Q & A: Why we should follow mazhabs


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.

The Answer Man

Follow-up question:

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



Filed under All, Q & A

30 responses to “Q & A: Why we should follow mazhabs

  1. hafizbar

    good answer. this is what i’m trying to convince malaysian student (oversea especially) to stick with one mazhab only. not to say “alaaaah, agama tu kan mudah, kita ikut je mana2 pendapat kita rasa senang”

  2. Tanvir Hussain

    Why i cant follow all four imaam if one imaam,s istihaad is may be wrong e.g. Like Wudu….

  3. Guardian angel of the gates of heaven

    I want to eat lobster , but according to my fiqh which my friends tell me i am, hanafi im not allowed. im in the firm belief of quran and sunnah whuile yes of course ask imams for guidance on difficult parts.
    tell me can i eat lobster , if i did will i got to hell or committing a sin. is disliked a sin ???????

    I am very upset that the madhabs cannot give clear proofs over simple thing but create more division and problems.

  4. Razia

    With regards to the lobster issue, it may be from some greater wisdom that someone says that we must not eat it.

    I once heard that eating shellfish could encouraged Jinns to cause mischief to your body.

    So although you can eat lobster according to one fiqh, another one may discourage for the reason given above.

    This is how I realised why there may be discrepencies between different schools of thought.

    This is just my opinion.

    Allah knows best.

  5. Suleman

    There always has been and will be an “ullil amar minkum” as mentionied in Quran. You need to search for that person in today’s world who has the spiritual authority in these matters as its been clearly mentioned in Quran that obey Quran, and Prophet Muhammad(P.B.U.H) and those who are the malik of ilaahi amar”.

    May God Bless You

  6. maya

    the problem with hafizbar’s understanding is you have to follow one mazhab. think carefuly, does that mean when you are born, you are not only a muslim but you have to follow a certain mazhab.

    to me , as what has been explained, it is fair to say that we need to follow the mazhab , but the problem is , we are not only ignorant on the intrepertation of quran and sunnah. we dont even know what each teaching of the mazhab is. what we do is just listen to so called ustazah and usstazs in school who have not even searched the issues and teachings in detail.

  7. maya

    do let me add a little more. i wouldnt ristrict myself to one mazhab. i would pick what is majority said between all four. and which is closest to my understanding and believe

    • Taiyeba

      Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wabarakatuhu brothers and sisters.
      I totally agree with you, sister Maya. I understand we take the Imaams’ interpretation of the Quran and sunnah to get a better understanding of the two but even the Imaams themselves suggested that we look into the interpretation and teachings (about a particular topic) by all four of them incase one seems weaker/ less valid/ accurate than the other. So I ask why do we have to restrict ourselves to one particular madhab?
      From what I understand, I would say that if we are seeking explanation on a particular hadith or Islamic ruling then we should learn what each of the four imaams said with reagrds to that topic and decide for ourselves which Imaam’s explanation seems like the most feasable one to follow and is more likely to get us more rewards inshAllah. For example if I think that the Shafi’ee school of thought gives more strict explanation on the requirements of hijaab than the Malikee school of thought then I’d rather follow the Shafi’ee school in order to get more rewards on doing hijab in such way. (I am not trying to belittle or accuse any particular imaam of giving weak and inaccurate explanation on any particular topic; the hijab bit was just to give an example.) If we try to seek knowledge in such way then inshAllah that will make us more aware of the interpretations from all the four great Imaams ( and not just from one whom we are following just because our fore fathers have done so.)
      I hope I did not offend anyone in my reply. If I have still subconsciously done so then please forgive me inshAllah.

