Explaining the existence of different scholarly opinions to non-Muslims
Fatwa No: 325192

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. When we are inviting disbelievers to Islam, how can we explain why there are differences of opinion in Tafsir (exegesis), Fiqh (jurisprudence), and so on, and what is the wisdom behind the fact that Allah has decreed differences in the religion? May Allah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

First of all, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that the issues of faith and informing about Allah, The Lord of the worlds, should be the basis for inviting non-Muslims to Islam.

The proof for this is the approach of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) in inviting people to Allah and what was revealed to him of the Quran in Makkah as the focus was on matters of faith, whereas the obligations of worship as well as the lawful and unlawful were revealed later.

Al-Bukhari narrated that ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her said:

(Be informed that) the first thing that was revealed thereof was a Surah from Al-Mufassal (i.e. the short Surahs of the Quran which have many breaks between them, beginning from Surah Qaaf until the end of the Quran), and in it was mentioned Paradise and Hell. When the people embraced Islam, the verses regarding what is lawful and what is forbidden were revealed. Had the first thing to be revealed been, 'Do not drink wine,' then people would have said, 'We will never stop drinking wine,' and had it been revealed, 'Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse,' they would have said, 'We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse...

Faith leads to submissiveness and the acceptance of what a person is called to.

Therefore, if a non-Muslim raises an issue that he may not understand if it is explained to him, then it is more appropriate to try to divert him to the issues of the principles of religion.

Also, among the facts that should be clarified regarding the wisdom of the differences in religion is that not all difference is dispraised; rather, some of it is praised and some is dispraised.

On the other hand, there are objective reasons for the differences in issues of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).

The differences of opinion between people are not restricted to the religion only but also exist in worldly matters. Also, the differences in religion are not only in Islam; rather, this also may be in other heavenly and non-heavenly religions. People are different in their understanding and their desires; this may lead them to envy, which in turn leads to oppression and aggression. Thus, they deny the truth and differences break out between them.

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Iqtidhaa’ As-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem, when speaking about the kinds of differences:

Most differences that lead to vain desires among the nation are of the first kind, which also leads to bloodshed, consuming people’s money unjustly, enmity and hatred, because each of the two groups does not acknowledge the right of the other group, and is not just to it; rather, it adds falsehood to the truth that is on its side, and the other group does the same thing.

Also, Allah said in the Quran that the reason for difference is jealous animosity, as Allah says (what means): {And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it - after the clear proofs came to them - out of jealous animosity among themselves.} [Quran 2:213] Animosity is exceeding the limit, and Allah mentioned this in several places in the Quran so that it can be a lesson for this nation.

The life of this world is, indeed, a life of trials; Allah says (what means): {[He] Who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed - and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.} [Quran 67:2] If Allah had willed, He would have made all the people follow the truth, but Allah tests them so that the true believers will become apparent and the liars will become apparent. Allah says (what means): {And if your Lord had willed, He could have made mankind one community; but they will not cease to differ. Except whom your Lord has given mercy, and for that He created them.} [Quran 11:118-119]

Shaykh as-Sa’di  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his Tafseer:

The saying of Allah: {and for that He created them}; i.e. his wisdom necessitated this, that He created them, so that there would be those who are prosperous and those who are wretched; those who agree and those who differ; the group that Allah guided and the group upon whom the word of your Lord has come into effect that they will be misguided; so that His Justice and Wisdom will be apparent to the people, and so that what is concealed of the nature of the people in regard to their goodness and evil will be apparent…

These are some of the facts and wisdom about the differences in religion, and we emphasize what we have mentioned at the beginning, that a Muslim should focus on the issues of faith when inviting non-Muslims to Islam.

Allah knows best.

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