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A Time for Introspection by Imam Hamza Yusuf Hanson

whom Allah tells us will do mean things, say bad things and plot against us. And always when we are warned we are told to be patient, to work for the good, to trust in Allah, to return to Allah, to implement our deen.
Conspiracy or not, we are to blame for the terrible backlash against Muslims. The simple reason is that when a crazy Christian does something terrible, everyone in the West knows it is the actions of a mad man because they have some knowledge of the core beliefs and ethics of Christianity. When a mad Muslim does something evil or foolish they assume it is from the religion of Islam, not because they hate us but because they have never been told by a Muslim what the teachings of Islam are all about.

What is a Madhhab? Why is it necessary to follow one?  by Nuh Ha Mim Keller

The word madhhab is derived from an Arabic word meaning "to go" or "to take as a way", and refers to a mujtahid's choice in regard to a number of interpretive possibilities in deriving the rule of Allah from the primary texts of the Qur'an and hadith on a particular question. In a larger sense, a madhhab represents the entire school of thought of a particular mujtahid Imam, such as Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi'i, or Ahmad--together with many first-rank scholars that came after each of these in their respective schools, who checked their evidences and refined and upgraded their work. The mujtahid Imams were thus explainers, who operationalized the Qur'an and sunna in the specific shari'a rulings in our lives that are collectively known as fiqh or "jurisprudence". In relation to our din or "religion", this fiqh is only part of it, for the religious knowledge each of us possesses is of three types. The first type is the general knowledge of tenets of Islamic belief in the oneness of Allah, in His angels, Books, messengers, the prophethood of Muham

mad (Allah bless him and give him peace), and so on. All of us may derive this knowledge directly from the Qur'an and hadith, as is also the case with a second type of knowledge, that of general Islamic ethical principles to do good, avoid evil, cooperate with others in good works, and so forth. Every Muslim can take these general principles, which form the largest and most important part of his religion, from the Qur'an and hadith.
The third type of knowledge is that of the specific understanding of particular divine commands and prohibitions that make up the
shari'a. Here, because of both the nature and the sheer number of the Qur'an and hadith texts involved, people differ in the scholarly capacity to understand and deduce rulings from them. But all of us have been commanded to live them in our lives, in obedience to Allah, and so Muslims are of two types, those who can do this by themselves, and they are the mujtahid Imams; and those who must do so by means of another, that is, by follow

ing a mujtahid Imam, in accordance with Allah's word in Surat al-Nahl,

"Ask those who recall, if you know not " (Qur'an 16:43),

and in Surat al-Nisa,

" If they had referred it to the Messenger and to those of authority among them, then those of them whose task it is  to find it out would have known the matter " (Qur'an 4:83),

in which the phrase those of them whose task it is to find it out, expresses the words "alladhina yastanbitunahu minhum", referring to those possessing the capacity to draw inferences directly from the evidence, which is called in Arabic istinbat.
These and other verses and hadiths oblige the believer who is not at the level of
istinbat or directly deriving rulings from the Qur'an and hadith to ask and follow someone in such rulings who is at this level. It is not difficult to see why Allah has obliged