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Ok So Do You Really Have to Follow a Madhhab?


This is a decisive issue in some communities, and the subject of many heated debates online. After taking the Code Evolved class from AlMaghrib and doing some other research, I wanted to share some of my personal thoughts and experiences on this issue. I’m not going to get into the Halal/Haram/Makrooh/Mustahab/Wajib/Bid’ah of the issue, but rather take a look at how this issue affects our communities in the West. I hope insha’Allah that this will give us something to think about, and a way to affect positive change in our communities no matter what someone’s stance is on the issue. This is a long read, but I hope you can read through it, as I think this is quite different from the usual discussions on this issue. So without further ado…

My Personal Journey: The Beginning

This should give the background from which I am approaching this issue, and I will try to offer my conclusions at the end.

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When I first began to really make an attempt at studying the deen, I knew from childhood that I was Hanafi. However, this never made sense to me. In fact I distinctly remember as a child in Sunday School being taught how to pray, and how some people follow 4 different schools of thought so they pray differently. As a 10 year old this completely shook my world. I thought Islam was ‘one’ way, and the ‘one’ truth, so how could there be 4 schools of thought all of a sudden? I only knew of Sunni and Shia, but one was right and one was wrong. Now all of a sudden there are 4 that differ but are all correct?

So when I began studying, I would read all kinds of stuff online, but I would filter what was correct by trying to find what was Hanafi. However, I quickly found myself incredulous at some of the fatwas being given by this particular Hanafi scholar/website. It was around this time that my dear brother Abu Bakr recommended a book to me on how to perform Salah by Shaykh al-Albaanee. I took a quick glance at it, and noticed some huge differences in how I was taught to pray so I discarded it for the time being, attributing it to his being “Shafi’ee” (as my parents had branded him).

Finally I got around to reading it and expanding my horizons, and happened upon the ‘Salafi’ approach to Fiqh. Now all of a sudden I was being told to evaluate the evidences and follow what was correct. Finally, objectivity! This is certainly what I had been looking for. This was sufficient to fling me into the first span of knowledge that Sufyaan ibn Uyaynah described as a person being arrogant because now they think they know everything.

I also came to the opinion that Madhhabs now were unneeded in our times. Because we had muhadditheen who had gone through all the works and graded all the ahadeeth for us, there was no longer a need for differences since most of them were attributable to people using weak evidences. Now that we knew which were the authentic evidences, everyone should be following the same path. This was further reinforced by reading other works showing the confusion of madhhabs, especially for new Muslims. Plus, how could someone claim its necessary to follow a madhhab when none of the Sahabah did? It must obviously be a bid’ah. It was also at this time that one of my friends told me quite frankly to give up my “pursuit of becoming a salafi mujtahid.” I was apalled that someone could say such a thing about people following the evidences!

My Personal Journey: Doubts in What I was Certain About

Slowly over time, I began reading other works and viewpoints. I would read things from the extreme Sufi crowd who claimed Taqleed was absolutely necessary. This turned me off big time. So I began trying to look for the real stance on Taqleed, and what I came to learn was called ‘Ittiba (which is what I thought I was doing).

I was struggling with a few things at this time though. I started noticing that the scholars I was following who I thought held all the correct opinions due to their relying only on authentic hadeeth had some really strange opinions on some issues, departing from the majority of scholars. I also noticed these scholars themselves differing over some issues, which I thought should not happen. I began to see some of the benefits of following a madhhab as it kept the average Muslim from picking and choosing fatwas based on their desires and opinions.

Finally I read something by Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen that again rocked my world. In all my confusion I found something full of light and wisdom on this issue. I cannot find the article now, but it said essentially that there was nothing wrong with studying a madhhab and gave some general guidelines of when taqleed is made. I felt like I finally found the middle path, but other than this short article, I could not find anything else really espousing this. So the issue went on the backburner, and I became apathetic to the entire debate.

My Personal Journey: Turning Point

There was a discussion about an issue on the AlMaghrib forums, and being fairly certain of the answer, I posted it. Shaykh Muhammad alShareef replied and said not to answer fatwa questions, and that even though the answer may have been correct, the methodology at arrving at it was wrong, and therefore in the long term the answer was wrong.

He was polite, but I felt like it was a smack down. I was a bit hard headed and simply did not get it. If my answer was right, then wasn’t that all that mattered? I said to myself, he knows what he is talking about so leave it alone and maybe soon I will understand it insha’Allah.

I kept this in the back of my mind until I heard 2 lectures that radically changed my outlook on this entire issue. They finally gave me what I had been looking for. They were balanced. They kept with what was in general agreement of the mainstream Muslims, and not to either extreme. They made sense, and had evidences to back up what they said.

In a lecture by Shaykh Ali al-Timimi, he was discussing this issue. He gave an analogy that struck a chord with me. He said for the student of fiqh it is best that he studies a particular madhhab. It is like a doctor for example, who has many paths to choose from. The ultimate goal is to heal the patient, but some may take different approaches such as the traditional approach, or maybe an osteopathic approach. The doctor will go through school, study his approach, and become an expert at it. This develops his foundation in studying medicine. Once he has reached this level of expertise, it gives him the ability to now objectively look at the conclusions of the other approaches, and evaluate them to arrive at what he feels is correct. Basically, he’s a doctor mujtahid.

The student then, should learn a madhhab, learn its usool, and establish for himself a foundation in Fiqh that has been established from centuries of scholarship. Once he is an expert with a good foundation, he now starts looking at other approaches, etc.

As for the lay person (and I don’t remember if this was from him or another person), then he follows a scholar whom he trusts. Not everyone is a student of fiqh so in this case a person should follow his Imam that he sees to be knowledgable regardless of what madhhab they follow. This made sense to me, as for my fatwa questions I would often go to an Imam that at least apparently looked to me like they were making a concerted effort to follow the Quran and Sunnah, and I could see this in their actions and manners. I would trust the answers they gave me even if I couldn’t research them, but I never asked them which madhhab they followed beforehand.

Then I heard something from Shaykh AbdulBary that finally explained to me what Muhammad alShareef had said. He gave the example of a doctor (I guess it’s a universal thing). He said if a lay person starts reading medical books, then goes to a hospital and performs a surgery, even if it is successful, he would be liable to be sued because he practiced without a license. There is not a single person who would accept that action from him, because he is not properly qualified despite the fact that the surgery may have been successful.

On the other hand, a person who is a proper doctor, and qualified, he may make a mistake, but it would be accepted from him because at least his ‘approach’ was valid. He was a qualified person, but he slipped up, and people would accept this from him.

The scholars are the same way. This is the explanation of the hadith that if the scholar makes an incorrect judgment he gets one reward, and if correct he gets two. This is because his approach is valid, and he has studied before judging. Only one answer is technically correct, but they both used a valid method of arriving at their answer.

What I Learned about the Evolution of Fiqh

This point was further reinforced when Shaykh Yaser Birjas addressed the question of which madhhab is correct. Obviously, 4 differing opinions cannot be correct. However, the approaches of all of them are valid. This small distinction helped me to understand a lot of the issues surrounding this subject.

I also gained a new appreciation of our scholars and the efforts they made to preserve our deen. My stomach was turning inside thinking about how naive I used to be to think that we could somehow discard over a 1000 years of scholarship and rely on a few select modern opinions.

Learning the history of this issue is extremely important. Knowing for example, how differing occurred at the time of the Sahabah, the establishment of the Hijaza and Iraqi schools of thought in the first centuries of Islam, and the reasons of differing that occurred amongst some of the scholars.

One important issue for me was identifying what I feel are the two extremes on this issue. The first being the fanatical blind following of a madhhab, and the other being to discard them altogether and consider them bid’ah.

He also gave a methodology for studying fiqh. A person starts out by studying the opinions of the madhhab, then learning the evidences, then studying differences within the madhhab, then finally progressing to comparative fiqh. Unfortunately in the past, I felt that everyone should just jump to stage 4 and follow ‘the truth.’ It is true, the more a person learns, the more they realize they don’t know anything.

So What Does this Mean for Today’s Communities in the West?

I look around now at the communities I have seen and experienced, and it makes me sad. You see both sides of the same coin at each other’s throats on this issue. You see the crowd claiming to be “traditional” in their approach bashing anyone who does not ‘make taqleed of one of the 4 madhhabs’ when they themselves probably don’t even understand the rulings of their own madhhab to begin with. Then you have the extreme salafi crowd bashing them for making taqleed, while they themselves are making taqleed of 2-3 modern scholars while just fooling themselves by thinking they are following the evidences.

I have found that most people who debate this issue, have never studied anything about Fiqh to begin with. This is what is the root of the problems. The best analogy I can think of is what Shaykh Yaser Birjas said regarding ibn Hazm’s opinion on music being halal. If they really want to follow him on this opinion, then they should study his rulings, and follow his opinion in other matters too! This is something on both sides, where there is a lack of education and understanding. People will refuse to learn or even listen to someone because they are a different madhhab, or don’t “openly proclaim” that they make taqleed of a madhhab.

If we look at the example of our ulemma though, we find that even the 4 imams, were students of each other. Their students studied with people from different schools, but they always had the utmost respect and humility in dealing with each other.

All in all, this is an issue that we need to learn about, because that is the only way we will have understanding for one another. This cannot continue to be an issue that divides our communities and pits us against one another, especially in the times we live in. No one is asked about their madhhab before being kicked off a plane or thrown in Guantanamo.

Lastly, and insha’Allah I hope that Allah(swt) facilitates this for me, is that we should make a concerted effor to try to study fiqh, and build up our foundations.

External Resources on this Issue

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Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at



  1. Amad

    July 4, 2007 at 12:40 AM

    So, do you have to? ;)

    Great article, need more time to digest!

  2. abu ameerah

    July 4, 2007 at 12:43 AM

    This is a deep issue. Sheikh Ali dealt with some time ago. He did a lecture in the late 90’s on the Issue of Muslim youth and following a specific mathhab. Alhamdulillah, I had a tape of that lecture many years before I took the Code Evolved class.

    The differences between the “traditionalist” (Neo-Traditionalist) camp and the “Salafees” are deeper than simply following this mathhab or that one.

    Even if we were to look at the issue of following a particular mathhab. The traditionalists will blindly follow one — and often look down upon those who follow another. While Salafees on the other hand may follow a specific mathhab, or may even choose not to, they seem to avoid the issue of blind following…thereby sidestepping the compulsion factor and instead recognizing that the Imams of the 4 remaining schools of Islamic Jurisprudence ALL hold valid opinions/rulings…while also recognizing that no one except the Prophet (saaws) is entirely infallible and free of fault.

    It is known, for example, that the likes of Sheikh Albani (rahimahullah) advised Muslim youth (on the path of knowledge) to select or follow a mathhab and intensely study it.

    So, Allah (Azza wa Jall) knows best, but it may be the case that the differences between both groups is deeper and somewhat more nuanced. Nonetheless, here are two brief explanations on the matter at hand:

    Please Note: I am aware, and respect the fact, that there are scholarly opinions that do indeed differ on this complex matter. In addition, I am also aware of the dangers involved in being a “digital Mufti” — Scholarly works and meaningful study will always outweigh an eFatwa.

  3. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 12:47 AM

    If someone says (like many people who make taqleed has said) that it is haram not to follow a madhab, or you must follow a madhab, then they need to bring proof of that from Quran and Sunnah that says we need to follow one of four (imam Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi, Hanbal). As far as I remember I have not seen their names mentioned in Quran and Sunnah.

    Now no doubt, we all can not be knowledgable about Quran and Sunnah. Hence Allah says in Quran, paraphrasing, ask the people of knowledge if you do not know. And we ask them (the scholars) not what they feel like, but we ask them what Quran and Sunnah says about it, or if not, then opinions of sahabah, then scholars etc.

    Now as I have said before, what is the use of going to a “muqallid” scholar to find how prayer is done, when he would be reiterating what his madhab says. I want scholar who can go against his own madhab and say the other opinion in this particular case is more valid, based on evidences.

    “I began to see some of the benefits of following a madhhab as it kept the average Muslim from picking and choosing fatwas based on their desires and opinions.”
    is one of the most bogus claim muqallideen use. I think they forget that Allah knows the niyyah of people, whether one is following opinion based on desire or sincerity in believing this is right.

    I can not imagine a muslim putting his personal opinion, or opinion of his sheikh, or opinion of madhab above what Allah and Prophet Muhammad PBUH said. Without naming the author or madhab, there is a book in which the person says on an issue that, this opinion is more valid on basis of hadith, but since we are “of such madhab”, we follow the other opinion.

    Recently a hanafi guy claimed that 90% of the muslims(sunnis) are hanafis. I did not see how it can be, I asked if he meant Indo-Pak. He said, no the world, I said, ok you have to bring some reference for it. Then he goes on to say (it was issue of asar time), that minority(those who pray when shadow is equal to the object) should follow the majority hanafi opinion (majority in terms of number of followers). I was so appalled that I became speechless (does it mean muslims should become christains because they are more?). Then he did not stop there and said, a moualna from Pakistan on hotline was saying, once sahabah said prophet lets pray asar, and he said wait, whats the hurry. And I had to ask him for proof, because in my limited knowledge I have never heard such hadith, so may be he can enlighten me. He ofcourse did not have any hadith, and I am waiting for him to come back on it. I came home and searched sahih bukhari and found all hadiths pointing that correct start time is when shadow is equal to length of object.

    Anyway, I am not anti-madhab person, I believe the people were foundation of carrying the religion forward. I just cant comprehend someone giving his opinion or madhab preference over sayings of Allah and Messenger.

  4. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 12:50 AM

    The differences between salafees and “traditionalists” are not restricted to fiqh, but more importantly in aqeedah as well. Its amazing they follow these 5 imams in fiqh, yet they ignore them in Aqeedah

  5. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 12:52 AM

    Sorry 4 imams, in last post, by the way these are just famous 4, Allah blessed them with acceptability, and political establishment that enforced them.

  6. ibnabeeomar

    July 4, 2007 at 1:01 AM

    regarding the comment on picking and choosing opinions – i meant more in terms of ppl fatwa shopping, which i think is an undeniable affliction in our communities

  7. iman

    July 4, 2007 at 3:40 AM

    From the comments so far seems like the point of the post was completely missed.

    Allah Musta’aan.

  8. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 6:58 AM

    Yes some people indeed do fatwa shopping and Allah knows their niyyah, you can be a muqallid and just completely ignore what your madhab is saying.

    Iman, what is the point of the post? The title says “Ok So Do You Really Have to Follow a Madhhab?” and there is no definitive answer in the post.

  9. ibnabeeomar

    July 4, 2007 at 8:05 AM

    “From the comments so far seems like the point of the post was completely missed.”

    jazakallahu khayr. i was thinking exactly the same thing.

    if you’re not sure of it, please tuck away all your preconceptions on this topic and read it again :)

  10. anon56

    July 4, 2007 at 10:56 AM

    This is an honest quetsion, what exactly consitiutes fatwa shopping? If there is an opinion that a person favours and it is legitimate and many scholars have backed that view, then whats wrong with a person choosing to follow that opinion?

  11. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 11:12 AM

    Brother Omar, if I am being referred as person who missed the point, kindly guide me what is the point. If you say the point is last paragraph, I would have to then say the topic and discussion is incorrect context. If the title/discussion was, despite our differences in approach to this issue, we need to work together, and be kind to each other etc., I would have agreed, and I agree now. The topic is should we follow madhab or not, and among the muslims we can discuss it openly, its not that if I do not follow hanafi madhab, I am going to call FBI on them for no reason. Certainly not, I love them for being my muslim brother, and I want only good for them. And that is why I am not being political correct and saying what I feel clearly.

    The stages you mentioned you went through, I have gone through all those stages (except the first one, I was never hanafi muqallid, since my family was never muqallid, just mix of hanbali/hanafi), and I agree to your final conclusion, but what you left out to mention how blind following is wrong and dangerous.

  12. Anon.

    July 4, 2007 at 12:55 PM

    Bro, I guess I can say that your model of development corresponds pretty closely to mine. Also, I’d like to add something, for those who think they’re worthy of ijtihad:

  13. abu ameerah

    July 4, 2007 at 1:04 PM

    @ Ibnabeeomar:

    –Well akhi…I suppose I am one of those who “missed the point”. In reading and re-reading your post, I have failed to see where it is that you mentioned the term or anything related to “fatwa shopping”… Instead I came across terms like:
    “mathhab”… “taqleed” “4 Imams” “Traditional” and “Salafi”.

    –If the post was about “fatwa shopping” as you mentioned in your comment…then quite frankly…that’s what it should have been about in the first place. I dare ask, could it be that the post itself wasn’t clear enough ????????

    –Here is some of what I extracted from the post that lead me to believe that this was more than simply about “fatwa shopping”…
    (btw…fatwa shopping is an issue that is not simply confined to the “traditionalists” or “salafis”… a number of other Muslims do this irrespective of sect) ….

    “The first being the fanatical blind following of a madhhab, and the other being to discard them altogether and consider them bid’ah.”

    “I look around now at the communities I have seen and experienced, and it makes me sad. You see both sides of the same coin at each other’s throats on this issue. You see the crowd claiming to be “traditional” in their approach bashing anyone who does not ‘make taqleed of one of the 4 madhhabs’ when they themselves probably don’t even understand the rulings of their own madhhab to begin with. Then you have the extreme salafi crowd bashing them for making taqleed, while they themselves are making taqleed of 2-3 modern scholars while just fooling themselves by thinking they are following the evidences.”

    “This cannot continue to be an issue that divides our communities and pits us against one another, especially in the times we live in. No one is asked about their MADHAB before being kicked off a plane or thrown in Guantanamo.”

  14. Working Sister

    July 4, 2007 at 1:10 PM

    Jazakallah for this article. I think you have basically described by own journey on the Madhab issue, except the people involved were different, but their advice very similar. I have to say, it feels great to be on the more ‘balanced’ side of the argument – there’s a lot more love in the room, if you know what i mean. :)

    However, even though my understanding of the issue is now clearer, mashallah, i am also still left with the question posed in the title. However, due to certain circumstances, i have not had time to do the research to answer it for my own situation. So i am basically practicing the dos and donts of Islam, as i have learnt them so far, and if i have a problem, i just ask someone who knows! Inshallah, i hope to be able to make a concerted effort to learn more about Fiqh, in the near future.

    May Allah guide us, and help us to become more humble human beings! Ameen.

  15. ZE

    July 4, 2007 at 1:32 PM

    Great article, really enjoyed the progression you described, quite insightful!

  16. Mujahideen Ryder

    July 4, 2007 at 1:55 PM

    I was salafi, becuase it was the cool thing to do at the time. It was cool, because u can quote hadith and drop on people who weren’t doing it. It gave young Muslims (brothers especially) power to rule over others and feel tough. Then when we got older we realized that we were idiots and then we picked up the madhabs and stuck to one.

    In reality no one follows one particular madhab 100%. Even traditionalists will agree. The problem is when you mix and match the madhabs with wrong usul’s and it just screws up everything. You have to mix and match it the right way.

  17. Yus from the Nati

    July 4, 2007 at 4:10 PM

    I’ve always wondered WHO (not talking about scholars…talking about people like me and maybe people on these blogs?) is actually capable of following the “correct” evidence.

    From my understanding, a LAYMEN “asks those who know”. This alludes to a laymen not knowing how to decipher the evidences themselves. (from an article of Uthaymeen rahimullah)

    I remember when I was on that “blind follwing/sick of people and their madhabs-tip” and asked Yasir Birjas a retarded question which was:

    “Is this blind following….If I bring a person a CLEAR hadith, and he ignores it and says well I am going to follow my Madhab”

    Shaikh responded with: “Who are you?” and I was like, “What?” he was asking basically long story short if I was a muhaddith, etc. And the answer was of course NO…

    On top of that, I can’t even understand a hadith/ayah from the Quran without reading it’s translation in ENGLISH (meaning I don’t know NO Arabic!) So basically who was I, who knows no Arabic, knows nothing about usool al-fiqh, nothing about which hadith/ayahs are general, specific, abrogating, etc. to tell another brother:

    “HERE…IT’S A CLEAR HADITH” and think he wrong for not “following” it.

