The Disagreement About Islamic Rules
As to the disagreement among the Mujtahids (the high Islamic scholars) in their verdicts, it is permissible by all Islamic schools. Therefore, we see that the imams of the four schools did not agree with each other in their verdicts concerning many Islamic rules. Had they been always in agreement, there would be only one Sunni school rather than four.
If it is permissible for Muslims to follow the four schools, the school of Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq would have more right to be followed. Both Abu Hanifah and Malik were students of Imam Ja'far. Al-Shafi'i was a student of Muhammad Ibn Al-Hassan Shalbani who was a student of Abu Hanifah, and Imam Ahmad was student of Al-Shafi'i.
Thus, the four imams were either students of Imam Ja'far or students of his students.
It would be extremely curious to impose on Muslims the duty of following the verdicts of one of the four imams and prevent them from following the verdict of Imam Ja'far who was the teacher of the four imams. Certainly this does not agree with the Qur'an because the Qur'an declares that the Almighty had completed his religion before the death of the Messenger of God. The Holy Qur'an declares that in the following verse:
"Today I have completed your religion for you, and have perfected my favor upon you and chosen Islam as your religion." (ch. 5, v.10)
Since the religion had been completed before the death of the Messenger, it would be unfair to impose on the Muslims to follow one of the four schools which came over one hundred years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Abu Hanifah was born 80 years after the Hijra and so was Malik Ibn Anas. These two are the oldest of the four imams. They did not become imams the day they were born. It took each of them at least forty years or more to reach the degree of Ijtihad. This means that the school of Abu Hanifah was formed 120 years after the death of the Messenger and so was the school of Malik. The other two schools came decades after the Hanafi and Maliki schools.
This means that the imposition on Muslims to follow one of the four schools is an innovation which has no support from the Book of God or the hadiths of the Prophet. No one reported that the Messenger of God ordered Muslims to follow any of these schools. Had this imposition been legitimate, all devotional works of the companions (including the four caliphs) would be nullified and unaccepted because they were not Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, or Hanbali. And what should one say about the Prophet's worship?!!! He also was not a follower of any of the four schools.
It would have been more logical to say that it is permissible for any Muslim to follow any imam he considers (after serious research) to be the most knowledgeable among them whether that imam is related or not to the four schools.
Adapted from the book: "The Shi'ites Under Attack" by: "Imam Muhammad Jawad Chirri"
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