What do we have to do when there is difference of opinions among scholars?

Answered by Shaykh Abul ‘Ataa Ahmad Banaja (may Allah preserve him)

Question:

What do we have to do when there is difference of opinions among scholars?

Answer:

Whenever any Khilaaf (difference of opinions) occurs between the Scholars, it’s obligate upon the Muslim to try his best to figure out the correct opinion. There are a lot of ways to reach the correct opinion and it depends upon the person’s ability, situation, mentality, and knowledge.

Whoever is able to do research in between the opinions to achieve the correct stance, it’s obligatory on him to do so. As Allaah The Exalted said:

“… فَإِن تَنَـٰزَعۡتُمۡ فِی شَیۡءࣲ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَٱلرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمۡ تُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡیَوۡمِ ٱلۡـَٔاخِرِۚ ذَ ٰ⁠لِكَ خَیۡرࣱ وَأَحۡسَنُ تَأۡوِیلًا”
[سورة النساء 59]

“And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allaah and the Messenger ﷺ, if you should believe in Allaah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” [Suratun-Nisaa – 59]

Whoever does not have this ability, he asks someone trusted for his religion, to figure for him the evidence of the correct opinion. As Allaah The Exalted said:

“فَسۡـَٔلُوۤا۟ أَهۡلَ ٱلذِّكۡرِ إِن كُنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ”
[سورة النحل 43]

“So ask the people of the Dhikr (Qur’aan and Sunnah) if you do not know.”

So, if he could get an answer, and it includes the reasons to pick it as the correct opinion and it has the correct refutations for the wrong opinion, that will be good for him because it’s going to remove the ignorance from him completely and even will make him able to deliver it to others with clarity … If he cannot understand these kind of speeches, it is enough for him to ask the trustworthy person about the correct opinion according to the Qur’aan and the sunnah, and not according to his own opinion.

Other than these two ways, it is absolutely not beneficial and will lead you to extra ignorance.

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