A Warning Against Those Changing

The 4 Imam’s Madhab

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

There is a growing trend from the people of innovation and misguidance to change to the belief system and the practices of the four Imams. There are some who intentional do so, while others are just plain ignorant. The blessing for us unlike any other religion is we have a chain of transmission(isnad). This allows us to verify what people said, believed and did.

Choosing a particular Jurist’s school to adhere to has long been the way of the scholars of the past. They did so until they reached the level of Ijtihad[1].Scholar’s like Mulla Ali Qari, Abu Yusef and Imam At-Tahawi were from the Hanafi school. There were Ulema like Ibn Abdul Bar, Imam Qadi Iyyad and Ibn Battal who were part of the Jurist school of Imam Malik.  Scholars like Imam Al-Ghazali, Imam Al-Haramain, Imam An-Nawawi and Ibn Hajr were adherents to the Shafa’I school. Imams like Ibn Al-Quddamah, Qadi Abu Ya’la Ibn Muflih, and Ibn Tayyimah started off as disciples in the Hanabala Jurisprudence. All in all, those mentioned began as devotees to their chosen school without bigotry and fanaticism. The point I am trying make here is there is a syllabus one follows when joining one these schools. This helps you reach your goals and objectives easily. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Ibn Rajab said: Allah secured these four Imam’s schools with precision along with the principles and the foundations used to derive verdicts. This is from Allah’s generosity towards His servants and the safeguarding of Islam. If it wasn’t so then we’d see people amazed with their opinions and every fool authorizing his own judgement. Others would claim to be a reference point in the religion, and some would say they are leaders of guidance. For that reason, everyone should only refer back to him for their issues of concern.[2]     

The curriculum of the four Imams as written and compiled by their students has been laid out for those who need a place to start in their journey of becoming a Faqeeh, a Mujtahid ,or a person worshipping Allah with correct insight based on evidences.

Ibn Rajab said: “As for the rest of the people who haven’t reached a proficient level then the only option, they are left with it is to follow one of these Imams. Begin where they began.

A person might say how can you restrict the people to follow one of these four Imams?

The answer is simple. The same way the companions (Radi Allahu anhum) gathered the people on one recital mode of the Quran around the world as that was in the best interest of the Ummah at that time. Had every country been left to read in a different mode then this would have caused a greater harm.[3]

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that the truth is ONLY confined to those four schools of law. There are times when the Jurist of Ahl Hadith, Az-Zahiri, Imam Ash-Shawkani, Ibn Jarir and others might carry a stronger position in a specific subject.

It is worth mentioning here that some of those above-mentioned jurist schools weren’t preserved like the 4 Imams: Abu Hanifa, Malik, As-Shafa’I, Ahmed. This means that the principles of Fiqh, foundations for Fiqh and the books of Masa’il from A-Z aren’t readily available. For example, the Zahiri school that exists today is what Ibn Hazm understood from the Zahiri school. The Zahiri school died out in the 8th century. The original works of Dawud Az-Zahiri are lost, so those who claim to be adherents to the Zahiri school today rely on Ibn Hazm’s works.

When the Madhab isn’t accurate as founded by the Imam then there will certainly be errors. Ibn Rajab said: “Every ignoramus seeking notoriety for himself claiming to be an expert, will create statements. Then attribute them to the Salaf, and often times misquote them, or alter their words. This is something that is witnessed in the Zahiri school.[4]  

The altering of the Zahiri school is something that’s understood and tolerable as it’s based on the view of its reformer, Ibn Hazm. However, with regards to the four Imams, then we’d have to question why are those who say they are Hanafi, Maliki and Shafa’I falling into major shirk, not worshipping Allah as they worshipped Him, and denying some of Allah’s names and attributes?

To begin, lets look at those who falsely ascribe themselves to Abu Hanifah. The first thing falsely attributed to Abu Hanifah that’s widely known is the book Fiqhul Akbar, which means Aqeedah. Evidence of this book being miscredited to Abu Hanifah is the chain has many people who are weak, liars and untrustworthy. For example:

Muhammad ibn Muqatil Ar-Razi (weak)—Assam ibn Yusef (weak)—this is in one chain of narration.

The 2nd chain of narration is Al-Hussain ibn Ali Al-Khashaghri(Accused of falsifying hadith)—Abu Malik Nasran ibn Nasr(Unknown)—Abu Hasan Ali ibn Ahmed Al-Faris(Unknown)—Nasr ibn Yahya(Unknown)—Abu Mutee’ Al-Balki(Accused of falsifying hadith)—Abu Hanifah.

These two chains that narrate the book on Abu Hanifah are both unacceptable and weak, so for that reason crediting Fiqhul Akbar to the Imam is rejected. In fact, more than one scholar has said that the book is from Abu Mutee’ Al-Balki.

Apart from the weak chain there are other evidences that prove this book isn’t from Abu Hanifah. Among them are;

  1. It has the Aqeedah of the Ashari, which didn’t appear until after Abu Hanifah’s death.
  2. The statement inside it saying the Quran is eternal
  3. It mentions that Allah doesn’t speak with a voice or letters.

Al-Hafith Ibn Hajr mentioned the book Musnad Abu Hanifah isn’t his as well and the only book that has his narrations is Al-Athar from Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan.[5]

Another book wrongly accredited to Abu Hanifah is, “The Scholar and the Student.” This book affirms Irja. The narrators of this book are known liars.

Unfortunately, among the 4 Mathabs the Hanafis are plagued with the most changes and replacements. This why you find Tablighs and Muslims who affiliate with this jurist school corrupted in Aqeedah.

Secondly, is the Mathab of Imam Malik. There are countless false reports on Malik sayings things he couldn’t have said. Among them is the statement that Allah is everywhere. This is the belief of the Jahmites. The person who narrated this on Malik is Ibn Abee Habeeb, and he is a known liar.

A majority of the belief system ascribed to Imam Malik is that of the Asharites. There is mention of Tawwasul through the Prophet (صلى الله علبه و سلم) by Qadi Iyyad in his book, [الشفا]. Muhammad ibn Hameed Ar-Razi claims Imam Malik said this, but how could he know; as he himself never met Imam Malik. Therefore, his narration has a breakage in the chain, so its rejected.

With deep regret those declare they are Maliki today are in most instance either Jahmites or Asharites in Aqeedah. Imam Malik is free from this Aqeedah. There are an abundant of reports citing Imam Malik dispraising innovators, boycotting them and punishing them. At the head of those reports is Imam Malik’s stance towards the Jahmites who say Allah is not above His throne, Allah didn’t speak in the entire Quran , Allah cannot be seen and those who deny similar attributes of Allah.[6]

Between Hanafis and Malkis then the utmost changes that occurred are in the Aqeedah.

Next, Imam Ash-Shafa’I Jurist school has changes not only in the Aqeedah, but in the Fiqh. Abdul Qahir Al-Baghdadi said that Imam Ash-Shafa’I authored two books about speculative theology.[7] Those who wrote the biography of Imam Ash-Shafa’I emphatically deny these books belong to his pen.

Another false report on Imam Ash-Shafa’I is the act of him seeking Allah’s blessing by using the shirt of Imam Ahmed. The narrator of this report is Abu Abdur Rahman As-Salami. He is considered weak and known to forge narrations for the Sufi cult.

Imam Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi mentioned that Imam Ash-Shafa’I used to go Abu Hanafi’s grave daily, pray 2 rakah and submit his request.[8] Ibn Taymiyyah exposed this falsehood by mentioning the fact when Imam Ash-Shafa’I was in Baghdad grave worship and the erecting of graves was completely unknown. Imam Ash-Shafa’I’ book’s cite his disapproval of exalting graves, since this could result in trial for humanity.

There is also a book called Musnad Ash-Shafa’I and this book is actually taken from his book Al-Umm and not from his direct reading of hadith.[9]

Finally, is the Hanabala school. The essay from Jafar Al-Istakhri which covers core issues of faith isnt from Imam Ahmed and Imam Adh-Dhahabbi strongly condemned this treatise. He said, “By Allah Imam Ahmed didn’t say these things and may Allah fight against the one who ascribed it to him.”[10]

The book, [ العين و الاثرفي عقائد أهل الأثر] is also falsely attributed to Imam Ahmed. It was written by Abdul Baqi ibn Abdil Baqi Al-Hanbali [1071H]. The authored stated that this was the aqeedah of Imam Ahmed but in reality, it contains the Asharite Aqeedah.

