This is the deen of islaam in truth and its fundamental and its basis is the Book and the Sunnah. So they are the points of reference in every dispute that the Muslims fall into and he who refers back to other than them is not a believer! As Allah the most Most high says:
"But no,by your Lord,they can have no faith,until they make you (O Muhammad (saw) judge in all disputes between them and find in the,selves no resistance against your decisions and accept (them) with full submission. 
Not one of the scholars said, 'follow me in my opinion' rather they said, 'take from where we have taken,' besides, much has been added to these madhabs from the understanding of their later generations. They contain many errors and matters of conjecture,which if the Imaams to whom they are attributed were to see them, then they would absolve themselves of them and from those who said them.
All of the people of knowledge from the Pious predecessors clung to the manifest texts of the Book and thew Sunnah and encouraged the people to stick to them and act accordingly. This is established from the Imaams from amongst them. Abu Haneefah, Maalik, Ahmad,ash-Shafiee, the two Sufyaans, ath-Tahwree and Ibn Uyaiynah, al-Hasan al-Basree, Abu Yousuf Yaqoob-the Qadee, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybaanee, Abdur Rahmaan al-Awzaee, Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, al-Bukharee, Muslim and the rest (ra). All of them warned against innovations in the Deen and against blind following of anyone except the infallible Messenger (saw). As for other than him, then he is fallible whoever he may be, his saying which is in accordance wiht the Book and the Sunnah is accepted and that which goes against them is to be rejected. As Imaam Maalik (ra) said, "The saying of everyone may be taken or rejected except for the companion of this grave" and he pointed to the grave of the Prophet (saw) 
The scholars,the four Imaams and the others, all followed this way,all of them warned against blind following! Since Allaah, the Most High, condemned the blind followers in more than one place in His book. Most of the earlier and later people became disbelievers due to their blind following of their priests, rabbis, old people and forefathers. It is established from Imaams Abu Haneefah (ra), Maailik,ash-Shafiee, Ahmad and others (ra) -that they said:
"It is not permissible for any one to give judgement with our saying unless they know the source from which we took it" 
"If the hadeeth is found to be authentic then it is my madhab" 
"If I say something then compare it to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger and if it agrees to them,then accept it and that which goes against them,then reject it and throw my saying against the wall".
These are the sayings of these prominent Imaams, may allaah enter them into the Home of Peace.Unfortunately, the later blind followers and authors who wrote the books, whom the people think to be scholars and infallible mujtahids, have made it obligatory for the people to blindly follow one of the four Imaams and their well known madhaabs. After declaring this to be obligatory, they forbade taking or acting upon anyone else's saying,it is as if they have made him (ie the Imaam) Prophet to be obeyed. It would have been better had they acted upon the sayings of the Imaams.However, most of them know nothing of the Imaam whom they claim to follow,except his name. Further,some of the latter followers invented questions, created new madhabs and ascribed them to the original Imaams. So those who came after them think that it is the saying of the Imaaam or his students and in reality it goes against what the Imaam said and approved;he is free from what they ascribe to him, such as the saying of many of the later Hanafees that it is forbidden to point the forefinger in the tashshuud in prayer  or that what is meant by Allah's hand id His power,or that He is present by His Dhaat (self) in every place and not above the Arsh because of this and its like the unity of the Muslims has been destroyed their community has seperated, the splits increased and the horizons filled with hypocrisy and disunity!Each of them declaring those who differ from them in the slightest matter to be upon misguidance ,to the extent that some of them declare the others to be disbelievers and some striking the necks of the others to be disbelievers and some striking the necks of the others and have become fitting for what the truthful and trustworthy Messenger, the most noble of us ,Muhammad(saw) said,
"My Ummah will split into seventy -three sects,all of them in the fire except one" It was said, 'Who are they O Messenger of Allaah? He said, "That which I and my Companions are upon" 
 The following of madhabs has not only led the blind followers to prefer the sayings and opinions of men to the clear texts of the Quran and Sunnah,it has further taken them even to forget the authentic sayings of their own Imaams(ra)-preferring the sayings of the later followers,thinkinbg that they are the madhabs of the scholars, without discrimination or research and that is due only to the severity of their blind following.It is known that the scholars wrote down their positions in books and left what they regarded to be correct according to their own ijtihaad.Imaam Maalik(ra) -left his position in al-Muwatta and Imaam ash-Shafiee left his position in al-Umm. If we wish to know the madhab of any of those scholars we have to refer back to his book.It is not fitting as being the saying of Imaam Maalik, Imaam Ash-Shafiee and Imaam Abu Haneefah (ra) -which they never said or did. For example, the Maalikees leave their arms at their side, during the Slaah and read Qunoot in fajr,whereas we find Maailik-(ra) quotes in al-Muwatta: "Chapter: placing the two hands, one upon the other in Prayer."He reported narrations therein,from them: That Abdul Kareem ibn Abil Makhaariq al-basaree said, "From the sayings of prophethood is: If you feel shame, then do as you wish; placing the hands one upon the other in prayer;being early in breaking the fast;and delaying taking the predawn meal (suhoor)"
But the later Maalikees use as evidence that Maalik used to pray with his hands hanging at his side,this is ignorance with regard to the madhab which they follow.Since Jafar ibn Sulayman, the governor of al-Madeenah lashed the Imaam in the year 146H and streched out his arms until his hands became dislocated and so he was not able to place his hands one over the other in Prayer.(See al-Intiqaa, p.44). He wrote al-Muwatta two years after this happened. Imaam Maalik (ra) also reports in the chapter of the Qunoot in Fajr prayer (1/159) that, "Ibn Umar(ra) did not read the Qunoot in any of his prayers".
