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Why so Much Difference of Opinion?
Question asked by Imran Farid.
Posted on: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 - Hits: 2195


Question:
The Qur'an says that Allah has taken the responsibility of safeguarding Islam. If this is true, then why have are jurists continued to differ with one another over the past many centuries. How then can we say that Islam has been protected by the Almighty?

Answer:
First, it must be clarified that Allah has not taken any responsibility of safeguarding Islam. The Almighty has only said that He has taken up the responsibility of safeguarding the text of the Qur'an. As far as its interpretation is concerned, He has not taken any responsibility. It has been left to human intellect.

Now human intellect, you would agree, has its own limitations. It can falter and err and of course be different in different scholars. Hence the different interpretations of certain directives of Islam are but a natural outcome of this premise. In this regard, the real thing is the arguments which are presented in support of a viewpoint. A person is required to weigh these arguments in the scales of sense and reason and decide which one appeals to his intellect the most. He should adopt that particular viewpoint, since he would be held accountable according to his own understanding of religion.

Furthermore, no one is guided by divine revelation after the termination of the institution of Prophethood with the departure of Muhammad (sws) and it is his or her judgement which must be exercised. Therefore, no one can be certain whether he has attained the absolute truth or not. He must keep his eyes and ears open to criticism and cling to whatever he thinks to be the truth till he has reason to abandon it and accept a new premise as truth. Moreover, in adopting or forming an opinion in religious matters, the real thing is sincerity of judgement. As long as a person is sincere in exercising his judgement, it does not matter what conclusion is reached. As the Prophet of Allah has put it: a person who strives to form an opinion can reach the right conclusion and he can also reach the wrong one; if he reaches the right conclusion he will be rewarded twice in magnitude and if he is lead to the wrong conclusion he shall still be rewarded though of single magnitude. This shows that the real thing in this regard is the sincerity of effort put in.

wassalam


Shehzad Saleem


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