Disputation

PROHIBITION OF DISPUTATION IN RELIGION

© 1995 Al-Haneef Publications

If someone comes to debate with you, beware of him. For debating involves argumentation, disputing, seeking to overcome, wrangling and anger. You have been forbidden from all of this. It diverts you both away from the truth. It has not reached us that any of our scholars or people of knowledge argued, debated or disputed. Al-Hasan (al-Basree) said, “The wise man does not argue or seek to overcome with stratagem rather he propagates his wisdom. If it is accepted he praises Allaah and if it is rejected he praises Allaah.”[Reported by Abu Nu`aim ibn Hammaad in his Zawaa’id `alaz-Zuhd libnil Mubaarak (no. 30) and Ibn Battah in Ibaanatul-Kubraa (no. 611).

A man came to al-Hasan (al-Basree) and said, “I wish to debate with you about the Religion.” Al-Hasan replied, “I know my Religion. If you have lost your Religion go out and look for it.” [Reported by al-Aajurree in ash-Sharee`ah (p. 57), al-Laalikaa’ee in as-Sunnah (no. 215) and Ibn Battah (no. 586) and it is saheeh.]

The Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) heard some people arguing outside his apartment, one of them saying, ‘Did not Allaah say so and so?’ and the other saying, ‘Did not Allaah say so and so?’ So he came out angry and said, “Is this what I have ordered you, or is this what I was sent with, that you should set one part of the Book of Allaah against some other parts?” [Reported by Ahmad (2/178, 181 and 196), Ibn Maajah (no. 85), `Abdullaah ibn Ahmad in as-Sunnah (no. 86) and al-Baghawee in Sharhus-Sunnah (1/260). Al-Boosayree declared it saheeh in Zawaa’id Ibn Maajah (1/4) as did >al-Albaanee in Sharh `Aqeedah at-Tahaawiyyah (p. 218)] So he forbade them from argumentation.

Ibn `Umar used to hate disputation as did Maalik ibn Anas and those greater and lesser than him right up to this day.

The Sayings of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, is greater than the sayings of His creation. Allaah, the Most High says:”None dispute in the Aayaat (signs, proofs) of Allaah except those who disbelieve.” [Soorah Ghaafir (40):4]

A man asked `Umar ibn al-Khattaab: What is “Those (angels) who gently take out (the souls of the believers)?” [Soorah an-Naazi`aat (79):2]

He said, “If your head were shaved, I would have beheaded you.” [Shaving his head was the sign of the Khawaarij. The man who asked `Umar was called Sabeegh. His story is well-known and authentic. It is reported by ad-Daarimee (1/51), Ibn Waddah in al-Bida`h (p.56), al-Aajurree in ash-Sharee`ah (p. 73), al-Laalikaa’ee in as-Sunnah (pp. 634-636) and Ibn Battan (1/414-415)

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HOW MUSLIMS SHOULD DEAL WITH ONE ANOTHER WHEN THEY DIFFER

Questions and Answers with Sh. Muhammad Ibn Saleh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Question : When two scholars give differing judgments on a personal issue, how do we decide upon which opinion to choose? Do we look at the specialization of the scholar, his age or just the evidence he brings?

Answer : It is well known and important that we know what is correct through the means of evidence. Yet it is upon him (the person seeking the truth) to follow whom he sees is closest to that which is correct. This is according to the scholar’s knowledge and the level of trust in him. As far as knowledge – there are indeed people who speak without knowledge. He may have some aspect of knowledge while having yet missed many aspects. As far as trust – there are some people who have a lot of knowledge yet he looks to what the people desire therefore he becomes negligent and rules according to what suits the questioner. So if scholars disagree, look to who is closest to what is correct. Just as two doctors may differ in diagnosis or treatment of an illness. You will follow the one whose diagnosis you see is deeper and more thorough.

Question: If we choose one of the two scholars opinions about a person, group or issue, how do we treat those who take an opinion different from us?

Answer : It is necessary that you cooperate in a manner that shows love and excusing them if they do not abandon or forsake (the correct) ‘aqeedah. Because the companions (radiallahu ‘anhum) differed in matters yet they agreed (in principle) and were in conformity. They were in agreement (muttafiqoon) that the aim was to reach the truth and what was correct, and they were in conformity (muwaafiqoon) with the shari’ah (Islam). Every person will not attain the same understanding as another. So if there is a difference upon an issue there is no need for dispute. We all agree to be on one line (i.e. the same ‘aqeedah) because I know that my companion (holding the other opinion) will not differ from me without following evidence and I likewise would not differ from him other than upon evidence. Our aim is the same. Then it is not permissible for one to have any hatred nor anger nor enmity towards the other. We have many examples of this, among them the matter of Bani Quraidhah. When the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) returned from the battle of Ahzaab and they had put down their preparations for war, Jibreel came to him and ordered him to go out to Bani Quraidhah in their homeland and fight them because they had broken the treaty (between them and the Muslims). So the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) delegated his companions telling them not to pray Asr except in Bani Quraidhah, and it was far from Al-Medinah. They set out from Al-Medinah and the Asr prayer came in so some amongst them prayed saying that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) told us not to pray except in Bani Quraidhah only to urge us to hurry. Others said he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) ordered us not to pray except in Bani Quraidhah so we won’t pray until we reach there even if the sun goes down. This reached the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and he did not blame or censure any of them nor did any of them find fault in the other. This is what is obligatory. If I know that my differing companion is well-intending and he would only differ from me due to evidence with him, it is necessary to know that it is not permitted for me to feel hatred toward him. Why (should I)? If was to justify detesting him it means that I am justifying to myself that I must be obeyed as though I am infallible. This is not permissible. His argument against me is like mine against him and he can say why don’t you obey me?

Question: Does this apply as well if a scholar has criticized a person?

Answer : Yes. I do not like scholars to criticize one another. Especially at this time. The youth have not reached this level. It is my opinion that there should be respectfulness from the side of the scholars and whoever sees his fellow scholar as mistaken should speak to him privately and if it becomes clear that the truth is with one or the other it is then obligatory to follow him (i.e. the correct one) in it. And if the truth is not made clear then each one has his place. As far as harsh disputation, indeed outright partisanship and hotly taking sides reaching the level of enmity and hatred over differing over some person among the scholars, this is an error. A scholar may even die and Allah will account all and he may have been correct or in error. If I learn he has made an error in his words it is obligatory to leave that and not repeat it. And I should find an excuse for him, especially if I know the man was of good intention and should consider his making ijtihaad (i.e. attempting to arrive at the truth).

Question: Who has a right to say someone has a bid’ah or fallen into it or call someone a deviant or an innovator? And what is the meaning of the word ‘inhiraaf’?

Answer : Inhiraaf means to swerve from the straight path. It could be a complete inhiraaf that reaches the level of kufr (disbelief) or it could be an inhiraaf amounting to a shortcoming that does not lead to disbelief. The truth is we don’t just decide the matter of what is innovation. The scale upon which we weight the matter is the Kitaab and Sunnah. If this was not the case then every issue in which there was a difference between scholars in fiqh – and how many they are – we would say that all those who differ are innovators (mubtadi’een) [at this the shaykh slapped his hands together as if the matter would be all over!] and everyone who differs from us are innovators and all the fuqahaa would be considered as having fallen into innovation! There are few issues where there is absolutely no difference.

Question: Then if inhiraaf (meaning deviation) is applied to a person, what is meant?

Answer : [The shaykh visually illustrated an example in the room saying…] Here is a straight path from here to the door, if one goes (away) from here then (what)? (The group responded: Inhiraaf?) Yes it is inhiraaf. However it may be slight and easy to return from or it could be major. And this is the example given by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) when he drew a straight line and then lines from both sides.

Question: How can someone return if going off that path?

