SCHOOLS IN ISLAM
Schools referred to the teachings and opinions of various Islamic scholars on the matters of Islamic laws, spirituality and theology based on Al Quran and Al Hadith. In other words, the different view of various Islamic scholars on the various subject matters of Islam in the light of Al Quran and Al Hadith.
DO SCHOOLS DIVIDE MUSLIM COMMUNITY?
No. Some people misunderstand that the schools divide the unity of our Muslim community. In fact, it is not. It should be understood that Division and Difference are two different terms. Division means one party tries to eradicate another party and claiming that others are in misguidance except themselves. But Difference is another term. A same subject can be viewed in different angles by different persons. But still each respects other's point of view. This is called differences of opinions.
Differences among the schools in Islam are actually of enormous benefit to the Islamic world, rather than being damaging to it. Each scholar of different schools taught his own ijtihad (decision), but they never attempted to eradicate one another out of mutual hostility. Each scholar respected others.
Imam Abu Hanifah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: “Our thoughts consist of an opinion and are the best opinion we have. If someone else proposes a better opinion, then that one should be followed, rather than ours.”
As stated in the hadith, it is clear that a disagreement based on mutual respect will be a mercy and history confirms that this is indeed the case. The school’s disagreements were constructive, rather than destructive.
It was said that the beloved Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"Difference of opinion in my Community is a mercy for people"
♣ SCHOOLS OF JURISPRUDENCE (MADHAB)
WHAT IS MADHAB?
Madhab are the schools of Islamic Jurisprudence which are the opinions of great scholars of Islam based on Al Quran and Al Hadith. It is impossible for an illiterate to obtain the laws directly from Al Quran and Al Hadith for the critical issues or any new issues on Islamic jurisprudence. Since he does not possess that knowledge to do so. Thus, the Madhab are the explanations and laws written by the great scholars to resolve those issues.
There are four Madhab followed by Muslims worldwide. Those are :
1) The Hanafi school - Founded by Imam Abu Hanifah (May Allah be pleased with him)
2) The Maliki school - Founded by Imam Malik (May Allah be pleased with him)
3)The Shafi`i school - Founded by Imam al-Shafi`i (May Allah be pleased with him)
4) The Hanbali school - Founded by Imam Hanbal (May Allah be pleased with him)
WHICH MADHAB DO I WANT TO FOLLOW?
There is no compulsory in selecting a particular madhab. Generally a person can follow one out of the above mentioned madhabs. It is a personal choice. Generally, Muslims prefer to follow the madhab which is largely followed in their region. For example, the people who live in North India, Pakistan, Egypt and some part of Arab world follow Hanafi Madhab. While Shafi'i madhab is followed in South India, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Malaysia and Indonesia. Maliki Madhab is followed in North Africa, West Africa, UAE and Kuwait. Hanbali madhab is followed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some communities in Syria and Iraq.
Hence, there is no compulsory in selection. But if a person decides to follow a particular madhab, he should restrict to follow it alone. He should not change it time to time as he wants as he plays. Once he selected, he should start to learn the teachings (Islamic laws) of that madhab.
♣ SCHOOLS OF THEOLOGY (AQEEDAH)
WHAT IS ISLAMIC THEOLOGY?
When the time of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him), there was no need of any schools for the theology. Every one followed the same theology of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). After the time of Prophet (peace be upon him), lot of new groups were established with different and misguided theologies which were against to the accepted mainstream Islamic theologies.
Each of these misguided groups called themselves as Muslims and propagated their deviant theologies in the name of Islam. Then there was the need for the Muslims to establish the correct and accepted Islamic theologies and to instruct the illiterate Muslims about these deviant groups. As a true Muslim, it is our duty to know about these deviants and protect our Imaan (Faith) and Aqeedah (Theology)
Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
The Banu Isra’il divided into seventy-two sects and my ummah (nation) will divide into seventy-three sects. All of them will go into the Fire except one millat (sect). “The companions of Prophet asked (him), “Who are they, O Messenger of Allah”. He said, “(Who follow) what I am on and my companions (are on).
Book: Tirmidi - 2650
That one and only righteous sect is called, Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jam’ah. “Ahlus Sunnah” means the followers of the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) and the the “Jama’ah” means congregation, that is, followers of the congregation of companions of Prophet. Both words were adopted from the above Prophetic hadith.
The followers of the righteous “Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jam’ah” sect are called “Sunni Muslims” or “mainstream Muslims”. They are the majority of Muslims in the world, representing 87% of total Muslim population.
Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Without doubt, my Ummah (nation) will never be gathered in misguidance. Whenever you see disagreement and then hold fast to the greater majority."
Book: Ibn Majah
In terms of theology, there are two schools:
1. The Maturidi school - Founded by Imam Maturidi (May Allah be pleased with him)
2. The Ash`ariyyah school - Founded by Imam Ash`ari (May Allah be pleased with him)
These two schools are essentially one. However, they differ in terms of about forty matters. These differences, however, consist only matters of detail.
Therefore, the righteous Sunni Muslims follow the theology of Maturidi and Ash`ariyyah schools.
♣ SCHOOLS OF SPIRITUALITY (SUFISM)
WHAT IS SUFISM?
The schools of spirituality in Islam are called as “Tariqa” (The way). The main purpose of Tariqa is to attain Divine Presence through mystical learning from a spiritual teacher, spiritual practices and purifying the hearts.
One of the most famous companions of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), Hazrat Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him) said:
“I have memorized two kinds of knowledge from Allah's Apostle. I have propagated one of them to you and if I propagated the second, then my pharynx (throat) would be cut (i.e. killed).”
Book: Sahih al Bukhari Book 3, Number 121
From the above hadith, it can be understood that there are two types of knowledge which the beloved Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) has taught to his companions. One is explicit. That is, the teachings of Shariah (Islamic Jurisprudence). Another one is secret knowledge or implicit knowledge. It cannot be taught or learned through the books or materials. It is the knowledge from heart to heart. It is called the Spiritual Knowledge.
This spiritual knowledge was taught by the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) to his companions personally or secretly. Then this knowledge was transmitted to the people of next generation from the companions through the spiritual teachings.
All the Tariqas have silsilas (chain, lineage). Almost all Tariqas except the Naqshbandi Tariqa has a silsila that leads back to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through Sayyiduna Ali (May Allah be pleased with him). The Naqshbandi Silsila goes back to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through Hazrat Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him)
Each Tariqa has a Murshid (guide or teacher) who is the spiritual teacher. The student or follower of a Tariqa is known as Murid. The student would take baiyat (oath of allegiance) in the hands of his teacher. Then, the teacher would guide the student through spiritual practices such as Dhikr (remembrance of Allah Almighty), teachings of spiritual knowledge and guiding him in the ethical disciplines. Through the guidance of his Murshid, a Murid should come more and more close to Almighty Allah by submitting his heart, soul and deed.
In terms of Spirituality, there are many schools. However, the most famous schools are:
1. Qadriya - Founded by Seyyaduna Abdul Qadir Gilani
2. Rifa'iyya - Founded by Seyyaduna Ahmed Kabeer Rifai
3. Chistiyya - Founded by Seyyaduna Abu Ishaq Shami
4. Mehlavi - Founded by Seyyaduna Jalaluddin Rumi
4. Naqshbandiyya - Founded by Seyyaduna Muhammad Baha ad-din an-Naqshabandi
5. Suhrawardiyya - Founded by Seyyaduna Abu al-Najib al-Suhrawardi
6. Shadhiliyya - Founded by Seyyaduna Abu-l-Hassan ash-Shadhili
WHICH TARIQA DO I WANT TO FOLLOW?
There is no compulsory in selecting a particular Tariqa. It is a personal choice of a person to choose any of these Tariqa. Generally, Muslims follow the same Tariqa of their forefathers. However, if a person finds a good spiritual teacher, then he can take baiyat (oath of allegiance) in the hands of that teacher and can follow his teachings in order to attain Divine closeness.
♣ WHO IS A PERFECT MUSLIM?
A perfect Muslim is a person who should be a complete and perfect follower of Shariah, Aqeedah and Tasawwuf together. In other words, he is the practicing Muslim who obeys and follows the words of Allah Almighty and beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) practically and spiritually.