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Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali, Shaf'i: Explanations please.

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    Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali, Shaf'i: Explanations please.

    Assalamu Alaykum.

    Could someone explain to me differences in these madhabs? I've yet to gain a good understanding of them, and I'd like to, because I want to choose one to apply.
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    What must be remebered is that the differences between these imams is only in subsidiary issues and NOT in the fundamentals of islam. in the fundamentals of Islam all the imams had the same view, such as women must wear hijab, prayer is 5 times, wine is forbidden etc.

    The differnce between the schoalrs appears in the samller subsidiary issues, in which it is permissable to have a difference of opinion e.g where are the hands to be placed during the prayer, can the prayers be combined on a journey etc.

    The reasons the imams have a difference of opinon in the subsidiary issues is for a number of reasons some of which are

    1) The imams understand the hadith, ayah differently.
    2) The imams classify the hadith as authentic whilst others classify it as weak .
    3) an imam may not have heard of a hadith

    and other reasons also.

    Now to outweight all the evidences and everything is best left to the qualified schoalr as the layperson doe not have the tools or capacity or knowledge to outweigh and analysie. The lay person follows the scholar.

    For the last thousand years, for the sake of unity as well as other reasons, practically everyone has follwed one o the 4 iams you mentioned . It is ok to follow any of them and pray behind others that follwo one of the other 4 e.g if you follow malik, it's ok for you to pray behind a shafi.

    However to avoid confusiion for the layperson between the different opinions of the differnt imams it is beeter to follow only one imam rather than pick and choose between the different imams. This again is due to a number of reasons e.g

    Shafis consider a man that touches a woman his wudu breaks whereas as hanfi do not.

    However hanafis condider a person that starts bleeding his wudhu breaks wheras shafis do not.

    so if a person wass to pick and choose then if he chose the hanafi opinon regarding touching a woman and the shafi opinon regarding blood then according to him he still has wudhu whereas according to both the schoalrs his wudhu is still broken. So this is just one reason why it is best to stick to one schoalr until a person ecomes a scholar himself and can outweigh the evidences.


      Question: What is decisive evidence & is Ijtihad permissible upon what is decisive?

      Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

      First of all, it should be known that the evidences found in the Qur’an and the Sunnah is divided into four types:

      1) Evidence which is decisive (Qat’i) both in respect of authenticity [of its transmission] and meaning.

      2) Evidence which is decisive in authenticity but speculative in meaning.

      3) That which is of probabilistic/speculative authenticity (Zanni), but definite and decisive in meaning.

      4) Evidence which is probabilistic/speculative, both in authenticity and meaning.

      One must also remember here that all the evidences in the Qur’an are decisive in authenticity, yet not all are decisive in meaning. The evidences in the Sunnah can be from all four categories.

      Ijtihad does not apply to the first of the abovementioned categories, such as the clear texts concerning the prescribed penalties (Hudud).

      However, Ijtihad is valid and permissible for those qualified to exercise it, in regard to any of the remaining three types of evidences.

      This shows that if there is an evidence in the Qur’an (which is obviously decisive in authenticity), but the meaning of the verse is probabilistic in what it indicates (according to the standards of the science of legal methodology (usul al-fiqh)), then Ijtihad is valid.

      Example of this is the text of Surah al-Baqara, where Allah Most High says:

      “The divorced woman must observe three ‘Quru’ upon herself (for the waiting period)” (2:228).

      There is no doubt concerning the authenticity of this text as every verse of the Qur’an is decisive in its establishment. However, the precise meaning of the word ‘Quru’ is open to interpretative difference.

      Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Allah have mercy on them) are of the view that the meaning is ‘menstruation’, while Imam Shafi’i and Imam Malik (Allah have mercy on them) regard the meaning as ‘Tuhr’ (Period of being clean between menstruations).

      Therefore, Ijtihad can be carried out on matters such as these.

      However it can not be exercised on matters such as the obligatory status of the pillars of Islam or the prohibition of murder, theft and adultery, etc..., for those are established through explicit and decisive primary texts.

      This has more or less been mentioned in most of the books written on the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, (see: al-Mustasfa of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, al-Wusul by Imam Tumurtashi, Usul al-Fiqh by Abu Zahra and others).