      • zabed

        walaikum assalam warahmatullahi wabarakatu. I totally agree with you and we should not restrict ourselves with one majhab only. Jazakallahu Khair

  8. Humaira

    the problem with everyone is that they think they can understand islam by themselves. people made it like a joke. why is it that when it comes to religeon everyone thinks that they know everything. heres a question have u ever heard or seen a person when he is ill he doesnt go to the doctor infact he goes to a officer. NO! y because what would a police man know about doctering unless his qualified. similar with islam when u want to know something you go to an qualified person who has studied islam. Not any Tom Dick an Harry. And when a person starts to mix with the four great imams they start going with their nafs which is haram. for example. according to imam abu hanifa r.a. if blood comes out of your body wudu is broken. but according to imam malik r.a. it is not broken so what would a person do he will go for the easy target whch in other w0rds his going with his nafs. thers so many maslas wich cointerdict with each other so which one you going to choose then? “you are not only a muslim but you have to follow a certain mazhab.” this is what you said you made it look like your making them two seperate religion. we follow the prophet s.a.w. but on the other hand we go according to a madhab not follow. someone saying to you are you a muhammadi or hanafi dont make sence its like your saying do u live in england or london.

    • Taiyeba

      Assalamu alaikum sister Humaira.
      I think it depends on each Muslim individually as in their reason for seeking knowledge from all four of the schools of thought. The ‘reason’ being sincere is very important. If the reason for prefering one Imaam’s explanation to the other (even if he/ she doesn’t belong to the former Imam’s madhab) is because they think their action according to that explanation is going to please Allah more then I don’t see what the problem with that is. For example, blood is an impurity that if oozes out of body and if it is not washed off it starts to smell, could get on clothes and make a mess. The sensible thing for me to do would be to follow Imam Hanifa’s teaching and wash it off and make wudu again because it would be respectful to stand before the Creator (in salat) or touch jis books in a clean and tidy physical state. I hope now you understand what I meant when I said the reason (and the intention) for seeking knowledge of hadith from all four of the great Imaams is important.

      • As for those who divided their religion and became sects—you have nothing to do with them. Their case rests with God; then He will inform them of what they used to do(6:159)

    • নিশ্চয় যারা স্বীয় ধর্মকে খন্ড-বিখন্ড করেছে এবং অনেক দল হয়ে গেছে, তাদের সাথে আপনার কোন সম্পর্ক নেই। তাদের ব্যাপার আল্লাহ তা’আয়ালার নিকট সমর্পিত। অতঃপর তিনি বলে দেবেন যা কিছু তারা করে থাকে।—— সূরা আল আন-আম (6:159)

  9. sara

    salam alikom
    it was related about the prophet, salla allahu alayhi wa sallam, that when he find himself between two things he have to chose only one he chose the easiest, and that is Islam, easiness, also the only haram is that which Allah and his prophet said is haram, a scholar can study about the effect of some thing on humans and may say it is disliked he can not say about it is haram

  10. mohammed muzammil

    asalam allaikum,
    i am studying in engineering college. i want to ask about madhab . i am shafi. but from about 10 friends 2 friends are telling that you are shafi tell that u r a Muslim. but i think that in every mazhab there is certain difference in teaching so i want to follow shafi.

    • mazhab imams are right.but some people are opposing mazhab.if mazhab iz wrong then why muhadiseen followed them.they dint no that.even the imam bukhari belongs to shafi mazhab…………..

  11. Farhad

    The Imaams’ Followers Leaving their Views if these Contradicted the Sunnah

    Due to all that we have mentioned, the disciples of the Imaams, a number of people from those of old, and a few from those of later time, would not accept all of their Imaam’s views; they actually ignored many when they found them to be clearly against the Sunnah. Even the two Imaams, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan and Abu Yoosuf (rahimahullaah) differed from their shaikh Abu Haneefah “in about a third of the Madhhab”, as the books of masaa’il prove. Similarly is said about Imaam al- Muzani and other followers of Shaafi’i and other Imaams; were we to start giving examples, the discussion would become exceedingly, long, and we would digress from what we set out to do in this Introduction, so we shall limit ourselves to two instances:

    1) Imaam Muhammad says in his Muwatta'(p. 158), “As for Abu Haneefah, he did not regard there being a prayer to ask for rain, but we hold that the imaam prays two rak’ahs and then supplicates and holds out his wrapping garment …”

    2) We have ‘Isaam ibn Yoosuf al-Balkhi, one of the companions of Imaam Muhammad and a servant of Imaam Abu Yoosuf, who “would give verdicts contrary to Imaam Abu Haneefah because he did not know the latter’s evidence, and other evidence would present itself to him, so he would give verdicts using that.” Hence, “he would raise his hands on bowing (in prayer) and on rising from it”, as is the mutawaatir sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam); the fact that his three Imaams (i.e. Abu Haneefah, Abu Yoosuf and Muhammad) said otherwise did not prevent him from practising this sunnah. This is the approach which every Muslim is obliged to have, as we have already seen from the testimony of the Four Imaams, and others.

    To sum up: I sincerely hope that no follower of an Imaam will race to condemn the principles of this book and abandon benefiting from the sunnahs of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) which it contains, with the argument that they are contrary to his Madhhab. I hope that such a person will instead consider what we have given of the exhortations of the Imaams towards the obligation to act on the Sunnah and ignore their sayings contradictory to it. I hope also that he will realise that to condemn the attitude of this book is to condemn whichever Imaam he is following, for we have taken these principles from those Imaams, as we have explained. Therefore, whoever refuses to be guided by them on this path is in great danger, for such refusal necessitates turning away from the Sunnah, the Sunnah to which we have been ordered to refer in cases of difference of opinion and on which we have been commanded to depend.

    I ask Allaah to make us among those about whom He says,

    “The answer of the believers, when summoned to Allaah and His Messenger, in order that he may judge betweeen them, is no other than this: they say, “We hear and we obey” – it is such as these that will attain Success. It is those who obey Allaah and His Messenger, and fear Allaah, and keep their duty to Him, who will triumph.”

  12. Farhad

    more misconceptions cleared here:


    (change the above address from (dot)org to proper way)

    P.S. Sheikh Albani is one of prominent scholars of 20th century, search and find out about him, leave no room for whispers from Shaytan, who might raise doubts in your head for example maybe about its authenticity.

    any further query refer to: islamonline . net

    go to the “ask the scholars” section for answers to your many queries about Islam


  13. Pingback: Multiple Madhabs

  14. Shariful islam

    Fasalu ahlaz ziker that means olama or muztahid but why we confine one imam?

  15. We know fas aluahlaz zikir here olama muztahid not one imam .why we confine one imam?

  16. muktabul

    It is very much clear from quran that it is not permissible make various sect in islam, so pl.dont try to leave any point in favour of following mazhab, these points are clear contradiction of quran. Yes at that particular period most of the people were ignorent about islam and technology was not developed and also since the relegion was newly established.so during that time we may agree to take a guide to know islam and also the sahih hadiths were also not recorded at that time. But now sahih hadiths are very easily available and also quran in various languages also available. so presently we think that it is not necessarily required to have any guide to know the islam……hence we need not necessarily follow a madhab

  17. adnan

    ((My ummah will be divided into seventy three sects. All of them will be in the Fire except one?)), [Saheeh Muslim, no.976]
    Was that the first four??

  18. Baqitullah

    In the days of Rasullullah, is there any mazhab ?

  19. Agreed with brothers, in the days of Rasulullah, is there any mazhab? For me, madzhab can separate muslim into groups. That is my opinion by the way, but usually if this opinion was given to the people of my country, which is malaysia, I will be marked as Wahabbi. Just because you want to make Al-Quran & As-Sunnah as your ONLY guidance doens’nt mean you are a Wahhabbi. I think we as Islam should think how to unite as one, instead of putting you in a group of this and that.

  20. adnan

    6:159. As for those who divided their religion and became sects—you have nothing to do with them. Their case rests with God; then He will inform them of what they used to do

  21. nashrath

    We must follow quran and hadees which emphasis on undivided islam.. 4 mazhabs lead us to get confused with 4 different ideas instead of following a perticular idea which mentioned in the quran.Allah knows the best…

  22. The people who do not follow one out of four should follow direct Allah and they should leave Muhammad SAW. Because our connection should be with God not with His Creatures. Stupid. following one of fourth is not dividing you in different sect but it just divided the different ways did by Our Prophet SAW to fullfill his all sunnah under the four big researchers and They are four Imams. I am following Imam Abu Hanifa and I love all of others. It is what people like you producing hate between four aadhazab for making propaganda against these four mazhab. It is school of thoughts but having same theories and research which goes to the same Prophet SAW. The people who says not to follow one of them are called Wahabi Or Wahabism. They are so much here in Pakistan. I there should be no such a wrong and astray people like them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s