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How Do I Choose a School of Thought (Madhhab) & Why?

Hanafi FiqhShafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: How Do I Choose a Madhhab and Why?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His Messenger Muhammad, his folk, companions, and followers

A madhhab is a school of Islamic law, and each madhhab is based on a systematic methodology of interpreting the Qur’an and Prophetic sunna. Following a madhhab is not an end in itself; rather, it is a means to follow the Qur’an and Sunna in a sound, systematic, and sustainable manner.

It is a sound way of following the Qur’an and Sunna, because each madhhab has a sound and tested methodology of understanding, interpreting, and applying the guidance of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to the issues of our life.

It is a systematic way, because the scholars have dealt with the issues Muslims face in their worship, dealings, and conduct, and given guidance-based answers that are relevant and reliable.

It is a sustainable way, because the scholars have distinguished between the degrees of emphasis of rulings—between what is obligatory and recommended; between the prohibited and the disliked; between the preferable and less preferable. By following a madhhab, you will not be overwhelmed by the sense of having to “do everything all at once.” Rather, you can bring in religious guidance into your life a step at a time—giving priority to what is most important first. This helps one attain consistency in one’s actions and religious practice, which is a key to being personal transformation.

Which Madhhab Do I Follow?

Any of the four Sunni schools of law are valid to follow, and which one chooses to follow is a matter of personal preference and circumstances. One should consider:

(1)    Which madhhab you can learn properly, given your life circumstances

(2)  Which mahhab you can get your questions answered for

(3)  Your personal inclination, and general life considerations (such as family background, community, and so on).

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani

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Related Reading:

What is a madhhab? Why is it necessary to follow one by Shaykh Nuh Keller

Why Muslims follow madhhabs by Shaykh Nuh Keller

Understanding the four madhhabs By Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad