Our attitude towards differences among the scholars

04/02/2009

بسم الله الرحمان الحيم

الحمد الله

Question:

If there is some issue and there is more than one shar’i fatwa concerning it, and a fatwa that says it is halaal (permissible) and a fatwa that says it is haraam (forbidden), and a fatwa that is in between, then which should the Muslim choose, especially with regard to modern issues in which qiyaas (analogy) and ijtihaad (studying an issue within the framework of the Qur’aan and Sunnah) may play a part, and concerning which there is no shar’i text, such as bank interest, or what we call investments or returns on investment, or any other new names that are given to it?

What do you say about people who say that this is the fatwa of a scholar, and that he is responsible for it, and that it is hung around his neck?

What is your view on one who follows the dispensations granted by the scholars or the easier options that they grant? They say that these are the people of knowledge and these are their fatwas, and they know better than we do about that? But their fatwa may go against the fatwas of other shaykhs and scholars in the same country or in other countries, so which of them should we follow? How can we know what is right and what is not? Please note that most people do not have sufficient knowledge to decide whether the fatwa issued by a scholar or mufti differs from those issued by other scholars.

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

Before answering this important question, we must first describe the conditions that must be met by the mufti so that he may be regarded as one of the people of knowledge whose words count and if he expresses a different view we may then say that there is indeed a difference of opinion among the scholars. There are many such conditions, which ultimately boil down to two:

1 – Knowledge, because the mufti will be telling people about the rulings of Allaah, and he cannot speak of the rulings of Allaah if he is ignorant of them.

2 – Soundness of character, i.e., he is righteous in all his affairs, he fears Allaah and he keeps away from anything that may undermine his credibility. The scholars are agreed that a fatwa cannot be accepted from one who is immoral, even if he is knowledgeable. This was clearly stated by al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi.

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