‘When a Hadith is authentic, abide by it and leave my opinion.’
I heard from someone that the above statement was issued by Imam Abu Hanifah to Imam Abu Yusuf, and Imam Shafi’i to Al Rab’i, and Imam Ahmad to his son Abdullah, and Imam Malik to Ibnul Qasim (rahimahumullah), but some laymen of today understand it to be directed to themselves too.
Is this true?
Several of the Imams of Fiqh (Jurisprudence) have been authentically reported to have said this to their respective students.
Like you have heard from the person in your question, this was not directed towards the layman, who is completely ill-equipped to deduce laws of Islam from the Quran and Hadith.
This statement was directed by the Imams (rahimahumullah) to their own students who were known to these Imams to be qualified enough for this task.
These high ranking students of the Imams -by virtue of their lengthy companionship with their teachers- would’ve had a full idea of what was the methodology of their teachers, coupled with the fact that the teachers were aware of the level of understanding of these selected students. It is therefore very logical for the teachers to task such well trained students with this responsibility.
For the layman to even think that this instruction was directed to him is absolutely ludicrous!
Can anyone today even dare to compare themselves with these high ranking students mentioned in your question; Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Rabi’, Imam Ibnul Qasim and Imam ‘Abdullah ibnul Imam Ahmad (rahimahumullahu jami’an)?!
We should avoid being entrapped by certain contemporaries who beguile the innocent layman into believing that this instruction was directed to anyone and everyone!
For more, see: Atharul Hadith of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah, pg.58-79.
For a detailed explanation to this in English, refer to the book: ‘Who are the Blind followers?’ pg. 95. Download it from here.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar