It would be beneficial if we gave some of these here, for perhaps

this will admonish or remind those who follow the opinion of the

Imams - nay, of those far below the Imams in rank - blindly,

sticking to their madhhabs or views as if these had descended from

the heavens! But Allah, Mighty and Sublime, says:

"Follow (O men!) the revelation given to you from your Lord, and

follow not, as friends and protectors, other than Him. Little is it

you remember of admonition."


(1) Abu Haneefah (rahimahullaah)


The first of them is Abu Haneefah Nu'maan ibn Thaabit, whose

companions have narrated from him various sayings and diverse

warnings, all of them leading to one thing: the obligation to accept

the Hadeeth, and to give up following the opinions of the imams

which contradict it:

1. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab."20


2. "It is not permitted for anyone to accept our views if they do not

know from where we got them." 

In one narration, "It is prohibited for someone who does not know my

evidence to give verdicts on the basis of my words."

Another narration adds, "... for we are mortals: we say one thing one

day, and take it back the next day."

In another narration, "Woe to you, O Ya'qub! Do not write down

everything you hear from me, for it happens that I hold one opinion

today and reject it tomorrow, or hold one opinion tomorrow and reject

it the day after tomorrow."


3. "When I say something contradicting the Book of Allah the Exalted

or what is narrated from the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa

salaam), then ignore my saying."


(2) Malik ibn Anas (rahimahullaah)


As for Imam Malik ibn Anas, he said:

1. "Truly I am only a mortal: I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am

correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions: all that

agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, accept it; and all that does not

agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it."


2. "Everyone after the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) will

have his sayings accepted and rejected - not so the Prophet

(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam)."


3. Ibn Wahb said: "I heard Malik being asked about cleaning between

the toes during ablution. He said, 'The people do not have to do

that.' I did not approach him until the crowd had lessened, when I

said to him, 'We know of a sunnah about that.' He said, 'What is

that?' I said, 'Laith ibn Sa'd, Ibn Lahee'ah and 'Amr ibn al-Haarith

narrated to us from Yazeed ibn 'Amr al-Ma'aafiri from Abu 'Abdur-

Rahman al-Hubuli from Mustawrid ibn Shaddaad al-Qurashi who said, 'I

saw the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) rubbing

between his toes with his little finger.' He said, 'This hadeeth is

sound; I had not heard of it at all until now.' Afterwards, I heard

him being asked about the same thing, on which he ordered cleaning

between the toes."


(3) Shaafi'i (rahimahullaah)


As for Imam Shaafi'i, the quotations from him are most numerous and

beautiful, and his followers were the best in sticking to them:


1. "The sunnahs of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa

salaam) reach, as well as escape from, every one of us. So whenever I

voice my opinion, or formulate a principle, where something contrary

to my view exists on the authority of the Messenger of Allah

(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam), then the correct view is what the

Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) has said, and it

is my view."


2. "The Muslims are unanimously agreed that if a sunnah of the

Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) is made clear to

someone, it is not permitted for him to leave it for the saying of

anyone else."


3. "If you find in my writings something different to the Sunnah of

the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam), then speak

on the basis of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah

(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam), and leave what I have said." In one

narration: "...then follow it (the Sunnah), and do not look sideways

at anyone else's saying."


4. "When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab."


5. "You are more knowledgeable about Hadeeth than I, so when a

hadeeth is saheeh, inform me of it, whether it is from Kufah, Basrah

or Syria, so that I may take the view of the hadeeth, as long as it

is saheeh."


6. "In every issue where the people of narration find a report from

the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) to be saheeh

which is contrary to what I have said, then I take my saying back,

whether during my life or after my death."


7. "If you see me saying something, and contrary to it is

authentically-reported from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa

salaam), then know that my intelligence has departed."


8. "For everything I say, if there is something authentic from the

Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) contrary to my saying, then

the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) comes

first, so do not follow my opinion."


9. "Every statement on the authority of the Prophet

(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) is also my view, even if you do not

hear it from me."


(4) Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullaah)


Imam Ahmad was the foremost among the Imams in collecting the

Sunnah and sticking to it, so much so that he even "disliked that a

book consisting of deductions and opinions be written." Because of

this he said:

1. "Do not follow my opinion; neither follow the opinion of Malik,

nor Shaafi'i, nor Awzaa'i, nor Thawri, but take from where they took."

In one narration: "Do not copy your Deen from anyone of these, but

whatever comes from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) and

his Companions, take it; next are their Successors, where a man has a


Once he said: "Following means that a man follows what comes from the

Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) and his Companions; after the

Successors, he has a choice."


2. "The opinion of Awzaa'i, the opinion of Malik, the opinion of Abu

Haneefah: all of it is opinion, and it is all equal in my eyes.

However, the proof is in the narrations (from the Prophet

(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) and his Companions)."


3. "Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of Allah

(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) is on the brink of destruction."


These are the clear, lucid sayings of the Imams (Allah Exalted be

pleased with them) about sticking to the Hadeeth and forbidding the

following of their opinion without clearly- visible evidence, such

that mere opinion and interpretation is not acceptable.


