Following Isolated Opinions of Scholars

The following are some great advices of top Syrian Shaykh, Al Muhaddith Shaykh Muhammad Awwamah (damat barakatuhum) given to students who wish to follow isolated opinions of scholars. 

The following advices have been extracted from a lecture titled: ‘Golden Guidelines in The Path of Knowledge’ translated by Maulana Ibn Maulana Haroon Abasoomar titled ‘The Eight Guideline’.

The Eighth Guideline:

The eighth guideline is that a student should ensure that he sticks to the view of the overwhelming majority of ‘ulama and that he distances himself from the isolated or uncommon views, forsaking them totally just as our ‘ulama used to do. I do not mean that we should be searching for those issues on which the majority are unanimous. It is very rare for them all to concur on one view only.

The motive here is that, for instance, on a particular issue there may be a different view by each of the four imams. Each of these four is backed by other scholars of the past who concur with them in their respective viewpoints. There may also exist one or two scholars who have a fifth viewpoint which is in contrast to what all the others have said. In such a situation, it is binding upon a student that he keeps to the view point of the four imams, and those that backed them, and that he abandons the fifth view which goes against the majority.

This is a huge mistake that is often committed by students of our era. Rather, as a result of the present academic disarray, this practice actually appeals to many of them!

Listen to the words of the great imam and mujtahid who lived in the early period of Islam, Imam Awzai (rahmatullah alayh):

“One who accepts the isolated views of the scholars will eventually leave Islam !!”

Imam Awzai passed away in 157 A.H.  – An era which was filled with great personalities and many tabi’un, of which some might have had certain isolated views. Despite their position, this is the effect he foresaw in following such remote views.

Imam Sulayman At-Taymi (rahmatullah alayh) who lived in an era earlier than Imam Awzai. He says:

“If you accept the (isolated) concessions of every scholar, in you would be every evil !!”

After quoting this statement, the great muhaddith of Spain, Imam ibn ‘Abdil Barr (rahmatullah alayh) writes:

“This is a unanimous and accepted fact regarding which I am unaware of any difference of opinion.”

In the book, Tabaqatush Shafi’iyyatul Kubra, after citing some isolated views that were held by certain illustrious scholars, the author, Tajuddin As-Subki (rahimahullah) then quotes a statement of a great imam of Hadith and Fiqh, Imam Abu Ali Karabisi (rahimahullah) who said:

“If somebody claims that the proponents of such isolated views are sometimes respected scholars, he will be told, the only real cause of the destruction of Islam would be the mistake of a respected aalim whereas a thousand mistakes of a jahil (non-aalim) would not affect Islam in the least. Historically there have been several people of knowledge who propounded views that were impermissible in Islam. For example, The famous Judge, Qadi Shurayh, passed certain verdicts which were not acceptable to anyone, which have no basis whatsoever, neither in the noble Quran, the hadith, or the views of the Sahabah or Tabi’in.”

If somebody studied the biography of Qadi Shurayh, he would understand him to be Islam’s second best judge of all times. (The first being Sayyiduna Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) who received the title of being the best judge amongst the Sahabah from none other than the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself). Despite the position of Qadi Shurayh, see what Imam Al-Karabisi said regarding some of his verdicts.

Therefore, it is not permissible for one who clings to a weak, isolated view to justify his stance against us by saying that this is the view of such and such a scholar who is an imam, hujjah (proof) and a mujtahid etc, for our response would be that such and such an imam and tens or hundreds like him have opposed him by forsaking his view all together!

Since a student should beware of adopting the view of one or two people which is in contrary with the vast majority of Islam, it is even more important that he guards himself against another even more drastic and grave offence. That is to appoint one or two scholars as arbitrators over the vast majority of Islam, thereby habitually adopting the view of these one or two whilst abandoning as well as insulting everyone besides them.

So, the first precaution should be against resorting to the view of one or two scholars which oppose the majority for the sole purpose of suiting one’s worldly needs at the expense of one’s Din, or for no other reason but to create concessions for one’s self or anybody else… The second precaution should be against one surrendering the steering of his knowledge to one or two scholars whose every view he adopts and defends, thereby forsaking the view of the vast majority of the ulama of the ummah who may even number up to several hundreds or even thousands.

The gist of the post is that Muslims who cling to isolated opinions of scholars have a lot of evil in them and are more likely to die without imaan, meaning they will be a burden upon the earth while they live and after they die will be the fuel of hell-fire, and if they also happen to prefer social isolation, not only are they going to be a burden upon themselves, they will also be a burden upon the state and are also more likely to die earlier, which is not a bad thing after all, is it?

Stick with the Jama’ah.

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