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The Status of the ‘Ulamaa: The Adaab of Ikhtilaaf

And Disputation

Jumu’ah Wa’dh Delivered at Al Madinah Masjid Atlanta GA.

Ustadh Muhammad Sa’id Hunafa Qadiri Jilani

Part of a collection of talks inspired by the discourses of His Eminence Al Imam

Shaykh Sayyid Mubarik ‘Ali Gilani Hashimi Hafidhahullah

Copyleft; reprint with permission without altering content. 1 2
Al Hamdulillahi Rabbil ‘Aameen wa Salaatu wa Salaamu ‘alaa Sayyidil
Mursaleen. Sayyidinaa wa Mawlaana Muhammadin wa ‘Alaa Aalihi wa
Sahbihi ajma’een.

Wa ba’d,

Qaal Allahu ta ‘ala fi Kalaamihil Qadeem ba’da,

A’uthu Billahi min as Shaytanir Rajim. Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

‫ٰﻟﱠ ِﻜ ِﻦ اﻟﱠﺮ ِاﺳ ُﺨﻮ َن ِﰲ اﻟْﻌِْﻠ ِﻢ ِﻣْﻨـ ُﻬ ْﻢ َواﻟْ ُﻤ ْﺆِﻣﻨُﻮ َن ﻳـُ ْﺆِﻣﻨُﻮ َن ِﲟَﺎ أُﻧ ِﺰَل‬
‫ﺼ َﻼ َة ۚ◌ َواﻟْ ُﻤ ْﺆﺗُﻮ َن‬ ‫ﲔ اﻟ ﱠ‬ ِ ‫ﻚ ۚ◌ واﻟْﻤ ِﻘ‬
‫ﻴﻤ‬ َ
ِ‫إِﻟَﻴﻚ وﻣﺎ أُﻧ ِﺰَل ِﻣﻦ ﻗَـﺒﻠ‬
َ ُ َ ْ ََ َ ْ
‫َﺟًﺮا‬ ‫أ‬ ‫ﻢ‬ ِ
‫ﻬ‬ ‫ﻴ‬ِ‫ﻚ ﺳﻨُـ ْﺆﺗ‬ ِ
َٰ‫و‬ُ‫أ‬ ِ
‫ﺮ‬ ‫ﺧ‬ِ ‫اﻵ‬ْ ‫م‬ِ‫اﻟﱠﺰَﻛﺎ َة واﻟْﻤﺆِﻣﻨﻮ َن ﺑِﺎﻟﻠﱠ ِﻪ واﻟْﻴـﻮ‬
ْ ْ َ َ َْ َ ُ ُْ َ
[٤:١٦٢] ‫ﻈﻴﻤﺎ‬ ِ‫ﻋ‬
ً َ
But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the
believers, believe in what hath been revealed to thee and what was
revealed before thee: And (especially) those who establish regular
prayer and practise regular charity and believe in Allah and in the Last
Day: To them shall We soon give a great reward.

‫ﺎﺳﺄَﻟُﻮا أ َْﻫ َﻞ‬َ‫ﻓ‬ ۚ

◌ ‫ﻢ‬ ِ
‫ﻬ‬ ‫ﻴ‬‫ﻟ‬
َِ‫إ‬ ‫ﻲ‬ ِ ‫ﻚ إِﱠﻻ ِرﺟ ًﺎﻻ ﻧﱡ‬
‫ﻮﺣ‬ ِ‫وﻣﺎ أَرﺳ ْﻠﻨﺎ ِﻣﻦ ﻗَـﺒﻠ‬
ْ ْ ْ َ َ ْ َ َ ْ ََ
[١٦:٤٣] ‫اﻟ ﱢﺬ ْﻛ ِﺮ إِن ُﻛﻨﺘُ ْﻢ َﻻ ﺗَـ ْﻌﻠَ ُﻤﻮ َن‬
And before you also the messengers We sent were men, to whom We
granted inspiration: Ask Ahl Ad Dhikr (the People of Remembrance), if
you do not know.
Suratul Nahl, 16.43 (The Bee) 3
‫ﻳﻦ َﻻ ﻳَـ ْﻌﻠَ ُﻤﻮ َن ۗ◌ إِﱠﳕَﺎ ﻳَـﺘَ َﺬ ﱠﻛُﺮ‬ ِ ‫ﻗُﻞ ﻫﻞ ﻳﺴﺘ ِﻮي اﻟﱠ ِﺬﻳﻦ ﻳـﻌﻠَﻤﻮ َن واﻟﱠ‬
َ َ ُ َْ َ َْ َ ْ َ ْ
[٣٩:٩] ‫ﺎب‬ ِ ‫أُوﻟُﻮ ْاﻷَﻟْﺒ‬
Say: "Are they equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is
those who are given understanding that receive admonition.

