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Sayings Of The the 4 Imams Regarding Following The Sunnah

Sayings Of The 4 Imaams Regarding Following The Sunnah And Ignoring Their Views Contradictory To It
It would be beneficial if we gave some of these here, for perhaps this will admonish or remind those who follow the opinion of the Imaams - nay, of those far below the Imaams in rank - blindly18, sticking to their madhhabs or views as if these had descended from the heavens! But Allaah, Mighty and Sublime, says:
"Follow (O men!) the revelation given to you from your Lord, and follow not, as friends and protectors, other than Him. Little is it you remember of admonition."19
1) Abu Haneefah (rahimahullaah)
The first of them is Abu Haneefah Nu'maan ibn Thaabit, whose companions have narrated from him various sayings and diverse warnings, all of them leading to one thing: the obligation to accept the Hadeeth, and to give up following the opinions of the imaams which contradict it:
1. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab."20
2. "It is not permitted21 for anyone to accept our views if they do not know from where we got them."22
In one narration, "It is prohibited23 for someone who does not know my evidence to give verdicts24 on the basis of my words."
Another narration adds, "... for we are mortals: we say one thing one day, and take it back the next day."
In another narration, "Woe to you, O Ya'qub25! Do not write down everything you hear from me, for it happens that I hold one opinion today and reject it tomorrow, or hold one opinion tomorrow and reject it the day after tomorrow."26
3. "When I say something contradicting the Book of Allaah the Exalted or what is narrated from the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then ignore my saying."27
2) Maalik ibn Anas (rahimahullaah)
As for Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, he said:
1. "Truly I am only a mortal: I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions: all that agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, accept it; and all that does not agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it."28
2. "Everyone after the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) will have his sayings accepted and rejected - not so the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam)."29
3. Ibn Wahb said: "I heard Maalik being asked about cleaning between the toes during ablution. He said, 'The people do not have to do that.' I did not approach him until the crowd had lessened, when I said to him, 'We know of a sunnah about that.' He said, 'What is that ?' I said, 'Laith ibn Sa'd, Ibn Lahee'ah and 'Amr ibn al-Haarith narrated to us from Yazeed ibn 'Amr al-Ma'aafiri from Abu 'Abdur-Rahman al-Hubuli from Mustawrid ibn Shaddaad al-Qurashi who said, 'I saw the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) rubbing between his toes with his little finger.' He said, 'This hadeeth is sound; I had not heard of it at all until now.' Afterwards, I heard him being asked about the same thing, on which he ordered cleaning between the toes."30
3) Shaafi'i (rahimahullaah)
As for Imaam Shaafi'i, the quotations from him are most numerous and beautiful31, and his followers were the best in sticking to them:
1. "The sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) reach, as well as escape from, every one of us. So whenever I voice my opinion, or formulate a principle, where something contrary to my view exists on the authority of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then the correct view is what the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has said, and it is my view."32
2. "The Muslims are unanimously agreed that if a sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is made clear to someone, it is not permitted33 for him to leave it for the saying of anyone else."34
3. "If you find in my writings something different to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then speak on the basis of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), and leave what I have said."
In one narration: "... then follow it (the Sunnah), and do not look sideways at anyone else's saying."35
4. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab."36
5. "You37 are more knowledgeable about Hadeeth than I, so when a hadeeth is saheeh, inform me of it, whether it is from Kufah, Basrah or Syria , so that I may take the view of the hadeeth, as long as it is saheeh."38
6. "In every issue where the people of narration find a report from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) to be saheeh which is contrary to what I have said, then I take my saying back, whether during my life or after my death."39
7. "If you see me saying something, and contrary to it is authentically-reported from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), then know that my intelligence has departed."40
8. "For everything I say, if there is something authentic from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) contrary to my saying, then the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) comes first, so do not follow my opinion."41
9. "Every statement on the authority of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is also my view, even if you do not hear it from me."42
4) Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullaah)
Imaam Ahmad was the foremost among the Imaams in collecting the Sunnah and sticking to it, so much so that he even "disliked that a book consisting of deductions and opinions be written."43 Because of this he said:
1. "Do not follow my opinion; neither follow the opinion of Maalik, nor Shaafi'i, nor Awzaa'i, nor Thawri, but take from where they took."44
In one narration: "Do not copy your Deen from anyone of these, but whatever comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions, take it; next are their Successors, where a man has a choice."
