Sifatus Salaah - Page 2

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Difference of Opinion

At this point somebody may ask: "If all the Imaams deduced the laws directly from the Qur'an and Hadith, how is it possible for them to differ on various aspects?" In order to understand the reality of these differences, we will have to go back in history right upto the time of the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum).

Once Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) had just returned from a battle when he ordered the Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) to immediately proceed to the place of Banu Quraizah — a clan of Jews who lived on the outskirts of Madina Munawwarah. The purpose was to lay a siege upon them for having broken the pact that they had made with the Muslims. In order to impress the urgency of the matter upon the Sahaaba (R.A.), Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said to them: "None of you should perform your salaah al-Asr except in Banu Quraizah." While the Sahaaba (R.A.) were still en-route, the time of Asr arrived. Some Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum) felt that they should perform their Asr immediately. They regarded the instruction of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as actually being a command to proceed very swiftly to their destination. It did not imply that the Asr salaah could not be performed en-route. They thus performed their salaah there. Another group of Sahaaba (radhiallahu anhum.) viewed the instruction literally. They therefore continued and only performed their Asr salaah after having reached Banu Quraizah. Later when Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was informed about this, he did not rebuke either group. [Sahih Bukhaari]

Thus we find that the difference arose from a point of interpretation. However, this difference of interpretation is only entertained when it comes from a person who has in-depth knowledge of Deen and has attained a mastery in the Qur'an and Hadith and the other related aspects. At times a difference of opinion occurs due to the different narrations that are found with regards to a particular aspect. One Imaam gives preference to one narration on the basis of various criteria while the other Imaam, in the light of his knowledge, prefers the other narration. This is basically the manner in which these differences occur. However, just as Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) did not rebuke either of the two groups in the incident mentioned above, similarly since the Imaams have attained the status of a mujtahid (one who is capable of deriving the laws directly from the Qur'an and Hadith), they will not be blame worthy even if they have erred. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) is reported to have said: "When a haakim (ruler) passes judgement, and after having exerted his utmost effort he arrives at the correct solution, he gets a double reward. And if he errs after having exerted his utmost ability, he gets one reward." (Bukhari Vol. 2, pg. 1092). Ibn al-Munzir (R.A.) while commenting on this Hadith writes that a ruler will only get this reward if he has thorough knowledge and in the light of his knowledge he passed judgement. (see footnotes of Sahih Bukhari; ibid). The four Imaams had the ability and necessary knowledge to practice ijtihaad. Thus they fall under the ambit of this Hadith. 

 



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