Class 8 – Dealing with Differences in opinion

Class 8

‘Dealing with Differences in Opinion’

Why are there differences of opinion?

At the time of the Revelation, the Muslims learned the rulings of Islam from the Prophet ﷺ through the verses of the Holy Qur’aan and the ahaadeeth of his Sunnah. Hence there were no differences of opinion among them except with regard to some minor issues. If that happened, the Prophet ﷺ would explain to them what was correct. 

When the Prophet ﷺ died and the Sahaabah spread out to various regions to teach the people Islam, there appeared some differences with regard to some matters of fiqh which arose at different times and in different places. These differences were due to a number of reasons, which we will sum up here from the words of the scholars: 

  1. The evidence had not reached the one who held a different opinion, and he made a mistake in forming his opinion.
  2. The hadeeth had reached the scholar, but he did not regard the transmitter as trustworthy, and he thought that it went against something that was stronger, so he followed that which he thought was stronger than it.
  3. The hadeeth had reached him but he forgot it.
  4. The hadeeth had reached him but he understood it in a way other than the intended meaning.
  5. The hadeeth reached him but it was abrogated, and he did not know the abrogating text.
  6. He thought that it contradicted something that was stronger than it, whether that was a text or scholarly consensus (ijmaa’)
  7. The scholar used a weak hadeeth as the basis for his ruling, or he derived the ruling by means of weak arguments.

There were differences of opinion amongst the early generation

The Scholars – from the Companions, the Taabi’een, and those who came after them – when they differed in any matter, then they followed the command of Allaah – the Most High – in His saying: “If you differ in anything amongst yourselves then refer it back to Allaah and His Messenger, if you do truly believe in Allaah and the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” [Soorah an-Nisaa 4:59]. So they would discuss concerning the issue; discuss, consult and sincerely advise. Sometimes they would differ in matters linked to the ‘aqeedah, as well as issues linked to actions, yet along with such differences, they still preserved the unity and brotherhood. Yes, whosoever opposes the clear Book and the beneficial Sunnah, or that which the Pious Predecessors of this Ummah had Ijmaa’ (consensus) upon, opposing it without a justifiable excuse, then such a person has acted with the action of the Innovators… As regards differing in matters of rulings and actions, then the examples are too many to be recorded. So if every Muslim who differed in something were to be boycotted and abandoned, then no unity or brotherhood would ever remain. And Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiallaahu ‘anhumaa – who were the best of the Muslims – used to differ in matters, but they did not intend except good. And the Prophet ﷺ said to his Companions on the day of [the expedition to] Banu Quraydhah: “Let none of you pray ‘Asr except when you reach Bonu Quraydhah.” So the time for the ‘Asr Prayer came during the journey, so one group amongst them said: We will not pray until we reach Banu Quraydhah; so they missed the actual time for ‘Asr. The other group said: We will not miss it by delaying the Prayer; so they prayed along the way. And the Prophet ﷺ did not criticise any of the two groups. This is related by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, from Ibn ‘Umar. (Bukhari) So this differing was in a matter related to rulings and actions, not in the important usool (fundamantels) itself.”

No Body is Perfect!

Shaikhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) stated:

“And there is no one from the Imaams except that he has sayings and actions that are not to be followed alongside the fact that he not to be vilified or debased due to them – and as for these sayings and actions, then they are not known to be in clear-cut or absolute contradiction to the Book and Sunnah, rather they are issues of ijtihaad regarding which there is differing amongst the people of knowledge and Imaan – So it is even possible that these affairs may be qat’iyyah (clear-cut) issues for some to whom Allaah has made the truth clear (since the truth is one),….” [Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 10/ 383-384]


Differences of opinions that occur between the [Scholars] of the Ummah are from two angles:- Firstly: Differences in the furoo’ (subsidiary issues), and in issues of ijtihaad (qualified striving to reach the truth); such that when a person – whether it is a judge, muftee, writer, or teacher – strives to arrive at a ruling and is correct, he is rewarded two-fold. But if he strives and is mistaken, then he is rewarded once. Second: Differences in matters of usool (fundamentals); such as the issues related to Allaah’s Attributes, al-Qadr (Predestination and Pre-Decree), Eemaan (faith), and their like. These cause those who oppose [such usool] to be regarded as deviants, because of them opposing the proofs from the Book and the Sunnah, and that which the Companions and those who followed them in goodness – were agreed upon.

