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 Respecting our differences

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Join date : 2011-06-29

PostSubject: Respecting our differences   Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:57 am

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Respecting our differences

"Waste no time debating what a good Muslim should be. Be one!"

by Muhammad Alshareef

Imam Malik one day entered the Masjid after Asr. Towards the front
of Masjid An-Nabawee he drew closer and sat down. Rasul Allah had
commanded that anyone who enters the Masjid should not sit until he
first prays 2 rakas as a salutation of the Masjid. Imam Malik was of
the opinion however that Rasul Allah's forbiddance of praying after
Asr took precedence and so he would teach his students to not pray
the tahiyyatul Masjid if they entered between the Asr and Maghrib

At that moment that Imam Malik sat down, a young boy had seen him
sit without first praying the 2 raka's of Tahiyyatul Masjid. The
young boy scorned him, "Get up and pray 2 rakas!"

Imam Malik dutifully stood up once again and began praying the 2
rakas. The students sat stunned: What was going on? Had Imam Malik's
opinion changed?
After he had completed the salah, the students swarmed around and
questioned his actions. Imam Malik said, "My opinion has not
changed, nor have I gone back on what I taught you earlier. I merely
feared that had I not prayed the 2 rakas as the young boy commanded,
Allah may include me in the Ayah...

"And when it is said to them, 'Bow (in prayer)', they do not bow." -
al mursalat 77/48.

Imam Ahmad held the opinion that eating camel meat nullifies ones
Wudhu, an opinion that the majority of scholars differed from. Some
students asked him, "If you find an Imam eating camel meat in front
of you and - without first making Wudu - then leads the Salah, would
you pray behind him?" Imam Ahmad replied, "Do you think I would not
pray behind the likes of Imam Malik and Sa'eed ibn Al-Musayyab?"

Allah created humans with differences. It is the law of creation.
Different tongues, different colors, different cultures...all that
on the outside. On the inside, humans were created with many degrees
of knowledge, intellect, and comprehension of concepts. This is all
a sign of Allah's all encompassing power to do whatever He wills:

"And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth,
and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that
are signs for those who know." [30:22]

Humans shall differ, that is not the issue. The issue is: How as a
Muslim should one confront these differences of opinions and what
should be our relationship with someone of a different opinion.

Allah ta'ala commanded us to call and advise people in this Deen of
Al-Islam. Many Muslims set off on this mission blindfolded, not
realizing that the map was there in the Qur'an also. In fact, in the
very same verse where Allah commanded us to call and advise people
in this Deen, Allah taught us how to do it. Read the following verse

"Invite (fi'l Amr - Allah is commanding) to the way of your Lord
with wisdom and good instruction and argue with them in a way that
is best! " - Surah An-Nahl 16/125.

There is no need to philosophize. No need to talk in the flower
gardens. It is right there, plain and simple for anyone who would
take heed.

There in that Ayah are the three ingredients to apply when we
disagree with someone. The same Allah that taught us to debate the
truth, taught us how to do it:

1 - With Hikmah (wisdom)
2 - With good instruction, and
3 - To argue in a way that is best.

What does it mean to have Hikmah when differing with someone? The
grandsons of Rasul Allah(saw) once set one of the most beautiful
examples of Hikmah in advising others. Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn - in
their young age - once saw a senior man performing Wudu incorrectly.
Together they arranged a plan to teach the man without insulting
him, advising him in a manner befitting of his age.

Together they went to the senior and announced, "My brother and I
have differed over who amongst us performs Wudu the best. Would you
mind being the judge to determine which one of us indeed performs
Wudu more correctly."

The man watched intently as the two grandsons of Rasul Allah
performed Wudu in an explicit manner. After they had completed, he
thanked them and said, "By Allah, I did not know how to perform Wudu
before this. You have both taught me how to do it correctly."

We must understand that there are two dimensions to Hikmah. Firstly,
there is the Hikmah of knowledge - Hikmah Ilmiyyah. And secondly,
there is the Hikmah of Action - Hikmah Amaliyyah.

Some people may have Hikmah of knowledge. But we see that when they
try correcting others, advising them, they lack the Hikmah of
Action. This causes many a common folk to reject the Hikmah of

To illustrate this hikmah of knowledge without Hikmah of action, a
brother once completed the Salah in a local Masjid and then
proceeded to shake hands with the people on his right and left. The
brother to his immediate right slapped his hand and snapped, "That
is not part of the Sunnah!" The man replied most correctly, "Oh, is
disrespect and insult part of the Sunnah?"

To show Hikmah when we differ requires the following:


One: If we differ, our intentions should be that we are differing in
the sincere hope of coming away with the truth. Our intentions
should be sincere to Allah.