‫ﺎت‬ ِ‫ﺼ‬
ِ ‫ﺎﳊ‬ ‫ﱠ‬ ‫اﻟ‬ ‫ا‬
‫ﻮ‬ ‫ﻠ‬
ُ ِ ‫ﺼﲑ واﻟﱠ ِﺬﻳﻦ آﻣﻨُﻮا وﻋ‬
‫ﻤ‬ ِ ‫وﻣﺎ ﻳﺴﺘَ ِﻮي ْاﻷ َْﻋﻤﻰ واﻟْﺒ‬
َ َ َ َ َ َُ ََ َٰ ْ َ ََ
[٤٠:٥٨] ‫ن‬َ ‫َوَﻻ اﻟْ ُﻤ ِﺴﻲءُ ۚ◌ ﻗَﻠِ ًﻴﻼ ﱠﻣﺎ ﺗَـﺘَ َﺬ ﱠﻛُﺮو‬
Al Qur’an Karim:

An-Nisaa (The Women)

But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the
believers, believe in what hath been revealed to thee and what was
revealed before thee: And (especially) those who establish regular
prayer and practise regular charity and believe in Allah and in the Last
Day: To them shall We soon give a great reward.

Suratun Nisaa, 4.162 (Women)

And before you also the messengers We sent were men, to whom We
granted inspiration: Ask Ahl Ad Dhikr (the People of Remembrance), if
you do not know.
Suratul Nahl, 16.43 (The Bee)

Is one who worships devoutly during the hours of the night prostrating
himself or standing (in adoration), who takes heed of the Hereafter, and
who places his hope in the Mercy of his Lord - (like one who does not)?

Say: "Are they equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is
those who are given understanding that receive admonition. 4
Suratul Zumar 39. 9 (The Crowds)

They are not equal, the blind and those who (clearly) see: Nor are
(equal) those who have Iman and do righteousness deeds, and those
who do evil. Little is it that you remember (by reflection)!

Suratul Ghaafir 40.58 (The Forgiver)

Hadith Sharif:

Qaala Rasulullahi Sall Allahu ‘alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallim

“Al Ulema Warathatul Anbiyaa”

“The Scholars (of Sacred Knowledge) are the heirs of the Prophets”

From Sayyidinaa Abu Dardaa Radhi Allahu ‘anhu:

A man came to Sayyidinaa Abu Dardaa Radhi Allahu anhu while he was
in Damascus. Sayyidinaa Abu Dardaa Radhi Allahu ‘anhu asked him,
“What has brought you here my brother?” He replied, “A hadith which
you relate from the Prophet .” Abu Dardaa Radhi Allahu ‘anhu asked,
“have you come for some worldly needs?” He replied, “No” “Have you
come for business?” He replied, “No.” “You have come only to seek this
hadith?” He said, “Yes.” Abu Dardaa Radhi Allahu ‘anhu then said, “I
heard the Messenger of Allah say: “Whoever travels a path seeking
sacred knowledge, Allah will place him on a path leading to Jannah. The
Angels lower their wings for the student of Sacred Knowledge, pleased
with what he is doing. The creatures in the heavens and earth seek
forgiveness for the student of Sacred Knowledge, even the fish in the
water. The superiority of the religious scholar over the devout
worshipper is like the superiority of the full moon over the other
heavenly bodies. The religious scholars are the heirs of the prophets (Al
‘Ulema Warathatul Anbiyaa). The prophets leave no money as a
bequest, rather they leave knowledge. Whoever seizes it has taken a
bountiful share. (Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah)
(Hanbali, 2001)

Narrated 'Abdullah: 5
Allah's Apostle said, "Do not wish to be like anyone, except in two cases:

(1) A man whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it righteously.

(2) A man whom Allah has given wisdom, (knowledge of the Quran and
the Hadith) and he acts according to it and teaches it to others."
Bukhari Volume 9, Book 89, Number 255:

Narrated Abdullah:

It is a sign of having knowledge that, when you do not know something,

you say: 'Allah knows better.

Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 347:

Ibn Mubarak said: “The true believer seeks excuses while

the hypocrite seeks the shortcomings.” As it is an obligation on
you to restrain your tongue from making mention of his
shortcomings, so it also an obligation to restrain your heart from
ill-thinking, as ill-thinking is the backbiting of the heart, and that
is also prohibited to every Muslim. (Ghazali, 2007)

Categories of Scholars

Ibn Rajab Al Hanbali Rahimuhullah in “Al ‘Ulama Warathatul Anbiyaa”


“Many of the righteous Salaf (Forbearers) such as Sufyaan ath

Thawri Radhi Allahu ‘anhu and others, categorized scholars into
various groups. The best of these groupings is epitomized by the
scholars who know both Allah and His commandments. By this
expression, Sufyan refers to those who combine inner and outer
knowledge. There are the most distinguished scholars. They are
praised by Allah: Indeed, among His servants, it is but the learned
who fear Allah. (Qur’an Kareem 35:28)

He also says: Indeed, those who were given knowledge

beforehand, when our signs are recited to them, they fall down in
prostration on their faces, saying, “Glorified is our Lord, Indeed,
the promise of our Lord will be fulfilled.” They fall down 6
prostrate on their faces, weeping, and it increases them in
humility. (Qur’an Kareem 17:107-109)

Many of the righteous forebearers used to say, “ Religious

Knowledge is not an abundance of memorized texts. Rather,
knowledge is humility.” One of them said, “Fear of Allah is
sufficient knowledege, and being decieved concerning Allah is
sufficient ignorance.” (Hanbali, 2001)

The True Scholars and Love of the Hereafter

Al Imam Shaykh Sayyid Mubaarik Ali Gilani Dammat Barakaatuhum in

one of his discourse mentioned one of the major causes of the downfall
of the Ummah. He mentioned that many of our scholars suffer from the
disease he termed “Hubbud dunya wa karahatul mawt”, love of this
worlds life and contempt for death or the life of the next world. His
scholarship is ruined as so are his students. They have corrupted their
Imam and infect others with this same corruption. Al Imam Sheikh
Gilani after seeing to our educational needs, authorised some of us to
teach. He warned us against corrupting this sacred trust of knowledge
by seeking positions of authority or by taking money. His words to us,
his advice, his command was, “Do things Fi Sabilillah (solely for the
pleasure of Allahu ta ‘ala) and do not concern yourself with what others
think about you.” Because of this command his students have refused to
take paid positions as Imams of Masaajid.

It was mentioned to Imam Ahmad Radhi Allahu ‘anhu that it was

said to ibn al Mubaarak Radhi Allahu ‘anhu, “How does one know
a truthful scholar?” He said, “He turns away from money and and
moves towards the Hereafter.” Imam Ahmad said, “Yes, such
should be his state.” Imam Ahmad used to rebuke scholars for
loving the world and longing for it. You should know that scholars
are ruined. When scholars start aspiring for the world, they cause
the ignorant to think ill of them and cause them to set up ignorant
people as their leaders…. Abu Hazim Radhi Allahu ‘anhu said,
“We experienced a brief time in our era when not a single scholar
sought out a ruler. If a man was learned, he was satisfied with
knowledge and needed nothing else. In this situation, there was
benefit for both parties. When the rulers saw that the scholars
covered their faults, sat in their company, and begged for their 7
posessions, they despised them, stopped taking their advise, and
[stopped] seeing their knowledge. This led to the ruin of both

Hasan [al Basri] Radhi Allahu ‘anhu used to say, “Everything can
be defaced, and the defacement of knowledge is greed.” He also
said, “One who increases in knowledge and simultaneously
increases in worldly longing, will only increase in distancing
himself from Allah, and Allah will increase in dislike of him.”
(Hanbali, 2001)


No doubt there have been differences of opinions among the Scholars of

Sacred Knowledge. The earlier ‘Ulema however did not resort to
backbiting, slander, cursing, tale carrying etc, to make their point. They
were willing to concede to a valid point as were their students and

Training and Manners of the A'immah

“Like the Companions of the first generation and their immediate

successors - the Taabi`oon - the leading scholars of the second and
third centuries had many differences on issues which required
ijtihaad. Since their differences were not motivated by any form of
egoism or desire to create discord, one can venture to say that
they were all on the right path. It is perhaps no exaggeration to
say also that these scholars were singularly dedicated to the
pursuit of truth and to attaining the pleasure of God. They were
highly trained and qualified, and this is why their verdicts were
accommodated by scholars of all ages. It was common practice
among them to endorse the judgments of those who passed sound
verdicts irrespective of the schools of law they belonged to and to
ask God's forgiveness for those who seemed to have erred. They
had a high mutual regard for one another.

When faced with a difficult issue, some jurists would consult the
literature of another school without any hesitation or
embarrassment, even though they might not agree on the type of
evidence used. They of course felt free to consult any 8
substantiated text. Having arrived at their verdicts, they would
issue them with such concluding phrases as "this is more
cautious," "this is preferable," "this is how it should be," "I dislike
this, or "this does not appeal to me." They did not feel impeded by
any unwarranted restrictions or any fear of unfounded
accusations. They were easy-going and open-minded, and their
concern was to facilitate matters for people.

Among the Companions of the Prophet, their Successors, and the

leading scholars after them, there were several differences
relating, for example, to the preparation for and the performance
of salaah. Some recited the Basmalah at the beginning of Soorat al
Faatihah and others did not. Some uttered it aloud and others did
not. Some recited the Qunoot supplication as part of the Salaat al
Fajr (Dawn Prayer) while others did not. Some renewed their
wudoo' (ablution) after nose-bleeding, vomiting, and cupping
while others did not. Some considered that any physical contact
with women nullified wudoo' while others did not. Some renewed
their wudoo' after eating camel meat or food cooked on a direct
fire while others saw no need for that.

These differences never prevented them from performing salaah

behind each other. Abu Haneefah and his followers, as well as al
Shaafi`ee and other leading scholars, performed salaah behind the
a'immah of Madinah from the Maalikee school and others as well,
although these a'immah did not recite the Basmalah, whether
silently or audibly. It was reported that Abu Yusuf, a leading
scholar of the Hanafee School, performed salaah behind al
Rasheed. Abu Yusuf found later that al Rasheed had been cupped.
He did not repeat the salaah, although he was of the opinion that
cupping nullifies ablution. Ahmad ibn Hanbal believed that nose-
bleeding and cupping nullified ablution. He was asked if people
could perform salaah behind an imam who did not renew his
ablution after bleeding. He replied: "How could I not pray behind
Maalik and Sa`eed ibn al Musayyib?"

According to al Shaafi`ee, the qunoot supplication is a firm

practice of the Prophet. Yet he is reported to have performed
Salaat al Fajr near the grave of Abu Haneefah but did not make the 9
qunoot supplication. When asked about this, al Shaafi`ee replied:
"How can I deviate from him while I am in his presence?" He is
also reported to have said: "Perhaps, we have inclined to the
school of thought (madhhab) of the people of Iraq." [Hujjat Allaah
al Baalighah, 335.]”

The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam: (Awani, 2007) 1

Evils of Debates

◌ۖ ‫ﺐ ِرﳛُ ُﻜ ْﻢ‬ ‫ﻫ‬ ‫ﺬ‬

ْ ‫ﺗ‬
َ‫و‬ ‫ا‬
‫ﻮ‬ ‫ﻠ‬
ُ ‫ﺸ‬
َ ‫ﻔ‬
ْ ‫ـ‬َ‫ﺘ‬‫ـ‬َ‫ﻓ‬ ‫ا‬
‫ﻮ‬ ‫ﻋ‬ ‫ﺎز‬ ‫ﻨ‬
َ ‫ـ‬
َ ‫ﺗ‬ ‫ﻻ‬‫و‬
َ ‫ﻪ‬َ‫ﻟ‬‫ﻮ‬ ‫ﺳ‬ ‫ر‬‫و‬ ‫ﻪ‬‫ﱠ‬‫ﻠ‬‫اﻟ‬ ‫ا‬
‫ﻮ‬ ‫ﻴﻌ‬ ِ ‫وأ‬
َ َ َ ُ َ َ ُ ُ ََ َ ُ َ
[٨:٤٦] ‫ﺼﺎﺑِ ِﺮﻳﻦ‬ ‫اﻟ‬ ‫ﻊ‬ ‫ﻣ‬ ‫ﻪ‬ ‫ﱠ‬
‫ﻠ‬ ‫اﻟ‬ ‫ن‬‫ﱠ‬ ِ‫اﺻِﱪوا ۚ◌ إ‬
َ ‫ﱠ‬ َ َ َ ُ ْ ‫َو‬
And obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose
heart and your power depart; and be patient: For indeed Allah is with
the Sabireen).

Al-Qur'an, 8.46 (Al-Anfal, Spoils of War)

Abu Hurairah narrated that the messenger of Allah said:

"Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or
keep silent, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be
generous to his neighbor, and let him who believes in Allah and the Last
Day be generous to his guest." related by Bukhari and Muslim

On the Evils of Debate and the Character Destroying Influences Resulting

There from.

Hujjatul Islam Al Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad Al Ghazzali Radhi Allahu

‘anhu in his “Ihya al Ulum Ud Din” mentions:

“We shall now allude to the major evils, which are enkindled
by debate. Of these we may enumerate the following.

The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam: Dr Tahir Jabar Al Awani, The International Institute of Islamic Thought
Herndon, Virginia USA 10
One is envy. The Prophet said: “As fire consumes wood so
does envy consume good deeds.” The debater persists in envy
because at times he overcomes his adversary and at other times
he himself is overcome; at times his words are praised and at
other times those of his opponent are applauded; and as long as
there remains in all the world one known among men for his
versatile knowledge and regarded by them more learned than the
debater and endowed with keener insight, the debater will
inevitably envy him and wish that the favors and admiration,
which that man enjoys might accrue to him instead.

Envy is a consuming fire; its victim is subject to torment in

this world while in the world to come his tortures will be more
intense and painful. For this reason Ibn Abbas said: “Take
knowledge wherever you may find it, but accept not the opinion of
one jurist concerning another because they are as jealous of one
another as the bulls in the cattle-yard.”2


Another is pride and haughtiness. The Prophet said: “He

who exalts himself is humbled by Allah.”

The debater persists in exalting himself above his equals

and peers and in claiming for himself a station higher than his
worth to the extent that he and his colleagues fight over their
seats in assembly halls and boast about the degree of their
elevation or lowliness as well as their proximity to, or remoteness
from the central seats.


In Al Risaalatul Qushayriyya, Imam Qushayriyy mentions, “One of the Sufiyaa stated, “The
envier (hasad) is an unbeliever/denier because he is not content with the Divine Decreed (Qadar)
of Allah.” It is said, “The envier never prevails.” And further Imam Qushayriyy says, “ Sayyidinaa
‘Umar ibn Abdul Aziz Radhi Allahu ‘anhu asserted, “The envier resembles more the oppressed
than any oppressor I have ever seen, [for he is all] constant sorrow and heavy breathing. 11
Another is resentment from, which a debater is hardly ever
free. The Prophet said: “The believer is free from resentment.”
Several more traditions have been related in condemnation of
resentment and they are well known. Yet we do not know of a
debater who is capable of entertaining no resentment against
anyone who would nod his head in approval of the words of his
adversary, or who, when the latter pauses in the midst of a
sentence, would politely wait for him. On the contrary he would,
whenever he is confronted with such a situation, entertain and
foster resentment in his heart. He may attempt to restrain himself
hoping thereby to disguise his feelings; but in most cases he fails
as his feelings invariably reveal themselves. How can he refrain
from resentment when it is inconceivable that all the audience
should unite in favoring his argument and approve all his
conclusions and deductions? Furthermore, should his opponent
show the least sign of inconsideration about what he is saying, he
would entertain for him in his heart a hatred that would last
throughout his life.


Another is backbiting, which was likened by Allah to the

eating of carrion. “Neither spy nor backbite one another, would
any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” (Al Qur’an
Kareem 49 verse 12). The debater persists in “eating carrion” and
is continually referring to the words of his opponent and
traducing him. Because he endeavors to be right in what he says
about his opponent, he inevitably cites only what shows the
weaknesses of his opponent’s argument and the flaws in his
excellence. Of such is disparaging and backbiting, while lying is
sheer slander or defamation.

The debater, moreover, cannot keep his tongue from

attacking the honor of anyone who turns away from him and
listens to his opponent. He would even ascribe to him ignorance,
foolishness, lack of understanding and stupidity.3

“It was told to Imam Hasan Al Basri Radhi Allahu ‘anhu, “So and so has slandered you. He sent a tray of
Halwa (sweets) to the man, noting, “I hear that you have bestowed upon me your good deeds. I would like
to repay you.” (Risaalatul Qushayriyya pg. 107) 12

Another is self-justification. Allah said: “Do not praise yourself.

Allah knows the cautious.” Al Qur’an Kareem 53 verse 32

A certain wise man once was asked: “What truth is

reprehensible?” He replied: “A man’s praising himself (even
though it is justified).” A debater is never free from praising
himself (and boasting) of his power, triumph, and excellence over
his peers. In the course of a debate he would repeatedly say: “I am
fully aware of all such things,” and “I am versatile in sciences, of
independent judgment in questions of law, and well versed in the
knowledge of tradition,” and many other assertions besides with,
which he would sing his own praise, sometimes out of sheer
arrogance and at other times out of need to render his words
convincing. It is well known that arrogance and self pride are by
law and reason condemned.


Another is spying and prying into a person’s private affairs.

Allah said: “Neither spy…” Al Qur’an Kareem 49 verse 12.

The debater always seeks to uncover the errors of his peers

and continually pries into the private affairs of his opponents. He
would, when informed of the arrival in town of another debater,
seek someone who could reveal the inside story of the man and
would by means of a questionnaire attempt to bare his vices in
order to expose and disgrace him whenever the need should arise.
He even would inquire about the affairs of his early life and the
blemishes of his body in the hope of discovering some defect or
disfigurement such as scalp pustule and the like. Should he fear
defeat at the hands of his opponent, he would, in the course of the
debate, allude to these blemishes, especially if his opponent
should remain firm and stand his ground, and would not refrain
from being outspoken if he were given to insolence and scorn.

Rejoicing at the misfortunes of others 13
Another is to rejoice at the injury of others and feel
depressed when they are glad. Anyone who does not desire for his
brother Muslim what he desires for himself is far removed from
the way of the believers. Thus he who prides himself by parading
his excellence is inevitably pleased at the injury of his peers and
equals who compete with him for glory. The hatred, which exists
between them, is like that, which exists between fellow wives. Just
as the one wife would tremble and turn pale at the sight of her
fellow wife so would a debater at the sight of another; his color
would change and his mind become perplexed as though he had
seen a mighty devil or a hungry lion.


Another is deception, the evidence of whose

blameworthiness (is well known) and need not be enumerated.
Debaters are compelled to deception because when they meet
their opponents, friends, or followers, they find it necessary to
endear themselves to them by saying nice things, which they do
not mean, by feigning to have been anxious to meet them, and by
pretending to be impressed by their station and position, while
everyone present as well as the speakers and those to whom they
have spoken know that the whole thing is untrue, false,
fraudulent, and wicked. They profess their love with their tongues
while their hearts seethe with hate. From it all we seek refuge in

The Prophet also said: “When people take to knowledge and

ignore works, when they profess love to one another with their
tongue and nurse hatred in their hearts, and when they sever the
ties of relationship, which bind them, Allah will visit His wrath
upon them and curse them, He will render their tongues mute and
their eyes blind.” The truth of this tradition, which was related by
Al Hasan, has been verified as these conditions, which it predicts
have been witnessed and seen.

Resisting the Truth 14
Another is to resist truth and detest it and to persist in
disputing it so much so that the most hateful thing to a debater is
to see the truth revealed by his opponent; no matter what it may
be, he would do his best to refute and deny it and would exert his
utmost in deception, trickery and fraud in order to disprove his
adversary until contention becomes in him a second nature. He is
unable to hear anything without immediately expressing his
objection to it. This habit of his would even drive him to dispute
the truths of the Al Qur’an Kareem and the words of tradition and
would cause him to cite the one in contradiction of the other.


Another is hypocrisy and flattering people in an effort to

win their favor and mislead. Hypocrisy is that virulent disease,
which leads to the gravest of the major sins. The debater wants
nothing but to put himself forward before people, and to gain
their approval and praise.

