Q. “It is generally believed by the Sunni Muslims that each one of the Madhahib of Hanafi, Shafi‘i, Maliki and Hanbali, being one of the possible interpretations of Shari‘ah, is right and none of them can be held as something against the Shari‘ah. But on the same time we see that the followers of Hanafi school never depart from the Hanafi view and never adopt the Shafi’i or Maliki view in any juristic matter. Rather, they deem it impermissible to follow another jurist’s view in a particular issue. How can this behavior be reconciled with the belief that all the four madhahib are right? If all of them are right, there should be no harm if the Hanafi Muslims follow Shafi’i or Maliki or Hanbali views in some particular matter.
Taqleed & New Issues
(9) Another objection to Taqleed of an individual is that it impedes progress and presents no solution to new problems.
We have pointed out earlier that the taqleed of an erudite scholar is not the same as that of the layman. Taqleed of the individual allows for ijtihad in issues. If no answer is found in a mujtahid’s rulings, then his principles should be used to deduce conclusion from the Qur’an and sunnah. This ijtihad can be done in spite of taqleed of an individual. So, there is no impediment, at all.
How may a Layman Recognise the Mujtahid?
(6) We have stated in the beginning that taqleed, whichever of the two kinds you consider, is nothing more than to ask one who is in adept in the science of Qur’an and sunnah and whose understanding, insight and juristic knowledge is reliable, that one who is incapable may know.
Some people wonder how an ignorant seeker will distinguish an adept imam? (Tahreek Azadi Fikr p13)
Let us suffice by reproducing Imam Ghazali’s text on the subject.
Sayings of The Mujtahid lmams
(5) Some people say that the mujtahid imams have themselves said that their sayings should not be followed until the evidence is known. “If our opinion is against Hadith, throw it off and follow the Hadith.”
However, honestly, these words are directed to those who are capable of making an independent judgment, not those who cannot make ijtihad. Shah Waliullah said about such sayings:
Taqleed For The Erudite Scholar
He is a scholar who though has not attained the degree of ijtihad, yet has learnt the Islamic sciences from expert teachers and imparts education and writes books under the supervision of leading ulama for a long period of time. He is proficient in tafseer, Hadith, fiqh and their fundamentals. He is capable of deriving benefit from the worthy predecesors in examining an issue and is well-conversed with their temperament and style and gets to the correct conclusion. Shah Waliullah described him thus: