Barakillah Feek for your response. And before I answer the questions you mentioned previously that you are trying to follow the Sunnah as much as possible. The main thing is to continue on that path insha allah ta'ala.
Because, as I mentioned in my previous post, Salafeeyah is not a sect but rather the methodology you follow. Hence once one follows the Sunnah then this is what is needed not only an ascription
As for the first issue about the differences of opinion between the companions. These differences were not in issues of belief ('Aqeedah)
. All of the Companions
, the four imams and the imams of Hadeeth had the same belief in terms of the six pillars of Imaan. Hence you would not find them differing in issues such as:
Allah being above his throne,
That the slave has free will but yet is predestined to do actions,
That Allah has beautiful names and lofty attributes that go according to his majesty
And other issues pertaining to belief.
However in terms of Fiqh (jurisprudence) the scholars had differences of opinion. And these differences have different reasons and no one is blamed for this. And the methodology of Ahlus Sunnah is that they believe that the scholar who is correct has two blessings and the scholar who is incorrect has one blessing
(Hadeeth in Bukhari). However this is not a reason for separation.
As for the second issue this has some points that are very important.
i. That the Hadeeth of the 73 sects establishes that the correct methodology is to follow the early Muslims. Hence whoever can trace his practice back to the early Muslims has done what is correct.
ii.As for the Quranites they themselves do not adhere to the Sunnah and deny the Sunnah as a source of law. Hence, their methodology cannot be re-traced to the early Muslims.
iii. As for the ascription "Sunni" it refers to the "Salafi".
Because the word Sunni means someone who adheres to the Sunnah of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) Hence they are just different names for the same thing.
As for differentiating these two ascriptions then this is without doubt incorrect. Also, it is incorrect to define the Sunni as one who follows one of the four Madhabs as this was not the definition of the early scholars regarding the word Sunni.
iv. As for the issue of following a Madhab there are two issues pertaining to this:
a) Following a Madhab and studying it. This, according to many scholars is permissible however this is done with the condition of following the evidences when it becomes clear that the evidences contradict the Madhab.
For example: The Maliki Madhab says that the middle prayer refers to the Fajr prayer. However, in a Hadeeth narrated in Bukhari and Muslim the Prophet
said that the middle prayer refers to 'Asr. So although Imam Malik was a great scholar of Fiqh and Hadeeth it is no doubt that the Hadeeth is more befitting to follow since in the texts it is stated clearly that one must follow what was revealed to the Messenger
b) Being partisan to a Madhab:
This is totally impermissible. For example a person's Madhab may be Hanafi, Shafi'ee, Hanbali, Maliki or he may have a teacher who he loves. However, if a clear text from the Qur'an and the Sunnah comes to us we should not adopt the position that this is my madhab or this is what I follow.
Rather it is incumbent to follow the evidences.
c) The issue of Ijtihaad. If a person does not have the tools to make Ijtihaad (find out a ruling by himself/herself) then in that case he or she follows someone who guides them to the evidences and they are the scholars.
"Ask the people of Thikr if you do not know
The people of Thikr refer to the people who refer you back to the Qur'an and the Sunnah
. So anyone who helps you to return to the Qur'an and the Sunnah you ask them if they are above your level in terms of knowledge.
However, those who when asked questions refer you back to the statement of one particular scholar without the evidences then these are not those who Allah ordered us to ask if we do not know particular issue or issues.
This is because knowledge is knowing the truth with its evidences.
d) As for following a Madhab then this is very difficult without studying it.
Because in many cases we find that people would associate themselves with a particular Madhab however when asked about the Madhab itself, the scholars of the Madhab and the statements of the scholars in the Madhab and the evidences of the Madhab, this remains unknown.
Hence, to ascribe oneself to something without knowing what it is about has no benefit at the end of the day. Additionally, it is possible that someone may say that this or that action is from the Madhab yet in truth and in fact it has nothing to do with the particular madhab.
e) Examining evidences. Now if it is an issue where it requires one to examine evidences whether or not they are weak or strong or if it refers to this or that then that is one issue.
However, if it is that the evidence is authentic and clear and contradicts the statement of a particular Imam then it is incumbent to take the evidences.
This is because the matter does not require examination since the evidences I clear. As the scholars of Islam say:
"There is no Ijtihaad with clear evidences"
"If there is a narration then Ijtihaad becomes null and void."
f) As for praying behind a person who follows a Madhab then this is permissible and following a Madhab does not make a person deviant.
Rather it is partisanship to that particular Madhab where the person would nullify the evidences in order to establish the statement of the Imam he follows.
Yesterday I was listening to Shaikh Abdul Kareem Al Khudair and he was saying that it had a scholar who was strong in Hadeeth. He saw twelve authentic Ahadeeth in the issue and nullified all these evidences for an evidence that was weak and another that was fabricated in order to establish the ruling of his Imam!
But even if an Imam of a Masjid has that sin with him, i.e of partisanship, it is still permissible to pray behind him.
As praying behind the one who has deviation (once it does not reach to Kufr) is from the way of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah. As for praying like him then I would always try my best to make my prayer according to what was narrated from the evidences.
As for studying Salafeeyah in Trinidad (btw the brothers who I am mentioning are not scholars), there is brother Abdul Haqq who is in Aranguez who Masha Allah has good da'wah up there. And he has classes on Paltalk under Markaz At Tawheed.
And since you are in South. There are classes in Iere Village (on Tawheed) on Mondays which start 1 week after Ramadaan. And also there is a small Madrasah in the Williamsville Islamic Trust Masjid. In there, Arabic, Tawheed/Fiqh, Qur'an are taught. And this class is every Sunday.
There are the posts referring to it:
As for calling people scholars in Trinidad. I know a brother who memorized Saheeh Bukhari by heart, and he does not permit me to even call him Shaikh not even Ustaadh. So that shows us that in Trinidad we are a long way away from scholarship on that level. Since, a scholar is not determined upon certificates and eloquence.
Rather what determines scholarship is memorization of the texts, understanding the texts as they supposed to be understood and implementing these texts as they supposed to be implemented.
As one of the companions said (as in Saheeh Muslim):
"And the most knowledgeable of us was the one who memorized the most."
This is a lecture by brother Abdul Hakeem Al Amreekee who has been studying in Dammaj for over 12 years on the topic of knowledge.
And also this is a lecture referring to taqleed which may answer some of your questions:
May Allah make it easy for all of us. And again feel free to ask further questions.