It is to be noted above all that Islam compels neither the newly converts nor anyone else to follow a certain Madhhab (Juristic School). Every Muslim is free to choose any of the well-known authoritative Sunni Madhahib. Following any of these Madhahib (sing. Madhhab) does not mean that one has to insist on such a Madhhab or force the others to abide by it. In other words, if the husband follows a certain Madhhab, this does not mean that his wife should abide by the same Madhhab.
Actually, it’s not easy for a layman to choose between different Juristic opinions, and who knows not the judgment pertaining to a certain issue should consult a trusted scholar or a knowledgeable person and abide by the Madhhab of that scholar or person. Given the fact that there are many Madhahib that provide facility for people, the newly converts are in no way obliged to follow a certain Madhhab.
The European Council for Fatwa and Research stated that: Abiding by a certain Madhhab is not a religious obligation. Neither Allah nor His Messenger oblige us to abide by Hanafi, Maliki school or otherwise. Muslims are to abide by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. These are the two authentic, perfect, infallible sources, whereas every individual judgment is subject to acceptance and rejection. The renowned Imams themselves forbade others to unquestionably adopt their opinions.
Muslim jurists, however, agree that there is no specific Madhhab for the layman, he should abide by the Madhhab of the one who is capable of giving him a Fatwa.
The term ‘layman’ here refers to the person who cannot study the proofs of every ruling and give priority to a ruling over another. Such a person should have no Madhhab. Choosing a certain Juristic School entails giving priority and preference to certain proofs over others; this is the job for only erudite scholars. As for a commoner, he should follow the opinion of the scholar who gives him Fatwa. Whenever he has a certain problem, he can consult an Imam or a Sheikh and follow his Fatwa Almighty Allah says: “Ask the followers of the Remembrance if ye know not!” (An-Nahl: 43) And the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said concerning some people: “Why don’t they inquire if they know not, verily inquiry is the cure of ignorance.”
If an ordinary Muslim lives in a country in which all of its jurists follow a certain Madhhab, then he can follow the Madhhab adopted in his country. In fact, the common Muslim should follow the Jurists of his country and their Madhhab. But he should not insist on abiding by his Madhhabor belittle the other Madhahib. If it appears to him that the judgment pertaining to his Madhhab is weak in a certain issue, he should follow the judgment of the strong and sound Madhhab. A true Muslim always seeks the sound evidence and abides by it wherever it might be.
Imam Abu Hanifah is quoted to have said: “This is our opinion, and we are ready to listen to him who brings a better opinion.” Imam Malik said: “Everyone’s opinion could be accepted or rejected except that of the one buried in this grave (pointing to the grave of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him). Ash-Shafi`i also said: “If a Hadith proves to be authentic (regarding a certain issue), then accept it and reject whatever religious opinion I may utter (regarding the same issue).”
Every Muslim is free to choose the better and sound Madhahib. It is not an obligation for the son to follow his father or for the wife to follow the same Madhahib of her husband.
Thus, we can say that the most appropriate ruling for the newly converts is not to abide by a certain Madhahib, for this places many restrict
ions and inflicts hardship on them. Those newly converts are welcome to Islam, a religion that has a treasure of religious texts and great objectives. While a certain Madhahib may prove to be difficult, another can provide facility and easiness. We, Muslims are commanded to make things easy for people, and give them glad tidings specially newly converts.
In short, the newly converts, men and women, are not obliged to follow a certain Madhahib. If a husband follows a certain Madhab, for some reason or another, it is not obligatory for his wife to abide by the same Madhahib.