Thursday, February 07, 2008

Unity and Ethics of Disagreement

“You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for humanity: You enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in Allah…(3:110).”

• We face an enormous task and responsibility as a Muslim community
• We are challenged to be the model community that guides people from darkness to light

And hold fast, all together, unto the rope of Allah, and do not draw apart from one another (3:103).

• In order to fulfill our task, we need unity
• Unity does not mean uniformity
• Differences among my ummah are a mercy
• Diversity is part of the design of the universe
• Diversity is what makes the world beautiful
• But this can turn ugly when it becomes a source of anger and hatred between people

And obey Allah and his messenger. Do not differ, because if you do you will fail and the strength or force that propels you forward will dissipate; And be patient for Allah is with those who are patient (8:46).

• One of the greatest challenges we face, if not the greatest, is unnecessary argumentation.
• Argumentation is prohibited among people and disliked among the scholars.
• Hadith: If a man avoids disputing when his in the wrong, God builds for him a mansion in the middle part of paradise; if a man avoids disputing when is in the right, God builds for him a mansion in the highest part of paradise.

Argumentation and division is the result of a lack of knowledge about ikhtilaf and about the adab of ikhtilaf (difference of opinion among scholars and the proper courtesy in differing).

• Difference of opinion does not have to mean belligerence and division
• The incident with the companions and their journey to Bani Quraydah
-Lessons: Discuss, decide, remain cordial.

• Ikhtilaf after the Prophet’s death:
-Qur’an collection (ijmaa)
-Prophet seeing Allah (ikhtilaf)—Ibn Abbas and Ayesha
-Dead punished for weeping (ikhtilaf)—Ibn Umar and Ayesha
-Maintenance after divorce (ikhtilaf)—Umar and Fatimah Ibn Qayys

Unity is not found in uniformity, but rather in the acceptance of legitimate differences of opinion

• The genius of the madhab system of classical Islam

Conclusion: Seek knowledge, commit to mutual consultation, and work together

• Imam al-Maqari said, “Learn the differences of the ulema and allow your breasts to expand.”
• 42:38 Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular Prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance;
• “Let there arise from among you a band of people who invite to righteousness, and enjoin good and forbid evil” (Qur’an, 3:104).

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