The greatest of the secret sins

These ten traits are among the greatest secret sins. Others
who lack restraint, may engage in controversies leading to the
exchange of blows, kicking, boxing, tearing garments, plucking
beards, cursing parents, denouncing teachers, and outright
slander. Such people, however, are not considered respectable
human beings. The prominent and sober among them do not go
beyond the preceding ten traits. One may be free of this or that
trait with regard to his inferiors or superiors whatever the case
may be, or with regard to people outside his community or his
sphere of work. Yet in his attitude towards his peers, who are
equal to him in position, the debater is guilty of all these traits.
Each of these ten traits may give rise to ten other vices, which we
shall neither discuss nor explain at the present time. They include
snobbishness, anger, hatred, greed, the desire to seek money and
power in order to attain triumph, boasting, gaiety, arrogance,
exalting the wealthy and those in authority as well as frequenting
their places and partaking of their unlawful riches, parading with
horses, state coaches, and outlawed garments, showing contempt 15
to people by being vain and ostentatious, meddling in the affairs
of others, talkativeness, the disappearance of awe, fear and mercy
from the heart, absentmindedness to an extent that the worshiper
would no longer be aware of what he prayed, or read, or who had
communed with him during the prayer.” (Ghazali, 2007)

The way forward

Imam Malik bin Anas Radhi Allahu ‘anhu the leader of the ‘Ulema of
Madinatul Munawwarah, the Great Imam, was the most knowledgeable
of the Ulema of hadith transmitted by the people of Madinah. He was
well acquainted with the practices of the People of Madinah, known as
the A’mal of Madinah. He was well acquainted with the practices and
decisions of Sayyidinaa Umar ibn al Khattab, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar,
Sayyida Umm ul Mu’mineen, Aaisha Siddiqah and several prominent
Fuqaha from amongst the Sahabah’s Ridhwaan Allahu ta ‘ala ajma’een.

Imam Malik’s Radhi Allahu ‘anhu, collection of Hadith “The Muwatta”

the fruit of forty years of scholarly effort was one of the first books on
Islamic Jurisprudence. When asked by the Khalifah Mansur for
permission to have copies made and distributed to the new Muslim
regions with the intent of getting people to follow it alone, Imam Malik
outright rejected such a notion. He is reported that he said to al Mansur;

“Don't do this. People [in various parts of the Muslim lands] already
possess a body of knowledge based on reports they have received and
sayings of the Prophet they have heard prior to this. Each group of
people acts according to what came to it first, and so there are
variations in people's practices. Leave the people of each region to
follow what they themselves choose."

The khaleefah acquiesced in Maalik's wish and prayed that God should
grant him success. [Hujjat Allaah al Baalighah, 307; al Fikr al Saamee,

Maalik's advice to the khaleefah and his refusal to have al Muwattaa' -

a book he had worked on so scrupulously and for so long - officially
prescribed as the standard text of hadeeth and jurisprudence leave us
in no doubt about his breadth of understanding and open-mindedness 16
as well as his complete lack of egoism. He was able to see the limits
and dangers of authoritarian rule.” (Awani, 2007)

Al Layth's Letter to Maalik

Perhaps one of the best practical examples of the ethics and

norms of disagreement was the letter sent to Maalik by al Layth
ibn Sa`d, the leading scholar and jurist in Egypt at the time. The
letter, in which al Layth gave his views on the various issues on
which he differed with Maalik, was a hallmark of knowledge and
gracefulness. The letter is too long to quote in full, but here are a
few excerpts to illustrate its content and tone:

From your letter which I have received, I am pleased to know that

you are in good health. May God make your health last and enable
you to show gratitude to Him. May He shower more of His
abundant goodness on you . . .

You have been informed that I make juristic rulings for people
which are at variance with the practice of the people of Madinah.
You pointed out that I should fear for my own soul about the
verdicts I make for the people here and also that they should
follow the practice of the people of Madinah, to which the Prophet
migrated and in which the Qur'an was revealed. What you have
written in this respect, God willing, is right and I trust that my
response to your comments will please you.

Among those who are blessed with knowledge, there is no one

who dislikes odd or contrary verdicts more than I, or who has a
greater preference for the past scholars of Madinah, or who
adopts more readily the verdicts on which they are unanimous.
Praise and gratitude are due to God, the Lord and Sustainer of the
worlds. No associate has He.

