Praying behind an imam of a different madhhab or an imam who follows another madhhab than his own on a given issue

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

First Question:

I was wondering if you could help me out on this urgent issue. Could you plese give me some references as to who, such as Imam Nawawi, Imam Suyuti, Ibn Taymiyah, etc. said that it was permitted to follow different rulings of the different madhhabs??
For example, a person who follows Imam Shafi’i madhhab, but follows Imam ABu Hanifa’s madhhab in a single issue.

Second Question:

I’m having trouble understanding a passage from Se’adet-i Ebediyye: “When an imam in the Shafi’i Madhhab says the qunut after straightening up from ruku’ in the morning prayer, a person in the Hanafi Madhhab who has been following him does not say Qunut but waits standing.” — Se’adet-i Ebediyye, Endliss Bliss, Fourth Fascicle.
Specifically, what is intended? To not raise the hands, to not say amin after each sentence of the du’ah, or both? And why does not performing these actions not constitute not following the imam in jamaat?

It is advisable not to rely on the Endliss Bliss fascicles for matters of fiqh. The Hanafi fiqh of the five pillars is found in a reliable English version in Abul Quasem’s Salvation of the Soul. On p. 124 the latter states:

If a devotee follows the imam who is reading the Qunut in the Dawn Prayer, he will remain standing but silent letting his hands hang loose by his sides during the imam’s reading of the Qunut.

As to the question: why does not performing these actions not constitute not following the imam in jamaat? The answer is that the intention of following the imam in jama`a means following him in what one believes is correct. In the Shafi`i and Maliki schools the Qunut of Fajr is a Sunna, since Anas ibn Malik said: “The Prophet did not cease performing Qunut in Fajr until he left the lower world” (narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad from `Abd al-Razzaq who cites it in his Musannaf; al-Daraqutni; Ishaq ibn Rahawayh; and al-Tahanawi cites it in Nasb al-Raya 2:131), while in the Hanafi school it is considered abrogated, however, it is permitted to pray behind an imam that recites it.

Abdur Rahim Lajpuri said in his Fatawa Rahimiyya, English version (1:126):

Q. Will a Hanafite follower’s prayer be valid behind a Hanbalite or Malikite imam?

A. If the Malikite or Shafi`ite [sic] imam observes the particular propositions (masa’il) like ritual purity, etc. on which depends the soundness of a Hanafite follower’s prayer, then to follow him in prayer is permissible without aversion (karahat); but if one is certain of the absence of such observance, then to follow him is not proper, and if there is only doubt, it is then “makruh tanzihi” (abominable as regards purification) [a better translation is: slightly reprehensible].

Also, to make matters slightly more confusing, my imam is Maliki but he says Qunut in morning prayer (and wipes his face after saying it).

Bayhaqi stated that there is no evidence for wiping the face in Qunut al-fajr, and one is not to perform wiping the face after reciting it, as stated by all the Shafi`i fuqaha’. Yes, it is recommended to do it outside of prayer according to the manuals of fiqh. Secondly: in the Maliki school the Qunut of Fajr is silent for both imam and follower, takes place preferably before the second ruku`, and merely allows the raising of the hands; while in the Shafi`i school it is always loud, takes place always after the second ruku`, and requires the raising of the hands. Furthermore, it is Sunna that blessings be invoked upon the Prophet and his Family (and Companions) at the end of the Qunut.

Brother Fouad had written once that Shaykh Nazim, a Hanafi, also says qunut in morning prayer. How common is it for imams who follow other >schools to import practices from other imams? To what extent is the imam allowed to do this and not violate the principle of picking and choosing between the madhhabs?

