I was born a Shafi’i. However due to lack of Shafi’i schools in my city, I was unable to study my Madhhab accordingly. I had no choice but to learn the Hanafi method of Salaah etc. so I have been following the Hanafi madhhab, but it’s difficult as my family is all Shafi’i.
I feel guilty for leaving the Shafi’i madhhab. Is there anyway I can return again and follow the Shafi’i madhhab? What would the implications be?
Islamic Fiqh Madhhabs are a means to an end, which is to worship Allah Almighty and obey Him in a sound, proper and pleasing manner. As such, what Madhhab one follows should be determined by which Madhhab one can:
1. Learn soundly (through book and, ideally, scholars);
2. Get one’s questions answered most easily;
3. Feels an intellectual or heart-felt inclination towards.
Secondary considerations (though far less important than the above) are one’s cultural background, one’s environment, and the like. Therefore, it in not necessary for one to follow the Madhhab that his/her family follows.
In the light of the above, there is nothing wrong in you following the Hanafi Madhhab and not the Shafi’i, as the Hanafi Madhhab is more easily accessible to you. You may remain a Hanafi and follow it in all matters of Fiqh, such as Salat, Zakat, fasting, Haj, Business, etc…
However, due to the shortage of people who know the Shafi’i Madhhab well (especially in the Asian community), it would be better that we have Muslims (males & females) who study the Shafi’i Madhhab and be a guidance for others, and also ensure that others do not have to leave the Madhhab of their family, which can prove to be difficult at times.
In principle, one may follow any Madhhab. However, the practical reality is that one should learn a Madhhab and then focus on acting upon it, outwardly and inwardly, and using this as a means of developing one’s relationship with Allah through love, submission, and devotion.
And Allah Knows Best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK