RESOLUTION OF THE ASSEMBLY OF THE FIQH
ACADEMY IN ITS TENTH SESSION [i]
Convened in 1408/1987. Regarding the juristic Differences between the Schools of Law and the [Reprehensible] Fanaticism of some of their Followers
Praise be to Allah alone, and peace and blessings be upon the last of the Prophets, our Master, Sayyiduna Muhammad. May Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him, his family, and his Companions.
The Assembly of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, in its tenth session, convened in Makkah al-Mukarramah, for the period between Saturday 24 Safr 1408/17 October 1987 and Wednesday 28 Safr 1408/21 October 1987, has considered the issue of juristic differences between the schools of law (madhahib), and the contemporary fanaticism of followers for their own schools, which goes beyond time bounds of moderation and reaches the point where the perpetrators attack the other schools and their scholars (ulama).
The Assembly examined the problems which arise in the minds of the youth of this age and their ideas surrounding the differences between the schools of law, of which they do not know the basis or the significance. Those who mislead them give them the idea that so long as Islamic Law is one, and its foundations in the Sublime Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah are also united, why then are there differences between the Schools of Law? And why are they not united so that the Muslims have before them only one school of law and one understanding of the Shari’ah?
The Assembly also examined the issue of fanatical adherence to the schools of law and the problems which result from it, especially among some contemporary currents in our time, whose followers call for a new line of independent legal reasoning (ijtihad). They attack the established schools of law, which have been accepted by the Ummah since the beginning of the Islamic era and [they attack] their Imams—or some of them—wrongly, and sow seeds of discord (fitnah) amongst the people!
After discussing this issue, the events and circumstances surrounding it and the resultant discord and deception, the Fiqh Academy resolved to direct the following statement to both parties, those misleading and the fanatics, in order to remind and inform them as follows:
Regarding the Differences between the Schools of Law (Madhahib)
The differing positions in terms of opinion which exist in Islamic countries are of two kinds:
1. Differing positions in terms of belief
2. Differing positions in terms of fiqh
The first of these, that is, differences of belief (al-Ikhtilaf al-I’tiqadi), is in reality a problem which has caused catastrophes in Islamic countries, splitting the ranks of the Muslims and dividing their position. It is a distressing matter, which should not exist. The Ummah must unite upon the position of those who follow the Sunnah and the community (Ahl as-Sunnah Wa’l-Jama’ah) [ii], who represent the pure and sound Islamic thought of the era of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and the era of the rightly guided Caliphate, which the Messenger indicated to be an extension of his Sunnah, by saying: “Follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Caliphs after me. Adhere to it and hold onto it firmly with your molar teeth.”
With regard to the second [kind of difference], that is, differences in terms of fiqh on some issues, there are technical reasons which have necessitated this. Allah, praised be He, has put profound wisdom in this, which includes mercy upon his servants and widening the scope for deriving rulings from the texts. Furthermore, it is a blessing and a juristic and legal treasure, which affords the Muslim Ummah breadth in matters of religion (din) and law (Shari’ah), so that it is not confined to applying a single legal ruling, for which there is no alternative. Rather, if the Ummah finds hardship in the position of one of the jurist Imams at a particular time or regarding a particular matter, they find in the position of one of the other Imams a range, a leniency