Once he said: "Following45 means that a man follows what comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions; after the Successors, he has a choice."46
2. "The opinion of Awzaa'i, the opinion of Maalik, the opinion of Abu Haneefah: all of it is opinion, and it is all equal in my eyes. However, the proof is in the narrations (from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions)."47
3. "Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is on the brink of destruction."48

These are the clear, lucid sayings of the Imaams (Allaah Exalted be pleased with them) about sticking to the Hadeeth and forbidding the following of their opinion without clearly- visible evidence, such that mere opinion and interpretation is not acceptable.
Hence, whoever adhered to whatever of the Sunnah that was proved authentic, even if it opposed some of the Imaams' sayings, he would not be conflicting with their madhhab, nor straying from their path; rather, such a person would be following all of them and would be grasping the most trustworthy hand-hold, which never breaks. However, this would not be the case with the one who abandoned any of the authentic Sunnah simply because it contradicted their views; nay, such a person would be being disobedient to them and opposing their above mentioned sayings, while Allaah says:
"But no, by Your Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction."49.
He also says:
"Then let those beware who withstand the Messenger's order, lest some trial befall them or a grievous penalty be inflicted on them."50
Haafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (rahimahullaah) says:
"Therefore it is obligatory on anyone who hears of a command of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) or knows it, to explain it to the Ummah, advise them sincerely, and order them to follow his command, even if it contradicts the opinion of someone great. This is because the authority of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has the most right to be respected and followed, over and above the opinion of anyone great who has unknowingly contradicted the Messenger's command in any matter. This is why the Companions and those after would refute anyone who contradicted the authentic Sunnah, sometimes being very stern in their refutation51, not out of hatred for that person, for they loved and respected him, but because the Messenger of Allaah was more beloved to them, and his command was superior to the command of any other created being. Hence, when the order of the Messenger and that of someone else conflicted, the order of the Messenger would be more fitting to be enforced and followed. None of this would stop them respecting the person they had opposed because they knew that he would be forgiven52; in fact, the latter would not mind his instruction being opposed when the command of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was clearly shown to be opposite."53
Indeed, how could they mind that, when they had ordered their followers to do so, as we have seen, and had enjoined on them to abandon any of their views which contradicted the Sunnah. In fact, Imaam Shaafi'i (rahimahullaah) told his companions to attribute the authentic Sunnah to him also, even if he had not adopted it or had adopted something contradictory to it. Hence, when the analyst Ibn Daqeeq al-'Eid (rahimahullaah) collected together, in a bulky volume, the issues in which one or more of the four Imaams' madhhabs had contradicted the authentic hadeeth, he wrote at the beginning of it, "It is prohibited to attribute these answers to the Mujtahid Imaams, and obligatory on the jurists who follow their opinions to know of these so that they do not quote them regarding these and thus lie against them."54
The Imaams' Followers Leaving their Views if these Contradicted the Sunnah
Due to all that we have mentioned, the disciples of the Imaams, a number of people from those of old, and a few from those of later time55, would not accept all of their Imaam's views; they actually ignored many when they found them to be clearly against the Sunnah. Even the two Imaams, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan and Abu Yoosuf (rahimahullaah) differed from their shaikh Abu Haneefah "in about a third of the Madhhab"56, as the books of masaa'il prove. Similarly is said about Imaam al- Muzani57 and other followers of Shaafi'i and other Imaams; were we to start giving examples, the discussion would become exceedingly, long, and we would digress from what we set out to do in this Introduction, so we shall limit ourselves to two instances:
1) Imaam Muhammad says in his Muwatta'58(p. 158), "As for Abu Haneefah, he did not regard there being a prayer to ask for rain, but we hold that the imaam prays two rak'ahs and then supplicates and holds out his wrapping garment ..."
2) We have 'Isaam ibn Yoosuf al-Balkhi, one of the companions of Imaam Muhammad59 and a servant of Imaam Abu Yoosuf60, who "would give verdicts contrary to Imaam Abu Haneefah because he did not know the latter's evidence, and other evidence would present itself to him, so he would give verdicts using that."61 Hence, "he would raise his hands on bowing (in prayer) and on rising from it"62, as is the mutawaatir sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam); the fact that his three Imaams (i.e. Abu Haneefah, Abu Yoosuf and Muhammad) said otherwise did not prevent him from practising this sunnah. This is the approach which every Muslim is obliged to have, as we have already seen from the testimony of the Four Imaams, and others.
To sum up: I sincerely hope that no follower of an Imaam will race to condemn the principles of this book and abandon benefiting from the sunnahs of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) which it contains, with the argument that they are contrary to his Madhhab. I hope that such a person will instead consider what we have given of the exhortations of the Imaams towards the obligation to act on the Sunnah and ignore their sayings contradictory to it. I hope also that he will realise that to condemn the attitude of this book is to condemn whichever Imaam he is following, for we have taken these principles from those Imaams, as we have explained. Therefore, whoever refuses to be guided by them on this path is in great danger, for such refusal necessitates turning away from the Sunnah, the Sunnah to which we have been ordered to refer in cases of difference of opinion and on which we have been commanded to depend.
I ask Allaah to make us among those about whom He says,
"The answer of the believers, when summoned to Allaah and His Messenger, in order that he may judge betweeen them, is no other than this: they say, "We hear and we obey" - it is such as these that will attain Success. It is those who obey Allaah and His Messenger, and fear Allaah, and keep their duty to Him, who will triumph."63
The preceding Introduction was written ten years ago, during which time it has become apparent to us that our words have had a positive effect on Muslim youth in guiding them towards the obligation in matters of their Deen and worship to return to the pure sources of Islaam: the Book and the Sunnah. Among them, there was an increase in the ranks of of those who practised the Sunnah and devoted themselves to it, - Praise be to Allaah - such that they became conspicuous for it. However, I still found among some of them a steadfastness in failing to practise the Sunnah: not due to any doubt about its obligation after reading the Qur'aanic verses and narrations from the Imaams about going back to the Sunnah, but because of some objections and misconceptions which they had heard from some muqallid shaikhs. Therefore, I decided to mention these incorrect notions and refute them, so that perhaps ths would encourage more people to practise the Sunnah and thus be among the Saved Sect, Allaah Willing.

Some of them say, "There is no doubt that it is obligatory to return to the guidance of our Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) in the matters of our Deen, especially in the recommended acts of worship such as Prayer, where there is no room for opinion or ijtihaad, due to their immutable nature. However, we hardly hear any of the muqallid shaikhs propounding this; in fact, we find them upholding difference of opinion, which they regard as flexibility for the Ummah. Their proof for this is the hadeeth which they repeatedly quote in such circumstances, when refuting the helpers of the Sunnah, 'The difference of opinion (ikhtilaaf) among my Ummah is a mercy (rahmah)'. It seems to us that this hadeeth contradicts the principles to which you invite and based on which you have compiled this book and others. So, what do you say about this hadeeth ?"
Answer: The answer is from two angles:
A) Firstly: This hadeeth is not authentic; in fact, it is false and without foundation. 'Allaamah Subki said, "I have not come across an authentic or weak or fabricated chain of narration for it", i.e. no chain of narrators exists for this "hadeeth"!
It has also been related with the wordings: "... the difference of opinion among my Companions is a mercy for you" and "My Companions are like the stars, so whichever of them you follow, you will be guided." Both of these are not authentic: the former is very feeble; the latter is fabricated. (See Appendix 1)
B) Secondly: This hadeeth contradicts the Glorious Qur'aan, for the aayaat forbidding division in the Deen and enjoining unity are too well-known to need reminding. However, there is no harm in giving some of them by way of example: Allaah says,
"... and do not fall into disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart"1;
"And do not be among those join deities with Allaah, those who split up their Deen and become sects - each party rejoicing with what it has !"2;
"But they will not cease to differ, except those on whom your Lord bestows His Mercy"3.
Therefore, if those on whom your Lord has mercy do not differ, and the people of falsehood differ, how can it make sense that differing is a mercy?!
Hence, it is established that this hadeeth is not authentic, neither in the chain of narration, nor in meaning; therefore, it is clear and obvious that it cannot be used to justify resistance towards acting on the Book and the Sunnah, which is what our Imaams have commanded us anyway.

Others say, "If differing in the Deen is forbidden, what do you say about the differences among the Companions and among the Imaams after them? Is there any distinction between their differing and that of later generations ?"
Answer: Yes, there is a big difference between these two examples of differing, which manifests itself in two ways: firstly, in cause; secondly, in effect.

