How did madhhabs emerge?

During the Era of our Prophet some of the Companions stayed with the Messenger of Allah constantly, memorized the verses of the Quran and hadiths and tried to understand their meanings properly. They saw how Hazrat Prophet applied the judgments of the Quran in person and knew about the reasons for the revelation.

After the death of Hazrat Prophet, the Companions left Makkah and Madinah, and went to various Islamic countries. They met people with different customs and traditions from those of Hejaz. People went to them and asked them about religious issues, and the Companions informed people about the judgment of the Quran and Sunnah about the issue. If they could not find an obvious judgment in the Quran and hadiths about the issue, they made ijtihad and clarified the issues. The companions were both the judge, and mufti and governor and teacher in cities that they went to. They formed kind of schools in the places where they were. Since they went to very different places and lived with people having different customs and traditions, and since there were differences among them in terms of information, intelligence and comprehension, they naturally made different ijtihads, and expressed different opinions and ideas for the questions that they were asked.

The students of a companion that gathered around him started to make ijtihads based on his system and method of approach, to settle problems and find solutions to the situations that occurred in the society after him. As a result of those efforts, fiqh madhhabs started to form in the source of time. Some madhhabs disappeared since they could not find followers in the course of time; the existing four madhhabs of today received a general acceptance in the Islamic world and became strong; they spread and reached today. 

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