Reasons for following a Madhab

Question: assalam u alaikum
This message is not to disrespect any imams, it is just to get information. jazakhaallah
We as muslims are supposed to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah.
What is the reason we follow one of the reknowned imams?

Answer: Wa alaikum salaam,

Following the Imams is actually following the Kitaab and the Sunnah. It is a grave misunderstanding on the part of some Muslims to think that following an Imam of fiqh is separate or opposed to following the Quran and Sunnah.

Just as scholars collected, compiled and documented Ahadith and became Imaams of Hadith like Imaams Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and others, so too, other scholars became experts in the field of Fiqh and thus, became Imams of Fiqh. Muslims accept the scholars of Ahadith and place reliance on their compilation of Ahadith. They rely on the judgment these scholars have made on these traditions and accept their opinions concerning these. In the same manner, Muslims accept the Imaams of fiqh and place reliance on their Fatwas (religious verdicts). They rely on their explanations regarding the laws contained in the Quran and Sunnah and accept their opinions concerning these.

It is a well-established practice that from the time of the Sahabah until today, Muslims have always followed and accepted Islamic scholars for explanations, interpretations and religious verdicts regarding matters of Islam. This act has never been seen as leaving off the Quran and Sunnah to follow a scholar, but has been considered as the ideal way of following the Quran and Sunnah, seeing that the majority of Muslims are uneducated regarding the details of Islamic law. The Sahabah followed those among them who were the most knowledgeable in Islam. The Tabi’een followed the most knowledgeable among them, and the same was done in the period of the Atba’ut Tabi’een (3rd generation Muslims). The act of following Scholars and accepting their verdicts, explainations and interpretations was never seen or considered to be opposing to the act of following the Quran and Sunnah.

No one from among the great scholars of the early generations of the Muslims held such opinion. Instead, they all accepted each other and also followed those who were expert scholars in different fields. It is for this reason, we find that the great Mufassireen (exegetes/commentators), Muhadditheen (traditionalists), Fuqaha (jurist experts) of the past, adhered and followed an Imaam of Fiqh. Expert scholars like Hafiz Ibn Katheer, Ibn Jareer At-Tabri, Hafiz Ibn Taimiyah, Hafiz Ibn Al-Qayyim, Hafiz Ibn Hajr, Imam Nawawi, Imaam Suyuti and even compilers of the Ahadith were all followers of an Imaam of Fiqh.

Hence, following one of the renowned Imaams of Fiqh is in reality, following the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.

For more information you can read the article on Taqleed which is posted on our website.

And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan.