Q. My brother is of the view that I am on the road to the hellfire because I share the opinion that we should follow a school of thought. His argument is that Allah has sent the Quran and Sunnah (hadith) for us to follow, and because we follow a school of thought we are saying that Islam is incomplete. I do not know the reason why we should follow a school of thought, but from lectures from all the Islamic channels they are from time to time talking about things from one school or the other. Can you please educate me as to why we should follow one school so that I can explain to him that he is in fact wrong.
A. There are a few articles which have been posted on our site, you can look at these. If they are not detailed enough, then contact us we will give more information.
As for your brother’s idea that those who follow a school of thought are saying that Islam is incomplete, this is nothing but sheer falsehood. Following a school of thought was always done by the Muslims in their majority for over 1200 years now. It was done by the greatest scholars of Fiqh, Hadith and Tafseer from among the Salafus Saaliheen, including Imam Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizi and the other traditionists.
Great commentators of the Holy Quran like Hafiz Ibn Katheer and others also followed a school of thought, and no one from among these generations of scholars condemned the act of following a school of thought, nor did anyone infer from this that those who followed (a school of thought) were saying that Islam was incomplete.
The Fitna (mischief) of condemning the Mazahib (plural of Mazhab ) only came about in recent centuries where some of the ignorant and illiterate ones, through their conduct, tried to show that they were far better in knowledge than the scholars of the early centuries.
If your brother really wishes to follow the Quran and the Sunnah, then he should not go to any scholar or look at any books of hadith or Tafseer of the Quran. Instead, he should simply read the Quran from its Arabic script, (since this in reality, is the Quran) and derive the understanding for himself without the aid of a scholar or Tafseer book.
A scholar gives explainations on the Quran based on his understanding, and is not the Quran or the Sunnah, hence, he should not be followed or listened to, in the understanding of your brother. Similarly, a book on tafseer is written by a scholar in accordance to his understanding, and cannot be called the Quran or Sunnah, so this also cannot be followed in the understanding of your brother. As such, your brother should sit with the Arabic Quran alone, and nothing else, and try to gain its understanding if he is true in his statement.
In a similar manner, he should cast aside the books of hadith like Sahih Bukhari, Muslim and others, and look for his own Ahadith from which he can derive the Sunnah.
These compilations are works done by these scholars. In these, there are ahadith, but there are also the opinions, statements and commentaries of these traditionists. Hence, they cannot be called the Sunnah. Instead, they are simply compilations of these traditionists. These should not suffice for your brother, since he must follow the Sunnah and these are only compilations of scholars.
Your brother should also not listen to a lecture or study/read the book of any scholar, because scholars are not Quran and Sunnah. They may explain these, but yet, it will be in accordance to their understanding. So, we wish your brother well. Whatever he needs to find out, he must not ask anyone, since they may give their own opinion or they may give their own understanding of the Quran and Sunnah. Instead, he should simply take out his Arabic Quran and study it for an answer, and must also look for ahadith not compiled by Imam Bukhari, Muslim and others, and examine them to get his answers.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan