Avoiding Differences of Opinion: Why & When Can I Follow Another School?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Sidi Faraz Khan

Question: Why is it recommended to follow another schools position out of scrupulousness when we believe our own school is correct? When would taking another position outside of one’s own school be permitted for this reason?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

InshaAllah you are well.

The basic idea is that while each school of thought (madhab) believes its own view on any given issue to be correct, it does acknowledge that it could be wrong and that instead another school could be correct. Hence, it is recommended to avoid difference of opinion and take into account opinions of others schools in one’s personal practice, as this would entail more piety (taqwa) and scrupulousness (wara’). However, a condition is that doing so would not entail doing something disliked (makruh) in one’s own school. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

For example, in the Hanafi school, touching a non-related member of the opposite gender does not nullify one’s ablution (wudu’), yet it does in the Shafi’i school. Hence, if a Hanafi man were to touch a non-related woman, he would not have to renew his wudu’ before praying, yet it would be recommended to do so in order to avoid the difference of opinion with the Shafi’is, and because it would not be disliked according to his own school [the Hanafi school]. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi ‘l-Falah]

An example where one would not avoid difference of opinion is with respect to the recitation of Sura Fatiha by a follower in congregational prayer. Despite it being mandatory in the Shafi’i school, a Hanafi would not do so in order to avoid difference of opinion, as it is disliked according to the Hanafi school. [Ibn al-Humam/Marghinani, Fath al-Qadir Sharh al-Hidaya]

And Allah knows best.
Faraz Khan

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani