Dealing With Differences of Opinion
By Shaykh Saalih bin Fawzaan Al Fawzaan
Akram Abdul Qaadir As-Saylanee an-Najdee
What is the position of the Muslim in regards to the difference of the Fuqaha (jurists) in knowledge-based fiqh issues, and should the Muslim choose the safest (opinion) to be free from blame and what if he takes the easiest opinion, is there any (sin) on him? What is the ruling on following the concessions (of the scholars)?
In the name of Allaah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful. All praise is due to Allaah, and may the Salaat and the Salaam be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon his family and companions.
Indeed, Allaah -subhaanahu wa ta’aala- knows that there will be differences (of opinions) in understanding and the levels of knowledge between the scholars. Allaah says: “And if you get into a dispute about something, then entrust the decision to Allah and messenger, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. ”
And Allaah says: “So if you disagree in anything, then refer it back to Allaah and to the Messenger.”
Allaah -Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala- says: “Surely, We have revealed this book so that you might judge between the people in truth”
Allaah says: “Surely, we have revealed this reminder to you so that you may explain to the people what has been revealed to them”
The Messenger of Allaah -salallaahu alaihi wa salam- clarified the meanings of the Qur’aan in his Sunnah. So he returns to the Book of Allaah and Sunnah of the Messenger -salallaahu alaihi wa salam-. So whatever is in agreement with the Book and the Sunnah from the statements of the people of knowledge, then we take it. And whatever differs with the Book and the Sunnah from the statements of the people of knowledge, then we leave it and take what has been established with evidences. This is in terms of the foundation of the issue.
In terms of the people, the questioners and ones in need, then they are of two types:
The first type: The one who has ability in knowledge and is able to weigh and compare the statements and investigate the proofs, then he can afford to analyze the statements with the evidences from the Book and the Sunnah. Therefore, whatever is in agreement with the evidences, then he takes it and edifies it. And whatever opposes the evidences, he leaves it.
As for the (second type), the layman Muslim or the novice student of knowledge who doesn’t have the ability and understanding of weighting (the evidences with the opinions) and utilizing evidences, then he should ask the people of knowledge.
Allaah says: “Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.”
It is not permissible for him to take what agrees with his desires or tastes and he says this (statement) is the statement of the people of knowledge. Rather it is obligatory upon him, if he has understanding of the evidences to take what is established with evidences; and if he doesn’t have understanding, then he asks those who do have an understanding of the evidences and then he issues based on his (the scholar’s) edicts and statements.
This is the what the Muslim should accommodate.
It is not permissible to follow the allowances, that are expressions of the statements of the people of knowledge and their differences (of opinion). This is misguidance. Due to this, the scholars have said that the one who follows the concessions of the scholars becomes a heretic.
As the divine concessions that have been given by Allaah as excuses to His servants in the time of need, like joining two prayers due to traveling or illness, or like shortening the prayer and not fasting in Ramadan due to travel, then these are legislated concessions. Allaah has ordained to use it in time of need, the Messenger of Allaah -salallaahu alaihi wa salam- said: “Allah loves to give allowances just as He hates that you commit sins “. As for allowance with the meaning of following the differences of opinions of the scholars, then this is a matter that is not permissible, except with legislated conditions.