Is there any Hadith relating to following a madhab?
The concept of following someone more knowledgeable than one’s self is proven from the Holy Quran. Allah Ta’ala mentions:
1) ‘So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know’
(Surah Nahl verse: 43, Surah Ambiya verse: 7)
2) ‘Say, can those with knowledge be equal to those who do not have knowledge’?
(Surah Zumar verse: 9)
These verses prove that there will always be two categories of people; those who know, and those who don’t. The latter is duty bound to refer to the former too.
From the Hadith
1) When Rasulullah (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) sent Sayyiduna Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radiyallahu ‘anhu) to Yemen he asked him, how will you pass a judgement if some issue comes up? Sayyiduna Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, I will judge in accordance to the book of Allah Ta’ala. Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) then asked him, if you don’t find a judgement in the Quran? He replied, then I will judge in accordance to the Sunnah of Allah’s Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked again, and what if you do not find a judgement there too? Sayyiduna Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, then I will form an independent judgment based on my own opinion (ijtihad). Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was happy with this reply and said, all praise is due to Allah who has inspired the messenger of the messenger of Allah (to say the correct thing).
(Tirmzi Hadith: 1227, Musnad Ahmad vol. 5 pg. 230 with slight variation in the wording)
The above Hadith shows that Rasulullah (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) approved of the people of Yemen making ‘taqlid’ of Sayyiduna Mu’adh (radiyallahu ‘anhu) and following his view, which was based on his ijtihad (analogical deduction)
2) Sayyiduna Abu Sa’id Khudri (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhu wa sallam) once saw some Sahabah hesitating to come forward into the saff (row) for salah, Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to them, come forward and follow me, those after you should follow you...
(Sahih Muslim Hadith: 438)
The commentators explain that this Hadith does not apply to Salah only, rather it applies to all of Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam’s) actions. He (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) clearly stated that those after you should follow you, proving ‘taqlid’.
(Sharhul Ubbi ‘ala Sahih Muslim vol. 2 pg. 230, Al Mufhim vol. 2 pg. 66)
Sahabah and Tabi’un making taqlid
1) Ikrimah (rahimahullah) narrates that the people of Madinah, during Hajj once asked Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallahu ‘anhu) about a particular ruling. After receiving an answer from him, they said : ‘We will not practice upon your ruling and leave the ruling given by Zayd bin Thabit (radiyallahu ‘anhu).
(Sahih Bukhari Hadith: 1758)
The above narration shows Sahabah also approved ‘taqlid’. The people of Madinah were muqallids (followers) of Sayyiduna Zaid (radiyallahu’anhu) and therefore refused to change their action from his verdict. Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas didn’t object to this either.
2) Ibn Shihab Az Zuhri (rahimahullah) once said to his student Yunus bin Yazid Al Ayli, ‘Obey me and make wudu after consuming anything that was cooked or heated with fire’. His student replied, ‘ I will not obey you and leave out the view of Sa’id ibn Al Musayyab (rahimahullah), Zuhri (rahimahullah) kept quiet and did not retaliate.
(At Tamhid vol. 3 pg. 336/7 Taken from Atharul Hadithi Sharif fi Ikhtilafil A’immatil Fuqaha, by Al-Muhaddith Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah)
If making ‘taqlid’ and following someone was incorrect, Ibn Shihab Az Zuhri (rahimahullah) would have never kept silent!
The aforementioned verses of the Noble Quran and narrations illustrate that a person has to follow someone more knowledgeable than himself, every human being does not have the capacity to deeply understand the Quran and Hadith, thus making it necessary for us to follow those who do know.
For more details, kindly refer to books on this issue. See one such book here.
And Allah Ta’ala knows best
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar