own position, allowing him to act [on it] without [any such] investigation or clarification. Had [the process of ascertaining that mix-ups did not occur] been necessary, they would not have abandoned it, especially given the multitude of difference in their opinions.
16. Muḥammad bin Ḥasan bin ʿUmar al-Shaṭṭī (died 1307 A.H.) said (Tajrīd Zawā’id ‘l-Ghāyah, printed under Maṭālib Ulī ‘l-Nuhā by al-Ruḥaybānī (died 1243 A.H.), 1/676, al-Maktab al-Islāmī Damascus, 1st edition, 1381 A.H.): The written piece of [al-Karmī on mixing up] is fine. His evidences and reasoning are decent and strong, [and my] heart is content with them. But since there is difference, dispute and uncertainty in [the legal status of mixing up], there is no doubt that adherence to taking care [of the prerequisites of another Imām’s position] in [that issue] he is following is good. [Mixing up] is from the doubtful matters, from which abstaining is required, so ruminate.
To add to the al-Shatti quotes, al-Sawi elucidated an interesting take on the subject of marriage without a Wali and witnesses:
17. Abū ‘l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad bin Muḥammad al-Ṣāwī (died 1241 A.H.) said (Ḥāshiyat ‘l-Ṣāwī ʿAlā al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīr, printed under al-Sharḥ al-Ṣaghīr by al-Dardīr (died 1201 A.H.), 1/19, Dār ‘l-Maʿārif Cairo edition): However, it is not appropriate to [mix up] in marriage, because safety is adopted in matters of private parts in a way that is not [done so] for other [issues].
Sources on Talfiq
Information on Talfiq is scattered, and takes months of research to compile, as one can see in the diverse set of sources in the list above. I have managed to do some of that but a lot more is required.
For the Hanafis, the discussions of Ibn Nujaym and the treatise of al-Makki are also beneficial. ʿAbd ‘l-Ghanī bin Ismāʿīl al-Nāblusī (died 1143 A.H.) penned a refutation on it in a small book he called Khulāṣat ‘l-Taḥqīq Fī Bayān Ḥukm ‘l-Taqlīd Wa-‘l-Talfīq, but the arguments put forth by al-Makki remain convincing. (Note that just because al-Nablusi was against Talfiq does not mean he was pro-TS. In fact, he was very much anti-TS. Fanatics do not seem to get this basic point: Taqlid and Talfiq are two separate discussions)
For the Shafiʿis, the al-Haytami v. Ibn Ziyad discussion is the mainstay. See the citations above.
One of the most famous discussions on Talfiq is in the Hanbali School: Marʿi al-Karmi’s treatise in the support for Talfiq, followed by his Hanbali counterpart al-Saffarini’s refutation on it. Many Hanbalis have voiced their disapproval on al-Saffarini’s refutation, namely al-Shatti (see above), al-Dukhayyil and al-Saʿidi (both Saudis).
Al-Bani’s book on Talfiq
One of the best all-round books on anti-TS, pro-Talfiq books is al-Bani’s ʿUmdat ‘l-Tahqiq. Given his Hanafi background, this is a must read for all Hanafi students and graduates. I must admit it is one of the very few analytical masterpieces I have come across. Even if one ends up disagreeing with some of the opinions he argued for, there is no escaping the fact that all what he said has precedent and cannot be dismissed as aberrant or baseless positions.
The story, backdrop and characteristics of this book are unique as well. It was written at a time where the many of the supposedly learned people were substandard in their comprehension of these issues and were thus extremely bigoted towards their Schools (as al-Bani himself said, pg. 227); it was Damascus, a hotbed of Islamic academic activity and where the scholars of all Schools were gathered; it was written on the back of two Hanbali authors – Marʿi al-Karmi and al-Saffarini – having a severe conflict over the Talfiq matter, with the author putting himself in the position of a referee (the book was actually centred around this, even though it only took a few pages to discuss); he discussed a lot on the back of his own experience – sometimes the discussion got far too personal and uncomfortable (as you can see on pg. 236 where he attempts to justify Talfiq based on his horrid experience in jail and in exile; he takes a shot at the “backstabbing Muslim politicians” a few pages later); it was also a time of great change in the Muslims world, with the dismantling of the symbolic Khilafah fresh in everybody’s mind.
The entire discussion of pro-Talfiq and anti-Talfiq is proof for the anti-TS position
The entire discussion on Talfiq is actually living proof that TS was opposed to by everyone who participated in this discussion! This is because for those who allowed Talfiq, it was a foregone conclusion that TM was allowed as well; and for those who disallowed Talfiq, it was presented as one of the prerequisites of the validity of TM, i.e. TM is allowed so long as one does not fall into Talfiq.
Apart from al-Maziri, it is only the recent pro-TS camp that has vociferously propagated something else altogether, i.e. they say TM is impermissible because there is a potential of Talfiq. This is absolutely different from allowing TM with the prerequisite of not committing Talfiq, as this is down to self-regulation, whereas TS is essentially trying to police the public.
Talfiq in Taqlid v. Talfiq in Ijtihad
The above was all to do with Talfiq in Taqlid. However, there is also something called Talfiq in Ijithad. The process is same, except that the mixing up is arrived at not by Taqlid, but by independent research. Historically, the scholars of the Salaf did Talfiq in Ijtihad all the time. There is not one scholar who did not disagree with his teacher on some issue. As a result, every scholar’s personal School was a mixture of the various other schools that were prevalent in his city and beyond.
Ijtihad in the early eras would have been impossible had the anti-Talfiq position caught on. After all, how was Ahmad entitled to his solitary views knowing that Abu Hanifah, Malik, al-Shafiʿi, al-Awzaʿi, Layth etc. had already not opined that view? In fact, Ibn Jarir came much after them all and he himself is considered a Mujtahid by consensus, with his own School and followers. Did they ever constantly worry whether their method of Salah is valid as per their own Ijtihad according to their Mujtahid predecessors? This is painstakingly difficult, and we have no evidence whatsoever that they subject their own Ijtihad to such tough interrogations.
Talfiq in Ijtihad is closely related to the concept of إحداث قول ثالث. Some forms of إحداث قول ثالث are most definitely based on Talfiq. An example would be if there were two opinions, one claiming that something has absolute prohibition, and the other absolute legality, then a scholar (typically Ibn Taymiyyah) comes generations after and subscribes to a third ‘hybridised’ opinion that is a mix of the two, e.g. prohibited in some situations and legal in other situations. This became rarer as the centuries went by, but this type of Talfiq was evidently present in the first eras of Ijtihad. This form of Ijtihad is absolutely valid up to this era, for whereas the juristic methodologies have been encompassed by the predecessors, the attempt to create a better mix – a Talfiq of juristic methodologies – still has its door wide open, and there is nothing to suggest whatsoever that Ijtihad in this aspect is shut.
Following in Salah: A topic closely related to Talfiq
There are other issue closely related to Talfiq, namely reading behind an Imam of a different school, or someone who has potentially committed an act that invalidates Salah according to the follower’s school. Whatever one’s position is re: Talfiq can easily be transported into the following in Salah issue, as following is a matter of lesser importance in the sense that the source of disparity lies outside the follower’s action, i.e. within the Imam, whereas in Talfiq the disparity of the two positions lies with his own actions.
Anyone who uses the ‘bleeding-woman touching’ scenario does not know Abu Nuwas
So after all this, how can a Level-5 Talfiq scenario be used to make a blanket ruling on all Levels of Talfiq being prohibited? In fact, Level-5 Talfiq itself is differed over in its legality and illegality. Indeed, if a Mujtahid could have so easily come to the conclusion via Ijtihad that neither bleeding nor touching a woman breaks ablution, why is it prohibited for a Muqallid via Taqlid to have done the same? After all, Taqlid is the substitute to Ijtihad. All what the obligation of not doing Talfiq does is to obligate on the layman to know the schools, and which scholar is affiliated to which school, and then ask his question to the correct Mufti. There is absolute no evidence whatsoever in the Shariah for this; in fact, the evidences go against it, as this is تكليف ما لا يطاق. This is yet another reason why the obligation of TS is an untenable position.
It is clear that the touching woman-bleeding example is not the worst example of Talfiq, as that is merely a Level-5 Talfiq. In fact, what the genius poet yet perennial drunkard Abu Nuwas said is not the worst type of Talfiq per se (also probably a Level-5 Talfiq), even though its result is evidently more sacreligious than anything imaginable: Grape alcohol is legal. He said:
أجاز العراقي النبيذ وشربه…فقال الحجازي كلاهما خمر
وقال الحجازي الشرابان واحد…فحلت لنا من بين قوليهما الخمر
Allow me to stray a little, but one just has to stand in utter awe and admiration of Abu Nuwas. Although he spent most of his life in the state of intoxication, he was the personification of Arabic poetry brilliance. He would have given any Jahili poet a run for his money.
Still, al-Shatti dispatched his poetry by stating:
ما قاله أبو نواس هذيان وجنون وإلحاد في الدين، وليس ذلك من التقليد في شيء، وفظاعتها بديهة للعقل، وردها واضح
To address Abu Nuwas more directly, I would say that the prohibition of grape alcohol is textually explicit, so no Talfiq manoeuvring can undo that, not even in the opinion that states Talfiq is allowed.
A similar piece of poetry is attributed to Ibn ‘l-Rumi or Ibn Hani’:
أباح العراقي النبيذ وشربه…وقال حرامان المدامة والسكر
وقال الحجازي الشرابان واحد….فحل لنا من بين قوليهما الخمر
سآخذ من قوليهما طرفيهما….وأشربها لا فارق الوازر الوزر
So instead of utilising the bleeding-touching woman scenario, perhaps the Talfiq antagonists can use something more innovative, like Abu Nuwas’s poetry, to get their point across. Talking all the time about bleeding and touching women makes one sound like a broken record.
Fanatics should feel free to practice TS in the safety of their own homes, or in their homogeneous communities and mosques. Their non-intellectual, pseudo-Maslahah-driven baggage of Talfiq-phobia is quite telling of their own lack of understanding of the topic at hand. The next time you hear any fanatic bring up the bleeding-touching woman example, know well that they don’t know anything else. Most certainly, they have no business dabbling in these discussions. In fact, they have no business in arguing about Taqlid either, let alone defend one fringe strand of it.
Any position that claims rigidity and intolerance in matters of difference of opinion must be called out. This post, like many others, is designed to let Muslims move on with their lives instead of getting bogged down on Islamic legal minutiae. Scholars and students must be at the frontline to stamp out any undue intolerance and fanaticism in our ranks.