1. Abū Bakr ál-Jaṣṣāṣ ál-Rāzī (died 370 A.H.) said (Ál-Fuṣūl Fī ál-Uṣūl, 4/282-3, Ministry of Awqāf and Islāmic Affairs, Kuwait, 2nd edition, 1414 A.H.):
Because it is established that a layman must ask scholars, then either he has a choice of asking any, or he should do Ijtihād and ask the most knowledgeable and fearing according to [the concerned layman]… some said that he must ask the knowledgeable and fearful according to [the concerned layman]… and this is the correct opinion according to us… then it is impermissible for him… to do Taqlīd without Ijtihād, because [surely] he possesses this type of Ijtihād.

2. Abū ʿĀṣim Muḥammad bin Aḥmad ál-ʿĀmirī (died around 400 A.H.) (taken from Ḥāshiyaŧ ‘l-ahṭāwī ʿAlā ál-Durr ál-Mukhtār by ál-ahṭāwī (died 1231 A.H.), King Saʿūd University Riyadh manuscript number 6242, pg. 50-51)
used to pass verdicts by the door of [ál-Qāsim bin Muḥammad] ál-Qaffāl’s [a Shāfiʿī – died around 400 A.H.] mosque. The [Shāfiʿī] muezzin [once] called for prayer and he left [his place] and entered the mosque. When ál-Qaffāl saw him, he ordered the muezzin to double the prayer announcement (i.e. Iqāmaħ as per the Ḥanafī position) and put forward the judge [i.e. Abū ʿĀṣim ál-Āmirī to lead prayer]. He stepped forward [to lead], read Basmallaħ aloud and performed prayer in the Shāfiʿī manner.

3. Abū ‘l-Ḥusayn ál-Qudūrī (died 428 A.H.) is referred to by ál-Zarkashī (6/312, ál-Baḥr ál-Muḥīṭ, Ministry of Awqāf & Islāmic Affairs Kuwait; 2nd edition reprint Dār ‘l-Ṣafwaħ Hurghadah, 1413 A.H.):
When we have established that the layman can perform Ijtihād in choosing Muftis, can he now perform Ijtihād in verdicts themselves in which he is to perform Taqlīd, i.e. if he thinks that a particular verdict of a particular jurist is more stronger, does he have to follow that verdict? Abū ‘l-Ṭayyib ál-Ṭabarī and ál-Qudūrī differed over this: ál-Qudūrī obligated this…

4. Abū Zayd ál-Dabūsī (died 430 A.H.), explaining that even laymen are not completely free from doing Ijtihād, said (Taqwīm ‘l-Adillaħ, pg. 392 and 410, Dār ‘l-Kutub ál-Jahliyyaħ Beirut, 1st edition, 1421 A.H.):
Taqlīd is of four types: 1) Believing in the Prophet, 2) Believing in a scholar who is qualified to pass verdicts, 3) For the laymen to believe in the scholars of their era, 4) Sons believing their forefathers and minors believing the majors of this world. The first three are correct as they require at least some sort of effort (Istidlāl)…
As for the those who say that “The truth is only one [in the eyes of Allah in every issue]”, he obliged the layman to follow the one Imām who is the most knowledgeable according to [this layman’s] own deduction, and does not differ against [his Imām] in anything based his own predilection.

5. Abū ʿAbd ‘llāh ál-Ḥusayn bin ʿAlī ál-Ṣaymarī (died 436 A.H.), is referred to by ál-Zarkashī (6/311-2, ál-Bahr ál-Muhīṭ, Ministry of Awqāf & Islāmic Affairs Kuwait; 2nd edition reprint Dār ‘l-Ṣafwaħ Hurghadah, 1413 A.H.):
Abū Isḥāq ál-Shīrāzī said: A man came to the Ḥanafī jurist ál-Ṣaymarī with the Shāfiʿī verdict that if a marriage representative is a sinner and her husband divorced her thrice that the divorce would not pass, and may marry her with a new contract [as the previous contracted never existed]. Ál-Ṣaymarī said, “They have told you that, all this time, you were with an illegal pudenda, and that she can become legal for you today [with a new contract]! I am telling you that she was legal for you all this time until you divorced her, and now she is illegal for you!” By this, ál-Ṣaymarī intended to sway the layman to the Ḥanafī School. (Abū Isḥāq says) I came to Abū ‘l-Ṭayyib ál-Ṭabarī and told him he story. He replied, “… but Allāh has not ordained the layman to follow ál-Ṣaymarī; rather he has ordained him to follow any scholar he wishes, so when the layman follows a trustworthy Shāfiʿī, he would have liberated himself of sin and liability until the Day of Judgement.”

6. Muḥammad bin Aḥmad ál-Samarqandī (died 539 A.H.) said (Mīzān ‘l-Uṣūl Fī Natā’ij ‘l-ʿUqūl, pg. 1017, Umm ‘l-Qurā University Makkah, PhD thesis, 1404 A.H.):
As for Taqlīd in legal issues, it is impermissible except for laymen and those students of knowledge who are like laymen until as long as they do not reach the level of Ijtihād. This is due to necessity. However, they must follow whoever is the most knowledgeable and the most fearful in their estimation. [This can be ascertained] via hearing out for fame [in the scholar].

7. Abū ‘l-Thanā’ Maḥmūd bin Zayd ál-Lāmishī (was alive 539 A.H.) said (pg. 201, unnamed Usūl book, Dār ‘l-Gharb ál-Islāmī Beirut, 1st edition, 1415 A.H.):
When he reaches this limit that we have mentioned, it would be legal for him to pass legal verdicts to whoever questions him via his personal opinion and Ijtihād. But if he has not reached this level and was asked in an issue, then he may answer if he knows the statement of the predecessors, otherwise not.

8. Muḥammad bin ʿAbd ‘l-Ḥamīd ál-Usmandī (died 552 A.H.), said (Badhl ‘l-Naẓr Fī ál-Uṣūl, pg. 693-694, Maktabaŧ Dār ‘l-Turāth Cairo, 1st edition, 1412 A.H.):
If another legalist has a difference of opinion with [the layman’s] Mufti, the [layman’s] legalist can give the layman a choice whether he wants to take his opinion or the other Mufti’s opinion, because both opinions are from Ijtihād.

9. Muẓaffar ‘l-Dīn Ibn ‘l-Sāʿātī Aḥmad bin ʿAlī bin Taghlib ál-Baʿlabakkī (died 694 A.H.) said (Badīʿ ‘l-Niẓām ál-Jāmiʿ Bayn Kitābay ‘l-Bazdawī Wa-‘l-Iḥkām, pg. 684-685, Umm ‘l-Qurā University Makkah, PhD thesis, 1405 A.H.):
If there are multiple Mujtahids, a Muqallid can follow whoever he likes even if [the Mujtahids] differ in status. It is narrated from Aḥmad and Ibn Surayj that it is necessary [for the Muqallid] to look out for the most preferred [Mujtahid]. Our evidence is that, in the time of the Companions, the lower-ranked [Mujtahids] were – openly and repeatedly – asked for and passed legal verdicts, yet nobody condemned [this practice]…

10. Akmal ‘l-Dīn ál-Bābartī (died 786 A.H.) said (Ál-Rudūd Wa-‘l-Nuqūd ʿAlā Mukhtaṣar Ibn ‘l-Ḥājib, 2/732, Maktabaŧ ‘l-Rushd, Riyadh, 1426 A.H. edition):
The preferable opinion is that it is permissible [to take another Mujtahid’s opinion]… because laymen have always done Taqlīd of one Mujtahid in one issue and another in another issue, and this was never condemned, so therefore this is a consensus on its permissibility.

11. ʿAlā’ ‘l-Dīn Abū Bakr bin Masʿūd ál-Kāsānī (died 787 A.H.) said (Badā’iʿ ‘l-Ṣanā’iʿ, 7/6, Dār ‘l-Kitāb ál-ʿArabī Beirut, 2nd edition, 1394 A.H.):
Also, if a person is not a jurist, and he asked a jurist about something and he gave him his opinion of lawfulness or illegality, and he did not implement that opinion, then another jurist gave him a different opinion and he took it and implemented it in his wife [vis-a-vis divorce (etc.)], then this non-jurist cannot abandon the opinion he implemented in favour of the first jurist’s opinion, because adhering to what one implements is obligatory.

12. ʿAlī Ibn Abī ‘l-ʿIzz (died 792 A.H.), author of Sharḥ Mushkilāt ‘l-Hidāyaħ, said (Ál-Ittibāʿ, pg. 80, ál-Maktabaħ ál-Salafiyyaħ, Lahore, 1st edition, 1401 A.H.):
The most that can be said is that it is permissible or appropriate or obligatory for the layman to do Taqlīd of one of the Imāms without specification of any Zayd or ʿAmr.
13. Abū Sayf Yaḥyā bin Yūsuf ál-Sīrāmī (died 833 A.H.) said (taken from Ḥāshiyaŧ ‘l-ahṭāwī ʿAlā ál-Durr ál-Mukhtār by ál-ahṭāwī (died 1231 A.H.), King Saʿūd University Riyadh manuscript number 6242, pg. 50):
The main Muftis of Egypt agreed with me on [the issue that a person affiliating himself to one school can follow a jurist from another school in any particular issue, due to the jurist being possibly correct in the eyes of Allāh].

14. Qarq Amīr ál-Ḥamīdī (died 860 A.H.), author of Jāmiʿ ‘l-Fatāwā (manuscript), said (taken from ál-Inṣāf by Shāh Waliyyullāh (died 1180 A.H.)):
If a [layman practising on] Ḥanafī [law] said, ‘If I marry soand so, she is divorced three times’, then he asked a Shāfiʿī [scholar about his], and hetold him that she would not be divorced should he marry her, [stating] that hisstatement was redundant, there would be no problem [for the layman] in following ál-Shāfiʿī in this issue, because there are many Companions of this opinion.

15. Ibn ‘l-Humām (died 861 A.H.), commentator on ál-Marghīnānī’s ál-Hidāyaħ, said (Fatḥ ‘l-Qadīr, 7/238-239, Dār ‘l-Kutub ál-Jahliyyaħ Beirut, 1st edition, 1424 A.H.):
If this ‘adhering to’ is meant, then [realise that] there is no legal evidence that obligates following one particular Mujtahid by virtue of obligating it upon one’s own self either via explicating it or by intending it; rather such an obligation is only via evidence and the necessity of implementing the ruling of the Mujtahid in what arises for him as is pointed out in the verse of ‘Ask the People of Knowledge if you do not know’, and [the obligation of] ‘asking’ only arises when the particular situation [requiring the ruling] arises. In this case, if the Mujtahid’s verdict is established to him, he must implement it. Usually, such self-obligations [of adhering to a school or a Mujtahid] are done due to prevent people from following up specifically on dispensations; otherwise the layman would take the easiest opinion in every issue. However, I don’t know what logic or legal text actually prohibits this, and I don’t know of any condemnation from the law against a person who follows up on dispensations via the verdicts of qualified Mujtahids who can be followed. Also, the Prophet loved to make it affairs easy for his believing community.

16. Ibn Amīr ‘l-Hājj (died 879 A.H.) – explaining “The layman not possessing a school” – said (Ál-Taqrīr Wa-‘l-Taḥbīr, 3/350, ál-Maṭbaʿaħ ál-Amīriyyaħ Cairo, 1st edition, 1316 A.H.):
… because a school is only for that person who has a degree of analysis, ability to evidence and have an insight of the schools as he is capable, or one who read a text on the legal issues of that school and becomes acquainted with the verdicts of his Imām and his statements… As the layman is ignorant of the modus operandi of the Imām of the school he is ascribing himself to, and as long as he is ignorant of his methodology, how can this layman ascribe himself to the Imām’s school? To the contrary, his ascription to a school would be a mere claim, and it would be a statement that is void of any real meaning… There is consensus that a Muslim can do Taqlīd of whichever scholar he wishes without restriction. Whoever says anything to the contrary, the burden of proof is on them… It is not correct for a layman to ascribe himself to a school. Such a person would not be a Ḥanafī, Mālikī, Shāfi’ī or Ḥanbalī, even if he claims to be a Ḥanafī, Mālikī, Shāfi’ī or Ḥanbalī… If a layman took it upon himself to follow one school, like that of Abū Hanīfaħ, Malik, ál-Shāfi’ī or Ahmed, it would not be obligatory upon him to adhere to that school, because Allāh made no such obligations upon him, nor did Allāh or His Prophet ever ordered anyone to adopt a school.

17. Yūsuf bin Ḥusayn ál-Kirmāstī (died 906 A.H.) said (Ál-Wajīz Fī Uṣūl ‘l-Fiqh, pg. 318, Dār ‘l-Hudā Cairo, 1st edition, 1404 A.H.)
[What is preferred is] the permissibility for a Muqallid to follow a lesser Mujtahid when there is a multitude of Mujtahids of differing levels [in their skill and knowledge]. It is however reported from Aḥmad and Ibn Surayj that [asking] the best [Mujtahid] is binding on that layman. And when a layman implements the opinion of a Mujtahid in an issue, he cannot back away from it in favour of a [different opinion in the same issue] by agreement [of the scholars]. As for the opinion of [another Mujtahid] in another issue [that is separate from the issue in which he has already implemented one the opinion of one Mujtahid], the preferred opinion is that it is permissible to follow that other scholar.

18. Ibn Nujaym (died 970 A.H.), the commentator on Kanz ‘l-Daqā’iq, said (Ál-Baḥr ál-Rā’iq, 6/292, ál-Maṭbaʿaħ ál-ʿIlmiyyaħ Cairo, 1st edition, 1311 A.H.)
Chapter: “It is permissible to follow any Mujtahid one wishes”, even when the schools of law are compiled (as is the case today), and he can also change from his [previously-adopted] legal position, but not out of constantly following up on dispensations…

19. Amīr Bādshāh (died 972 A.H.?) reproduced the Ibn Amīr ‘l-Hājj’s words in the other commentary of ál-Taḥrīr (4/253, Taysīr ‘l-Taḥrīr, Maktabaŧ ‘l-Maʿārif, Riyadh, 1403 A.H.).

20. Muḥammad bin ʿAbd ‘llāh ál-Tumurtāshī (died 1004 A.H.), author of Tanwīr ‘l-Abṣār, said (Muʿīn ‘l-Muftī ʿAlā Jawāb ‘l-Mustaftī, Imām Muḥammad bin Saʿūd University Riyadh manuscript number 2052):
It is permissible [for a Muqallid] to follow a lesser Mujtahid in the presence of a better Mujtahid. Aḥmad and many jurist do not allow this. The first opinion is based on the fact that lesser Companions used to be asked for legal rulings [in the presence of greater Companions, and this was done] without any condemnation levelled at the questioner… and that a layman cannot execute preference.

21. Abū ʿAbd ‘llāh Muḥammad bin ʿAbd ‘l-Malik ál-Baghdādī (died 1016 A.H.) said (taken from Khulāṣaŧ ‘l-Taḥqīq Fī Bayān Ḥukm ‘l-Taqlīd Wa-‘l-Talfīq by ʿAbd ‘l-Ghanī bin Ismāʿīl ál-Nābalusī (died 1143 A.H.), pg. 5, Maktabaŧ ‘l-Ḥaqīqaħ Istanbul, 1420 A.H.):
Realise that the position of the majority, which was chosen by Ibn ‘l-Humām, is that the adherence [to a school of law] in itself is not the primary obligation; rather it is permissible for anyone to ask in any matter whichever scholar he chooses and implement his verdict thereafter, as was the case in the better eras [i.e. that] of the Companions and those who came after them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

22. Mullā ‘Alī ál-Qārī (died 1040 A.H.) said (taken from Tuḥfaŧ ‘l-Anām by Muḥammad Ḥayāħ ál-Sindī (died 1163 A.H.), pg. 33-34, Dār Ibn Ḥazm Beirut, 1st edition, 1414 A.H.):
It is not obligatory upon anyone from the believing community to be a Ḥanafī, or a Shāfiʿī, or a Mālikī; rather, what is obligatory upon each person, if he is not a scholar, to follow one on these great scholars, as Allāh said, “Ask the People of Remembrance if you do not know”…

23. Muḥammad bin ʿAbd ‘l-ʿAẓīm ál-Makkī (died 1061 A.H.) said (Ál-Qawl ál-Sadīd Fī Baʿḍ Masā’il ‘l-Ijtihād Wa-‘l-Taqlīd, Azhar University Cairo manuscript number 301789, pg. 4)
Know that Abū Hanīfaħ, Mālik, ál-Shāfiʿī and Ahmad bin Ḥanbal are all the People of Knowledge who must be asked and followed by whom who is not a Mujtahid. If any Muqallid implements in his purity or prayer or anything else the opinion of any one of these, either out of Taqlīd, or without even knowing he had implemented it when he was doing what he did… then he would have discharged his obligation. No Muqallid or even Mujtahid can condemn him for doing so, as has been well documented in more than one book as is the case according to us [Ḥanafīs]…

