Throughout the ages, a divergence tends to develop between the original rulings of the Madhab, and the views of the ulama of a particular era. The role of the Mujaddid and the Muhaqqiq is to revive the original teachings. There is compelling evidence that such a revival in scholarship and tahqeeq took place last century at the the school of Deoband. A group of ulama emerged who produced innumerable scholarly works which resembled, as attested to by scholars globally, the works of the early classical scholars. Since their focus was the Hanafi Madhab, a revival of the original teachings of the Hanafi Madhab took place.
These Muhaqqiqs did not accept the rulings of the latter day fuqaha, without first deriving and verifying the actual ruling from the Usuls of the madhab, and according to usool ul-Fiqh of the Hanafi madhab. If the ruling differed, they adopted and revived the original ruling. Any view attributed to the Hanafi Madhab had to be based on reliable quotes from the founders of the madhab and verified by the early Fuqaha.
For a glimpse of the extent to which this divergence has developed between the ruling of the contemporary ulama and the Madhab, one only needs to observe how the following erroneous rulings, which are completely contrary to the ruling of the Madhab, are propagated widely by Hanafi scholars both in the sub-continent and the Arabian peninsula:
1) Building over the graves is permissible, and even recommended.
2) Trimming the beard below a fist-length is permissible. Some Hanafi ulama go as far as claiming that shaving is permissible.
3) Letting the trousers hang below the ankle is permissible if done without pride.
4) Attributing exclusive qualities of Allah to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). For example, many ulama today attribute Ilmul ghayb (such as knowledge of the last hour) to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) despite the fact that the classical fuqaha have condemned such a belief very harshly. It is stated in the authoritative Hanafi texts, that anybody that attributes the ghayb to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) has committed Kufr!
There is nothing to indicate that the state of the other three Madhabs would not have deteriorated in the same manner.
Due to the clear disparity between the categorical commands of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as understood by the Salaf, and the rulings of ulama who claim to be faithful representatives of the Madhabs, many sincere Muslims develop an inevitable distrust for the ulama, and fall for Salafism. One only needs to look at the following thread to see how certain groups of ulama have been pulling the wool over the eyes for so many years:
In this thread I wish to discuss certain rulings attributed to a Madhab, which appear (at least on the surface) quite clearly contrary to the rulings issued by the early fuqaha.