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Islam Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided." Holy Qur'an 16:125

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Old Saturday, June 16, 2007
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Lightbulb Differences of opinion between Madhabs on matters of fiqh

Each imam issued fatwas on the basis of the evidence that reached him. A hadeeth may have reached Imam Maalik on the basis of which he issued fatwas, that did not reach Abu Haneefah, so he issued fatwas stating something different, and vice versa. Similarly a hadeeth may have reached Abu Haneefah with a saheeh isnaad so he issued fatwas on that basis, and the same hadeeth may have reached Imam al-Shaafa’i with a different isnaad that was da’eef (weak), so he did not issue fatwas based on it, or he may have issued a fatwa saying something that went against the hadeeth based on the conclusion he reached. This is why differences arose among the scholars, but ultimately the point of reference is the Qur’aan and Sunnah.

In fact, Imam Abu Haneefah and other imams followed the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah, even if some of their fatwas were not based on that, the reason being that all four imams stated that if a hadeeth was saheeh, then that was their madhhab, that is what they followed, on what they based their fatwas and from what they derived their evidence.

Imam Abu Haneefah said: “If the hadeeth is saheeh then that is my madhhab.” And he said: “It is not permissible for anyone to follow what we say if they do not know where we got it from.” According to another report he said: “It is haraam for the one who does not know my evidence to issue a fatwa based on my words.” And according to another report he added: “We are human, we may say something today and retract it tomorrow.” And he said: “If I say something that goes against the Book of Allaah or the report of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), then ignore what I say.”

Imam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “I am only human, sometimes I make mistakes and sometimes I get things right. Look at my opinion and whatever is in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah, take it, and whatever is not in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah, ignore it.” And he said: “There is no one after the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) whose words cannot be taken or left, apart from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).”

Imam al-Shaafa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “There is no one who will not be unaware of some of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Whatever I say or whatever guidelines I establish, if there is a report from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) which is different to what I said, then what matters is what the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, and that is my opinion.”

Imam Ahmad said: “Do not follow me blindly and do not follow Maalik or al-Shaafa’i or al-Awzaa’i or al-Thawri blindly. Learn from where they learned.” And he said: “The opinion of al-Awzaa’i and the opinion of Maalik and the opinion of Abu Haneefah are all mere conjecture and it is all the same to me. Rather evidence is to be found in the reports – i.e., in the shar’i evidence.”

This is a brief look at Imam Abu Haneefah (may Allaah have mercy on him) and his madhhab. In conclusion, the Muslim cannot but acknowledge the status and position of these imams, but that should not lead us to give precedence to their views over the Book of Allaah and the saheeh reports from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), because in principle we should follow the Qur’aan and Sunnah and not the opinions of men; any man’s opinion may be taken or left, except the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him),as Imam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) said.
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