When I became Shi’a (I'm an ex-Christian) the friends who taught and guided me were all Akhbaris, and the ideology they taught me has stuck with me, and I've always thought it made sense. But I recently came across a hadith from a man named ’Umar Ibn Hanzalah where Imam Ja’far AS says that we must seek out those versed in the Imams AS's teachings, and that this is wajib, and whoever doesn't will die a pagan. But my Akhbari friends tell me this is refering to Muhaddiths not Mujtahids.
To me, the idea of following a marja’ seems like blind following for your average person. Because marja’ are not always right, many issue fatwas which contradict hadith (such as Khamane'i with his fatwa on statues, saying they're fine when hadiths CLEARLY say otherwise).
Like the entire idea of marja'iyyah is almost like the reason I left Christianity, people just blind following and not doing their own independent research. (I am NOT saying I'm considering leaving Shi’ism, wallahi never, but it has been making me doubt the Usuliyyah thought).
I have Usuli friends who completely ignore hadiths, like a hadith will say "The sky is blue" but they'll disagree with it because their marja says "The sky is red" (not an actual example but you see what I'm saying). It's like they choose their maraji over the direct teachings of the Imams AS.
I understand maraji are very learned, and I obviously respect them and love to listen to their sermons. But how can I, as your average Shi’i man, become learned if I'm just supposed to follow the opinions of someone else? Maraji don't give sources for any of their claims, and there are LOTS of hadiths that forbid giving rulings without proof. I can't perform ruju on them because they don't give me sources, and I'm very much a "give me your evidence" kind of guy. I get ridiculed because I ask people for hadiths and not a marja's fatwa.
I just feel very overwhelmed and I feel like I can't both follow a marja’ and listen to hadiths simultaneously.

I heard there are Akhbari maraji, but I've never been able to find one's website who speaks English, if you have any WhatsApp phone numbers or email addresses (English obviously) please provide them.

I just want my concerns resolved through Qur'an and the narrations of Ahl ul-Bayt AS.

I'm so sorry for writing such a long message, but I'm extremely worried and I don't want to be counted as an outcast, or worse, a pagan, for not following marja'iyyah. For being an "Akhbari".

I recommend you see these videos then let me know if you have any follow up questions:






In brief, we don’t follow a marja. We follow the Imams. We just refer to marjas because they are experts. Also, our mainstream marja’s don’t reject hadiths. If it appears to you that they are, it might be one of the following cases:

1- They don’t consider the hadith authentic based on their research
2- There is a conflicting hadith that makes them not issue a fatwa based on the first one
3- They believe it was issued in a specific context that may not be applicable today.