TheIR DIffer is OUR TEST
Allah tries the extent of our sincerity and our commitment to truth by the errors and the disagreements of our scholars. Their disagreements are a source of fitnah (test) for us; Allah tests us as He has tested those before us.
Ammar b. Yasir said (on the day Aisha took up arms against Ali, being wrong in her action), “By Allah she is the wife of your Prophet in this world and the next. But Allah is testing you with her to disclose whether you obey Him or her.”(63)
Why then should we not be tested with scholars like Ahmad, and al-Shafi’i, and Malik, and Abu Hanifa? These enormously gifted men had struggled with many issues and discovered right answers and proposed wrong ones, and they will be rewarded even for their mistakes(64).
But the blind follower, who follows an error and knows that it is an error, is blameworthy and will not be excused. It is true that the scholar who struggles to find the truth and makes an error will be rewarded for his effort. But the follower who stubbornly insists upon following a particular scholar’s opinion will not be rewarded for his stubbornness. Especially when his error is pointed out to him and he is given proof from the Book of Allah and the sunnah and he still insists and puffs himself up and pretends he did not hear anything. His argument is always the same, “Do you think my Imam did not know this?”
This is not to say that no one should follow a madh-hab or the opinions of any particular scholar, placing his faith in his confidence of the master. What it means is that such following should be conditional. When it becomes apparent that truth lies other than in the madh-hab on any particular issue, then he should abandon the position of the madh-hab on that particular issue alone and follow the truth wherever
If a follower of Imam Ahmad discovers that Imam Ahmad’s opinion on a particular matter is wrong and that Imam al-Shafi’i’s view is closer to the truth, then he must go with al-Shafi’i on that matter, not Ahmad. That is not to say that he may not follow Ahmad’s opinions on any other matter.
If a follower of al-Shafi’i, for instance, places his confidence in this madh-hab and he is not aware of any error in the Imam’s reasoning on any particular issue, then he may not be blamed for following him, even if in this case he is incorrect.
It is permissible for an ordinary person to follow any madh-hab he likes if he is not capable of discovering knowledge for himself, or if he is illiterate, but he must not
Therefore, only he is rewarded for that even if he was mistaken, and those who have no knowledge are not rewarded if they speak without knowledge. The Prophet said, “The scholar who makes a reasoned decision (ijtihad) and is correct will receive two rewards, while he who does so and is incorrect will receive one reward”.
become fanatical about the opinions of his madh-hab when it is made clear to him that a more correct position lies elsewhere. It is due on those educated men of religion to inform the ordinary persons of this fact. Then, there is no harm done when ordinary believers innocently follow a wrong opinion of one of their Imams, so long as they are not aware of it, and so long as their intention is to place the word of Allah and His Messenger above that of the madh-hab and the Imam. If not, then they will become like those who said, “And when it is said to them, ‘Follow what Allah has revealed,’ they say, ‘We rather follow what we found our fathers doing.’ What if their fathers had no sense in anything and were not guided right?” (2:170
(63) Bukhari, 7100.
(64) The scholar has the right to try his best with the knowledge he has to search for the truth.