We should not differ just to release some hate or envy in our heart.
We should not differ to embarrass someone like we may have been

Rasul Allah said, "Whoever learns knowledge - knowledge from that
which should be sought for the sake of Allah - only to receive a
commodity of the material world, he shall not find the fragrance of
jannah on the day of resurrection." - An authentic hadith narrated
by Abu Dawood in Kitab Al-Ilm.

Kindness and Gentleness

Two: To have Hikmah when differing means we should rarely depart
from an atmosphere of kindness and gentleness, we should seldom
allow ourselves to become angry and raise our voices.

Fir'own (Pharaoh) was one of the evilest people that lived. Musa was
one of the noblest. Look at how Allah told Musa to advise Fir'own...

"Go, both of you, to Fir'own. Indeed, he has transgressed. And speak
to him with gentle speech, perhaps he may remember or fear (Allah)."

A man once entered upon the Khalifah and chastised him for some
policies he had taken. The Khalifah replied, "By Allah, Fir'own was
more eviler than me. And by Allah, Musa was more pious than you.
Yet, Allah commanded him...'And speak to him with gentle speech,
perhaps he may remember or fear (Allah).'"

Take Your Time and Clarify

Three: To have Hikmah when dealing with others is to be patient and
clarify things before snapping to conclusions.

Imam Ahmad narrates with his chain of narrators leading to Ibn Abbas
who said, "A man from Bani Saleem passed by a group of the Prophet's
companions. (At that time of war) The man said 'as salamu alaykum'
to them. The companions concluded that he only said 'as salamu
alaykum' to them as a deception to save himself from being caught.
They surrounded him and Malham ibn Juthaamah killed him. From that
event Allah revealed the verse...

"O you who have believed, when you go forth (to fight) in the cause
of Allah, investigate, and do not say to one who gives you (a
greeting of peace), "You are not a believer," Aspiring for the goods
of worldly life; for with Allah are many acquisitions. You
(yourselves) were like that before; then Allah conferred His favor
(i.e. guidance) upon you, so investigate. Indeed, Allah is ever with
what you do, acquainted." - Surah AnNisa, 4/94. From Tafseer Ibn

Speak Kindly

Fourthly, never trade in kind words for harshness, especially when
dealing with other Muslims.

Look at the power of a sincere and polite word: Mus'ab ibn Umayr was
the first of ambassador of Rasul Allah in Madinah. Before Rasul
Allah had arrived in Madinah, Mus'ab taught ahl al-Madinah about
Islam and they began to enter the Deen.

This enraged Sa'd ibn 'Ubaadah, one of the chieftains of Madinah. He
sheathed his sword and set off for the head of Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr.
When he confronted Mus'ab he threatened, "Stop this nonsense you
speak or you shall find yourself dead!"

Mus'ab replied in the way that should be a lesson for us all. This
man before him did not stop at rudeness and ignorance, he wanted to
slit his throat.

Mus'ab said, "Shall you not sit and listen for a few moments. If you
agree with what I say then take it, and if not, we shall desist from
this talk." Sa'd sat down.

Mus'ab spoke about Allah and His messenger until the face of Sa'd
ibn Ubaadah's face shone like a full moon and he said, "What should
a person do who wishes to enter into this Deen?" After Mus'ab had
told him he said, "There is a man, if he accepts this Deen, there
shall be no home in Madinah that will not become Muslim. Sa'd ibn

When Sa'd ibn Mu'aadh heard what was happening, he was infuriated.
He left his home to go and kill this man called Mus'ab ibn Umayr for
the dissention he had caused. He entered upon Mus'ab and
announced, "You shall desist of this religion you speak of or you
shall find yourself dead!"

Mus'ab replied, "Shall you not sit and listen for a few moments. If
you agree with what I say then take it, and if not, I shall desist
from this talk." Sa'd sat.

Mus'ab spoke about Allah and His messenger until the face of Sa'd
ibn Mu'aadh's face shone like a full moon and he said, "What should
a person do who wishes to enter into this Deen?"

Look at what a kind word did. Sa'd ibn Mu'aadh went home to his
Madinan tribe that night and announced to them all, "Everything of
yours is Haram upon me until you all enter into Islam."

That night, every home in Madinah went to bed with Laa ilaaha illa
Allah...all because of a kind word.

Part II: Who wins?

Mu'aawiyah ibn al-Hakam al-Salami. When he came to Madeenah from the
desert, he did not know that it was forbidden to speak during the
salaah. He relates: "Whilst I was praying behind the Messenger of
Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), a man sneezed,
so I said 'Yarhamuk Allaah (may Allaah have mercy on you).' The
people glared at me, so I said, 'May my mother lose me! What is
wrong with you that you are looking at me?' They began to slap their
thighs with their hands, and when I saw that they were indicating
that I should be quiet, I stopped talking (i.e., I nearly wanted to
answer them back, but I controlled myself and kept quiet).

