I seek refuge in ALLAH from the whisperings of the evil.
MAZHAB E MA KITAB ULLAH WA ITTABAH E RASOOLALLAH.
The event of this saying is well known among the Mahdavis for different reasons. Whatever the reasons, everybody tries referring to this as a way of deciding the status of Imam Mahdi AS. Is this all that the saying is about? In order to understand it, we must first take a closer look at when and how this saying was said.
First of all, this saying was the answer to a question. A question was asked to Imam Mahdi AHS asking what mazhab He follows (I.e. Does Mahdi AHS follow Hanafi, Shafai, Maliki or Humbali school of thought?) What we need to understand is: why did the scholars ask this particular question? The scholars came to Imam Mahdi AHS with a purpose to know the truth behind the claim of Hazrat Syed Mohammed Jaunpuri as the Promised Mahdi. The understanding behind this question is that the Promised Mahdi is supposed to be a perfect follower of Prophet Mohammed PBUH. This implies he will be guided from ALLAH in all the aspects of His life.This is a great attribute of Promised Mahdi that was foretold by Prophet Mohammed PBUH. This would mean that Imam Mahdi AHS has to perfectly follow Prophet Mohammed PBUH without committing a single mistake. We have to keep in mind that the Advent of Mahdi AS was around 850 years AFTER Prophet Mohammed PBUH. This question was asked, keeping in mind: How can a person follow the Prophet Mohammed PBUH perfectly if he has never seen him? They wanted to know if Hazrat Syed Mohammed Jaunpuri could be a disciple of one of the school of thoughts and then they would question him according to that school of thought regarding his claim of being Promised Mahdi. But the answer they got did not include any school of thought. Instead they were told, “Mazhab e ma kitabullah wa ittabah e rasoolullah“. This answer clarifies that Promised Mahdi is the guided one from Allah and he would follow Prophet Mohammed PBUH perfectly as was foretold. This answer also eliminates the possibility of human error from the following of Prophet Mohammed PBUH. If the answer, instead, would have been any of the four schools of thought then the claim of being the promised Mahdi according to the prominent sayings of the prophet about him following the prophet’s footsteps and not committing any mistakes would be dismissed.
It has been almost 550 years since the advent of Mahdi AHS, but his sayings have been preserved till today by his followers. Important events are written and they serve as a reminder to his followers from time to time, such as on special occasions, in speeches, or in other forms. Unfortunately, people knowingly or unknowingly try to portray a different view without even taking into account past events and history and therefore, try to enforce their OWN view onto others. This is also the case with this particular saying. Everybody tries to put forward what they think and understand about it. But does anybody justify their claim of their OWN understanding to be true with proof according to the Holy Quran and the Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH before they try to impose their understanding on others? Should this proof not be the base for whatever understanding they get from the sayings of Mahdi AHS? This saying has so many aspects to it, but the only thing that seems to matter to our community is that this saying proves the status of Imam Mahdi AHS. The main point of debate is the word Ittabah e rasoolullah. This eventually gives rise to the question: How can a follower be equal in status to one he follows? They seem to willingly forget the other words of the saying, Mazhab e ma kitabullah, which are in the initial part of the saying. The answer lies in the WHOLE saying and not just a part of the saying.
What does Mazhab mean? Is Mazhab mentioned here equivalent to Deen al-Islam or is it a completely a different thing? Everyone takes these two words to be synonyms. But in the real sense, these are two different words. Deen al-Islam is an Arabic word, whereas Mazhab is a Persian word. Deen al-Islam was the term chosen by Allah for His Deen. Deen can be defined as a set of rules and guidelines that a group of people follow, whereas mazhab can be defined as a person’s own understanding of the Deen. Deen is for a group of people while Mazhab is a personal belief and understanding of Deen. The answer the scholars got from Imam AHS was the negation of the personal belief and understanding and affirming that he is the Guided one who follows the Prophet PBUH perfectly.
What does ittabah mean? Ittabah generally means to follow. Before jumping to the conclusion that a person who follows cannot be equal in status to the one followed we look further than Imam Mahdi AHS. The Holy Quran has answers to all the questions. When we look into the lives of all of the Prophets mentioned in the Quran there is one thing in common that we find: it is undoubtedly certain that each and every prophet followed the earlier prophets or messengers.
And they say: Be Jews or Christians, then ye will be rightly guided.
Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Nay, but (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolaters. Holy Qu'ran 2:135
This verse is an example for us to know that Prophet Mohammed PBUH was ordered to follow Prophet Abraham AS, keeping this in mind, should the status of Prophet Abraham AHS be HIGHER because He is the one that is being followed?
Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. Holy Qu'ran 2:136
This verse clearly refers that no human being is allowed to give a status to any of the Prophets or messengers of Allah.
In another verse Allah says:
Of those messengers, some of whom We have caused to excel others, and of whom there are some unto whom Allah spake, while some of them He exalted (above others) in degree Holy Qu'ran 2:253
This verse is contradicts the earlier verse. But the scholars of Islam believe that this verse is in reference to the status of the prophets in the eyes of Allah. This means that if we assign a status to any Prophet, we are going against the will of Allah. Keeping this view in mind, will it be appropriate to term Prophet Mohammed PBUH as Afzal ul Ambia (highest in rank of all prophets)? The most common answer we get from people who believe in this is the reference of the Namaz that was offered during the Shab-e-Mehraj, which was lead by the Prophet with all the Ambia following Him Behind in prayer. If we take this view of understanding then the Prophet who followed all of the Prophets from Adam AS to Esa AS becomes Afzal ul Ambia. If so, then what will you decide for Allah’s Khalifa, who in the true sense followed the Afzal ul Ambia? Higher, equal, or lower in status? What would make sense so you don’t fall in the category of an infidel?
Does this ittabah of Imam Mahdi AHS is the ittabah of you and me? Certainly not. Then what is this ittabah related to? The clear picture that comes out of this saying is no doubt that the four imams of schools of thought have done a huge favor on the Islamic world but they still are humans bond to commit mistakes. It means that Promised Mahdi AHS made Islam as pure as it was during the period of Prophet Mohammed PBUH. Therefore we the followers of Imam Mahdi AHS follow the religion of Allah that was perfectly followed by Prophet Mohammed PBUH and Imam Mahdi AHS.
There is no compulsion in religion. Holy Qu'ran 2:256