If we all supposed to be following Nabi(S.A.W) why does the way of salaah differ slighty with the four imaams?

Salaat has been explained by Nabi(S.A.W) ‘Perform your prayer just as you see me perform my prayer’ Bukhari volume 1 pg 1076.
If we all supposed to be following Nabi(S.A.W) why does the way of salaah differ slighty with the four imaams? Example, the shafee mazhab reads dua-e-qunoot in fajr salaah and the hanafi mazhab does not and the shafee mazhab sticks out the shahadat finger till salaah ends.

The imaams followed Nabi(S.A.W) so why do we have to divide ourselves into the four schools of thought instead of just following the truth and traditions of Nabi(S.A.W)?

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh

Allah Ta’ala through his infinite wisdom permitted the performance of worship in many different ways. Hence, by briefly going through the galaxy of Ahadith, one will find numerous (seemingly) contradictory narrations. Since you have given the example of due-e-qunoot, consider only the following two Ahadith which are both authentic,

(سنن الترمذي – (ج 2 / ص 251

401 – حدثنا قتيبة ومحمد بن المثنى قالا حدثنا (غندر) محمد بن جعفر عن شعبة عن عمرو بن مرة عن (عبد الرحمن) بن أبي ليلى عن البراء بن عازب : أن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم كان يقنت في صلاة الصبح والمغرب

[ قال ] وفي الباب عن علي وأنس وأبي هريرة وابن عباس وخفاف بن أيماء بن رحضة الغفاري

قال أبو عيسى حديث البراء حديث حسن صحيح وهو قول [ مالك و ] الشافعي

Bara bin Azib (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) narrates that Nabi صلي الله عليه و سلم used to recite the qunoot in the Fajr and Maghrib prayers.”

(سنن الترمذي – (ج 2 / ص 252)

402 – حدثنا أحمد بن منيع حدثنا يزيد بن هارون عن أبي مالك الأشجعي قال : قلت لأبي يا أبة ! إنك قد صليت خلف رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم و ابي بكر وعمر وعثمان وعلي بن أبي طالب [ ههنا ] بالكوفة نحوا من خمسين سنة أكانوا يقنتون ؟ قال أي بني محدث

قال أبو عيسى هذا حديث [ حسن ] صحيح

والعمل عليه عند أكثر أهل العلم

Abu Malik Al Ashja’i (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) says that he mentioned to his father, “Oh my Father, you prayed behind Nabi صلي الله عليه و سلم, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with them all) in Kufa for close to fifty years, did any of them recite the qunoot?” The father replied, “Oh my son, it is an innovation!

These are both authentic Ahadith which seemingly contradict each other. The same is found for almost every other action of Salah. In one hadith it is narrated that Nabi صلي الله عليه و سلم used to raise his hands till his blessed shoulders while it is proven in another hadith that Nabi صلي الله عليه و سلم raised his hands till his ears. One hadith will prove reading bismillah loud before Surah Fatiha while the same action has been described as an innovation in another hadith. And the same is with almost every other action. Hence, every Sahabi practiced deen the way saw Nabi صلي الله عليه و سلم (practicing on the hadith which you quoted). Abdullah bin Abbaas (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) used to raise his hands before and after ruku whereas Abdullah bin Masood (May Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) performed Salah without raising his hands. Both these companions witnessed the Salah of Nabi صلي الله عليه و سلم yet their actions differed. And the same was with every other Sahabi. As the years passed and all the Sahabah passed on, the Ummah had to now rely on what was narrated to them. Hence, they had to thoroughly study every narration and try their best to reconcile or give tarjeeh to one narration over the other. This was a daunting and cumbersome task which required people to spend their entire lives in acquiring knowledge and memorizing hundreds of thousands of Ahadith. Since it was not possible for every person to sacrifice their lives in acquiring knowledge, the vast majority of the Ummah consented to following one of the four Madhabs. The primary reason for restricting taqleed to one of these four madhabs is that the students of these four madhabs codified and systemized the principles and laws of their respective Imam. Thus, the Mufassireen, Muhadditheen, Fuqahah, Philosophers, Jurists and Academics of the past twelve centuries strictly adhered to these four madhabs thoroughly scrutinising and refining every view of the Madhab. In this way all the various actions of Nabi صلي الله عليه و سلم is still practiced in the world. The adherents to these four madhahib accept and respect each others madhab. In reality, true unity is in taqleed. Imagine if we have to independently go back to hadith and find all these contradictions, each one of us would arrive to a different conclusion. In one Masjid you would have a thousand people reading Salah differently. This precisely what Maulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi (may Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him) stated, “Our deen is systemized through taqlid.” (Ashraf al-Jawab, 161)

And Allah knows best


Ml. Ismail Moosa,
Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by:

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Darul Iftaa, Madrassah In’aamiyyah