“By the power vested in me, I dub thee jaahil!”
So you are an average know-it-all preacher surveying the common room in your university. Between a person who’s not praying and another praying in a corner but her ruku’ and sujood are not agreeable to your madhab, who would you choose to admonish? No points in guessing. The praying person gets it.
Hanafi vs. Shafa’i vs. Maliki vs. Hanbali. And none of the contestants would have read their own Imaam’s biography or their conduct when they had a clash in opinion. Some of them were in fact, students of the one another.
The scholars of the past had all been noble in their quest for recording and transmitting knowledge. And their efforts are unparalleled to date. It is not the Imaams who were at fault when they differed in their opinions, for they had enlightening intellectual discourses where they either accepted the other’s opinion or entertained it without taking an ego trip. Quite unlike ours where we end up branding each other “kaafir” or “deviant” or we bad-mouth a scholar who could be closer to Allah than you would ever be and incur Allah’s wrath upon us in more ways than one. The fault is in our minds that are religiously uneducated. We memorize chunks but we don’t take any of it in spirit. We think we’ve seen it all and done it all after a couple of year’s worth of studies and that gives us a license to interfere in and disrespect contrasting schools of thought.
He has ordained for you people the same religion as He had enjoined upon Nuh, and that which We have revealed to you (O prophet,) and that which We had enjoined upon Ibrahim and Musa and ‘Isa by saying, “Establish the religion, and be not divided therein.” (42:13)
There are far more common grounds between the four madhahib than there are conflicting rulings. But we always aim at the cracks. Not a single soul on this earth can claim to have completely mastered the Deen. The Prophet (pbuh) did for it was revealed unto him and he passed it on to his companions. Even the companions had their disagreements but they had the true essence of the spiritual knowledge that never caused them to split up and divide into groups and sects. And neither did they trash-talk one another.
Be open to all authentic sources, respect other madhahib and do not restrict your understanding of Deen with specific books. That’s kind of like choosing either Newton or Einstein when studying physics.