Answer: By Allah the way to get them back is to clarify the truth with kindness and compassion without assaulting a man a saying to him “You mubtadi’ (innovator), you are astray!” That may do nothing except cause him to hold more tightly to his opinion and at the least he will seek to defend himself or seek to support himself. However one should come to him with that which is better. Invite him to your home or go to him for a visit and say ‘this matter is causing a problem for me.’ He will say for sure it is a problem however decrease the dispute with him by approaching him humbly (almost as though you have the problem). Allah the Mighty and Majestic says: Is Allah better or those who they ascribe as partners? knowing full well that Allah is indeed better but this was put for the sake of disputant (for the sake of argument). Go and say to him “We came to settle this problem. Your words were such and such. Please clarify to me so we can come to some understanding or agreement.” If one goes to this extent I believe the brother will humble himself and comply in the face of such leniency and kindness.

Question: What do we do in a situation where some brothers say “We will not go to such and such a place because so-and-so will be there?” In other words what are the guidelines with regards to doing hijraan (boycott) in the matter of inhiraaf (deviation)?

Answer : First, know that it is not permissible against one who is a believer. Every believer is not permitted to be boycotted (i.e. absolutely) even if he is an adulterer or a thief a drinker or a killer because none of that takes him out of having imaan. As Allah stated: If two parties among the believers fight them make amends between and if one of them insists on fighting the other then fight the one who continues until he submits to the order of Allah and if they cease then reconcile them with justice for verily Allah loves the just. Verily the believers are brothers so make reconciliation between your brothers. [Al-Hujuraat] So the believer is not permitted to be boycotted. It is not allowed for a man to boycott another believer for more than three days. If the two meet the best one is the one who initiates the salaam. Do you understand? It is not permissible unless there is an overall benefit to the boycott. Namely that it causes the person being boycotted to leave the sin he is being boycotted for. In this case the boycott is a remedy. If such would be a cure for the illness then let it be so, but if not then stay away from it. Sometimes boycotting can be a cause for increase in the deviation and the loss of the person. If however you give the greetings to the person and smile in his face he will be softer and return to the truth. To boycott because he cuts his beard or smokes cigarettes or deals with riba is not correct. He is still a believer. The kaafir is one whom we do not initiate giving the salaam but what if he greets with salaam? We are obligated to return the greeting according to the statement of Allah ta’aala, If they were to greet you then give a better greeting or at least return it (i.e. an equal greeting). We don’t stay away and such a person is a kaafir. These issues in truth are very specific and ones in which it is not allowable for us to judge according to emotions. We must always return to the judge, namely return to the kitaab and the sunnah and the deeds of the righteous predecessors (as-Salaf as-Saalih).

Question: : Let us be more specific and ask one of the main issues in question, but without naming names or personalities. Suppose one of the scholars said a group was very bad or worse or more dangerous than the Jews and the Christians and someone else says we can’t generalize because there are so many people in them who are ignorant of this groups problems and it is a greater wrong to make a general statement that will unduly hurt them. How do we treat that person?

Answer : Why doesn’t he (the scholar) say ‘the madhhab of this group is more dangerous to Islam than the Jews and the Christians.’? This is more correct and safer without committing excess upon the member of the group. Let’s give an example of the Shi’ah. The extreme Shi’ah are more dangerous than the Jews and the Christians because they say their imaams control the universe, that their imaams are better than the Messenger. Then they curse the companions on the minbars and they curse the Mother of the Believers ‘Aaishah (radiallahu ‘anhaa). The one upon whose chest the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died and whose saliva was the last thing he tasted in this world, on her day, in her house. They would accuse her! Not even the Jews and the Christians say such a thing! On top of it is the problem that they say this is Islam! This is a real problem. Look and read in soorah Al-Munaafiqeen. What does Allah say about them? He says “They are the enemy so be on guard against them them!” This is a type of restrictive sentence so know its two parts. They are the enemy – so be on guard against them. Even with this, I don’t see a total rejection or dismissal of them saying such as “You Shi’ah are a bunch of kaafirs!” I rather say that madhhab and whoever follows its way is more dangerous to Islam than the Jews and the Christians. This is more correct. Is that clear?

