SAYINGS OF THE IMAMS ON THE PRECEDENCE OF FOLLOWING THE SUNNAH
From sifatus salaat an Nabi (ﷺ) by Sheikh Al Albaani (رحمه الله)
1⃣ ABU HANEEFAH (رحمه الله)
The first of them is Abu Haneefah Nu’maan ibn Thaabit, whose companions have narrated from him various sayings and diverse warnings, all of them leading to one thing: the obligation to accept the Hadeeth, and to give up following the opinions of the Imaams which contradict it:
1. “When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab.”
2. “When I say something contradicting the Book of Allaah the Exalted or what is narrated from the Messenger (ﷺ), then ignore my saying.”
2⃣ MAALIK IBN ANAS (رحمه الله)
As for Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, he said:
1. “Truly I am only a mortal: I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions: all that agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, accept it; and all that does not agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it.”
2. “Everyone after the Prophet (ﷺ) will have his sayings accepted and rejected – not so the Prophet (ﷺ).”
3⃣ SHAAFI’I (رحمه الله)
As for Imaam Shaafi’i, the quotations from him are most numerous and beautiful, and his followers were the best in sticking to them:
1. “The Muslims are unanimously agreed that if a sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) is made clear to someone, it is not permitted for him to leave it for the saying of anyone else.”
2. “If you find in my writings something different to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ), then speak on the basis of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ), and leave what I have said.”
4⃣ AHMAD IBN HANBAL (رحمه الله)
Imaam Ahmad was the foremost among the Imaams in collecting the Sunnah and sticking to it. Because of this, he said:
1. “The opinion of Awzaa’i, the opinion of Maalik, the opinion of Abu Haneefah: all of it is an opinion, and it is all equal in my eyes. However, the proof is in the narrations (from the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions).”
2. “Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) is on the brink of destruction.”
These are the clear, lucid sayings of the Imaams (رحمهم الله) about sticking to the Hadeeth and forbidding the following of their opinion without clearly visible evidence, such that mere opinion and interpretation is not acceptable.
Hence, whoever adhered to whatever of the Sunnah that was proved authentic, even if it opposed some of the Imaams’ sayings, he would not be conflicting with their madhhab, nor straying from their path; rather, such a person would be following all of them and would be grasping the most trustworthy hand-hold, which never breaks.
However, this would not be the case with the one who abandoned any of the authentic Sunnah simply because it contradicted their views; nay, such a person would be being disobedient to them and opposing their above-mentioned sayings, while Allaah (ﷻ) says:
فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا۟ فِىٓ أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا۟ تَسْلِيمًا
But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.
May Allaah (ﷻ) have mercy on us and guide us through the straight path.
آمين يا رب العالمين