Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem.
The issue of following a madhab, or being a ghayr muqallid, is a very modern issue, it never existed amongst the ‘ulamaa of before.
It has been proven that since the creation of the madhaahib, everyone followed a madhab, the only people who did not follow madhaahib were mujtahideen, and they are entitled to follow their ijtihaad, but in this day and age there does not exist anyone who is qualified to do absolute ijtihaad, nor is there any need for it anymore, because the ‘ulamaa of before have perfected the issues of wudhoo, salaah, fasting, hajj etc, we do not need people to try and re-interpret it today, because they will not fail to make a mess up of things.
Where there is place however, is in comparative issues which did not exist before, other than that there is no need for anyone to be doing ijtihaad.
However coming back to the issue of taqleed, the following kitaab of Mufti Muhammad Sajaad is a very good one which explains the issue nicely, it’s only 40 pages, and it’s something i would recommend people to read.
By Mufti Muhammad Sajaad