Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
As a layman, I take my faith seriously. If a scholar gives his opinion that something is permissible, I usually check if there is evidence supporting his view, and if I do not find it or need more convincing, I do not follow his opinion. The same goes the other way around; if a scholar gives me his opinion about the prohibition of something and his reasoning or evidence is unconvincing, I reject his opinion. I sort of make my own opinion by my reasoning, although I do not make others follow this. Sometimes, there are differences of opinion about something, and I check them both, and I take what I find convincing from both and leave what I do not. I want to know if this is acceptable in Islamic jurisprudence.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
I pray you are in good faith and health. Thank you for your question. I commend you for taking your faith seriously, al hamdulillah.
The safety of one’s faith and practice is in following traditional scholarship and religious practice, like what the companions did following the Prophet. The companions followed the scholarship of others from amongst them; the followers thereafter followed the scholarship of the companions, and so on, then they came to the four schools and followed their widely trusted scholarship until now.
Whom Did the Companions Follow?
The companions followed the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and they ended up seeing different actions and hearing varying opinions from Him. As scholars mention, it happened because Allah Most High wanted to see all of the Prophet’s actions and sayings practiced until the end of time.
Not all Companions (Allah be pleased with them) were People of Legal Verdicts (Ahl al-Fatwa). Because of this, many Companions followed the opinions of other companions, sometimes without questioning their verdict or knowing their proof.
Many companions followed a specific companion and turned away from following the opinions of other companions who differed with the former’s opinion. All of this was accepted and normal during that time.
The Four Schools
The four Sunni schools of thought are but an extension of that practice. Arguably, the four schools facilitated, in a major way, the preservation and consistent practice of the Muslim Umma as a whole.
I urge you to follow one of the four schools of jurisprudence. There lies safety in your faith and practice. Sufyan ibn Uyayna (Allah have mercy on him) said that by submitting to the jurists, there lies safety in one’s religion.
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I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete the hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled in an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and ‘Aalimiyya sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan. He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for several years. He has taught hifz of the Quran, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to children and adults onsite and online extensively in the UK and Ireland. He taught at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences. He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His interest is a love of books and gardening.