When I was 10/11 I used to pray in both hanafee mosque and shafaee mosque as both were around 200 meters from house in opposite directions.

Since as a layman I dont know which madhab to choose. Are the people who say adhering to a madhab is obligatory for layman, are inadvertently asking me to do ijtehad and choose a madhab?

  • I wonder, do we really have to chose a madhhab?. Why can't we just be a Muslim and follow our beloved prophet ﷺ instead of giving ourselves a label. what I do not understand is how can following a madhhab become obligatory?. Our obligations are laid out and pretty clear but I am not aware that following a madhhab is an obligation. Please correct me if I am wrong. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 9:16
  • Ahmad nazeem, Only Allah can obligate things. If humans legislate they are equating themselves to Allah Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 10:14
  • 1
    The terms ijtihad and layman cannot coexist. Because a layman can't do ijtihad and isn't allowed to do it because simply he hasn't the means for it. Your inquiry ia already adressed in different posts on the site, duscussing the topic of ijtihad and taqleed.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 20:28
  • @Medi1saif The common sahaba did ijtehad and referred back to imam .Two persons set out on a journey. Meanwhile the time of prayer came and they had no water. They found water after tayammum within the time of prayer. One of them repeated the Wudhoo’ and prayer but the other did not repeat. Then they came to prophet, and related the matter to him. Addressing himself to the one who did not repeat, he said: “You followed the Sunnah and your prayer was enough for you.” He said to the one who repeated: “For you there is double reward.” [Abu Daawood, An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah. Saheeh Hadeeth] Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 10:05

2 Answers 2


Assalamoalikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Well, the thing is that there are different opinions that say that the Prophet (PBUH) used to do this and others say that he used to do that. For example, in the Hanafi Fiqh, the rafayadain is not done except one time at the start, If one raises their hands at their ears and says Allahu Akbar while doing so, the prayer breaks. So the Hanafis only touch their hands at their ears at the start of the prayer. While in Sha'fi and Hanbali Fiqh It is necessary to perform the Rafayadain (raise hands above the ears) every time you say, Allahu Akbar. Why? because the Hanafis say that the Prophet (PBUH) did not perform the Rafayadain except for certain prayers while the Malikis and the Hanbalis say that the Prophet (PBUH) always performed the Rafayadain in all his prayers.

What should you, as a layman do?

Choose any Fiqh you find easy to follow because all of them have their own differences.

As for the prayers in Mosques, all 4 Fiqhs have the opinion that despite whatever Fiqh you follow you can pray behind an Imam that follows another Fiqh. For example, If you are Hanafi, you can pray behind a Hanbali Imam and vice versa. That's what happens at Masjid Al Haram because all Imams are Hanbali to the best of my knowledge. The Imam's method of prayer won't affect your prayer. Because at this time and date, It is impossible to determine what was the exact way the Prophet (PBUH) used to pray, etc. thus, you may follow any Fiqh and your prayer will be valid. As whatever the Fiqh you follow is the representation of what the Fiqh's Imam researched and thought the way of Prophet (PBUH) and the Sahaba of doing things was. It may have mistakes, as they were humans but all of them are the best representation of the Prophet (PBUH)'s sunnah, and you don't have to worry about which Fiqh does a certain thing right and which does it wrong, because 1, I or you cannot reach the wisdom of the Fiqh Imams because they were closer to the times of Sahaba and were more knowledgeable than any modern scholar, and 2, what matters is your intention, your way of praying does not matter at this point because whatever Fiqh you follow you will indirectly by following the sunnah of Prophet (PBUH) because none of them is the exactly the same and none of them is completely different from it.

Fiqhas (Sets of Jurisprudence in Islam) are like different rides, you can choose any ride you'd like to go through your journey in the path of Allah (SWT). No ride is the best ride while no ride is the worst, choose the one you please.

  • Your divorce example is very wrong. The four schools (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali) consider 3 divorces to be 3 (regardless of the time interval between them), it is only the Salafis who consider 3 divorces (at one time) to equal 1. No one requires a husband to give 9 divorces.
    – UmH
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 15:57
  • Closer to sahaba and yet abu hanifa said prayer for rain is innovation Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 19:06
  • Maliki's actually handle rafa' al-Yadayn similarly to Hanafi's. I don't know what's the source of your information, but it doesn't seem good. Shafi'i's and Hanabali's deviate and follow some hadith literally.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 20:25
  • @UmH Salafis in itself is not a Fiqh, Salafism is an aqeeda which in essence is to follow not more than the Prophet (PBUH) and the Sahaba and eliminate any Bid'ah, Salafis themselves follow one or another Fiqh from the 4.
    – user44632
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 22:26
  • @Medi1Saif It is not suitable for us to call Shafi'is and Hanabali's or any other Muslim at all deviants. The 4 Imams decided something, that's it, follow it. Wallahi those people that say one Imam is a hypocrite and the other is better are backbiters without knowledge. All Fiqh Imams are right in their own way and It is not the job of any layman or even a Mufti to decide about them but with complete knowledge. Until you are a Muhaddith or a person with great knowledge, anyone of our time is nowhere near deciding if one Imam is deviant or not. Follow who you like but don't disrespect.
    – user44632
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 22:30


you have misunderstood ijtihaad. Ijtihaad is trying to work out the legal ruling for a new situation that has arisen - for example, is crypto halal, is dropshipping allowed, can you pay Zakat with an NFT, how do you pray salah in space etc.

only a person with a thorough understanding of the current rulings of islam, along with the reasons behind them, could extrapolate to find out the ruling for a new scenario. such a person is called a mujtahid and has done ijtihaad.

you are just picking a madhab - any will do - but it's best to stick to the one your family follows, so you dont get confused.

the reason for following a madhab is to avoid tashahee - or following of the desires. those that do not follow madhabs, pick and choose the rulings most convenient for them, and therefore, are really just following their whims.

May Allah guide and support you in making the right choice and keep you firm once you have chosen a madhab,.

  • How does a child who has both parents dead pick one? Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 12:01

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