[This question has been asked and seeking answers from Sunni or Ahlus Sunnah perspective]

Assalamu 'Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.

This is a very hot and one of the most heavily debated issue in the current Muslim World. I have no intention to ignite the fuel anew or start some kind of battle, but I'm curious to know - Are Muslims required to adhere to one and only one specific School of Thought? Is it really obligatory for them? What is the importance of adhering to a specific School? Are other Schools wrong, given that the fatwas and masaails related to certain important topics differ from one School to the other?

Also, nowadays, most, if not all, Salafis and non-denominational Muslims talk heavily of abandoning Schools of Thought, and say like, "The identity is Muslim and only Muslim - not Hanafi, nor Shafi'i, nor Maliki, nor Hambali, nor Sunni, nor Shi'a.". Is this statement of theirs okay? To some extent, they blame the Schools of Thought of creating discord and destroying unity and harmony among the Muslim Ummah. How much justified is this fact?

A humble request: I expect honest, unbiased and sober answers pertaining to the standards of Islamic etiquette. Please don't show any kind of hostility, grudge, bias or offense in your answers. Wassalam.

  • I wanted to have my take on your answer but I noticed the 'Sunni' tag. What does it that indicate? Do you expect answer only from Sunni perspective? I don't see how can one perspective be free from bias, considering the nature of your question.
    – infatuated
    Dec 10, 2014 at 7:10
  • 1
    @infatuated Assalamu 'Alaikum. Actually, this has nothing to do with bias or grudge, rather its a matter of perspective. I want an answer from Sunni perspective. Sorry if it indicates any kind of offense. By bias, I meant no answer should be biased towards groups or schools within Sunni. Anyways, I edited my question, maybe this will clear things up in Shaa Allah. Wa 'Alaikumus Salam. Dec 10, 2014 at 7:25
  • Alaikum Assalaam. Alright! No problem! However a Sunni answer would evidently dismiss any school outside the four recognized schools of jurisprudence within Sunnism.
    – infatuated
    Dec 10, 2014 at 10:53

3 Answers 3


First we need differentiate between belief schools and jurisprudence schools.

Belief Schools/Sects (Major only):

  • Sunni
  • Shi'a

Jurisprudence Schools: (Sunni only)

  • Malki
  • Hanify
  • Shafai
  • Hanbali

You need to only follow one belief school. There are differences between recognized sources for each of the belief schools which lead to differences in rulings as well.

You are allowed to follow any of the recognized sources or schools of jurisprudence by Sunni's. It's not obligatory to follow one specific school.


  • While the major sunni schoools indeed are hanafi, maliki, shafi'i and hanbali you didn't mention any shi'a school of jurisprudence! The Ja'fari madhab is a shi'a jurisprudence school and the dhairi school is a sunni school which still exists beside this we have the ibadi sect which one could also mention here.
    – Medi1Saif
    Sep 25, 2017 at 7:13

Wa alaykum salam.

That is mostly depend on the personal idea. The main disagreement between Sunni and Shia was a political struggle. Most of the founders of other thoughts weren't intend to create something new to divide people. They were scholars searching for the truth and had some ideas to solve detail problems. All of them were right at some points and actually they were trying to solve problems.

There is a saying: Being on the side of the king more than the king himself. The people thought that some scholars were more right than the others, so the others should be wrong, thus should be condemned. They may actually be wrong, but that wasn't their intention, they were humans after all. Its like being a fanatic of a football team. They play and you fight.

There are also teachings of some scholars which makes some regular Muslims think false about each other. For example, I heard from a Shia, that Sunnis were on the side of Muawiyah, thus he was very hateful with Sunnis. I don't know about others, but in a Turkish Sunni Teaching, we were told that Ali(ra) was right on that issue. Also in Turkey, there are news on tv occasionally that Iran Shiites are cursing the first 3 caliphs during salat etc. So many people believe such things.

There is an issue in Islamic Societies named takfeer. It means that you are claiming somebody isn't a real Muslim, but a Mushrikh. Although it is very dangerous according to a hadith, there are so many scholars and sheikhs making this act constantly.

I think that the problem is this: The most of the Muslim world is so uneducated, so intolerant that they can't live with the fact that they may be wrong. Or from ordinary person's side, his/her sheikh can't be wrong. So many people see their spiritual leaders as infallible, can't be wrong, all honest.

As for your answer, the people of the kind which see his/her sheikh or scholar is infallible, would answer you that it is obligatory. Because according to their view, ordinary people can't understand Quran, thus shouldn't think with their minds. They should follow the one true leader. Who is this man? Whoever speaks parallel with their prejudged minds.

There is a group of people who claims that Muslims shouldn't be divided and their claim is based on this verse:

Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects - you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do. (Surat Al-'An`ām 6/159)

They will tell you that there shouldn't be sects at all.

Also there is a group claiming there may be different opinions/sects about a problem, and you can follow whichever you want according to your need. You can also change your attitude with the change of your need. For example, eating sea products is considered as haram in some sects, and halal in some sects. According to these people, you shouldn't eat them as a safety precaution. But if there is no other thing to eat, you can eat them.

As you see, its all about personal opinions and beliefs.


It is obligatory to follow a learnt scholar...In absence of learnt scholar, you must obey a fixed mazhab because the rulings are consistent...You are in no position to make up rulings reading mazhabs and filtering them out as you see fit, so it is more close to guidance that you follow a mazhab.

  • 1
    Please reference your proof to "you must obey a fixed mazhab because the rulings are consistent". From my understanding you can pick any ruling as you want from any scholar as long as you believe it to be right.
    – user12537
    May 2, 2015 at 13:04
  • "From my understanding you can pick any ruling as you want".... and what proof you got? it seems more like a whim May 2, 2015 at 19:38
  • In Islam everything is Halal unless you have a proof to show it as not.
    – user12537
    May 2, 2015 at 21:17
  • from where did you get this? Jurists disagreed on this issue, you are claiming it as general view of Islam... May 3, 2015 at 8:04
  • @cssguyLearner there are so many counterexamples ibn Daqiq al 'id ابن دقيق العيد is a known Shafi'i and Maliki scholar! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Daqiq_al-%27Id Ibn 'abd al-Barr ابن عبدالبر was a former Zahiri who became maliki and used to work as a qadi where he often used to prefere the shafi'i school en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_%27Abd_al-Barr
    – Medi1Saif
    Aug 11, 2015 at 12:27

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