Contents > Chapter 12: The Deobandi’s Understanding of Taqleed > Analyzing the statement, ‘All the Four Imams are upon the Truth.’


Analyzing the Deobandi Claims and Condition of Taqleed

Analyzing the statement, ‘All the Four Imams are upon the Truth.’

Whilst it is claimed that all the four Madhhabs are on the Truth, the Deobandis do not treat other than the Hanafee Madhhab as something beneficial or as a source of guidance. This can be clearly seen from the following examples,


(1) The Deobandi Bias for the Hanafee Madhhab

The Deobandis claim that all the four Madhhabs are upon the truth, yet they show an overwhelming bias towards the Hanafee Madhhab, rather this is a condition as mentioned in “Majlis-e-Shoorah ki Hai’at-e-Tarkibiya’, clause (12)”: - “It shall be necessary for all members to be of the Hanafee Madhhab.”[1]


Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi mentions in Imdadul-Mushtaq ila Ashraful-akhlaq (Urdu) saying no.1, p.36, “He (Imdadullah Muhajir Makki) used to say that Fakir is the one, who is a follower of the Hanafee Madhhab and Sufi in practice, if anyone from amongst my acquaintances exceeds this, he will have not gained from my acquaintance or relation. And anyone who is sincere to this Fakir (i.e. himself) must be a Hanafee by Madhhab and Sufi in practice.” 


(2) Taqleed of a single individual from the Muslim Nation

The follower of one Imam has to follow him in all affairs and cannot follow the rulings of another Imam, even though the claim is that all the Imams are upon the truth. It is mentioned in Kitabul-Eemaan (p.72-74), “Trifling therewith by flitting from one Madhhab to another spells the ultimate ruin of one’s Eemaan.”


The Actions that ruin one’s Eemaan are those of Batil (falsehood) like actions of Shirk, Bidah or major sins. Then, how can it be claimed that the other Madhhabs are upon the Haqq, when acting upon them has the same effect as acting upon the Batil. Furthermore, a person cannot change the Madhhab that he inherits from his father, unless he is someone who had exemplary scholarship in all the Madhhab, and even then he has to completely convert from one Madhhab to another!


(3) What Validates the Prayer of the Shafi’ee’s invalidates the Prayer of the Hanafees

The bigotry and intolerance of the Deobandis can be seen in the following Fatawa by Mufti Lajpuri, which shows that if a Hanafee follows even a minor action of the Shafi’ee’s in his prayer, his prayer would be invalidated…


Question: I belong to the Hanafee Madhhab and teach in a school belonging to the Shafi’ee Madhhab. Sometimes, I lead the loud-toned prayer; so will there be any fault if after the Soorah al-Fatihah in deference to my Shafi’ee followers in prayer, I pause so much that in that time they may quickly recite the Soorah al-Fatihah and then begin the other Soorah?

Answer: Such delay (in joining the Soorah to the Soorah al-Fatihah) for a Hanafee Imam is not proper; it is forbidden. Such prayer will be defective and will have to be said afresh; prostration for lapse will also not be sufficient, for in the case in question delay has been caused deliberately.[2]


(4) Following the Other Madhhab is a Punishable Offence

“If someone is a Hanafee and becomes a Shafi’ee, then his witness will not be accepted”[3]


“When a person switches from one Madhhab to another Madhhab, he shall be inflicted with Ta’zeer.” (Durrul Mukhtar) Ta’zeer refers to punishment meted out by an Islamic court. Such punishment may either be flogging or imprisonment.”[4]


In light of this punishment, differences between the Madhhabs are a source of hardship and not mercy, as the Deobandis claim based on the fabricated narration, “The disagreement among my Ummah is a mercy.’


(5) Comparing the differences of the Madhhabs to the Differences amongst the Prophets

A Muslim as part of his faith (Eemaan) is supposed to believe in all the Prophets, whilst only following the Sharee’ah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). The Deobandis compare this to their present day concept of Taqleed of the Madhhabs, whereby the follower of one Madhhab considers all the Madhhab or Sufi Tareeqah to be the Truth, whilst following strictly his own Madhhab or Tareeqah.


Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi says in his Tafseer of, “And who believe in which has been sent down to you (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) and that which was sent down before you”, “...from this verse it will be inferred by Qiyas that one should have faith in all the Shaikhs, as one would have belief in one’s own Shaikh. However, the following (Ittiba) is (only) for one’s own Shaikh, and this is similar to the case of the Messengers (i.e. we believe in all the Messengers and consider their followers as Ahl al-Kitab, but are to follow our own Messenger).”[5]


The error in this Tafseer (explanation) by Moulana Ashraf Ali is obvious and apparent. The difference in the Sharee’ahs of the Prophets is because Allah, the Most Merciful, revealed them in this way. He prohibited something for a nation and permitted it for another. But for the Ummah of Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), he sent down one Sharee’ah – applicable to all whether an Imam or Shaikh or common man. And ‘Qiyas’ or comparison is done between like or similar situations.


From the above proofs, it is apparent that the sayings ‘All the four Madhhabs are on the Truth’ has no practical significance, and the Deobandis do not treat the teachings of the other Imams as something with Truth or guidance ought to be treated. Even if they acknowledge that the ruling of the other Madhhab is closer to the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, they do not deem it permissible to follow it, as Moulana Mahmoodul-Hasan Deobandi says “… justice in this issue is that the opinion of Imam Shafi’ee carries greater weight, but we are the Muqallids, it is obligatory upon us to follow Imam Abu Haneefah.” [Taqreer-e-Tirmizi p.39-40.]

[1] Dastur-e-Asasi-e-Darul Uloom Deoband, p.10.

[2] Fatawa Rahimiyyah, (Eng. Trans.) vol.1, p.125. (Kitaabus-Salaat).

[3] Durr Mukhtaar (Urdu Trans.), vol.3, p.297.

[4] Kitabul-Imaan p.73.

[5] Ashraf Ali Thanvi mentions this under the heading, “Masaail as-Salook” [The Rulings regarding the Path (of Soofism)], the Tafseer of Soorah al-Baqarah (2), verse 4, p.3, Tafseer Bayaan al-Qur’aan.