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The Blind Following of Madhhabs

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21. The Prophet did not make it a duty to follow a single Madhhab

The truth is that the Messenger did not obligate the people to stick to the madhhab of any particular scholar, rather he obligated that he himself should be followed. So whoever differs from the Sunnah of Allaah’s Messenger after it is affirmed then his differing is rejected and he has no excuse. However if the Hadeeth did not reach him, then he may be excused until the Hadeeth reaches him. But once an authentic Hadeeth reaches him, it is not allowed for anyone who claims to be a Muslim to say, ‘ I will not act upon Hadeeth, rather I will act upon the saying of my Imaam’, since this would lead him to apostasy and the refuge of Allaah, the Most High, is sought.

So it is binding that the Muslim reflects upon the authentic Hadeeth and keeps them before him and clings to it with his heart and hand and not pay attention to anyone who differs with him about that. This is the straight way, so take this as your only madhhab and do not leave it.

Then, O Muslim, if you aspire to knowledge and are resolved upon taqwaa, then keep to understanding the clear meaning of the Qur’aan and evident meaning of the Sunnah …. Seek out the Saheeh and Hasan narrations reported in the books of the scholars of Hadeeth and take to what is strongest, most fitting and safe. Taking this way is easy, it needs no more than the Muwatta, the two Saheehs and the Sunan of Abu Daawood, the Jaami’ of at-Tirmidhee and an-Nasaa‘ee. These books are well-known and famous and can be obtained very quickly, so learn this. But if you are unable and are preceded in this by some of your brothers who can explain these to you in your own language, then you have no excuse remaining and Allaah, the Most High, knows best.

‘Allaamah Ibn ul-Qayyim says in A’laam ul-Muwaqqi’een (4/261),
“Does the common person have to follow one of the well known madhhabs or not There are two sayings regarding this:

First, that it is not obligatory upon him and this is what is correct and definite, since there is nothing obligatory except what Allaah, the Most High, and His Messenger have made obligatory and neither Allaah nor His Messenger made it obligatory to follow the madhhab of any person from the Ummah and to follow him alone in the Deen. The best generations passed by without anyone doing this. Indeed the common person cannot have a madhhab, even if he thinks that he does. Rather the common person has no madhhab at all because the madhhab will be for the one who is able to research to a certain level and understand evidence and also know about the other madhhabs or for the one who has read a book concerning the details of that madhhab and knows the ruling and sayings of his Imaam.

As for the one who is unable to do any of that but merely says ‘I am a Shaafi’ee’ or ‘I am a Hanbalee’ etc. Then he does not become that just by saying so, just as would be the case if he said ‘I am a religious scholar’ or ‘I am a scholar of grammar’ or ‘I am a writer’ then he does not become that just by saying so [1]

This is further clarified by the fact that the one who says, ‘I am a Shaafi’ee’ or ‘a Maalikee’ or ‘a Hanafee’, claiming that he follows that Imaam and his way, this would only be true if he were to follow his way in acquiring knowledge, understanding and extraction of proof. As for this one, with his ignorance and being far from the manners of the Imaam and his knowledge and way, then how can it be correct for him to ascribe himself to him except with mere claims and empty words having no meaning?! How can the common person have a madhhab, and even if it could be imagined, then still it would not be obligatory upon him or anyone else to ever have to follow the madhhab of a certain man from the Ummah; such that he accepts all his sayings and rejects everyone else’s sayings. This is a filthy innovation introduced into the Ummah; no scholar of Islaam has ever said this and they are higher in station and better knowing about Allaah than to order the people with this. Even further from the truth is the saying of those who say that he must stick to the madhhab of a single scholar and even further from the truth is the one who says, he must follow one of the four madhhabs! O Allaah, how strange!

The madhhabs of the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger have died out and those of the Taabi’een and those who came after them and those of the rest of the scholars of Islaam and all been invalidated except for the madhhabs of four men only from amongst all the rest of the scholars and Imaams?! Rather that which Allaah, the most High and His Messenger made obligatory upon the Sahaabah, the Taabi’een and those who came after them is the same as that He made obligatory upon those after them until the Day of Resurrection.

It is not obligatory upon a common man nor upon the muf’tee to limit himself to one of the four Imaams. Upon this is the ijmaa’ of the Ummah; just as it is not obligatory upon the scholar to restrict himself to the Hadeeth reported by the people of his land or any land in particular, rather, if any Hadeeth is authentic it is obligatory to act upon it, whether it is reported of the people of the Hijaaz or ‘Iraaq or Shaam or Egypt or Yemen.”

I will now mention some of the reasons why these madhhabs have become widespread in all areas, so that it may be a lesson for those possessing intellect or those who listen and witness to the truth.

