When a layman may act according to the easiest opinion of the scholars
Fatwa No: 367444

  • Fatwa Date:30-12-2017 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 12, 1439
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Question

I have read all the fatwas on this site regarding the issue which I am going to ask about, so, please, I prefer a personal answer. My question is regarding following Scholar/School of Thought A in some matters and Scholar/School of Thought B in other matters. For example, if I consult Islamqa.info, they say that photography is not allowed as a hobby, even of lifeless objects, as it is a waste of time and constitutes picture-making etc., but another contemporary and committed Islamic scholar says that as long as it is done of inanimate objects and also of people other than adult women, it is OK. So, if I consult Islamqa.info regularly (because their fatwas are detailed and they are committed to the religion), can I choose not to follow this particular fatwa, as I incline to the opinion of the contemporary scholar in this issue? In other matters, however, I agree with the view of Islamqa.info. In other words, is it compulsory upon me as a layman with limited Islamic knowledge to follow the opinions of scholars or sites that I regularly consult? Or do I have a choice when a variety of opinions exist or in matters that are disputed to choose a particular School of Thought in one area and another School of Thought in another matter? May Allah reward you well for your time and clarification.

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.

A layman is not obliged to follow a particular School of Fiqh or one single scholar in all matters. It is permissible for him to follow any scholar whom he trusts in his religion and piety as long as he does not intend to follow concessions by doing so. 

Hence, if you consider a scholar or mufti to be more trustworthy than others, you may act according to his view. In case they are equal and you do not know which of them is more knowledgeable and more pious, then you may follow whomever you wish amongst them. It was also said that you should act according to the view that puts you on the safer side, and it was also said that you act according to the easier one.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

In issues of knowledge, a person must follow whomever he considers to be closer to the truth, either because of his vast knowledge, or because of his trustworthiness, credibility, and religion. If he does not know who meets this criteria and who does not, then some scholars said that he has the choice; he may choose the view of one scholar or the view of another. Some scholars said that he should act according to the view that puts him on the safe side in order to free himself of his liability from sin, and some scholars said that he acts according to the easier view, as this is more consistent with the Shariah because the religion of Islam is easy. Allah says (what means): {Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.} [Quran 2:185] Allah also says (what means): {…and He has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty..} [Quran 22:78] Besides, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, 'Indeed, the religion is easy.' He also said, when he was sending out the delegations, 'Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them; give glad tidings to them, and do not put people off. Verily, you were sent to make things easy, and you were not sent to make things difficult.' This means that if you find different views of the scholars on the same issue and you do not know which one is preponderant, then you act according to the easiest view because of the above evidence. Also, in principle, a person is free of liability; if we oblige him to do what is more difficult, then this would make him liable while he is not in principle. This is the view which I consider to be more preponderant; i.e. if the scholars differ into two views and you consider their evidence as equivalent and you do not consider one view to outweigh the other, then you should act according to the easier view. This is, of course, when the matter is related to the person himself, but if that would lead to causing evil (if announced), then he should not announce this and make it known … Thus we say: the correct view is that we should act according to the easiest opinion as long as this does not cause any evil (if announced). If it leads to causing evil, then one should act according to the easiest view in regard to himself only.

If a person follows this view, which is following the easier option when the evidence is not clear to him, or if all the evidence is equal, or if the trustworthy muftis differ on the same issue, then there is no harm on him, in this case, and he will not be held accountable on the Day of Judgment, because he did what he could do and feared Allah as much as he could.

Allah knows best.

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