بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Ibn Al-Qayyim disagreed greatly with Shaykh Al-Islam Isma’eel Haroon Al-Hanbali. He would frequently disagree with him in his books, respond to his edicts and show where he was wrong. But when he was asked about this, he said: “Shaykh Al-Islam is beloved to us, but the truth is more beloved to us”
Perhaps this tarbiya should end here, with us pondering over the above statement. Two scholars who disagreed, expressing this disagreement, yet being able to say that the other was “beloved to us”. SubhanAllah, it made me immediately think of Allah’s statement: “The believers are but brothers…” [Surat Al-Hujurat, 49:10] You would rebuke your brother if he was wrong, but not out of spite or arrogance- you would do it out of love and even fear for your brother. At the end of the day, truth is not compromised, but respect and love is shown. Perhaps this is why I am saddened when I see in certain places, that we have regressed into an ummah of labels, and if we were to attack, we attack the label not specific ideas, with an intense hatred. In extreme circles, it has even gone so far as to declare others as disbelievers.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has warned us: “Whoever calls someone else an unbeliever or declares him an enemy of Allah when it is not the case, then his statement will return back to him.” (Bukhari)
Most of us here perhaps wouldn’t go that far. We wouldn’t say that others are outside the fold of Islam. And yet some would curse the other group and look down on ‘them’. But look at the example of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal- he considered the Jahmiyyah sect to be upon unbelief because of his view that anyone who declared the Qur’ân to be created (as opposed to the uncreated speech of God) to be an unbeliever. Nevertheless, he never once called any particular individual a disbeliever. Instead, he prayed for those people and would ask Allah to forgive them.
As we can see, instead of attacking the group, or the label, he expressed his view about a certain belief. This is similar to the approach of Imam Al-Dhahabî, who said about Ibn Hazm, the controversial sheikh of the Dhâhirî school of thought: “I am sympathetic towards Ibn Hazm because of his love for authentic hadîth and his knowledge on that subject, though there are many things that he says about narrators and defects in transmission that I do not agree with. He has many views in Islamic Law about which I am certain he is mistaken. However, I do not consider him as an unbeliever or as a person who went astray. I pray that God forgives him and grants him clemency, as I pray for all Muslims. I also submit to his brilliance and extensive knowledge.”
We should all be humbled by this. Imagine disagreeing fundamentally with certain issues, and this is not a light matter as it is one of religion, yet still having the respect and humility to say “I also submit to his brilliance and extensive knowledge.”
Some say “but the [insert group name here] attack us!” No doubt, being attacked and called names is not easy, especially when one is sure about his belief. But remember that it is Allah who tells us: “Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with what is better. Then he with whom there was so much hatred between you will become as a dear friend.” [Sûrah Fussilat, 41:34] Even if we regard that people have mistakes in their ‘aqeedah (creed), we should take the approach of Ali bin Abi Taleb (ra), the beloved cousin of the Prophet (pbuh). The Khawarij sect was perhaps the first group of violent extremists. They regarded any Muslim who committed a major sin as a disbeliever, and not only that, that that person had to be killed. Even worse, you did not even have to personally commit a major sin, only disagree with their belief. They killed one of the companions, Abdullah bin Khabbab (ra) and his wife (who was pregnant). They had amassed a considerable following and wanted to attack Ali bin Abi Taleb (ra) because they regarded that he was not worthy to lead the Muslims because of his ‘compromises’. Ali (ra) defeated them but in his wisdom, he talked to them, and managed to convince a considerable number to return to mainstream Islam.
Dialogue may not work for everyone, but inshAllah it works for many. We should heed the words of Imam Ash-Shafi’i: “Never do I debate a man with a desire to hear him err in his speech, or to expose the flaws in his argument, and thus vanquish him. Whenever I face an opponent in debate I silently supplicate, ‘O Lord, help him so that truth may manifest itself in his heart and on his tongue. If it be that the truth is on my side, may he follow me; and if the truth be on his side, may I follow him.”
May Allah guide us to the truth.