It says in the Quran that we should not create sects.So why is it necessary to follow one of the mazhabs?Why cant one just say I follow Islam as told by Prophet Muhammad(sw)?
You may not know this, but qualified Islamic scholars are not expected to follow a madhab (a particular school of highly scholarly Islamic interpretation). It would be wonderful if every Muslim was sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to interpret Allah’s revelation so accurately that we knew in every situation what Allah would allow and what He would not allow. Unfortunately, that is not the reality of our Ummah. Since we are required to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah, but most of us are not qualified Islamic scholars, it is only reasonable to seek those Muslims of greatest knowledge for guidance. The four established madhab are based on the knowledge of some of the greatest minds in the history of Islam. It seems to me this explains fairly well why we need madhab.
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Why then do we have a permanent set of 4 choice of mazhabs only? Why can't there be more, or less. It is certainly not a divine decree that those 4 are the chosen ones, so why do we so strictly follow it?
Many Muslims today ask a similar question, so it is obviously an issue of interest. To have four madhab is not by sacred law, but by well reasoned tradition. The scholars of the four madhab are considered to have been among the greatest in the history of Islam. Additionally they were much closer in time to the Islam practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the companions than more modern scholars. It is believed there are no scholars alive today who equal the founders of the four madhab in knowledge of Islam, so no advantage could be gained by introducing another madhab. There have been other madhab in the past, and even today there a few minor, not well accepted madhab around. Perhaps in the future there will come a time when a scholar exists of such great knowledge that another madhab will come from his interpretations. It is not now as fixed an issue as it had been for many hundred years in the past as the door to ijtihad has opened a bit. What is important is how well we understand the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and it seems for that purpose the four existing madhab are quite excellent and sufficient.
For a more detailed and well written discourse please see:
Why Muslims Follow Madhabs , by Nuh Ha Mim Keller
The Answer Man