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Religious variety: the case of convergence

May 13, 2011, 3:14 PM | Article By: AYATULLAH MUHAMMAD 'ALI TASKHIRL

Third is the acceptance that Islam has endorsed ijtihad as an augmenter of the scope of canonical inference since it functions as a tool for understanding Islam and emphasizes the flexibility of the Shariah and its capacity for alignment with critical developments under specific criteria and guidelines. This reading of ijtihad necessarily signifies the potential for forging a bond between the manifold products of ijtihad as well as Islam as whole-in cases of dissimilarity or even contradiction of various ijtihads, which stem from differences in insight, understanding, beliefs, and perspectives. Such differences are called asbab al-khilaf in the Islamic sciences.  

Aside from the fact that it is a realistic and natural religion, another reason that Islam endorses ijtihad is that after so many centuries from its emergence, lacking support from divine revelation and the Infallibles, in order to become well versed in the Shariah there is no other way but that of ijtihad-even through it is susceptible to harm caused by subjectivity and involves divergent or even contradictory opinions, many of which may be incongruous with he true aims of Islam in he form intended in the Divine Knowledge.  

As can be seen, this logical method (i.e. ijtihad) has the ability to make inferences in all areas including beliefs, concepts, decrees, and even the position of Islam in regard to natural laws.

Fourth, the principle of Islamic unity is one of the characteristic features of the Islamic Ummah, without which it can have no justifiable claim to perfection. Islam has presented a comprehensive plan for the realization of unity of which is accomplished by seizing the 'Secure Cable of God' (which consists of the immutable ties that link human to God) and emphasis on the Ummah to collectively enter the province of total surrender to God and refutation of the actions of Satan. It points out the effects of unity and spreads the seeds of morality, self-sacrifice, and relinquishment of narrow-sighted interests in favor of the greater goal. Setting aside all separatist pretexts such as language, nationality, clan, tribe, colour and ethnicity, Islam has highlighted, among other things, humane criteria such as knowledge, taqwa (God-consciousness), and the perennial struggle or jihad against evil as well as the necessity to seek common grounds, employ logic and good sense, and engage in calm, cogent dialogues.        

Belief in this principle, which is considered one of the chief fundamentals of he Proximity Movement, encompasses requisites that will be discussed in later paragraphs.

The fifth and last but no the least of these fundamentals is Islamic brotherhood. Though this is embodies within the previous fundamental, it is emphasized here independently since it is considered the most important component and regulator of all social relations in Islam. In our opinion, its effects not only cover morality but aspects of the Shariah as well. In addition, it has a primary influence on the process of ijtihad itself-in the event that no decrees emerge to repudiate it.

This fivefold backbone consists of the central fundamentals on which the Proximity Movement is based such that their acceptance or acknowledgement shall logically and automatically entail belief in this movement.

For this reason, we believe that proximity is not restricted to dialogic or moral aspects just as it is not limited to particulars of the Shariah; rather, it also embodies various intellectual and civilization aspects. It is appropriate that all of the jurisprudential and intellectual elite take part in this movement. More importantly, these elite must go among the Muslim masses to familiarize them with the culture of proximity and Muslim unity. This is necessary because, through Islam endorses natural and non-detrimental intellectual differences, under no circumstances does in permit even the slightest disagreement in is theoretical position regarding critical internal and external maters of Islam and the Ummah. Hence, Islam considers standing in opposition to the religious authority (an individual who, as a rule, must integrate the functional positions of the Ummah into a united whole) tantamount to standing in opposition to God, considering that the Quran has beforehand proclaimed compliance with the religious authority to be commensurate with obeying God and His Messenger.


On the basis of the above fundamentals and also the assertions of the ulama’ and exponents of proximity, we invite the people to hold to the following values, which we regard as the central policies to the pursued, by proximitists in attaining the specified goals:



There are many issues in which there is common agreement among the schools. The Islamic schools of thought possess extensive common grounds in the domains of both doctrine and Shariah (which according to some ulama' comprise up to 90% of all the general subject matter of Islam). In the domain of ethics, there is almost total consensus. Moreover, there is close correspondence in the areas of Islamic concepts, customs, and even in maters of Islamic history and its civilization-excepting differences of opinion in the assessment of some specific cases. Finally, all Islamic schools of though have consensus regarding the necessity for unity through common social alignment and societal solidarity.

Doubtless, cooperation on common intellectual ground is tantamount to cooperating to foster a common ground within the mains of the people, avoiding matters that may weaken it, and reinforcing a common ground in the process of the Islamic society's development. The necessity for cooperation in areas of individual, social, and civilizational behavior is also beyond doubt and covers critical lines such as implementation of the Islamic Shariah; veneration of Islamic sanctities including the ceremonies of hajj and Friday prayer; and realization of the true features of an Islamic Ummah, namely unity.

The proximity movement must do its utmost discover common ground, raise public awareness, and extend the scope of common areas.


If we believe that ijtihad is a correct and natural method that cannot be invalidated by any single decision, since the procedure of ijtihad inherently subsumes differences of opinion, we have perforce accepted dissimilarity of opinions and fatwas. It must be noted that in Islam, difference of opinion has not been prohibited. What has in fact been prohibited and regarded as improper are debilitative infighting and strife as well as religious dispersion and sectarianism. This is a clear indicator of the rationality of Islam and its acceptance of logic.

Consequently, every Muslim individual, whether Islamic scholar, mujahid, or muqalid (i.e. follower of a mujtahid), must be able to tolerate opposing opinions and refrain from intimidating, threatening, or insulting those with different views.    

Many hadith enjoin the mu’minin (i.e. the Faithful) to patience, moderateness, and open-mindedness which may be considered directly pertinent to the current state of affairs.  

By way of example, after a certain group was mentioned in the presence of Imam Sadiq (‘a) the narrator of the hadith stated to the Imam, "We exonerate ourselves from them since what we say, they do not. The Imam said, "They have accepted our wilayah (leadership) but they do not say what you say and for this reason you exonerate yourselves from them?" The narrator answered, "Yes". The Imam declared, "This is something that we have but you do not. Thus, it is fitting that we exonerate ourselves from you. (…) so, you also must extend the hand of friendship to them and withhold exoneration. Many are the Muslims that hold one share and others that hold two. It is not fitting that the Muslim with one share imposes anything on the owner of two shares..." (Hurr 'Amuli, 1412b:160-161).
The attitudes of the personages of various schools toward each other are interesting examples of this truth. These personages never denied anyone leave to perform ijtihad nor considered it haram (i.e. forbidden) for some one who had reason contradicting their own ijtihads to follow other jurisprudential interpretation.

To be continued.