Seeking fatwa from several sources on same issue
Fatwa No: 367462

  • Fatwa Date:3-1-2018 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 16, 1439
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Question

You rightly advised me recently to not consult many scholars on a single issue as it can lead to confusion. In the past 3-4 years, as I have been striving to increase my Islamic knowledge and correct practice of the religion, I would usually read and reference two prominent fatwa websites and two scholars, whose email ID's I have. I trust the religious commitment and piety of all these four sources, and they are globally well-known. Among these, one scholar and website is Saudi-based, and in most issues, they adopt a far stricter stance than the other website and scholar. Also, these two sources do not usually present all angles in their fatwas. Instead, they promote their view as 'the most authentic' on issues where there is clearly a difference of opinion. For example, on photography, women's issues including face-covering, women going out etc., this Saudi-based website and scholar take a very strict and sometimes impractical stand, such as asking the woman to strictly stay at home if she cannot cover the face, or to deface all images, including the ones on packaged food items and so on. Knowing this, from now on, if I decide to consult only once source to clear myself of Islamic doubts, I have the following queries:
1. Am I permitted to consult this Saudi-based site and scholar (because they are comprehensive in the info they provide) but chose not to follow some of their fatwas, especially in matters in which there is a difference of opinion?
2. Or can I just consult the other scholar and website, which usually give a more practical and easier-to-follow option, given today's world scenario?
3. If I choose to consult and follow only the more lenient scholar/website, knowing that there is a stricter view, am I sinning because I took the easy way out?
4. Or do I continue to consult all these four trusted sources and just take any one view in matters in which there is a difference of opinion?
Please help me clear this confusion.

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, is His slave and Messenger.

There is no harm on you in consulting either of the two websites or scholars whom you find trustworthy. When a lay Muslim needs to know the ruling on a religious issue, he is required to consult a knowledgeable scholar whose knowledge and religiosity he trusts, and he should act upon his fatwa. Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, "A layperson, who does not have adequate knowledge to practice Ijtihaad (independant reasoning) given his lack of qualification to do so, is obliged to consult the most knowledgeable scholar of his time and place and follow his fatwa; Allah, the Exalted, says (what means): {So, ask the people of the message if you do not know.} [Quran 16:43] He has to strive in looking for the most knowledgeable scholar until he finds the scholar upon whose knowledge most people agree." [Tafseer Al-Qurtubi]

Second, you are not required to consult the two websites together or the two scholars together; rather, it is better if you do not do so unless there is a need for it, because this may cause confusion, as happens when a person moves between muftis regarding one single issue. Rather, if the motive for this is pursuing concessions, then it is dispraised. It is impermissible to pursue concessions without a necessity or need.

Thirdly, there is no harm in refraining from acting upon the fatwas of some scholars whom you consult in matters wherein there is difference of opinion if there is a valid purpose for doing so. However, if it is based on mere personal whims and desires, it is impermissible. It is also permissible to choose one of the fatwa givers due to his good style in presenting his fatwa and giving suitable lawful alternatives, and similar reasons.

Fourthly, if you trust the knowledge and religiosity of the scholar who gives a less stringent view, there is no harm in seeking his fatwa and acting upon it.

Fifthly, scholars held different opinions regarding the situation wherein a lay-Muslim is given different fatwas by a number of scholars. Some held that he should act upon the less stringent view, and others held that he should opt for the stricter one. Other scholars held that he is given the choice to opt for any of these views. Some scholars, on the other hand, held that he should seek a means to weigh these opinions and opt for the one with greater weight. Perhaps this is the soundest view; he should give more weight, for instance, to the opinion of the scholar who is better in knowledge and religiosity.

Allah knows best.

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