Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
Dear Burhan I`m interested in gaining more knowledge and I got your address and I read many of your issues too, found it very useful. I have some questions kindly answer in the light of Quran and Sunnah.
1. Why there are only four Imams?
2. Why there is difference in their opinion?
3. Which Madhab should a muslim follow among these four?
4. some people in Saudi arabia claim that they follow Quran and sunnah and they are not stuck to any madhab ;if they find the things according to quran and sunnah they will follow the imam`s saying and if it doesn`t they will avoid it thus following all the four Imams, kindly clarify about this.
5. Is Taqlid of Imams Obligatory upon Muslim, if yes where is the proof and if no what should a muslim follow.
(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
Q-1: Why there are only four Imams?
The literal meaning of imaam is a leader. All the Prophets of Allah Subhanah were imaams or leaders of their people, culminating in the Last and Final Messenger of Allah, Mohamed ar-Rasool Allah (saws) being the Imaam or leader of all mankind.
After the death of the Prophet (saws) and until the time of the Rightly Guided Khalifahs, the imaam was the political as well as the religious leader of the believers, but after their demise the connotation of the term imaam became distorted and only the religious leaders came to be recognized as imaams, and the political leaders as Khalifahs or Kings or Sultans, etc.
It is not true there are only four imaams of the believers, for in the times after the death of the Prophet (saws), literally thousands if not millions of believers were recognized and chosen as the imaams.
The four imaams, namely Imam Malik, Imam Shafei, Imam Abu Hanifah, and Imam Hambal are the ones who were recognized as the most prolific amongst all the religious scholars by the believers amongst the Ahle Sunnah. The opinions and madhabs of these four imaams are most often quoted and followed by the believers of the Ahle-Sunnah, and thus it may seem that there are only four imaams, but the statement that there are only four imaams in Islam is an incorrect statement.
Why there is difference in their opinion?
Allah, in His Sublime Grace and Mercy, sent us the Last Messenger (saws) and revealed to him by inspiration the Glorious Quran for our guidance until the Day of Judgment. If we look at the first 10 years after the appointment of Prophethood in Makkah, we will realize that the daawah of Islam was not prayers, or hajj, or fasting, or zakat, etc. The call to Islam in the early stages can be summarized into three categories:
Tawheed: The worship of One God Alone.
Rasaalat: The acceptance of Mohamed ibn Abdulla (saws) as the appointed Messenger, and belief in the inspired book, Al Quran.
Aakherah: The concept of an inevitable Day of
the belief in the existence of
core stations of imaan there was never any
differences of opinion amongst the imaams, and thus there were
no madhabs or school of thoughts. After migration to
The truth of the matter is that none of the madhabs have any difference of opinion in any of the foundational matters in the deen. They are all unanimous in the subjects like Tawheed, Message, Hereafter, Imaan, etc. My guess is that in excess of 95% of the issues, all the madhabs are unanimous in their rulings. The difference of opinion arose between the companions and between the scholars, on matters whether the Prophet (saws) did or say a thing or not. The imams and the scholars sometimes disagreed on very small things in the deen, and gave their opinions based on the guidance they had received from the Quran and Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws), each giving his evidence from their understanding of the Quran and Sunnah.
Thus, if we follow any of the madhabs, provided our intention is to follow the Messenger of Allah (saws), then there is no harm. Allah Alone Knows Best, but the difference between following any of the four madhabs, would be the difference between following something which is very good to something which is excellent! It was never a situation that one imam was right and the other was wrong, and as you mentioned in your comments, all the imams respected the opinion of the other, but begged to differ on some issues.
Q-3: Which Madhab should a muslim follow among these four?
some people in Saudi arabia claim that they follow Quran and sunnah and they are not
stuck to any madhab ;if they find the things
according to quran and sunnah
they will follow the imam`s saying and if it doesn`t they will avoid it thus following all the four
Imams, kindly clarify about this.
If one worships Allah, and does not associate any partner with Him, believes and follows the Messenger of Allah, considers what Allah and His Messenger (saws) states haraam as haraam and halaal as halaal, fears Allah as He should be feared, and does righteous deeds, it would not really matter if he followed one madhab and stood in the prayers with his hands folded, or followed the other madhab and left them unfolded, provided his intention was to follow the Messenger of Allah (saws). Whatever the imams have stated, they have given their best opinion, in light of the Quran and Sunnah. Thus if you follow any one, or a combination amongst them, provided your intention is to follow the Messenger of Allah (saws), Insha Allah, Allah will reward you according to your intention.
Brother, it is also best in
this day and age, when on every small
are ready to break away and make their own sect and their own creed, to stay united under the one umbrella and ummah of Islam.
Allah created us as one community, and we must strive to keep it that
way. The imams and the scholars, only gave their
opinions based on the Quran and Sunnah, and their intention was never to break the ummah of Islam, as
some misguided people have been successful in doing. We respect the opinion of all the imams and
pray that Allah accept their sacrifices and grant them an honorable place in
Allah says in Chapter 32 Surah Rum aayat 31-32:"This (Islam) is the right and true faith, but most people do not know. (Be steadfast on this) turning wholly and sincerely towards Allah Alone, and fear Him, and establish the Salat, and do not be like the mushriks, who have set up their separate creeds and divided themselves into sects, each sect rejoicing in what it has."
Allah says in Chapter 42 Surah Ash-Shura aayat 13:"He has appointed for you the same Way of Life, which He had ordained for Noah, and which (O Mohamed (saws)) We have now revealed to you, and which We had already enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus, stressing this: " Establish this way and be not divided in it"."
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 23 Surah Muminoon verse 52-54: And you all belong to one and the same ummah, and I(Allah) am your Lord; so fear Me Alone! Yet afterwards the people divided themselves into different sects, and each sect rejoicing in what it has.
Q-5: Is Taqlid of Imams Obligatory upon Muslim, if yes where is the
proof and if no what should a muslim
The term Taqleed when used in the Islamic sense means the unconditional following of someone or something. No taqleed of anyone is obligatory upon the believers, except the taqleed or unconditional obedience of Allah Subhanah and His Appointed Messenger (saws).
If any other leader, or Imaam gives an opinion, it is conditional that it will only be followed if it is in alignment and agreement with the commands of the Quran and Sunnah. If the opinion of any person, leader or imaam is not in alignment with the guidance of the Quran and the Sunnah, it will be immediately rejected.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisa verse 79-80: We have sent you (O Mohamed) as a Messenger to mankind, and Allahs witness suffices for this. Whoever obeys the Messenger, in fact obeys Allah, and whoever turns away from him, he will be accountable for his deeds. Anyhow, we have not sent you (O Mohamed) to be a guardian over them.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 3 Surah Ale Imran verse 31-32: O Prophet, tell the people, If you sincerely love Allah, follow me. Then Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, for He is All Forgiving, All Merciful. Also say to them, Obey Allah and His Messenger. And if, in spite of this, they do not accept your invitation, warn them that Allah does not love those, who refuse to obey Him and His Messenger.
Only the Taqleed or unconditional obedience of the guidance of Allah and His Messenger (saws) is obligatory upon the believers.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your Brother in Islam,