    What I learned after reading more was basically people are RETARDED (not saying that I’m still not).

    What happens is you have both sides of the issue attacking eachother for no reason. Everybody got their reason and possibly “legitimate” evidences (whether being logical or textual). We need some tolerance among these people and more understanding.

    PS good article homie.

  18. Yasir Qadhi

    July 4, 2007 at 4:33 PM

    Salaam Alaikum

    The progression of ideas that you describe happened to all of us – the more knowledge one gains, the more one appreciates how little he knew in the first place. And I believe one of the greatest factors that damaged the dawah of pure Sunni theology was the incorrect emphasis on fiqh matters and not following a madhab. This really gave the impression (which still exists in the minds of many people) that our scholars were trying to promote an ‘every person is an alim’ type of mentality. The reality is that the extreme anti-madhab stance of some scholars is an aberration, even with pure Sunnism. The vast majority of our scholars, including Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim, came from madhabs and never advise the masses to abandon madhabs. Hence your shock at discovering that Sh. Ibn Uthaymin (and Ibn Baz, and almost ALL the scholars of Islam) actually encouraged following a madhab. I remember once, in my first semester at the University of Madinah, Sh. Ibn Uthaymin came to the University and gave a beautiful lecture (it was the first time I met him). In it, he said, “I advise you all to follow a madhab…” And this advice was being given to us students of knowledge, not just laymen on the streets!! It was one of many hundreds of eye-openers that I myself was exposed to over the years of study that I did there.

    Indeed, the more knowledge one gains, the less stubborn and hard-headed he becomes about one position being absolutely right to the exclusion of all others. (Of course this applies to fiqh much more than it does to theology, but even in some issues of theology there is leeway…)


  19. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 5:04 PM

    Is it only me who is seeing the difference between following an alive scholar who have access to all hadiths compiled than following a scholar who passed centuries ago and had not had access to compiled hadith? Is it just me who is trying to differentiate between following and blind following? Is it just me who sees the absurd lengths blind followers go to justify their madhab? Wierd.

  20. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 5:08 PM

    Mujahideen Ryder, Allah judges people by niyyah, whether they do certain things to be cool or do it because they sincerely believe its the truth.

  21. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 5:21 PM

    If following madhab is so important, how come Quran and Sunnah does not mention that we need to follow madhab, and infact only one of these 4 madhabs?

  22. Faraz

    July 4, 2007 at 5:51 PM

    Masha-Allah, good article and some very thoughtful comments. It’s funny how every article about the madhab issue will avoid giving a straight answer as to whether one should follow one or not, but it’s good to see most people very understanding on both sides.

    I’ve never run into a muqallid who condemned others for following a different madhab, but I have run in to many ghair-muqallids who were so quick to criticize and play the “bid’ah” card on anything and everything. There are some really stubborn people on both sides of the debate, but it is refreshing to see how tolerant our scholars are of viewpoints that differ from their own. We should use their tolerance as a model for our own behaviour on the issue; after all, if these scholars, who have given their life to learn the deen, validate opinions that are completely contradictory to their own, how can dull normals like myself have the audacity to challenge them?

    The problem is that so many of us want to make it such a simple issue, by saying things like “the Quran never said to follow a madhab”, but it is in reality a very nuanced issue that has been analyzed for over a thousand years now. I don’t expect anyone will ever change their mind one way or another based on the evidences in this post or similar ones, but I do hope that we all come to realize that the issue is not a simple one, and cannot be reduced to a simple recommendation or prohibition.

    One friend, who is a Quran teacher in my community and doesn’t follow a madhab himself, once summed up the issue very well. One of his students, on being asked if he would attend a course on Hanafi fiqh, muttered “Astaghfirullah, Hanafi fiqh. What is this bid’ah? Was the Prophet a Hanafi?” So the teacher asked the student, “Why do you reject the Hanafi fiqh? Is it because of what you think Shaikh Albani wrote?” So the student said “Yes, and from my own research, why should someone blindly follow some shaikh?” The teacher then asked him how his opinion would have differed if Shaikh Albani recommended that one follow a madhab. The student said, “Well, if Shaikh Albani said it’s okay, yes, I probably would – but he didn’t!” So my friend then told his student, “There you go, you have just proven to me that you will blindly follow Shaikh Albani. Thus, you shouldn’t criticize others for following a different shaikh, however ‘blind’ it may seem to you, for we are all following someone, whether we accept it or not.”

  23. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 6:24 PM

    Faraz, I have never met muqallid who did not stop from criticising qhair muqallid. Wierd how we can have so different experiences.

    How come people do not understand this simple concept that asking a scholar who is alive to give strongest position is different from following opinion of a scholar that died thousand years ago, who did his best that time? And also I want to challenge to show me any madhab who has unanimous position on all issues all over the world. Hanafis of Pakistan is not equal to hanafis of egypt not equal to hanafis of past and not equal to opinions of Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) himself.

    How did muslims managed to live for first 3-4 centuries without following madhab blindly?

    Since following madhab is not must from Quran and Sunnah, hence it can not be something that is sinful if a person does not do. Like many muqallid websites suggest. They even scold so hard if someone changes madhab completely. Funny.

  24. YoussefAlMasry

    July 4, 2007 at 8:50 PM


    I’ve never consciously followed a particular madhab. It was only recently that I resolved to learn more about these institutions (I actually picked up Bilal Philips’ book a few months back), so please bear with me as I post some of the nagging questions I have with the hope of getting a better grasp on this issue, inshAllah.

    First, for those who choose to follow a madhab, how did you decide to follow your specific madhab? Was it a matter of where/how you were raised? Did a scholar that you particularly admired guide you to that madhab? Is it because your local imam is a [insert madhabic adjective here]?

    Second, again for those who choose to follow a madhab, how do you decide between the differing opinions WITHIN your madhab? The fact that differences exist seems to undermine one of the primary rationales for choosing a madhab; namely, bypassing the occasion to “pick and choose a fatwa”.

    Last, for those who choose not to follow a madhab, since there are a great many ulema who offer/follow daleel while also subscribing to a specific madhab, wouldn’t it be easier on you to pick a madhab, have its base of fiqh to rely upon, yet stick primarily to the alim that you feel offers the “strongest” opinions?

    If anyone could offer some answers from their experiences, or perhaps point me to something that they think may be of benefit, I’d really appreciate it.

    Jazzakum Allahu khayran


  25. Hassan

    July 4, 2007 at 9:22 PM

    Brother YoussefAlMasry. very good questions. I choose to do third, and I would answer it.

    My base fiqh is fiqh of my parents or people around me when I was growing up. Now as I have grown up, I did not choose to follow madhab, because I wanted to follow what was closest to sunnah, regardless of which madhab (or even not in any madhab) the opinion belonged to, even it meant that I would change the way I was doing things previously. Hence I have three sources for fatwas,, and a very dear sheikh of mine whom I trust in his knowledge and taqwa. if I have any issue either contemporary and non-contemporary I seek their assistance, and I follow them. Why I choose them? Because they despite being specialized in usul of one madhab, they would give opinions based on stronger evidence even if it goes against their own madhab (which again is something not unanimous anyways, there could be many opinions in same madhab).

    And I clearly see this taqleed different than taqleed of madhab (which again there is no unanimous opinion). If the title of this post was should we do taqleed, then I would have agreed, but I do not agree as layman following any madhab. A scholar can do specialization in usul of one madhab.

  26. Mahin F Islam

    July 4, 2007 at 10:10 PM

    (posted already on Facebook)

    Subhanallaah…my experience was more or less exactly the same. I used to be following the Hanafi way of doing everything but when I started attending my local Salafee masjid, brothers would pull me aside and show me how my prayer was wrong using Shaykh Al-Albaanee(rahimahullaah)’s book. So then my hands went up so high on my chest that they would touch the bottom part of my beard and anyone that was praying witr every day was a mubtadi because I assumed they were doing so because it was waajib according to the Hanafi madhab. I’m starting to chill out now. I am seriously thinking about going back to a madhab and starting over with a good foundation. My only issue is I pray at a Salafee masjid..and I don’t feel like getting naseeha after every salaat about how my prayer is baatil or not upon the Sunnah or hearing “The hadeeth is clear!”.

  27. Mahin F Islam

    July 4, 2007 at 10:11 PM

    Also..what does everyone think about just blindly following modern day Salafee scholars(whether it is Sh. Al-Albaanee’s book or Sh. Saalih Al-Fowzaan’s book of concise fiqh or whatever you have)..but just admitting to the taqleed instead of trying to deny it?

  28. Mahin F Islam

    July 4, 2007 at 10:18 PM

    Sh. Yasir also touches up an interesting point..that there is this illusion of anti-madhabism being promoted by Salafee laymen in the West when in all reality the likes of Ibn Baaz, Ibn Uthaymeen, Allaamah Shanqeetee and others were all from madhabs.

    Last night..Yusuf from Nati and I were talking to a brother who was asking about studying in Lucknow, India..a brother from the hardcore Salafee wing of the Salafee spectrum (to be politically correct) and when we mentioned Imaam Lucknowi (rahimahullaah) and how he was a Hanafi..he got all uptight and was like “No..he was upon the Sunnah” as if being Hanafi takes you out of the Sunnah. That really bothered me..but I wasn’t in the mood to argue the point.

    On the contrary extreme..a very good friend of mine who is a staunch Deobandi has basically told me that if I don’t make taqleed of one of the four madhaahib, then this is grounds for my expulsion from the fold of “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jamaah”.

    Allaahul Musta’aan.

  29. ibnabeeomar

    July 4, 2007 at 11:21 PM

    jazakumAllahu khayr to everyone for their comments. let me clarify a couple of things before proceeding:

    1) the intent of this post was to share my personal journey on this topic, and hope to spawn a discussion that at the very least may open some eyes for people on the issue as my eyes have been opened, and like sh. yasir explained in his comment.

    2) i hope to create a bit more tolerance and understanding on this issue because i truly feel that a lot of the conflict on this topic is from ASSUMPTIONS that may or may not have merit.

    3) the title was titled as such simply to grab your attention – it worked :)

    now regarding some of the comments. i like to refrain from line by line commentary, but a lot of good points have been raised, so insha’Allah please indulge me as i quote and respond to some of what was said in our discussion on this issue:

    One of the issues is that people often have too much of a cut/dry approach to the issue. What I have learned, especially from the class I mentioned, is that the issues run a lot deeper than we realize.

    “what is the use of going to a “muqallid” scholar to find how prayer is done, when he would be reiterating what his madhab says. I want scholar who can go against his own madhab and say the other opinion in this particular case is more valid, based on evidences.”

    We have to get out of the construct of everyone being either an absolute mujtahid or a layman muqallid who can’t evaluate any evidences. Not all issues will fall into this category. The typical example is when the Prophet (saw) told the Sahabah not to pray Asr until reaching Banu Quraydah. There is no dispute over what was said, or authenticity, but the Sahabah arrived at different conclusions based on their understanding of the same evidence. This is where we have our legacy of fiqh and ulemma, who have studied these issues and developed ways of approaching them.

    Scholars of the madhhab developed the madhhab over time. For example, ibn Taymiyyah disagreed with the actual rulings of say Imam Ahmed, but he is still a Hanbali. In the Shafi’ee madhhab, an-Nawawi had some different opinions. So its unfair to paint all scholars who were brought up in a madhhab as being just blind followers of one imam’s opinions.

    Abu Yusuf studied with Abu Hanifah, then went and studied with another scholar and changed half of his opinions.

    Additionally, taking the example of salah – let me give you 2 examples. When to raise the hands when rising from tashahhud to the 3rd rak’ah – do you raise them before standing or after? What about where to put your hands after ruku’? In these situations its not a question of hadith availability or strength, but on usool and interpretation of the texts. In this situation I would much rather prefer to follow the legacy of fiqh established by our imams over the centuries rather than a modern scholar reinventing the wheel by opening Bukhari and creating his own usool.

    I understand the position discussed against absolute taqleed, but if you read my post, that is not what I am referring to when I talk about following a madhhab.

    “Is it only me who is seeing the difference between following an alive scholar who have access to all hadiths compiled than following a scholar who passed centuries ago and had not had access to compiled hadith? Is it just me who is trying to differentiate between following and blind following?”

    I mentioned blind following in that there’s two extremes – its quoted in abu ameerah’s comment 

    The thing is, when you follow a scholar who had access to compiled hadith – you are still making taqleed to some degree. Say for example, Shaykh Abdullah evaluates all the hadith on a specific issue, and says this opinion is the strongest. Just because we might be aware of the daleel doesn’t necessarily mean we’re following the evidences because in the end we’re still following that particular scholar’s understanding and approach.

    Besides, I think its unfair to paint all the classical scholars with the brush of ‘they didn’t have access to hadith’ when Imams like Imam Ahmed had over 1 million hadith memorized. Sorry, but I just don’t think that someone in our time now, even if they study all the hadith books and memorize them it would be difficult to ever reach the level of understanding of Imam Ahmed in fiqh OR hadeeth.

    “If following madhab is so important, how come Quran and Sunnah does not mention that we need to follow madhab, and infact only one of these 4 madhabs?”

    And the post didn’t say its wajib or anything like that. If you look at what Shaykh Yasir posted for example, its recommended to the students of knowledge to study a madhhab. Also I gave a few examples of this in my post too, about asking an imam that you trust despite what madhhab he follows. In fact, I’m not sure anyone on here has said its completely binding on everyone to affiliate themselves as Hanafi or Shafiee, etc.

    Another important point to keep in mind is that people are at different levels. Some people are not at the level, nor do they care to follow the daleel, some people will simply come and ask if something is halal or haram, and then khalas. Are they now sinful for performing taqleed? Someone is a student of knowledge, then they should study a madhhab and get a grounding and move forward. If they don’t then they will just be starting out where scholars like Imam Abu Hanifah started out, and I doubt that anyone now could do as good a job. I highly recommend listening to under the shade of scrolls that I linked to in my post.

    This is one of my main beefs on this topic – it is hard to try to discuss this issue without us going back to our preconceived notions that we have, or going back to previous experiences we’ve had. We need to come up with a gameplan to understand each other and move forward.

    I apologize if I have offended anyone or was short in any of my answers.

  30. Hassan

    July 5, 2007 at 12:25 AM

    brother Omar, salam, with all due respect I guess just as perhaps I missed your point, you missed mine as well.

    1. Absoulte Mujtahid/absolute layman. Yes, I sincerely thing muslims that pray regularly and have somewhat attachment to deen are not absolute layman. Nor do we have access to absolute mujtahid all the time. Many times my friends ask me questions (because I am very close to my sheikh), and I tell them whatever I know, but non-binding, till I actually find out fatwa from actual mujtahid/scholar. So my friends are doing my temporary taqleed pending the search of truth.

    2. I know scholars study one madhab and specialize in them, and I never criticized one for being expert in usul of one of madhab. Muqallid scholars are those who repeat the fatwa of their madhab imam, despite the fact that if the evidences that are available, if were present at their imam time, their fatwa would have been different. Basically you can follow the usul of your imam, but kindly apply the uptodate data. Your example of Imam Taymiyyah proves my point.

    3. You say since I follow the sheikh, I still make taqleed. Dude go back and read my post in which I said, if the topic was should we do taqleed, then my answer would have been yes. I am just against taqleed of madhab for reasons I described over the many posts (one being there is no unanimous position).

    4. You mentioned Imam Ahmad (RA), if you check my first post, I said, I am from partial hanbali background myself. I clearly remember my father used to say something to the effect that since imam Hanbal came last and had hadiths collection, his madhab is more comprehensive than others. And infact I really like his usul in which he says that even weak hadith (according to him, as there was no “hasan” category then) is better than his own opinions.

    5. In my first post I said, Allah asked us in Quran, to ask the people of knowledge if we dont know. And thats what is I am doing.

    Frankly I see your post unbalanced. You fail to mention how when a person goes to a muqallid scholar he first asks the person what madhab he is of, if its different he tells him to go and ask some other sheikh. Why does not that sheikh answer him? You fail to mention how a blind follower of a madhab says, “I can prove to you whatever my madhab says, has some basis in Quran and Sunnah”, well why he has to do reverse approach, why he does not spend time to see if his madhab is accordance to Quran and Sunnah rather than finding how to justify his madhab or already established opinions. Also how do those muqallidoon limit following these great imams in fiqh, and when it comes to aqeedah, they do not.

  31. Aboo Uthmaan

    July 5, 2007 at 7:32 AM

    Mahin F Islam said:

    “Sh. Yasir also touches up an interesting point..that there is this illusion of anti-madhabism being promoted by Salafee laymen in the West when in all reality the likes of Ibn Baaz, Ibn Uthaymeen, Allaamah Shanqeetee and others were all from madhabs.”

    Actually, its being promoted by “some”, not “all”, but in addition, it is also something promoted by Sufi’s in that all Salafi’s are “anti-madhhabism”, nothing could be further from the truth.

  32. ibnabeeomar

    July 5, 2007 at 8:37 AM

    jazakallahu khayr.. this post wasn’t supposed to be comprehensive, but i agree with the points in your last paragraph as being good examples of one extreme on the issue.

  33. Ammar

    July 5, 2007 at 4:07 PM

    Asalamu Alikum,

    First of all, i think its a very good article. I myself believe that one should find a good scholar they trust, and follow the scholar. If there is a confusing issue, then do further research and look for proof.

    For e.g. the issue of music, regardless of what some of the present day scholars say of its permissibility, what I see from the Sunnah tells me not to listen to it, so in this case i feel it is “obligatory” on me to follow the evidence and not any other fatwa.

    Some of the harms of the blind following a madhab (which some of the brothers here do not realize while they’re iterating that we should follow a madhab). For e.g.

    a) I was told by a hanafi scholar that “reading and understanding the quran” is a current day innovation (!). This was their prime concern with me not following the hanafi way. Basically, people who follow a madhab blindly (as in indo pak) tend to just become people with just actions, and no understanding (ever see the elders who recite the tasbeeh at super-fast speed after salah? its because they were taught something, and they never thought about the why of it, from what i can gather)

    b) Again, with the madhab approach, you gotta clarify that one should do AS MUCH RESEARCH AS IS NECESSARY to satisfy them. For e.g. if i were born in a sufi household, should i have followed that forever without using my own mind? Obviously I had to research some things for myself otherwise i’d be following some brand of islam because i was born into it, not because i believed in it.

    I guess what I’m saying is, the taqleed approach is used by a lot of religious scholars just to maintain control and power over the layman or general population.. to stop them from thinking and really believing in their deen with all their heart. I believe enough laxity should exist so that one can REALLY believe in, come to love, and understand and follow islam. And most importantly, it should NEVER lead us away from reading and understanding the Quran ourselves…

  34. Hamdi

    July 5, 2007 at 4:25 PM

    Reading this is like reading my own developement the last five or so years.
    I remember as a 13-14 year old kid thinking I had all the answers, feeling that women without niqab, men with trimmed beards and pants beyond the ankle were sinning without a doubt. I dont know if I should laugh or cry thinking back at that time (not that I have all the answers at this stage). Just the other day I was talking to a friend and as he is from Bosnia he follows the Hanafi madhhab. He just started to pray and I advised him to stick to his madhhab which would be unthinkable a couple of years ago, so much so that I was amazed at myself as I was telling him what I had learned from Hanafi fiqh as I was starting out.

