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Commentary: If the Hadith is Authentic, that is My Madhhab

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Commentary: If the Hadith is Authentic, that is my Madhhab

Posted by Shafiifiqh.com on Mar 22, 2010 in Featured, Usul al-Fiqh | 0 comments

It is authentically recorded from Imam Ash-Shafi’i (radiya Allahu ‘anhu) that he said,

إذا صح الحديث فهو مذهبي

“If the hadith is authentic, that is my Madhhab.”

It is also recorded that he said

إذا صح الحديث خلاف قولي، فاعملوا بالحديث واتركوا قولي

“If an authentic hadith contradicts my opinion [in fiqh], act upon the hadith and abandon my opinion.”1

Imam An-Nawawi commented upon the first statement,

“What Imam Ash-Shafi’i said does not mean that everyone who sees a Sahih hadith should say “This is the madhhab of Al-Shafi’i,” applying the purely external or apparent meaning of his statement. What he said most certainly applies only to such a person as has the rank of ijtihad in the madhhab. It is a condition for such a person that he be firmly convinced that either Imam Al-Shafi’i was unaware of this hadith or he was unaware of its authenticity. And this is possible only after having researched all the books of al-Shafi’i and other similar books of the companions of al-Shafi’i, those who took knowledge from him and others similar to them.

This is indeed a difficult condition to fulfill. Few are those who measure up to this standard in our times2 What we have explained has been made conditional because Imam Al-Shafi’i had abandoned acting purely on the external meaning of many proofs for criticism of the hadith or its abrogation or specific circumstances or interpretation and so forth. Shaykh Abu ‘Amr [Ibn Al-Salah] said: “It is no trivial matter to act according to the literal meaning of what Imam Al-Shafi’i said. For it is impermissible for every faqih – let alone an ordinary person (‘ammi) – to act independently with what he takes to be a proof from the hadith… Therefore, any Shafi’i that finds a hadith that contradicts his School must examine whether he is absolutely accomplished in all the disciplines of ijtihad, or in that particular topic, or specific question. [If he is,] then he has the right to apply it independently. If he is not, but finds t hat contravening the hadith bears too heavily upon him – after having researched it and found no justification for contravening it – then he may apply it if another independent Imam other than Al-Shafi’i applies it. This is a good reason for him to leave the madhhab of his Imam in such a case.”3

[Translation taken from “The Four Imams and their Schools” by Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad published by Muslim Academic Trust pp. 225-226, and reproduced here with the permission of Shaykh Gibril for Shafiifiqh.com]

The great Shafi’i Imam, Shaykh ul Islam Taqi Al-Din Al-Subki wrote a wonderful treatise explaining this statement of Imam Ash-Shafi’i titled, “Ma’na Qawl Al-Imam Al-Muttalibi Idha Sahha Al-Hadithu Fahuwa Madhhabi” (The meaning of the statement of the Imam, the Muttalibi, ‘If the hadith is authentic, that is my madhhab’) that is recommended for students to read.

You can download it from the following, however it is currently only in arabic: download here

qawli is translated here as ‘my opinion’ as that is what is meant here, though it literally means ‘my statement’ [↩]

I.e. al-Nawawi’s times, a fortiori ours. Among those who lived in Al-Nawawi’s centure were Al-Fakhr Al-Razi, Ibn al-Salah, Al-Mundhiri, Ibn ‘Abdus-Salam, Al-Qurtubi, Ibn Al-Qattan, Al-Diya’ Al-Maqdisi, Ibn Qudama, and Ibn Daqiq Al-’Id! [↩]

Al-Nawawi, Al-Majmu‘ Sharh Al-Muhadhdhab (1:64), citing Ibn Al-Salah’s Fatawa wa Masai’l (1:54, 1:58-59). Cf. Al-Tahanawi, I’la‘ Al-Sunan (2:290-291). [↩]

via Usul al-Fiqh | Shafii Fiqh.com | Shafii Institute.


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