Subject : Difference of Opinion in Fiqh Matters is a Mercy
Fatwa Number : 2808
Date : 30-07-2013
Classified : "Principles of Fiqh "Jurisprudence
Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

Difference in Fatwa (Islamic scholarly opinion) amongst scholars has led to confusing average Muslims and drove some zealous men of the faith to propose uniting Muslims on one Madhab (School of thought). Is this applicable?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Fatwa is of key importance and has a serious influence on the life of the Muslim Nation because it constitutes the rules that Allah has commanded people to live by in order to be admitted to paradise in the Hereafter.

Allah has commanded the Muslim who has any religious questions to ask the learned men of the faith. Allah, The Almighty, Said: " if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message." {An-Nahil/43}. It is imperative that the Mufti and the questioner pay serious attention to the Fatwa. In other words, the Mufti must have reliable knowledge about the subject matter and must also be aware of the questioner`s conditions. Similarly, the questioner mustn`t object to whatever ruling is delivered.

As regards difference of Fatwa amongst scholars, it is neither dispraised, nor forbidden in Sharia. On the contrary, Sharia has sanctioned this type of difference, and dedicated a reward for the scholar who tries his best to decide correctly since the Prophet(PBUH) said: " When a judge gives a ruling, having tried his best to decide correctly, and is right (in his decision), he will have a double reward; and when he gives a ruling having tried his best to decide correctly, and is wrong (in his decision), he will have a single reward." [Agreed upon].

Matters unanimously agreed aren`t open for difference, such as those related to the foundations of belief and Aqidah (Islamic creed). Actually, difference occurred in subsidiary matters that are based on non-definitive evidence that can have different interpretations. Scholars have considered difference of opinion in Fiqh matters a mercy, not a punishment. Al-Qasim Bin Mohammad said: "Difference of opinion amongst the Prophet`s Companions was a mercy to the people." When the Caliph Harun Ar-Rasheed told Al-Imam Malik to make people follow the opinions stated in his books, he said to him: "Difference of opinion amongst scholars is a mercy that Allah has conferred upon this nation. Each scholar adopts Sharia texts that he sees valid, all of them are on the right path, and all of them seek the pleasure of Allah, The Almighty."

The present confusion in Fatwa doesn`t come from Sharia itself because it is protected against defects and confusion. In fact, confusion that stems from difference in Fatwa comes in two forms:

1- Interpretation of the Sharia text/evidence, or supporting one position over another, such as the difference amongst the classical schools of thought which is, in fact, not contradictory, but is a juristic and scientific fortune as well as a mercy to the nation, as stated by scholars. This difference wasn`t a cause of dispute, but a manifestation of diversity that leads to uniting the Muslim Nation.

2- Difference that lacks a Sharia text/evidence and stems from desire. This type emanates from abominable fanaticism that leads to dispute, innovation, and deviancy. This is usually done by some Muftis who venture to decipher the correctness and incorrectness of the legal opinion while they have no knowledge about the Quran, the Sunnah, the Ijma`(consensus), the Qiyas(analogical reasoning), Arabic syntax and rhetoric, metaphorical language, abrogater and abrogated, sciences of the Quran and the Hadith, rank and strength of evidence, methods of outweighing evidence, people`s conditions and customs, changes of time, prudence as far as delivering Fatwa without knowledge is concerned, enjoying complete mental and scientific virtues, tranquility upon reviewing the meanings of the rules stipulated by Allah, and warding off desires that lead to deviancy. Allah, The Almighty, Said: " Then We put thee on the (right) Way of Religion: so follow thou that (Way), and follow not the desires of those who know not." {Al-Jathiya/18}.

In this state of confusion, it is the duty of every Muslim to look for a reliable source of Fatwa, and avoid Fatwas that aren`t based on clear cut scientific foundations.

In conclusion, once we acquaint ourselves with the causes of this confusion in the Fatwas that emanate from fanaticism and ignorance, did our best to avoid them, increased public awareness about commended difference and its controls, appreciated all scholarly opinions that are based on Sharia-approved evidence, then this difference will be a cause of confusion no more. And Allah knows best.



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