Question: But how do we deal with a person who rejects saying that to these groups (not meaning the Shi’ah). We see him as mistaken or not knowing the truth of these groups. He says don’t make a general statement like that about them because there are pious and righteous people among them, while we see it as necessary to say so. Do we make the same blanket judgment about those among these groups who write on issues such as haakimiyyah and the like without complete knowledge and the leaders of these groups and the average person who just follows the leaders, sees them as good and who may have been led to Islam by them? Do we say to him that such people are more dangerous to Islam than the Jews and the Christians?

Answer : It is as I mentioned at first. Concentrate on the madhhab and the method not the person even if the person is astray not to mention if he has knowledge he may have made ijtihaad. There is no call for severity and vehemence towards him because some people gang up on a person just like that. However if we concentrate on the method, this is more beneficial. In this manner we see that none of heads of the kuffaar (Al-Quraish) is mentioned by name in the Qur’aan except one (i.e. Abu Lahab). This is a matter that we should, in shaa Allah follow the sound way (i.e. to deal with). Even if the innovator comes to us that we say his bid’ah is greater than the danger of the Yehood and Nasaara I don’t say ‘you say or your opinion is such and such’, I instead say to him “This is the way. If you follow it you have chosen for yourself. If you don’t follow it that is what we want.”

Question: Suppose I see someone who has made a mistake in their religion, maybe in ‘aqeedah, maybe in an action or in manhaj. Is it permissible for me with little knowledge to advise him? Answer: Has it not reached you that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa ‘alaa aalihi was sallam) said, “Convey about me even if it be a single aayah.”? Enough?

Someone states: We love you for the sake of Allah Shaykh.

Shaykh Ibn Al’Uthaimeen: We love the One Whom has caused you to love me. Allah has made us beloved to one another and of those in His cause (awliyaa-ihi). Verily He is in control of all things. Remain firm and stick together!

Question: Is it correct for a group of students of knowledge to make a ruling on an individual without going to him to speak with him or advise him first and instead go to others and warn them against this person and spread this?

Answer : No. No. Never! First if you hear something about a person and you see him as mistaken there are stages. The first stage is confirmation. The transmission about the person may or may not be correct. How many people transmit some statement about a person and they either misunderstand it or with the intention of causing enmity between the Muslims? So first is confirmation. And what could be better than the statement of Shaykh Al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyyah) in refutation of the Raafidhah (Shi’ah) in his book The Way of the Sunnah about when a text is mentioned “the first thing demanded is verification of the transmission.” This is a rule and important. Secondly, if the transmission is verified let us look. Is there an explanation for it that perhaps the transmitter did or did not understand? If we see that there is an explanation and the transmitter misunderstood, we say to the transmitter “Brother fear Allah! The man isn’t such and such!” or “The meaning is so and so.” In this case we would be defending the truth and saving this man from slandering his brother (buhtaan). Thirdly, if there is no explanation then it is obligatory that we go to whom the news is being said about and say “We heard such and such. Is it correct or not?” If he says yes then we should be polite and mannerly with him and not provoke or upset him and let him know there is a problem here. Did not Allah say such and such did not the Messenger say such and such? It is necessary that we return to the truth. He may have knowledge that is not with me and when I engage him he may point me to some knowledge and it would obligatory to follow it.

Question: Is it permissible to say to the person , “We saw you with so and so mubtadi’ as though you follow this innovating group?”

Answer : Never. You engage him as though you never heard a thing about it.