24. Ḥasan bin ʿAmmār ál-Shurunbulālī (died 1069 A.H.), author of Nūr ‘l-•ḍāḥ, said (Ál-ʿIqd ál-Farīd Li-Bayān ‘l-Rājiḥ Min ‘l-Khilāf Fī Jawāz ‘l-Taqlīd, Azhar University Cairo manuscript number 324506, pg. 11):
… because [a layman’s] adherence [to one Mujtahid] is not something that is legally obligated…

25. Muḥammad bin ʿAlī ál-Ḥaṣkafī (died 1088) said (Ál-Durr ál-Mukhtār Sharḥ Tanwīr ‘l-Abṣār, pg. 16, Dār ‘l-Kutub ál-Jahliyyaħ Beirut, 1st edition, 1423 A.H.):
To back away from what one has already implemented via following [a scholar] is, by agreement, legally void, and this is the preferred position of the School.

26. Aḥmad bin Muḥammad ál-Ḥamawī (died 1098), the commentator on Ibn Nujaym’s ál-Ashbāh Wa-‘l-Naẓā’ir, said (Ál-Durr ál-Farīd Fī Bayān Ḥukm ‘l-Taqlīd, Azhar University Cairo manuscript number 327244, pg. 9):
It is gained from what we have said that a person does not have to adhere to one particular school…

27-28. The author of the base text Musallam ‘l-Thubūt (died 1119 A.H.) was Muḥibb ‘llah bin ʿAbd ‘l-Shakūr ál-Bihārī. The commentator on the book, Muḥammad bin Niẓām ‘l-Dīn ál-Sahālawī (died 1225 A.H.) in Fawātiḥ ‘l-Raḥamūt, said (printed beneath ál-Ghazālī’s ál-Mustaṣfā, 2/406, ál-Maṭbaʿaħ ál-Amīriyyaħ Cairo, 1st edition, 1324 A.H.):
It is not necessary to stay on the school, and it is correct to move away to another, and this is the truth that should be believed in, but changing should not be done out of desires, as following desires is prohibited in both adopting a school and in other issues of law. (He refers to some later extremist Ḥanafīs in the other opinion (who said that it is not allowed) as simulators (Mutakallifīn) who adopted hard handedness (Tashaddud).)

29. ʿAbd ‘l-Ghanī bin Ismāʿīl ál-Nābalusī (died 1143 A.H.) said (Nihāyaŧ ‘l-Murād Fī Sharḥ Hadiyyaŧ Ibn ‘l-ʿImād, King Saʿūd University Riyadh manuscript number 6918, pg. 122):
As for placing necessity as a prerequisite for a Ḥanafī to follow another Imām, you have already learned previously that this [prerequisite is placed] for preserve [oneself] from following dispensations across the legal schools. Otherwise, necessity in itself following [any one of] the Four Imāms once the prerequisites of their respective schools’ legal rulings are fulfilled [when implementing those rulings]. This is because a legally-bound person has a choice of following any one of them in any situation that may arise – as stated before – without the need for [this legally-bound person] to prefer one [Imām’s] deduction over another [Imām’s] deduction.

30. Muḥammad Ḥayāħ ál-Sindī (died 1163 A.H.), footnoting on Ibn Nujaym’s statement, said (Tuḥfaŧ ‘l-Anām, pg. 56, Dār Ibn Ḥazm Beirut, 1st edition, 1414 A.H.):
What he has mentioned is what the Qurān, the prophetic tradition and the statements of the best scholars of old and new have indicated towards. The opinion of anyone opposing this would not be taken into consideration…

31. Abū ‘l-Najāḥ Aḥmad bin ʿAlī ál-Manīnī (died 1172 A.H.) quoting from Ibn ‘l-Humām’s ál-Taḥrīr, said (Ál-ʿAraf ál-Nāsim ʿAlā Risālaŧ ‘l-ʿAllāmaħ Ibn Qāsim, Islamic University Madinah manuscript number 29/251 (also edited in a Masters thesis from the said university), pg. 86):
If one is a layman, he would follow the verdict of the Muftī in [that issue] who [should be] the most pious and knowledgeable [according to this layman] via publicity.