Here is what is reported in history. Ahmad al-Muqree al-Maghribee says in his book Nafh ut-Teeb min Ghasn il-Andalus ir-rateeb (3/158), “The reason why the people of Morocco took up the madhhab of Imaam Maalik – rahimahullaah, is that the people of Morocco and Spain were originally upon the madhhab of al-Awzaa’ee, and likewise Shaam, from where they were conquered. Then during the rule of al-Hakam ibn Hishaam ibn ‘Abdir-Rahmaan ad-Daakhilee who was the third ruler of Spain from the Umayyads, the official fatwas were changed and given according to the opinion of Maalik ibn Anas - rahimahullaah - and the people of al-Madeenah. This was due to the opinion and preference of al-Hakam due to some political benefits he saw and they differ about the actual reason. Most hold that it was due to the scholars of Spain travelling to al-Madeenah, then when they returned to Spain they spoke of the excellence of Maalik, his wide knowledge and great station, so they honoured him and preferred his madhhab. Others say that Imaam Maalik - rahimahullaah - asked some of the people of Spain about the rule in Spain and they described it to him and Maalik was very pleased by it since the ‘Abbasids in that time did not rule in a manner that was agreeable. So, Imaam Maalik said to the person who told him, ‘We ask Allaah to enlighten our sacred precincts [2] with your rule.’ This was transmitted to the ruler of Spain, who already knew of the knowledge, excellence and piety of Maalik; so he lead the people to accept his madhhab and ordered that the madhhab of al-Awzaa’ee be abandoned. [3]

The kings of Morocco and the west agreed that the rulings and actions should be according to the preferences of Ibn al-Qaasim (a famous student of Maalik) only [4]. So the madhhabs became a toy of the rulers and their politics. So take note!”

If you wish to see the reasons behind the appearance of madhhabs and sectarian orders then read the introduction of Taareekh Ibn Khaldoon because he explains excellently. May Allaah reward him with good. He shows that the madhhabs originated and became widespread due to tyrannical politics.

If you wish to read about the emergence of these different madhhabs which are at variance with Islaam and cause division amongst the Muslims, then refer to Ighaathat ul-Lahfaan min Masaa’id ish-Shaitaan, particularly the latter part of it where there is an explanation of the hidden truths about Ibn Seena, an-Naseer at-Toosee and of the ‘Ubaidees, Faatimids and others. In short, the enemies of Islaam managed to change Islaam by splitting its people into madhhabs and sects.

Imaam Shihaabuddeen ‘Abdur-Rahmaan, well known as Abu Shaamah, who died in the year 665 H, said in his book al-Mu‘ammal lir-radd ilal Amr il-Awwal (1/10), “The people have satisfied themselves from the sciences of the Qur’aan with merely memorising its Soorahs and by reporting a few different ways of reciting it and have neglected knowledge of its explanation, meanings and extraction of its rulings. They restrict themselves from the sciences of Hadeeth to merely hearing a few books narrated by Shaykhs who are mostly more ignorant than they are themselves. There are some that satisfy themselves with the rubbish of the minds of men and the refuse of their thoughts. They satisfy themselves with transmitting from the people of their own madhhab  ....Yet a person is still deluded into thinking that he is a leading scholar whereas with Allaah and with the scholars of the Deen he is one of the most ignorant of people.”

This is the end of what I intended to compose concerning the question about blind-following of madhhabs, which came to me from the far east, from the land of Japan. I will suffice with this much since a drop is an indication of the ocean. It is Allaah who is the one we ask to make it of benefit to His servants in all the lands and to make it a pure action sincerely for His Noble Face and a reason for attaining the bliss of the gardens of Paradise.

This was written in Allaah’s safeguarded land in my house in the Bukhaaree quarter near to Masjidul-Haraam on the fifteenth of the sacred month of Muharram, 1358 H.
Our final call is:
“Glory to your Lord, the Lord of Honour and Power! (He is free) from what they ascribe (to Him)! Peace be upon the Messengers! Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds”

Sooratus-Saffaat (37):180-182


[1] Imaam Abu Haneefah said, “It is forbidden for anyone who does not know my proofs to make a ruling according to my statements, for verily we are only humans we may say something today and reject it tomorrow. “ [Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr, al-Intiqaa fee Fadaa’il ath-Thalaathah al-A’immah al-Fuqahaa, p. 145]

[2] pre•cinct : an enclosure bounded by the limits of a building or place. Here it stands for the Hudood (laws) of Allaah. [The Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

[3] In Syria, the Madhhab of al-Awzaa’ee remained the main school of thought until the tenth century, when Abu Zar’ah Muhammed ibn Uthman of the Shafi’ee Madhhab was appointed judge of Damascus. Abu Zar’ah began the practice of giving a prize of one hundred dinars to any student who memorized the book, Mukhtasr al-Muzanee (the basics of Shafi’ee fiqh). Naturally, the practice caused the Shafi’ee Madhhab to spread rapidly in Syria, until none of al-Awzaa’ees followers remained until the eleventh century. [al-Madkhal, p.205-206. Also see ‘Abdullah Muhammed al-Jabooree, Fiqh al-Imaam al-Awzaa’ee]

[4] Another good example is that of Abu Yoosuf who was the prominent student of Imaam Abo Haneefah and appointed as the chief judge by the Abbaasid Caliphs (al-Mahdee, al-Hadee and Haroon ar-Rasheed). In his capacity used to appoint judges for the various cities and all his appointees were followers of the Hanafee Madhhab. He was thus instrumental in the spread of the Hanafee Maddhab throughout the Muslim empire. [Shah Waleeallaah ad-Dahlawee, al-Insaaf fee Bayaan Asbaab al-Ikhtilaaf, p.39

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