Question: If a brother feels harmed or hurt by the actions of some other brothers and they have hidden themselves from that person and as a result he feels this hurt in his heart, how can he go about healing that or making some type of reconciliation in himself and how can those brothers perhaps be corrected if their actions indeed are wrong? Answer : He should remember the statement of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam): Allah showed mercy to my brother Musa who was harmed more than this and he was patient. Be patient and the end is for the pious. This is of the knowledge of the gha’ib We have revealed to you. You were not aware of it nor were your people before you. Be patient for indeed the end is for the pious.

Question: What is obligatory upon a Muslim, and in particular, those seeking knowledge and making Da’wah, in regards to befriending scholars capable of performing Ijtihaad – that is under the assumption that adhering to a group of scholars who are capable of Ijtihaad is one of the obligatory means of adhering to the Jama’ah?

Answer : I say, the obligation of the general public of the Muslim community is to follow those scholars who are known to be abundant in knowledge, correct in the Aqeedah (belief), and sound in their Manhaj (methodology). This is because Allah says, which means: “And ask ahlu-thikr (people of knowledge) if you do not know”

And the scholars which I have just described are the “those in authority” – those who have Allah mentioned about in the Qur’aan, which means: “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority over you”

Because “those in authority” comprises two groups of people, the first group being the scholars, and they are the primary object in this aayah, and the second group are the rulers, those who implement the Shari’ah of Allah over the slaves of Allah. The scholars are the people of clarification, knowledge and guidance, and the rulers are the people of implementation and jurisdiction. So if the public were to take every person as one to be followed, following him without investigating his knowledge, trust, manhaj and aqeedah then they would split apart from one another and go astray. And this, meaning, this division is what Allah has forbidden in more than one aayah of the Qur’aan. Allah says, which means: “It has been legislated for you in the religion that Nuh (Noah) was ordered with, and that which We revealed to you, and what We ordered Ibrahim (Abraham) with and Musa (Moses) and ‘Eesaa (Jesus) – (the command) Establish the religion and do not divide therein.”

And Allah says, which means: “And do not divide or you will fail and you will lose your strength”

And Allah says, which means: “And do not be like those who divided and differed after the clear evidence came to them, for them is great punishment”

And Allah says, which means: “Those who split up their religion and became sects, you have nothing to do with them, their affair is only with Allah, then He will inform them of what they used to do”

To Allah belongs all Praise, the ways and means of communication have become many. So now it is possible for a person living in the East to call one in the West in just one second, and then ask him for whatever he needs. So the evidence has been established and the information has become clear. So beware, beware of division – and I say division not differing, for there is no escape from differing. Because people have disagreed in understanding, knowledge, imaan and taqwa. So if the people disagreed in these four subjects then how much more so differing in opinions. The only thing which requires guard against is differing of hearts, and the abandoning of each other, until the end result is that people accuse others of misguidance, and of innovation, so beware and be warned.

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ETHICS OF DISAGREEMENT

By Khalid Dhorat

Very often, people philosophize and agonize about the state of the Ummah. It is true that what happens in other parts of the world, affect us directly: we are concerned, we voice our feelings and assist according to our means. However, what we sometimes forget, is that whilst we are thinking globally, we fail to act……locally!

We, too have pressing issues at home. Disagreement and dissension, is capable of breaking up any society – and THIS is an issue that we need to face squarely!

Unity above everything

Prophet Musa (as) once became extremely upset with his brother Harun (as), who was also a Prophet. He grabbed him by his hair and pulled his beard. Musa (as) held Harun (as) responsible for allowing the Bani-Isra’il to follow the ‘Samiri’ and go back to worshipping the idols, during his absence. Harun (A.S.) sadly replied: “O son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard or my head. Truly, I feared but you should say that I caused a division among the Bani-Isra’il and did not respect my word ” (20:94)

This verse shows that Harun (A.S.) was more concerned with the unity of the Bani-Isra’il, than he was with their worshipping the golden calf. He was waiting for his brother to come back and calmly resolve this problem, thereby avoiding dissension.

