Sh Waleed Almeneesey wrote:
Between Following a Juristic School and Being Opposed to Them
There are two pathways for studying jurisprudence:
The first path is to study primer texts in jurisprudence from among the universally-accepted schools. This way could be called the juristic path. For example, in the first level, a person following the Ḥanbalī school would study the primer al-`Umdah by ‘Ibn Qudāmah or ‘Akhṣar al-Mukhtaṣarāt by ‘Ibn Balbān. In the second level, a person would move on to the primer Zād al-Mustaqni` by Mūsā al-Ḥajjāwī or Dalīl aṭ-Ṭālib by Mar`ī al-Karmī. In the third stage, a person would move on to Muntahā al-‘Irādāt by Ibn an-Najjār al-Futūḥī or al-‘Iqnā’ by Mūsā al-Ḥajjāwī. In the fourth stage a person would move on to al-Kāfī by ‘Ibn Qudāmah or al-Muḥarrar by al-Majd `Abd as-Salām ‘Ibn Taymīyah, the grandfather [of Ibn Taymīyah]. As such, the student of every juristic school would progress according to the methodology established by the scholars of the school.
The second pathway is the study of jurisprudence in the midst of the books of Prophetic traditions. This way could be called the path of the Masters of Hadith. The student studies the books which deal with Prophetic traditions in the form of legal rulings like `Umdat al-‘Aḥkām by al-Maqdisī; then Bulūgh al-Marām by ‘Ibn Ḥajar; then al-Muḥarrar by ‘Ibn `Abd al-Hādī; then al-Muntaqā by `Abd as-Salām ‘Ibn Taymīyah, the grandfather [of ‘Ibn Taymīyah]; then the books of Prophetic traditions like the Ṣaḥīḥayn and the four books beginning with the term ‘as-Sunan’ along with their explanations.
Among the advantages of the first path is that it produces a jurist capable and prepared in legal issues, a repository for all juristic ancillary matters, accustomed to the cryptic expressions of the jurists with regard to being able to research the books of the school on his own. All this while being well-suited to understand and conceptualize the legal issues as one who trained with the people of knowledge.
Among the disadvantages of [the first path] is that a person restricted to it lacks knowledge of the noble Prophetic traditions and understanding the routes of deducing [proofs]. Also, one can be afflicted with extremism regarding scholars, stagnation in critical thinking and it can weaken the ability to investigate what arises out of legal issues.
The advantages of the second path is the lack of partisanship and holding rigidly to a single view; respect for the Prophetic traditions, a wide understanding through studying the sciences of Prophetic tradition through traditions themselves and their narrators; knowledge of the points of benefit regarding doctrine, etiquette and good character, the biography of the Prophet and other matters. Among the disadvantages is that evidence in Fiqh is not Prophetic tradition alone, rather there are the verses pertaining to rulings, consensus, analogical deduction, the example set by the residents of Madīnah, the example set by the Companions, legal deference towards general welfare and other matters. Thus the student misses out on a great deal of the ancillary matters of jurisprudence in every matter due to the inability to take it directly from Prophetic traditions. For example, there are 2,400 legal issues expressly discussed in the primer az-Zād, which is a shortened text; the number reaches 6,000 when including what is implied in addition to what is expressly mentioned.
Since juristic issues in the books of Prophetic traditions dealing with legal rulings do not reach even a quarter of the number [implied by them], then likewise at times, it leads the student at the beginning of studying to be deceived and he trespasses against the jurists and gets involved in ‘Ijtihād and exercising juristic preference between two divergent legal opinions without the requisite qualifications. Likewise the student will be scattered due to his going from one issue to another before completing the first. Also, a single issue can be divided into a number of sub-topics and the discussion is reiterated along with several Prophetic traditions and they are not gathered in a single location.
Due to the above, that which is advised is to combine between the two paths and to study jurisprudence through one of the four established schools according to the methodology that its founder developed along with studying a book regarding the verses dealing with legal rulings and another of Prophetic traditions dealing with legal rulings. And how nice it would be if both books were by authors from the same school of jurisprudence so that one would not be scattered between opposing legal preferences in juristic issues.
The juristic school is when the student adheres to one of the four schools, progressing in study according to the established methodology of the scholars of the school. Therefore, the one who adheres to a school usually limits himself to the first path; however, those who are successful among them combine the two paths. The proponents of those opposed to adhering to juristic schools overwhelmingly limit themselves to the second path.
Adherence to a school is the path of the jurists of the ‘Ummah.
- ‘Ibn Taymīyah, ‘Ibn Qayyim and ‘Ibn `Abd al-Wahhāb were Ḥanābilah.
- ‘Ibn Kathīr and adh-Dhahabī were Shāfi`īyah.
- aṭ-Ṭaḥāwī was a ḤanafI.
- ‘Ibn `Abd al-Barr was a Mālikī.
It has been like this since the founding of the schools, rather since before them there were the jurists among the Companions. Each of them had their students who built a juristic school forming the kernels which would become the [later] schools.
No matter what level a student’s intelligence and determination reaches, he cannot be a Mujtahid in every legal issue, comprehending the study of their evidences from the standpoint of Prophetic tradition, linguistics, legal principles and jurisprudence. So it is inevitable that he will need to follow a scholar [Taqlīd] in a majority of legal issues. Adhering to a school will keep him occupied and is preferable for him in the face of evidence of equal weight and the absence of one view being prominent over another- so he follows his ‘Imām.
Since all the contemporaries who attack adherence to a juristic school and following [an ‘Imām] end up following ‘Ibn Bāz, ‘Ibn Uthaymīn, al-‘Albānī or others like them, may Allah have mercy on them, they run away from following one of the four A’immah and follow someone less than them [in knowledge].
The plague of those who oppose adhering to a juristic school is that it leads a majority of its adherents to develop abnormal views. They are views which only a single jurist holds, whether from among the jurists of the Salaf or the schools.
As long as those who adhere to a juristic school base [their own views] on the relied-upon positions in their respective school from the four, then the relied-upon view in the school can never be an abnormal view since each school does not only represent its ‘Imām, rather it represents a school including tens of thousands of jurists over the centuries who had relied upon any given view and they saw it as the predominant one.
And through Allah is all success. – end quote
Sh Waleed Almeneesey
This Article is to show the argument and reasoning of following a madhhab, the shaikh raises some valid points, and we respect the shaikh immensely, however not all views presented are view I personally follow, though I do agree with the shaikh on many of the points, especially with people just entering the realm of the endless ocean called Islaam, I ask Allah to reward our shaikh immensely for his service in Islaam.
You brother and humble student Abu Naser.