Why are there only four Mazhabs?

Many great Ulama’ of the past have clearly affirmed that taqleed has become confined to only one of the four mazhabs. In this regard ‘Allamah ‘Abdurrahman Ibn Muhammad Al-Maghribi (808 A.H) writes: “… Taqleed became confined to these four Imams in all the cities of the Muslim world. All the followers of other Imaams gradually became extinct. Thus, when the terminologies of the various sciences became wide-spread in the earth, the scholars closed the doors of differences (and confined taqleed to one of the four Imaams) as they feared that someone unworthy would begin claiming ijtihad. Hence they (the scholars) stated: “The ability to reach the rank of a mujtahid has become virtually impossible.” Thereupon they directed the people towards making taqleed of one of the four Imams and warned them against changing mazhabs for convenience, as this will amount playing fools with the Deen of Allah. Thus anyone who claims to have acquired the level of ijtihad in this age will be rejected and will not be followed. The entire Muslim world now have consensus about the taqleed of these four Imams.” [1]

[1] ووقف التقليد في الأمصار عند هؤلاء الأربعة، ودرس المقلدون لمن سواهم. وسد الناس باب الخلاف وطرقه لما كثر تشعب الاصطلاحات في العلوم ولما عاق عن الوصول إلى رتبة الاجتهاد، ولما خشي من إسناد ذلك إلى غير أهله، ومن لا يوثق برأيه ولا بدينه، فصرحوا بالعجز والإعواز، وردوا الناس إلى تقليد هؤلاء، كل من اختص به من المقلدين. وحظروا أن يتداول تقليدهم لما فيه من التلاعب. ولم يبق إلا نقل مذاهبهم. وعمل كل مقلد بمذهب من قلده منهم بعد تصحيح الأصول واتصال سندها بالرواية، لا محصول اليوم للفقه غير هذا. (مقدمة ابن خلدون – علم الفقه وما يتبه من الفرائض)


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