During the first year or two of studying fiqh, I engaged in madhhab superiority games. It still amazes me how many reasons I came up with for the superiority and grandness of my school. After a while I realized a few things:
- I claimed my madhhab was superior was so I could feel superior.
- The reason I was studying a particular school had to do with availability – there wasn’t another option to choose from.
- Since each school is superior relative to its underlying methodology, knowing superior legal rulings would ultimately return to knowing which school had the superior legal methodology – and unless I was really, really knowledgeable in methodology and able to truly weight out the various opinions, I was in no position to judge which school was truly built on superior methodology.
- Superiority tends to be relative: superior with respect to available teachers, superior with respect to applying it to everyday life, superior with respect to the amount of time available to invest in learning it, etc.
I chose my first maddhab because it was what the only faqih in town was teaching. I later chose to study a second madhhab because I discovered that most of what people knew about it was off and because it complemented my first school. In neither case was my choice based on the absolute superiority of one school over another – as if a novice is in any position to even know!
The only people who are truly in a position to judge madhhab superiority are those very same people who are barred from following someone else’s madhhab because they are required to create their own.
This is why I don’t engage in madhhab superiority games.
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Your madhhab is your legal guide through this life to the Afterlife. Instead of worrying about which school is (for us) theoretically best, worry about which madhhab you can learn the best so you can use it to get through this world and raise your ranks in the Afterlife.
In the end, it’s about you in the Afterlife.
This is what I tell my own students – even if it results in them leaving for another school.