Shaikh al-Albaani

Translations From His Works

Tag: differing

Dealing with Differences: Two Scholars Give Different Fatwas, How Does One Handle It?


 

 

Host: A questioner says, ‘These days, alhamdulillaah, we see a good resurgence in knowledge, especially among the upcoming youth, but it faces a number of problems, the most important of which is the differing of the people of knowledge in their fatwas which leads to some people becoming confused and mixed up. What should the stance of the Muslim youth be towards this? Provide us [with an answer], may Allaah bless you.

Al-Albaani: Without doubt this [now] is a spontaneous question [but in fact] we heard it on our previous trip time and time again, and in reality this problem only occurs with the youth in whom the correct, knowledge-based methodology is not firmly established. What I mean [by methodology] is that which has been reported from some of the Salaf like Ibn ’Abbaas and the Imaams who followed him like Mujaahid, Maalik and others, “There is no-one except that his statements are accepted and rejected, apart from the occupant of this grave,” and he pointed to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. This is a reality which the Muslim youth, the student of correct knowledge must bring to mind—it being nothing except, “Allaah said and Allaah’s Messenger said,” in addition to what we say over and over again, “… on the methodology of the Pious Predecessors.”

And they must also call to mind another reality, a Quranic reality, Allaah تبارك وتعالى said, “And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one Ummah, but they will not cease to disagree, except him on whom your Lord has bestowed His Mercy and for that did He create them,” [Huud 11:118-119]. So there is no escape or salvation from differing, this is the way of Allaah عز وجل with His creation, and you will not find any change to Allaah’s Way.

But there is [that type of] differing which people have an excuse for and [another which they] do not have an excuse for. They have an excuse for that differing which is inescapable, the one indicated in the aforementioned aayah, “And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one Ummah …” so our Lord did not will for mankind to be on one manhaj, upon one understanding, and if it were to have been like that then the Companions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم would have been the most worthy of the people to have been as such, those who were the best of mankind as is openly mentioned in the well-known, mutawaatir hadith, but Allaah عز وجل willed, out of His Perfect Wisdom, [Wisdom] which some people who understand it may perceive whilst most of man does not, but that does not harm us … so differing is a natural thing as we have mentioned … as for differing and arguing due to misunderstanding one issue, this is what has been banned and this is what is not allowed and this is what the Salaf were saved from and the Khalaf fell into.

When the youth bear this reality in mind, they should not then find it strange that some scholars differ, especially when they are those who embrace the one methodology, and it is the true methodology: [that of] the Book, the Sunnah and what the Pious Predecessors were upon. They should not condemn it and find it strange because it is the Way of Allaah عز وجل with His Creation, and if they want to be delivered from it then they must tread the path of the people of knowledge, and it is what has been laid down in the Noble Quran, “Say, ‘Produce your proof if you are truthful.’” [Baqarah 2:111]

So when two or more different statements come to a student of knowledge from two venerable scholars, and it is believed that both are equal in knowledge and excellence and he thus becomes confused—and he may be entitled to be confused initially but it is not allowed for him to continue in that [state of confusion]: [so then] he must ask for proof, [he must] seek the proof from both of the scholars, whether he is speaking to them directly or through correspondence or on the phone or through other methods of communication of that sort which are used nowadays.

So after he listens to the proof from all of them, he is not then charged with having to prefer Zaid [for example] over ’Amr or ’Amr over Zaid—rather he follows the one who has the proof which his soul finds ease in, and his breast opens up to, and maybe this … and the answer will end with this … is one of the meanings of his statement عليه الصلاة والسلام, “Consult your heart even if you are given fatwas by those who deliver religious verdicts.”

Two statements come to you from two great scholars: consult your heart—after you have asked for a clarification of the proofs—then whichever of the two your heart leans towards and is the one you take then you will have an excuse before Allaah تبارك وتعالى.

But as for you becoming bigoted for one [scholar] over the other, then this is the way of the blind-followers who Allaah عز وجل has saved us [from being] and whose way He took us out of and [Who then led us] to the Straight Path.

Wal-Hamdulillaahi rabbil-’Aalameen.

Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 375, [2/5/440].

How Does The Common Muslim Know What To Do When Scholars Differ? Think and Use Your Brain to Try and Understand the Proofs


 

Questioner: Some scholars differ in their opinion [with others], one will say something and another will say, “No, this is a mistake, [rather] this is correct,” and let’s assume that we are not people of knowledge or people of … ya’ni we’re just common folk … of course … we want to know the principles and the mistake if … this person says … and the second one says, “This is a mistake … this is not …” so what is your opinion [about] the differing between the scholars in a particular issue, an issue which concerns one?

Al-Albaani: [Concerning] issues such as this the reason [people] fall into difficulty is that the effect of that sentence which we hear many times in the present day and age and especially in this country is not found among the general Muslims, what is that sentence? “Enlightenment/education …” the majority [of people] do not have a general awareness or knowledge of the reason for the differing, and [additionally] they [also] do not have an awareness of what their stance in relation to this differing must be.

So many of them will say what occurs in the weak hadith, “The differing of my Ummah is a mercy,” thus they ratify differing, however severe and copious it might be [due to it], and a few of them [go to the other extreme and] want to put an end to differing from its very root such that the scholars become [united] upon a single word in all issues [even those] which the scholars of fiqh of old have differed over–and this is something impossible! Because in His profound Wisdom Allaah عز وجل ordained, and there is none who can stop anything He ordains, saying:

“And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community, but they will not cease to differ, except whom your Lord has given mercy.” [Huud 11:118-119]

Differing is of two types: the first is where there is mercy with one another and where [each party] tries to understand the other. The second is the type of differing which involves conflict, antagonism, and enmity.

