Shaltoot of Cairo on the permissibility of being Muslim without following a particular Sunni school of legal thought

Religious Authority: 
Mahmood Shaltoot
Fatwa Question or Essay Title: 
Some believe that, for a Muslim to have religiously correct worship and dealing, it is necessary to follow one of the four known [Sunni] schools of thought, whereas, "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah" school of thought is not one of them nor "al-Shia al-Zaidiyyah." Do your Excellency agree with this opinion, and prohibit following "al-Shia al-Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" school of thought, for example?
Websites and Institutions: 
Sunnah Foundation of America

 [See glossary for terms.]

1) Islam does not require a Muslim to follow a particular madhhab (school of thought). Rather, we say: every Muslim has the right to follow one of the schools of thought which has been correctly narrated and its verdicts have been compiled in its books. And, everyone who is following such Madhahib [schools of thought] can transfer to another school, and there shall be no crime on him for doing so.



2) The Jafari school of thought, which is also known as "al-Shia al- Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah" (i.e., The Twelver Imami Shiites) is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought.



Muslims must know this, and ought to refrain from unjust prejudice to any particular school of thought, since the religion of Allah and Divine Law (Shariah) was never restricted to a particular school of thought. Their jurists (mujtahidoon) are accepted by Almighty Allah, and it is permissible to the "non-Mujtahid" to follow them and to accord with their teaching whether in worship (ibadaat) or transactions (muamilaat).