Differing is not a Mercy

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Imaam ash-Shattibee`s answer to the sayings of al-Qaseem ibn Muhammad and `Umar ibn Abdel-`Azeez –Al-Mouwaafaqaat – Differing is not a Mercy
Source: Sheikh Muhammad Nasir-ad-deen al-Albaanee- the arguments of those who say that differing (Ikhtilaaf) is part of the Legislation.

Rendered into English by Abdelmalik ibn Johnson al-firensee

Question: They say: “If there are texts that push to eradicate the differing, there are also some in the Legislation (Shari`ah) which are in favor of differing. The proofs are as follows:

Al-Qaseem ibn Muhammad said: “Allah made beneficial the differing of the Companions in their actions. There is no one who emulates one of their action, without saying to himself that this is something great and that some one greater than him performed it”[1], and he also said: “Who ever you may choose (from the Companions), there will be no bother in your heart (or your heart will be at ease).”

There was also something similar reported from `Umar ibn Abdel`Azeez, who said: “What makes me smile is that from their differing I own a red camel.”[2]
Al-Qaseem said: “The saying of `Umar ibn Abdel`Azeez pleased me: I would have not wanted that the Companions had not differed, because if they would have only been on one word, the people would have faced hardship. The Companions are Imaams who we have to follow. The one who takes the saying of one of them is in a blessing.”[3]. Some of the Scholars said the same.

Answer: To those who hold that the differing of the Companions is a mercy and a favor, I answer: Ibn Wahb reported from Maalik (Imaam Maalik): “In the differing of the Companions there is no Blessing, the Truth is only with one of them” it was then said to him “What do you say of those who hold that every Mujtahid has the Truth? ” he answered: “It is not possible that two contradictory sayings are both right. ” If we would consider this saying true (meaning: The differing of the Companions is a mercy and a blessing) we should understand it as follows: The Companions opened the doors of Ijtihad, Allah has put in the matters of Ijtihad a blessing (an ease) from the fact that the domain of Ijtihad is vast, and nothing more. Al-Qaadee Ismael [4] said: “The blessing in the differing of the Companions is a blessing in the effort of reflection, but thinking that it is a blessing in the sense that you can take the saying (or position) of any one of them, and knowing that the truth is not with him, then No. Their differing proves that they made an effort (in search for the truth), then they differed.”[5]

So for those who talk about mercy (in this matter), then it relates to what we just said.

The Companions opened the doors of Ijtihad, which permitted for those who come after to be able to use it to search for the truth. That is the reason why `Umar ibn Abdel`Azeez, and Allah knows best, was pleased with the Companions differing. If the Companions had not made Ijtihad then those who come after would not have been able to do it and they would have been limited (and faced hardship).


[1] Ibn ‘Abdil-Barr in « al-Jaami’ » the chain is authentic. [T]
[2] The red camel was considered precious for the Arabs. [T]
[3]Ibn `Abdil-Barr (2/900-901). The chain is good. [T]
[4] Al-Qaadee Ismael(199H-282H) student of Ali ibn al-Madinee (Teacher of Imaam Bukharee) [T]
[5] Ibn `Abdil-Barr (2/906-907) [T]

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