from: From: As-Sahwah, a Pureislam publication
Dealing with Differences
Ikhtilaaf may be defined as a different position or course from another, either in opinion, utterance, or action. The difference may be expressed by direct opposition, active controversy, discord and schism or one may differ yet not necessarily oppose or conflict with another.
“Then We caused to inherit the Book [i.e. the Qur’an] those We have chosen of Our servants; and among them is he who wrongs himself [i.e. sins], and among them is he who is moderate and among them is he who is foremost in good deeds by permission of Allah. That [inheritance] is what is the great bounty.” (TMQ Fatir: 32)
When dealing with differences, we must realize that people are created with different abilities. To effect change, individually or collectively, we must first realize our own faults, seek repentance and change them in accordance with the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah as practised by the Sahaabah radiyallaahu ‘anhum. This must be done while forbidding the evil of others and not in exclusion.
What is the manner of our dealings with other Muslims?
The intention should never be to get a fellow Muslim to fall into errors so that we can “catch them out”. These days people wait for a breath to provide their views; others seem to be on the hunt for mistakes, so that they may correct or show their knowledge while our duty should be to look for ways to establish the truth and not merely to affirm our opinions upon the truth.
Rasulullah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “Religion is sincerity.” He said this thrice. The people asked: “To whom.” He said: “To Allah, his Messenger, the leaders of the Muslims and to the common Muslim.” (Sahih Muslim)
In reference to Allah Azzawajal, it simply means sincerity. However, when it comes to the people, part of this sincerity is to be sincere in advising them â€“ with a genuine intention in our hearts that they benefit from our advice.
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and Obey His Messenger and those of you who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” (TMQ An Nisa: 59)
When advising, show love and good manners and know that it is not kindness to withhold the truth, nor to dispute over non-fundamental issues. “O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves or anyone else] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (TMQ Al Hujuraat: 1)
Mu’aawiyah ibn al-Hakam al-Salami at one point said yarhamukallah to a sneeze of another while in salaah. Mu’aawiyah radiyallaahu ‘anhu reports that Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam corrected him: “May my father and mother be sacrificed for him, I have never seen a better teacher than him before or since – he did not scold me or hit me or put me to shame. He just said, ‘This prayer should contain nothing of the speech of men; it is only tasbeeh and takbeer and recitation of the Qur’an.'” (Sahih Muslim)
People are divided on issues of fiqh: whether three talaqs equal one or whether masah over the socks is permitted or whether a women can read the Qur’an while in menstruation or if someone who moves his finger in Salah should be allowed to lead the salaah. Such issues should not be dividing factors for the Ummah!
Amongst the Sahaabah radiyallaahu ‘anhum were those who approved of saying the basmalah loudly (in prayer) and those who did not; those who held that raising the hands (in prayer) was recommended and those who did not; those who held that touching a woman nullified ablution, and those who did not; – but despite all that, they would all pray together behind one Imaam, regardless of their differences of opinion.
Perhaps we may learn from Imam Ahmed rahimahullah, who held the opinion that eating camel meat nullifies ones wudhu, an opinion that the majority of scholars differed from. Some students asked him, “If you find an Imam eating camel meat in front of you and – without first making wudhu – then leads the salaah, would you pray behind him?” Imam Ahmad replied, “Do you think I would not pray behind the likes of Imam Malik and Sa’eed ibn Al-Musayyab?”
Is it the Sunnah to create hatred for Muslims, while calling for tolerance with the kuffaar? The Sahaabah radiyallaahu ‘anhum would avoid disputing over non-fundamental issues. They were afraid of hurting other Muslims over such issues, let alone calling them names.
Once Abu Bakr radiyallaahu ‘anhu during a dispute about a tree said something to a Sahaabi, not cursing, nor attacking his honor, nor poking fault at him but it was something that may have hurt the other companion’s feelings. Immediately, Abu Bakr radiyallaahu ‘anhu understanding the mistake – said “Say it back to me!” The companion said, “I shall not say it back.” “Say it back to me,” said Abu Bakr, “Or I shall complain to Rasulullah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam.” The companion refused to say it back and left. Abu Bakr radiyallaahu ‘anhu related this to Rasulullah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam who called that companion and asked him, “Did Abu Bakr say so and so to you?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “What did you reply.” He said, “I did not reply it back to him.” Rasulullah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “Good, do not reply it back to him (ie. do not hurt Abu Bakr). Rather say, ‘May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!'” The Companion turned to Abu Bakr and said, “May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr! May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!” Abu Bakr radiyallaahu ‘anhu turned and cried as he walked away.
However, when it comes to the fundamental issues of Islam, Rasulullah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam and the Companions radiyallaahu ‘anhum were firm and uncompromising. Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam refused the power-sharing offer from the leaders of Makkah whereby the worship Allah Azzawajal and the idols would be alternated. During his khilafah, Abu Bakr radiyallaahu ‘anhu dispatched armies to fight and kill those who refused to pay zakaah despite the fact that they said La illaha illallah.
It is not about the differences, but about how we deal with them and moreso with each other! “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.” (TMQ Hud:118-119)
It’s not about who is right and who is wrong, but it is about the reality and the truth. Whatever stance we adopt, we should know that we will stand accountable to Allah Azzawajal. Do we wish to strengthen or weaken the Ummah?
Divide and disunite, terrorism is the accusation defined by the kuffaar mouthpieces according to their policies and interests. The Shari’ah holds a two-fold definition: one being forbidden and the other being commanded. What is your stand? Detaching from and blaming those who are fighting for our deen rather than advising and helping? This is not advisable for the strength of the Ummah, its confidence, unity of purpose or for the establishment of the Islamic Shari’ah.
Beware of differing and blaming on minor issues, especially errors made in immensely tense situations in the lands of jihad. Beware of differing based on kuffaar media sources and learn from the story of the ifk (when hypocrites invented lies against our mother, Ayesha radiyallaahu ‘anha) and when Allah Azzawajal clarified the truth: “Why, when you heard it, did not the believing men and believing women think good of one another and say: ‘This is an obvious falsehood” (TMQ An Noor: 12)
The next time we dispute over ‘whose Islam’, let’s stop to consider what our real objective is and to whom our true obedience is.
“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and fall not into disputes, lest you lose heart and your power would depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with those who patiently persevere” (TMQ Al Anfaal: 46)
Rasulullah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam said: “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak what is good or be silent.” (Agreed upon)
In conclusion, we must use hikmah (wisdom) in every situation. There is hikmah of knowledge and of action. One may have hikmah of knowledge, yet in correcting or advising others, they lack the hikmah of action. The result is a rejection of the hikmah of knowledge. A brother once completed the salaah at a Masjid and proceeded to shake hands with the people next to him. The brother to his right slapped his hand and snapped, “That is not part of the Sunnah!” The man replied, “O, is disrespect and insult part of the Sunnah?”
The reality to consider is that of ourselves, of others and the community we are in and the reality of the Ummah at large, especially the reality of those in the lands of jihad. “The believers are nothing else than brothers (in IslÃ¢mic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy.” (TMQ Al Hujuraat:10)
“O Allah! Lord of Jibreel, Meeka’il and Israfeel. Originator of the Heavens and the Earth. Knower of the Unseen and the Present! You judge among your slaves regarding what they have differed in. Guide me to the truth regarding that in which they have differed, for truly, You do guide whomsoever You wish to a path that is straight.”