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Understanding Differences of Opinion in Fiqh Issues

Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī

An understanding on why scholars may differ on an issue of fiqh and that it is not simply a difference of preference but rather that one scholar may be more acquainted with the correct evidences than another.

Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab (d. 795 AH) said:

“The reasons for difference of opinion in [matters of fiqh] are plentiful. Nonetheless, [it should be noted] that there must exist from this ummah [for each individual issue] a scholar whose opinion coincides with the truth. Thus, this scholar is [considered] the most knowledgeable regarding this ruling. The issue may not be entirely clear to some of the other scholars and thus they are not considered to be [most] knowledgeable when it comes to this ruling [specifically]. For, truly, this ummah will never wholly and completely devolve into misguidance, nor will the people of falsehood completely extinguish the people of truth. Consequently, truth itself will never be completely abandoned to the point where not a soul acts according to it, in any region or time.

It is for this reason the Prophet (ﷺ) said [concerning the unspecific or unclear matter of the dīn]:

‘Most of mankind do not have knowledge of it.’

This proves that among mankind are those who do have knowledge of [these unclear matters], but that it remains undefined for those who lack knowledge of it. Thus, these matters [in and of themselves] are not unclear [for every single person]. This is the reason for the confusion experienced in some issues [of jurisprudence] for many scholars.’

Source: Jāmiʿ al-ʿUlūm wa-al-Ḥikam: 204-205
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: December 29, 2022
Edited: April 12, 2023

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