These thoughts have plagued me for a long time now, and reading through some posts this morning further cemented my views on whether or not I should choose a specific madhab.
I’ve traditionally been raised as part of the Hanafi madhab, but have had significant exposure to the Shafi madhab as well. And given the few contradictions of practices between the two that I have personally experienced, it always left me wondering why should there be two or more different schools of thought to begin with?
Perhaps I’m over-simplifying a complex issue, but I would be more inclined to believe that most over-complicate a simple issue. For me it’s quite simple. Unless the action or practice was specifically forbidden, it is allowed. Even the Prophet (SAW) was not allowed to make something haraam that Allah had declared halaal. So how can anyone else come along and profess to know better?
I once entered a prayer facility where there was a man from the Shafi madhab preparing to pray his Asr salaah, whilst a man from the Hanafi madhab was preparing to pray his Dhuhr salaah. Within the context of their specific schools of thought, they were both right, but surely logic dictates that only one of them could be correct? I could never receive a satisfactory answer to this dilemma, except for a feeble attempt from one Aalim stating that the madhab of the chosen Imam for that salaah between the two of them would prevail. That would mean that the Hanafi follower would potentially miss his Dhuhr salaah if the Shafi follower was Imam?
It simply doesn’t make sense to me, and I’ve always found Islam to be extremely sensible. Therefore I can only conclude that the intent of the scholars was entirely misconstrued because of excessive interpretations and implementations of their teachings resulting in the mess we have today. The dogmatic application of the schools of thought have done nothing but driven a wedge between communities based on a scholar’s interpretation of the Sunnah.
For this reason, I have chosen to follow the least restrictive guidelines in any given situation since at no point did anyone prove that either of the madhabs are incorrect. Which to me implies that it was all about context. And because we don’t seem to understand context and principles more often than not, we end up applying rulings out of context and then insist that it’s beyond reproach because the scholars said so. I refuse to limit the scope of my Imaan or my application of the Sunnah to the views of a single scholar, or to fit in with a specific community.
Islam is clear about Halaal and Haraam. The rest is open to debate and conjecture and is often defended based on egos and obstinacy. That is the doubtful parts that I will avoid as best as I can. Insha-Allah.