Contents > Chapter 12: The Deobandi’s Understanding of Taqleed > Analyzing the Claim 1) Only these four Imams have the best compilation of all aspects of the Sharee'ah.


Analyzing the Claimed Benefits of Taqleed

(Claim - 1) Only these four Imams have the best compilation of all aspects of the Sharee’ah.


The Deobandis claim that only the four Imams have perfectly compiled all the different branches of the Sharee’ah and therefore they alone can be made Taqleed of. None has such a perfect compilation before them and no one will ever accomplish such a perfect compilation. They consider the compilations by the Imams to be more perfect than those by any of the Sahabah or the Tab’ieen. They dare to say, “We do not find such codification (of the branches of Islamic learning) either of the Sahabah or other Tab’ieen”[1]

They say that the four Imams are “the first and only Imams who gathered them (i.e. all branches of Islamic learning) in every detail”, after which there is no further need for Ijtihad. The only way for the scholars and the common people alike is Taqleed. But the Deobandis have never been able to keep up with this claim because there will always be a need for Ijtihad - abandoning Ijtihad is both impossible and impractical!




1. The Deobandis do not follow their Imam in all matters of Aqeedah

We have seen this in details in the discussions on Wahdat al-Wajood and Waseelah. So, the question is - does this perfect compilation also included Aqeedah, if yes then why do the Deobandis ascribe their Aqeedah (matters of belief) to those who came after Imam Abu Haneefah, like Abu Mansoor Maturidi? - It is mentioned in Fatawa Rahimiyyah, “In essentials and beliefs, they (the Deobandis) follow Imam Abul Hasan Ash’aree and Imam Abu Mansoor Maturidi; and in sub-principles Imam Abu Haneefah. They are initiates of the Chistiya, Naqshbandiya, Qadriyah and Soharwardiyah Sufi orders.”[2]


Does the perfect compilation of all branches of learning by Imam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullah) also include Tazkeeyah (spiritual purification and matters of the heart)? If yes… then why do the Deobandis ascribe themselves to Silsilahs formed much after the time of Imam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullah)?


2. The Deobandis follow those rulings by the students of Imam Abu Haneefah in which the students have ruled contrary to their Imams

The immediate students of Imam Abu Haneefah changed many of his rulings. They did not consider the opinion of Imam Abu Haneefah to be the last word. Imam Abu Haneefah never claimed that his compilation of Fiqh is better than those of any Sahabi or Taba’ie. In fact, he did not ask the people to blindly follow him.


Examples of the Deobandis giving precedence to the rulings of the students of the Imams can be found in the Fazaail-e-Aamaal itself. Like in the virtues of Ramadaan it is mentioned, for a Nafl (non-obligatory) Itikaf, the minimum time period should not be less than an entire day according to Imam Abu Haneefah. According to Imam Muhammad, there is no limit as to the minimum time period. Moulana Zakariyah supports the Fatawa (ruling) of Imam Muhammad ash-Shaybanee.[3]


Moulana Zakariyah says in the virtues of Ramadaan, “The well known opinion of Imam Abu Haneefah is that Laylatul-Qadr moves throughout the year, while another view is that it moves throughout the month of Ramadaan. His famous students, Imam Muhammad and Imam Abu Yusuf, however, were of the opinion that the night is fixed on one specific night which is unknown during the Holy Month.”[4]


“Imam Abu Haneefah stipulates that the Itikaf should be done in a Masjid, where the five daily prayers are said, where as according to Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ash-Shaybanee, any Masjid according to the Sharee’ah can be entered for Itikaf.”[5]


This attitude of the students of the Imams in changing the ruling when stronger proof is found is according to the teachings of the Imams. Imam Abu Haneefah (rahimahullah) said: “If a Hadeeth is found to be authentic, then that is my Madhhab.”[6]


3. The Deobandis forced to follow the other Imams

Following are two examples of the Deobandi’s following and acting upon the rulings of the other Imams.