    I am still struggling to learn the balanced opinion in terms of differences in Aqeedah (following the Salafi Aqeedah myself), which I hope someone maybe could shed some light on in a future post inshaAllah.

    Hamdi, writing to you from Sarajevo, Bosnia =)

  35. Umm Layth

    July 5, 2007 at 4:45 PM

    For the heart of a believer, sometimes it becomes his/her own choice to abandon something, even if allowed in the madh-hab. Sometimes the heart will just tell someone that maybe it’s wrong. And just because of that feeling, one saves his/her self from many harms.

    My point: listen to your heart. It tells us more than we know.

  36. Ibrahim

    July 6, 2007 at 10:32 AM


    Nice article, mashAllah. I think to clarify this issue of taqleed you have to clarify or make a distinction between scholars and laypersons.

    For scholars, you are right there is the extreme opinion that you need to follow a madhab and stick to it. However, not following a madhab is NOT an extreme on the other hand. Yes, people shouldn’t call taqleed of a madhab outright a haram thing, but scholars call it haram when madhabi scholars stick to an opinion of thier madhab even when it opposes the Sunnah. Yes, nobody can deny this is haram.

    Did Shyakh al-Albani follow a madhab? How about Imam Shawkani? Are you going to say they are wrong? So, the middle path is that most should follow a madhab with an open mind (meaning open to changing an opinion) but if some SCHOLARS don’t follow a madhab, you can’t say they are extreme. I myself follow the hanbali madhab, but I don’t move my fingers during prayer like “hanbalis”. So, what do you say? Am I not following a madhab?!

    For layperson like us I think a couple of months ago this was already discussed here that people should do ittibaa’—follow a madhab and change their opinion if they are certain it opposes the Quran or Sunnah or ijema of scholars or all of them together.

  37. Ibrahim

    July 6, 2007 at 11:25 AM

    I agree that the correct way to learn is to know a madhab completely, know the differences and then comparative fiqh. In fact, I strongly believe in this way of learning. But, all has to conform to Quran and Sunnah, which is the way of ahl al hadeeth. Thus, there is no way to do “follow” a particular madhab. If an opinion of your madhab doesn’t clash with Quran and Sunnah and ijema of scholars, then ok. Otherwise, you go ahead and change it for the sake of Allah subhan wa taa’la. Maybe the terms “taqleed” and “follow” should be defined in context. Allamdulillah, today I feel clear about this issue but the fact that this thing comes up time and again and people mostly repeat things, it might be more beneficial for some learned brother (or sister) to write up something that deals with these terms so that everyone is on the same page when talking about taqleed or following a madhab.

    The other issue is why at Medinah University no madhab is taught? Yet, as far as I know they teach only the usool al-fiqh (usool of comparative fiqh) rather than one madhab.

    Since Shaykh Yasir Qadhi commented, can he answer this question about no madhab being taught at Medinah University. What fiqh madhab do students that graduate from there know fully?

    Lastly, is it possible to be a hanafi and still be ahl al hadeeth? This question is related to people saying you can follow any madhab and still be ahl al hadeeth? Can people name a few hanafi scholars that are known to be among the scholarship of ahl al hadeeth? You have ad-dhahabi as Shafi and ibn Taymiyyah as hanbali (still they aren’t doing taqleed of their madhabs) and there are many more I can write but at least in my knowledge I can’t think of a Hanafi scholar like that. So, although I can see an open-minded taqleedi Shafi’ or Hanbali layperson giving into the way of ahl al hadeeth, I can’t see that with a hanafi because a hanafi would trip right and left on basic (imtiazi as they say in Urdu) issues let alone other ones.

    Therefore, you find big, big scholars of Ahl al hadeeth in Pakistan/India denouncing taqleed (in actuality they are denouncing extreme taqleed that is taught in those areas). And, you find almost all scholars of ahl al hadeeth in Indo-Pak not follwoing a madhab because they can’t or won’t “follow” hanafi madhab and there is no scholarship for other madhaahib in Indo-Pak to learn from.

    People who are from Pakistan and involved in these issues might know some of the “usool” in Hanafi fiqh today, which have been refuted by scholars. Of course, I have never studied Hanafi fiqh formally, but these are common things known about Hanafi usool and I got such information from trusted source and books.

    My main point was that you can’t generally say that it is extreme to not follow a madhab, and taqleed needs to be defined in context if one is going to make general statements about it.

  38. mohamed

    July 9, 2007 at 11:41 PM

    You guys just don’t get it. There is nothing called evidence from a hadith or we know which hadith is “strong” and which is “weak”. There is nothing called “authentic” hadith and “weak” hadith. There is only one kind of evidence thats binding, the truth. Since hadiths all fall under probability, its not considered fact. A “sahih” hadith depends on the narrators and not the hadith itself since they are mostly singlularly narrated and the SUBJECTIVE criteria of the hadith collector and applier regarding the chain of narrators. Everyone can have his own cirteria. If you look at Bukhari’s criteria you will find Imam Muslim did not accept hundreds of narrators Bukhari used and vice versa. The criteria Bukhari used was:

    All narrators should have known to be sincere muslims.
    They should not have practiced or be practicing ‘Tadlees’. ‘Tadlees’ (lit. deception) means narrating a Hadith with a chain that raises its status higher than it actually deserves. This practice can be implemented in two key ways. (i) Tadlees in ‘Isnad’ (ii) Tadlees in ‘Shuyookh’. ‘Tadlees in Isnad’ occurs when one narrates a Hadith from a person who he has, although met, but not heard from. Even if he doesn’t mention the teacher’s name in explicit terms, any indication that gives an impression of having heard from or visited him will still be branded as ‘Tadlees’. ‘Tadlees in Shuyookh’ takes place when one, while narrating, mentions his teacher with such ambiguity that conceals or helps to conceal his real identity and thereby switches the mind to another narrator of a higher caliber.

    He should not be a ‘Mukhtalit’. Literally meaning ‘one who puts into confusion’, it applies to every deliberate alteration from a narrator that may threat the veracity of the narrative.
    · He should be well-distinguished in having maintained a proper conduct and a honorable record.
    · He should be possessing of outstanding exactitude and preciseness. If any element of doubt is found in his narrations, this quality of his will be rendered void.
    · He should have a sound memory and should also be free from all mental disorders and psychological deficiencies even from forgetfulness due to old age or sickness.
    · He should have pristine theological beliefs. If his beliefs clash with those of the ‘Ahl As-Sunnah wal Jama’ah’, his narrations will be subject to further consideration depending on the severity of his deviation.
    · There should be solid evidence of his union with his teacher who he narrates from. Mere possibility of their meeting will not be acceptable enough, as it would be to Imam Muslim rahimahullah.
    · Some scholars have also added that every link of the chain of a specific Hadith should have at least two narrators especially going closer to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam i.e. in the case of the Companions radiallahu anhumand their Successors rahimahumullah. Abu Abdullah Al-Hakim rahimahullah, compiler of the controversial ‘Mustadrak’ on the ‘Sihah’ of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim rahimahumullah, seems to have initialized this thought and was consequently criticized. This thought did find some defendants, but not before undergoing reinterpretation. The critics argued that an in-depth analysis of the book simply proves the notion utterly fallacious as most narrations are, ironically in the initial stages, transmitted only by a single source. The defendants adopted various standpoints. Some explained that what understood was not what was intended. This condition was just a misinterpretation of another which required a narration to befit in the scope of ‘Shuhrah’ (lit. fame). The evidence forwarded was that some narrations were considered acceptable though they did not completely fulfill the disputed condition. Rather, Imam Bukhari rahimahullah, if convinced, also accepted Ahadith where only one transmitter was available even at an initial stage. This methodology of individual meriting indicated that what was of essence was the condition of ‘Shuhrah’ and not the number of narrators available. This response, although profound, failed to convince those who vehemently demanded unconditional proof to the claims. A more appealing argument given was that the fame of a narrator, and not the narrated as asserted in the previous explanation, was required. It was suggested that a narrator should certify towards his mass recognition by simply providing names of at least two of his transmitters. Clearly, as similar to the former explanation, the key point was that one was not required to have transmitted a specific Hadith to two narrators as conditioned in Al-Hakim’s rahimahullah thought. Only required was enough proof that the narrator was not unknown and hence this argument was relatively more convincing and acceptable.

    Hence each collector of hadith had different criteria and thus ended up with different hadiths in their collections. Truth has no variance and Bukhari emerged in time as the most authorative. Indeed earlier hadith scholars never regarded as the most trusted authority. He emrged nearly 200 hundred years later as an authority. And the hanafi took almost another 700 years after Bukhari’s to accept his hadiths.

    Its all ijtihad and its all subjective. Only the Quran is the truth.

  39. ibnabeeomar

    July 9, 2007 at 11:55 PM

    mohamed, if you’re sincerely wishing to discuss this issue, then please read the following books and tell us if you still have the same conclusions:

  40. Hassan

    July 10, 2007 at 12:02 AM

    Mohamed, the true Quran says to follow prophet Muhammad PBUH and to take in religion what he gives and leave what he forbids. As I read somewhere, if prophets were not needed to show how religion and Allah’s books need to be implemented, Allah would have just sent down books from heavens, not revealed to prophets.

  41. nuqtah

    July 10, 2007 at 3:00 AM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Interesting to see that Madhab discussion is flaring up in the salafi circles these days. I think this tide of change heralds a new era in the Salafi da’wah. We are also starting to see the deeprooted differences even within the Salafi spectrum. For instance, an overwhelming majority of Saudi wahhabis follow Hanbali madhhab. Ahl al hadeeth mentality of indo-pak is the pre-mature child of Shawkanite approach. However, the Salafis of Shaam in their entirety are the by product of the modernist movement of early 1900s, with Rashid Rida being one of its early proponents (it is interesting to note who were his teachers.)

    I just have a few words to say. As a person who started off with islam-qa and al-Albani’s sifaat salat al nabi, I can safely say that the issue of following and not following Madhhahib is more complex than how most people here have percieved it. Both the article and commenters have overlooked or failed to understand a few underlying truths when it comes to madhabs and following madhabs.

