Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed
In a previous response, you advised a questioner to follow the Hanafi school in his wudu so that his wife would not get angry when he tried to keep on wudu. Is it permissible for a Muslim to follow a school other than his own in any manner that he wishes? Is it permissible for me to follow the Hanafi school in wudu, the Shafii school in prayer, and the Hanbali school in marriage?
(1) What the scholars of exacting verification (muhaqqiqeen) have explicitly stated is that it is not obligatory to follow a single school in all matters. Rather, it is permissible for one to switch from one school to another as long as one does not seek out dispensations, which means to take the easiest position from every school.
(2) It is permissible to follow the Hanafi school in wudu, the Shafii school in prayer, and the Hanbali school in marriage because impermissible mixing between schools (talfiq), as the Yemeni Imam Ibn Ziyad al-Shafii said, is “to join between two schools on a single issue in a manner that makes it invalid according to both schools”, such as if one makes wudu and follows the Shafii school by wiping less than a quarter of the head and then touches a woman who is not a close relative and follows the Hanafi school by not repeating ones wudu. In this case, ones wudu will be invalid according to both schools because the Hanafis hold that it is obligatory to wipe [h: at least] a quarter of the head (and he has not done this) and the Shafiis hold that touching a woman who is not a close relative (mahram) invalidates ones wudu (and he has touched [h: a non-mahram] and not repeated his wudu).
Shaykh Ibn Hajar, however, said that impermissible mixing between schools (talfiq) can also occur between two separate issues, such as wudu and prayer. According to him, then, both ones wudu and prayer must be valid according to a single school in order for one to have validly made taqlid.
The great scholar Abd al-Rahman al-Mashhur said in Bughyat al-Mustarshidin (p. 9), “Ibn Hajars position is more cautious and that of Ibn Ziyad is more suitable for the commonality (awamm).”
(Translated by Hamza Karamali)