Adhering to one of the four Imaams

Reference: Kitaabul-‘Ilm – Page 115, Question 14

Question: What is your advice to a beginner seeking knowledge – should he adhere to one of the four Imaams (i.e. Abu Haneefah, Maalik ibn Anas, ash-Shaafi’ee, Ahmad ibn Hanbal) or should he leave them?

Response: Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says:

{Then ask the People of Knowledge if you do not know}, [Soorah an-Nahl, Aayah 43 and Soorah al-Anbiyaa., Aayah 7].

So if the student is an absolute beginner, and [therefore] does not know how to extract the evidences [from their sources, i.e. the Qur.aan and the Sunnah], then there is nothing for him except to adhere to one of the [four] Imaams or any of the Imaams (major scholars) of today and ask him. This is best.

However, if he should find that [any particular] statement [of this Imaam] differs from the authentic hadeeth, then it is obligatory upon him to adhere to the authentic hadeeth [and in doing so, leave the statement of the Imaam].

He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Sharee'ah in 2004. He currently resides in Birmingham, UK.