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Ramadan’s 5 Golden Rules of Difference of Opinion

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By Yawar Baig

A difference of opinion indicates interest and commitment. Not stupidity and ignorance.
Only the interested and committed, disagree.

 

We Muslims are perhaps a people who have the highest number of differences of opinion in the world, when it comes to understanding our religion. I am sure someone will disagree with this statement as well. However be that as it may, we should therefore be the greatest experts in expressing those differences in the most positive ways, building trust and friendship and encouraging further enquiry and debate to understand better. Sadly the opposite is the case. The way we express our differences breaks hearts, creates angst and anger, is insulting and aggravating and encourages nothing but a worse response. So here goes a short 101 on how to disagree positively.

Five Golden Rules

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1. I repeat my quote above: A difference of opinion indicates interest and commitment. Not stupidity and ignorance. Only the interested and committed, disagree. So if you want to disagree, first appreciate the other person’s interest and commitment. Start by saying, “May Allah bless you for your interest in this matter and enable us to do what is pleasing to Him.”

2. Always remember that in matters of opinion which are not clearly defined in the Qur’an or Sunnah, stating an opinion as the only correct way,  is incorrect. Neither you nor the other person is getting Wahi. So don’t talk as if you are. You have an opinion based on your subjective understanding. The other person has an opinion based on his understanding. Both of you are ordinary people, not Anbiya. Remember that always.

Remember the principle of the Fuqaha: I believe my opinion is correct with the possibility of being wrong. And I believe that the other opinion is wrong with the possibility of being correct.

Humility is the safety net that saves us from arrogance and the anger Allah.

3. Don’t criticize the other opinion even if you think it is wrong. After all we can all agree that at worst the opinion may be a mistake in understanding or a lack of attention to a particular aspect of the case. It is not a case of an evil Shaytan trying to destroy Islam.

So make excuses for the brother as Rasoolullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) advised and don’t criticize. Don’t use words like silly, shallow, stupid, narrow minded or anything like that. Don’t attack the individual personally because that only shows you up in the worst light and closes the door for any objective consideration of what you’re about to say.

4. State your perspective on the matter and give your opinion with your evidence objectively, confidently and independently of whatever the other opinion stated.

Don’t refer to the other opinion or to its maker at all. It’s there for people to read if they please. You’re not trying to compare yourself to the other person and you’re not trying to show how much smarter you are. So simply state your case.

Guard your own Ikhlaas, Niyyah and fear Allah’s anger if He should consider your approach to be arrogance.

Remember the Hadith of Rasoolullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) who said that on the Day of Judgment Allah will humiliate the one who insults and attacks the honor of his brother. So stay far away from anything which may appear to be insulting or humiliating in the way you refer to the other opinion or its maker.

5. Finally thank the other person for his opinion and interest and remind your audience that only Allah knows best and that we’re all only trying to please Him.

One word about what to do if you or your opinion are attacked without regard to the rules above : do and say nothing. Don’t acknowledge the dishonorable. Give it the importance it deserves. Simply ignore it.

I hope this will be useful for those who take the trouble to read, reflect, and differ.

A difference of opinion in a matter of interpretation that creates a division among Muslims is a tool of Shaytan. Let us not help the Shaytan to achieve his aim.

 

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Mirza Yawar Baig is the Founder & President of Yawar Baig & Associates. He is an international speaker, coach, trainer and facilitator, specializing in leadership in family businesses.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. saeed khan

    July 4, 2014 at 1:49 AM

    Alhamdulillah some very good points which we should all try to remember. We should however remember that difference of opinion is not permitted in matters which are definite. For example the quran is the speech of Allah (swt), the sunnah of Rasool Allah (saw) is a source of legislation, interest/alcohol/gambling/ruling by anything but Islam are prohibited. Likewise prayer/fasting/hajj/kindness to parents, ruling by what Allah has revealed, giving the baya to the Khalif are all obligations.

    We should also remember the ulema base their opinions on their understanding of the reality and apply the Islamic texts to it. Even the lay person who is not an ulema can read and ask questions to determine which opinion is stronger. At the end of the day our goal is jannah and we achieve this through striving to please our Creator.

  2. Shareen

    July 4, 2014 at 5:24 AM

    Alhamdulillah nice article.I surely remember and follow all the points quoted above.Now i realise how rude i am to my brother by irritating him with my opinions and by constantly comparing him to others.May Allah forgive me for all my sins in this blessed month ramadan

  3. niha

    July 4, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Alhamdulillah. this is a very good article, i got to know what is wrong with my way of arguing.

  4. Pingback: ধর্মীয় মতপার্থক্যমূলক বিষয়ে ভিন্নমত প্রকাশের পাঁচ গোল্ডেন রুল (অনুবাদ) | আমার স্পন্দন

  5. baseerah

    June 18, 2016 at 1:53 AM

    Alhamdulillah. Jazakallhu khayran, its really moved me to reflect on my own innerself. This article taught us to becareful of how we judge others so as not to earn the anger of the master of all judges. Jazakallahu khayran once again.

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