As for Imaam ash-Shafiee (ra) then it is ignorantly attributed to him that he holds the salaat upon the Prophet(saw) to be a sunnah whereas he says in al-Umm (1/117) that it is obligatory:"Allaah, the Most high, made obligatory the salaat upon His Messenger(saw) saying:
"Allah and the angels send salaat upon the Prophet(saw): O you who believe send salaat upon him and greet him with respect.( Sooratul-Ahzaab (33):56)
There is no place which has more right for that be obligatory therein than within the Prayer.We find proof from Allahs Messenger (saw) of what I have said,that salaat upon His Messenger (saw) is obligatory in prayer and Allaah, the Most high, knows best.
As for the books of later Hanafees, such as al-Khulaash of al-Kaidanee,they quote that amongst those things which are prohibited in prayer is making a sign with your forefinger, like Ahlul-Hadeeth. In the book of Prayer of al-Masoodee, he states that pointing with the forefinger was a Sunnah with the older generations, then was practiced by the Sheeah and Raffidees and so the later scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah left it and so became abrogated.Whereas we find in fath-ulQadeer of ibn ul-Hammaam and he is one of the greatest of them, that the pointing is Sunnah and that he who says other than that then he has gone against what is related, rather Muhhamad ibn al-Hasan ash- Shaybaanee, the student of Abu Haneefah reported in his Muwatta that it is Sunnah. Is there not in these examples a clear proof that blind following of madhabs is a calamity that has taken the Muslims away from the following the way of the beset of generations?!
 This excellent saying,overflowing with great wisdom,was said by the learned man of this Ummah, Abdullaah ibn Abbas (ra) as quoted by Taqiyyuddeen as-Subkee in his Fatawaa(1/148) being amazed by its beauty. It was taken from Ibn Abbaas (rta) by Mujaahid, as occurs in Jaami Bayaan ul-ilm wa Fadlihee (1/91) and al-Ihkaam fee Usool il-Ahkaam (1/145). Maalik took it from Mujaahid and it is ascribed to Maalik and became well known from him. It was taken from them by Imaam Ahmad (ra) Abu Daawood says in Masaa-il-ul-Imaam Ahmad (p.276) "I heard Ahmad say: There is no one except that his opinion may be taken or left,except fpr the prophet(saw).
 From the sayings of Imaam Abu Haneefahan-Nauman (ra) and it is established from him by a number of narrations.See al-Intiqaa of Ibn 'Abdul-Barr(p.145) and Alaam ul-Muwaqqieen of Ibn ul-Qayyim(2/309).
 The two Imaams Abu Haneefah and ash-Shaafiee (ra) stated that. See Rasm ul-Muftee from the collected Rasaa'il of ibn 'Abideen (1/4) and Eeqaz ul-Hamam of al-Fulaanee (p.62 and 107).Imaam ash-Shafiee (ra)-said to Imaam Ahmad (ra) "You know better about hadeeth than us, so if an authentic hadeeth comes to you,then inform me of it,that I may according to it,whether its source is the Hijaaz or Koofa or Egypt" (See al-Intiqaa of Ibn Abdul-Barr,p.75).
 This is a saying of ash-Shafiee(ra). See al-Majmoo of an-Nawawee(1/63) and Alaam ul-Muwaqqieen of Ibn ul-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (2/361)
 You should know,O brother in Islaam,may Allaah grant you success by His obedience and guide you to the truth by his permission,that the truth about the matters which the author mentioned from the later Hanafees is as follows:
(i) As regards the pointing with the forefinger in Tashahhud:
The author mentioned that the later hanafees reject pointing with the forefinger in more than one place in his treatise and that they go against the 'verfiers' within their own madhab. (Amongst them) Imaam at-Tahawee said in his book Sharh Maaniyy ul-Aathaar" In it is a proof that it was at the end of prayer" and ash-Shaykh Abul Hasan as-Sindee says in his footnotes to the Sunan of an-Nasaee(2/236), "The hadeeth about pointing has preceded and the majority of our scholars and others have accepted that,as for rejection of that by some of our scholars,than that deserves no attention".The sunnah with regards to pointing ,is to move the forefinger throughout the tashahhud,in accordance with the hadeeth of Wail ibn Hujr(ra) -which is reported by Ahmad(4/138), Abu Daawood(no.727), an-Nasaaee(2/236), ad-Daarimee (1/314-315),I bn ul-Jaarood(no.208) and Ibn Khuzaimah (no.714) with Saheeh isnaad and there occurs in it,
"...then he closed his fingers and made a ring,then he raised his finger and I saw him moving it and making duaa with it, then I came in a time and when it was cold and so I saw the people with cloaks upon them moving their hands beneath their clothes due to the cold".
