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Is it necessary to follow any one of the four imams

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by Molana Ishaaq Hussain


Assalamualaikum I am a Hanafi follower. Is it necessary to follow any one of the four imams? Will my ibadath be accepted.



Allah Ta’ala Mentions in the Holy Quran: “ And ask the people of Knowledge if you do not know” (Surah Nahl verse 43)

Allah Ta’ala further mentions: “O you who believe, obey Allah and obey his messenger and those who have authority amongst you” (Surah Nisaa verse 59)

According to most mufasireen ‘those who have authority amongst you…’ refers to those scholars who have reached the level of ijtihaad (i.e. they can deduce rulings from the original sources of deen). This is the opinion of Sayyidna Abdullah Ibn Abbas, Sayyidna Jabir, Hasan Basri and Ataa ibn Abi Rabaah Ridwanullahi alaihim ajmaeen. (Adyaan Baatilah p239 by Mufti Muhammad Naeem db)

The above mentioned verses indicate towards Taqleed. Literally taqleed means to follow.

Taqleed is of two types:

1: Taqleed Mutlaq: (General following) this is when a person follows the rulings of any imam/ mujtahid in different matters of deen.

2: Taqleed Shaksi: Following a particular person) To follow a particular Madhab which links back to one of the four imams. Like Imam Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafiee and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him).

Taqleed Shaksi is also established from the Ahadeeth.

Imam Bukhari raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) has brought a narration in his saheeh. It mentions that some people put forward a mas’alah to Abu Musa Ash’aree raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). He gave the answer but he also told the people to go and see what Abdullah Ibn Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) says regarding this mas’alah. So they went to Abdullah Ibn Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) with this mas’alah. The ruling that Abdullah Ibn Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) gave contradicted that which Abu Musa Ash’aree Radiyallahu Anhu gave. Upon hearing this, Abu Musa Ash’aree Radiyallahu Anhu stated: “As long as this great scholar is amongst you do not ask of me any rulings” (Sahih Bukhari p297 v2)

Mufti Taqi Uthmani (db) mentions in his contemporary Fatawah:

“The Holy Quran has emphatically ordered us to follow the shariah, and has made it strictly prohibited to follow the personal desires alongside the rules of shariah. The jurists when interpretating the sources of shariah never intend to fulfil their personal desires. They actually undertake an honest effort to discover the intention of shariah and base their madhab on the force of evidence….now if a layman who cannot judge between the arguments of different madhabs is allowed to choose any of the juristic views without going into the arguments they have advanced, he will be liberty to select only those views which seem to him more fulfilling to his personal requirements. This attitude will see him follow his desires and not the guidance, a practice totally condemned in the Holy Quran” (contemporary Fatwah p326)

A perfect example to this would be the following ruling.

Imam Abu Hanifa Rahamtullahi Alai is of the view that if one was to bleed, his Wudhu will break, whereas Imam Shafiee Rahmatullahi Alai is of the view that when one bleeds, his Wudhu remains intact.

Now, a layman who does not adhere to a madhab will find it permissible to pick and choose between the two rulings, and according to his situation will choose one or the other. This goes against what Allah Ta’ala has mentioned to us in the Holy Quran regarding following one’s desires.

 …Do not follow your desires, least you swerve from justice… (Surah An-Nisaa: verse135

It is for this reason that the jurists have mentioned that it is necessary for the layman/ common people to adhere to a particular Madhab.

If one follows the Madhab of Imam Abu Hanifa raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) then he should adhere to it in all matters. Yes, if one prefers another Madhab, then he should adopt it in full in the same way and he should not pick and choose between different views for his individual benefit.

This ruling is for those who cannot carry out the act of ijtihaad, nor can they evaluate the proofs/ arguments advanced by every Madhab in support of their respected views.

However, those who possess the required needs for Ijtihaad and those people who do not possess all the required needs for ijtihaad but yet they are so well versed in Islamic disciplines that they can differentiate the different juristic views on pure academic grounds without the motivation of their personal desires, then for such people adhering to a Madhab is not necessary. (See Contemporary Fatawa p.326-331, Why Is Taqleed Necessary p73-74)

With regards to your question, it is necessary that you continue to adhere to a particular Madhab. Insha Allah your ibaadaat will most definitely be accepted by Almighty Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Only Allah Knows Best

Written by Molana Ishaaq Hussain

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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