Q: All the 4 Imaams (Hanafi, Shaafi, Maaliki and Hambali) are valid? Can we follow whichever Imaam we interested in?
A: In principle, we believe and accept that all four mazhabs are on Haq. Similarly, each mazhab has their proofs which are supported from the Qur’an and Sunnah. However, hopping from one Mazhab to another is generally done for one of two reasons. Either one randomly chooses the ruling of another Mazhab for one’s personal ease and benefit, or one chooses the ruling of another mazhab based on one’s discretion and personal understanding.
Randomly choosing from different Mazhabs for one’s personal ease and benefit is incorrect as it leads to following one’s desires. Following one’s desires has been strongly condemned in the Qur’an. Allah Ta’ala states:
وَلَا تَتَّبِعِ الْهَوَى فَيُضِلَّكَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ
Do not follow your desires for that will cause you to go astray (Surah Saad 38:26)
On the other hand, if one chooses the ruling of another mazhab based on one’s discretion and personal understanding, then this approach will also be incorrect. The reason for this approach being incorrect is that in order for one to be able to understand the full merit of the rulings of each Mazhab, one will require to possess knowledge equal to the knowledge of these Imaams. One will need to have extensive knowledge of the Qur’an, Hadith, the various sciences of Deen and the ability of ijtihaad in order that he may be able to correctly compare the proofs of one Imaam against the other and thereafter choose which is more correct. Since this level of knowledge is no longer found, we understand that it is safest for one to remain committed to one Mazhab. Apart from this, all four mazhabs unanimously agree that it is not permissible for one to hop from one Mazhab to another, rather one should confine himself to following a single mazhab and thereafter remain committed to its teachings. In this manner one will succeed in practising on the Qur’an and Sunnah correctly.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Zakaria Makada
Checked & Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)