I received the following question along with other questions in response to the research I had published on the 21st of January 2019, 14th Jumadi al awwal 1440.
The Fuqaha discussed the principle of ‘uniting the word of the muslims’ and said that it is expected from the Muslims to leave their own opinions and adopt that opinion which unites the Muslims in their affairs. Does this not serve as a daleel to prove the concept of adoption?
It is true that Wahda (unity) is an important concept and as long as Maslaha is achieved through it then people should abandon their view for it. However, the Wahda (unity) should be qualified (mutahaqqaq). It is discussed by the scholars using various terminologies including ‘jama’ Kalimat al Muslimeen’ ‘Uniting the word of the Muslims’.
The usulioon did discuss this concept under the chapter of ‘conditions of adopting the weaker view during necessity’ however none of them presented the view that the principle of ‘adopting the Marjooh (non-preponderant) view for unifying the opinion’ is applicable on a group of Muslims or a party.
For example, Al Haskafi says in Durr Al Mukhtar, the Qaadhi is allowed to work according to the Ghayr Al Mashhoor (unpopular) view from his mazhabif the Khalifah has adopted that.
Note that the Haskafi does not say that it is obligatory for the Qaadhi to leave his own opinion, rather it is allowed for the Qaadhi to work according to the adopted view of the khalifah, this is while he continues to hold his own opinion.
As for the Mujtahid, the only situations when he is allowed to leave his view and adopt another view is:
- When he finds another Mujtahid who has a greater level of knowledge than himself whose opinions convince him
- When he finds that his ijtihad has an error and it becomes obvious and clear to him
- When the Khalifah adopts a view contrary to his view. In such a situation the Mujtahid is not obliged to leave his view rather he can continue to teach and propagate the view he is convinced with while implementing the view adopted by the khalifah.
What is important to know, for both the Mujtahid and the Muqallid, abandoning his view to adopt another view is based on conditions, and indeed one of the conditions is Unity or Jama’a Kalimat al Muslimeen however this is not applicable on a group, rather it is applicable on the Ummah.
As for the example of Uthman (ra) and that he left his views for the views of AbuBakr and Umar (ra) and that it is an example to prove the principle of ‘uniting the word of the Muslims’, I have previously written about the weakness in the Sanad of the riwayaat that have been narrated with regards to the incident. Therefore, this incident does not serve as a daleel for the principle. This is while also keeping in mind the fact that the action of a Sahabi is not considered as a Daleel.
Furthermore, the example of Uthman (ra) is an example applicable on the reality of the Ummah and not a group, so an individual or a group cannot ask his or its followers to leave their opinions for his/its opinions. There is no classical scholar who has held this view.
Furthermore, if the riwayah was to be assessed from the point of view ofistidlaal, then there are a few points to consider,
i. To say that Uthman (ra) agreed to the condition placed in the contract for the sake of the Ummah’s unity is incorrect because this would mean that Uthman (ra) wished for the unity of the Ummah while Ali (ra) did not.
When Abdul Rahman bin Awf (ra) asked Ali (ra) if he agreed to the Baya’ on condition that that he would rule by the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of his Messenger (saw) and the opinions held after him (saw) by Abu Bakr and Umar. Ali (ra) replied that I pledge to you on the basis of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of his messenger (saw) but I will exercise my own Ijtihad so Abdul Rahman ibn Awf let go his hand and then asked Uthman the same question and Uthman (ra) agreed and then he was given the Baya’a.
The principle of Jama’a Kalimat al Muslimeen (Uniting the word of the Muslims) is a well known principle among the Usulieen and the Fuqaha. It is applicable to the Mujtahid and the Muqallid. And it is not a matter of preference, rather it is a matter that is he is expected to undertake. So, he is not allowed to make a choice in the issue, rather if his abandoning a view unites the Ummah then he should do so and adopt the view that the Ummah adopts.
Allah (swt) says in the Quran:
وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا
And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.[TMQ 3:103]
There are many other ahadith that discuss about the subject of uniting the Muslim Ummah. How could it be that Ali (ra) while he knew these ayaat and ahadith and he did not agree to uniting the Ummah, rather he insisted that he wished to undertake his own Ijtihad.
Does it mean that Ali (ra) did not want to unite the Ummah?
Or that it is our misunderstanding that what Uthman (ra) did by leaving his Haqq to review the Ijtihaadat of Abu Bakr and Umar (ra) and stick to them was unrelated to the subject of Unity of the Ummah?
ii. Uthman’s (ra) giving up on his right to review the opinions of Abu Bakr and Umar (ra) is not applicable in an opposite manner
The Baya’ of Uthman was on condition that he forgoes a Haqq (right) that the Shara’ gave him. It was a Haqq which was in principle Mubah for him to undertake and that was to review the Ijtihadaat or Abu Bakr and Umar. It is a haqq of the Khalifah to review the Ijtihadaat of his predecessors. Just like Umar (ra) did with some of the views of Abu Bakr (ra) after he became the Khalifah.
However, the Ummah requested Uthman (ra) to forego his right. She can make such a condition upon the the Baya to a khalifah that he gives up from what is within the rights he has which are Mubah. And Uthman (ra) agreed to it.
So, in Uthman’s (ra) case it was one man leaving his view for the sake of the Ummah, and therefore it is incorrect to derive the hukm that it is wajib for the ummah to leave their opinion for the sake of one man.
Furthermore, in Uthman’s (ra) case, the Ummah exercised a Haqq (right) that she had, i.e to ask Uthman (ra) to forego his right for being given the Baya’.
However, an individual or a Jama’ah (group) does not have the same Haqqfrom Shara’ to ask his or its followers to abandon their views for the sake of the individual or the Jama’ah (group).
iii. Uthman’s acceptance of the condition to follow the Sunnah of Khulafah Ar-Rashideen does not mean he left his views for AbuBakr (ra) and Umar’s (ra) views.
This is because during the Khilafah of Uthman (ra) we find him (ra) making Ijtihadaat and adopting views that contradicted the views held by AbuBakr (ra) and Umar (ra). For eg, he (ra) adopted the hukm regarding the 2nd Azaan for Salatul Juma’ah. This was unfounded during the era of the two khalifah’s before him. This adoption of his contradicts with the adoptions of Abubakr and Umar. Which either means that Uthman (ra) was going against the conditions of his Baya’ or that the condition itself was misunderstood.
In addition to this we find that Abubakr (ra) and Umar (ra) had differences in many issues they adopted in. For instance, the subject of Talaq, The subject of Maal al Ghanimah, the subject of Taraweeh and so on.
And we find Uthman (ra) in many of these cases adopting the views of either of the two predecessors and in some cases making his own ijtihadaat.
Abu Khaled Al Hejazi
5th Jumadi atThani, 8th February 2019