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The Blind Following of Madhhabs

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1. The Reality of Eemaan and Islaam

There is no ability, nor action except by the will of Allaah, the most High, the Sublime. My answer is:

You should know that many of the people of Islaam, their scholars [1] , not to speak of their ignorant ones claim that a Muslim has to follow one of the four madhhabs which are attributed to the Imaams - rahimahumullaah, such as Abu Haneefah, Maalik, ash-Shaafi’ee and Ahmad. That is a mistake, rather it is ignorance [2] and a lack of knowledge of Islaam!

As it is reported in the authentic and famous Hadeeth of Jibreel:
Jibreel asked Allaah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) about Islaam, so the Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied, “That you testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah and - you establish Prayer and give the Zakaah and you fast in Ramadaan and you make pilgrimage to the House if you are able.” He then asked, ‘What is Eemaan?’ So the Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied, “That you believe in Allaah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers and the Last Day and that you believe in pre-destination, its good and its bad.” The questioner asked, ‘ What is al-Ihsaan? ‘ The Messenger of Allaah (Peace be upon him) said, “Al-Ihsaan is that you worship Allaah, the Most High, as if you were seeing Him and even though you do not see Him, verily He sees you.”
[Part of the authentic Hadeeth reported by al-Bukhaaree (l/114, 8/513), Muslim (1/164), Ahmad, Ibn Maajah (1/25) and an-Nasaa’ee (8/101)]

In the Hadeeth of ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar  the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
 “Islaam is built upon five: The testification that none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah and establishment of Prayer and giving Zakaah and the Fast of Ramadaan and pilgrimage to the House for him who is able to do so.”
[Saheeh: reported by al-Bukhaaree (1/49). Muslim (1/176-177), an-Nasaa’ee (8/107-108), at-Tirmidhee (5/5-6), al-Baihaqee (4/199) and al-Humaydee (2/308).]

Abu Hurairah reports that:
“A man came and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah! Guide me to an action by which, if I do it, I will enter Paradise.’ So he (Peace be upon him) said, “That you testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, that you establish Prayer, pay the Zakaah and fast Ramadaan.” So the questioner said, “By Him in whose Hand is my life! I will not do any more or less than that.’ Allaah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said, “He has succeeded if he has spoken the truth.’’
[Saheeh: reported by al-Bukhaaree (3/261), Muslim (1/174), Ahmad and an-Nasaa’ee (4/122, 8/118). Those who explain this Hadeeth say that he did not mention Hajj because it had not been made obligatory then. (see al-Fath, 3/265]

Anas reports: “We were with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in the mosque when a man upon a camel entered, he made the camel kneel and tied it in the mosque and then said, ‘ Which of you is Muhammad?’ The Prophet (Peace be upon him)was reclining amongst them, so someone said, ‘That white man who is reclining.’ So the man said to him, ‘Ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib?’ The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “I have answered to you.” So the man said to the Prophet (Peace be upon him), ‘I will ask you something which may be hard upon you, so do not feel anything against me. ‘ He (Peace be upon him) said, “Ask whatever you wish.” So he said, ‘I ask you by your Lord and the Lord of those before you, has Allaah sent you for all of the people?’ He (Peace be upon him) said, “O Allaah, yes!” He said, ‘I ask you by Allaah, has Allaah ordered you to fast this month from the year? ‘ He (Peace be upon him) said, “O Allaah, yes!” He said, ‘I ask you by Allaah, has Allaah ordered you to take this charity from our rich and to distribute it amongst the poor?’ So the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, “O Allaah, yes!” The man said, ‘l have believed in that which you came with, I am a messenger sent by my people, I am Dammaam ibn Tha’labah, the brother of Banu Sa’d ibn Bakr.’

 [Saheeh: reported by al-Bukhaaree (1/148), an-Nasaa’ee (4/122-123), Ibn Maajah (1/449) and Ahmad]
So this is the Islaam with which Allaah ordered His servants and sent Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to explain

2. Blind-Following of a Madhhab, not Obligatory nor Recommended

As for the madhhabs  [3] , they are the opinions of the scholars, their understanding as regards certain problems and their deductions. Allaah, the Most High, did not make it obligatory to follow these opinions, deductions and understandings, nor did His Messenger, since they contain that which is correct and that which is incorrect. There is nothing that is totally correct except that which is established from Allaah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) and very often the Imaams would make a pronouncement in a matter and then the truth would come to their attention, being at variance with that, so they would retract from their saying!

