What is the issue of perfection-to act with perfect attention and utmost care- and permission-permissible ease in action in case of a hardship, can you explain?

The methodologists of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) have judged: It is clear that all the views and approaches of each sect are a source of ease and blessing to this community.

Imam Sharani likens sects to irrigation ditches, which come from the same source, and expresses that the statements of all the Imams are taken from the same ocean and points out that the differences between the sects stems from perfection and permission; i.e. a judgment deemed perfection is taken as permission in the other.

Imam Sharani makes this evaluation about that point:

The addressee of religion, people are either strong or weak in terms of body and faith. Religion approaches the strong with perfection, and the weak with permission. For example, the statement that azan-the call to prayer- be issued having performed ritual ablution shows perfection, and that it can be issued without that shows permission.

The Imam fortifies his view by the hadith: God loves both the ones who perform His perfections, and the ones who perform His permissions. In his book, the Imam gives lots of examples, measures the social judgments of sects with the scales of perfection-permission, and compares them.

Some of these examples:

1. There are two views about the compensations of the lives and commodities the rebels damaged and wasted, after they have surrendered. The first one, the view of Imam Malik, Imam Abu Hanifa, and Imam Shafii; not to take compensation for the loss from the rebels, so that they warm to the state and their obedience is provided. And also this will bring about unity, order, security and peace. The second view is that of Imam Ahmed; to take compensation and punish the rebels. so that they are discouraged and they will not riot again, and that the authority of the state is secured. These two views are correct when judged from their own perspectives. In the first there is ease i.e. permission, and in the latter intensification i.e. perfection.

2. The statement of the three Imams: Every night the word of intention must be said for the Ramadan fast and the statement of Imam Malik It is enough to say the word of intention only once to fast all through the month. The first one is perfection, the second permission.

3. The statement of the three Imams: It is not sunnah-recommended by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)- for women to recite the kamat-similar to adhan recited before the compulsory parts of prayers- and that of Shafii that it is sunnah. The first one is permission, the second perfection.

4. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, the better time for the Morning Prayer is the beginning of dawn, i.e. twilight. For the three Imams, it is just the aftermath of the beginning of fast. The first one is perfection, the second permission.

Bediüzzaman explains that the views of all the right sects are correct with this example:

If you say, The truth is only one; how can the different views and rules of the four and twelve sects be right at the same time?

The answer: A glass of water has five effects upon five different patients: For the first one it is a must because for his illness it has a healing effect. For another it is as dangerous as poison because of his illness; it is medically forbidden for him. For another the water is a little dangerous; so it is reprehensible. For another it is good and without harm; so it is Sunnah for him. For the last one it is neither hazardous nor beneficial; medically it is permissible for him. And here the truth has become many. All the five are correct. Can you say that the water is just remedy, and so obligatory, and that there is no other truth other than it.

Just like this example, divine judgments change according to the sects one is adherent to, and all of them stay true.

Again, Bediüzzaman points out this truth with these pithy words in his work Lemaat:

The diseases and remedies vary, and so does the truth.

The diversity of needs and foods is just natural, and so is the diversity of the truth.

Abilities and temperaments are many, and so is the truth.

Let us define this subject with the statement of Imam Sharani: I reached to the source of Sharia-Islamic set of laws-, which is the source of statements of all the mujtahids-the ones who applies Ijtihad (the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur'an and the Sunnah), through the eye of heart. I saw a canal from this source for every scholar of fiqh. And I have learned that every mujtahid acted and told the truth not with supposition and guess, but with investigation and a keen perception, and that according to the Sharia a sect is not superior to the other.

Question: Some people say that there were no sects at the time prophet Muhammad (pbuh); though He came with only one Book and one Sharia, how come there are four sects. Why stick to a sect and not act according to our views?

Answer: All the right sects are derived from the Quran. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) completed Islam with the Quran he was given and with the hadiths he was inspired. Therefore, the majority of divine judgments (ninety percent) are taken from these two sources. With the words of Bediüzzaman, Ninety percent of the Sharia is exact and compulsory, and the exact and definite principles of Islam are each a diamond pillar. The issues upon which argument exists are ten percent. Ninety diamond pillars cannot be given to the domination of ten golden ones.