32. Abū Saʿīd Muḥammad bin Muṣṭafā ál-Khādimī (died 1176 A.H.) said (Majāmiʿ ‘l-Ḥaqā’iq, Azhar University Cairo manuscript number 304849, pg. 48):
When a layman implements the opinion of a Mujtahid in any given scenario, he may not defect to [another Mujtahid’s verdict, and this is] agreed upon. As for [taking another Mujtahid’s opinion] in another legal scenario, the preferred position is that of permissibility.

33. Shāh Waliyyullāh (died 1180 A.H.) said (Ál-Inṣāf):
… if he is in the Ḥaramayn [or any place where there are scholars of multiple schools, then he may ask any scholar]…

34. Ibrāhīm bin Muṣṭafā bin Ibrāhīm ál-Ḥalabī (died 1190 A.H.) said (Ḥāshiyaŧ ‘l-Ḥalabī ʿAlā ál-Durr ál-Mukhtār, King Saʿūd University Riyadh manuscript number 3495, pg. 6):
The example [of the impermissibility of backing away from what one has already implemented as a Muqallid] is a Ḥanafī following Mālik in marriage via announcement [but] without witnesses, then [the Ḥanafī] wished to back away from following [Mālik after marriage by not giving the marriage gift (Mahr) to his wife as per the Ḥanafī position], he cannot do so [as this would lead to the severe type of Talfīq in which both schools agree the marriage is invalid].

35. Aḥmad bin Muḥammad bin Ismāʿīl ál-ahṭāwī (died 1231 A.H.) said (Ḥāshiyaŧ ‘l-ahṭāwī ʿAlā ál-Durr ál-Mukhtār, King Saʿūd University Riyadh manuscript number 6242, pg. 50):
What is impermissible is to back away from [the ruling he has already implemented] in a past scenario [that occurred to him], not a scenario of the same genre that would occur in the future.

36. Muḥammad bin Muṣṭafā (was alive 1246 A.H.) agreed with ál-Khādimī (Manāfiʿ ‘l-Daqā’iq Sharḥ Majāmiʿ ‘l-Ḥaqā’iq, pg. 304, Dār ‘l-Maṭbūʿāt ál-Islāmiyyaħ)

37-38. ʿAbd ‘l-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddaħ (died 1417 A.H.) quoting Ibn ʿĀbidīn (died 1252 A.H.), who quoted Ibn Amīr ‘l-Ḥājj (footnotes of ál-Iḥkām by ál-Qarāfī (died 684 A.H.), pg. 231, Maktab ‘l-Maṭbūʿāt ál-Islāmiyyaħ Aleppo, 2nd edition, 1416 A.H.), said:
If [a layman] adopts a particular school of law, like that of Abū Hanīfaħ or ál-Shāfiʿī, then it has been said: “It will be upon him to adhere to it”. It has [also] been said: “[It will] not [be upon him to adhere to it]”, and this is more correct.

39. Khwājah Zādah Muḥammad Rāsim ál-Malāṭī (died 1316 A.H.) said (Minjāŧ ‘l-Wuṣūl Sharḥ Mirqāŧ ‘l-Uṣūl, Istanbul University manuscript number 2172, pg. 294):
In the case of multiple Mujtahids, it is permissible to follow the lesser in favour of the greater, even when the greater in passing verdicts is present. It has been said that the the greater in passing verdicts would become binding [and should be followed], and it is not [even] permissible for the lesser to pass verdicts in [the greater’s] presence.

40. Muḥammad Zāhid ál-Kawtharī (died 1371 A.H.) said (Iḥqāq ‘l-Ḥaqq, part of a series on ál-Kawtharī’s legal and jurisprudential works, pg. 152, Dār ‘l-Kutub ál-Jahliyyaħ Beirut, 1st edition, 1425 A.H.):
In the commentary of Tanqīḥ ‘l-Fuṣūl, ál-Shihāb Aḥmad bin Idrīs ál-Qarāfī said, “Consensus has been established on that whosoever accepts Islām, he may follows any scholar he wishes without restriction. The Companions (may Allah’s be pleased with them) had a consensus that whoever asked Abū Bakr or ʿUmar, or followed them [for that matter], he had the choice of asking Abū Hurayraħ and Muʿādh bin Jabal (and others [as well]), and could implement the opinion of the [latter] two without condemnation. Whosoever claims that these two consensuses no longer apply, the burden of proof is on him”… The ramification of this double-consensus is that people are have a choice of following any one of the followed Imāms via the modes of preference that may appear to them, without obliging all the Muslims to follow one particular Imām amongst them…

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