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Many times I hear people say (there are four ways to follow Islam) and many similar things, and that the four Madhahib (Al Malikiyah, Al Hanafiyah, Al Shafi'iyah, and Al Hanabalah) are these four ways the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon Him) showed for different practices. Now, the practices found in these Madhahib (not all) come from weak or fabricated Ahadeeth, for example the wiping the neck in wudu' according to the Hanafiyah, and putting the hands to the side in Salat, which most maliki's today do, and is not in accordance to the Muwatta' which says that:

The Prophet placed His hands right over left in salat

Muwatta' Malik

and there are many other examples from the other Madhahib. The fact is, is that there is one God, One Humanity, One religion, and one way to follow that religion. Now I am not saying that that one way doesn't have diverse ways, and more then one way to do things. It just isn't four for all the practices. An example of a practice that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon Him) did in two different ways is the Takbiratul Ihram, He raised His hand either to the length of His ears or His shoulders. So my question is What is the origin of the concept of there being four ways to do things?

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The concept originated in the first century. There was a theological division between Iraq(Hanifa) and Madina(Malik). They met at Hajj i believe. Over time, there students like Shafi' and Hanbal also deviated or added-on to their imam's concepts. Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Hejaz all eventually canonized these 4 imams and it was considered heresy to follow others. This happened prior even to Bukhari. We follow them to today, but it's not Farz.

and putting the hands to the side in Salat, which most maliki's today do, and is not in accordance to the Muwatta' which says that: The Prophet placed His hands over in salat

You don't understand Imam Malik's mindset. He didn't base most of his teachings on Hadith. He didn't really trust stories coming out of war-torn Iraq. Why are there only 100 Ahadith in his book? He based his Madhab on the Practices he saw with his own 2 eyes in Madina. They were the closest to the Prophet's teachings, not Hadith.

That hadith you said is narrarated from a Basran, an Iraqi. He was only passing on what he heard, not what he observed. Rhymes, right?

Source: almarjaan fi manaaqib abi haniefata an nu’man written by sheikh abu sallih ad damishqi as shaafiee

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Thank you for your answer, please add citations to back up your answer. Imam Malik based on the people of Madinah, His Muwatta' isn't really a Hadith book, but you can consider it as study notes, it contains not only Hadith but also sayings of Sahabahs. Also isn't all Ahadith what people heard, they first heard from the Prophet then passed it down. And again, your answer needs citations so it can be of the best of quality, and be backed up, please cite strong and reliable sources, not just any site from online. – مجاهد Feb 19 '13 at 20:32
Also, please check out the FAQ. And look around this site, especially the answers with lots of votes, they are Good examples of what answers should be, what they should contain and so on. – مجاهد Feb 19 '13 at 20:39
Imam Malik meets Abu Hanifa(English):… SOURCE: almarjaan fi manaaqib abi haniefata an nu’man written by sheikh abu sallih ad damishqi as shaafiee. – Ali Feb 19 '13 at 21:40
As I said, Muwatta only contains 100 Hadith, therefore, Malik didn't care much for Hadith. You shouldn't trust a Hadith simply because one person narrated it, that is Ahad. A Mutawattir Hadith is narrated by 10+ people, increasing it's validity. The Hadith you cite(in Muwatta) is Ahad in context. Do you need more citations? Also, Hamza Yusuf states that this is directly from Malik. Although he is a Mubtadee, he cites sources that prove his Maliki arguments. Salam. – Ali Feb 19 '13 at 21:47

It seems like you are asking a question which you already know the answer. Probably you are asking this to make sure everyone understand. First of all, there is no four ways, there is no definite limited to four Imams in Islam. There is no division in Islam as well. We strongly and strictly follow Allah's Quran and Prophet Mohammed's Sunnah. There were lots of scholars in our history and there will be more, but origin is Quran and Sunnah. No one should create any mathhab or deviation in Islam. If anyone differ from Islam purposely or mistakenly must be corrected and or ignored, simple is that.

Hope this answer helps, I am sure there are many can answer better.

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I am very glad that you answered, but I am sorry it does not answer my question. I know very well the answer, I know that there are no four ways, but what I do not know, what I am asking is the origin of this concept, where did this concept come from, because I hear it now and then, and I know it is wrong, but I am curious about where this saying/concept came from. – مجاهد Feb 19 '13 at 18:52

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