Al Layth ibn Sa`d goes on to state the differences of opinion

between him and Maalik over the authority of the practice of the
people of Madinah. He points out that many of the early
Companions of the Prophet who were brought up under his
guidance and instruction had disseminated the teachings of the
Qur'an and the Sunnah through various lands as far as they could. 17
He also pointed out that the followers of the second generation
had their differences of opinion about many issues. By way of
example, he mentions Rabee`ah ibn Abee `Abd al Rahmaan, but
states his disagreement with him on certain matters. Then he

In spite of this, praise be to God, Rabee`ah was a person who

possessed abundant goodness. He had an original mind and an
eloquent tongue. He was a man of obvious grace and good
manners, and had a genuine love for his fellow Muslims in general
and for us in particular. May God grant him His mercy and
forgiveness and the best recompense for his deeds.

Next, Ibn Sa`d mentions some of the issues over which he and
Maalik were at variance, for example: combining Salaat al Maghrib
and al `Ishaa' on a rainy night; passing judgment on the evidence
of a single witness; paying the delayed portion of a dowry only in
the event of a divorce; performing the Prayer for Rain (Salaat al
Istisqaa') before delivering the khutbah (sermon).

Ibn Sa`d concludes his letter by saying:

I have omitted many issues apart from these. I pray that God
grants you success and long life because of what I hope people
will benefit thereby and because of what I fear they will lose with
the passing away of one such as you. Let me assure you of my
feeling of nearness to you in spite of the distance that separates
us. This is the position of esteem in which I hold you. Do not stop
writing to me with news of yourself, your children and family, or if
there is anything you want me to do for you personally or for
anyone for whom you have a special concern. I would be most
pleased to do any service in this regard. At the time of writing this
letter, we are in good health, praise be to God. We ask God to
enable us to thank Him for what He has favored us with and to
continue to bestow His favors on us. May the peace and mercy of
God be on you. [The full text of al Layth's letter is given in I`laam al
Muwaqqi`een, 3/83-88; and in al Fikr al Saamee, 1/370-6.]
(Awani, 2007) 18
We pray that Allahu ta ‘ala allow us to be sincere lovers and supporters
of the truthful Ulema. We ask that Allahu ta ‘ala remove hatred for the
scholars and the Muslims from our hearts. We ask that Allahu ta ‘ala
forgive us for the disparaging remarks we may have made against the
scholars and protect us for doing so in the future. We ask Allahu ta ‘ala
to allow us to return to the way of the true scholars from among the
Salaf as Salihon, the noble Companions, their students and their
students. Ameen

Wa Sall Allahu ‘alaa Sayyidinaa wa Mawlaana Muhammadin wa ‘alaa

Aalihi wa Ashaabihi wa Ahli Baytihi wa Azwaajihi wa Dhurriyaatihi wa
Awliyaaihi wa Mashaaikhunaa, wa sallimu tasliman kathiran kathira, Ya
Khayran Naasireen, Wal hamdulillahi Rabbil ‘ aalameen.

Works Cited
Awani, S. T. (2007, August 03). The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam.
Retrieved August 03, 2007, from Young Muslims Canada:
Ghazali, A. H. (2007, August 03). Al Ghazalli Ihya Entirety. Retrieved
August 03, 2007 , from
Hanbali, I. R. (2001). The Heirs of the Prophets: Introduction and
Translation by Zaid Shakir. Chicago: StarLatch Press.
Qushayri, A. K. (1990). Risalatul Qushayriyyah: the Principlesof Sufism
Translated by B.R. Von Schlegell. Berkeley, California: Mizan Press. 19

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar .......................... 16 Hasan [al Basri] ................................... 8

Aaisha Siddiqah ................................. 16 Ibn Maajah............................................ 5
'Abdullah ........................................ 5, 16 Ibn Rajab Al Hanbali ............................ 6
Abu Dawud ........................................... 5 Ibn Sa`d............................................... 18
Abu Haneefah....................................... 9 Imam Ahmad.................................... 5, 7
Abu Hazim ............................................ 7 Imam Malik ........................................ 16
Abu Yusuf ............................................. 9 Maalik by al Layth ibn Sa`d ............... 17
Ahmad ibn Hanbal ............................... 9 Muwatta ............................................. 16
Al Imam Shaykh Sayyid Mubaarik Ali Sa`eed ibn al Musayyib........................ 9
Gilani................................................. 7 Sayyidinaa Abu Dardaa ....................... 5
Al Layth ibn Sa`d ................................ 17 Sayyidinaa Umar ibn al Khattab ....... 16
Ghazali ...................................... 6, 16, 19 Sufyaan ath Thawri ............................. 6
Ghazzali .............................................. 10 Tirmidhi ............................................... 5 20 21