I found this on menadahkitab.com, funny and simple yet goes deep. I liberally translate and summarize it from a Malay transcript. Original is here.
This is part of lesson on Munyatul Musolli (by a reliable shaykh inshaAllah).
The prophet (saw) once said:
Sollu kama ro aitumuni usolli
Perform solah just like how you see me performing it.
Can we actually see the Prophet perform solah these days? No! So we take instructions as relayed to us by the contemporary ulama. We go to lessons.
Simply copying, reading does not count as “going to lessons”. The ulama themselves went to lessons instructed by their shaykhs, who in turn had taken lessons from their shaykhs, who took from the earlier generation up to the tabi’in, the sahabah, then the Prophet (saw), who himself took from Jibril, who took from Allah The Most High. Allah could have revealed directly to Prophet Muhammad (saw), yet He sent Jibril to teach solah to Rasulullah (saw) eye-to-eye during the night of Isra’ and Mi’raj.
Once somebody phoned me and asked: “Ustaz, I found this wirid in a book. I recited it a few times, and I felt heated”.
So I asked if he took it from a shaykh, he said “no, just from a book”.
This is a regular wirid, thousands other people practice this same wirid hundreds thousands times a day without feeling any heat. This person who had stumbled into it and practice without instructions for sure would get some negative effect.
It is not right to copy or practice something without getting proper instructions. If you want to study religion, go to a reliable ‘alim. Make sure he has proper authority and proper chain. We preserve the chain so we get the correct knowledge.
Deriving Rules from al-Quran and Ahadith
Why bother with the fiqh kitabs? Why follow mazhabs? Is not Islamic jurisprudence based on al-Quran and ahadith?
It is like durian fruit, you want to eat the inside, but you’re not equipped to break the thorny shell. What do you do? Let somebody else break it for you!
In any case, if you have the tools and skills, go ahead, break the durian yourself.
Allah has said:
Fas aluu ahlaz zikr in kuntum la ta’lamuun.
Ask people of knowledge if you do not know.
If you do not know, then who else to ask if not the imams of mazhabs (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali). Go learn from the ulama of respective mazhabs, inshaAllah you will be safe. You should follow (taqlid) a mazhab, and when you do, follow only a single mazhab from beginning to end. Take wudhu’ according to Shafi’i, then perform solah according to Shafi’i. Do not worry, all those rulings came from al-Quran and hadith.
Imam Shafi’i, when he was seven years old, he had all of Quran in his head. Us? We were still running around naked at seven. Imam Malik, he took lessons from 900 shaykhs. Us? We learned from one shaykh in whole of our lives, and already we think our head is big.
Doing Taqlid on Creed
On the other hand, if you want to be a faithful muslims, never do taqlid on matters of creed (tauhid). Example of doing taqlid on tauhid:
Q: Is there God?
Q: How do you know?
A: My father said so!
Q: Allah, is He all-powerful?
A: No question about that.
Q: How do you know?
A: My grandfather said so, my mother, my brother all said so.
This is not acceptable. You have to be totally convinced in matters of Tauhid.
No doubt we allowed to switch mazhab. The only problem is we still unclear about our own mazhab. How to switch if we still in the dark about our own position, let alone the position of other mazhabs?
On zakah – if you plant rice, then give back rice grain as zakah according to Shafi’i. But we find this troublesome, so without knowing it, we already made the switch to Maliki in giving out equivalent sum of money as zakah.
On asking forgiveness - if we offend others and want to make up, we ask forgiveness by detailing out our offense to the offended party. Tell the other guy you stole his rice harvest, or his shoes. A blanket apology would not do. In Shafi’I you have to admit everything.
In Maliki, suffice to ask forgiveness to the offended party and tell only yourself why you are apologizing. No problem if we Shafi’i, but follow Maliki in this case.
The important issue is that you go to lessons and take instructions from qualified shaykhs. Never imitate other people’s doings. Go to masjids and suraus where the shaykhs teach based on kitabs.
Islaminus’ p/s: I’d appreciate it if menadahkitab.com admin let me know in case he doesn’t agree with my translation – thanks.