This mixing up the 4 Mathabs with deviance is something that has been going on for quite some time. Hence, you have some who purposefully, deceive the innocent disciples. They add to the school of Imam Malik, Ash-Shafa’I and Ahmed foundations from the Asharite school. The mix the Mutazilite and Al-Karamiyah creed to the school of Abu Hanifah[11]

Abdul Wahhab ibn Ali Abdul Kafi As-Subki said: “All of the Malikiyah and the Shafa’I are Asharite in creed. The Hanifis are Asharite in creed at times and at others they are Mutazilite. The Hanbali’s are Asharite or people who liken Allah to His creation.[12]

Al-Iz ibn Abdis Salam said something similar to what Abdul Wahhab mention. This is an alert for the naïve disciples and disciplites. Most of the modern-day adherents to these 4 jurists’ schools aren’t adhering to the actual creed these Imams died with. [13]

Moreover, the changing and altering of the Fiqh syllabi of these schools is becoming more prevalent. We find people avoiding Dalil At-Talib, or Al-Umdah and reading Fiqhul Muyassir and claiming to be a Hanbali devotee. On the contrary, there are scholars with sound creed like Imam Al-Uthaymeen, Sheikh Salih Al-Fowzan, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Quaymi, Dr Umar Bahjahat, and Sheikh Muhammad BaJabr who have given their time to explain authentic Hanabala books.

Furthermore, there are some adherents to the Salafi doctrine who completely believe its not allowed to follow one of the four madhabs with moderations. For that reason, they show up teaching classes with Nayl Atar on the right side and Fathul Bari or Sharh Sahih Muslim on the left side. The good found in those reference books in undeniable, but then does this method actually prepare a seeker of knowledge to go from a beginner to an intermediate and then to an advanced stage of Fiqh?

It is incorrect to think the books of Fiqh only call to blind following and aren’t evidence based. When looking at Al-Umdah there is a total of 1800 issues covered in that book. Ibn Al-Quddamah wrote an entire syllabus for Hanabali disciples?

  1. Al-Umdah beginner
  2. Al-Muqni’ Pre-intermediate
  3. Al-Kafi Intermediate
  4. Al-Mughni advanced.[14]

The seeker of knowledge needs to be alert and check references and verify resources in all stages of their journey. Don’t be left thinking or believing everything the Shaykh is giving you is error free.

Ibn Rajab said: Those who ascribe to well known Imams outwardly but inwardly carry a completely different creed from theirs has a trait of hypocrisy with Taqiyah. In particular if they earn monetarily off these actions from religious institutes and elsewhere. Furthermore, there exists those who mislead people into thinking they are giving edicts based on a particular school. The people who attribute themselves to one of these school saying things that none of these Imams said.[15]

Written and prepared by

Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Doha, Qatar 1443©

[1] (ability to dervive verdicts from the Quran and Sunnah based on Usul and Qawa’idul Fiqh)

[2] الرد على من اتبع غير المذاهب الاربعة by Ibn Rajab pg

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] تعجيل المنفعة vol 1pg 239

[6] الاستقامة by Ibn Taymiyyah vol 1pg 14-15

[7] [ usul Ad-deen pg 308]

[8] Tarikhul Baghdad vol 1-123

[9] Adh-Dhahabi in Siyr, vol 12pg 589

[10] Siyr vol 11 pg 303

[11] Minhajus Sunnah , vol 5pg 261 by Ibn Taymiyyah.

[12] Tabaqat Ash-Shafa’I vol3/377-378

[13] الكشف المبين عن اصناف المبدلين by Sheikh Muhammad Al-Imam pg 63-69

[14] The curriculums for the other jurist schools are mentioned in my essay, “ The Mathab between moderation and extremism”

[15]Ibn Rajab

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