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Imam A'zam Abu Hanifa (alaihir rahmah), Imam Maalik (alaihir rahmah), Imam Shaafi (alaihir rahmah) and Imam Ahmed bin Hambal (alaihir rahmah) are the leaders of the four schools of Fiqh (Islamic Law).

"FIQH" is the Science of Islamic Law or Jurisprudence. It refers to the collection and compilation of Islamic laws based on the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of Sayyiduna Rasulullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). These great Muslims devoted themselves to the task of developing the science of understanding Islamic Law and its practise.

Although they differed from each other, all the four great Imams had great respect for each other. They were all teachers and pupils of each other for the common goal of enhancing their knowledge about Islam. All of them were unanimous on Aqa'ids (Islamic Beliefs). We, as Muslims, must respect the different Sunni schools of thought.

In this present time, the Muslims are confronted by the Fitna (mischief) of the "Ghair Muqallids" or the proponents of "non-Madhabbism", that is, those who do not believe in the four Imaams. In order to warn the youth, who generally fall prey to the non-Madhabbites, the Noble Ulema have written thousands of authentic books over the last fourteen centuries in which they have explained the importance of following one of the four Imaams.

Due to the absence of such learned Ulema and scholars who can derive Islamic solutions by themselves from the Holy Quran and Hadith alone, today, it is Wajib (compulsory) for us to follow one of the four Imaams - Imaam Nu'man bin Thaabit Imaam-e- Azam Abu Hanifa, Imaam Maalik bin Anas, Imaam Muhammad bin Abu Abdullah Idrees Shafa'i and Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (alaihir rahmah). These four Imaams are the founders of the four schools of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), namely Hanafi, Maaliki, Shafi'i and Hambali, respectively.

It is also very important for each one of us to make Taqleed, that is, to follow our respective Imaam and act on his Ijtihad (consensus) and Fatawa (Islamic Decrees). The great Ulema have stated that those who do not follow any one of the four Imaams is Gumrah (misled) because the knowledge and spirituality of understanding the Holy Quran and Hadith in its proper context has been bestowed upon them by Almighty Allah, and such understanding and knowledge of the Holy Quran is not found in anyone today. Thus, for the Ummah to gain proper guidance and salvation, it is necessary for us to make one of them your Imaam, and to follow them. Almighty Allah says in the Quran-e-Majeed: "O People! Ask the men of knowledge if you know not". (Surah Nahl: Verse 43)

It is also not permissible for a Muslim to follow different Imaams to suite his or her own personal needs. In other words, one cannot follow Imaam-e-Shafa'i (alaihir rahmah) in one mas'ala (law) and then following Imaam Abu Hanifa (alaihir rahmah) in another mas'ala. The proper method would be to follow one's own Imaam in all Laws of Shariah. It must also be remembered that the differences of opinion of the Imaams should not be confused with the difference of belief between the Ahle Sunnah Wa Jamaah and the other sects. The difference of opinion of the Imaams, is only in certain Masa'il-e-Far'iya (Laws of Fiqh) and not in Aqa'id-e-Asliya (Laws concerning Belief). None of the Imaams differ when it comes to Aqa'id-e-Asliya.

We make D'ua that Almighty Allah through the Wasila of Nabi Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) grant us the Taufeeq to be steadfast on the path of the Ahle Sunnah. Ameen.