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Religious Variety: the case of convergence

May 20, 2011, 3:16 PM | Article By: AYATULLAH MUHAMMAD ‘ALI TASKHIRL

The following are some examples: It has been narrated from Imam Malik ibn Anas that: I am a child of Adam who might be either right or wrong; thus, collate my statements with the Book and Tradition (Ibn Alusi, 1410:199).

Imam Shafi 'I have said: If there is a correct hadith in opposition to my statements, put aside my statements (ibid).

Abu Hanifah has declared: This is my opinion and I think it is best but if someone has a different opinion I accept that and for someone that does not know my reasons, citing fatwas from me is haram (ibid).

Imam Ahma ibn Hanbal had stated: It is due to the scarcity of people's knowledge that they follow others (ibid).

This concept is exactly what the great scholars who came later underscored:


We consider takfir (i.e. to regard others as unbelievers or accuse them of unbelief) to be among the tragedies of our history. Despite the existence of lofty texts that not only present a definite description of what a Muslim is but also proscribe the takfir of Muslims, we are nonetheless witness to this affliction and its consequences, namely intellectual stagnation along with prevention of creativity and self-assertion. Incredibly, this goes so far that some authors consider opposition to even one word of their books to entail unbelief!

Hence, we believe that the equation of "faith or unbelief" must be substituted with one of "correctness or mistakenness". For this we must seek support in the Quran which, even in dialogues with true unbelievers, advises the holy Prophet (s) to observe reason and say: Indeed either we or you are right guided or in manifest error (34:24).



It is completely logical for people to be evaluated, criticized, and controverted due to their opinions. However, we have also become accustomed to sparking off disputes regarding the consequences of an opinion. In such disputes matters of unbelief and heresy are raised concerning the consequences of the opinion in question, whereas the advocate of the opinion may not hold to such consequences.

For example, some advocates of intellectual tahsin (inclination) and (aversion) accuse their opposition of disbelieving in the honorableness and truthfulness of the Prophet(s) on the basis that what negates the mendacity of a  Prophet working miracles is solely that humans are intellectually (as opposed to emotionally) averse to the concept of a liar performing miracles. On this basis they conclude that by refuting the existence of intellectual aversion we are in fact refuting the very belief in prophethood. They hold to the same belief regarding compliance with the will of Almighty God, whereas that which compels us to obey God is reason to the exclusion of all else.

Also, others consider those who support tawassul (seeking help), shafa’ah (absolution form sin), or making oaths in any name but God's as polytheists.

Calm, scientific dialogues are what we seek. We do not endorse discontinuation of kalam discourses. Logic necessitates such debates and discourses. That which we champion is logical debate and forgoing attribution of issues to opposing parties that do not acquiesce that imputed views. In this way we may obstruct the path to many detrimental and divisionary accusations.


Dialogue is the logical, correct, and humane method of transferring ideas. The Holy Quran advances fascinating, transcendent views regarding the preliminaries, conditions, aims, and style of dialogues. Among these is listening to the views of others and following the best among them and also refraining from accusation and calumny. The following holy verse deals with the orientation of the Prophet’s(s) discussions with non-Muslims warning him away from inciting prior resentments and allowing two-sided accusations, and inspiring him to observe logicality in discussions:

Say, 'You will not be questioned about our guilt, nor shall we be questioned about what you do' (34:25).

In this verse, the method of expression has been meticulously chosen such that, with respect to the other party, it does not say, "...nor shall we be questioned about your guilt" through the style of the sentence would seem to possess more coherence if stated in this manner.


Though this item is subordinate to the previous principle, its mention may be even more important since such disrespect cerates a negative emotional atmosphere and disrupts the proper equilibrium in dialogues. In repudiation of such disrespect the Quran states:

Do not abuse those whom they invoke besides Allah, lest they should abuse Allah out of hostility, without any knowledge. That is how to every people We have made their conduct seem decorous. Then their return will be to their Lord and He will inform them concerning what they used to do (6:108).

Along with explaining the instructive responsibilities of the Faithful and that they should not impose their views on others-even polytheists-God Almighty invites them to conduct themselves with a humane spirit:

Had Allah wished they would have ascribed partners [to Him]. We have not made you a caretaker for them, nor is it your duty to watch over them (6:107).

There are many Islamic hadiths and narrations that proscribe cursing and using profane language. When such instructions are given in regard to confronting polytheists, it is of even greater import to observe this principle in socializing with Muslims who are brothers to one another, who all have the same goals, and whose pains, adversities, hopes, and desires are the situation, no offence can be justified especially in cases where the other party truly their opinions to be sacred.


When we accept the existence of the various Islamic schools to be a result of the variety of ijtihad endorsed by Islamic, we must consider each to be a different path in attaining the satisfaction of Almighty God. When there is difference among schools, it is natural for Muslim individuals to research them until satisfied that they have performed their duty before God and choose in accordance with the criteria in which they believe. Naturally, no one may reproach others for their choices, though such choices may not be to their liking. It is also wrong to force someone to choose a specific school since selection of a school of through is intertwined with matters of faith and cannot occur but through one’s own reason and judgement.


To be continued