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Is it possible for one of the 4 Imams to be incorrect in their Ijitihad?Does anyone of our time have the intellect or knowledge to challenge any ijtihad they have made?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

There is a stark difference between the rulings of The A’imma-e-Mujtahideen
and a fatwa. The A’imma-e-Mujtahideen i.e. Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shaafi,
Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal, and Imam Maalik (Rahmatullaahi Alaihim) were all
Mujtahids. Their knowledge in the tafsir of the Noble Qurãn and Ahaadith of
Rasulullah (Sallallaaahu Álayhi Wasallam) was so vast that they had the
ability to independently arrive at a decision on any one issue. Hence the
difference of opinion among the Imams are differences stemming from
Mujtahideen and their different Principles of Ijtihaad. On the other hand,
the Úlama of Azhar, Deoband, etc. are not Mujtahideen. They are very far
away from the shores of Ijtihaad.

Jalaaluddeen Suyuti (Rahmatullaahi Alaihi), a great and renowned scholar who
has contributed in almost every field, viz. Tafseer, Hadith, Usul
(Principles of) Tafseer, Usul-ul-Hadith (Principles of Hadith), Fiqh,
Principles of Fiqh, etc. was not accepted as a Mujtahid by his
contemporaries. The Úlama of today do not qualify to be Mujtahids, hence
they are followers of their respective Imams. Their differences of opinion
do not stem from differences of opinion in the “Principles of Ijtihaad”.
They are rightly Muqallideen (followers) of their respective Imams. The
differences of opinion may be categorised as:

i) following a different Mazhab; or
ii) following the same Mazhab, with variational differences, e.g.
misinterpretation of the Imam’s view.

In the first case the difference among the Úlama is in fact the difference
of opinion among the A’imma-e-Mujtahideen and, therefore unobjectionable.
Every individual should follow the opinion of the Imam he follows.

In the second case if the differences are due to misinterpretation or
ignorance of the Imam’s principles or opinion then it will be objectionable.
Such views cannot be tolerated as the views of the different Imams. The
views of the different Imams stem from their Ijtihaad whereas the views of
the Úlama ought to stem from the principles set out by their Imams.
Therefore the differences among the Úlama are very far from the differences
of the Imams.

Reverting to your first question, the Úlama of Azhar are not Mujtahideen,
and as a result they are not in a position to be Imams. Furthermore, a
non-Aalim may follow a learned Muqallid of his Mazhab as a guide in order to
make proper Taqleed of his respective Imam.

When following a learned Muqallid, it is important to know his source of
knowledge. It should be noted that the source of education has an influence
on an individual’s future and direction in life.

The Aalim must also be firmly adhering to and practising on the Noble Qurãn
and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallaaahu Álayhi Wasallam) i.e. The

One should avoid following the Azhari Ulama in the belief of making their

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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