Will you give information about not causing disagreement and discord?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Ikhtilaf (disagreement) means putting forward different views regarding an issue or the existence of more than one different view and decree about it. If it occurs regarding an issue that is permissible and if the owners of the different views do not act bigotedly in a way that will break the unity of the ummah, it is regarded as ikhtilaf (disagreement) not as tafriqa (discord / dispute). If  difference of opinion occurs related to a field or issue about which the Book and the Sunnah has a clear decree or if it occurs in a field that is open to ijtihad but if there is a bigotry that does not regard other views legitimate, a discord / dispute that “the religion does not regard permissible”occurs. Imam Shafii expresses the important difference between those two concepts as follows:

"It is not permissible for a person to put forward a different view related to a decree Allah expressed with clear and definite evidence in His Book or the Prophet (pbuh) expressed with clear and definite evidence. If a person expresses a view related to an issue that is open to interpretation and that can be reached through interpretation or qiyas (analogy), he is not treated as if he put forward a view against a definite and clear nass. In the Quran, Allah condemns only those who fall into dispute about the decrees that were expressed definitely and clearly."1

In the Quran, Allah rendered five daily prayers and hijab (tasattur) fard in the Quran and prohibited opening awrah places; different views cannot be put forward and different decrees cannot be mentioned related to those issues. Interest is rendered haram clearly and definitely in the Quran; it is not possible to discuss whether interest is haram or not; different views cannot be put forward.

As for the issues whose decrees are not explained clearly in the Quran and the Sunnah, ijtihad (qiyas, istihsan, istislah....) is made about them. It is permissible to put forward different views and to make different ijtihads regarding the issue. More than one view and decree that will occur like that is ease and mercy for the ummah because the ruler can choose one of them and enact it as a law; that is, there will be more than one option for the ruler to choose. Individuals will fulfill their duty of worship by acting based on one of them – if they are not mujtahids. When they have difficulty, they can ask fatwa from qualified people and act based on other views and ijtihads. 

If we want to give an example from the Quran related to the rule above, we can deal with the issue of interest. Several verses prohibit interest using the term "riba". However, they do not express in detail when what items are exchanged, interest will occur. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) mentioned six items (wheat, barley, gold, silver, dates, salt) and said that interest occurred when they are exchanged in certain ways. It is left to ijtihad in what other items (in addition to these six items) interest is in question. Different views and ijtihads to be put forward while determining those items are permissible and legitimate; they are not regarded as discord.

Belief of oneness enables man to have the habit of having a stability in his heart, tongue and deeds. Therefore, the verse "Show us the straight way"(1/6) in the chapter of al-Fatiha, which we read in every prayer, is the reflection of the desire for man to turn toward what is true, good and nice and to keep away from all kinds of aberration. Jabir Ibn Abdullah narrates how the Prophet (pbuh) explained the phrase "the true path" (as-Siratul-Mustaqim) to the Companions as follows:2

"We were together with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He drew a line on the ground. He drew two more lines on the right and two more lines on the left of that line. Then, he put his hand on the line in the middle and said: This is the way of Allah. Then, he read the following verse: "Verily, this is My way, leading straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His (great) path..."(6/153).

Siratul-Mustaqim is the way of a moderate ummah, away from extremisms. That is, it is the way that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and his Companions followed. It is stated in the Quran that "we have to follow the way of Allah, to hold fast by His rope, not to be divided among ourselves and to live in unity." Some of those verses are as follows:

“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves...” (Aal-i Imran, 3/103).

"And obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart..." (al-Anfal, 8/46).

Footnotes:

1. Imam Shafii, Risala, p. 560-561.
2. Ibn Majah, Muhammad b. Yazid, Sunan, Cairo, 1372, Muqaddima 1, vol. 1, p. 6.

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