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I don’t know what madhab I am, is that weird?

I don’t know what madhab I am, is that weird?


Is it weird that I don’t kno which school I belong to? As a Muslim born to an Egyptian family all we focused on while growing up was memorizing the quran and praying but no explaining of anything else. I didn’t know about these schools until very recently. What school do most Egyptians belong to? does it matter? do we have to belong to one? how do I decide what to choose? I’m asking because you mention the schools quiet often. I’m sorry if these questions sound dumb or weird they probably are

Salaam alykum,

It’s not weird, especially when you are from a place like Egypt.

Most regions have very clear definitions in their traditions, for instance, the majority of North and West Africa is Maliki, while Pakistan and Turkey are Hanafi, and East Africa is Shafi’i.

However, Egypt is a particularly exceptional case, as it is home to a rather interesting mixture of several schools.

First, Egypt was a predominately Shia country until Salah ad-Deen came and Egypt became Sunni, and the country’s legal tradition was Shafi’i until the Ottomans came in, but even though the Ottomans’ were Hanafi, they could not displace the Shafi’i dominance in Egypt, particular at Al-Azhar. It took quite a while for Hanafis to get a foothold in Egypt, but the rivalry between the two schools in Egypt were not a simple binary, as Malikis had a significant presence, both at Al-Azhar, and in the South of the country.

Therefore, Egypt’s interaction with Islam has always been one that is eclectic, for lack of a better term, and while this disturbs many (from outside) it seems to reflect the character of the Egyptian people: a diversity that is understood best by those within Egypt.

It would be difficult to truly distill what school you follow, because Egyptians’ practices are many times fusions and mixtures of (mostly) Shafi’i and Hanafi rulings with Maliki ones thrown in randomly. Now, this is not always true, and there is regionalism within Egypt vis-a-vis schools of law, but, I would not be concerned with identifying with a school or attempting to identify what school has influenced your practice the most, because it would be difficult, and would also distract you from strengthening your fundamental connection and understanding of Islam, as a religion.

These schools of law are concerned with procedures and determinations of rulings, while we, on the other hand, care little for procedures and are solely concerned with rulings. Therefore, in order to make sense of what these schools mean to you, I’d suggest that you ensure you are familiar with The Qur’an and Sunnah, not just in terms of their content, but also in what defines The Qur’an and Sunnah.

What is a isnad? What were the first ayat revealed to The Prophet in The Qur’an? What are the Hadith collections? How were they collected? We should know these things, first, before we can move on to determining our interaction with schools of law, insha Allah.

I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.

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