Is It Important to Follow Only One School of Thought?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Is it important to follow only one school of thought, even though all four are valid?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

The basis is that you have one legal school of interpretation which you follow in the interests of clarity, consistency, and as a standard for your religious practice. However, you can also take sound positions from other schools when there is a need or benefit in doing so, as long as you apply the conditions and integrals of that school, and ideally, after having verified the ruling with a reliable scholar of that school.

Thereafter, please see the following detailed articles: A Reader On Following Schools of Thought (Madhabs)

And Allah Most High alone knows best.


[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam.

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

As a Shafi’i Should I Avoid to Raise My Hands When Praying Behind a Hanafi Imam? (Shafi’i School)

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

1. As a Shafi’i should I avoid to raise my hands when praying behind a Hanafi Imam?

2. Should I recite the Fatiha while praying behind an Imam?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Following the Imam

As a follower, you are supposed to follow the Imam leading the prayer. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Imam was only put in that position to be followed” [Bukhari, Muslim].

Raising the Hands when the Imam does not do so

In the Shafi’i school, raising the hands when changing positions in prayer is a Sunnah act. The Hanafi school does not likewise consider it recommended.

If you are praying behind someone who does not raise his hands, such as a Hanafi, raising your hands remains recommended. This does not contradict the general obligation to follow the Imam, as raising the hands is not considered an act that grossly contradicts the Imam’s prayer.

Reciting the Fatiha while the Imam is Reciting it

In the Shafi’i school, it is obligatory to recite the Fatiha in every rak’ah (unit of prayer) for any prayer, obligatory or otherwise. This is irrespective of whether one is praying alone or following behind an Imam, or whether the prayer is recited aloud or silently. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A prayer in which the Fatiha is not recited is not valid” [Ibn Khuzaymah].

A person can recite the Fatiha at any moment during the standing portion of the unit of prayer. It is recommended to recite it following the Imam’s recitation.

Reciting another Chapter of the Qur’an while Following an Imam

Reciting a chapter or portion of the Qur’an following the recitation of the Fatiha is recommended in the first two rak’ahs of any prayer, obligatory or otherwise. It is not recommended when a person is following an Imam. In this case, it is recommended to listen to the Imam’s recitation. If one cannot hear the Imam’s recitation for whatever reason, it remains recommended for one to also recite.

Please also see: Should I Follow a Fast Imam Even if It Entails Not Reciting the Fatiha? [Shafi’i School]

Source: al-Hawashi al-Madaniyyah, Hashiyat al-Bujayrami

Shuaib Ally