As for the hadeeth of Abdullah ibn az-Zubair (ra)- where in is mentioned that the Prophet (saw) used to point with his finger when he made duaa and not move it.It is reported by Abu Dawood(no.989), its isnaad is not authentic since it contains Muhammad ibn 'Ajalah,about whom adh-Dhabee says, "of average memory," The ahadeeth of the like of him are not acceptable if they contradict anyone who is more reliable than him and his narration becomes shaadh and therefore Muslim does not report from him except to endorse something. Even if this hadeeth were established,then it is a denial and the hadeeth of Waail ibn Hujr is affirming. That which affirms is taken over that which denies, since the one who affirms something has an increase in knowledge and what he knows is a proof against he who does not. This sunnah is also from the sayings of Imaam Maalik (ra)-as occurs in the book ar-Risaalah of Abdullah ibn Abee Zaid al-Qairwanee al-Maalikee (p.27) and the book al-Fiqh alal madhaahib il-Arbaah (no.98).Imaam Ahmad was asked,Should a man point his finger in the Prayer? So he said,"Yes strongly." See Masaail ul-Imaam Ahmad,the narration of Ibn Haani (1/80).
ii) Denying thgat Allaah is above the heavens:
Perhaps the clearest proof that destroys the faslehood of those blind followers is that which occurs in al-Fiqh ul-Akbar (p.19 of the Egyptian printing) which is famous amongst the Hanafees and attributed to Abu haneefah: That Abu haneefah was asked about someone who says, 'I do not know if my lord is in the heavens or the earth?' So he said, 'He has disbelieved since Allaah ,the Most High says:
The Most Merciful ascended above the throne(Arsh) (Soorah Taaha) (20):5)
And His Arsh is above the heavens."So I said,if he says,'I say he is above the Arsh ,but I do not know if the Arsh is in the heavens or the earth? he said,"If he denies that He is above the sky,then he has disbelieved"
Imaam at-Tahawee al-Hanafee,says in his Aqeedah,"That Allaah the Most High is above the Arsh and whatever is below it, encompassing everything and above it".
Like wise,Ibn Abil 'Izz al-Hanafee says in his Sharh al-Aqeedatut-Tahaawiyyah (p.323 of the Maktab al-Islaamee printing), commenting upon those later blind followers and the like, "No notice is to be taken of those who ascribe themselves to the madhab if Abu haneefah, since groups of Mutazilah and others ascribe themselves to him, who go against him in many of his beliefs."
This explanation and its like establish that Abu haneefah and his early companions and the verifiers of the later scholars are with the (rest of the ) Salaf in believing that Allaah is above His creation and that he is above the heavens.(This belief) is shown clearly by the authentic ahaadeeth such as the hadeeth of the slave girl and it is stated in the clear aayaahs such as His,the Glorious and Most High's saying:
"Do you feel secure that He is above the sky,will not cause you to be swalloed up by the earth when it shakes (as in the earh quake)? (Sooratul Mulk)(67:16)
 Saheeh: Reported by Abu Daawood,at-Tirmidhee ,Ahmad,Ibn Maajah and al-Haakim and others from Abu Hurairah (rta) from the Prophet(saw).
It is reported by Abu Daawodd (2/503-504), ad-Daarimee (2/241), Ahmad and al-Haakim (1/128), who declared it Saheeh and adh-Dhahabee agreed from the hadeeth of Muaawiyaah ibn Abee Sufyaan (ra) in marfoo' form.
It is reported by Ibn Maajah (2/1322) from Awf ibn Maailik (ra) in marfoo form.
It is declared Saheeh by our shaykh in Silsilatul-Ahaadeeth us-Saheehah (3/480) and declared Saheeh by a number of the scholars,such as ash-Shatibee in al-Istisaam (2/189-190) and muhammad ibn al-Wazeer in ar-Rawd-ul-Baasim (2/115) and our Shaykh in Silsilatul-Ahaadeeth us-Saheehah (no.203 and 204) and Ibn katheer in his tafseer of the sublime Quraan (1/390) that it was strong and al-Haafidh Ib hajr declares it hasan in Takhreej ul-Kashhaaf (p.63) saying, "And its isnaad is hasan".
The narration which al-Masoomee (ra) mentioned is reported by at-Tirmidhee (5/25) by way of Abd ur-Rahmaan ibn Ziyaad al-Ifreeqee, the judge of Africa,who is weak on account of his memory, as al-Haafidh says in at-Taqreeb. However it has a supporting narration which brings it to the level of Hasan, which is reported by al-'Uqailee in ad-Duafaa and at-Tabaranee in as-Sagheer (no.150) by way of Abdullah ibn Sufyaan al-Madanee, from Yahya ibn Saeed al-Ansaree from Anas (ra) in marfoo form. Therefore al-Haafidh al-Iraqee indicates Hasan in al-Mughnee an Hamlil-Asfaar (3/199) and it is declared Hasan by our Shaykh al-Albanee (ha) in Saheeh ul-Jaami(5/80)