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HomeCritical QuestionsWhy Are There Madhhab In Islam?

Why Are There Madhhab In Islam?

The word ‘madhhab*1, which means in the dictionary, the place and the way to go, is defined in Islamic literature as a system of thought with its own unique approaches to understanding and interpreting the principles of belief or application provisions of religion.

Madhhabs in Islam differ from the madhhabs in other religions. Because the madhhabs in the religion of Islam have emerged to respond to the needs of the societies, not because of differences in belief, but because of the differences in how societies practice the details of religion. As a matter of fact, there is no difference in the principles of faith and the conditions of Islam in all madhhab. The reason for the existence of different madhhab emerged  from the differences of opinion on the details.

It should be emphasized that madhhabs  in Islam do not represent religions that differ from each other. The imams are not the founders of religion either. Madhhab imams are defined as mujtahids. Mujtahids, on the other hand, are scholars who interpret ambiguous verses and hadiths in a way that is not contrary to Islam and are qualified to find solutions on this issue. Madhhabs are also schools of thought that enable the understanding of the religion of Islam. The founders of the Madhhabs that emerged in the religion of Islam and the members of those madhhab have always approached each other with respect and supported the views of other Madhhabs. Muslims belonging to different madhhabs can easily pray behind each other, most of the time they may not even notice the difference between them.

The verses of the Quran and all of the madhhabs that refer to the practices of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) are correct. Question may be raised on how all the madhhabs which differ from each other in their details, can be just a truth based on the thesis. However, it is not only one truth . The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) sends two of his companions on an expedition. The two Companions perform their prayers with tayammum because they couldn’t find water during the journey. when they find water, one of them performs ablution and repeats the prayer while the other does not. On the way back   they asked the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which one of them did the right thing, the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says that both of their prayers are accepted.[1]

Muslim scholars have also explained this question through the example of water: Water receives five different provisions according to five different situations. It is wajib (obligatory) for a patient who has lost a significant amount of water to drink water. It is as harmful as poison to a patient who has just come out of surgery. It is medically haram (forbidden to him). Partially harmful to another patient thus drinking water is medically makruh (hated) for him. It gives harmless benefit to another person, medically it is sunnah(allowed) for him. It is neither harmful nor beneficial to another person. It is medically permissible for him. So the truth is more than one. All five are right.[2] As it is seen, it is logical to accept all madhhabs as correct in Islam.

Madhhabs differ in detail, not in basic issues. For example, there are no differences between  madhhabs in matters such as the principles of belief, obligatory prayers and the way they are practiced, but there are different interpretations between madhhabs for justified reasons in the way some religious provisions are implemented. For example, all madhhabs have agreed on the need to perform prayers with wudu and even wipe the head while making wudu. However, there are different interpretations regarding the style and amount of  wipe.

[*1] A madhhab is a school of thought within fiqh.


[1] Sunan Abi Dawud,           Purification, 126

[2] Badiuaman Said Nursi, 29th letter,9th part, Risal Al-Nur