The Saved-Sect unites upon the truth, even if its people do have differences of opinion between themselves. However, these differences do not harm their [unity], nor cause them to declare each other as deviants. Rather, their hearts are still united, even when these difference of opinion occur in matters linked to the ‘aqeedoh (beliefs); such as did the Prophet ﷺ see his Lord with his eyes, or did he not see him [with his eyes]? Or is the punishment in the grave to the body and the soul, or just to the soul only? Or other such issues. This is because these issues are subsidiary issues connected with the usool, they are not in the actual usool itself. So they do not declare each other as being deviants when they differ in such matters – contrary to what the innovators do.  

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?’” (Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa vol 10 p.16)

How do we know who to follow

Allaah has not left the people confused and unable to distinguish the true from the false, rather Allaah has created signs by which the truth and those who are sincere may be known, and He has created clear evidence and proof for the correct path, from which no one deviates but he is doomed. 

When the Prophet ﷺ spoke of the ummah splitting into seventy-three groups, he said that they would all be in Hell apart from one, the one which follows the same path as him and his companions. This is the standard, so we have no choice but follow in the footsteps of the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them). It is not sufficient for a person to quote a hadeeth and say that it is saheeh, then use that as evidence to support his madhhab or his point of view according to his own understanding of that hadeeth; rather what he should do is to research whether the Sahaabah understood this hadeeth in this manner or not. 

This is the criterion which divides those who really follow the truth from others. This means referring the interpretation of Islam to our righteous forebears, the Sahaabah and those who followed them in truth, for they are the best and most knowledgeable of this ummah, as the Prophet ﷺ said. 

Anyone who examines the groups that have deviated from the Straight Path will see that they have confused the people by quoting a verse or a hadeeth out of context, so that people think that they are following the Qur’aan and Sunnah, but they cannot prove that this is the way in which the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) understood these texts. 

Those who distort the attributes of Allaah, those who worship graves and circumambulate them, those who dance in dhikr, those who deny the divine will and decree (al-qadar), those who say that the Qur’aan was created, and other deviant beliefs and ways, none of them claim that his belief is the same as the belief of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ. Even if they claim that they have a verse or hadeeth to support them, they cannot prove that their interpretation is the same as that of those who witnessed the revelations and heard the Prophet ﷺ, namely the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them). 

This is an important and precise standard by means of which a person can know whether what he hears and reads of beliefs and ways whose proponents say is true guidance is in fact true or false.  


The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad ﷺ, and the people with the most knowledge of this guidance are the scholars of hadeeth, namely the righteous predecessors (the first three generations). Those who follow them will be saved and those who go against them will be doomed. 

So you must adhere to this path and ask Allaah for guidance and steadfastness. 

Advice to those seeking knowledge


Unfortunately majority of the times the first thing we see our youth do after gaining a little bit of knowledge is GET INTO ARGUMENTS, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ warned us by saying, “No people go astray after being guided except that they indulge in arguments.” Then the Prophet ﷺ recited the verse, {They strike an example for you only to argue. Rather, they are a quarrelsome people.} (Qur’an 43:58) [Sunan At-Tirmidhi]

There is promised reward for those who refrain from this behaviour, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right…...” (Abu Dawood)

If you want to discuss with someone about Islam who you have a difference of opinion with, then I recommend you establish these three facts before you guys start: –

First and foremost remember that you guys are doing this for the sake of Allah and there is no winner or loser in this. If you keep this in mind you will always have fruitful discussions and as a matter of fact these can be win-win situation by all means.

  1. Either you will learn something from him/her.
  2. Or he/she will learn something from you.
  3. Or you keep quite even if you are right and be amongst those who the Prophet ﷺ guaranteed a house in Jannah to.

May Allah give us Sabr to withhold ourselves from getting into arguments.


Here we will share a few signs of Beneficial and non-beneficial knowledge which will help us stick to the right path and establish unity.


Everything has its indications and signs. Indications that knowledge is beneficial are that it leads to fine character, good manners and praiseworthy attributes. This is common in terms of worldly and Islamic knowledge, a learned person is that who is of good character, who is confident of himself and isn’t insecure so he/she helps others grow as well.