Preliminary note: I saw and heard on videotape Mawlana Shaykh Nazim say:

“We are followers of the Prophet, SAWS., according to our doctrines that come from the Sahaba, the Ash`aris and the Maturidis, and the Four Madhhabs: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali. We are “controlled” [muqayyad] by the Four Madhhabs. We have enough proofs. We are not such qualified people as to take [autonomously] what is necessary from the Holy Qur’an and Holy Hadith. We must follow Imams. We must follow Shaykhs. We must follow teachers…. Today, those that are accepting the Four Madhhabs and accepting the doctrines of Islam according to the time of the Prophet, they are on the right path. [To the question: "Where does your teaching fit in these four madhhabs?" he answered:] The Hanafi madhhab. But I am not objecting to whatever followers of other madhhabs do. All of them are going in the same direction. It is not as if one is coming and the other is going. All have the same aim, the same target, the same goal.”

The following answer to the questions cited (the first question and the last part of the second) is taken from the Hanafi faqih, Shaykh `Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi’s (d. 1143) Khulasat al-tahqiq fi bayan hukm al-taqlid wa al-talfiq (The sum of verification in expounding the ruling on imitation and combination), Waqf Ikhlas offset reprint (1991) p. 10:

The Shaykh Muhammad [ibn `Abd al-Malik] al-Baghdadi [al-Hanafi] (d. 1016) said in his treatise [Bayan haqiqat al-taqlid = The exposition of the truth regarding imitation]: “Of the cases pertaining to the imitator (muqallid), is that whereby he is one of the `ulama’, and he considers, according to his state and knowledge, the preponderance (rujhan) of a madhhab other than his in a particular question (mas’ala). It is excellent to follow him in what he considers preponderant.”

al-Munawi [al-Shafi`i] said in his commentary on [Suyuti's] al-Jami`, quoting [Taqi al-Din] al-Subki: “The one who goes to another madhhab has different cases…. One of them is that he considers the other madhhab to be preponderant: on this basis it is permitted for him to act on what he considers preponderant.”

Additionally: the Qunut in other prayers besides Witr is recommended in the Hanafi school in case of a disaster befalling the Community, and it is evident for all who have eyes to see that Muslims are presently living in circumstances that fully qualify as a disaster, as my own shaykh stated to me, and Allah knows best.

Ibn Qudama al-Hanbali in the introduction to his manual of fiqh entitled al-Mughni (1:22f.) relates the following examples of the great Imams’ occasional practice of positions contrary to their ijtihad:

Abu Hanifa, Muhammad al-Shaybani, and Abu Yusuf’s position is that ablution is nullified by bleeding. Yet when Abu Yusuf saw that Harun al-Rashid stood for prayer after being cupped without performing ablution, based on Malik’s fatwa for him — since bleeding does not annull ablution in Malik’s view — he prayed behind al-Rashid, and did not repeat his prayer. That is: he considered the prayer valid, and that therefore the ablution is not nullified for one who follows Malik’s fatwa.

Another time Abu Yusuf performed ghusl and prayed Jum`a in congregation, then he was told that a dead mouse had been found in the tank of the bath water. He did not repeat the prayer but said: “We shall follow in the matter the opinion of our brothers from the Hijaz (i.e. school of Malik): If the quantity of water is more than two pitchers’ worth, the water is still pure (if a dead mouse is found in it).”

When Shafi`i prayed the dawn prayer with the Hanafis at the grave of Abu Hanifa in Baghdad, he did not make the supplication after rising from bowing in the second cycle of prayer as is required in his own school but not in the Hanafi.

Imam Ahmad’s opinion is similar to the Hanafis’ concerning the necessity of ablution after cupping. Yet when he was asked: “Can one pray behind the Imam who stands up to lead prayer after being cupped without having renewed his ablution?” he replied: “How could I not pray behind Malik and Sa`id al-Musayyib?” and, in another narration: “Can I forbid you from praying behind So-and- so?” That is: behind the Imams who do not consider it necessary to renew ablution.

Imam Ahmad also declared that one must pronounce the basmala loud when leading the prayer in Madina — although this is contrary to his general view in the matter — due to the fact that the majority of the people of Madina follow the school of Malik, which requires it. Ibn Taymiyya mentions it in his Qa`ida fi tawahhud al-milla.[Ibn Taymiyya, Qa`ida fi tawahhud al-milla p. 174.]

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions


© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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