Assalamualykum. Hope you are well?
Is a believer allowed to change his/her midhab(eg goes from hanafi school of thought to shafi school of thought).
I have heard of people changing their midhab because they joined a particular group etc..
Is this sinful if one changes their midhab.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
On the outset, the necessity of Taqleed (following one Madhab) should be clear. Had Taqleed not been constricted to only one school of thought, the general masses would conveniently practice on only the easiest rulings of each school. At times, this would lead them to abandon all four schools concurrently on one act. This would inevitably lead to contradictions and errors and will ultimately lead to introducing a new school which is based on carnal desires and opposes the practices of our pious predecessors.
A famous example given is, that suppose a person performs wudu, and thereafter gets cut on his finger which causes him to bleed. According to the Hanafi ‘Ulama,, his wudu is broken, whereas according to the Shafi’ ‘Ulama his wudu is still intact. In order to avoid making wudu, he takes the Shafi’ view on this matter. This man then touches his wife with desire; according to the Shafi’ opinion his wudu is broken, whereas according to the Hanafi school of thought his wudu is still perfect. Seeing that the Hanafi view is easier on this issue, he chooses to follow that school of thought. He thereafter consumes camel meat which nullifies his wudu according to the Hanbali School. He finds that there is more ease in following the view of those who say that camel meat does not invalidate one’s wudu and therefore chooses to follow their view. Thereafter, he stands up to perform prayers. It is clear that according to the vast majority of Scholars his prayer will not be valid. His worship will be based more on human ego rather than Qur’an and Hadith and his entire deen will be unsystematic. The prohibition of following one’s ego is emphatically prohibited in the Qur’an and Hadith. Consider the following verses:
أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ أَفَأَنْتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِ وَكِيلًا
Tell me about the one who has taken his desire as his god, would you then, become a guardian for him?(Al-Furqan 43)
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَى سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَى بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَنْ يَهْدِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ اللَّهِ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
So, have you seen him who has taken his desires as his God, and Allah has let him go astray, despite having knowledge, and has sealed his ear and his heart, and put a cover on his eye? Now who will guide him after Allah? Still, do you not take lesson? (Al-Jathiya 23)
Mufti Taqi Usmani, a senior contemporary scholar mentions, “Some people follow at one time an imam who holds the marriage invalid, and at another time they follow a jurist who holds it valid. They do so only to serve their individual purpose and satisfy their desires. Such a practice is impermissible according to the consensus of all the imams.” (Contemporary Fatawaa, P328).
It is precisely for this reason that Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (may Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) stated, “Our deen is systemized through taqlid.” (Ashraf al-Jawab, 161)
One should follow the Madhab that is predominant on one’s area or country, making it is easy to learn the laws and acquire knowledge from the scholars. As mentioned, one must follow a particular madhab then remain steadfast on that madhab and concentrate on acquiring the knowledge of that particular madhab.
In reply to your query, one should not change one’s Madhab without a real need. Joining a particular group doesn’t seem to require one to change the Madhab. Yes, in the case where one migrates to another country etc. and there it is difficult to learn, query about one’s Madhab, then it is allowed to adopt the Madhab of that area.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mufti Arshad Ali
Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)