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]
Blind Following one of The Four Madhabs
Guidelines for following a Madhab
SHAYKH MUHAMMAD IBN SAALIH AL-UTHAYMEEN was asked: When encountering a difficult issue, do you advise the student of knowledge not to stick to a madhhab, or [do you advise] to turn to a particular madhhab?
The Shaykh, hafidhahullaah, responded: If what is intended by sticking to a madhhab is that a person sticks to that madhhab, and turns away from everything else; whether the correct view lies in his madhhab or another madhhab – then this is not permissible, and is from the blameworthy and bigotted partisanship. But if a person ascribes to a particular madhhab in order to benefit from its principles and guidelines, but he refers it back to the Book and the Sunnah; [such that] if it becomes clear to him that the preferred view lies in another madhhab, he then adopts that view – then there is no problem with this. [Note: this is for a student of knowledge, not the common muslim].
SHAYKH SAALIH AL-FAWZAAN was asked: Is it permissible for one who sticks to a particular madhhab in matters of worship, to turn away from it and stick to another madhhab whenever he wants? Or is it binding upon a Muslim to stick to just one madhhab until he dies? And is there a difference in how the Prayer should be performed between the four madhhabs or not? And what has been related from the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam concerning how the Prayer should be prayed?
The Shaykh, hafidhahullaah, responded: The issue of sticking to a madhhab has in it some detail. If a person has the ability to know the ruling from its proof, and to deduce the ruling from its proof, then it is not permitted for him to cling to a madhhab. rather, it is upon him to take the ruling from the evidence – if he has the ability to do so. However, this is rare amongst the people, since this is a quality of the mujtahideen from the people of knowledge; those that have reaced the levels of ijtihaad. As for one who is not like that, then he cannot take the rulings directly from the evidences. And this is the predominant case amongst the people, especially in these latter times. So [in such a case] there is no harm in adopting one of the four madhhabs and making taqleed of one of them. However, he should not make blind taqleed such that he takes all that is in the madhhab; whether it is correct or incorrect. Rather, it is upon him to take from the madhhab that which – in his view – does not clearly oppose the evidence. As for those views in the madhhab which clearly oppose the evidence, then it is not permissible for the Muslim to take it. Rather it is upon him to adopt what is established by the proof, even if it is in another madhhab So his leaving the madhhab for another madhhab in order to follow the evidence is something good; this is a matter which is good – rather it is obligatory;since following the evidence is an madhhab in order to follow the evidence is something good; this is a matter which is good – rather it is obligatory;since following the evidence is an obligation.
As for adopting one madhhab sometimes and another at other times, then this moving is from the angle of following ones desires and seeking concessions, and this is not permissible. Meaning, that whatever accords with ones whims and desires, from the sayings of the people of knowledge, is taken – even if it opposes the proof; and whatever opposes ones whims and desires is left – even if it has a proof. This is the following of whims and desires, and we seek refuge in Allaah [from that]. Thus, moving from one madhhab to another, due to following ones desires, or due to ease or seeking concession; then this is not permissible. As for moving from one madhhab to another due to following an evidence, or to flee from a saying that does not have a proof, or from an erroneous view – then this is a matter that is encouraged and sought from a Muslim. And Allaah knows best.
As for the issue concerning the differences between the four madhhabs in the Prayer, then the four madhhabs – and all praise is for Allaah – are in Prayer, then the four madhhabs – and all praise is for Allaah – are in agreement about most of the rulings concerning the Prayer, in general. Their differences are in some of the details of the Prayer. From [such differences] are, for example, that [one of them] may consider something to be prescribed, whilst another may not consider it to be prescribed; one may consider something to be obligatory, whilst another may consider it to be recommended; and so on. So the differences are in the details of the Prayer. But as for the rulings of the Prayer in general, then there is no difference – and all praise is for Allaah
SHAYKH MUHAMMAD IBN ABDUL-WAHHAAB said: If a person is learning fiqh from one of the four madhhabs, then he sees a hadeeth that opposes his madhhab; and so he follows it and leaves his madhhab – then this is recommended, rather it is obligatory upon him when the proof has been made clear to him. This would not be considered as opposing his Imaam that he follows, since they – Abu Haneefah, Maalik, ash-Shaafiee and Ahmad, radiallaahu anhum ajmaeen – were all agreed upon this fundamental principle.
… As for the case whereby a person does not have any evidence which opposes the view of the scholars of the madhhab, then we hope that it is permissible to act upon it (the madhhab), since their opinions are better than our own opinions; they took their proofs from the sayings of the Companions and those who came after them. However, it is not essential to declare with certainty (al-jazm) that this is the Shareeah of Allaah and His Messenger, until the proof that is not contradicted in this issue is made clear. This is the action of the Salaf of this Ummah and its scholars – both previous and recent – as well as that which they criticised: namely having bigotted partisanship for particular madhhabs (at-taassubul-madhaahib) and leaving off following the proof… However, if there becomes clear to him something which necessitates preferring one saying over another; either due to detailed proofs if he knows and understands them, or because he holds one of the two people to be more knowledgeable about this matter and having more piety about what he says, and so he leaves the saying of that one for the saying of the other one – then this is permissible, rather it is obligatory. And there is a text from Imaam Ahmad concerning this.
1. As-Sahwatul-Islaamiyyah (pp.141-142).
2. Muntaqaa min Fataawaa (5/365-366).
3. Ad-Durur-Saniyyah (4/7).
4.Majmoo’ Fataawaa (20/220-221).