Is it obligatory to Follow a Certain Madhhab ?
Shaykh Muhammad Sultan Al-Ma’soomi
From the book; Should A Muslim Follow A Particular Madhhab? p16-17 Darussalam Publications
Different Madhhab are personal and private opinions, judgements and interpretations of legal points according to religious Scholars and jurists. Allaah and the Prophet sal’lal’laahu alaihi wa sallam have not ordered us to follow these opinions and interpretations. There is a possibility of being correct or incorrect in their opinions and interpretations.
There are many issues on which Imaams had different views and they explained them according to their own reasons and speculations. But when the truth (Qur’aan Ayah or a Saheeh Hadeeth) came to their knowledge, they reconsidered their own opinion and accepted the truth. They never stuck to their opinion when an authentic Hadeeth came to their knowledge.
If anyone accepts Islaam, he only has to testify that there is no God worthy of worship except Allaah and Muhammad is the last and final Messenger, to perform the prayers five times a day, to pay Zakah, to fast in the month of Ramadhan and make Hajj to the House of Allaah (in Makkah, Saudi Arabia) if he is able to do so, at least once in a life time.
It is certainly not obligatory to follow any Madhhab, i.e. Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, or Hanbali. If he does so, in eyes of the Islaamic Law, he will be considered a wrongdoer, prejudiced and sinful person, and will be treated among those who divided the religion of Islaam into different sects. Allaah has strongly condemned those who create dissention in Islaam. Allaah says in the Noble Qur’aan;
“Verily, those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you (O Muhammad) have no concern in the least…”[6:159]
In another place Allaah says:
“And be not of Al-Mushriqoon of those who split up their religion and became sects, each sect rejoicing in that which is with it.” [30:31-32]
In light of the above quoted Ayahs from the Noble Qur’aan it is clear that there is no place for different Madhahib and sects in Islaam and it is not obligatory to follow anyone of these Madhahib or sects. What is obligatory to follow is the way of the Prophet sal’lal’laahu alaihi wa sallam as stated in the Qur’aan:
“Say (O Muhammad to the people): This is my way; I invite unto Allaah with sure knowledge – I and whomsoever follows me. And I am not of those who set up partners to Allaah.” [12:108]
It is a fact that the followers of different Madhahib are always at odds with each other and the result of this confrontation is clearly stated in the Qur’aan:
“And do not dispute lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allaah is with those who are patient.” [8:46]
On the contrary it has been advised to create the atmosphere of unity among ourselves and to hold fast to the Rope of Allaah as prescribed in the Qur’aan:
“And hold fast, all of you together to the Rope of Allaah (the Qur’aan & the Sunnah) and be not divided amongst yourselves.” [3:103]