(a) The period a wife has to wait for a missing husband: The ruling of the Hanafee Madhhab is as Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi says in Bahishti Zewar (part.10, p.244),

‘If a woman’s husband is absconding and it is not known whether he is dead or alive, then the woman cannot marry another person immediately but she should wait for him with the hope that he might come back. When she has waited so long that the age of the husband is presumed to be ninety years, now it will be decreed that he might have died by now, so if the woman is still young and also wants to marry someone else, she can do so after observing Iddat provided the absconding man has been declared as dead by a religious judge.” 


Mentioned in Malfoozat Hakimul-Ummat (A Collection of the Sayings of Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi) vol.8, p.37, “Once some one came to Ashraf Ali Thanvi and said, “The issue of Mafqood al-Khabr (missing husband) next to Imam Sahib (Imam Abu Haneefah) is a big problem (difficult).” He retorted saying, “Yes, there is a big problem. And the issue of Jihad mentioned in the Qur’aan has greater difficulty. So, remove this too from the Qur’aan.” (click to see the scanned image of this quote)


This saying of Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi shows how strongly he felt about abandoning any ruling of the Hanafee Madhhab, to the extent that he compared it to the abandoning of Jihad, which is an essential part of Islam with hundreds of texts in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah about its virtues, importance and rulings. Yet, the Deobandis of today have abandoned this ruling, which is part of ‘the perfect compilation.’


The Deobandis now follow the Madhhab of Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal which prescribes a waiting period of four years. As Mufti Abdur-Rahim Lajpuri says, in Fatawa Rahimiyyah:

“…and nowadays Hanafee jurists also… issue Fatawa as per Imam Malik’s Madhhab for a period of four years.[7]


(b) Using Zakaat money for religious Madrasas: According to the Hanafee Madhhab, the money from Zakaat cannot be paid to finance religious Madrasas (schools). This stems from the prohibition in the Hanafee Madhhab for charging money for teaching the Qur’aan. These rulings have caused a big problem for the Hanafee-Deobandis in running their Madrasas. Whilst they cannot abandon the Hanafee Madhhab on these issues, they have formulated ways by which they can go around these restrictions. They give huge sums of money as Zakaat to the poor and Zakaat-deserving students of their Madrasas, who in turn are expected to give this money back to the Madrasa as charity (Sadaqah). Therefore, the restriction of their Madhhab in not using Zakaat money for these Madrasas is upheld, whilst money collected in the form of Zakaat is used indirectly to run these Madrasas. Mufti Abdul Rahim Lajpuri has been asked about the permissibility of this method and he has ruled it to be permissible provided the poor students do not do it out of compulsion. This is mentioned in Fatawa Rahimiyyah (vol. 2, Fatawa no. 4, p. 7).



The above examples shatter the myth of ‘the perfect compilation.’ Firstly, the Deobandi’s Taqleed is limited only to matters of Fiqh. Secondly, we have seen that not only do the Deobandis accept the rulings that are contrary to those of Imam Abu Haneefah by his students, but also prefer to act upon them. At times, they are even forced to follow the Madhhab of the other Imam. We have also seen how the Deobandis play around with the Fiqh of their own Imam to fulfill their selfish needs. Then why the same courtesy cannot be extended to the other Imams and their students so that this unnecessary division of the Muslims can come to an end.

[1] Quoted from the article, “The Sharee’ah role of Taqleed” and “Why should Taqleed be made of one of the four Imams” by Mufti Mahmood Hassan Gangohi - Published in Awake (Jan/Feb 1996), by YMMA, South Africa.

[2] Fatawa Rahimiyyah (Eng. Trans.) p.58.

[3] Fazaail-e-Aamaal, (Eng. Trans.), Virtues of Ramadaan, Chapter.3, p.65, (Edt. 1985, Published by Dini Book Depot - Delhi).

[4] Fazaail-e-Aamaal, (Eng. Trans.), Virtues of Ramadaan, Chapter.2, p.60, (Edt. 1985, Published by Dini Book Depot - Delhi).

[5] Fazaail-e-Aamaal, (Eng. Trans.), Virtues of Ramadaan, Chapter.3, p.67, (Edt. 1985, Published by Dini Book Depot - Delhi).

[6][6] Related by Ibn Aabideen in al-Haashiyah (1/63)and also in Rasmul-Muftee (1/4).

[7] Fatawa Rahimiyyah, Part.2, p.112 (Regulation regarding the missing husband).