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Taqlīd (Arabic.تقليد‘imitation, imitation’) is a terminus technicus of Islamic law, according to which every Muslim is obliged to direct his actions according to the school of law to which he belongs by birth or by accession.

The age of Taqlīd (from the fourth Islamic century) is subsequently given the name “age of congealment and imitation (ʿaṣr al-ǧumūd wa-t-taqlīd)”. In modern Arabic accounts of the history of fiqh, the term taqlīd is used as the acceptance of norm-setting without any examination or evidence. In this context, the independent interpretation (ijtihad) of the authoritative sources (Qur’an and Sunnah) based on intellectual effort is relegated to the background. Only the “imitation” of the fiqh of the founding generation is considered legitimate.[1]

The person who practices taqlīd is called a muqallid (see also mardschaʿ-e Taghlid). As taqlid is based on ignorance, not knowledge, the blindly following cannot be understood as a disciple, a phenomenon that is very fundamentally criticized in al-Ghazali’s writing The Savior from Error, among others.

“One of the early opponents of Taqlīd is the Hanbalite Ibn Taimīya. He, and much later in intellectual following the Wahhabis of the 18th century, demand the right to individual judgment in direct engagement with the primary sources of the Qur’an and Sunnah.”[2]

In its negative sense, the term Taqlīd was taken up by Muslim reformers of the 19th century (cf. Sayyid Ahmad Khan, among others). With the criticism of Taqlīd they connected the demand for “opening the gate” of Ijtihad towards an independent and absolute (mutlaq) Ijtihad and the reproach that the traditional schools of law were no longer up to the modern demands of jurisprudence.[3]


  • Len Clarke: “The Shīʿī Construction of taqlīd” in Journal of Islamic Studies 12 (2001) 40-64.
  • Hava Lazarus-Yafeh: “Some notes on the term taqlīd in the writings of Al-Ghazzālī” Israel Oriental Studies 1 (1971) 249-256.

Individual references

  1. Birgit Krawietz: Hierarchie der Rechtsquellen im tradierten Sunnitischen Islam (= Schriften zurRechtstheorie. H. 208). Duncker und Humblot, Berlin 2002, ISBN 978-3-428-10302-7, pp. 70 f. (At the same time: Tübingen, University, Habilitations-Schrift, 1999).
  2. Thomas Amberg: Towards New Principles of Islamic Ethics. Muhammad Shahrour and the Search for Religious Renewal in Syria (=Culture, Law and Politics in Muslim Societies. Vol. 15). Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-89913-714-9, p. 46 ( Access: Heidelberg, University, Dissertation, 2008).
  3. Rüdiger Lohlker: Islamisches Recht (= UTB. Vol. 3562). Facultas.wuv, Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-8252-3562-8, p. 188 f.