By Majlisul Ulama
Allah Ta’ala commands:
“And follow the path of those who turn (and lead) to Me.” [Qur’aan]
The denigrators of the sacred concept of Taqleed of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen usually pose the ludicrous question:
“Did the four Madh-habs exist during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)?”
This is tantamount to asking: “Did Islam exist during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)?”
Denial of the four Madh-habs (Hanafi, Shaafi, Maaliki & Hambali) is denial of Islam as it existed during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and as it had been transmitted to the Taabieen by the Sahaabah and thereafter from generation to generation until it reached us in the present day.
The attempt to convey the idea of the non-existence of the Madh-habs in the age of our Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah is a devious ploy or a claim of crass ignorance of those who reject the four Madh-habs of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah. The only basis – if at all could be termed a basis – for the denial of the Madh- habs is the non-existence of the designations of the Madh-habs, viz. Hanafi, Shaafi, Maaliki and Hambali. But it is indeed a display of colossal ignorance to refute the validity of the Madh-habs simply because these illustrious Fuqaha and Ustaadhs, Imaam Abu Hanifah, Imaam Shaafi, Imaam Maalik and Imaam Hambal (rahmatullah alayhim) were not born during the age of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
The teachings of the Four Madh-habs cannot be intelligently refuted simply because the names / titles of the Madh-habs did not exist during Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) time. The devious attempt to show that the four Madh-habs are alien to the Qur’aan and the Sunnah is utterly fallacious because in actual fact the Qur’aan and Sunnah are encapsulated within the framework of the four Madh-habs. In fact, each Madh-hab in it’s own right is the complete and perfect Islam as expounded in the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
While the rejectors of the Madh-habs denounce the taqleed of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) for example, they unhesitatingly cite Imaam Bukhari and Imaam Muslim (rahmatullah alayhim) in substantiation of their personal opinions for which they produce the basis of ahaadith taken from Bukhari and Muslim. Yet Imaam Bukhari and Imaam Muslim (rahmatullah alayhima) did not even exist during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah, but appeared on the scene about two centuries thereafter – long after even the age of Imaam Abu Hanifah, Imaam Shaafi, Imaam Maalik (rahmatullah alayhim) and the numerous great Fuqaha who were the Students of the Sahaabah. The deniers of Shar’i Taqleed commit a greater act of intellectual vulgarity than this by degenerating to the level of making taqleed (following blindly) Ibn Taymiyyah who appeared seven centuries after Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
In refutation of the deniers of the Madh-habs, the Ahlus Sunnah can justifiably retort: “Did Imaam Bukhari and Imaam Muslim (rahmatullah alayhima) exist during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah?? Did their system of Hadith classification and codification exist during the time of Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah? Where in the Qur’aan and Sunnah does it appear that a Hadith classified as Dhaeef (Weak), Maudhu’ (Fabricated), etc., etc., in terms of the rules formulated by the Muhadditheen two centuries after the age of Risaalat, should necessarily and summarily be rejected? In claiming that a particular Hadith cannot be used as a basis for a Shar’i decree, we should ask: “Whose taqleed are the denigrators of the Madh-habs making? Whom are they blindly following in this respect?” The charge of blind following rebounds with great force on the deniers of the Madh-habs. Their taqleed of personalities which appeared centuries after the initiation of Islam, and even of persons 14 centuries later, such as Al-AlBani and even complete non-entities like Mr. Bilal Phillips, is indeed the blindest taqleed ever known in the annals of Islam.
On the contrary, the Taqleed of the Ahlus Sunnah is a sacred, intelligent and rational Taqleed having its basis in the Qur’aan and Sunnah since understanding of Islam without following blindly the Sahaabah and their students (the illustrious Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen and Fuqaha) is a total impossibility.
This sacred Taqleed is a superior and a rational Taqleed since it is to follow the original authorities of the Shariah, not those who present the figments of their opinion and personal understanding of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. The Taqleed of the Ahlus Sunnah is not a new concept like the Taqleed of Al-Albani which sprang up 13 centuries after Islam.