So he who wishes to enter the Deen of Islaam and to be honoured by the honour of Eemaan, then he has only to bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah and to establish the five Prayers, to pay Zakaah, to fast in the month of Ramadaan and to make Hajj to the House if he is able.

As for following one of the four madhhabs or any other madhhab, then that is not obligatory nor recommended and it is not binding for a Muslim to follow any one of them in particular. Rather he who follows one of them in particular, in every matter, then he is a mistaken sectarian and a blind-follower. He is one of those who split up their Deen and become sects and Allaah, the Most High, has forbidden splits within the Deen:

“Verily, those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you (0 Muhammad) have no concern in them in the least.”

[Sooralul-An’aam (6):159]

“Be not of those who worship others along with Allaah; of those who split up their religion and became sects, each sect rejoicing in that which is with it.”

[Soorat ar-Room (30): 31-32]

Islaam is a single Deen and there are no madhhabs or ways therein, which one is obligated to follow except for the way of Muhammad, the Messenger of Allaah (Peace be upon him) and his guidance.
“Say (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) This is my way; I invite unto Allaah, with sure knowledge. I and whosoever follows me (also must invite others to Allaah) with sure knowledge. Glorified and Exalted be Allaah. I am not of Mushrikeen (those who worship others along with Allaah).”

[Soorah Yoosuf (12):108]

 Many differences have sprung up between the blind-followers of these madhhabs, without knowledge! Allaah, the Most High, says:
“Do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart and be patient. Surely, Allaah is with those who are Patient”

[Soorahtul-Anfaal (8): 46]

Allaah, the Great, says, ordering us to unite and cling together:

“Hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allaah (i.e. this Qur’aan) and be not divided amongst yourselves.” [Soorah Aal’-lmraan (3):103]


[1] The author’s - rahimahullaah - reference to the blind-followers as being people of knowledge is a matter for discussion, since knowledge is the realisation which comes from a proof, without proof it is merely blind-following.
Ibn ul-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah - rahimahullaah - says in his Nooniyyah, “Knowledge is a realisation of the guidance with its proof; that and blind-following are not equal.”


Imaam Muhammad ibn Idrees ash-Shaafi’ee- rahimahullaah - said in ar-Risaalah (p.39), “It is not permissible for anyone to ever say about anything that it is halaal or haraam except upon knowledge. This knowledge is what is related in the Book, or the Sunnah, or ijmaa’ or qiyaas.”

The great scholar al-Fulaanee - rahimahullaah - said in Eeqaaz Hamam Oolil-Absaar (p.25), “So these ahaadeeth and reports clearly show that the word knowledge refers only to what is in Allaah’s Book, the Sunnah of Allaah’s Messenger , the ijmaa’ and what is gained by qiyaas upon these sources, when a text cannot be found, in the view of those who hold that. It does not refer to what the blind-followers and people of bigotry regard as knowledge, as they restrict knowledge to refer to that which is written in the books of the opinions of the madhhabs, even though some of them clash with the Prophetic ahaadeeth.” .
Therefore the true scholar (‘Aalim) who is referred to by the aayaahs and ahaadeeth concerning the excellence of knowledge is the mujtahid who strives to extract from the proofs contained in the Guidance. As for the blind-follower (muqallid) then he is not a scholar and the scholars throughout the ages have agreed to this.

Ash-Shaabbee - rahimahullaah - clearly says in his Muwaafiqaat (4/293), “The muqallid is not a scholar.”

In the same way as-Suyootee - rahimahullaah - said, “The muqallid is not called a scholar.” Reported from him by Abul-Hasan as-Sindee al-Hanafee -rahimahullaah - in his explanatory notes to Sunan Ibn Maajah (1/70).

It occurs in the books of fiqh of the Hanafees that it is not permissible for the ignorant to attain the post of judge. Ibn ul-Hammaam - rahimahullaah - explained the ignorant to be the blind-follower (Fath ul-Qadeer, 5/456).

