Friday 24 March 2023 \


Taqleed and following a mazhab

“ When the authenticity of the Hadith is established, then that is my Math-hab.” (Imaam Shaafi)

Source : ReliableFatwas / 28 Apr 2014

Question: Did not the Four Imams command others not to follow them when there are authentic Hadith which on the face of it appears to contradict their findings?

Answer: Mufti Ahmed Sadeq Desai states:

“In substantiation of their claim they [the Salafis/modernists] present the well-known statements of the Fuqaha and Aimmah Mujtahideen of the Salaf-e-Saalihoon such as:

“ When you find in my kitaab anything contradicting the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) then say (i.e. command) the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and leave aside my statement.” (Imaam Shaafi)

“ When the Hadith is established as authentic in opposition to my statement, then act according to the Hadith and abandon my statement.” (Imaam Shaafi)

“ When the authenticity of the Hadith is established, then that is my Math-hab.” (Imaam Shaafi)

Similar statements have been attributed to Imaam Abu Hanifah by Ibn Abdul Barr. Imaam Sha’raani too attributes similar statements to Imaam Abu Hanifah. In Raddul Mukhtaar, Allaamah Beeri narrating from Sharah Hidaayah of Ibn Shuhnah says:

“ When the Hadith is authentic then that is my Math-hab.” (Imaam Abu Hanifah)

The authenticity of these statements is not contested. However, neither do these salafis understand the meaning of these statements nor do their audiences. The audience being unschooled in the higher knowledge of the Shariah simply take in what is gorged out by the devious speakers of this sect. The salafis claim to be the followers of the Salaf. In their definition of the Salaf they quite rightly include the Fuqaha and Ulama of Quroon-e-Thalaathah (the first three glorious epochs of Islam)-the age of the Sahaabah, Taabieen and Tab-e-Taabieen. The Aimmah Mujtahideen which include the four illustrious Imaams of the Four Math-habs of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah are all part of the Salaf.

While these salafis seek to eke out unbridled rejection of Taqleed for every man in the street o­n the basis of the aforementioned statements attributed to the great Imaams, the great Ulama who follow these Aimmah Mujtahideen aver otherwise. Commenting o­n these statements, Imaam Nawawi (rahmatullah alayh) says:

“ This which Imaam Shaafi has said does not mean that everyone who sees a Saheeh Hadith should say: ‘This is the Math-hab of Shaafi, thus practising o­n the zaahir (text/external or apparent meaning) of the Hadith.

This most certainly applies to o­nly such a person who has the rank of Ijtihaad in the Math-hab. It is a condition that he overwhelmingly believes that Imaam Shaafi was unaware of this Hadith or he was unaware of its authenticity. And this is possible o­nly after having made a research of all the books of Shaafi and similar other books of the Ashaab of Shaafi, those who take (knowledge) from him, and others similar to these (books). This is indeed a difficult condition (to fulfil). Few are there who measure up to this (standard).

What we have explained has been made conditional because Imaam Shaafi had abandoned acting o­n the zaahir (text) of many Ahadith which he saw and knew. However by him was established proof for criticism in the Hadith or its abrogation or its specific circumstance or its interpretation, etc. (hence he was constrained to leave aside the hadith).” (I’laaus Sunan, Vol. 2, page 225)

Shaikh Abu Amr (rahmatullah alayh) said:

“It is not easy to act according to the apparent (zaahir) text of what Imaam Shaafi said. It is not lawful for (even) every Faqeeh (qualified Aalim who has deep insight) to act independently with that which he opines to be proof from the Hadith.” (I’laaus Sunan, Vol. 2, page 225)

It also appears in I’laaus Sunan of Muhaddith Zafar Ahmad Uthmaani (rahmatullah alayh):

“Imaam Sha’raani has also narrated it (i.e. the statement ‘When the authenticity of a Hadith is established it is my Math-hab.’), attributing it to the four Imaams. It is not hidden (from understanding) that this is for the o­ne who has the ability (insight and qualification) in the Nusoos and the knowledge of its clear laws and its abrogations.” (Volume 2, page 226)

Discussing this statement in his treatise, Shaikh Yusuf Bin Ismaail Nibhaani says:

“ Verily, the statement: ‘When the Hadith has been authenticated, then it is my Math-hab’ has been narrated from each o­ne of these four Imaams who were free from personal opinion. The audience to whom this statement (‘When the Hadith is Saheeh it is my Math-hab.’) was directed, is o­nly his (the Imaam’s) Ashaab (the Fuqaha of his Math-hab) who were great and illustrious Aimmah fully qualified in the rational and narrational sciences (of the Deen). (And the statement is directed to) those who came after these illustrious Aimmah among the great Ulama of his Math-hab, those who were the Ahlut Tarjeeh (a high category of Ulama). All of them who were the Haafizeen of the Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) were fully aware of the daleels (proofs) of all the Math-habs………These are the o­nes whom the Imaam (of the Math-hab) had directed his statement: ‘When the Hadith is Saheeh, it is my Math-hab.’….Verily, they (these great Fuqaha) are able to reconcile between the Hadith from which the Imaam had derived proof, and the (latest) Hadith which was established as authentic after the Imaam. They (these illustrious Fuqaha) can see which of the two Hadiths is more authentic, stronger and which of the two Hadiths is the later o­ne so that the later o­ne can be the Naasikh (abrogator) for the earlier o­ne.” (Hujjatullah alal Aalameen)

It should now be crystal clear to every unbiased person possessing the least degree of Aql (intelligence) that the statement: ”When the Hadith is Saheeh it is my Math-hab.” , is directed to an audience of illustrious Fuqaha who were masters and experts in Ijtihaad; who had embraced all sciences of the Shar’i Uloom; who were Muqallideen of their Imaams, who were Huffaz of Hadith; who were experts of both narrational and rational (Manqool and Uqool) branches of knowledge; -in short, who were Ulama and Fuqaha of the highest category, whose likes did not again appear o­n earth after them nor will appear again o­n earth until the Day of Qiyaamah because those illustrious Fuqaha were a Band of Muhaqqiqeen whom Allah Ta’ala had specially created to formulate and systematise the Shariah for posterity in such a manner that no mudhil (deviate who leads astray) can ever hope to escape with his baatil interpolations and nafsaaniyat.

While the illustrious Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen directed their command to their Students (Fuqaha and Ulama of the highest category), these half-baked and raw salafi deviates direct the Aimma’s statements to an audience of juhala-people who have yet to become adept in the basics of Tahaarat, Salaat, Saum, etc.

Even the greatest Aalim alive today cannot avail himself of the statement of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen, leave alone the myriads of half-baked Ulama. The masses cannot even be considered in this regard. Here in this context when we say ‘half-baked’ we are referring to even the present day Ulama-e-Haqq whose duty it is to safeguard the Shariah. Even these highly qualified Ulama of the present age are ‘half-baked’ and grossly under baked in relation to the giants and stars of the Shar’i Uloom who strode the Firmament of Islamic Knowledge and Piety during the Quroon-e-Thalathah.

The age for weighing the verdicts of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen against the Ahadith has long passed. It is downright silly and stupid for anyone in this age to run away with the puerile notion of having the ability to rectify, amend or refute any of the rulings of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen. Any such amendment to any of the rulings of the Aimmah-e-Arba-ah was affected many centuries ago-a thousand years ago-by their great Students and Ashaab. Indeed these deviate salafis are suffering from the disease of self-conceit and pride in their belief that ‘erroneous’ fataawa of the Aimmah had remained undetected for the past thousand years and that it was o­nly now in this age that a deviate like Al-Baani acquired the ‘honour’ to correct the ‘mistakes’ of the great Imaams of the Mathaahib.

It needs no deep wisdom to understand the reason for the Aimmah’s directive to their Ashaab/Students to review their rulings o­n the Standard of the Saheeh Hadith. The Shariah of Islam is the product of Wahi. It is not the product of anyone’s opinion, be he the greatest Faqeeh. In that early age of Islam the Shariah had not yet been fully codified in chapter form and systematically reduced to writing and all the Ahadith had not been compiled. The age of Hadith compilation came much later. It was therefore likely that an Imaam was not aware of all the Ahadith o­n a specific subject. He would issue his fatwa o­n the basis of all available Nusoos (Qur’aanic aayat and Ahadith). However, when later he was apprized of a Saheeh Hadith which contradicted his fatwa, he would immediately review his ruling and if the authenticity and other relevant aspects of the Hadith were established, he would revoke his fatwa and issue a new fatwa.

Similarly, if the Saheeh Hadith came to the attention of the Imaam’s Ashaab after the death of the Imaam or in his absence, they would adopt the same process of review and amend their Imaam’s ruling in obedience to his command to do so. Thus, the statement: “ When the Hadith is Saheeh, it is my Math-hab” , and similar other statements attributed to the Aimmah-e-Arba-ah, had their application during the age of Ijtihaad when the process of the formulation, codification and systematization of the Shariah was in progress. The authorities of the Shariah, viz., the Fuqaha-e-Mujtahideen, to whom the directive was issued by the Aimmah of the Mathaahib, had already given expression to this command.

Thus these statements have outlived their utility and are no longer applicable for the simple reason that all the Saheeh Ahadith have already been compiled 1250 years ago. Any reviewing which had to be done, was completed 1250 years ago. The statements of the Aimmah in this regard have o­nly historical importance, and cannot be considered any longer for practical expression. It is indeed ludicrous to run away with the assumption that for 1200 years any errors of the Aimmah Arbah remained undetected and a man like Al-Baani of this age came to rectify such ‘errors’.”



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