Are the four madhhabs true only in the abstract?
Question: Some people are unable to fathom the validity of imitating another madhhab. One day I asked one of this kind of people, “Are the four madhhabs true?” He replied, “Of course, they are true.” I continued, “Well then, are they true only in the abstract?” He said, “No, they are true in reality.” I countered, “All right, if that is so, then why are you abstaining from imitating one of the Mâlikî or Shâfi’î Madhhab, both of which are also true, when you encounter a difficulty in an act of worship in the Hanafî Madhhab?” He answered, ”A man of religion said that it was not necessary, so I believed him.” Thereupon I said, ”It is necessary to believe in what dependable religious books write, not in what every man of religion says. If, while doing something in accordance with the madhhab you have been following, there arises a difficulty, if it causes you trouble and if you cannot find a way out in your own madhhab, you can imitate another madhhab.” Were what I said to him correct?
Yes, they were correct. Your explanations suffice for people who have knowledge and a real sense of fairness. Not every religious man’s words are held in high esteem. For example, some of them deny tasattur [covering oneself]; some of them state that music is halâl [permitted] and also say that one can sacrifice a cock in the name of qurbân; some of them claim that the prayer times are three, not five; some of them say to the owner of the religion, that is, to our Master, the Prophet (‘alaihissalâm) who was sent as rahmat-al-lil-‘âlamîn [the mercy and compassion to the worlds], “(Hâshâ) He was a postman, and his mission was completed. Now ONLY THE QUR’ÂN.” It is possible to increase the number of such examples. The religion has not come recently. Nor has it come incompletely. You have to refer to the four sources of Islam, i.e. adilla ash-Shar’iyya, and you must not be governed by what people say.
It is not an inconvenience at all
Question: As today’s Muslims, we have nearly no knowledge of fiqh; that is, we have so little. You are writing with proof-texts and documents that people who have filled or crowned teeth must imitate the Mâlikî or Shâfi’î Madhhab. In the same way, other people put forth proofs to the contrary. You, too, prove that those are wrong. However, we, who do not have knowledge of fiqh, do not understand much from those proof-texts and documents. Could you explain it to us logically?
In religious rules, where to refer to are 4 sources (i.e. adilla ash-Shar’iyya) of religion. For you, suffice it to say: Our four madhhabs are true. If we encounter difficulty in doing a thing in our own madhhab, we can carry out this thing by imitating one of those other madhhabs. Just as it is idiocy not to act with discretion in our worldly affairs, so it is idiocy not to act with discretion in our acts of worship.
In the Hanafî Madhhab, it is fard [obligatory] to wash inside the mouth in a ghusl [ritual washing]. If even a tiny part as large as a point of a pin is left dry, a ghusl will not be sahîh [valid]. For this reason, people who have filled teeth must imitate the Mâlikî or Shâfi’î Madhhab, both of which state that it is not fard to wash inside the mouth in a ghusl. If what we have conveyed were wrong, it would not do any harm to imitate another madhhab. What is more, we earn thawâb as a result of our observing another madhhab’s conditions. In fact, when Muslims perform the conditions in their own madhhab, if they also try to observe the conditions of another madhhab, it will be mustahab. If what we have conveyed in the Hanafî Madhhab were true, then people not believing this would remain junub [a person who needs a ghusl] during their lifetimes, and their namâzes [ritual prayers] would not be valid.
[mustahab: an act for which there is thawâb (blessing) and if omitted there is no sin.]