Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Maliki authorities I have spoken to have said that is indeed acceptable in the Maliki school to do 8 rakats for tarawih. Further (and this is news to me also), there are those in the shafi`i school who did support the evidence of 8 including no less an authority than imam suyuti. For this reason, I am told, by a very noble shaykh that ba’alawis in hadhramawt did 8 (and may still do but I know not), out of respect for his opinion.
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
1. The major works of the Malikis do not seem to support the 8 rakats of tarawih being sunna. Whether one is blameworthy or sinful for limiting oneself to them is another matter entirely.
2. The principle, Sidi, is “Whoever makes a claim should support it.”
It is not enough for me to accept anonymous “maliki authorities” and a “very noble shaykh” about the positions of the Malikis and Shadhilis when I can see the very position of Imam Malik clearly transmitted in the Muwatta and Maliki reference works, and the position of Imam Shafii clearly stated by Imam Shafii himself in his Umm. Note, too, that the top authorities do not even mention 8 rakats as one of the famous positions of the early mujtahids. (See, for example, Nawawi in his Majmu`)
3. To accept the narration about the Ba Alawis as being true, I would need clear details and names, and would have to confirm that.
Imam Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak said, “Isnad is from our religion. Without isnad, anyone could say anything.” [Related by Imam Muslim in the introduction to his Sahih]
4. Certainty is not left by suppositions.
> thus, your statement: ‘As for aberrant positions beyond the realm of sound Sunni scholarship, we respect the right of whoever it is to differ, but we do not accept these differences as legitimate: rather, without causing fitna or dissent, we caution people that such opinions are erroneous, and should not be followed. is somewhat troubling to read. I feel it is important to point out this. the reason for this is that I know of one Muslim who became very, very troubled (and who required a great deal of counseling and nasiha) when his shaykh in tasawuf (who is also not altogether unaware of fiqh to put it blindly) told him that his opinion was that tarawih was 8 rakats.
It is not necessary that every shaykh in tasawwuf’ be correct in their fiqh positionsespecially in our troubled and confused times, when you can find respected’ North African sufi shaykhs who condemn following madhhabs (or, if moderate, doing so blindly’ and who call top traditional Maliki authorities ignorant fools’) and whose aqida is avowedly salafi.
Imam Ahmad Zarruq (Allah have mercy on him) made it clear: the criterion in fiqh is what the fuqaha say, not what the Sufis say. This is the position of sound Sunni Sufi scholars across the Muslim world. Anything else leads to wishy-washy deen.
> this was presented to him as a dilemma: to follow shariah, or to follow his shaykh. obviously, this is theoretically impossible, for a true shaykh should never contradict shariah.
There is a difference between “should never” and “does never.”
There is another factor: human error. This is not negated for anyone besides the Prophets (peace and blessings be upon them). There are many examples of positions of particular Companions that are impermissible to follow, because it became apparent, post facto, that it was not a sound ijtihad.
What I wrote is what I have heard and read from scholars whose knowledge and deen I have no doubt about. I would not leave this certainty for “I heards”
I would be very happy and readily accepting to be convinced otherwise.
And Allah alone gives success.