Whose understanding of the Quran and Sunnah should I follow? Imam Shafi or Al-Albani?
Whose understanding of the Quran and Sunnah should I follow: A) Should I follow the understanding of the Quran and sunnah according to Imam Shafi (Authentic Madhahab). B) Should I should follow the understanding of the Quran and sunnah according to Al-Albani.
Imam Shafi's madhhab is one of the four recognized schools of jurisprudence in Islam considered as mainstream. Imam Shafi's intellectual lineage can be traced back directly to the Prophet, peace be upon him, through his reputed companions. I am not in any way familiar with the madhhab of Shaikh Albani, nor am I aware of his level of expertise in fiqh. Therefore, I would prefer not to comment on his fiqhi views. However, it is best for Muslims to stop dividing ourselves into warring camps.
As far as I know, Shaikh Albani was attempting to derive fiqh from the hadith directly without relying on the accepted methodology of fuqaha (jurists). As Imam Shah Waliullah has pointed out in his esteemed work al-insaaf, this was a method employed by some hadith scholars. This method was a development that followed the codification of hadith and the subsequent development of the sciences of hadith. There is no doubt that it was a departure from the standard methods of schools of jurisprudence, including those of the four schools.
However, even if one may disagree with Albani's methods of validating hadiths or his fiqhi rulings based on such methods, it is best for us to stop vilifying each other. Shaikh Albani has already gone to meet his Lord, and, therefore, I would rather leave his judgement to Allah.
I am comfortable with the mainstream approach to fiqh and validation of hadiths and interpretations, without in any way implying that every single doctrine in these schools is to be treated as if they were revealed truths, immutable and unchanging, and relevant for all times. That was not in any way the intent of the fuqaha; and that was not the way the fiqh developed: Fiqh has always evolved, and will continue to evolve. It is cross-fertilized by exposure to schools themselves as well as to the insights of scholars of traditions. So we need to be open minded and shun self-righteousness.
May Allah help us learn the wisdom from our great imams, who never condemned others who disagreed with them. Rather, they--as expressed by Imam Shafi' himself--always prayed to Allah to show them the truth through the tongues of their opponents or their own!