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Tawfiq Ali is a 3L at Harvard Law School and a student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Among his most significant passions is the study and practice of trial advocacy.

His practice of Islam is also a central part of his heritage and identity, though he struggles, like so many present day Muslims, as he decides how best to understand his religion. He lacks significant knowledge of several aspects of his religion, and so lives in tremendous uncertainty whenever he faces major decisions in his life, not knowing what the best choice is spiritually, if there is such a "best" choice.

Yet at the same time, he is unwilling to follow blindly those who claim some level of authoritative knowledge of the religion. Many traditions in Islam hold that lay Muslims are best off when they, unquestionably, follow some knowledgeable scholar of Islamic Law. This is the tradition of taqlid, and a blind follower is called a muqallid. It is said that a lay Muslim who follows a scholar blindly is immune from sin, even when the advice of the scholar is wrong. In such cases, the negative spiritual consequences of wrongdoing lie solely upon the scholar who advised wrongly.

With great trepidation, I am asking myself and all lay Muslims to reject promised spiritual immunity under the umbrella of taqlid.

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