Q: There are so many serious controversies and differences everywhere. Even if I try to avoid getting involved, I still get caught up into some discussions and debates which I later regret. As a  layman what should I do? How should I react to these issues? (summary of question)

A: You have raised an extremely important and also very sensitive issue. It is beyond the scope of this little pamphlet to deal with such a deep matter. In order to get a proper understanding of how you should conduct yourself and what should your reaction be, study the following two books thoroughly: “Al-I’tidaal” by Hazrat Shaikh Zakariyyah Saheb (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) and “Boundaries of Differences” by Hazrat Mufti Mahmood Hasan Gangohi Saheb (rahmatullahi ‘alaih). If you adhere to the guidance in these books, Insha Allah you will remain safe. Nevertheless some general points of advice are mentioned briefly hereunder:

* Sincerity: The primary goal of every Mu’min is to earn the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala. Therefore one’s words, deeds and even what one deliberately thinks about must be checked… and checked again and again…  to see whether it is in conformity to what will earn the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala. in situations of dispute and controversy, emotions generally run high. In a situation of heightened emotions the fine line between doing something solely for the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala and between doing it for the sake of the nafs (base desires) becomes blurred. While engaging oneself in impermissible actions is obviously a sure recipe for problems and difficulties, doing good actions and saying good words also — but for the sake of the nafs (i.e., doing or saying something that is essentially right but for wrong purpose) — will be disastrous for one’s Deen.

* Tongue: Sayyiduna ‘Uqbah bin ‘Aamir (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) enquired as to what will be the means of staying safe in times of fitnah. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied: “Guard your tongue, remain at home (unless leaving for the purpose of Deen or any worldly necessity) and cry over your sins” (Shu‘abul Imaan #4930) . Latch onto each of these advices very firmly. As for guarding the tongue, this is extremely important at all times, especially in situations of dispute and controversies. While those who are directly involved in making decisions may have to discuss some issues, as a layman you should nevertheless refrain from even discussing controversial matters with anyone, unless the matter affects you directly. If it affects you directly, discuss only with the person who is able to advise you correctly. Otherwise, merely discussing issues serves no constructive purpose. Instead it very often becomes destructive, due to the conservation slipping into gheebat, slander, etc.

* Good Treatment: Make the following hadeeth the standard for your behaviour and conduct: Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “None of you is a (true) Believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” (Saheeh Muslim #170). This is especially applicable with regard to how one treats others – treat them as you would like to be treated. Always be a true well-wisher for every person. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is also reported to have said: “The best people of this Ummah are those who are of the first portion and the worst are of the last portion, who will be disputing and divided. Hence he who believes in Allah Ta‘ala and the last day, let him die in such a condition that he treats people in the same way that he likes to be treated” (Majma‘uz Zawaaid #13679).

* Advice: Sayyiduna Ali (radhiyallahu ’anhu) once enquired from Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) as to what should be done if such a matter befalls the Ummah regarding which there is no clear injunction or prohibition. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied: “Consult the Fuqaha (learned scholars) and the pious, and do not make a personal decision therein” (Majma‘uz Zawaaid #843)

* Peace-Maker: If you can, in an appropriate manner and while keeping within the limits of sharee‘ah, be a peacemaker. If not, at least do not be a peace-breaker.

* Du‘aa: Turn to Allah Ta‘ala in earnest du‘aa. Beg for yourself, your family and the entire Ummah. The more severe a situation is, the more frequent and intense should the du‘aas be.

May Allah Ta‘ala keep us all in His protection and enable us to earn His pleasure at all times.

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