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Friday, 21 October 2011

Ruling on Following a Madhab.

Q; Brother today I was having talks with one person, who is strickly adhere to Hanfi Mud'ab. He said that Imam Bukhair and Imam Muslim had major difference in religious matter. They both were great scholars of Islam but still had different approach towards Quran and Sunnah. he further said that 4 Muba'bs is the solution of problem. Otherwise common person will be confused that either he/she
should follow Imam Bukahair or Imam Imam or other 5. Please brother through some light on it.
A; All-Praise is due to Allah,

In Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah this question was answered in a detailed manner, which is worth quoting here in full.

Question: What is the ruling on following one of the four madhhabs in all cases and situations?

The Committee replied: Praise be to Allaah, and blessings and peace be upon His Messenger and his family and companions.

Firstly: the four madhhabs are named after the four imams – Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Maalik, Imam al-Shaafa’i and Imam Ahmad.

Secondly: These imams learned fiqh (jurisprudence) from the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and they are mujtahideen in this regard. The mujtahid either gets it right, in which case he will have two rewards, the reward for his ijtihaad and the reward for getting it right, or he will get it wrong, in which case he will be rewarded for his ijtihaad and will be forgiven for his mistake.

Thirdly: the one who is able to derive rulings from the Qur’aan and Sunnah should take from them like those who came before him; it is not right for him to follow blindly (taqleed) when he is believes that the truth lies elsewhere. Rather he should follow that which he believes is the truth. It is permissible for him to follow in matters in which he is unable to come to a conclusion based on the Qur’aan and Sunnah and he needs guidelines concerning a particular issue.

Fourthly: Whoever does not have the ability to derive rulings himself is permitted to follow one whom he feels comfortable following. If he is not comfortable following him then he should ask until he finds someone with whom he is comfortable.

Fifthly: From the above it is clear that we should not follow their opinions in all situations and at all times, because they may make mistakes, but we may follow their views that are sound and are based on the evidence.

Fataawa al-Lajnah, 5/28

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah, no. 3323:

Whoever is qualified to derive rulings from the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and has strong knowledge in that regard, even if that is with the help of the legacy of fiqh that we have inherited from earlier scholars of Islam, has the right to do that, so he can act upon it himself and explain it in disputes and issue fatwas to those who consult him. Whoever is not qualified to do that has to ask trustworthy people who so that he may learn the rulings from their books and act upon that, without limiting his asking or his reading to one of the scholars of the four madhhabs. Rather people refer to the four imams because they are so well known and their books are well written and widely available.

Whoever says that it is obligatory for the learned people to follow the scholars blindly in all cases is making a mistake and being inflexible, and is thinking that these learned people are inadequate, and he is restricting something that is broad in scope.

Whoever says that we should limit following to the four madhhabs is also mistaken, because he is restricting something that is broad in scope with no evidence for doing so. With regard to the common (i.e., uneducated) man there is no difference between the four imams and others such as al-Layth ibn Sa’d, al-Awzaa’i and other fuqaha’.

Fataawa al-Lajnah, 5/41

It says in Fatwa no. 1591:

None of them called people to follow his madhhab, or was partisan in following it, or obliged anyone else to act in accordance with it or with a specific madhhab. Rather they used to call people to follow the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and they would comment on the texts of Islam, and explain its basic principles and discuss minor issues according to general guidelines, and issue fatwas concerning what people asked about, without obliging any of their students or anyone else to follow their views. Rather they criticized those who did that and said that their opinions should be cast aside if they went against a saheeh hadeeth. One of them said: “If the hadeeth is saheeh then that is my madhhab.” May Allaah have mercy on them all.

It is not obligatory for anyone to follow a particular madhhab, rather we should strive to learn the truth if possible, or to seek the help of Allaah in doing so, then to rely on the legacy that the earlier Muslim scholars left behind for those who came after them, thus making it easier for them to understand and apply the texts. Whoever cannot derive rulings from the texts etc for some reason that prevents him from doing so should ask trustworthy scholars for whatever rulings of sharee’ah he needs, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“So ask the people of the Reminder [Scriptures — the Tawraat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel)] if you do not know”

[al-Anbiya’ 21:7]

So he has to strive to ask one whom he trusts among those who are well known for their knowledge, virtue, piety and righteousness.

Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 5/56

The madhhab of Abu Haneefah (may Allaah have mercy on him) is the most widespread madhhab among the Muslims, and perhaps one of the reasons for that is that the Ottoman caliphs followed this madhhab and they ruled the Muslim lands for more than six centuries. That does not mean that the madhhab of Abu Haneefah is the most sound madhhab or that every ijtihaad in it is correct, rather like other madhhabs it contains some things that are correct and some that are incorrect. What the believer must do is to follow the truth and what is correct, regardless of who says it. End of quote.

(See Islam Q&A Fatwa: 21420)

Thus the following becomes clear:

1. It is obligatory for a Muslim to follow that which is in the Holy Qur'aan and that which is proven of the Prophet's Sunnah, and he does not have to follow a specific fiqhi madhhab.

2. There are many reasons for the differences between scholars, and these differences have been compiled in the book Raf’ al-Malaam ‘an al-A’immat al-A’laam, by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him), and Asbaab Ikhtilaaf al-‘Ulama’ wa Mawqifuna min dhaalika by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him).

3. The imams of Islam are not only four; rather they are many, but Allah has caused these four imams to become famous; may Allah have mercy on them.

4. The way of these four imams and other imams of the Muslims is based on following and revering the texts, and they enjoined us to do that and forbade us to imitate them blindly. The one who is pleased with them as imams should be pleased with their way. None of the imams of Islam called on people to adopt his view and give it precedence over the views of anyone else, and Allah has stated that they are above that. Indeed it is proven from all of them they warned against doing this and advised people to follow the Qur'aan and Sunnah.

5. These madhhabs are like schools of understanding of the Qur'aan and Sunnah. The imams strove to work out the rulings that they thought were closest to the Qur'aan and Sunnah and there is nothing wrong with the Muslim following one of these madhhabs, but that is on the condition that if it becomes clear to him that the Sunnah of the Prophet is something other than what he has learned from his madhhab, then what he is required to do is to ignore the view of the madhhab and follow the Sunnah. This is the advice of these imams, as Imam al-Shaafa’i (may Allah be pleased with him) and others said: If the hadeeth is saheeh, then that is my madhhab.

6. People are not equal in their study of the texts of Revelation and they are not equal in their ability to understand those texts. Hence many Muslims are content to follow these imams. As these four imams became famous and had students who propagated their views, therefore you find some people following the Hanafi or Maaliki or Shaafa’i or Hanbali madhhab. Usually the madhhab of the common folk is the madhhab of their Shaykh in their city or village. There is nothing wrong with what the common folk do, because they are enjoined to ask the people of knowledge. But they do not have the right to denounce others for adopting a different opinion or to issue fatwas or to adhere fanatically to the words of their Shaykh. Rather when the truth becomes clear to him he must act upon it and not do anything other than that. End of quote.

(See Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 2/178)

It says in Fataawa al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraheem (2/10, tape 2):

Following one of the four madhhabs is correct, rather it is like consensus, and there are no reservations about that, such as saying that one follows one of the four, because they are qualified imams according to consensus.

People have two extremes and a moderate way with regard to that:

Some people do not think that we should follow any madhhab at all. This is wrong.
Some follow their madhhab to the letter without paying any attention to study or research.
Some people think that following a madhhab is correct and there are no reservations about it, so wherever they find stronger evidence with one of the four or with someone else, they follow it. In cases where the issue is supported by a text or is clear, no attention should be paid to the madhhabs, but if there is an issue concerning which there is no text or it is not clear, but there are some views concerning it in these madhhabs, and you see stronger evidence with a scholar who differs from these four madhhabs, then you may follow that. End quote.

With regards to Hadith and the difference of opinions amongst the Scholars in Hadith, Sheikh Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajid (May Allah preserve him) said:
There is no difference among the scholars between scholarly differences of opinion as to whether a hadeeth is saheeh or da’eef, and their differences concerning matters of fiqh. That is because the classification of hadeeth as saheeh or da’eef is subject to ijtihaad and the scholars vary in their knowledge of narrators and isnaads of hadeeth. What one of them knows about the circumstances of a narrator may be unknown to others, and what another finds of corroborating reports may not be available to another. So their rulings on a particular hadeeth may differ for these reasons. Sometimes all of them found the biography of a narrator and the isnaads of a hadeeth, but they varied in the rulings as to whether it was saheeh or da’eef according to their own ijtihaad with regard to evaluating the narrator and according to their view as to whether the hadeeth is free of any problems.

And he the Sheikh further more said,
With regard to the Muslim’s attitude towards these differences which occur among scholars with regard to whether a hadeeth is saheeh of da’eef, it is the same attitude as that towards their differences of opinion in fiqh. If he is qualified to distinguish between their opinions, he may decide which of the two rulings concerning one hadeeth he thinks is correct; if he is not qualified to do so, then he should follow the opinion of a scholar (taqleed) and he should accept the verdict of the one who he thinks is more religiously committed and has greater knowledge concerning this matter. He should not be deceived by the fact that he is a faqeeh or scholar of usool or mufassir, rather the one whose verdict of saheeh or da’eef is followed should be prominent in the science of hadeeth, and there is no sin on him if he follows a prominent scholar. If the hadeeth is saheeh according to that scholar and he follows him in that, and it contains a fiqhi ruling, then he must act upon it, but there is no sin on him for not acting upon it if the hadeeth is da’eef. End of quote.

(See Islam Q&A Fatwa: 70455)


The person who is suitably qualified can examine what the scholars said and see what is supported by sound daleel. The “rank and file” Muslim who does not know how to examine the evidence and weigh it up should follow a scholar whose religious commitment and knowledge he trusts, and act according to his fatwas.

To read more about the History of the Scholars of Hadith (Al-Bukhaari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasaa’i, and Ibn Maajah)
Please click on the following links-

http://islamqa.com/en/ref/33610/Bukhaari%20and%20Muslim

Also-http://islamqa.com/en/ref/21523

And Allah knows best...

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