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Is Differing a Raḥmah? What Should We Be United Upon?

Shaykh Mūsá Richardson

An important session considering that we live in an era of multiple groups and parties, all claiming to be upon the Sunnah, some upon separate paths, others supposedly cooperating in the name of ‘unity’ yet completely divided in their beliefs and aspirations, desiring to unite people upon falsehood, agreeing to be silent about deviation, ḥizbīyyah and utter opposition to the pure Islamic ʿAqīdah, all disguised by the pure and beautiful term of ‘Islamic Unity’..

  • What is true Islamic unity built upon?
  • How do we view differing in the Ummah?
  • What are the real solutions?

These pressing issues are discussed in the following class:
Class 10 of 12 from the ʿAqīdah Course of the 2007 Summer Islamic Courses in Toronto, Canada (available Autumn ’07 in shāʾ Allāh).

The ʿAqīdah course is based upon the ‘haa’iyyah’ peom of Ibn Abī Dāwūd. The tenth sitting focused on the final three verses of the 33 lines of outstanding poetry: (31) And keep yourself from the opinions of people and their stances, Since the stance of the Messenger of Allāh is more befitting and easier on one’s chest.

(32) And do not be from those who play games with their religion,
Attacking the people of ḥadīth and reviling them.

(33) If you keep this belief all your life, O holder of this (poem),
You will be upon goodness, day and night.
 Allāh says,

O you who believe! Obey Allāh and obey the Messenger (Muḥammad – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allāh and His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), if you believe in Allāh and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination. (Soratun-Nisāʾ’, 4:59)  “…We have been given guidance, a directive from our Lord, then return it back to Allāh, meaning refer back to the book of Allāh, the Qurʾān, and also the Rasūl (the Prophet – sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) and this is done one of two ways:

1) During the lifetime of the prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), they (the Ṣaḥābahh) would return to him personally.
2) And after his death (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), it is done by returning back to his Sunnah.

…And the prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) further told us what to do when the people differ, “And whoever lives upon you long will experience many affairs of differing, so upon you is to hold to my sunnah and the sunnah of the khulafaa’ ar-rashidīn (the rightly guided caliphs).” [Aḥmad (4/126), Ibn Mājah (no. 43), al-Ḥākim (1/96) and others – Ḥasan]

You find the prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) ordering us how to behave after his death specifically. ‘Whoever lives after me is going to experience differing’ knowing that He was upon revelation from Allāh, if it was obligatory in our dīn, after the death of the Prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) to hold tight to one of the four well known madhaabs, then he would have told us to do that…if it was from the khayr that Allāh wanted for this ummah, and it was something to the degree some people make it out to be, that after choosing Islām, your next choice is to pick out one of the four madhaabs, this is how they introduce Islām to some people…you’re a muslim and now you have to choose your denomination, you have to be hanbalee, shafi’ee, maalikee or hanafī. If that were the case, then the Messenger (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) as the Companions used to say, ‘there is no khayr coming after the prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) important for this Ummah except that the prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) showed it to us’, how can it be, such a big decision upon every muslim for the last 1200 years and the Prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) didn’t speak about it?”

The Prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) also mentioned,

“I am leaving you with something, that if you hold tightly to it, you will never go astray after me, the book of Allāh and my Sunnah’ so it is not permissible ever for a person to hold to statements he desires, or to take positions on issues in Islām based on his whims, what is convenient for him, what his cravings like and what is more suitable for him. Rather he holds to what he believes to be the order of Allāh, what Allāh wants from him found in the book of Allāh and what has been authentically narrated from the Prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam).”

Is Differing a Mercy?

“Ikhtilāf is not a raḥmah, when one person claims that an issue is ḥalāl and another comes and claims it is ḥarām, this is not the raḥmah of Allāh, rather the raḥmah is in the Sunnah and holding to unity and holding to what is correct from the book and the Sunnah and being united upon what is correct…and it is not division and separating in to opinions that oppose each other and clash, this is division and this is prohibited…”

From the Questions:

[Q1]: What about the differing of the Ṣaḥābahh and their specific conflicts?

[Q2]: You spoke about the ḥadīth of the Prophet (sallāllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that we have to be from one of those sects…isn’t the idea of forming a sect something we are supposed to do, and if we did that and gave ourselves the name ‘Salafīs’, how do we understand that in light of the lecture you have given?

Published: September 28, 2007
Edited: April 21, 2022


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