In regard to Islamic knowledge it was said: “He whose knowledge doesn’t cause him to weep, can be justifiably considered not to have been granted beneficial knowledge”, since Allah described the people of knowledge saying:

Say believe in it (the Qur’an) or do not believe. Verily! Those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration. And they say, ‘Glory be to our Lord! Truly, the Promise of our Lord must be fulfilled.’ And they fall down on their faces weeping and it adds to their humility.” [Al-Qur’an 17:107-109]

Thus knowledge carries its possessor towards humility, prostration, crying, calling oneself to account and truthfulness with Allah.

Indeed crying is the clearest sign and best proof of the knowledge one possesses and of a person’s truthfulness. What is the benefit of knowledge a person learns, if it doesn’t lead him to crying, humbleness, penitence and good dealings with the people?

Is not the possessor of knowledge one who knows most about his Lord? Has he not read about His Exalted, Perfect, Lofty Attributes that which causes his heart to humble and his eyes to shed tears? Has he not read in the Book of Allah and in the sayings of the Messenger of Allah,sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, texts pertaining to the Fire, the terror in the grave and the fearful accounts of the Resurrection because of which mountains are humbled out of the fear of Allah?


1. Do not Practice

Knowledge mandates actions but those who learn and preach but do not practice there are serious warnings in Quran & Sunnah against them

 Allah says “Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do” (61:3)

Rasoolullah ﷺ said: ’A man will be brought and put in the hell fire and he will circumambulate (go round and round) in the hell fire like a donkey of a (flour grinding mill), and all the people of the hell fire will gather around him and will say to him, ‘O so-and-so! Didn’t you use to order others for Al-Ma’roof and forbid them from Al-Munkar?’ 

The man will say, ’I used to order others to do Al-Ma’roof (Islamic monotheism and all that is good) but myself never used to do it, and I used to forbid others from Al-Munkar (polyhtheism, disbelief, and all that is evil) while I myself used to do Al-Munkar’” (Bukhari)

2. It Breeds haughtiness, pride and arrogance

How many times do we see that shaytaan is able to trick a person to be arrogant about the knowledge he has and hence he becomes rude with others and thinks of himself to be better and above others. This sadly is valid for both people with worldly or Islamic knowledge. Although Islamic knowledge does give a person an honourable position but that should never make him arrogant which the Shaytaan would use and make him commit mistakes.

3. It causes one to seek elevation in the worldly life

Vanity, power and position is great weapon of Shaytaan he makes people love it so much that a lot of the times they end up compromising on their morals and more importantly on their religion. This age is a perfect example to it where we see a lot of speakers who try to vow their audience by telling them what they would like to hear loosing focus of what should be told.

4. Getting into Arguments

Arguments are disliked, discussions are welcome but we see so many times that people just get into arguments and then we see their rage taking over them and shaytaan makes them say things that are not even facts just so that they win the argument.

We see these days that a lot of people are searching the internet or trying to learn things just so that they can win over arguments. If the intention is to advice and guide people then arguments would never get them anywhere it can only cause harm.

Al-Awzaa’ee said: “When Allaah desires evil for a people, He opens the door of argumentation for them and prevents them from (doing good) deeds.”

Ma’roof bin Fayrooz Al-Kurkhee said: “When Allaah intends good for a servant, He opens for him the door of actions and closes for him the door of argumentation. And when Allaah intends evil for a servant, He opens for him the door of argumentation and closes for him the door of actions.”

5. Openly claims to have a close relationship with Allaah

Openly and repeatedly claiming of being pious is a bad sign and is usually for personal benefits. The same applies to the worldly knowledge, the one who has knowledge wouldn’t just go around saying I am very educated etc he would show his knowledge in action.

‘Umar said: “Whoever says he is knowledgeable is really ignorant”.

So compare your position to this – may Allah have mercy upon us – and don’t forget the virtuous saying, “He who’s knowledge doesn’t cause him to weep, can be justifiably considered not to have been granted beneficial knowledge.”

May Allah bless us all with beneficial knowledge and give us the Hidayah to implement and preach it. May Allah give us the Hikmah to stay away from refutations and causing divisions in the Ummah.