By Mufti Abdullah Moolla
Ikhtilāf, or, Difference of Opinion, is of varying types and degrees. A broad overview of the subject shows that there are basically two types of Ikhtilāf. One is praiseworthy and the other is blameworthy.
Ikhtilāf in subsidiary matters, where the principals and fundamentals adhered to by both parties involved are the same, is praiseworthy. This is because the aim and goal of both parties is to reach the truth.
Ikhtilāf in principle matters and fundamentals is blameworthy, despised and looked down upon. An example of this is the Ikhtilāf (or Difference of Opinion) between a Muslim and a Christian; a Sunni and a Shia; or, as is the case in our current context, between a Traditional and a Modernist. The belief system, values and spirit of each party is different, and the aim or goal of each party differs too.
Now, a vital question that arises is: how should we deal with, and treat a person who holds a position different to ours when it is of the second type, i.e., Ikhtilāf in Uṣūl? The case where the opposite party holds a different belief system and mindset from that of a Muslim or a Traditionalist.
Should we consider this Ikhtilāf to be a minor issue and ignore the differences? What are the limits of this kind of behaviour?
When we examine the lives of the pious scholars of the Ahl-us-Sunnah wal Jamā’ah, we find that they did not treat this as a matter to be taken lightly. They were not easygoing or overlooking, and never was there a case of compromise.
Yes, when it came to social interaction with people who held a totally different position, then they were courteous, kind, and considerate – on condition that thereu was no harm caused to Islām. The proofs of this position are detailed hereunder:
You will not find a people who believe in Allāh and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allāh and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. [Sūrah Al-Mujādalah: 22]
And do not incline toward those who do wrong, lest you be touched by the Fire, and you would not have other than Allāh anyu protectors; then you would not be helped. [Sūrah Hūd: 113]
Imām Qurṭubī raḥimahullāh, one of the most celebrated expert scholars of Tafsīr in Islāmic History, explains the above verse of Sūrah Hūd as follows:
‘The correct and authentic view regarding the Tafsīr of this verse is that this verse points out to remaining aloof and away from the people of disbelief, the sinners from the innovators and others. This is because their companionship entails disbelief or sin. Companionship itself only occurs because of love.’ [Tafsīr Qurṭubī vol.9 p.108]
In the Ahādīth, we are taught that a sign of proper and complete īmān, i.e., faith, is to love for the sake of Allāh and dislike, or hate, for the sake of Allāh.
Sayyidunā Abū Umāmah raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu and Sayyidunā Mu’ādh Ibn Anas raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu report that Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “He who gives for the sake of Allāh and withholds for the sake of Allāh and loves for the sake of Allāh and hates for the sake of Allāh, he has completed his faith.” [Tirmidhī, Abū Dāwūd, Ḥākim, Ṭabrānī]
Sayyidunā Mu’ādh Ibn Jabal raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu reports that Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“He who goes to an innovator in order to honour him, he has aided in the destruction of Islām.”
Other reports from Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam instruct us not to mix, sit and associate with those who deny Taqdīr.
From this, the scholars have deduced that one should not have love for those who adopt deviated beliefs, and those who engage in ignorant innovations. In fact, one should have dislike for such people.
Sayyidunā Ibn ‘Abbās radiyallāhu ‘anhuma said:
“There is no one on the surface of the earth more hated to me than the Qadariyyah sect. This is only because of the fact that they deny the Qadr of Allāh.”
Yaḥyā Ibn Ya’mur raḥimahullāh says:
“I said to Ibn ‘Umar raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu, “There is a people who have sprung up in Iraq. They recite the Noble Qur’ān and understand it. They say that the Qadr of Allāh is of no essence, i.e., they deny it.” Ibn ‘Umar raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu said, “When you meet them, then say, ‘Indeed Ibn ‘Umar is free of them and they are free from me.’”
The following statement is reported from Abū Qilābah, Ḥasan Baṣrī and Sha’bī raḥimahumullāh:
“Do not associate with those who worship their desires and do not debate with them.”
Fuḍayl Ibn ‘Iyāḍ raḥimahullāh said:
“He who honours an innovator, Allāh Ta’ālā will cause him to become blind before he dies.”
Note: This could refer to literal blindness; or blindness of the heart, where a person fails to differentiate between the truth and falsehood.
Imām Baghawī raḥimahullāh said:
“The ṣaḥābah, tābi’īn, tab’ tābi’īn, and scholars of the Ahl-us-Sunnah are unanimous upon the position of dislike for the innovators and staying away from them.”
Imām Shāṭbī raḥimahullāh said:
“The saved group, i.e., the Ahl-us-Sunnah, have been instructed to have dislike for the innovators and to stay away from them. They are instructed to punish those who incline to the innovators. We are instructed to have dislike for them, and they are instructed to turn towards us, build friendship with us and return to the main group, i.e., the Jamā’ah.”
Abul-Jauzā’ raḥimahullāh said:
“I would prefer that a monkey and pig stay with me in a house rather than having a neighbor from the people who worship their desires.”
Yaḥyā Ibn Abī Kathīr raḥimahullāh said:
“When you meet an innovator on the road, then take another road.”
Fuḍayl raḥimahullāh said:
“One of the signs of being afflicted with a calamity is that the friend and associate of a person is an innovator.”
Together, along with these statements from the pious predecessors, they have permitted the Ummah to deal amicably and properly with the deviated sects and innovators. There are examples of this in history too.
As far as matters of religion are concerned, the pious predecessors have never resorted to compromise. Yes, as far as social mannerism and character is concerned, it is permitted to deal amicably and cordially with them. From this we understand that we should not have love in our hearts for the people of disbelief and innovation, but rather that it is essential and necessary to have dislike and hate for them. The most that is permitted is for us to deal amicably in social matters. It is for this reason that the scholars of the Ahl-us-Sunnah wal Jamā’ah have stated that it is not permitted to have a friendship relation or companion relation with people of innovation.
From the references provided above, we understand that the position of the Ahl-us-Sunnah wal Jamā’ah is that unity and agreement can never be permitted with those who differ with us in principal matters, i.e., matters of Uṣūl. Yes, when discussing differences, it must be done in the best way, where the strength and beauty of undiluted Islām is displayed with all its grandeur.
What we have to deal with on a daily basis is Modernists twisting the Qur’ānic instruction to argue in the best way. They choose to mock and scorn at Islām and traditional Muslims, spreading Modern toxicity and bigotry, based on their desires.
After shamelessly mocking and attacking fundamental Islāmic teachings and personalities, the Adab-less modernists then start throwing around the “Adab card” where it does not even apply. Subḥānallāh, it’s a clear example of the pot calling the kettle black.
- Ṭabrānī Kabīr 16614 ↑
- Abū Dāwūd 4712, Musnad Aḥmad 206, Ibn Ḥibbān 79 ↑
- Ash-Sharī’ah of Ājurrī vol.2 p.2 ↑
- Al-I’tiqād of Bayhaqī p.133 ↑
- Ibid p.238 ↑
- Al-Mujālasah vol.1 p.413 ↑
- Sharḥ us Sunnah vol.1 p.227 ↑
- Al-I’tiṣām vol.1 p.120 ↑
- I’tiqād of Lālkā’ī vol.1 p.131 ↑
- Shu’ab-ul-Īmān of
- Bayhaqī vol.12 p.57 ↑
- Ibid vol.12 p.62 ↑