The same was said by Ibraaheem ibn al-Wazeer - rahimahullaah - in Raudat ul-Baasim (1/36), “There is no doubt that the muftee, who is a blind-follower, is not called a scholar.”

At-Tahaawee - rahimahullaah - said, “None blindly follows except an ignorant person or a bigoted partisan.” Reported from him by Ibn ‘Aabideen in Rasm al-Muftee (1/32), from his Majmoo’ tur-Rasaa’il and also reported from him by Ibn Hajr al-’Asqalaanee in his biography in al-Lisaan.

Ibn ‘Abd ul-Barr - rahimahullaah - reports in his Jaami’ (2/119), that there is ijmaa’ about that, saying, “The scholars have agreed that, that which is not clear and certain is not knowledge... and there is no disagreement between the different scholars regarding the error of taqleed, so there is no need to go into that further.”

Ibn Qayyim - rahimahullaah - agreed to that in A’laam ul-Muwaqqi‘een (1/7) after having quoted it in full on p.26.

The sayings of the scholars which you have in front of you have as their proof the saying of the Prophet  in the authentic Hadeeth reported by al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maa jah, Ahmad. Ad-Daarimee and al-Humaidee, from the narration of ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-’Aas:

“Verily Allaah does not take away knowledge by snatching it away from the servants, but he takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, until when no scholar remains; the people take ignorant ones as leaders, so they are asked and give judgements without knowledge (and in the report of al-Bukhaaree:) So they give judgment according to their opinion and they go astray and lead others astray.”
In this is a clear sign that those who deserve the elevated title of Scholar are very few throughout the ages.

[2]  This is as Ash-Shawkaanee - rahimahullaah - clearly stated it in Irshaad al-Fahool (p.267), saying, “Since taqleed (blind-following) is ignorance, not knowledge.” Muhammad ibn ‘Alee ash-Shawkaanee (1757-1835 CE) born near the town of Shawkaan in Yemen, was also among the reformers of this period. Ash-Shawkaanee studied Fiqh according to the Zaydee Madhhab and became one of its outstanding scholars. He then went into an in-depth study of the science of Hadeeth and subsequently became the most famous scholar of Hadeeth of his time. At this point he freed himself of the Madhhab and began making independent Ijtihaad. He wrote a number of works in Fiqh and its fundamentals in which issues studied from the points of view of all the Madhhabs were concluded with solutions based solely on the most accurate proofs and the most convincing arguments. Imaam ash-Shawkaanee took the position that Taqleed was Haraam and wrote a number of books on the topic, for example, Al-Qawl al-Mufeed fee Hukm at-Taqleed. Consequently, he also came under attack from most of the scholars of his time. [Muhammed ibn ‘Alee ash-Shawkaanee, Nayl al-Awtaar, vol.1, p.3-6.]

[3]  The Definition of Blind Following (i.e. Taqleed)
Linguistically, it means, “Placing something around the neck, which encircles the neck. Technically it means, Following the one whose saying in itself is not a hujjah (proof). This term is used generally, to refer to the unquestionable following of one of the four madhabs in all affairs (i.e. the Shafi’ee, Hambalee, Maalikee or Hanafee)

Following the teachings of the Prophet  and following the Ijmaa (consensus) of a the Sahaabah (Companions) are excluded from the saying: “Following he whose saying in itself is not a proof’, for their sayings are indeed proof (as has already been established earlier) and are defined as Ittibaa’.

From this we know that,
1.  Taqleed is not useful knowledge.
2. A common Muslim may take fiqh (rulings) upon the understanding and the sayings of all the scholars. In those issues in which a common Muslim cannot make up his mind, he may follow and rely upon the opinion of any of the Mujtaahid, until an opinion based on stronger proofs is shown to him.

A Muslim is therefore not obliged to restrict himself to a specific madhhab (i.e. a position held by a Mujtahid on a particular issue) because no madhhab is completely infallible. The Mujtadid is the one who does Ijtihaad (i.e. the reasoning process by which the Islaamic law is deduced after thorough research). A Muslim is free to move from one madhhab to another, due to the strength of the evidence (in a particular point). All the scholars of Hadeeth (the Muhaddithoon) have the right to Ijtihaad (therefore the number of Mujtaahids is not restricted to four).

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