Taqlid or taqleed (Arabic تَقْليد taqlīd) is an Arabic term in Islamic legal terminology. It literally means "to follow". In Islamic legal terminology it means to follow a mujtahid (as an Islamic scholar who is competent in interpreting sharia) in religious laws and commandment as he has derived them, that is, following the decisions of a religious expert without necessarily examining the scriptural basis or reasoning of that decision, such as accepting and following the verdict of scholars of jurisprudence (fiqh) without demanding an explanation of the processes by which they arrive at it, hence adherence to one of the classical schools (madhhab) of jurisprudence.
Taqlid may be contrasted with independent interpretation of legal sources by intellectual effort (ijtihad).
Taqlīd is an Arabic verbal noun based on the verb qallada, literally "to place, to gird or to adorn with a necklace"(qilādah). The term is believed to have originated from the idea of allowing oneself to be led "by the collar". One who performs taqlid is called a muqallid, whereas one who rejects taqlid is called a ghair-muqallid. Sheikh Shaamee Hanafi said it is "to take the statement of someone without knowing the evidence."
There are several verses (ayat) in the Quran that condemn "those who follow others blindly in matters of belief" (taqlid in matters of belief), namely 5:104-105, 17:36, 21:52-54 43:22-24. This is interpreted as referring only to fundamentals (usul ad-din) and not to subsidiary elements (furu `ad-din) such as details of law and ritual practices that can only be learned through extensive study.
Traditionally, taqlid is lawful and obligatory when one is not qualified as a mujtahid. According to Rudolph Peters, this is by consensus and known in the religion by necessity (ma'lum min al din daruratan) in the eyes of traditional Muslim scholars.
Traditional Sunni scholars rely on two verses of the Qur'an, which order one to ask the people of knowledge or remembrance if they do not know and to obey Allah, the messenger and those in authority among them. They also rely on several hadiths including one where the Prophet Muhammad tells his companions "If one does not know what to do, the only remedy is to inquire." Prophet Muhammad did this after a companion who had fractured his skull asked other companions with him whether he could perform dry purification. They said no. So this injured companion washed his his head with water and died. The Prophet admonished his companions by saying, "They killed him. May Allah kill them. If one does not know what to do, the only remedy is to inquire."
In Shia Islam Taqlid "denotes the following of the dictates of a mujtahid". Following the Greater Occultation (al-ghaybatu 'l-kubra) in 941 CE (329 AH), the Shia are obliged to observe taqlid in their religious affairs by following the teachings of a thinker (mujtahid) or jurist (faqih). As of the 19th century the Shia ulama taught believers to turn to "a source of taqlid" (marja' at-taqlid) "for advice and guidance and as a model to be imitated." Thus Shia who are not experts in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) are "legally required to follow the instructions of the expert, i.e., the mujtahid" in matters of sharia, but are forbidden to do so in "matters of belief" (usulu 'd-din).