Imitation is not accurate in appreciating the primary principles
The primary principles of the religion are a series of beliefs (unity, justice, the prophetic mission, the leadership of Imāms, and the Resurrection) which constitute the foundations of the faith. Since there have been various beliefs that have prevailed in the human communities, or in other words, each group has propagated its own peculiar set of beliefs, therefore it is incumbent upon everyone to identify the primary principles of their faith through reasoning, so they could withstand the toxic propaganda of their prejudiced opponents and not be diverted everyday.
Of course when it is said that everyone should learn the primary principles of his faith through reasoning it does not mean that each person should engage in a prolonged study of religion and should extensively study philosophical and argumentative books but he should do so to the extent that he could know the foundations of his faith with solid but simple reasons. It is helpful to recall the story of an old woman busy spinning, who was asked,
“What reasons do you have to establish the existence of God?”
She stopped working immediately and as the wheel came to a standstill, said,
“While such a little wheel needs a person to spin it, how could one say that the immense world with all the awe-inspiring heavenly bodies that revolve, have spun on their own or without an operator?”
Imitation in the secondary principles of the religion
Having learned the foundations of his faith through reflection and sound reasoning, one can imitate a qualified jurisprudent who is an expert in deducing divine edicts from its sources in the secondary principles such as questions about prayers, fasting, Ḥajj pilgrimage, and transactions and so on and so forth. Here imitation signifies consulting the experts. Just as in our lives, when we don’t know anything well, we seek experts in those areas, for instance, when we fall ill, we see a doctor or when we want to build a house, we seek an architect, similarly, in the secondary principles and beliefs and divine commands, if the person is not an expert, that is, a jurisprudent, he should consult a qualified jurisprudent and follow his opinions and insights.