Priority is given to imitating the four Imaams before contemporary scholars
Fatwa No: 314404

  • Fatwa Date:16-2-2016 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 8, 1437
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum. On your website, you have stated that a layman should follow the scholar that he thinks to be the most knowledgeable and trustworthy. We all know that Imams Abu Hanifah, Maalik, Shaafi, and Ahmed were far more knowledgeable than all of the contemporary scholars. Does this not mean that it is better to follow one of the above-mentioned four Imams instead of the contemporay scholars (like Ibn Uthaymeen and Bin Baaz)?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that if the four Imaams agree on a ruling, then it is more appropriate for the layman to imitate them. Imitating takes priority over imitating the contemporary scholars if the view of the latter differed from that of the former as long as this layman is unable to analyze the pieces of evidence and balance between them to find what is the preponderant opinion that is closer to the truth.

However, if the four Imaams differed in opinion and the contemporary scholars acted according to the view of some of them and not upon the view of some others, then in this case, if the layman imitates the view of one of the contemporary scholars, he is automatically imitating one of the views of the four Imaams.

Indeed, the contemporary scholars recommend the layman to follow one of the four schools of jurisprudence.

Shaykh Al-Fawzaan, may Allaah protect him, says, “The layman and the beginner (in seeking knowledge) have no other choice but to imitate the scholar who is trustworthy in regard to his knowledge and piety; so they should follow one of the four Schools that are the Schools of jurisprudence of Ahlus-Sunnah.

Finally, you should know that nobody is infallible except the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ); so the scholars may be correct in some of their views and incorrect in others. Please refer to fatwa 85732 in this regards.

Allaah knows best.

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