      And Allah Knows Best

      Muhammad ibn Adam

      Darul Iftaa

      Leicester, UK


        What is a Madhhab?
        Why is it necessary to follow one?
        ©Nuh Ha Mim Keller 2000

        The word madhhab is derived from an Arabic word meaning "to go" or "to take as a way", and refers to a mujtahid's choice in regard to a number of interpretive possibilities in deriving the rule of Allah from the primary texts of the Qur'an and hadith on a particular question. In a larger sense, a madhhab represents the entire school of thought of a particular mujtahid Imam, such as Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi'i, or Ahmad--together with many first-rank scholars that came after each of these in their respective schools, who checked their evidences and refined and upgraded their work. The mujtahid Imams were thus explainers, who operationalized the Qur'an and sunna in the specific shari'a rulings in our lives that are collectively known as fiqh or "jurisprudence". In relation to our din or "religion", this fiqh is only part of it, for the religious knowledge each of us possesses is of three types. The first type is the general knowledge of tenets of Islamic belief in the oneness of Allah, in His angels, Books, messengers, the prophethood of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), and so on. All of us may derive this knowledge directly from the Qur'an and hadith, as is also the case with a second type of knowledge, that of general Islamic ethical principles to do good, avoid evil, cooperate with others in good works, and so forth. Every Muslim can take these general principles, which form the largest and most important part of his religion, from the Qur'an and hadith.
        The third type of knowledge is that of the specific understanding of particular divine commands and prohibitions that make up the shari'a. Here, because of both the nature and the sheer number of the Qur'an and hadith texts involved, people differ in the scholarly capacity to understand and deduce rulings from them. But all of us have been commanded to live them in our lives, in obedience to Allah, and so Muslims are of two types, those who can do this by themselves, and they are the mujtahid Imams; and those who must do so by means of another, that is, by following a mujtahid Imam, in accordance with Allah's word in Surat al-Nahl,

        " Ask those who recall, if you know not " (Qur'an 16:43),
        and in Surat al-Nisa,
        " If they had referred it to the Messenger and to those of authority among them, then those of them whose task it is to find it out would have known the matter " (Qur'an 4:83),
        in which the phrase those of them whose task it is to find it out, expresses the words "alladhina yastanbitunahu minhum", referring to those possessing the capacity to draw inferences directly from the evidence, which is called in Arabic istinbat.
        These and other verses and hadiths oblige the believer who is not at the level of istinbat or directly deriving rulings from the Qur'an and hadith to ask and follow someone in such rulings who is at this level. It is not difficult to see why Allah has obliged us to ask experts, for if each of us were personally responsible for evaluating all the primary texts relating to each question, a lifetime of study would hardly be enough for it, and one would either have to give up earning a living or give up ones din, which is why Allah says in surat al-Tawba, in the context of jihad:

        " Not all of the believers should go to fight. Of every section of them, why does not one part alone go forth, that the rest may gain knowledge of the religion and admonish their people when they return, that perhaps they may take warning " (Qur'an 9:122).
        The slogans we hear today about "following the Qur'an and sunna instead of following the madhhabs" are wide of the mark, for everyone agrees that we must follow the Qur'an and the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The point is that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is no longer alive to personally teach us, and everything we have from him, whether the hadith or the Qur'an, has been conveyed to us through Islamic scholars. So it is not a question of whether or not to take our din from scholars, but rather, from which scholars. And this is the reason we have madhhabs in Islam: because the excellence and superiority of the scholarship of the mujtahid Imams--together with the traditional scholars who followed in each of their schools and evaluated and upgraded their work after them--have met the test of scholarly investigation and won the confidence of thinking and practicing Muslims for all the centuries of Islamic greatness. The reason why madhhabs exist, the benefit of them, past, present, and future, is that they furnish thousands of sound, knowledge-based answers to Muslims questions on how to obey Allah. Muslims have realized that to follow a madhhab means to follow a super scholar who not only had a comprehensive knowledge of the Qur'an and hadith texts relating to each issue he gave judgements on, but also lived in an age a millennium closer to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his Companions, when taqwa or "godfearingness" was the norm--both of which conditions are in striking contrast to the scholarship available today.
        While the call for a return to the Qur'an and sunna is an attractive slogan, in reality it is a great leap backward, a call to abandon centuries of detailed, case-by-case Islamic scholarship in finding and spelling out the commands of the Qur'an and sunna, a highly sophisticated, interdisciplinary effort by mujtahids, hadith specialists, Qur'anic exegetes, lexicographers, and other masters of the Islamic legal sciences. To abandon the fruits of this research, the Islamic shari'a, for the following of contemporary sheikhs who, despite the claims, are not at the level of their predecessors, is a replacement of something tried and proven for something at best tentative.

