Elements of Unity and proximity among the sects based on Jurisprudence
A seminar was held at the Conference Hall of Al Maahadul Aali Al Islami Hyderabad under the auspices of Islamic Fiqh Academy India on 13-11-2014 AC. The seminar was presided over by Prof Mohsin Usmani. Important papers were presented at the seminar and address was delivered.
Addressing the inaugural session of the seminar Mufti Sadiq Muhiuddin Fahim Nizami said “Differences in non fundamental issue- There is brondress and room there in. It may be put in to practice Ulama have emphasized that people should adhere to a particular school of Jurisprudence to save them from disorder and confusion one may follow any sect but there should not be sectarian conflict. Today it is more detrimental to the collective interest of Muslim Ummah to involve in sectarian conflict. It will harm the unity and integrity of the Muslim community. To the students attending the seminar. I wish to convey the message that they should study the literature of other sects, as it will expand the scope of thinking. Appreciating the activities of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, he said that this institution fulfills the contemporary requirements keeping itself wedded to its basic, Islamic objectives.
The first paper at the seminar was presented by Dr. Fahim Akhtar Nadvi on “Elements of Unity and Proximity among the non Ahle Sunnah sects”. He particularly referred and discussed the Fiqh Asna Ashri, Fiqh Zaidi, and Fiqh Ismaili, He also dwelt on the Abazi Fiqh. The jurisprudence (Fiqh) of the Asna Ashri sect is called Fiqh Jafari. It is ascribed to Imam Jafar Sadiq who was closely related to Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq. He was the contemporary of Imam Abu Hanifa. Both had close contacts and mutual respect and interacted to benefit from each others knowledge. During the formative period it had closely related to Hanafi Jurisprudence. After the great dissapearence the gulf between Sunni and Shias widened Iran is the centre of Jafri Jurisprudence. Efforts are on to have proximity with Sunni community.
The institute for interfaith dialogue has in its objectives that they should get benefit from the jurisprudence of Ahle Sunnat. It is called Imami Jurisprudence. Imami and Malki jurisprudence have much in common on contracts and dealings.
Fiqh Zaidi is ascribed to Imam Zaid bin Ali, Al Majmu is his work that has been since published. Followers of this sect are in yemen. Zaidi jurisprudence has benefitted itself from Hanafi jurisprudence also. They don’t call the disciples of Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) infidals.
Abazi jurisprudence: Abazi sect, they are the followers of Abdullah bin Abaz. Abazi claim that they are not Khawarij. Abaziz living in Oman, Zanjibar, North Africa and Libya. They acknowledge they had participated in the battle of Nehrwan only with the Khawarij. It was their only association with Khawarij.
Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani in his main paper on “Elements of Unity and Proxinity in sects of Ahle Sunnat” said that here the term Wahda (Unity) stands for that all the sects of Ahle Sunnah should be integrated in to one faith. During the region of Hazrat Umar there were to consultative committees, one to be consulted in the executive affairs and the other one to offer its views on the affairs of jurisprudence. He maintained unity in the executive affairs but not in affairs relating to jurisprudence, he could have done so in the latters case also.
The second event was during the period of Imam Abu Yusuf Judicial the authority. He was the Qazi of the entire Muslim world. He could have imposed Hanafi jurisprudence upon the people but he did not do so. He had the precedent of his learned teacher Imam Abu Hanifa, who valued the opinion of his disciples besides his own views. Reba Bin Hewa had requested Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz to do so, but he rejected the suggestion saying that he did not like to see that the disciples of Allah’s Messengers (Pbuh) have consensus on one opinion because they have various traditions from Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) if all of them are unanimous on one Hadith (Tradition) what would happen to their Ahadith, how people will take them in to practice. Difference of opinions, is there fore always beneficial.
Imam Malik was also offered by an Abbasid Caliph, to do so but he declined to accept the suggestions, as Allah’s Messengers (Pbuh) disciples had been living in the different region of Islamic Caliphate and they had Ahadith from various sources. They issued fatwa in accordance with the Ahadith they had with them. It was not proper to force them to accept only one Hadith ignoring all the other narrations. Here unanimity means to have difference of opinion but avoid opposition and confrontation and have regard to one another. Faith is to be preached not the sects, so difference of opinion was never a cause of conflict. The sects of the four Imams have ensured unity.
Among the disciples of Allah’s Messengers (Pbuh) there were 120 disciples who issued Fatawa (religious rulings). Had there sects been prevailed there would have been many more sects in the Muslim community. It would therefore, be wrong to say that the Jurisprudence of the four Imams have created confusion / conflict in the Ummah, infact they have confined the difference of opinion in such a exquisite way that all the rulings by the disciples of Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) have been included in their inference and conclusion.
The second term is Taqrib. How’s to bring one another closer. Among the Imam there are more issues on which they had concusses than the issues they had difference of views. There is hardly any difference on fundamentals. There is difference in application. There are four fundamental sources of Islamic Shariah. The Quran, traditions (Ahadith) of Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) Rulings/practice of the disciples of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and the precedents. It is said that Imam Shafai did not recognize the opinion /practice of Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) disciples as final. But in Kitabul Um we find many issues where the opinion of the disciples of Allah;s Messenger (pbuh) has been taken as the basis of conclusion.
The same is the case with precedent concusses of the Ummah is also a source for inference.
Among the non authentic sources conjecture is regarded as a solid source of reference. It is said that conjecture is not regarded authentic under the Zahiri Jurisprudence but Shaukani has explained that conjecture conflicting with Sharia reason is to be rejected.
Istehsan is an authentic source among the Hanafis. Imam Shafi’s criticism of Istehsan refers to a case where an opinion is followed ignoring the running from the Quran and Hadith while Istehsan is another name of a minor conjecture. Among the Shafai sect the term Isteslah confirm with it.
There is consensus on Urf Zarai, Sadde Zarai and fateh Zarai, the Makki have brought it to the fore. But most of the Ulema regard it as reason/proof drafting from the term. For example Istaslah is the term used by the Hambali sect. In the Hanafi jurisprudence Al Asl Baqa----refers to it. Proximity already exists among these sects. It needs to be highlighted afresh. The second point that there has always been a relationship of mutual exchange of views among the jurists of Ahle Sunnat. Personal following has been prohibited so that one should not follow ones whims/desires, scholars may practice it. We have many such instances.
Maulana Nisar Ahmad Qasmi teacher of Darul Uloom Sabilus Salam Hyderabad also presented his paper on Unity and proximity among the sects.
In his address Prof Mohsin Usmani president of the Seminar said that selecting this topic for deliberation Islamic Fiqh Academy has invited the attention of the community to an important issue. He said that we should concentrate on fundamentals, we must not make non fundamental issues the cause of conflict. The concept of unity of Ummah is being ignored by us. Today difference of opinion is taken for conflict and opposition while difference of opinion within the confines of decency is something adorable.