A) As for the differing among the Companions, that was unavoidable, natural difference of understanding: they did not differ by choice. Other factors of their time contributed to this, necessitating difference of opinion, but these vanished after their era.4 This type of differing is impossible to totally remove and such people cannot be blamed in the light of the above mentioned aayaat because of the absence of the appropriate conditions, i.e. differing on purpose and insisting on it.
However, as for the differing found among the muqallideen today, there is no overriding excuse for it. To one of them, the proof from the Book and the Sunnah is shown, which happens to support a Madhhab other than his usual one, so he puts the proof aside for no other reason except that it is against his Madhhab. It is as though his Madhhab is the original, or it is the Deen which Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) brought, while other Madhhabs are separate Deens which have been abrogated! Others take the opposite extreme, regarding the Madhhabs - for all their differences - as parallel codes of Law, as some of their later adherents explain5: there is no harm in a Muslim taking what he likes from them and leaving what he likes, because they are all valid codes of Law !
Both these categories of people justify their remaining divided by this false hadeeth, "The differing among my Ummah is a mercy" - so many of them we hear using this as evidence! Some of them give the reason behind this hadeeth and its purpose by saying that it ensures flexibility for the Ummah! Apart from the fact that this "reason" is contrary to the clear Qur'aanic verses and to the meanings of the Imaam's words mentioned, there is also text fom some Imaams to refute it.
Ibn al-Qaasim said,
"I heard Maalik and Laith saying about the differing of the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), 'It is not as people say: "There is flexibility in it"; no, it is not like that, but it is a matter of some being mistaken and some being correct'."6
Ashhab said,
"Maalik was asked about the person who accepted a hadeeth narrated by reliable people in the authority of the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam): 'Do you see any flexibility there?' He said, 'No, by Allaah, so that he may be on the truth. Truth can only be one. Two contradictory views, can both be correct?! Truth and right are only one."7
Imaam Muzani, a companion of Imaam Shaafi'i said,
"The Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) indeed differed, and some of them corrected others. Some scrutinised others' views and found fault with them. If all their views had been correct, they would not have done so.
'Umar ibn al-Khattab became angry at the dispute between Ubayy ibn Ka'b and Ibn Mas'ood about prayer in a single garment. Ubayy said, 'Prayer in one garment is good and fine; Ibn Mas'ood said, 'That is only if one does not have many clothes.' So 'Umar came out in anger, saying, 'Two men from among the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), who are looked up to and learnt from, disputing? Ubayy has spoken the truth and not cared about Ibn Mas'ood. But if I hear anyone disputing about it after this I will do such-and-such to him'."8
Imaam Muzani also said,
"There is the one who allows differing and thinks that if two scholars make ijtihaad on a problem and one says, 'Halaal', while the other says, 'Haraam', then both have arrived at the truth with their ijtihad! It can be said to such a person, 'Is this view of yours based on the sources or on qiyaas (analogy) ?' If he says, 'On the sources', it can be said, 'How can it be based on the sources, when the Qur'aan negates differing ?' And if he says, 'On analogy', it can be said, 'How can the sources negate differing, and it be allowed for you to reason by analogy that differing is allowed?! This is unacceptable to anyone intelligent, let alone to a man of learning."9
If it is said further: "What you have quoted from Imaam Maalik that truth is only one, not plural, is contradicted by what is found in Al-Madkhal al-Fiqhi by Shaikh Zarqaa' (1/89), "The Caliphs Abu Ja'far al-Mansoor and later ar- Rasheed proposed to select the Madhhab of Imaam Maalik and his book Al-Muwatta' as the official code of Law for the 'Abbaasi empire, but Maalik forbade them from this, saying, "Indeed, the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) differed in the non- fundamental issues and were scattered in various towns, but each of them was correct."
I say: This incident of Imaam Maalik (rahimahullaah) is well- known, but his saying at the end, "but each of them was correct" is one for which I find no basis in any of the narrations or sources I have come across10, by Allaah, except for one narration collected by Abu Nu'aim in Hilyah al- Awliyaa' (6/332), but with a chain of narrators which includes al-Miqdaam ibn Daawood who is classified among the weak narrators by Dhahabi in ad-Du'afaa'; not only this, but the wording of it is, "... but each of them was correct in his own eyes." Hence the phrase "in his own eyes" shows that the narration in Madkhal is fabricated; indeed, how could it be otherwise, when it contradicts what has been reported on reliable authority from Imaam Maalik that truth is only one and not plural, as we have mentioned, and this is agreed on by all the Imaams of the Companions and the Successors as well as the four Mujtahid Imaams and others. Ibn 'Abdul Barr says, "If the conflicting views could both be right, the Salaf would not have corrected each other's ijtihaad, judgments, and verdicts. Simple reasoning forbids that something and its opposite can both be correct; as the fine saying goes,
To prove two opposites simultaneously is the most hideous absurity."11
If it is said further, "Given that this narration from Imaam Maalik is false, why did he forbid al-Mansoor from bringing the people together on his book Al-Muwatta' rather than acceding to the Caliph's wish ?"
