Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

Following Other Mathhabs Revisited

Well, this is one of those topics we were able to skirt around for the past two months, but it looks like we finally broke through the thin ice.

Would it be possible for you to post something about these issues
1) whether or not it is necessary to follow a specifically follow one and only one of those schools
a nd
2) whether or not it is permissible to follow another school (one of the famous four, or one of the more obscure ones, such as the Jariri school?) if it is in fact necessary.
( The obligatoriness of those not qualified to make ijtihad to follow one of the four schools is clear from Shaykh Nuh's and Shaykh Abdal-Hakim's articles on Particularly with the influence of such books as Fiqh al-Sunna, we see this issue popping up nowadays. Jazaka Allahu khayran.

[edited for typographic purposes]

This is one of those issues where there is quite a bit of differences between the scholars. The basic issues here, following Al-Safarini's books, are: F or people who have an old copy of the book, this is pages (2":463-68) in the old print of the book. (There is a brand new two volume print of the book, with takhrij instead of sub-marginal marginal notes. The condensed version of the book [Dar Al-Basha'ir Al-Islamiyyah] almost "condensed" this section right out, but it does refer to Irshad Al-Fuhul and Ibn Hazm and still refuses their views.)

In any case: Imam Al-Safarini here, like all parts of his book, lists a wide range of opinions, some extreme and others moderate. And al-hamdu lillah the positions he (well: the vast majority of the scholars) supports are moderate and practical. Here they are in a nutshell, mentioning just the predominant position with some comments:

People who are unqualified to make ijtihad are required to make taqlid of one of the four mathhabs: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, or Hanbali. These mathhabs have been verified, refined, preserved and transmitted in such great numbers that even the most basic student of a given mathhab can differentiate between what is and what is not part of the mathhab, and can even differentiate between well known and rare opinions.

The only mathhabs that can be followed today are these four, because no other mathhabs meet the same conditions of tawattur, being verified, and being preserved. Why this is so important is that without these three things taking place, how can we be certain of what the imam of the mathhab really said

[Adhereing to a specific mathhab]
Today, the predominate opinion is that one needs to stick to a specific mathhab.

[Moving to another one]
The best known position is that if we say that it is obligatory to stick to a specific mathhab, it is permissible to move to another mathhab on a particular issue.

There are three basic opinions here:
1. It is unconditionally unlawful to follow another mathhab on a particular issue
2. It is unconditionally lawful to follow another mathhab on a particular issue
3. It is permissible if he acts according to what is entailed by the mathhab that he follows for that particular issue
[Seeking dispensations]
It is not permissible for layman to seek out dispensations, and doing so is moral corruption.

The conditions for doing this are three:
1. That the person not combined between the mathhabs in such a way that contradicts scholarly consensus, such as marrying without a dowry, without the bride's guardian, and without witnesses since there is no mujtahid scholar who has given this as his opinion

2. That the person believe the merit (Ar. fadl) of the one he is following, even if it is based on transmitted (m: and not first hand)

3. That the person not seek out the easiest from among the mathhabs
[Making taqlid of the inferior]
It is permissible to follow another school on a particular issue when the other school is superior or equal. It is also permissible when the other school is inferior according to the majority of Hanbalis, the Hanafis, the Malikis, and most Shafi`is.

And Allah knows best.