    A madhhab isn’t merely an opinion. A madhhab is a methodology, a framework of usool, based on which its scholars derive the rulings. Each madhab has well defined Usool, that had been derived and refined over the centuries, and scholars have always stuck to this methodology. Following any opinion from any madhab, while being aware that it has been derived through a methodolgy accpeted by scholars over the centuries, starting from Sahabah, is not something inherently wrong. In fact it is something inherently RIGHT. To do or say otherwise would mean departing from the sound understanding of ahl as sunnah wal jama’ah.

    Hence, to contend that four different opinions can’t be correct at the same time, is absolutely erronous. As each opinion has been derived upon a sound understanding. And it is a well known established truth among ulema that differences of opinion in the ummah is Mercy.

    Without having to go into intricate details, those who are quick to jump the gun and ask,” oh yeah ask that fulaan ibn fulaan hanafi mufti to bring proof from quran and hadith..”

    These self righteous individuals should be asked; do they even know how proof is derived from quran and sunnah? Or further yet, how ahadith and their chains are verified? Or, which verses of Quran are used to derive legal rulings? Or how and which usool and qawaaid are used to derive certain rulings?

    The fact of the matter is that knowledge is required to give an answer. This knowledge is acquired based on methodology, and this methodology is what a madhab is in essence.

    Both the article and the commenters have overlooked this fundamental reality, which puts the analysis itself in doubt.


  42. ibnabeeomar

    July 10, 2007 at 10:14 AM

    nuqtah that was slightly pretentious, i don’t think that point was really missed in the article OR the comments… maybe not quite as explicit, but it seems understood to say the least

  43. nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 3:05 AM

    assalamu alaikum,

    Over all it is understood, yes. However, it is the more subtle points that are troublesome. For instance:

    [quote]This point was further reinforced when Shaykh Yaser Birjas addressed the question of which madhhab is correct. Obviously, 4 differing opinions cannot be correct. However, the approaches of all of them are valid. [/quote]

    If the methodologies are valid, it is not possible that an opinion reached based on a valid methodology is not valid. Hence, if it is Valid it should not be incorrect.

  44. Aboo Uthmaan

    July 11, 2007 at 3:22 AM

    It’s a rather simplistic assumption to say that if all approaches are valid then so are their rulings, it would be prudent for you to read Raf’-ul-Malaam ‘an-il-A’immat-il-A’laam by Shaykh-ul-Islam.

  45. nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 4:08 AM

    Tell me abu uthman if I follow an opinion on a certain matter, and that opinion is based in Shafi’i madhhab, and I choose not to follow the Hanafi opinion; can you or anyone else say that Im wrong in following Shafii ruling?

    And suppose I don’t follow the shafii ruling but follow the Hanafi ruling? Am I in wrong?

    and let’s suppose I follow Maliki position as opposed to the above two? Am I in wrong?

    And still, i choose to follow the Hanbali position as opposed to the all 3. Am I wrong for doing so?

    Also, if some one comes upto me and says hes got more authentic proof, should I discard the opinions in madhhahib and follow him?

  46. ibnabeeomar

    July 11, 2007 at 8:36 AM

    tell me nuqtah, can someone be in wudu and not in wudu at the same time? do madhhabs have conflicting conclusions on some of the issues that break or don’t break wudu? are the approaches of these madhhahib valid? by consequence doesn’t one of the opinions have to be technically incorrect?

  47. Aboo Uthmaan

    July 11, 2007 at 8:47 AM

    Just read the book Nutqah, thats all I suggested for you to do… Then perhaps you will understand that even though approaches may be valid, the outcome may not always be correct due to a number of of factors that came into play when making such rulings!

  48. Amad

    July 11, 2007 at 8:48 AM

    ASA… to add my 2-cents… a fiqh conclusion can be wrong but at the same time not blameworthy. That is where the ijtihad’s correctness earns it double the reward as compared to a wrong ijtihad, which still earns a reward.

    So, two methodologies can indeed be correct, but depending on the matter, the conclusion may be different and opposite… like for instance, in the meat issue: one fiqhi conclusion is that it is haram, and the other is that it is halal. Both cannot absolutely be correct, that is as illogical as 1+1+1=1. However, if both conclusions were based on the proper usool, and there are muqallids to the opinion on both sides, they are both fine, and neither is blameworthy. Allah tells us, what means to fear Him as much as we can, so the layman did his effort to follow a trustworthy person of knowledge, and then leaves it up to Allah.

    Hope this and Ibnabeeomar’s explanation clarifies the matter.

    Also, Br. Nuqtah, I advise you to discuss all matters in an amiable, learning way, so that we can all benefit from whatever little we collectively know.

  49. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 10:14 AM

    How come few scholars following the usul of their madhab (no problem in following the usul) disregard ahadiths that would contradict their culture or opinions of their shiekhs or imam of their madhab? I know there are scholars who have summarized version of Sahih Bukhari, taking out all ahadiths that would not support the position of their madhab/imam.

  50. ibnabeeomar

    July 11, 2007 at 10:56 AM

    hassan – thats an overly simplistic way of looking at things. one of the main things we learned in code evolve is its not necessarily just a disregard of hadith, some issues are of availability yes, but there’s also differences in what kinds of hadith they accept and under what circumstances. even to say that now we have all the authentic hadith compiled wouldn’t be accurate, since there are still many disagreements over which hadith are authentic or not.

    in some cases – yes, thats true they do disregard. i was listening to a muhammad alshareef lecture under the shade of scrolls this morning, and he was talking about the issue of malikis praying with their hands at their sides. he said even if its the case that they are incorrect, they arrived at that opinion out of ijtihaad of what they had so its unfair to criticize them.

    moreover, many of us can’t really criticize scholars for taking some positions. are we going to criticize someone for not following a particular hadith on a “clear” issue when

    a) we don’t know arabic, and thus our understanding is limited to begin with

    b) we don’t know the full context of the hadith, and other related hadith on the same issue

    c) we don’t know if the hadith is specific, general, etc

    d) we don’t know if the hadith was abrogated or not

    e) we don’t know the usool used to derive a ruling from the hadith

    and so on and so forth. one of the main points i was hoping to emphasize in my post was that we should have more respect for the ulemma and what conclusions they arrived at, and we should not further having so much argumentation on fiqhi issues because it leads to splitting up the community.

  51. ibnabeeomar

    July 11, 2007 at 10:57 AM

    btw i agree with what you said if someone is intentionally disregarding hadiths to support their madhhab – that is definitely one extreme and needs to be avoided. my post was directed towards the generality of scholars, but with the example you mentioned then yeah i agree

  52. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 11:04 AM

    Omar, your second comment is correct, I am not talking about true scholars of their madhabs in past and present. You have to realize whom I am talking about, those who put their madhab and opinions above than anything else. And I do not get when you say I am criticizing, these are criticism is from scholars, not me.

    I am fully aware that scholars may not agree on authenticity of ahadith, and as I said, I did not mean those things.

  53. nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 11:54 AM

    [quote]tell me nuqtah, can someone be in wudu and not in wudu at the same time? do madhhabs have conflicting conclusions on some of the issues that break or don’t break wudu? are the approaches of these madhhahib valid? by consequence doesn’t one of the opinions have to be technically incorrect? [/quote]

    I see what you are trying to get at. From my understanding they are correct based on whatever methodology which was used to derive that ruling. So, for instance some quirks in Shafii madhabs of what may or may not invalidate wudhu are correct according to shafii jurisprudence, but the case may be otherwise in Hanafi madhhab.

    This does not mean that understanding is incorrect, all it highlights is the difference of understanding of the evidence by the mujtahid Imams of the respective madhhabs.

    [quote]How come few scholars following the usul of their madhab (no problem in following the usul) disregard ahadiths that would contradict their culture or opinions of their shiekhs or imam of their madhab? I know there are scholars who have summarized version of Sahih Bukhari, taking out all ahadiths that would not support the position of their madhab/imam.


    This just shows your ignorance of how madhhahib actually work. Just because there’s a hadith, and lo and behold it’s in Bukhari aswell, it does not necessarily mean that a particular ruling in a madhhab depends on it. The rulings derived in madhhahib depend on the understanding of and evaluation of evidence by their mujtahid Imams and scholars not just Bukhari.

  54. ibnabeeomar

    July 11, 2007 at 12:00 PM

    br. nuqtah, please read the comments thoroughly before replying, this is the 2nd time in this thread alone if you had attentively read what was written it would have answered your comment, and you wouldn’t have had to give such a condescending reply to someone.

    the discussion just above your comment between myself and hassan shows that his point was different, and not the “ignorance” you accuse

  55. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 12:13 PM

    Nuqtah, there is difference between understanding hadith differently and having your opinion made first, and then trying to see what explanation can be made of this hadith to suit this opinion, (since this opinion was held by the imam of the madhab who was sincere though). Also I said, complete disregard, not just different understanding.

    By the way which madhab tells you to call others ignorant?

  56. nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 12:43 PM

    [quote]Nuqtah, there is difference between understanding hadith differently and having your opinion made first, and then trying to see what explanation can be made of this hadith to suit this opinion, (since this opinion was held by the imam of the madhab who was sincere though). Also I said, complete disregard, not just different understanding.


    That’s strange, mind giving an example?

  57. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 12:56 PM

    Insha’Allah, I would come with specifics and references, one example I quoted above, which was that “aalim” commenting on hadith or an issue, clearly said the stronger opinion is the other, but since we are hanafis we can not follow it and follow our opinion. So thats a complete disregard to hadith, and also to his own judgment that the stronger opinion is the other one. More later

  58. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 1:48 PM

    Ok, here is the exact thing what I gave example of (I would get more examples insha’Allah). These are words of Mahmdudul Hassan Deobandi in taqrir tirmidhi, published by Maktabah Rahmaniya lahore, p 49

    ” What is obtained is that the topic of khyar is among important topics and Abu Hanifa contradicted in it the majority and a lot of people from the first and later generations, they wrote rasail in refutation of his ( Abu Hanifa)’s madhab on this topic and maulana Shah Waliullah Muhadith gave tarjih in his rasail to the madhab of Shafi’i taking evidence from the ahadith and Nusus, and the same our shaykh gave tarjih to his madhab and said the truth and justice in this topic is to give preference to Shafi’i and we are muqalid and it is wajib upon us the taqleed of our Imam Abu Hanifa. Allah knows best”

    Now my point is just mentality, not the actual ruling.