The Taqleed of the Ahlus Sunnah is the continuation of the Taqleed which the Taabieen made of the Sahaabah. While the flimsy basis of ‘proofs’ of the ghair muqallideen is primarily the views of Ibn Taimiyyah which Al-Albani and his ilk propagated, the bases of the Ahlus Sunnah is the Teaching of the Sahaabah which their students passed on to the Ummah. Thus, the Chain of Authority of the Ahlus Sunnah is securely attached to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
The Ahlus Sunnah does not pick out of the blue, views which are the opinion of persons like Ibn Taimiyyah and Al-Albani – views which conflict with the interpretation of the Salf-e-Saaliheen (the Taabieen and the Sahaabah).
If the Imaam of the four Madh-habs propagated their personal views and opinions or presented interpretations in conflict with the teachings of the Sahaabah and their Students, the claim of the non-existence of the Madh-habs during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would have been valid. But, the Fuqaha of the Madh-habs present the interpretations of the Sahaabah. Their Chain (Sanad) of transmission is Golden – in closest proximity to the Sahaabah while the Asaaneed (chains of transmission) of the Muhadditheen are lengthy and more distant. Thus, when the Fuqaha cite a Hadith as basis for their ruling, it in fact is evidence for the authenticity of the Hadith regardless of the classification accorded to it a century later by the Muhaaditheen. The prominence of a Hadith in the ranks of the Mujtahideen is testification for its authenticity.
When Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), for example, issued a ruling, he presented the Qur’aanic and / or Hadith daleel (evidence) for his ruling. The chain of his Asaatizah (teachers) linking him to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is well-known. He spoke on the bedrock of the Ilm (knowledge) of the most senior Sahaabah. The following assertion of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) throws much light on this fact. The following narration of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) appears in Taareekh-e-Baghdaad:
“I obtain my evidence from Kitaabullah (the Qur’aan). If this is not found in the Qur’aan, then I refer to the Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). If I do not find it in Kitaabullah and the Sunnah, then I extract it from the statements of the Sahaabah.”
Thus, the accusation that Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) gave preference to his personal opinion over the Ahadith is false. The following dialogue between Imaam Abu Hanifah and Hadhrat Baqir (rahmatullah alayhim) will confirm the falsity of the charge.
When Hadhrat Muhammad Baqir (rahmatullah alayh) first met Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) about whom false rumours had been fabricated, he (Hadhrat Baqir) said:
“You have changed the Deen of my grandfather (i.e. Rasulullah – sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and his ahaadith with Qiyaas (logic)”
Imaam Abu Hanifah: “Allah forbid!”
Hadhrat Baqir: “You have done this!”
Imaam Abu Hanifah: “Be seated so that I may sit respectfully in your presence. I believe you deserve to be honoured like the Sahaabah had honoured your grandfather.”
Hadhrat Baqir (rahmatullah alayh) sat down and Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) also sat down in front of him like a student sits in the presence of his Ustaadh.
Imaam Abu Hanifah: “I wish to ask you three questions. Please answer. Who is weaker – man or woman?”
Hadhrat Baqir: “Woman!” Imaam Abu Hanifah: “What is a woman’s share in inheritance?” Hadhrat Baqir: “The man gets two shares and the woman one.”
Imaam Abu Hanifah: “This is the order of your grandfather. If I had changed his Deen, I would have given the man one share and the woman two in terms of logic because the woman is the weaker.
Imaam Abu Hanifah: “Is Salaat better or Saum (fasting)?” Hadhrat Baqir: “Salaat!”
Imaam Abu Hanifah: “This is the order of your grandfather. If I had changed his Order, I would have ordered women to make qadha of the Salaat they missed during haidh instead of making qadha of fasts.”
Imaam Abu Hanifah: “Is urine more impure or sperm?” Hadhrat Baqir: “Urine is more impure.”
Imaam Abu Hanifah: “If I had altered the Deen of your grandfather, I would have ruled that ghusl becomes incumbent by urine and wudhu by discharge of sperm.”
Rising up, Hadhrat Baqir (rahmatullah alayh) embraced Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), kissed him and honoured him.
One may read this article which clarifies many such doubts about Imam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh): In Defense of Imam E Azam Abu Hanifah [rahmatullah alayh]