I say: The best that I have found in answer to this is what Haafiz Ibn Katheer has mentioned in his Sharh Ikhtisaar 'Uloom al-Hadeeth (p.31), that Imaam Maalik said, "Indeed the people have come together on, and know of, things which we are not acquainted with." This was part of the excellence of his wisdom and impartiality, as Ibn Katheer (rahimahullaah) says.
Hence, it is proved that all differing is bad, not a mercy! However, one type of differing is reprehensible, such as that of staunch followers of the Madhhabs, while another type is not blameworthy, such as the differing of the Companions and the Imaams who succeeded them - May Allaah raise us in their company, and give us the capability to tread their path.
Therefore, it is clear that the differing of the Companions was not like that of the muqallideen. Briefly: the Companions only differed when it was inevitable, but they used to hate disputes, and would avoid them whenever possible; as for the muqallideen, even though it is possible in a great many cases to avoid differing, they do not agree nor strive towards unity; in fact, they uphold differing. Hence there is an enormous gulf between these two types of people in their difference of opinion.
This was from the point of view of cause.

B) The difference in effect is more obvious.
The Companions (radi Allaahu 'anhum), despite their well- known differing in non-fundamental issues, were extremely careful to preserve outward unity, staying well-away from anything which would divide them and split their ranks. For example, there were among them those who approved of saying the basmalah loudly (in prayer) and those who did not; there were those who held that raising the hands (in prayer) was recommended and those who did not; there were those who held that touching a woman nullified ablution, and those who did not; - but despite all that, they would all pray together behind one imaam, and none of them would disdain from praying behind an imaam due to difference of opinion.
As for the muqallideen, their differing is totally opposite, for it has caused Muslims to be divided inthe mightiest pillar of faith after the two testifications of faith: none other than the Salaah (Prayer). They refuse to pray together behind one imaam, arguing that the imaam's prayer is invalid, or at least detestable, for someone of a different Madhhab. This we have heard and seen, as others beside us have seen12; how can it not be, when nowadays some famous books of the Madhhabs rule such cases of invalidity or detestability. The result of this has been that you find four Mihraabs (alcoves) in some large congregational mosques, in which four imaams successively lead the Prayer, and you find people waiting for their imaam while another imaam is already standing in Prayer!!!
In fact, to some muqallideen, the difference between the Madhhabs has reached a worse state than that, such as a ban in marriage between Hanafees and Shaafi'is; one well known Hanafi scholar, later nicknamed Mufti ath-Thaqalayn (The Mufti for Humans and Jinn), issued a fatwaa allowing a Hanafi man to marry a Shaafi'i woman, because "her position is like that of the People of the Book"13 ! This implies - and implied meanings are acceptable to them - that the reverse case is not allowed, i.e. a Hanafi woman marrying a Shaafi'i man, just as a Muslim woman cannot marry a Jew or Christian?!!
These two examples, out of many, are enough to illustrate to anyone intelligent the evil effects of the differing of the later generations and their insistence upon it, unlike the differing of the earlier generations (the Salaf), which did not have any adverse effect on the Ummah. Because of this, the latter are exempt from the verses prohibiting division in the Deen, unlike the later generations. May Allaah guide us all to the Straight Path.
Further, how we wish that the harm caused by such differing be limited to among themselves and not extend to the other peoples being given da'wah, for then it would not be that bad, but it is so sad when they allow it to reach the non- believers in many areas around the world, and their differing obstructs the entry of people in large numbers into the Deen of Allaah! The book Zalaam min al-Gharb by Muhammad al- Ghazaali (p. 200) records the following incident,
"It so happened during a conference held at the University of Princeton in America that one of the speakers raised a question, one which is a favourite of the Orientalists and the attackers of Islaam: 'Which teachings do the Muslims advance to the world in order to specify the Islaam towards which they are inviting ? Is it Islamic teachings as understood by the Sunnis? Or is it as understood by the Imaami or Zaidi Shee'ahs? Moreover, all of these are divided further amongst themselves, and further, some of them believe in limited progression in thought, while others believe obstinately in fixed ideas.'
The result was that the inviters to Islaam left those being invited in confusion, for they were themselves utterly confused."14
In the Preface to Hadiyyah as-Sultaan ilaa Muslimee Bilaad Jaabaan by 'Allaamah Sultaan al-Ma'soomi (rahimahullaah), the author says,
A query was posed to me by the Muslims from Japan , from the cities of Tokyo and Osaka in the far east, "What is the actual Deen of Islaam? What is a Madhhab? Is it necessary for one ennobled by the Deen of Islaam to adhere to one of the four Madhhabs? That is, should he be Maaliki, Hanafi, Shaafi'i or Hanbali, or is it not necessary?"
This was because a major differing, a filthy dispute, had occured here, when a number of groups of Japanese intellectuals wanted to enter into the Deen of Islaam, and be ennobled by the nobility of Eeman. When they proposed this to some Muslims present in Tokyo , some people from India said, "It is best that they choose the Madhhab of Abu Haneefah, for he is the Lamp of the Ummah"; some people from Indonesia (Java) said, "No, they should be Shaafi'i!" So when the Japanese heard these statements, they were extremely perplexed and were thrown off their original purpose. Hence the issue of the Madhhabs became a barrier in the path of their accepting Islaam!!

Misconception Three
Others have the idea that what we invite to, of following the Sunnah and not accepting the views of the Imaams contrary to it, means to completely abandon following their views and benefiting from their opinions and ijtihaad.
Answer: This idea is as far as can be from the truth - it is false and obviously flawed, as is clearly evident from our previous discussion, all of which suggests otherwise. All that we are calling to is to stop treating the Madhhab as a Deen, placing it in the position of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, such that it is referred to in the case of dispute or when extracting a new judgment for unexpected cirumstances, as the so-called jurists of this age do when setting new rules for personal matters, marriage, divorce, etc, instead of referring to the Qur'aan and the Sunnah to distinguish the right from the wrong, the truth from falsehood - all of this on the basis of their "Differing is a mercy" and their idea of pursuing every concession, ease and convenience! How fine was the saying of Sulaiman at-Taymi (rahimahullaah):
Were you to accept the concessions of every scholar, In you would gather every evil.
Related by Ibn 'Abdul Barr in Jaami' Bayaan al-'Ilm (2/91- 91), who said after it, "There is ijmaa' (consensus of opinion) on this: I know of no contrary view."
All this pursuing of concessions for the sake of it is what we reject, and it agrees with ijmaa', as you see.
As for referring to the Imaams' views, benefiting from them, and being helped by them in understanding the truth where they have differed and there is no text in the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, or when there is need for clarification, we do not reject it. In fact, we enjoin it and stress upon it, for there is much benefit expected in this for whoever treads the path of being guided by the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. 'Allaamah Ibn 'Abdul Barr (rahimahullaah) says (2/182),
"Hence, my brother, you must preserve the fundamentals and pay attention to them. You should know that he who takes care over preserving the sunnahs and the commandments stated in the Qur'aan, considers the views of the jurists to assist him in his ijtihaad, open up different angles of approach and explain sunnahs which carry different possible meanings, does not blindly follow the opinion of anyone of them the way the Sunnah should be followed without analysis, nor ignores what the scholars themselves achieved in preserving and reflecting on the sunnahs, but follows them in discussion, understanding and analysis, is grateful to them for their efforts through which they have benefited him and alerted him about various points, praises them for their correct conclusions, as in the majority of cases, but does not clear them of errors just as they did not clear themselves: such is the pursuer of knowledge who is adhering to the way of the pious predecessors; such is the really fortunate and truly guided; such is the follower of the Sunnah of his Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), and the guidance of the Companions (radi Allaahu 'anhum).
But he who refrains from analysis, forsakes the method we have mentioned, disputes the sunnahs with his opinion and desires to accommadate them only where his own view allows: such a one is straying and leading others astray. Further, he who is ignorant of all we have mentioned, and plunges carelessly into giving verdicts without knowledge: such a one is even more blind, and on a path more astray."

