Do the Differences Between the Legal Schools Render Our Worship Full of Errors?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam aleikum,

Why do schools of fiqh contradict themselves to the point that something valid in one school is invalid in another school like wudu after touching a woman for example?

If we say that there is valid opinions that could be wrong, wouldn’t that imply that we have a religion were error exists? Why have truth and error been mixed up in Islam and became labelled as “valid opinions”?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

All of the legal schools are valid and sound to follow, and correct according to their own, specific legal theory and methodology. The differences found between them are a mercy, as the scholars have mentioned, and it is difficult to understand the intricacies without spending some time learning how the general principles are applied and how law is derived.

I’d recommend reading: (1) The Differences of the Imams by Shaykh Zakariyya Kandhlawi, and (2) The Influence of the Noble Hadith Upon the Differences of Opinion Amongst the Jurist Imams by Shaykh Muhammad Awwamah.

Please also see: A Reader on Following Schools of Thought (Madhabs)

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

As a Hanafi Can I Have Recourse to Some Maliki Dispensations?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

1. I have a gastrointestinal disease that causes me problems in the evening during Isha time and through Fajr. The problem during these times is very bad and I cannot perform prayer without making wudu multiple times. Since the problem does not occur during the day I do not think I am considered chronically excused as per the Hanafi madhab. Would it be possible to follow the Maliki rulings on excuses in this case?

2. I often have a hard time performing prayer since it is almost impossible to avoid my parents dog’s spit coming on my clothes or skin. Could I follow the Maliki ruling in this situation? How to do this?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

(1) You should take all reasonable means to prevent the excuse from happening, even by praying sitting down, for instance, if the excuse happens whilst standing, or praying with head movements. Moreover, you should ignore all misgivings, feelings and sensations, and only act on the basis of reasonable surety and when you are sure that your ablution (wudu) has been invalidated. I’d recommend getting in touch with a local scholar in order to discuss your problem in more detail. [see: The Fiqh of Chronic Excuses and Ablution]

(2) Please see: Can I Pray in Clothes that Were Licked by a Dog?

And see also: A Menstruating Woman Reciting the Qur’an: The Maliki Position, Sticking to One School, and the Path of Taqwa and: Frequent Rectal Discharges: Is There Any Dispensation Regarding Maintaining Ritual Purity? [Maliki School] and:

The sunna way of praying when injured or unable to stand – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Consider taking this free course: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Beliefs & Worship (STEP)

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Traveler’s Prayer, Mixing Madhabs, and Maliki Reference Works

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: Assalamu ‘aleikum. I have a few Maliki fiqh questions.

1. I currently live in one city and study in another city that is 163 km away from my city of residence. I travel there by train and it takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes. Can I consider myself a traveler while being in the city where I study and may I join prayers if there is a practical need to do so?

2. Is it obligatory or recommended for the traveler to shorten the prayers?

3.  Is it generally permissible to follow the opinion of another madhab when there are real difficulties involved in not doing so? 

4. Every madhab has some book which is considered a reference work, a book to turn to for reference when it comes to detailed or complicated issues. For the Shafi’is I think Imam al-Nawawis al-Majmu’ would be considered one such work, and for the Hanbalis al-Mughni of Ibn Qudama. Would Al-Kharshis explanation of Mukhtasar Khalil be considered such a work in the Maliki madhab, which has been printed with a hashiya of shaykh al-‘Adawi, or is al-Sharh al-kabir with the hashiya of al-Dasuqi a stronger reference?


1. The distance that you mentioned is sufficient to be considered a traveller and shorten your prayers. For the Maliki ruling on joining prayers, it would only be while you are en route during your journey. In the situation where you described about studying, you could pray maghrib and isha when you return to your home. While you are on campus, since you are a traveller, you can also join dhuhr and asr. It would be preferred for you to dealy Dhuhr to pray with Asr.

2. The shortening of prayers is a strong sunna according to the Maliki school.

3. Following the opinion of another school of the four schools of thought is valid and permissible, as long as one does the whole act of worship (or interaction) according to that opinion. If for example, one will follow a Shafi’i opinion on wudu, they should also make their prayer valid according to the Shafi’i school. To join between multiple opinions is called talfeeq and is not permissible.

When choosing to follow the opinion of another school there must be a need. This is called a dispensation (rukhsa) and is permissible. What is not permissible is constant following of dispensations (it-tiba’ al rukhas). This has been mentioned by the scholars such as Imam Nawawi in the Maqasid.

