You are confusing two issues:
(a) Following another madhhab completely in a complete action, and (b) mixing the positions
of more than one madhhab within one action, in such a way that it is not independently
valid in either one (talfiq). The latter is impermissible and invalid according to the
fuqaha. Ibn Abidin (imam of the late Hanafi school for fatwa) and Ibn Hajar al-Haytami
(imam of the late Shafi`i school for fatwa) both transmit scholarly consensus (ijma`)
regarding its impermissibility.
Following another madhhab completely in a complete action, however, is valid according
to the majority of the scholars of usul al-fiqh, and fuqaha, on the condition that there
not be a systematic seeking out of dispensations. This was confirmed by Ibn Abidin in
his Hashiya, Tahtawi in his Hashiyat al-Durr, Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulsi in his Sharh al-Tariqa
al-Muhammadiyya and in his treatise on ijtihad, taqlid and talfiq, and is the position
adopted by the Syrian Hanafi scholars.
The scholars of the Indian Sub-continent generally do not allow this, except under
exceptional circumstances, but not because it is per se invalid, but for obvious reasons:
(a) In their millieu, it is not normally possible for one to find a qualified source
or scholar from another school;
(b) To close the door to the systematic seeking of dispensations.
But, even Indo-Pak scholars who advocate this position admit, this is more an answer
of prudence than a theoretical impermissibility.
I wonder whether the position enunciated in the major texts of the school is not more
suited to our situation in the West. People have a lot of difficult situations and challenges
in their lives, and this makes things easy for them while remaining within the boundaries
of sound sunni scholarship, instead of running to the modernists and salafis...
Sticking to One School
It is not religiously binding on the Muslim to stick to one school on all matters,
without exception, as both al-Tahtawi and Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on them), the two
leading late authorities for fatwa in the Hanafi school, both explain. Rather, there is
nothing wrong with taking a dispensation if there is a need; what is impermissible is
to make it a habit to seek out dispensations [i.e. even if there is no hardship or need].
The Path of Taqwa
The path of taqwa, as the scholars and sufis explain, is to avoid taking dispensations
unless there is genuine hardship in following one's own school. In fact, they say that
those who have learned their own school should seek out the strictest positions from other
school whenever reasonably possible, so that one's worship and practice is sound without
May Allah grant us beneficial knowledge, and the success to act according to it, on
the footsteps of the His Beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace), with the secret
of sincerity, without which actions are but lifeless forms.
And Allah knows best.
Why Madhabs? Isn't It Like Christianity?
Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
talking about madhab.. the hanafi madhab, the sh'afi madhab....and so on.
gets confusing...I mean it makes Islam sound like Christianity...like they have
divided their religion in so many sects...Islam shouldn't be divided like that...it
disturbs me a lot. Please help me out here..
The madhhabs have been a reality of our Ummah since the time of the Sahaba:
people studied the Qur'an and Prophetic teachings under different Companions
of the Prophet (Allah bless him, his folk, and companions, and give them peace)
and the Companions themselves differed in understanding the details of the teachings
of the Qur'an and Sunna. These differences were of understanding and methodology
and continued to the next generations, until these methodologies were systematized
and the rulings derived from them formally recorded by the great scholars of
the Age of Mujtahids. Four of these great mujtahids had their schools transmitted
and taught more extensively and thus survived, due to the greater strength of
The madhhabs, in reality, are a mercy and means of unity in our Ummah. Throughout
history, scholars of different madhhabs have studied together, and loved and
respected each other. My main teacher, for example, is a Shafi`i...