Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
”By calling yourself a Hanafi, Shafi’i, etc, you are dividing the umma, why not call yourself a Muslim?” I have heard such statements many a time but do not have a response for it. Could you please advise me?
A. In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
Praise be to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah shower upon our beloved Messenger.
When you call yourself a Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, or Hanbali, it does not preclude that you are, first and foremost, a Muslim. Regardless of what school of thought, or madhhab, we follow, we submit wholeheartedly to Allah the Exalted and follow the Sunna of His beloved Messenger. We are not elevating madhhab above deen.
Rather, we are just specifying a school of thought to follow in an effort to better facilitate our worship of Allah. Adhering to a school of thought is not divisive. What is divisive is when people become obsessed with sectarian squabbles and elevate their madhhab at the expense of everyone else. This is not the case when someone simply refers to himself or herself as Hanafi, Shafi’i, etc, while at the same time, accepting the legitimacy of the other schools.
Please see this link on Sunni Path for further information on the great benefit in following a madhhab.
No sects please, we’re Muslim: Blind following of dead scholars
Non-Madhhabism: Re: Following a Madhhab
And Allah knows best.