Can we follow imams?
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:
I have a basic doubt, that can we follow imams ( like shafi, hanafi, malik, hambali)?
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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.
Beloved and dear Brother in Islam, Imam Shafei, Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Maalik, Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal, and all the good Imams and scholars who have passed away themselves followed none but Allah and His Messenger (saws). Each and every one of them were indeed great and respected scholars, and each gave their opinions on matters of Islamic Jurisprudence based on the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah. They and their students indeed did a huge service to the Ummah when they documented their analysis and opinions so that people of future generations would benefit from their vast and wholesome knowledge.
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisaa verse 59: O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best and most suitable for final determination.
Thus brother, what we are commanded to do as believers is follow and obey only Allah and His Messenger (saws) unconditionally; and not only we can, but we should use the opinion and vast knowledge of these great scholars, which they gave in light of the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah, to enable us to be better able to understand and follow the commands and guidance of Allah and His Messenger (saws).
But the believers must know that unconditional obedience is due only to Allah and His Messenger (saws) and no one else! The opinion of everyone else, no matter who they are, will only be followed if it is in absolute conformity and alignment with the guidance of Allah and His Messenger (saws).
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,