At the same time, besides the open meanings of the Koran and hadiths, there are also metaphorical, indirect, and signaling ones. On the other hand, some words in the verses of the Koran have a potential to refer to other meanings, but it is not known which meaning is really the divine purpose. From just these two points, the gate of ijtihad is opened and it became inevitable for the sects to emerge. As is stated above, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself performed ijtihad, and by setting the basics of ijtihad, he instructed the knowledgeable in his Ashab in ijtihad. Thus, the source of the sects is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, and he opened the gate of ijtihad for the first time. And this duty was from then on undertaken by the learned from his community.

The mujtahids performed ijtihad for themselves and did not tell anyone to come and do as they said. Bediüzzaman puts it pithily: Each knowledgeable and capable can perform ijtihad for himself; but cannot order judgments.

The Believers not capable of ijtihad acted in accordance with the ijtihads of these mujtahids and solved their problems. Thus, the sects were established. The four of these sects are highly regarded and widely accepted by all the community of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

After a painstaking research, the knowledgeable and scholars have agreed that these four sects are originated in and derived from the principles of the Quran and the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Though these four sects have discrepancies concerning secondary-not basic-issues, all of them belong to Ahl-i Sunnah-following the example of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Ahl-i Sunnah is like the tree of tuba-the tree in the paradise, its root is in the sky and leaves below; its root bound to the heavenly Quran and branches spread all over the world of Islam. Each sect is a branch of this tree.

The great mujtahids and scholars of fiqh showed respect and affection to one another, appreciating the virtues of each other. They often consulted one another, and expressed their views in solving a difficulty with humility and politeness. They paid utmost attention to avoid useless and futile words.

The four great Imams of sects always respected the ijtihads of one another; likewise, the Muslims that adhered to each one lived in peace and affection for centuries and continue to do so. The state of Muslims on pilgrimage is the best example of this; the adherents of different sects perform prayer in the same line behind an imam of the sect Hanbali.

All the Muslims stuck to the ijtihads of these four imams; thus, the imams of sects gained respect in the eyes of the Muslims and became trustworthy to the entire community. So they are the source of pride of the humanity. They became masters and guides to the community of Muslims guiding them in their prayers and conducts, and solved their problems.

When looked into, the books of the four sects can be seen to be a precious treasure and wealth to this community. They include the truths and principles that will lead the humanity to development and progress until the doomsday.

The great people of knowledge and scholars of fiqh adhered to one of the four imams of the sects instead of opposing them. They took it as an honor and duty upon themselves to relate the details they put forth through ijtihad to the public, by instructing and writing.

The Imams of sects informed us of nearly every issue we may encounter. It is not heard of that the Muslims, adherents of the four sects for centuries, could not solve a problem. Today the solutions of all the problems of Muslims can be found in the books of these four right sects.

The mujtahids are the people capable to bring out the gems hidden in the depths of oceans. I would like to present the statement of Hamdi Yazır about one of the great imams Imam Azam:

Imam Azam is a great mujtahid who clarified the general judgments in the Quran and the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) about the details of events and issues that will take place until the doomsday, and who showed that each of these events and issues are present in the Quran and the hadiths, by gathering together the events that took place until his time and that may take place in future. And not only his personal abilities but also his being close to the light of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) helped him in his success.

As can be understood from the explanation, today, it became virtually impossible to have such a great mujtahid as Imam Azam.

In the context of unity and affection of the Muslims, the four sects have only been beneficial. If people do not stick to one of these four sects (or deny them), then everyone will attempt to perform ictihad, and at this time of pride no one will be so virtuous as to leave his own ictihad and act in accordance with that of another. And this brings about the abandonment of four sects and acceptance of thousands of sects. Thus, the unity and affection will be damaged, and anarchy in actions emerges.

For these reasons, the benefit and advantage are with the continuation of the four sects, because it is an instrument of unity and solidarity to stick to these four great mujtahids. It was not coincidence that all the scholars of fiqh that came after the second century according to the calendar of Hegira imitated and stuck to the four sects; rather, this was a reasonable, smart, and fair thing to do.

Lastly, we say to those who asked the question, Is it not an important proof of the validity and rightfulness of the sects that the learned, the knowledgeable, and the virtuous people close to Allah that came for 1400 years did not oppose to the number of sects and did not try to unit them?

As a conclusion, the main purpose and meaning of the establishment of the sects in Islam is to secure unity and peace. Thanks to these sects, personal and social, worldly and heavenly problems of the Muslims have been dealt with. The high truths and judgments of Islam about both faith and worship and conducts are preserved thanks to these sects.

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