Salam. A re-editing of material from many years ago, this is still a rough draft in need of revision, it is taken from ‘Athar al-Hadith al-Sharif’, with the original having more detailed discussions with examples. It is hoped that the selections presented below will be of sufficient clarity for those who may be encountering some confusion regarding these matters.
Doubt: The Imams of the Madhabs have said: If the hadith is authentic then it is my madhab. So if we find a hadith in al-Bukhari and Muslim in contrast to our madhab we act upon the hadith and leave the ruling of our madhab
Answer: This is the oft used statement which misquoted and misunderstood by many. All of the Imams of the madhabs said that if their opinion conflicted with hadith then the hadith should be followed and their opinion should be left. However they were talking to their students who were scholars and not to the common person on the street, and definitely not to some youth living in the west 1200 years later who has no grasp of the vast shariah sciences. Look at how their statements was understood by the great scholars of the past.
Not For The Common Person: Ibn Abideen said in his ‘al-Hashiyah’ (1/68):
“This is also reported from the four Imams by Imam al-Sharani. And it is not hidden that this is for the one who is qualified to analyse the evidences, and has knowledge of its muhkam from its mansukh. So if the people/scholars of a madhab analyse an evidence and act according to it: it is correct to ascribe it to a madhab, because it is issued forth with the permission of the founder of the madhab, as there is no doubt that if he knew of the weakness of his evidence he would retract from it and follow the stronger evidence.”
Ibn Abideen is making clear that this is the job of the scholars and not the common person.
Delusion: Sheikh Abd al-Ghaffar Uyun al-Sud copied the conditions stipulated by Ibn Abideen for following the hadith and leaving the madhab in his work ‘Daf al-Awham’ p.15 and said:
“It is a good stipulation, as we see many in our times from those associated with knowledge deluded in himself, thinking he is above the stars when he is at the lowest level, so perhaps he reads a book from the six books – for example – and it he sees a hadith which conflicts with the madhab of Abu Hanifah, so he says: leave the madhab of Abu Hanifah..and take the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), when perhaps this hadith maybe abrogated or contradictory with that which is stronger than it in terms of sanad, or its like from the things which necessitate not acting upon it, and he is not knowledgeable of it, for if it is permitted for the likes of these to act unrestrictedly upon the hadith they would be misguided in many legal issues, and misguide those that come to them asking questions.”
As the Sheikh said, how many of these deluded people exist in our times? Those who claim awareness of the hanafi madhab whilst at the same time ignorant of the most basic resources of the school, and have little idea as to where to look for the evidences for its rulings. And to Allah (the most High) is our complaint.
Difficulty of Reaching: Imam Ibn al-Salah said in ‘Adab al-Mufti wal Mustafti’ p.118:
“Acting upon the literal of what al-Shafi said is not easy, so it is not permissible for every jurist (faqih) to be alone in acting on that which he regards as being a proof from the hadith.”
And Imam Taqi al-Subki has a treatise called ‘Maana Qawl Imam al-Muttalibi’ on this whole issue of following the hadith and following the madhab, he copied at the beginning the words of Imam Ibn Salah and Imam al-Nawawi : (p.102) and said:
“This is a clarification of the difficulty of this rank, and that not everyone should be deluded by it.”
Pay attention to how Imam al-Subki is making clear that how difficult it is to reach the rank and position where you will be able to be able to act upon this statement of the founders of the madhabs, and also that one should not be deluded on conceited into thinking that they are qualified for the rank of following the hadith and leaving the madhab.