Differences in Matters of Fiqh or Ijtihaad Should Not Lead to Disunity & Splitting – How do We Overcome Such Differences?

الحمد لله رب العالمين، وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين، أما بعد

 

In condemning disunity and splitting over issues of jurisprudence or issues in which Ijtihaad is deemed permissible  – wherein there may be tolerated differing; Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said:

 

“Then we should necessarily know that the harmonious accord of the Ummah is the intent – the primary intent with regard to the Islamic legislation, since Allaah says:

 

وَإِنَّ هَٰذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً

((And indeed this religion of yours is a single religion.)) (Al-Mu’minoon: 52)

 

So contention between the Ummah is an affair which is to be rejected, Allaah, The Most High, said:

 

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُوا وَاخْتَلَفُوا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ

((And do not be like those who became divided and differed after the clear proofs had come to them.)) (Aal-‘Imraan: 105)

 

And Allaah, The Most High, said:

 

شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ

((He [Allaah] has prescribed for you of religion what He enjoined upon Nooh [Noah], and that which We revealed to you [O Muhammad], and that which We enjoined upon Ibraheem [Abraham], and Moosaa [Moses] and ‘Eesaa [Jesus]; that you should establish the religion, and not split with regard to it.)) (Ash-Shooraa: 13)

 

And He, The Most High, said:

 

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا لَّسْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُمْ إِلَى اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ

((Indeed, those who divide their religion and become sects, you [O Muhammad] have nothing to do with them. Their affair is with Allaah; then He will inform them of what they used to do.)) (Al-An’aam: 159)

 

And the Prophet (sallaallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:

 

((Do not differ lest your hearts should differ))[1]

 

– He said it during the straightening of the people in the row (for prayer).

When ‘Uthmaan (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu) prayed the four unit prayer as four rak’ahs in Mina during the Hajj; and he did not shorten (the prayer) – after eight years of his Caliphate had come to pass, and so the people disapproved and said: “The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) shortened (the prayer); as did Aboo Bakr and ‘Umar.”[2] Meaning: and you did too in the beginning of your Caliphate. However; he (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu) interpreted (i.e the evidences in this regard), hence the companions who had disapproved would pray four (rak’ahs) behind him,[3] even though they disapproved. Despite this addition which was adjoining the prayer being held as disapproved of by them, however – they followed the Imaam in it out of preference for harmonious accord.

So what would you think with regard to an addition that was detached (separate), if a person deliberately intended it; does it not affect the invalidity of the prayer? Then one would say: indeed we are holding on to the Sunnah, and are following the narrations of the companions – despite his opposition in this issue.

I say: indeed every person says that he is following the Sunnah, following the guidance of the Salaf, so it cannot be for him to leave the Imaam if he prays twenty three (rak’ahs) and says: ‘I shall follow the Sunnah and I shall pray eleven (rak’ahs).’ This is because you have been commanded with following your Imaam – prohibited from dissent, whilst you are not prohibited against the excess of eleven (rak’ahs).

Thus it is incumbent upon the students of knowledge – in particular; and upon the people in general that they should be eager over harmonious accord – whenever possible. Since the desire of the people of wickedness and the people of heresy is that the people of good should differ, since there is no weapon found to be more destructive than differing, and indeed Moosaa said to the magicians:

 

وَيْلَكُمْ لَا تَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا فَيُسْحِتَكُمْ بِعَذَابٍ وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنِ افْتَرَى * فَتَنَازَعُوا أَمْرَهُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ

((“Woe unto you! Do not invent a lie against Allaah, lest He should destroy you with a punishment, and surely; he who invents a lie has failed.” So they disputed over their affair among themselves.)) (Ta-ha: 61-62)

 

So when they disputed, they failed and their determination and strength dispersed.

So this differing which we find from some of the brothers who are ardent upon following the Sunnah – in this issue as well as in other than it; I see that it is in opposition to the Sunnah; and in opposition to that which is intended by the Sharee’ah by way of the unity in statement and the coming together of the Ummah.

As this is – and all praise is for Allaah – an affair which is not forbidden – nor is it disapproved, rather it is an affair which has been justified by way of ijtihaad (expending judgement based on legal interpretation to arrive at a Shar’ee ruling). So due to our bringing about differing and we fill the hearts with enmity and hatred and mockery against those that oppose us in opinion – despite it being justified and does not oppose the Sunnah; then it is obligatory upon the person that he is ardent upon the convergence of statement – as much as is possible.”[4]

 

How do we overcome and deal with such differences?

 

Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said:

 

“Therefore it is obligatory upon the students of knowledge that they should be a single hand (in unity), and that they should not allow the like of this differing to become a reason for distancing and loathing. Rather; if you differ with your companion in accordance to and pursuant to evidence which you have; and he too differs with you in accordance to and pursuant to evidence which he has; then it is obligatory that you appoint yourselves to be upon one path – and that the love between you both should enhance.

Accordingly; we love and wish well for our youth who now have a strong inclination with them that they should inter-connect matters with the (relevant) evidences, and that they build their knowledge upon the Book of Allaah, The Most High, and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). We see that this is from good, and that it heralds the opening of the doors of knowledge from its correct methodologies.

Hence it is obligatory upon the students of knowledge that they should be brothers, even if it be that they differ in some subsidiary matters, and so it is upon every one (of them) to call the other in calmness and discussion; within which The Face of Allaah is intended – as well as the arrival at knowledge. So with this the harmony is attained, and this rough treatment and harshness which is to be found in some people departs.”[5]

 

A point of benefit with regards to when the other person’s view is based upon evidence

 

Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said:

 

“The companions (radhiyallaahu ‘anhum) differed in the likes of these issues; however they were upon a single heart, upon love and harmonious union.

Rather I explicitly state: that the individual who differs with you in accordance to and pursuant to evidence which he has; then he is in agreement with you in reality, because both of you are in the quest of the true reality; so consequently the objective is one – and it is: to arrive at the truth on the back of evidence. Hence he does not differ with you for as long as you acknowledge that he differs with you in accordance to and pursuant to evidence which he has – where then is the differing?

So in this manner the Ummah shall remain as one, even if it be that it differs in some issues due to the support of the evidence which is found with it. As for the one who is obstinate and is haughty after the manifestation of the truth, then there is no doubt that it is necessary that he is conducted with in accordance to that which is rightful in his regard after the obstinacy and opposition – and for every situation there is an alternative discussion.”[6]

 

Finally

 

Yunus As-Sadafi said: “I have not seen a person more intelligent than Ash-Shaafi’ee, I debated with him one day over an issue, and then we parted. Then he met me, and so took hold of my hand and then said: ‘O Abaa Moosaa; is it not upright; that we should be brothers – even if it be that we do not agree in an issue?’” [7]

 

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[1] Reported by Muslim (no.432)

[2] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.1084) and Muslim (no.695)

[3] Reported by Muslim (no.694)

[4] Sharh Al-Mumti’ ‘alaa Zaad Al-Mustaqni’ vol 4 p.61-63

[5] Majmu’ Fataawa (vol 26 p.78-79) – with slight abridgement.

[6] Majmu’ Fataawa (vol 26 p.79-80)

[7] Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa vol 10 p.16

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