Understanding the Madhabs

Imaam Shaafi
“When the authenticity of the Hadith is established, then that is my Madhab.”


What does Madhab mean?

As we see from certain of the statements of the Aieemah, Madhab means a particular path one embarks on or the truth one finds and follows regardless of the prior position held on a particular aspect of the deen.

This is certainly found in many of the statements of the Aieemah of the various Madhahib (Plural of Madhab)


Madhahib today

In our time of great challenge, we have four madhabs across the globe; Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki, and Hambali Madhahib. The predominant Madhab in this time is the Hanafi Madhab. This is partly due to the expanse of the Ottoman Turkish Empire (Second Uthmainyeh Khilafah), thus the Muslim world have mostly ascribed to the Hanafi Madhab.


The consolidation of Madhabs had occurred further back in time between 950 CE and 1258 CE.  Thus from an array of approximately nine madhabs, this reduced to four madhabs that are existent today.


Differentiation in Fiqh

The Fiqh as we understand differs greatly in certain extents and less so in other extents.


One in Aqeedah and Methodology

Of greater importance, is the issue of fiqh is the aspect of Aqeedah. The Aieemah (Imams) of the various Madhahib were on one Aqeedah, an aspect where there is no room for debate.

Imaam Shaafi

“When you find in my kitaab anything contradicting the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)

then say (i.e. command) the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)

and leave aside my statement.”


As we have seen in the Methods of deriving of Fiqh, the core sources and methodology is one. The considerations which are taken into account, however, vary across the Madhahib.



Imaam Shaafi

“When the Hadith is established as authentic in opposition to my statement,

then act according to the Hadith and

abandon my statement.”




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Credits due to;

 Shekh Bilal Philips – Evolution of Fiqh