Rasulallah (SA) said, “Allah will never allow my Ummah to unite upon misguidance and incorrect beliefs. Allah’s mercy, blessings and protection are with the largest group of Muslims. And he who deviates from the largest group of Muslims will be thrown into Hell.”
This article is an effort to clear doubts and misconceptions about the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat, the largest group of Muslims & the righteous sect of Islam.
Every Sunni (follower of the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat) must follow one of the four Madhabs (Islamic school of jurisprudence/Fiqh) i.e. Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki & Hanbali.
He must follow only one Madhab & abide by its rules & conditions.
Those who follow no Madhab, or mix the rules of the four Madhab to his own liking are la-Madhabi meaning they have no Madhab & no form of guidance.
One is only ever allowed to refer to another Madhab if it is ‘kharaj’ i.e. extremely difficult or even impossible to perform an action in accordance to one’s own Madhab. This is under the condition that one ensures the action is being performed properly according to the Madhab whose alternative rulings he is choosing to follow.
The scholars of the Hanafi Madhab have issued a fatwa permitting one to imitate the Maliki Madhab in such cases.
With respect to itiqad (belief), the four Madhabs do not differ and all belong to the path of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat. All four Imams were great Mujtahids, meaning scholars who decide how certain actions should be performed in accordance with the Shariah. They only disagreed with each other on small issues in regards to actions, and no Madhab considers the other wrong.
There are no other correct Madhabs other than these four. One can choose the Madhab he wishes to follow according to his own personal preference, but once he has chosen one he should stick to it and abide by its rules.
The Ulema advise that a person should remain with one Madhab all their life. This is because although it is permissible to change over to another, one must have a valid reason for this change i.e. religious necessity.
If one changes Madhab due to wordly considerations, this is considered a dangerous act as it means he is making a game out of religion and it is even feared he will die without Imaan. Also to change Madhab requires very thorough research & understanding of the conditions before one can fully grasp the new Madhab properly. It is for these reasons that it is strongly recommended to stay attached to one Madhab and to abide by it fully.