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Is a Muslim required to follow a Madhab?

Main: Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Muqbil bin Ḥādi al-Wādi’ī
Translation: Taher Noor
Mas’ala: Is a Muslim required to follow a specific Madhab?


Sheikh Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Muqbil bin Ḥādi al-Wādi’ī said:


A Muslim is not required to follow a specific Madhab. Rather following a specific Madhab is a Bid’ah (heresy).
Allah says in his noble book:
  [اتَّبِعُواْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاء قَلِيلاً مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ [الأعراف:3
“Follow that which has been revealed from your Lord, and do not follow any protecting masters beside him. How little you heed to advice.” Surah al-Araaf 7:3


And the Exalted one said in his noble book.
[فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ [النّساء:59
“If you differ in a matter, then refer it back to Allah and his Messenger if you truly believe in Allah and the last day.” Surah an-Nisa 4:59


And the exalted one said in his noble book
 [وَمَا اخْتَلَفْتُمْ فِيهِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَحُكْمُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ [الشورى:10
“Whatever you differ in, then its judgement belongs to Allah.” Surah ash-Shura 42:10
And I praise Allah that there are young people who don’t turn to anything except for the Quran and the Sunnah. And we thank Allah that this environment has been facilitated for us.
In previous times, it was not possible for an individual to say that he does not stick to a Madhab.


And these madhabs brought about strife and hatred between the Muslims. If you read “Al Bidayah Wal Nihayah” you will find conflict between the Hanbalis and the Shafi’ees, the Hanbalis and the Hanafis or the Shafi’ees and the Hanafis and many other instances of clashes, fighting and killing which occurred only due to Madhabism.
Allah the Exalted says
 [وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا [الحشر:7
“Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatever he forbids you from, abstain from it.” Surah al-Hashr 59:7
And they (the Madhabi people) ended up with one of them called As-Saawi commentating on the saying of Allah:
[وَلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِل ذَلِكَ غَداً * إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ [الكهف:23-24
“Do not say of anything that I will do it tomorrow, except that you say if Allah wills.” Surah al-Kahf 18:23-34


After mentioning the saying of Ibn Abbas that it is permissible to make exemptions to rulings even to the Sunnah, As-Saawi said that it is not permissible to leave the four madhabs to the apparent meaning of an Ayah or a Hadith and taking the Quran or Sunnah from its apparent is a foundation of the principles of Kufr.


Rather, you, As-Saawi, a corrupted Sufi, your own saying is a foundation from the principles of Kufr since Allah said in his noble book:
 اتَّبِعُواْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاء قَلِيلاً مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ


“Follow that which has been revealed from your Lord, and do not follow any protecting masters beside him. How little you heed to advice.” Surah al-Araaf 7:3
And the Exalted one says:
وَأَنَّ هَذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ


“And verily this is my path so follow it, and do not follow other paths beside it as they will separate you from his path. This is what has been ordained so that you may be pious.” [Surah al-Anaam 6:153]


 Furthermore, Ibn ‘Allaal in his book “Daleel al-Faaliheen fi Sharh Riyadh al-Saliheen” was commentating upon the hadith, “Upon you is my Sunnah, and the Sunnah of the four righteous caliphs, hold on to them with your molar teeth. [Tirmidhi 2676]”
Ibn ‘Allaal said this was only before the four Madhabs were established, as for after the four Madhabs were established, then it is not permissible since the Madhabs are more perfect.


Moreover, I will explain that people nowadays aren’t Shafi’ee or Hanbali or whichever type.
A clean-shaven non-bearded man came to ask a fatwa from Abu Shams, the Imam of the Haram.
The man said, “O protector, I am a Shafi’ee and I would like for you to give me a fatwa.”
Abu Shams said “No, you are not a Shafi’ee”
The man said, “O protector, I am a Shafi’ee.” And he took an oath by Allah that he was a Shafi’ee.
Abu Shams said “No, you are not a Shafi’ee” and afterwards he said, “Shafi’ee never used to shave his beard but you shaved your beard.”
O Brothers!, whatever they have become, Shafi’ees or Malikis or Hanbalis, they didn’t come about except after America and Russia


لَتَتَّبِعُنَّ سَنَنَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ شِبْرًا بِشِبْرٍ وَذِرَاعًا بِذِرَاعٍ حَتَّى لَوْ دَخَلُوا فِي جُحْرِ ضَبٍّ لاَتَّبَعْتُمُوهُمْ


“You will follow the way of those who came before you, step by step, if one were to enter a lizard hole, you would do the same.” [Muslim 2669a]
And they became blind followers of the adversaries of Islam.


As for blind following, then it is a calamity which has befallen the people. How so? Since the people have abandoned the Sahaba and have taken the views of the four Imams of the Madhabs. And after that, they took the views of the followers of the Imams, and their followers and then their followers.


For example, the text “Al-Azhaar” written by Al-Mahdi, he was perhaps from the sixth or seventh century, or for the Hanbalis, “Zad al-Mustaqni” when was it written? Ahmad bin Hanbal didn’t write it. And similar for the Shafi’ees was ‘Abu Shaja’a’.


The Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him said,


خيركم من تعلّم القرآن وعلّمه


“The best of you is whoever learns the Quran and teaches it.” [Al-Bukhari 5027]


and he said,


الماهر بالقرآن مع السفرة الكرام البررة وَالَّذِي يَقْرَأُ الْقُرْآنَ وَيَتَتَعْتَعُ فِيهِ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِ شَاقٌّ لَهُ أَجْرَانِ


“One who is proficient in the Qur’an is associated with the noble, upright, recording angels; and he who falters in it, and finds it difficult for him, will have a double reward.” [Muslim 798a]


He was encouraging his companions to read the Quran and to also memorise it.


He said,


نضر الله امرأً سمع مقالتي فوعاها فحفظها وأداها كما سمعها


“May Allah beautify a person who hears a saying of mine, so he understands it, remembers it, and conveys it.” [Tirmidhi 2658]


And the people of Madhabs drone on about the chapter of Wudu, such and such, or the obligations of Wudu such and such.
O Brother! The Hadith of the one who prayed badly is about the pillars of the prayer, and similar, the Hadith of Uthman and Abdullah bin Zayd are about Wudu so memorise them and the others.


It is not correct to think that we are prohibiting to read the books of the Fuqaha. We say that their books are to be bought and placed on the shelves, and if a person needs to revise an important matter then there is no issue for him to look inside it to see what is said inside. And he should seek the help of Allah first then their own understanding.


We are not only saying that we are human and they are human, we are also saying that we are human, and even though they are human but the difference between us and Al-Shafi’ee, and between us and Ahmad bin Hanbal, and between us and Malik bin Anas is the difference between the heavens and the earth, so it is right that we understand our stance.


But I say, there is no verse in the Quran which says “O You who believe, be Hanbali.” Or “O you who believe be Shafi’ee.” or “O you who believe be Maliki.”


And I don’t say the same as Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Ismail Al-Harowi who said:


أنا حنبليّ ما حييت وإن أمت ********فوصّتي للنّاس أن يتحنبلوا
I am a Hanbali however long I live and I die
   But my will is for the people to become Hanbalis. End quote.
I,[ Muqbil,] Advise the people with the book of Allah and the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings upon him and his followers.


I don’t advise and say the same as Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al-Bushanji who said:


ومن شعب الإيمان حب ابن شافع ******وفرض أكيد حبه لا تطوع
أنا شافعي ما حييت وإن أمت ***** فتوصيتي للناس أن يتشفعوا
From the branches of Faith is to love the son of Shafi’ee
     It is an obligation to love him not just a recommendation
I am a Shafi’ee however long I live and I die
     And my will is but for the people to become Shafi’ees
And we don’t say either, “If it wasn’t for Malik, the religion would have been lost.” Rather we say “Allah protected his religion.”


We say that Ahmad bin Hanbal, Al-Shafi’ee, Malik and others were Imams but they are not pillars of the religion. They are Imams which we model after especially Al-Shafi’ee, Ahmad and Malik, may Allah reward them with the bests from Islam, we cannot stop benefitting from their books but we do not ever blind follow.


Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab said in his small treatise in his book, Jam’i al-Fareed, he said, “Taqleed (blind following) is a foundation from the principles of Kufr.” And his proof was the saying of Allah regarding the polytheists:


إِنَّا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا عَلَى أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَى آثَارِهِمْ مُقْتَدُونَ


“Verily we found our forefathers upon a way so we are holding firm to their path.” [Surah Zukhruf 43:23]


And Allah said regarding the Ahlul Kitab:


اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ


“They took their rabbis and monks as Lords besides Allah.” [Surah Tawbah 9:31]


And as for us, we hold firm to the book of Allah and hasten to learn Allah’s book and the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him and his family.
Al-Wadi’ī. Muqbil bin Hādī., هل المسلم ملزم بإتباع مذهب معين نرجو التوضيح مع الدليل ؟, [website], 14 Safar 1433 [9 January 2012], http://www.muqbel.net/fatwa.php?fatwa_id=931&fbclid=IwAR0RmReSJMr42G4f-0lnMYLgWWmpf9bfTV4KWl_O0je-lbBo17qi_TDSSJM, (accessed 26 January 2019).