        The rhetoric of following the shari'a without following a particular madhhab is like a person going down to a car dealer to buy a car, but insisting it not be any known make--neither a Volkswagen nor Rolls-Royce nor Chevrolet--but rather "a car, pure and simple". Such a person does not really know what he wants; the cars on the lot do not come like that, but only in kinds. The salesman may be forgiven a slight smile, and can only point out that sophisticated products come from sophisticated means of production, from factories with a division of labor among those who test, produce, and assemble the many parts of the finished product. It is the nature of such collective human efforts to produce something far better than any of us alone could produce from scratch, even if given a forge and tools, and fifty years, or even a thousand. And so it is with the shari'a, which is more complex than any car because it deals with the universe of human actions and a wide interpretative range of sacred texts. This is why discarding the monumental scholarship of the madhhabs in operationalizing the Qur'an and sunna in order to adopt the understanding of a contemporary sheikh is not just a mistaken opinion. It is scrapping a Mercedes for a go-cart.


          As for choosing your madhab then You would be better of choosing whcihever one you have the easiset access to scholars to so you can ask them questions from your madhab. For example if you are in UK or indian subcontient then gor for the hanafi madhab as you will find abundant scholars from these schools there. Africa go for, the mailki madhab. Americ go for maliki or shafi. mid east then go for shafi.

          Ive avoided hanbali madhab and i suggest choosing against his madhab as their is a lot of confusion and controversy surrounding this madhab in todays time. besides it should not be much of an issue as you still have 3 other madhabs to choose from. any other time in the past hanbali wuld have been fne too, but like i say too much confusion and controversy surrounding it today. it would be better to avoid.

          Hope that helps.

          Wa salaam.


            Yep, chose a trustworthy & easily accessible scholar in your own community, as that will be the easiest for you, insha'Allaah.

            There are many scholars in the UK, which follow many madhabs - not only Hanafi madhabs. It is better not to advise against following hanbali madhabs GenN, as that too, is another valid madhab. There are always issues that need to be considered in all of them.

            Maybe you can get a hold of a comparative fiqh book? a good fiqh book that can be found on the net is one by sayyid sabiq, called fiqh us sunnah, and that discusses different issues, and when it does so, it states the opinions of the different schools.


            But it is best to study under a scholar.
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              I don't know of any scholars around here.
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                Where do you live ali?

                Consider, there are other madhabs in UK i know, but the hanafi one is the most widespread which is why i recomeended it to Ali if his in UK as he will easily be able to access hanafi scholar, more easily than the other madhabs. As for advising against the hanbali madhab then maybe i was wrong in doing so but i only did it as there is a high chance he will end up with the madhkalia, becasue other than them (so called hanbalis) there is not a wide number of hanbali schoalrs (compared to the other madhabs), hence it will only make it more difficult for him and confuse him and you know how the madkhalia always seem to make you anti-everything else in an arrogant manner. Would it not thne be better for him to choose something that he can relaax with without any controversy by choosing one of the other 3 madhabs?


                  I live in a town near Houston, Texas. There are a large amount of Indo-Paki's in the Houston area, so I'm gussing Hanafi might be the most prevalent madhab around here. I don't know if there are any scholars around here though.
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                    If there are a large number of indo pakis then its true that hanafis might be prevalent, however i seriously suggest you ask these people to refer you to a schoalr instead of actaully speaking to these people becasue if they are brawelis (which a lot of indo pakistanis are) then they are the opposite side to the madkhalia and almost as bad as the madkhalia. If however the indo pakistanis are non brawleis then you ok as they will most likely be tableeghi or deobandi who are very good hanafis.


                      Sorry about the group classifications ali, hope its not confusing you but warnings agaisnt dodgy groups need to be told. Its not enough for someone claiming to be hanfia or mailiki or hanbali or shafi and then doing a load of dodgy things on the side and saying that it is from their madhab or from Islam. thats like saying your a muslim but being a gay is fine (you'll be suprised that a lot of muslims actaully say this).


                        ali from conroe have u heard of hamza yusuf? visit his site

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                          GenN, the guy's at my Masjid(who ar all Pakistani except for 3 Arab guys) are tableeghi, so I guess they are Hanafi then. Don't know about the Arab guys who attend. What is madkhalia and brawleis?
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                            Ali, if they are tableeghi then learn the hanafi madhab. The imam at the mosque is likely to be a graduate of some madrassah and so you will easily be able to learn hanfai fiqh. you will inshalla find them brothers very friendly and more than happy to hlep you along inshalla and teach you hanafi fiqh and they will most likely be able to give you hanafi fiqh books also inshalla. For your basics to learn to pray, fast, zakaah, dress, hajj etc this is fine inshalla. Take it one step at a time from now, and the first thing is to learn the prayer from them. as for brawleis and madhkalia it is not too important to know about them yet, it would only confuse. Learn the hanafi fiqh from the tableeghis and you'll be ok for now inshalla.


                              OH man, i find all this secatarion thing very dodgy, Iam just a sunni-muslim and nothing else.

                              Allah Akbar
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