When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) had finished praying - may my father and mother be sacrificed
for him, I have never seen a better teacher than him before or
since - he did not scold me or hit me or put me to shame. He just
said, 'This prayer should contain nothing of the speech of men; it
is only tasbeeh and takbeer and recitation of the Qur'aan.'" (Saheeh
Muslim, 'Abd al-Baaqi edn., no. 537).

Islam showed us how to differ with one another. Some people think
that we should never differ at all and all disagreements should be
avoided. Nay, this is an incorrect assumption, for the Qur'an and
Sunnah show clearly that when a mistake is made it should be
corrected. Indeed helping others do what is right is a requirement
of the Deen, sincere Naseeha.

We see when Rasul Allah turned away from AbdAllah ibn Umm Maktoom,
the blind man, Allah corrected him in the Qur'an...

"(The Prophet) frowned and turned away, Because there came to him
the blind man But what could tell you that perchance he might become
pure (from sins)? Or that he might receive admonition, and that the
admonition might profit him?" - surah Abasa, 1-4

When Haatib ibn Abi Balta'ah (may Allaah be pleased with him) made
the mistake of writing to the kuffaar of Quraysh and informing them
of the direction in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) was headed on a military campaign against them, Allaah
revealed the words:

"O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies as
friends..." - Surah Mumtahinah/1

And so on. Thus we learn that when a mistake happens it should be
corrected. However, the method of correction is what needs our

Whenever Muslims argue, it is as if each party carries a banner
of: 'I must win and you must lose!' Careful study of the Sunnah
however shows us that this is not always the case with the way Rasul
Allah acted. Consider the following examples:

"I lose and you win!"

A Bedouin came to Rasul Allah and told him, "Give me from what Allah
gave you, not from the wealth of your mother nor from the wealth of
your father." The Sahaabah were furious at the man and step forward
to discipline him for what he said. Rasul Allah commanded everyone
to leave him.

Then by the hand, Rasul Allah took him home, opened his door and
said, "Take what you wish and leave what you wish." The man did so
and after he completed, Rasul Allah asked him, "Have I honored
you?" "Yes, by Allah," said the Bedouin. "Ash hadu an laa ilaaha
illa Allah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah." (Meaning he
embraced Islam)

When the Sahabah heard of how the man changed, Rasul Allah taught
them. "Verily the example of myself, you and this Bedouin is that of
a man who had his camel run away. The townspeople tried capturing
the camel for him by running and shouting after the camel, only
driving it further away. The man would shout, 'Leave me and my
camel, I know my camel better.' Then he took some grass in his hand,
ruffled it in front of the camel, until it came willingly.

'By Allah, had I left you to this Bedouin, you would have hit him,
hurt him, he would have left without Islam and eventually have
entered hellfire."

"I win and you lose!"

A Muslim should not have an apologetic stance to everything he is
confronted with. There are times when the truth must be said, when
there is no room for flattery.

When the Makhzoomi women - a women from an affluent family - stole,
people approached Rasul Allah to have her punishment canceled. Rasul
Allah became very angry and stood on the pulpit and announced, "By
Allah, had Fatima the daughter of Muhammad stole I would have cut
her hand off."

No room for flattery, the truth must be stood up for. It is here
that the etiquette of disagreement that we talked earlier about
should shine.

"I win and you win!"

There doesn't always have to be a loser. We see in many cases that
Rasul Allah gave a way out for the people he differed with.

When he sent the letter to Caesar, he said in it, "Become Muslim and
you shall be safe, Allah shall give you your reward double!"

He did not say surrender or die! Nothing of the sort. Become Muslim
and you shall win, rather your victory shall be double.

I shall end with this shining example of how to act with other
Muslims from our role model, Abu Bakr:

Abu Bakr once disputed with another companion about a tree. During
the dispute Abu Bakr said something that he rather would not have
said. He did not curse, he did not attack someone's honor, he did
not poke a fault in anyone, all he said was something that may have
hurt the other companion's feelings.

Immediately, Abu Bakr - understanding the mistake - ordered
him, "Say it back to me!" The companion said, "I shall not say it
back." "Say it back to me," said Abu Bakr, "Or I shall complain to
the Messenger of Allah." The companion refused to say it back and
went on his way.

Abu Bakr went to Rasul Allah and related what had happened and what
he said. Rasul Allah called that companion and asked him, "Did Abu
Bakr say so and so to you?" He said, "Yes." He said, "What did you
reply." He said, "I did not reply it back to him." Rasul Allah
said, "Good, do not reply it back to him (do not hurt Abu Bakr).
Rather say, 'May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!'"

The Companion turned to Abu Bakr and said, "May Allah forgive you O
Abu Bakr! May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!" Abu Bakr turned and
cried as he walked away.

Let us leave today with a resolve to revive this air Rasul Allah and
his companions breathed, an air of mercy and love and brotherhood.


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