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Different Sects of Muslims.

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net


What are the different sects of muslims and how do they differ? What are the different schools of thought in Islam? I understand that there are different teachings and I am a little confused with the difference of sects and school of thought.

Which school of thought does Darul Uloom teach?


After the demise of the Prophet (SAW) some people began to adopt new beliefs and practices which were contrary to the teachings of the religion of Islam. Along with this, their teachings could not be traced back to the sound and authentic principles which have been established by the Holy Quraan and Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). Some of these people began to deny the Quraan, others brought a new prophet. Some cursed the Sahabahs and the household of the Prophet (SAW). Others believed that there is no need to do good actions, saying the Kalima of Shahadat is sufficient. Some denied the Ahadith (traditions) and it went from one to the other. While new groups continued to be formed in every era from the time of the Sahabahs, until today, their teachings were continuously examined by the authentic and sound scholars who held strictly to every teaching of the Holy Quraan and the Prophet (SAW) as taught by the righteous companions (Sahabahs) and have reached from one generation to the other in its pristine purity and authenticity. Those, whose teachings, ideologies, beliefs and practices were opposing, contradicting, and were against the established teachings of Islam, they were condemned and considered to be a section of people who deviated from the true teachings of Islam. Hence such group were known as different sects.

Based on different beliefs, many new sects and groups have emerged over the years and it is difficult to know exactly how many there are. The prophet (SAW) did guide us along the path of truth and has informed the believers that just as the people of the book divided themselves into 72 sects, the Muslims will also be divided into 73 sects, all but one will enter hell. When asked about which group shall be the saved sect, he said, ‘That group which holds on to my teachings and the teachings of my companions.’

It is clear from this tradition that any one group who deviates from the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) and/or the teachings of the Sahabahs (Companions of the Prophet) and bring about or practice such teachings which are opposing to these, this is a sign of being deviated and Muslims must beware of such groups.

It is worth mentioning that at the time of the Tabieen (the 3rd generation of Muslim after the demise of the Prophet {SAW}) until present, the name Ahl Sunnah Wal Jamaah has been used to describe the saved sect or the group which clings on to the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) as well as that of his illustrious companions. The followers of this group is commonly known as the Sunni Muslims.

As for the different schools of thought, namely the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad and Imam Shafi, they are unanimously declared to be from among the Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah and are from the Sunni Muslims. In fact, they are from among those who exerted their effort to preserve and protect the true teachings of Islam. Their differences in the matters of Fiqh are all acceptable since they all come from sound and authentic sources. It is the unanimous opinion of all Muslims of past and present that the four Mazhabs (schools of thought) are upon truth. From their very inception, they have been accepted by the greatest scholars of Tafseer, Hadith, Fiqh and Islamic History from among the Tabieen and those after them. They have never been a reason for disunity/disharmony and hence should never be looked at in this manner.

Darul Uloom follows the creed of the Ahl Sunnah wal Jammah and accepts the four schools of thought. In our practices in the area of Fiqh we have adopted the Mazhab (School of thought) of Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R.).

Mufti Waseem Khan

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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