The Validity of the Notion of Only Accepting the Four Madhabs
Compiled, Translated & Annotated
Abu Hibban & Abu Khuzaimah Ansari
The notion of accepting just the four Madhabs and anything besides them is incorrect and not upon guidance, is something that is alien according to the practise of the pious ancestors. Such notions dictate and conclude anything outside the 4 Madhabs is wrong and therefore we can extrapolate and say anything not known or practised amongst the companions and the earlier pious ancestors is also refuted and rejected.
This said, it is well known the salaf differed over many affairs and this was also the case amongst the companions, the successors and their successors and even the Imams of the Din. It is also often suggested and ardently pushed, eyes shut, that accepting and following ANY legal edict is considered to be correct.
This is however an incorrect assertion and something Hafiz Ibn Abd al-Barr has refuted, wherein he goes onto say,
“This madhab (ie the notion above) is weak according to a whole group (jama’ah) of people of knowledge and the vast majority of jurists and people of intelligence have rejected this notion.” (Jam’e Bayan al-Ilm wa Fadlihi 2:78)
Hafiz Ibn Abd al-Barr also cites examples of such instances where the companions differed. One such issue was the permissibility of praying in a single garment which lead Umar RadiAllahu Anhu being firm with the companions and telling them not to differ. (cf. Jam’e Bayan Al-Ilm 2:84).
Another huge problem with the idea of everything within the four Madhab is correct and thus a person is obligated to follow them is the desecrating the concept of error or mistake within the Madhabs. Another angle that is often used to manoeuvre around the “wide, expansive and all tolerant” fiqh approach is again adopting the understanding that everyone is correct. Whereas the pious ancestors were categoric in accepting and emphasising the ideas and the concept of the enormous possibility of something being correct or wrong.
Imam Malik and Imam Laith Ibn Sa’d said,
“The differences between the companions of the Messenger of Allah salallahu alayhi wasallam is not as the general people say, that their is wide expansive tolerance, when rather this is not the case because they are either right or wrong in them.” (Jam’e Bayan al-Ilm 2:81)
So when we know the companions differed and there are many example of this, yet they spend time with the Messenger of Allah Sallalahu Alayhi wasallam and other companions and they still differed; then how about the notion, the one who does not follow one of the four Madhabs is to be refuted!!! Surely they differed and some of them were right and some of them were wrong!!!