A Layman Follows the most Knowledgeable and Pious Scholar
Fatwa No: 374002


Asalamo Alikom, I would like to ask regarding Sheikh giving Fatwa to someone who doesn't know the ruling or is conflicted and the Fatwa turns out wrong (in Sharia). If the sin is always on the Sheikh, then how can that be? For instance, someone can find some kind of Sheikh who says seeking help from Awliya is ok, when in fact it can be shirk. What are the limits and guidelines in this matter especially when there are opposing points of view (one says halal other says haram).


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 obliged to ask the scholars about the ruling on matters which he does not know as Allah Says (what means): {So ask the people of the message if you do not know.} [Quran 21:7]

That person is not sinful for acting according to a fatwa if it appears (later) to be contrary to the truth; rather, the sin falls on the Mufti (someone who issues Fataawa), if he was negligent in issuing Fatwa. The evidence for this is the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): “If anyone issues a Fatwa without knowledge” another narration reads: “If anyone issues a Fatwa without researching it thoroughly, then the sin rests on the Mufti.” [Abu Daawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad; and Al-Albaani classified it as Hassan]

Commenting on this narration, Al-Qari (a Hanafi scholar) said in his book Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh: “This means that every ignorant person who asks a scholar about any issue, and the scholar issues a Fatwa to him with a wrong answer, and then the questioner acts according to this Fatwa while he did not know that it was wrong, then its sin falls on the Mufti if he was negligent in his effort (of researching and giving the correct Fatwa).” [End of quote]

Besides, Al-Shawkaani  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his book Nayl Al-Awtaar:

The narration means, that if someone received a Fatwa from a Mufti who issued a Fatwa to him without being firm about it (i.e. confirming its proof) from the Quran and the Sunnah and analogy (of the scholars), then the sin falls upon the one who issued the wrong Fatwa, and not upon the questioner who imitated the Mufti.” [End of quote]

If the layman received conflicting Fataawa from more than one Mufti, then it is said that he chooses any Fatwa amongst them. Another opinion is that he can choose the Fatwa of the Mufti whom he believes to be more knowledgeable and more pious. Yet another opinion says that he can act according to the easiest Fatwa because religion is based on easiness.

Since the questioning sister sometimes writes to us in Arabic, then we refer her to some Fataawa in our Arabic site, which are as follows: 360223 and 325771.

You may also refer to Fataawa 367444, 365404, 338398 and 313558 in our English site.

As for Tawassul, in the sense of asking Allah by their virtue, such as saying: “O Allah, I ask you by virtue of so and so”, then according to the most preponderant opinion, this Tawasul is not permissible. It is a kind of Bid’ah (religious innovation) but not Shirk (associating partners with Allah). It only becomes Shirk when a person asks directly that righteous person for help, without asking Allah.

For more benefit on Tawassul, please refer to Fatwa 264595, 142097, 89352, and 89076.

Allah knows best.

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