Disagreements and differences between people are natural. All of us are different in one way or another. We come from different backgrounds and upbringings, we speak different languages, we belong to different ethnic backgrounds, and have variegated levels of education. We may therefore have different perceptions, opinions, and approaches. Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala says: “If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single community, but (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues. The return of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you dispute.” (5:48)

From this ayah we see that being different is by Allah’s design. Differences among people cannot be and will not be eliminated. Therefore, we have to make our differences and disagreements work to the advantage of the Ummah? Can we prevent dissension and enmity by learning how to disagree? To differ and disagree is only natural, But the WAY we differ, is a matter of attitude and discipline.

Types of disagreement

There are three types of disagreements: the first is normal disagreement,

IKHTILAF: It is used to describe a situation in which people genuinely cannot agree on issues. The second disagreement is dialectical in nature,

JADAL: The aim of this kind of disagreement is ultimately to win an argument. At best, it is fruitless and serves no higher purpose. The third type and worst type of disagreement is dissension,

SHIQAQ: This is when parties hold beliefs that are mutually exclusive. Each party has no room for the other’s opinion. It is when pride and arrogance subverts the rational mind to the lowest of the low. It may even lead to violence.

We have seen evidence of dissension in our society: family and business squabbles that dissipate the energy and resources of people; institutions of learning that bicker on irrelevant issues; road rage incidents that lead to death amongst neighbours; amphleteering amongst organisations; malicious slandering etc.. These are some of the symptoms of unacceptable disagreements that we see around us. They lead to disunity. They can be caused by selfishness, pride, arrogance and ignorance; or by blind loyalty to groups, parties or leaders. Allah warns us about these kinds of disagreements and gave us the examples of nations before us who destroyed themselves through dissension. Allah says: “And do not dispute with one another, lest you lose heart and your moral strength desert you……..” (8;46)

Imagine the situation of a group of people who are trapped at the bottom of a deep pit. Either they can argue forever about who can jump high enough to reach the top until they get exhausted and die, or they can stand on each other’s shoulders and by mutual co-operation reach the top. The Sahabah (R.A.) differed among themselves on a number of issues, starting with choosing the successor to the Prophet (S.A.W.). They differed on strategy in political matters, on interpretations in fiqhi issues. BUT they continued to have respect, love and reverence for each other. The founders of the different fiqh schools, although disagreeing on many issues, even so had great respect for each other.

Can we be the same? Can we disagree and remain united? I believe we can. The first and foremost guarantee of our unity, is setting our objective wholly and sincerely to please Allah. We need to train our hearts to reject pride and jealousy. To remain ONE community, we need to subordinate our desires to Allah’s desire.

Some of the pitfalls we need to avoid:

Generalizing and stereotyping: “This person or that organization is like this,” or “they are all the same.”

Doubt: Be careful about your assumptions. “Who is behind this?” “Where do they get their money from?” and so on, plant the seed of doubt and mistrust.

Jumping to conclusions: “He is the culprit.” Hear the whole story, get information, hear all sides before judging any individual or group.

Speaking about what you do not know: Speak only after thorough investigation. Allah says: “Do not pursue that which you have no knowledge of.”

Some aspects we need to emphasize:

1. Make your loyalty to Allah alone, and look for justice and truth.

2. If a discussion gets heated, stop it immediately.

3. Always keep in mind that your brother or sister has the right to his/her opinion, just like you do.

4. It is always better to debate an issue without settling it, than to settle it without debating it.

5. Do not leave an argument carrying a grudge.

6. Conclude with a handshake, smile or a hug.

7. Assure the other side that your disagreement does not change your love and respect for him.

Above all, let us not be from those who have broken the unity of their faith and become sects, each group delighting in what they follow ” (30:31-32).

