Dr Shaikh Sayyid Tayyb ur-Rehmaan
Trans. Abu Hibbaan & Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari
Imam Abu Haneefah (May Allaah have mercy on him) was a big scholar, he saw the companions and learnt the deen from them hence therefore we should do taqleed of him!
The virtue or rank of any Imam or scholar is not enough evidence to constitute that taqleed should be done of them. If we assume the virtue and rank of Abu Haneefah is an evidence for us to do taqleed of him then let us look at Imam Hasan al-Basri. He spent his whole life during the time of the companions and benefited from so many of them.
So if taqleed was necessary and obligatory due to virtue and rank alone then why not do taqleed of the companions? Whereas the reality is that the legal verdicts of the companions are rejected and yet the verdicts of the hanafi madhab are accepted.
Let us move upwards, the hanafis (and other Muqallideen) are in search of a virtuous individual and we (the Ahlul Hadeeth) are also in search. The hanafis get to to Abu Haneefah and then stop but we continue upwards and reach such an individual that there has never been anyone more virtuous or superior than him and nor will there ever be and that is Allaahs Messenger Muhammad (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam).
If virtue alone is the criteria for taqleed then why not obey and follow (ie Do Ittiba) the individual there is no one more virtuous or more superior than? Furthermore taqleed is not even remotely considered or associated with what is virtuous and it is possible on the day of judgement the people who taqleed is done of, will reprimand and shun their respective Muqallideen with the permission of Allaah. In addition to this (Allaah) has not requested taqleed from us but rather itta’a ie Ittiba which is following and obeying (Allaah and his Messenger).
Therefore, virtue alone is insufficient but rather what is needed is virtue with infallibility and this quality, rank and station only belongs to the Messenger of Allaah (Sallalahu Alayhee Wasallam).
[Taken from ‘Who Are The Real Ahlus Sunnah (pg.25-26) of Dr Shaikh Sayyid Tayyab ur-Rehmaan. (Shaikh Taalib ur-Rehmaan and Tauseef ur-Rehmaans brother)