We have so many “schools of thought” it is now impossible to suggest to roll back all the mazhabs into only one unified majhab and forever dissolve all the fiqhi differences between muslims. This is a project some “alems” are busying themselves with in some muslim countries. Their intentions may be good, which is to unify all the sects and create only one unitary muslim mazhab for all the muslims all over the world.
I dont think that is ever going to happen. Besides, the way Fitrah (natural law) works differently in human society. The first four caliphs differed from each other having their own style of reasoning with implementing shariah. Hazrat Abu Bakr and Umar would have serious arguments; Hazrat Ali and Umar differed over the issue of khilafat of Abu Bakr. Hazrat Uthman had his particular choice of governors whom Hazrat Ali totally rejected and later sacked them during his khilafat. These were no minor issues. In fact these were the most critical issues of the time.
BUT, the most admirable beauty about the caliphs and the sahabas was this: they disagreed but they never disunited. Not only that. Hazrat Ali, in his famous sermon when Abu Sufyan offered to give ba’yah to him, made it known how the sahabas deemed it necessary to have bold and frank discussions with the authority without compromising the individual’s character and without causing any rift within the ummah. Differences will exist as they give the food for the mind to explore, discover and make new paths to and from knowledge. Difference of opinion can elevate man’s level of thinking to the next higher level. Without the power of disagreement there would be no room for reason or rational to exist, without which civilization’s progress will nose dive.
Currently we see the majhabi system is there to protect the prestige of “religious scholars”, instead of trying to resolve the problems faced by the ummah. The doctors of religion know very well principles behind the schools of thought and yet they deny those blessings from reaching the followers of those same schools. It goes to the extent that one majhab thinks all other majhabs are disbelievers, especially between shiah-sunni brothers. Well, Neither was Ali a shiah nor were Abu Bakr and Umar sunnis, their majhab was the majhab they implemented during their time as the ruler of all muslims. They respected individual opinions and tolerated differences.
Today, our “alems” are busy memorizing answers instead of understanding the contexts. There is no way to hold reasonable argument with them because training over the years stopped their brains from critical thinking and analysis. But they are good at what they do and some of their works cant be ignored. But with regard to muslim body (ummah) and the issues which concern with her liberation from shaitan, this will need a group of brave men and women who are willing to struggle with their wealth and their selves in the cause of goodness and justice.
That is also the example of the sahaba. They were not “religious” scholars in any sense of the word. They were traders, merchants, slaves, day workers and just average common people, like Syedetena Sumayyah, Billal, Ammar, Yasser, Abdullah Ibn Masud, Abu Dhar Al-Ghifary, Salamah, Salman Al Farsi, Abu Ayub Ansari, Anas bin Malik and so many other sahabas (Radi Allahu Anha wa Anhum). There must obviously be a difference between us and them (the sahabas). We just need to know better what that difference really is.