All the rules which a mujtahid has derived are called a Madhhab. Out of hundreds of Ahl-i sunnat Madhhabs, today, only four Imams’ maddhabs have been transferred into books, and the others have been partly forgotten. The names and the dates of the deaths of the four Imams are: Abû Hanîfa 150, Mâlik bin Enes Asbahî 179, Muhammad Shafi’î 274, and Ahmad bin Hanbel 241.
Non-mujtahids have to follow one of these four madhhabs in all their actions and worships. This means to say that our Prophet’s (sall Allâhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) way is the way shown by the Qur’ân, and the hadîths, in other words, by the sunnat and by the ijtihâd of the mujtahîds. Besides these three documents, there is Ijma’-i ummat, which is, as it is written under the subject of ‘Imprisonment’ in Ibni Abidîn, the words of the Ashâb-i kirâm (rahmat Allâhu ta’âlâ ‘alaihim ajma’în) and those of the Tâbi’în. That is, they are the things which none of them rejected or denied upon seeing them. The Shiites’ claim in the book Minhâj-us-sâlihîn is not correct. They say it is not permissible to adapt ourselves to a dead person.
Islamic religion has come to us through these four documents. These four documents are called “Adilla-i shar’iyya.” Everything outside these are bid’at, irreligiousness, and false. The inspirations and the kashfs that occur to the hearts of great men of tasawwuf cannot be proofs or documents for the rules of the sharî’at. Correctness of kashfs and inspirations is judged by their compatibility with the Sharî’at. An Awliyâ who is in high a grade of the tarîqat or wilâyat has to follow a mujtahid, like Muslims in lower grades. The Awliya such as Bistamî, Junayd, Celâleddîn-i Rûmî and Muhyiddîn-i Arabî were raised in rank by adapting themselves to a madhhab as everybody did.