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The Types, Consequences and Reasons for Ikhtilāf

Shaykh Mūsá Richardson

In this lecture our noble brother and teacher Abū al-ʿAbbās Mūsá Richardson discusses the various types of Ikhtilāf, the reasons people differ, and the consequences upon the one who falls into it.

Key Points:

  • Al-Ikhtilāf: Differing. The opposite of Ikhtilāf comes from the Arabic root Kha-La-Fa. Has to do with one thing coming and taking the place of another.
  • 2 main types of Ikhtilāf
    • Ikhtilāf tanowwuʿ
      • The permissible differing where all opinions are legislated in the Shariʿah and sides can coexist.
        • eg. The different recitations of the Qurʾān: Warsh, hafs etc.
      • This Ikhtilāf may lead to differing or a clash between the people; however, it is not due to the Ikhtilāf itself, rather it is due to the ignorance of the people that these types are legislated and all are permissible.
      • “Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the Ikhtilāf of the night and day, there are signs for people of intellect” (Sūrah ʿĀl ʿImrān, v.190)
      • “Do you not see that Allāh has sent down from the sky water and caused it to take courses, then brings forth by way of it vegetation of varying colours, and among the mountains are streaks white and red, of varying colours and (others) very black.And of men and Al-Dawāb (moving living creatures, beasts, etc.), and cattle, in like manner of various colours. It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allāh. Verily, Allāh is Almighty, Oft Forgiving.” (Sūrah Fāṭir, v.27-28)
      • “O mankind, verily we have created you from a man and a women and we have made you into tribes do you may know each other…” ( Sūrah al-Ḥujurāt, v.13)
    • Clashing/Blameworthy Ikhtilāf
      • When one says something is ḥalāl and another says something is ḥarām.
      • ” And when Mūsá returned to his people angry he said, “What an evil way you have differed from me in my absence…” (Sūrah al-Aʿrāf, v.150)
      • “And indeed We gave the Children of Israel the Scripture, and the understanding of the Scripture and its laws, and the Prophethood; and provided them with good things, and preferred them above the ʿĀlamīn (mankind and jinns) (of their time, during that period), and gave them clear proofs in matters [by revealing to them the Tawrāt (Torah)]. And they differed not until after the knowledge came to them, through envy among themselves. Verily, Your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection about that wherein they used to differ.” (Sūrah al-Jāthiyah,v.17)
      • “And remember when Allāh said to Īsá, ‘Verily I am going to take you and raise you up to me and purify you from those people who have disbelieved and, make those who followed you truly above those who have disbelieved until the day of judgement, and then i am going to return you and judge between all of you in the matters which you used to differ about.'” (Sūrah Āl ʿImrān, v.55)
      • When the prophet ¸ل الله عليه وسلم came and started to call to the worship on one deity, worship to Allāh alone and to stop acts of worship dedicated to other than Allāh he was blamed for making Ikhtilāf, splitting families. This was a clashing/blameworthy Ikhtilāf, however in this Ikhtilāf the people upon the haqq are not to be blamed, those who oppose the haqq are to blamed.
      • “And we have not sent down this book to you except that you clarify to them the affair they have differed over.”
      • “Those who have differed about the book are far off in opposition” ( Sūrah al-Baqarah, v.176)
      • “And do not be like those who have split up and differed after clear guidance has come to them. They are the ones who will have a great punishment”  (Sūrah Āli ʿImrān, v.105)
      • “And verily those who split up their religion and become sects you (Muḥammad صل الله عليه وسلم) have nothing to do with them and their affair is with Allāh, he will inform them of that which they used to do” ( Sūrah al-Anʿām, v.159)
  • Splitting into groups is an action from the actions of the polytheists
    • “Do not be from the polytheists, those who have split their dīn up and became sects, every sect rejoicing with what they had.” (Sūrah al-Rūm, v.31-32)
  • Reasons for Ikhtilāf
    • Turning away from the obedience of the messengers.
      • “And I (ʿĪsá) have come confirming that which was before me of the Tawrāt (Torah), and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a proof from your Lord. So fear Allāh and obey me. Truly! Allāh is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him (alone). This is the Straight Path.”(Sūrah ʿĀlī ʿImrān, v.50-51) 
    • Ignorance
      • “And they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, rather his resemblance was put on another man, and verily those who differed about his affair are in doubt of him.” (Sūrah Al-Nisāʾ, v.157)
    • Oppression and wrong-doing
      • “Verily the religion with Allāh is Islām and the people of the book before us had not differed until knowledge came to them”(Sūrah Al-Nisāʿ, v.19)
    • Pride and Arrogance
      • “The person who has in his heart the smallest grain of arrogance will not enter Paradise.” “Arrogance is rejecting the truth and looking down upon people”
        • Al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dāwūd and Ibn Mājah
    • Negligence of straightening the rows for prayer
      • The Messenger of Allāh (صل الله عليه وسلم) used to go between the rows and rub the backs of the people adjusting their position so the line was straight, and would say, “Straighten your lines and don’t differ because if you do that then your hearts will differ” (Muslim)
    • Academic differing
      • Some scholars did not have access to ahādīth that were crucial in deriving the correct ruling in a certain issue.
      • Ḥadīth reached a scholar but he did not view it to be authentic while in fact it was authentic through different routes.
      • Ḥadīth reached a scholar however he did not remember it when he gave his verdict.
      • Ḥadīth reached a scholar however he did not understand the angle of proof in it while others did.
      • May view ḥadīth to be abrogated while others do not.
    • Allāh has created people with different cultures/customs
    • Our souls are not in harmony
      • Imām al-Bukhārī (may Allāh have mercy on him) reported in his Ṣaḥīḥ that ʿĀʾishah (may Allāh be pleased with her) said: “I heard the Prophet (صل الله عليه وسلم) say: The souls are like troops spread out, and those souls that recognize each other are in harmony with each other and those souls that they do not recognize (each other) cannot come together”
  • Harms of Ikhtilāf
    • We will be deprived of Allāh’s mercy
      • “And they will go on differing except those whom Allāh has mercy on”?(Sūrah Hūd)
    • Can lead to punishment from Allāh
      • “And those who oppose Allāh and his messenger, than verily Allāh is severe in punishment”
    • Causes us to become weak
      • “..And do not fall into disputes lest you become weak and lose your strength..”(Sūrah al-ʿAnfāl, v.36)
    • Can lead to nullification of actions
      • “Verily those who have disbelieved and stopped people from coming to the path of Allāh and have staunchly opposed the messenger after guidance has been conveyed to them, they will not harm Allāh in any way, and Allāh wil render their deeds null and void.” (Sūrah Muḥammad)
    • Face will become darkened and disgraced on the day of judgement.
    • Existence of animosity and hatred between the Muslims
      • Ibrāhīm al-Nakhaʿī says this āyah “And we have placed between them animosity and hatred” this is argumentation and debating in the religion.
    • One Can be led astray
      • ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz said, “Whoever makes his religion subject to argumentation then he will change (his dīn) quite often (i.e. go astray).
    • Destruction
      • “Do not differ for verily those who differed before you were destroyed”
      • “Those who came before you were destroyed by their excessive questioning and differing over their prophets.”
Published: May 11, 2015
Edited: September 5, 2022


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