1. Do I have to have a math-hab and why?
2. I follow the taraweeh in a musjid that is of mixed math-habs, and for the past few years we have been reading the first 15 days witr in the hanafi math-hab and the second 15 in the shafi math-hab. The imam of the musjid is a shafi from Malawi and we all read our esha behind him. The question that now arises is; one of the Hufaz who is also predominantly hanafi, also, occasionally leads the witr in the shafi methodology, is this acceptable?
A. Because you grew up in a predominantly Hanafi environment and the Madrasa education you received is of the Hanafi Madhab, definitely you are a Hanafi.
Yes, it is compulsory to follow a Madhab so that there may be uniformity in one’s practices and steadfastness on the Sunnah. By practicing on one math-hab you will also be saved from confusion and will not end up following base desires.
Performing a Fardh Salaah behind an Imam of any of the four Madhabs is valid because there is no difference of opinion among the Madhabs on the Fardh Salaah.
You will have to perform the Witr Salaah according to the Hanafi Madhab because of differences between the Shaafi'ee and Hanafi Madhabs on the issue of Witr. The Shaafi'ees perform it as two Rakaats and one Rakaat separately and the Hanafi Madhab does not accept performance of a single Rakaat in Salaah.
You will separate from the Jamaat and perform the Witr on your own.
The Hanafi Hafiz has erred by performing the Witr according to the Shaafi'ee Madhab.
Respect will be shown to all the four Madhabs but one will practice on his own Madhab.
Allah Ta'aala knows best.
Moulana Yusuf Laher
Checked by: Mufti Siraj Desai