Salam aleykum wa rahmatullah. I have questions that’s been bothering me for a while. My family and i are from Afghanistan which is a country that follows the Hanafi mazhab. Ever since i’ve started doing my own research and reading the six books of hadith, i’ve come to realise that there are a lot of things that we are doing wrong and not in accordance to sunnah for example holding the hands over the chest while praying as opposed to below the navel, and doing a takbir before rukuh and after and getting up for the third rakah. I’ve started to change my prayers according to the sahih ahadith but some of family members like my father are too stubborn and are still keeping to the old, traditional ways of praying that are either based on a weak hadith or are a bidah like raising the index finger when saying ‘ashadu alla elaha’ during tashahud. My father argues with me that it doesnt matter to Allah where we hold our hands in prayer or do rafa yadain or not as long as we are not neglecting the obligatory parts of the prayer but i disagree because we should be following our beloved prophet (Allah’s mercy and blessings be on him) in every aspect of life even in the very little things like where to hold our hands during prayer. So could you please explain to me if i’m right or my dad is? And if i’m right, how can i get my father to start praying the correct way according the authentic ahadith and give up the old school ways of praying that have reached him from his grandafather and their grandfathers before them because he just doesnt listen to anyone out of arrogance and pride. Thank you and may Allah reward you for your efforts.
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
Our answer to you will be in the following points:
1) Firstly, you have indeed done well by following what you knew that it is from the Sunnah even if it is contrary to the Hanafi School of jurisprudence which you studied or which you were raised upon. There is no doubt about the great status of the jurists of Islam and the prominent scholars, such as Abu Haneefah and others, but the Sunnah of the Prophet should not be left out just because of imitating one of the scholars. Indeed, these scholars urged their followers to follow the Sunnah (of the Prophet) and not act contrarily to it because of the sayings of the scholars. The statements of the scholars in this regard are so many.
For instance, as-San’aani said: "As for the four Imams, each of them explicitly stated that his statement should not be favored over the saying of the Prophet [...] Abu Haneefah was asked, 'What about if you say something that contradicts the Quran (the Book of Allah)?' He said: 'Leave my saying and adhere to what the Quran says.' He was asked again: 'What about if your saying is against the saying of the Prophet ?' He replied: 'Leave my saying for the saying of the Prophet .' Then he was asked, 'What about if your saying contradicts the sayings of the Companions?' He said: 'Give up my saying for their saying .'
Besides, Ash-Shaafi’i, may Allaah have mercy upon, said: 'All the Muslims have agreed that if a Sunnah of the Prophet has been confirmed to anyone, it is not permissible for him to leave it and act according to a statement of any other person (no matter who he might be).'" [End of quote]
2) Secondly, all the four Schools of jurisprudence – praise be to Allah – are upon the Sunnah and they are very keen on following the Sunnah of the Prophet . All of them are upon the truth in general, and none of them intentionally intends to contradict the Sunnah – they are far above from doing that. However, this does not mean that they are infallible and do not fall into error; rather, they act according to what they know from the Book of Allah and what was conveyed to them from the authentic Sunnah. Nonetheless, some of them may not know some knowledge from the Book of Allah and from the Sunnah of the Prophet so they act or issue a Fatwa according to what they know, and so they commit a mistake because of this, and this is something known to the scholars. Moreover, the issue of weighing between their statements (and favoring a statement of one scholar over that of others) is a relative matter; among which are the examples mentioned in your question, because favoring among their statements is an issue of difference of opinion among the scholars, and each group has their own evidence. The scholar who acts contrarily to the Sunnah is not labelled as someone who contradicts the Sunnah at all. This is the methodology of the righteous predecessors in dealing with someone who acts differently in such cases of Ijtihaad.
3) Thirdly, if your father – may Allah protect him – does not have the scientific faculty to distinguish the authentic sayings from the weak ones, and he cannot seek knowledge to gain that faculty, then there is no harm on him in following the School of Abu Haneefah because it is one of the considerable Schools of Fiqh. There is no need to deny what he is doing because the layman is obliged to imitate one of the trustworthy scholars and he is not required to do more than this. The view that we adopt here in Islamweb is that a layman is not obliged to restrict himself to imitating one particular School of jurisprudence, and that the person who imitates may move from one School to another as long as he does not intend to play around or follow concessions.
4) Fourthly, the right of the father is great and respecting him is an obligation. So if you know any Sunnah and you see that your father does not act in conformity with it, then advise him in a gentle and soft manner and show him the evidence of that Sunnah and the sayings of the jurists of other Schools of jurisprudence about it, then if he trusts what you tell him and accepts it, then all the best; otherwise you have done what you are required to do, but do not argue with him in a way that undermines the good conduct with him, or disturb him as this is considered as cutting ties with him.
5) Fifthly, we recommend you to strive to seek knowledge and be keen on acquiring it. We also advise you to find excuses for someone who appears to you that he does not act in conformity with the Sunnah, as the scholars have their own Ijtihaad that are founded on delicate scientific principles which you might not know. Indeed, there are many students of knowledge who are keen on following the Sunnah, and they followed one of the statements (of the scholars) thinking that this is the Sunnah based on a statement of one of the contemporary scholars on a given Hadeeth, and the truth is that the Hadeeth is classified as Dha’eef (weak) by other contemporary and former scholars. We advise you to read the book entitled "Raf’ al-Malaam ‘an al-A-imatil-A’laam (Removing the Blame off the Prominent Imams)" authored by Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah .
Allah knows best.
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