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Is It Valid To Pray Behind an Imam Who Claims Not To Follow a Specific School of Law?

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org
Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


Is it valid to pray behind an Imam who claims not to follow a specific School of Law (ghayr muqallid)?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. 

It is valid to pray behind such an Imam, with some conditions, and Allah knows best.

Can a Shafi’i Follow an Imam of a Different School?

It is valid for a Shafi’i to follow the leadership of an imam who follows a different school of jurisprudence as long as the follower is not certain that the imam has omitted an obligatory element of the prayer (according to the imam’s School). [Shirbini, Mughni Al-Muhtaj]

Usually, the dominant view in the Shafi’i School is that the prayer’s validity is based on the follower’s belief. The contemporary Shafi’i muftis, Habib Zayn Ibn Sumayt, Mufti Taha Karaan (may Allah have mercy on them), and Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller have preferred the subdominant (khilaf al-asah) view above. 

Given the widespread division and ignorance in the world, their preferred view is closer to the spirit of the Law, which strives for Muslim unity, not division. In addition, the Malikis and Hanbalis share the same view as the one provided, and Allah knows best. 

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. He served as the resident Imam of Masjid al-Munowar in Retreat, Cape Town, for several years.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.


This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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