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THE PERMISSIBLE AND THE IMPERMISSIBLE TYPES OF DIFFERING

Troid

DEFINITION:

Shaykh Ibn lbraaheem – rahimahullaah – (d.1389H) – said: “Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah have usool (fundamentals) which are firmly based upon proofs; and upon this are built the furoo’ (subsidiary issues).” [1]

GUIDELINES REGARDING DIFFERENCES:

Imaam as-Sa’dee (d.1376H) – rahimahullaah – said: “Differences of opinions that occur between the (Scholars) of the Ummah are from two angles:- Firstly: Differences in the furoo’ (subsidiary issues), and in issues of ijtihaad (qualified striving to reach the truth); such that when a person – whether it is a judge, muftee, writer, or teacher – strives to arrive at a ruling and is correct, he is rewarded two-fold. But if he strives and is mistaken, then he is rewarded once. Secondly: Differences in matters of usool (fundamentals); such as the issues related to Allaah’s Attributes, al-Qadar (Predestination and Pre-Decree), eemaan (faith), and their like. These cause those who oppose (such usool) to be regarded as deviants, because of them opposing the proofs from the Book and the Sunnah, and that which the Salafus-Saalih (Pious Predecessors) – the Companions and those who followed them in goodness – were agreed upon.” [2]

THE PERMISSIBLE TYPE OF DIFFERING:

Shaykh Ibnul-’Uthaymeen – hafidhahullaah – said: “This sect (the Saved-Sect) unites upon the truth, even if its people do have differences of opinion between themselves. However, these differences do not harm their (unity), nor cause them to declare each other as deviants. Rather, their hearts are still united, even when these differences of opinion occur in matters linked to the ’aqeedah (beliefs); such as did the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) see his Lord with his eyes, or did he not see him (with his eyes)? Or is the punishment in the grave to the body and the soul, or just to the soul only? Or other such issues. This is because these issues are subsidiary issues connected with the usool, they are not the actual usool itself. So they do not declare each other as being deviants when they differ in such matters – contrary to what the innovators do.” [3]

THE PROHIBITED TYPE OF DIFFERING:

Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) – rahimahullaah – said: “The Scholars – from the Companions, the Taabi’een, and those who came after them – when they differed in any matter, then they followed the Command of Allaah – the Most High – in His saying: “If you differ in anything amongst yourselves then refer it back to Allaah and His Messenger, if you do truly believe in Allaah and the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” [Sooratun-Nisaa‘ 4:59].

So they would discuss concerning the issue; discuss, consult and sincerely advise. Sometimes they would differ in matters linked to the ’aqeedah, as well as issues linked to actions, yet along with such differences, they still preserved the unity and brotherhood.

Yes, whosoever opposes the clear Book and the beneficial Sunnah, or that which the Pious Predecessors of this Ummah had Ijmaa’ (consensus) upon, opposing it without a justifiable excuse, then such a person has acted with the action of the Innovators.

As regards differing in matters of rulings and actions, then the examples are too many to be recorded. So if every Muslim who differed in something were to be boycotted and abandoned, then no unity or brotherhood would ever remain. And Aboo Bakr and ’Umar – radiyallaahu ’anhumaa – who were the best of the Muslims – used to differ in matters, but they did not intend except good.

And the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said to his Companions on the day of [the expedition to] Banu Quraydhah: “Let none of you pray ’Asr except when you reach Banu Quraydhah.’’

So the time for the ’Asr Prayer came during the journey, so one group amongst them said: We will not pray until we reach Banu Quraydhah; so they missed the actual time for ’Asr. The other group said: We will not miss it by delaying the Prayer; so they prayed along the way. And the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) did not criticize any of the two groups. This is related by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, from Ibn ’Umar. [4] So this differing was in a matter related to rulings and actions, not in the important usool (fundamentals) itself.” [5]

Footnotes:

[1] Fataawaa lil-Lajnatud-Daa‘imah lil-Buhoothul-’Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa (no. 830).

[2] Tanbeehaatul-Lateefah (p. 93).

[3] Sharhul-’Aqeedatul-Waasitiyyah (1/53).

[4] Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.946) and Muslim (no. 1770).

[5] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (24/172-174), slightly abridged

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