Message No : 16Sr.No : 188/725
Question By : Muhammad Aziz Shaikh

Asalam o Alikum

I need clarification on following points with authentic hadeeths as the backup.

What is the ruling behind reciting Al Fatiha behind immam? - I know the ruling veries from Imam to Imam but what i want to know how our Prophet Muhammad PBUH did in his life because it is he who is most important and authentic for us.
I am still not convinced that all muslims following 4 imams? WHY NOT 1? there is always 1 leader and rest follows. What happens if there are 4 captins of a ship instead of 1? where the ship will go? I know all of 4 imams are very pious people but why all of them diff from each other? and which one is right?

Need authentic reply.

Jazaak Allah Khair.

Muhammad Aziz Shaikh


Reply By : Mohd. Shihabuddin Qasmi
Designation : Mufti, ODI, MMERC, Mumbai 

In the name of Allah, All Gracious, All Merciful
Wa Alaikumossalaam
Dear Brother in Islam,
The answers to your questions are as follows:

It is only the companions of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who can present the practical life of the Prophet (SAW). As regard the recitation of Suratul Fatiha behind Imaam, they report different Ahadeeth. Some prove the recitation while the others prohibit. As a result, this issue became controversial between Islamic jurists. This kind of issue can be solved either by making a balance between all the Ahadeeth of the subject as Hanfiah do or by enquiring the Maslak (School of thought) of the companions and their practices in regard. Since, there is no difference amongst the jurist concerning the recitation of Fatiha for Munfarid (one who is performing Salaah alone), the Ahadeeth prove the recitation may refer to the Munfarid and the Ahadeeth prohibit the recitation may relate to Muqtadi (one who is offering Salaah behind an Imaam. As regard the Muslak and practice of the companions, Allamah Ainee, a great scholar of his age writes, ¡°Not to recite Fatiha behind Imaam is the Maslak of more than eighty companions of the Prophet (SAW). The four Caliphs and other great Sahaba such as Abdullah Ibne Masood, Abdullah Iben Umar and Jabir (RA) are amongst these eighty. (Umadatul-Qari, Sharhul Bukhari Vol: 3 Part 6: 13)

After the Prophet (SAW), the first and foremost addressees of the Glorious Qur¡¯aan and the Ahadeeth are the companions (RA). They learnt the Lofty Qur¡¯aan and the Ahadeeth directly from the Prophet (SAW) and understood the correct meanings. Though they learnt the same book from the same teacher, differed from each other in several Masayeel. But every one was on the right path. Allah Almighty announced the success of one who would follow any of them. It is narrated on the authority of Hazrat Umar Ibnul-khattab (RA) that he heard the Prophet of Islam (SAW) saying, ¡°I asked my Lord about the mutual differences of my companions after me. So He informed me through revelation, ¡°O, Muhammad! The station of your companions to Me is as the position of the starts on the sky. Some are brighter than others. But every one possesses light. Whoever follows the path of any companion after they have differed from each other, is on the right path before Me¡­¡± (Mishkaat 554) Therefore, the companions (RA) are the yardsticks for us in religious matters.

The four Imaams learnt the Qur¡¯aan and the Ahadeeth form the companions and their successors. Therefore, they also differ from each other in Masayeel. And every one is one the right path. Moreover, they differ from each other only for the sake of Allah Almighty not to despise each other.
And the differences take place out of sincerity is the blessing for whole Ummah. This is the difference about which the Prophet of Islam (SAW) is reported as having said, ¡°The difference of my Umaah is blessing¡±.

Difference of opinion is a natural thing. No class of people could save themselves from it nor can. There are only two possibilities for the members of a group to agree unanimously on an issue; either none has sense to think and give his own opinion or the members of the group are selfish. They do not show their difference compromising any particular person though they know that the thing is wrong. But where there are wisdom and faith, it is impossible that there will be no differences. Therefore, it is not bad in itself. If we look deeply we will find that the difference within the limitation is not harmful for any nation but sometime it brings fruitful result. And that¡¯s why Islam plays much emphasis on Mashwarah (consultation) so that the different aspect of an issue comes to light and the decision can be taken with wisdom. If the difference is a bad thing then there will be no advantage of Mashwarah.

One may ask why only four Imaam not three or five? The answer is very simple that the same question would raise if there were three or five Imaams. Besides, so many jurists have been born in the people of Muhammad (SAW). But unfortunately the Fatawa and thoughts of all the jurists were not compiled. Only the Fatawa of the well-known four Imams have been compiled in the form of books. As a result, the other schools of thoughts perished in time. And, Insha Allah these four schools will remain as long as the world exists.

All the Ulama and Mashayeekh born after the fourth century Hijri were the followers of one particular Imam among these four. Shah Waliullah Muhaddis-e-Dehlavi writes in his book, Hujjatullahilbalighah, ¡°The liable persons of this Ummah have been in agreement till today on following these four compiled schools. This Taqleed has several benefits which are not secret from anybody particularly in this age when the spirit of people became diminished, the nature became full of designs and every one considers his opinion as final¡±. (Hujjatullahilbalighah 154)

Today, the majority of Muslim communities are adopting the instructions of a particular Imam among these four. This successful practice of Ummah certifies the expertise of these four Imams. Therefore, following a particular Imam has been the tradition and the path of Muslims. And whosoever follows a path other than that of Muslims, the Glorious Qur¡¯aan says about the eternal abode of such person, ¡°If anyone contends with the Messenger even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that becoming to men to faith, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him into hell, what an evil refuge!¡± (Suratunnisa 4 V: 115)

And Allah know

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