Misconception Four
There exists another common misconception among muqallideen which bars them from practising the Sunnah which it is apparent to them that their Madhhab is different to it in that issue: they think that practising that sunnah entails faulting the founder of the Madhhab. To them, finding fault means insulting the Imaam; if it is not allowed to insult any individual Muslim, how can they insult one of their Imaams ?
Answer: This reasoning is totally fallacious, and borne of not understanding the Sunnah; otherwise, how can an intelligent Muslim argue in such a way?!
The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) himself said, When the one making a judgment strives his outmost and arrives at the correct result, he has two rewards; but if he judges, striving his utmost and passes the wrong judgment, he has one reward.15 This hadeeth refutes the above argument and explains lucidly and without any obscurity that if someone says, "So-and-so was wrong", its meaning under the Sharee'ah is "So-and-so has one reward." So if he is rewarded in the eyes of the one finding fault, how can you accuse the latter of insulting him?! There is doubt that this type of accusation is baseless and anyone who makes it must retract it: otherwise it is he who is insulting Muslims, not just ordinary individuals among them, but their great Imaams among the Companions, Successors the subsequent Mujtahid Imaams and others. This is because we know for sure that these illustrious personalities used to fault and refute each other16; is it reasonable to say, "They used to insult each other"? No! In fact, it is authentically-reported that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) himself faulted Abu Bakr (radi Allaahu 'anhu) in his interpretation of a man's dream, saying to him, "You were right in some of it and wrong in some of it"17- so did he (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) insult Abu Bakr by these words?!
One of the astonishing effects this misconception has on its holders is that it prevents them from following the Sunnah when it is different to their Madhhab, since to them practising it means insulting the Imaam, whereas following him, even when contrary to the Sunnah, means respecting and loving him! Hence they insist on following his opinion to escape from this supposed disrespect.
These people have forgotten - I am not saying: ... pretended to forget - that because of this notion, they have landed in something far worse than that from which they were fleeing. It should be said to them, "If to follow someone means that you are respecting him, and to oppose him means that you are insulting him, then how do you allow yourselves to oppose the example of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and not follow it, preferring to follow the Imaam of the Madhhab in a path different to the Sunnah, when the Imaam is not infallible and insulting him is not Kufr?! If you interpret opposing the Imaam as insulting him, then opposing the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is more obviously insulting him; in fact, it is open Kufr, from which we seek refuge with Allaah!" If this is said to them, they cannot answer to it, by Allaah, except one retort which we hear time and time again from some of them: "We have left this sunnah trusting in the Imaam of the Madhhab, and he was more learned about the Sunnah than us."
Our answer to this is from many angles, which have already been discussed at length in this Introduction. This is why I shall briefly limit myself to one approach, a decisive reply by the permission of Allaah. I say:
"The Imaam of your Madhhab is not the only one who was more learned about the Sunnah than you: in fact, there are dozens, nay hundreds, of Imaams who too were more knowledgeable about the Sunnah than you. Therefore, if an authentic sunnah happens to differ from your Madhhab, and it was taken by one of these other Imaams, it is definitely essential that you accept this sunnah in this circumstance. This is because your above- mentioned argument is of no use here, for the one opposing you will reply, 'We have accepted this Sunnah trusting in our Imaam, who accepted it' - in this instance, to follow the latter Imaam is preferable to following the Imaam who has differed from the Sunnah."
This is clear and not confusing to anyone, Allaah Willing.
Because of all of the above, I am able to say:
Since this book of ours has collected the authentic sunnahs reported from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) about the description of his Prayer, there is no excuse for anyone to not act on it, for there is nothing in it which the scholars have unanimously rejected, as they would never do. In fact, in every instance several of them have adopted the authentic sunnah; any one of them who did not do so is excused and rewarded once, because the text was not conveyed to him at all, or it was conveyed but in such a way that to him it did not constitute proof, or due to other reasons which are well-known among the scholars. However, those after him in front of whom the text is firmly established have no excuse for following his opinion; rather, it is obligatory to follow the infallible text.
This message has been the purpose of this Introduction. Allaah, Mighty and Sublime, says,
"O you who believe! Give your response to Allaah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life, and know that Allaah comes in between a man and his heart, and it is He to whom you shall all be gathered."18
Allaah says the Truth; He shows the Way; and He is the Best to Protect and the Best to Help. May Allaah send prayers and peace on Muhammad, and on his family and his Companions. Praise be to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds.
Muhammad Naasirud-Deen al-Albaani

Damascus 28/10/1389 AH

With the compliments of

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