  59. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 3:24 PM

    And also what I said in one of my comments, here is what I meant:

    Mufti Shafi says in Wahdat-e-Ummat:

    “One day at tahajjud time I approached my teacher Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri and saw him crying profusely. I asked him the reason and told him that he had spread and served ilm all his life and that you have thousands of students. He (Maulana Kashmiri) said: I am telling you the truth when I say that I have wasted my life. All my efforts and struggles can be summarized as trying to prove the truthfulness of the Hanafi madhab. ”

    Wahdat-e-Ummat – Mufti Shafi pg. 15

  60. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 3:31 PM

    By the way, brother Nuqtah, there are other examples as well, I just need to find references, but that is not point. Here is what I said:

    “Nuqtah, there is difference between understanding hadith differently and having your opinion made first, and then trying to see what explanation can be made of this hadith to suit this opinion, (since this opinion was held by the imam of the madhab who was sincere though). Also I said, complete disregard, not just different understanding.”

    and here is what you asked:
    “That’s strange, mind giving an example?”

    Does this mean you deny that it happens? Does this mean you know that this is not right thing to do?

    If you say that this does not happen, then all I can say alhamdulillah, because I do not like it happening. If you say all people do their sincere effort in understanding Quran and Hadith and following usul of madhab come up with sincere ruling, then alhamdulillah again. If you say they do not make up their mind on aqeedah and fiqh and then read their understanding into Quran and Sunnah, in process rejecting authentic ahadith, or proving it means something else, then again alhamdulillah. I have nothing against them.

    PS: Sadly, I know it happens, as I gave example, but if it does not happen anymore, then good alhamdulillah.

  61. nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 3:32 PM

    Honestly, akhi I don’t see anything blameworthy?

  62. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 3:47 PM

    Just to clarify if I understood you correctly, and we can leave the conversation at there, since I would not be able to convince you.

    You do not see that having an opinion then finding ways to justify it, and in process disregarding some ahadiths blameworthy?

  63. nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 7:53 PM

    [quote]You do not see that having an opinion then finding ways to justify it, and in process disregarding some ahadiths blameworthy?


    No, because i dont think they are actually disregarding ahadith.

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  65. Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 9:55 PM

    Nuqtah, how come?

  66. nuqtah

    July 12, 2007 at 8:04 AM

    They are not overlooking hadith, but only understanding hadith according to the methodology of their madhhab. I don’t see how that’s ‘wrong’?

  67. Hassan

    July 12, 2007 at 10:38 AM

    Dude, I gave you an example, and there are others, but in any case, alhamdulillah if its just the understanding thats the issue, and if they are sincere in looking at all hadiths, and trying their best to understand it, and then come up with verdict. And I pray and hope that is the case.

  68. A Reader

    July 13, 2007 at 2:06 AM

    Hmm, salams everyone and thanks for the great balanced post!
    There are flaws on both sides, and it’s interesting that Salafi scholars encourage madhab following while traditional scholars do not condemn non madhab followers but we condemn each other all the time.
    See I personally just have a problem with the notion that everytime a salafi or rather a no madhab person asks a traditional muslim what their daleel is for doing so and so and they don’t have it. Well sorry that does not discredit madhabs. The reason why we believe in taqleed is because not everyone can be a mujtahid and know the reasons behind every ruling.
    My second problem is the notion, oh and when they are confronted with a sahih hadith they don’t act on it. or being confronted with the “strongest” evidence so to speak.
    Um, there are thousands of hadith quite a few that seemingly contradict each other and many that we have never even read andthe scholars all work this out for us.
    And also the notion of rejecting the madahib to follow the strongest and most correct view. I reject the idea that there can’t be 2 or even 3 equally strong opinions and when we say they are all correct we really mean they are all strong. Of course one of them is actually correct and the rest aren’t but they can all be equally string evidences and usuls and arguments. and the sincere scholar who gets to the wrong answer STILL gets hasana for his effort. The scholar that was right gets double.

    Anyway all in all great post.

  69. al-Harrani

    July 13, 2007 at 5:42 PM


    The opinions we air publicly should be well-informed. The Usulis have differed with respect to the double truth theory, where most of the muhaqqiqin state that truth is only single. The double-truth theory has been incorrectly attributed to al-Ash’ari according to the Ash’aris of Khurasan. Some suggest that Ibn al-Subki adopted the double-truth theory in order to accommodate the two faces of al-Ash’ari.

    But the issue is discussed at length in the works of Usul, such that one shouldn’t feel the need to speak from the top of his head.

    Also, the madhab fanaticism isn’t a phantom enemy of the Salafis. It goes as far back as Ibn al-Jawzi’s time (and even earlier) when the jurists began approach Usul and fiqh to champion their madhab, more than the truth:

    I am sure you’ve come across Ibn al-Jawzi’s following remarks:

    “Lethargy prevailed over the latter jurists that they could not study the science of traditions; so much so, that I noticed some of the senior jurists remark in their works about traditions found in authentic collections: ‘It is not possible for the Prophet to have said such-and-such!’ I then noted that he would support his argument in an issue saying: ‘Some of them narrated that the Prophet said such-and-such.’ He would then respond to the authentic tradition, which his opponent used in support of his argument, saying: ‘This tradition is not known!’ All of this is a crime against Islam.”

    This happened earlier on, and become uglier by the passage of time, and there is no denying it, especially if you ever heard of someone called ‘al-kawthari’ and read any of his works.

  70. SaqibSaab

    July 14, 2007 at 5:38 PM

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    Not sure if this was already mentioned/addressed since I haven’t read all the comments yet, but here goes:

    This was written in this article:
    “I read something by Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen that again rocked my world. In all my confusion I found something full of light and wisdom on this issue. I cannot find the article now, but it said essentially that there was nothing wrong with studying a madhhab and gave some general guidelines of when taqleed is made.”

    Also one of the comments mentioned that Shaykh Albani encouraged students to study a madhab.

    The question I have from just trying to understand those snippets is:

    *If you study a Madhab, do you have to *follow* it as well??*

    It seems that Shaykh Uthaymeen and Shaykh Albani were encouraging us to *study* the madahib. Also following them? That seems to be a separate issue that’s somehow been intertwined into the whole thing.

    Some brothers I’ve heard were saying (after reaching this kind of understanding) that they’re going to “go back to being Hanafi” because they’ve taken such advice and began studying that Madhab’s Fiqh.

    Just because you study a Madhab, academically anyways, do you really have to follow it, too?

    JAK =)

  71. jannah

    July 17, 2007 at 9:54 AM

    I thought this was a really great article, and I definitely felt that this was my story as well. We all go through these stages and subhan’Allah, it’s so true that in reality, we know nothing!

    I hate to divert from the topic, and I hope this isn’t a silly question, but if anyone has an answer that would be great!

    So….the duty of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil which is incumbent upon every believer, how should that be done?

    For example, let’s say I see a sister and she buys a home and is paying a mortgage that 100% includes riba. Upon hearing this, am I, the layperson, ALLOWED to say anything to her, even if I have an Ayah from the Quran? Am I supposed to forbid the evil, or just advise her vaguely? Should I just not say anything since I am not supposed to go fatwa shopping and find an answer that goes along with her situation?????

    I often find myself in these kinds of situations and I try to refrain from saying anything out of fear that, “who am I??” to go around telling people that what they are doing is wrong.

    Again, sorry if this is off topic, but I am always confused on this matter.

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan!

  72. nuqtah

    July 18, 2007 at 5:55 AM

    Jzak Allahu khair sayyidi al-harrani for your beneficial comment.

  73. Ihsan

    July 22, 2007 at 10:06 AM

    Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem.

    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatull’Allahi wa barakatu.

    Jazakh Allahu khaira for this very insightful article. As a university student in the United States who is trying to increase my understanding of my deen, I have been very interested in the entire madhab idea. I want to be able to follow my religion the way it was intended and I am leaning towards the position that to be able to this I need to follow the wisdom and effort put forth by our great imams and scholars who are more knowledgeable and are able to come to rulings based on serious study of the Quran and Sunnah. I know very little to be able to come to determinations alone and need guidance. The questions in your article are the same questions I have been asking. I found all of them discussed in your one article. I am appreciative of this, for I realize I am having the same thoughts as my fellow brothers and sisters in Islam. You gave good examples and analogies that stimulated my thinking and opened my eyes.

    May Allah (Swt) guide us and keep us guided to the straight path. May He reward us for our efforts and struggles, for all of us on this site are here due to the fact that we want to get closer to Him. Inshallah we will all find benefit in the brother’s article and everyone’s responses.

  74. Asim Imam

    August 12, 2007 at 6:40 PM

    Assalamu alaikum!

    Say a Sheikh who is generally held to be a ‘Salafi’ states that a layman should follow a Madh-hab, but at the same time the same sheikh stresses that when this layman is shown a Sahih Hadith that differs from that layman’s schoool’s ruling in some issue, he should abnadon the ruling and follow the explicit meaning of the Sahih Hadith.

    Does this not make his first advice of following a madh-hab effectively useless, since there is every possibility that the ruling is based on another Sahih hadith, or based on the harmonization between more than one evidences (including the one Hadith shown to the layman), or is based on the claim (by some qualified early Mujtahid) that the hadith shown to this layman has been abrogated by a later Hadith text, or is based on the preference (given by the Mujtahid) to some more mash-hoor and ma’mool bih Sahih hadith, etc?