4. The two commentaries on the Mukhtasar that you mentioned are relied upon works and may be referenced when needed. In general, the Mukhtasar and its commentaries are difficult to navigate unless one has studied them with a teacher.

I would also suggest that you begin reading and referring to a more basic work, such as Ibn Ashir or Risala. Both have translations in English available on the internet.

A Reader on Following Schools of Thought (Madhabs)

Why Follow a Madhab and How to Choose One

What is a Madhhab? Why is it necessary to follow one?

Why Muslims Follow Madhhabs?

Would you advise individuals to study hadith from al-Bukhari and Muslim on their own?

Understanding the Four Madhhabs

Shaykh Murabtal Haaj’s Fatwa on Following One of the Four Accepted Madhhabs

How Do I Choose A School Of Thought (madhhab) & Why?

How Can A Convert Follow A School Of Thought Correctly?

How Are Madhabs Any Different From Sects In Christianity?

Taking Rulings Directly From Imam Muhammad’s Six Books (kutub dhahir al-riwaya)

Differences of Opinion and Choosing Opinions from Other Madhabs

Differences of Opinion & Determining Sound Scholarship

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

Can a Hanafi Follow the Shafi’i Opinion on Joining Prayers When Traveling?

Why Is Talfiq Impermissible When The Earlier Generations Seem To Have Done It?

The Path of Taqwa: Avoiding Differences of Opinion

Why Is Mixing Between Madhabs (Talfiq) Impermissible When The Earlier Generations Seem To Have Done It?

Answered by Shaykh Gibril Haddad

Question: I understand the need of following qualified scholarship however I keep coming across a trend when I read about the earlier generations. It seems that the common masses would consult the scholars if they were unaware of a ruling however I can’t see any specification involved. What I mean is that they would ask whichever scholar was available and there doesn’t seem to be any consideration given to talfiq. So where does the idea of talfiq come from. Can I not just ask whichever mufti I happen to find on an issue why the need to only ask a scholar of my madhhab when historically this is not the case.

Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

Back then, just as now, the common masses are not considered to have any other madhhab than their imam and it is presumed back then just as now that a person will have more religion than to saunter from one mufti to another always asking the same question until he finally gets the answer he hankers for.

There was definitely due consideration and dire warning given against the latter scenario – inadmissible talfiq – which in the eyes of the early generations consisted in following poor methodology, perhaps motivated by deliberate evasion of strictures you don’t like in your own madhhab, so as to adopt dispensations in other madhhabs. This forms the context for the following sayings:

“Whoever pursues the rarities of hadith will lie.” (Abu Yusuf)

“Whoever holds on to the rare and unusual positions of the Scholars has left Islam.” (Al-Awza`i)

“Whoever pursues the rare and the unusual has gathered up all evil.” (Sufyan al-Thawri)

“He is not an Imam in `ilm who follows anomalous positions (al-shadhdh).” (`Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi)

“If you take the dispensation (rukhsa) or error (zalla) of every `alim, you will become the gathering point of every evil.” (Sulayman al-Taymi)

Allah have mercy on them and illuminate our insights through the blessing of theirs.

Hajj Gibril

Can a Hanafi Follow the Shafi’i Opinion on Joining Prayers When Traveling?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Scenario: Employers send one to a intense training program which is to run for three days (excluding the day one arrives and leaves), the training centre is beyond 50 miles. One finds it is difficult to pray on time and decides to follow the shafi madhab concerning joining prayers as a traveller.

a) Does one have to follow the shafi madhab in the rules of tahara, wudu and salat ?

b) Does one shorten prayers according to the shafi time limit of 3 days or does one stick to the hanafi time limit of 14 days?

Answer: Walaikum assalam,

In order for it to be permitted for one to take the dispensation of another school in any matter, one has to be reasonably sure, through sound means (such as learning from a scholar or reading from a text one is able to soundly understand) that your action is valid and proper in that other school, with all is preconditions.

When it comes to prayer, purification (tahara) is one of the preconditions for its validity. As such, both would have to be valid in another school for it to be legally valid for you to combine your prayers.

Mixing between madhhabs (talfiq) in a way that the action is not valid according to the position of any one of the maddhabs is invalid and impermissible. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Ibn Abidin, and others report scholarly consensus on this matter.

Pray each prayer within its time. Stay on wudu, wear footgear (khuffs), in order to be able to make wudu quickly, if necessary. If you cannot pray the sunnas, just pray the fard.

Keep in mind that this is the first thing we will be asked about on the Day of Judgment.

And Allah knows best, and He alone gives success.

Walaikum assalam,
Faraz Rabbani