Hence, whoever adhered to whatever of the Sunnah that was proved

authentic, even if it opposed some of the Imams' sayings, he would

not be conflicting with their madhhab, nor straying from their path;

rather, such a person would be following all of them and would be

grasping the most trustworthy hand-hold, which never breaks. However,

this would not be the case with the one who abandoned any of the

authentic Sunnah simply because it contradicted their views; nay,

such a person would be being disobedient to them and opposing their

above mentioned sayings, while Allah says:

"But no, by Your Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make

you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no

resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest

conviction.". He also says:

"Then let those beware who withstand the Messenger's order, lest some

trial befall them or a grievous penalty be inflicted on them."


Haafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (rahimahullaah) says:


"Therefore it is obligatory on anyone who hears of a command of the

Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) or knows it, to

explain it to the Ummah, advise them sincerely, and order them to

follow his command, even if it contradicts the opinion of someone

great. This is because the authority of the Messenger of Allah

(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) has the most right to be respected

and followed, over and above the opinion of anyone great who has

unknowingly contradicted the Messenger's command in any matter. This

is why the Companions and those after would refute anyone who

contradicted the authentic Sunnah, sometimes being very stern in

their refutation, not out of hatred for that person, for they loved

and respected him, but because the Messenger of Allah was more

beloved to them, and his command was superior to the command of any

other created being. Hence, when the order of the Messenger and that

of someone else conflicted, the order of the Messenger would be more

fitting to be enforced and followed. None of this would stop them

respecting the person they had opposed because they knew that he

would be forgiven52; in fact, the latter would not mind his

instruction being opposed when the command of the Messenger of Allah

(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) was clearly shown to be opposite."


Indeed, how could they mind that, when they had ordered their

followers to do so, as we have seen, and had enjoined on them to

abandon any of their views which contradicted the Sunnah. In fact,

Imam Shaafi'i (rahimahullaah) told his companions to attribute the

authentic Sunnah to him also, even if he had not adopted it or had

adopted something contradictory to it. Hence, when the analyst Ibn

Daqeeq al-'Eid (rahimahullaah) collected together, in a bulky volume,

the issues in which one or more of the four Imams' madhhabs had

contradicted the authentic hadeeth, he wrote at the beginning of

it, "It is prohibited to attribute these answers to the Mujtahid

Imams, and obligatory on the jurists who follow their opinions to

know of these so that they do not quote them regarding these and thus

lie against them."


The Imams' Followers Leaving their Views if these Contradicted the



Due to all that we have mentioned, the disciples of the Imams, a

number of people from those of old, and a few from those of later

time, would not accept all of their Imam's views; they actually

ignored many when they found them to be clearly against the Sunnah.

Even the two Imams, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan and Abu Yoosuf

(rahimahullaah) differed from their shaikh Abu Haneefah "in about a

third of the Madhhab", as the books of masaa'il prove. Similarly is

said about Imam al- Muzani and other followers of Shaafi'i and other

Imams; were we to start giving examples, the discussion would become

exceedingly, long, and we would digress from what we set out to do in

this Introduction, so we shall limit ourselves to two instances:

1) Imam Muhammad says in his Muwatta'(p. 158), "As for Abu Haneefah,

he did not regard there being a prayer to ask for rain, but we hold

that the imam prays two rak'ahs and then supplicates and holds out

his wrapping garment..."

2) We have 'Isaam ibn Yoosuf al-Balkhi, one of the companions of

Imam Muhammad and a servant of Imam Abu Yoosuf, who "would give

verdicts contrary to Imam Abu Haneefah because he did not know the

latter's evidence, and other evidence would present itself to him, so

he would give verdicts using that." Hence, he would raise his hands on

bowing (in prayer) and on rising from it", as is the mutawaatir

sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam); the fact that

his three Imams (i.e. Abu Haneefah, Abu Yoosuf and Muhammad) said

otherwise did not prevent him from practicing this sunnah. This is

the approach which every Muslim is obliged to have, as we have

already seen from the testimony of the Four Imams, and others.

To sum up: I sincerely hope that no follower of an Imam will race to

condemn the principles of this book and abandon benefiting from the

sunnahs of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa salaam) which it

contains, with the argument that they are contrary to his Madhhab. I

hope that such a person will instead consider what we have given of

the exhortations of the Imams towards the obligation to act on the

Sunnah and ignore their sayings contradictory to it. I hope also that

he will realize that to condemn the attitude of this book is to

condemn whichever Imam he is following, for we have taken these

principles from those Imams, as we have explained. Therefore,

whoever refuses to be guided by them on this path is in great danger,

for such refusal necessitates turning away from the Sunnah, the

Sunnah to which we have been ordered to refer in cases of difference

of opinion and on which we have been commanded to depend.

I ask Allah to make us among those about whom He says,

"The answer of the believers, when summoned to Allah and His

Messenger, in order that he may judge between them, is no other than

this: they say, "We hear and we obey" - it is such as these that will

attain Success. It is those who obey Allah and His Messenger, and

fear Allah, and keep their duty to Him, who will triumph."63


- "The prophets prayer" - By Sheik Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al Albani.