Wednesday, November 09, 2005Tanjung Kapor (he does not have his own blog yet) in his comment to my last post touched on mazhab (Islamic Schools of Thought) which, in turn, elicited spirited response from Atok and Anisah.
There are four major mazhabs for the Sunnis namely Hanafi, Maliki, Hambali and Shafie. Most Muslims in Malaysia adopted the Shafie mazhab. For the Shiites, there are three major mazhabs : Jaafari, Zaydi and Ismaili. I am ignorant of the first two Shiite mazhabs and I only know that Aga Khan and his equally famous descendants are from the Ismaili mazhab. I have come across people describing mazhabs as sects. While the meaning is right
A group of people forming a distinct unit within a larger group by virtue of certain refinements or distinctions of belief or practice.
A religious body, especially one that has separated from a larger denomination.
A faction united by common interests or beliefs
I would rather not use sects because it has the connotation of a breakaway group, deviating from the main body. Islamic mazhabs do not differ as far as the basic tenets of Islam are concerned. They only differ in minor matters (furu’) and it is a matter of interpretation. After the passing of the Prophet (pbuh) there was no single person to refer to and the ulamas (learned persons) had to refer to the Quran and Hadith to make a ruling.
When Islam spread to the four corners of the world, the basic tenets remained unchanged although Islam was practiced according the culture of the land. So, in some places, budu is makruh (frowned upon), peacocks are forbidden as food and Qunut (the doa in the Dawn Prayer) is regarded as bidaah (an innovation, hence not allowed.) The ulamas of the various mazhabs would debate until the cows come home on their pronouncements because they would have their interperations on the subjects based on the Quran and Hadis.
I remember when I was young the ladies around my kampong grumbling that they cannot perm their hair because it is haram according to their guru. Probably what their guru taught them was not to look or dress like the kafiruns (Unbelievers).
Even though there is unity in diversity, I wish the ulamas of the world can sit down and decide once and for all the petty differences.. For now, let us not forget that even though qunut is required in some mazhab and not required in others, we must all still pray subuh diligently. And less of the elephant subuh, if possible. InsyaAllah.