others have the idea that what we invite to, of following the sunnah and not accepting the views of the imaams contrary to it, means to completely abandon following their views and benefiting from their opinions and ijtihaad.
answer: this idea is as far as can be from the truth - it is false and obviously flawed, as is clearly evident from our previous discussion, all of which suggests otherwise. all that we are calling to is to stop treating the madhhab as a deen, placing it in the position of the qur'aan and the sunnah, such that it is referred to in the case of dispute or when extracting a new judgment for unexpected cirumstances, as the so-called jurists of this age do when setting new rules for personal matters, marriage, divorce, etc, instead of referring to the qur'aan and the sunnah to distinguish the right from the wrong, the truth from falsehood - all of this on the basis of their "differing is a mercy" and their idea of pursuing every concession, ease and convenience! how fine was the saying of sulaiman at-taymi (rahimahullaah):
were you to accept the concessions of every scholar, in you would gather every evil.
related by ibn 'abdul barr in jaami' bayaan al-'ilm (2/91- 91), who said after it, "there is ijmaa' (consensus of opinion) on this: i know of no contrary view."
all this pursuing of concessions for the sake of it is what we reject, and it agrees with ijmaa', as you see.
as for referring to the imaams' views, benefiting from them, and being helped by them in understanding the truth where they have differed and there is no text in the qur'aan and the sunnah, or when there is need for clarification, we do not reject it. in fact, we enjoin it and stress upon it, for there is much benefit expected in this for whoever treads the path of being guided by the qur'aan and the sunnah. 'allaamah ibn 'abdul barr (rahimahullaah) says (2/182),
"hence, my brother, you must preserve the fundamentals and pay attention to them. you should know that he who takes care over preserving the sunnahs and the commandments stated in the qur'aan, considers the views of the jurists to assist him in his ijtihaad, open up different angles of approach and explain sunnahs which carry different possible meanings, does not blindly follow the opinion of anyone of them the way the sunnah should be followed without analysis, nor ignores what the scholars themselves achieved in preserving and reflecting on the sunnahs, but follows them in discussion, understanding and analysis, is grateful to them for their efforts through which they have benefited him and alerted him about various points, praises them for their correct conclusions, as in the majority of cases, but does not clear them of errors just as they did not clear themselves: such is the pursuer of knowledge who is adhering to the way of the pious predecessors; such is the really fortunate and truly guided; such is the follower of the sunnah of his prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam), and the guidance of the companions (radi allaahu 'anhum).
but he who refrains from analysis, forsakes the method we have mentioned, disputes the sunnahs with his opinion and desires to accommadate them only where his own view allows: such a one is straying and leading others astray. further, he who is ignorant of all we have mentioned, and plunges carelessly into giving verdicts without knowledge: such a one is even more blind, and on a path more astray."