What Is My Methodology?
Different imams and students of knowledge have different approaches to how they deal with Islam. Below is a brief outline of where I stand on some important issues.
Iman/Aqidah: The most important aspect of iman is to have a correct and practical understanding of God and one’s relationship with Him. This is primarily known through regularly reading and reflecting over the Quran, learning His beautiful names, and engaging in acts of worship.
I hold that the Athari, Ash’ari, and Maturidi schools are all from what can be called Sunni orthodoxy. Although they have some differences these differences are not such that any of them should be considered outside of Ahl al-Sunnah.
Fiqh: It is permissible to follow the opinion of an Imam who has reached the status of mujtahid. This includes the imams of the four major Sunni schools as well as many others such as al-Layth ibn Sa’d, al-Awza’i, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, and the great scholars of the Companions and the generation that came after them. It is safer to follow the four imams and their schools because of the rigor with which those schools have been authenticated and developed. That being said, when weighing issues and providing answers for the people I will consider the opinions that I am able to access, weigh their evidences, and answer in the way that I feel is most appropriate for the situation of the questioner. In doing so I will not intentionally contradict a clear consensus, nor will I limit myself to what is customarily known or followed.
There is to be no rebuke in areas of ijtihad and differences of opinion among the scholars are a mercy for our ummah not a curse.
When the average Muslim has a question about their faith they should seek someone who is academically qualified and can be trusted for their piety. They should ask such a person their question and seek to understand and follow the answer. If they do this, they have fulfilled their responsibility in front of God.
It is prudent for serious students of Islam to focus the early stages of their studies around a particular school/madhhab. This is not to promote fanaticism, but rather to promote a structured understanding and study of the tradition of Muslim thought.
Tazkiyah/Tasawwuf: The element of spiritual development lies at the center of the lived experience of every Muslim. It is primary and all should seek a path towards continued growth and spiritual elevation. I hold that “sufi” and “tasawwuf” are not bad words and that all practices related to spiritual development should be weighed in light of the sharia (see the above point). If there is no contradiction, then such practices can be deemed acceptable and if there is a contradiction then that which is line with the guidance of the Prophet (pbuh) and the teachings of the sharia is more beneficial for us.
Regardless of the path that is chosen within the broad parameters of the sharia, it is imperative that each and every Muslim make a sincere, concerted, and continuous effort towards self-improvement and spiritual growth.
The glue that holds all of this together and beautifies ourselves and our communities is adab (manners). We should always seek to win hearts before we win minds and think long term in our interactions with people, always seeking to bring them closer to God as much as possible without sacrificing any major teachings of our faith.
May Allah accept from us all and grant us tawfiq in all of our affairs.