    My point is: What good is the advice to follow a madh-hab when it is accompanied by the advice to give up a ruling due to the existence of even 1 sound contrary evidence, without the capability in the layman (the recepient of the advice) to go out and verify if there is a sound textual basis for the ruling being abandoned?

    If this conditional following of a madh-hab was reserved for the very cream of today’s Fiqh specialists and scholars, I would understand. But directing this advice to one who has no means of evaluating evidences independently seems to be asking for too much from this poor individual.

    This is not to say that there aren’t incorrect rulings in the four Madh-habs–there certainly are; the point is only that the layman can easily fall into thinking that there isn’t a sound basis for his school’s ruling even when there IS one, but happens to be subtle or deduced or based on a synthesis of many and varied revealed texts not readily found in one book or a couple of books.

  75. ibnabeeomar

    August 12, 2007 at 7:27 PM

    br. asim – we don’t live in a binary world :)

    and fyi please don’t take what i wrote and apply it blanket on the shaykh’s opinions as its possible theres shortcoming in my portrayal. anyhow i think you are framing things too much in an absolutist sense either way on following or not following a madhhab.

  76. jinnzaman

    August 12, 2007 at 10:05 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    The biggest problem in such discussions is that one fails to properly construe what a madhab is and how the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum) resolved legal issues.

    I recall reading in the fatwa of Shaykh Yaser Qadhi concerning the doritos chips where he quoted Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmutallah alayh) as supporting the position that he was supporting. Many of the commentators on this blog inferred that later and contemporary Hanafi ‘Ulema have somehow deviated from the Hanafi madhab which would have allowed the consumption of animal rennet had it been chemically transformed and infinitesimal.

    The inference that a madhab is merely the opinions of its founders is a misconstruction of a madhab. It is a corporate entity that is comprised of mujtahids that unite upon legal principles and not necessarily legal conclusion.

    In fact, even Hanafi ‘Ulema such as Shah Waliullah in his al-Insaf al Bayyan … point out that what we call the “Hanafi” madhab is really a combination of three schools: that of Imam Abu Hanifa, Abu Yusuf, and ash-Shaibani. All three were mujtahid mutlaq and they didn’t always agree on things. In fact, Abu Yusuf himself differed in one third of his rulings from Imam Abu Hanifa. If Abu Yusuf differed on one third of his rulings and he was also a mujtahid mutlaq, then what about later mujtahids, especially contemporary ‘Ulema, who differed from Imam Abu Hanifa? The term “Hanafi” is merely used to describe a corporation comprised of mujtahids since their legal methodologies are too complex and diverse to be simplified into a simple phrase or term.

    Just like a corporation is not merely the products it produces, but is comprised of investors, management, officers, and employees whose termination or departure would not end the existence of the corporation, a madhab is not terminated merely because a later scholar differs from an earlier one or contemporary scholars differ from each other. This is because legal rulings are given based upon (a) one’s knowledge (b) the legal facts involved in the legal question and (c) the legal environment that one lives in.

    What makes a madhab unique and superior to following an individual madhab is the process of self-correction. The process of self-correction existed in the time of companions (radhi allahu anhum). There are a plethora of examples where if one of them would find an evidence that was hitherto unknown to them, they would change their opinions in accordance with that evidence. This process of self-correction became systematized and organized through the founding of the madhaib. Thus, Imam Malik (rahmutallah alayh) subjected his al-Muwatta to intense hadeeth criticism by over 70 muhaditheen within Madinah. It is for this reason that Allamah Suyuti wrote a criticism against Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and defended the assertion that it was more authoritative than the Sahihayn in several different ways.
    Another example is Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmutallah alayh) who would issue fatwas and then subject them to the scrutiny of his students, which numbered in the hundreds. The process of self-correction evolved and matured over time and more and more mujtahids resolved various conflicts and discovered new ones as time progressed.

    Unlike the differences that occurred in the era of the Salafus Saleh which were due to the absence of access to traditions, the four mahdaib no longer are bereft of access to the totality of legislative texts. Every school of law now has access to all to the same corpus of legislative texts.

    This is why the claim “follow a madhab, but if daleel is brought to you, then you should stick with it” is a weak analogy. The Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum) did it because they didn’t have access to the texts, not because they lacked understanding of them. There are a plethora of instances when even when the fuqaha among them would not change their opinions even after having evidence brought to them.

    Of course, this is only regarding the fuqaha of the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum) and not the overwhelming majority of the hundreds of thousands who simply did taqleed of them without asking for daleel and did not move from engaging in taqleed of one of the several fuqaha. Thus, over 99.993% of them at least engaged in taqleed to one of these fuqaha).

    The methodology of the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum) and the Mujtahid Imams only supports the conclusion of following a madhab due to the incapacity of lay people to properly understand evidences. Since we know that almost 100% of them engaged in taqleed and only 0.007% of them engaged in ijtehad. We also know that those that engaged in ijtehad generally stuck with their opinions even when evidence was brought to them. The instances where they changed their fatwas was not due to a change in legal methodology, but the presentment of new legislative texts that they were previously unaware of — a condition that no longer exists today since all of the legislative texts have been preserved and all of the ‘Ulema have access to them.

    Thus, if one scrutinizes textual, rational, and historical arguments for following a madhab and not engaging in the haram practice of scrutinizing evidences when one is not qualified to do so, it seems that the safest path is following the four madhaib.

    There’s no proof in Islamic history that one is obliged to ask for and follow daleel; whether one looks at the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum) or the Mujtahid Imams.

    So the choice is simple: follow the gigantic legal organism comprised of mujtahid imams or follow your own opinions even though many of us aren’t huffaz or muhaditheen or mufasireen or fuqaha.

    The choice seems blaringly obvious.

    May Allah (subhana wa’tala) give us tawfeeq and grant us all hidayah. Ameen.


  77. Pingback: » The Truth About Taqlid (Part 1)

  78. abdul azeez

    April 12, 2008 at 12:46 PM








  79. Muadh Khan

    May 19, 2008 at 6:04 AM

    Asslamo Allaikum,

    I read this article a while ago and Masha’Allah it is good piece.

    In short I believe that jinnzaman’s piece is great about understanding “Following of a Madhab” e.g. Following the Hanafi Madhab doesn’t mean that you follow “Imam Abu Haneefa (RA)’s opinions personally” and that’s where people make an error and fall down…

    I like many others from the late 80’s and early 90’s was also influenced by the “Taqleed is Shirk” style Dawah on the East Coast till one day you grow up and realise that you were “selectively fed the translations of certain scholars” by people who had their own slant on the truth.

    I was also fortunate enough to read the Interview of Shaykh Bin-Baaz (RA) many years ago in which he said something along the lines of “I follow the Madhab of Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal (RA) [in principle]” reproduced in many Islamic Magazines.

    And then I also realised that most Scholars in Saudia are Hanbali [in principle] and they neither call for abandonment of Madhabs nor declare it “Shirk”, rather they actively call for Taqleed (Following a qualified Scholar) which has been the way of Sunnah forever.

    I also agree Fatwa-Hunting is a menace.

  80. as-Siddiq

    September 9, 2009 at 5:17 PM

    Asalaamu Alaykum,

    I just wanted to comment on the article’s down to earth and balanced approach mashaAllah. I wanted to say that I am going to write a blurb about my own personal path to finally realizing how dumb I’ve been to have been in the mind set of “I follow only sunnah and Quran” to all the way to “Hanafi is the way to go”. I came along way and still have a long way ahead, but I now teach and influence youth in my community and want them to learn from my personal experience as well- with the hopes that our next generation will be in better shape inshaAllah. Jazak Allah khair for the idea.

  81. alys

    July 15, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    All scholars’ statements – from the time of the prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his companions (رضي الله عنهم) up to now – about following the authentic and leaving the weak, is said only to qualified people of knowledge and NOT laypeople.

    This is important for all of us lay people to note.

  82. Favas

    January 14, 2014 at 10:33 PM

    (4:59) Believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and THOSE in authority among you; and then if you were to dispute among yourselves about anything refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you indeed believe in Allah and the Last Day; that is better and more commendable in the end.

    >> In this sentence the plural THOSE is used instead of singular.
    >> Qur’aan doesn’t tell us that one group of people must follow imam Shafi ONLY, one group of people must follow imam Abu Haneefa ONLY, one group of people must follow imam Malik ONLY and one group of people must follow imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal ONLY.
    >> There is no any Hadith also which tell us to follow a particular madh’hab or a particular imam ONLY.
    >> Any of those imams (may Allaah have mercy on them) also didn’t say to follow any one of them ONLY.
    >> All the imams (may Allaah have mercy on them) also said to reject their fatwas which goes against Qur’aan and sunnah

    So, why some Muslims are following a particular imam ONLY instead of choosing and following the most accurate fatwas by those imams?

    For example, take the case of ablution (wudoo’) for salah. There are three entirely different views from four imams:
    1) According to Imam Shaafi (may Allaah have mercy on him), touching a woman invalidates wudoo’ in all cases, whether the touching is with desire or not, and whether he intended to do that or it happened by mistake.
    2) According to Imam Abu Haneefah (may Allaah have mercy on him), touching a woman does not invalidate wudoo’ at all, whether it is with desire or without desire.
    3) According to Imam Maalik and Ahmed bin Hanbal if touching was done with desire, then it invalidates wudoo’, and if it was not done with desire then it does not invalidate it.

    Of course the intentions of these four imams were not to mislead us at all. Their fatwas were based on the information they received. And, of course our beloved prophet also didn’t teach us three entirely different rules regarding the breaking of wudoo that must be followed by each of the four groups of ummah.

    Like these, there are many other contrasting views also. When one group of ummah are doing something, the other groups are doing entirely opposite thing. One group of people say there is Qunoot in salah Fajr, but others say NO; One group of people say there is group supplication after fardh salah, but others say NO; etc… etc… etc…

    So, why is this not possible to solve it out to choose and follow the most accurate fatwa by those imams, especially when there is no any rule in Qur’aan, Hadith or from the imams that forbid us not to follow any particular imam ONLY?

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