Answered by Shaykh Gibril Haddad
Question: I understand the need of following qualified scholarship however I keep coming across a trend when I read about the earlier generations. It seems that the common masses would consult the scholars if they were unaware of a ruling however I can’t see any specification involved. What I mean is that they would ask whichever scholar was available and there doesn’t seem to be any consideration given to talfiq. So where does the idea of talfiq come from. Can I not just ask whichever mufti I happen to find on an issue why the need to only ask a scholar of my madhhab when historically this is not the case.
Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
Back then, just as now, the common masses are not considered to have any other madhhab than their imam and it is presumed back then just as now that a person will have more religion than to saunter from one mufti to another always asking the same question until he finally gets the answer he hankers for.
There was definitely due consideration and dire warning given against the latter scenario – inadmissible talfiq – which in the eyes of the early generations consisted in following poor methodology, perhaps motivated by deliberate evasion of strictures you don’t like in your own madhhab, so as to adopt dispensations in other madhhabs. This forms the context for the following sayings:
“Whoever pursues the rarities of hadith will lie.” (Abu Yusuf)
“Whoever holds on to the rare and unusual positions of the Scholars has left Islam.” (Al-Awza`i)
“Whoever pursues the rare and the unusual has gathered up all evil.” (Sufyan al-Thawri)
“He is not an Imam in `ilm who follows anomalous positions (al-shadhdh).” (`Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi)
“If you take the dispensation (rukhsa) or error (zalla) of every `alim, you will become the gathering point of every evil.” (Sulayman al-Taymi)
Allah have mercy on them and illuminate our insights through the blessing of theirs.