Doubt: What is your answer to what Imam al-Subki said regarding one who comes across an authentic hadith that no one acted upon, is it permissible to act upon it? He is quoted as saying that you should imagine yourself standing infront of the Prophet (s), would you then delay in implementing this hadith?
But this is regarding someone who heard a hadith on an issue, from the Messenger of Allah (s) directly, as for us: we in our time come across 2 hadith in a single issue such as the hadith :
Make wudu from that which touches the fire (reported by Muslim no.90)
and the hadith that the Prophet (s) ate from a bone with meat from a shoulder and prayed without making wudu (reported by al-Bukhari 1:310)
The narrators of the first hadith mentioned above who were Zaid bin Thabit and Abu Hurayrah clearly heard the Prophet (s) saying “Make wudu from that which touches the fire” and the narrators of the second hadith who were Ibn Abbas, Amr al-Damri, Maimunah, Abu Rafi all witnessed the Prophet (s) eating meat that had touched fire, and stood up for prayer without making wudu.
Each of them is not permitted to delay in implementing that which they saw just as Imam al-Subki stated, but what do those who came after them who possess knowledge of both ahadith do? There is no doubt that he investigates and looks for other evidences which explain the apparent conflict in meaning between these two hadith, such as the hadith of Jabir:
From amongst the final matters of the Messenger of Allah (s) was the leaving of remaking wudu for that which was touched by the fire’ (reported by Abu Dawud no.192 and al-Nasai no.185)
The sahabi will act on one of these two hadith, but without the knowledge of the other hadith, or with his knowledge of it- as a sahabi may have had it narrated to him- but without his witnessing it, so he will give preference to what he witnessed over what is reported to him.
Ibn Abbas r witnessed the Prophet (s) eating 3 bites/mouthfuls of meat then pray without remaking wudu, and when Abu Hurairah narrated to him the hadith “Make wudu from that which has touched fire” he did not act upon it, due to his acting on that which he witnessed, giving preference to it to what heard through an intermediary source.
Similar to this in meaning is that which is reported by Imam Ahmad in Musnad 1:252 and al-Tahawi in Sharh Maani al-Athar 2:189 that Urwah bin al-Zubair said to Ibn Abbas:
You have misguided the people O Ibn Abbas!
He said: what is that O Urayyah?
He said: You have given fatwa to the people…….
Ibn Abbas said: I Have misguided them by this? I narrate to you from the Messenger of Allah (s) and you narrate to me from Abu Bakr and Umar!!
Urwah said: Abu Bakr and Umar r.a. were more knowledgeable of the Messenger of Allah (s) than you’
The wording of the narration in al-Musnad is:
They were more closer in following and knowledgeable of the Messenger of Allah (s) than you.
Urwah gave preference to what Abu Bakr and Umar said despite Ibn Abbas having a direct proof from the Messenger of Allah (s). And in this is our answer to those who call us to leave the fiqh of Abu Hanifah, or Malik etc in its totality or on a particular issue and call us to follow the stronger evidence or the research of such and such scholar, as there is no comparison between the scholars of the madhaib and you. Was Urwah fanatically following a scholar despite having a direct proof? Of course not! He simply stated exactly that which the hanafi’s state, namely that the hanafi scholars must have had a basis for their ruling, as they had vast knowledge of the hadith and did not act upon the hadith for a reason.
NOTE: The above mentioned quote is often cited against the followers of the madhaib, but without the reply of Urwah to Ibn Abbas, as this flies directly in the face of those who wish us to leave the position of the madhab and follow them.
Answer to the second doubt: this doubt suggests that the Imams were not upon guidance and following the Prophet (s), and therefore you wish to follow the Prophet (s) through other than them, as if you imagine them to be priests and rabbi’s making halal and haram without any textual proof from the Quran and Sunnah.
It is true that the statement of the Imams of the madhab to leave the madhab and follow the hadith can be put in to practice, but this is only when the research scholar is qualified for this position- the position of giving preference between the proofs of the Mujtahid Imams-along with justice, this is the pride of fiqh and Islam, and how can it not be when it has occurred with many of the latter day scholars such as al-Nawawi, Ibn al-Salah, al-Izz Ibn Abd al-Salam, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, Taqi al-Subki and Ibn al-Hummam until our day.
Even Imam al-Kawthari who was accused by some of fanaticism for the Hanafi madhab, you will find him in his al-Maqalat (p.200-215) abandon the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah on an issue, he said:
There are issues in which Abu Hanifah followed the likes of shuraiah and al-Nakhai without attempting to strive to know the evidence for their opinion, but if the truth becomes clear and the proof becomes apparent different to this opinion then it
is not correct to attribute it to his ijtihad.
This is also the case with Allamah Zafar Ahmad al-Uthmani, as he left the dominant opinion of the hanafi madhab in a number of places in his book Ilaa al-Sunan along with his sticking to the Hanafi madhab, but his leaving the dominant position was after his making extensive research, and not just by coming across a hadith without going into the minute details. It is unfortunate that some people who claim to follow a madhab and follow the evidence do not go to the depths that these scholars went to see if the position of the madhab was weak or not, but at the slightest opposition and without research abandon their madhab position