The first is the type which is unavoidable and is that which our Pious Predecessors were on, they would differ but they would not have enmity for one another and nor were they divided due to the differing because of what you have heard in the aayah:

“… and do not be of those who associate others with Allaah [or] of those who have divided their religion and become sects, every faction rejoicing in what it has.” [Ruum 30:31-32]

So if our Salaf as-Saalih, at the head of whom are the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, differed then it is unavoidable for [the people of] a [particular] group, or age, or generation not to differ, but that which was sufficient for the Prophet’s Companions صلى الله عليه وسلم when they differed is also sufficient for these people, [i.e.,] that they do not becomes enemies one to another and do not hate one another–there is no escaping such differing, the generality of Muslims must know this and they should not condemn any [and every instance of] differing between one scholar and another which they hear about, because this is something which is from man’s nature which Allaah created them with, an indication of which has preceded in the aforementioned aayah.

If this is the case, what should the general Muslims do when they see such differing? Here lies the crux of the matter [that I had intended] by my [earlier] statement when I said that there is no enlightenment/education and no general cultivation. Before about a quarter of a century, the general Muslims were living according to a constrictive Madhhabism, each individual from millions of Muslims was satisfied with his school of thought, this one is a Hanafi, that one a Shaafi’i and so on.

But as for now, then there has been found, alhamdulillaah, the beginnings of an awakening, I do not say the awakening has been found, [but rather] that the beginnings of an awakening can be seen, so the people are aware of things which they were not mindful of before, but this awareness needs a completion. It is this completion which I am in the middle of explaining now, and it is: that you, O Muslim, however highly educated or not you are in the Islamic Legislation, when you hear about some differing between two scholars then think a little, look … is it said of both of them that they truly are scholars from the people of knowledge? It may be a student who thinks he is a scholar–and who thus says something in which he differs with the scholars and as a result differing between the scholars in the issue occurs. No.

So after this observation, when it is established, for example, that there is some differing between two venerable scholars, then the following caveat comes into play: if you are able to distinguish between one proof and another, then you must become acquainted with the proofs of both scholars, and [after doing so] find comfort with the stronger proof, what I mean is that even the general Muslims should strive [to understand the proofs/ijtihaad], but such ijtihaad differs from person to person, so how can, for example, a common person perform ijtihaad? His ijtihaad in relation to himself is as follows.

He hears a fatwa from one scholar which opposes that of another, so he should not stop at that fatwa, and here many, many different forms become apparent … you request proof from one of them and he says, “This is my opinion and ijtihaad,” or, “This is my madhhab,” and you request it from the other and he says, for example, “Allaah said … Allaah’s Messenger said … the Salaf said,” and so on, as Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:

“Knowledge is, ‘Allaah said … His Messenger said …
The Companions said …’ and it is not hidden

Knowledge is not your raising up a dispute foolishly
Between the Messenger and the opinion of a faqeeh.”

When you traverse upon this methodology in trying to become acquainted with the proof, the difference between the two answers will become clear to you … I told you that one of them says, “This is my opinion … my itjtihaad … my madhhab,” this happens sometimes, the other will give you proofs, either from the Book or the Sunnah or the actions of the Salaf as-Saalih, at that point you will find yourself leaning towards the opinion of this scholar and his ijtihaad and you will not look at the opinion of the first, and at that time the difficulty [you have] will disappear from you, this is a very clear illustration.

And if we assume [a case where] both scholars used proofs, as occurred recently with Shaikh al-Bannaa, I think some of you were present when we discussed, with one of the noble teachers, the issue of reciting Surah al-Faatihah behind the Imaam in the prayers where the recitation is made audible, and those listening listened, and the person takes whatever the soul feels comfort in [since both scholars were providing proofs], whether the truth is with Zaid or ’Amr [i.e., whoever the truth is with]–what is important is that he not be a person of desires or [someone with] a particular purpose [that he seeks through his fatwa] and that he not be as is mentioned in a statement made by Ibn Mas’ood رضي الله عنه in marfoo’ and mowqoof form but what is correct is that it is mowqoof, where he said, “Do not let yourselves be ‘yes-men,’ [إمعة: the one who has no opinion so he follows everyone’s opinion] saying, ‘If the people are good then we will be good, and if they are wrong then we will be wrong.’ Rather, make up your own minds, if the people are good then you are good, and if they are evil, then do not behave unjustly.” [Tirmidhi, v. 4, no. 2007, Darussalam transl.]

So, the general Muslims must set their hearts on knowing who the truth is with and then follow it, each person doing so according to the limits of their education, intellect and understanding, and Allaah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear.

The summary is that it is not possible to put an end to differing, it was there in the time of the Prophet and has continued to this day of ours, so do not seek the impossible. And when this is the case, what should the stance of the general masses be? It is as I just explained, that they seek out the truth, then their condition will be like that of those who strive to come to religious verdicts [mujtahideen]–if they are correct they will have two rewards, and if mistaken, then one, what is important is that they do not be people of desires and [particular] aims, and Allaah is sufficient …

Fataawaa Jeddah, Ahlul-Hadith wal-Athar, 5. [2/5/474]

For a similar discussion see here.

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