On Approaching Scholars difference in OpinionWhen two scholars give differing judgments on a personal issue how do we decide upon which opinion to choose? Do we look at the specialization of the scholar or just the evidence he brings?
Answer by: Shaikh Muhammad S. al-Uthaimeen
It is important that we judge what is correct through looking at the evidence and understanding it. Yet it is upon the person seeking the truth to follow whom he sees as the closest to that which is right. Also to be considered is the scholar's knowledge and the level of trust in him. As far as knowledge there are indeed people who speak without knowledge. Some may possess certain aspects of knowledge while having missed many others. And as far as trust is considered, we find that some people have a lot of knowledge yet they take into account what the people desire! Therefore, their rulings end up tilted to suit the questioner's goals or whims.
Thus when scholars disagree, we should look at who is closest to that which is correct. Just as two doctors may differ in diagnosis or treatment of an illness, you will follow the one whose diagnosis you see is deeper and
Allah Knows Best
Taken from: Al-Jumuah Magazine, Safar 1421 (May/June 2000)
How To Deal With The Differing Of Scholars
Shaykh ibn 'Uthaymeen
I am a student of knowledge in the first year of the Faculty of Sharee'ah. There come to us many issues in which there is differing [of opinion]. It is possible that the preferred position ('raajih') in some of these matters opposes some of the statements of the scholars of today. Or we take on issues and there is nothing that is predominant from them. So we become confused in our affair. So what should we do about the ruling of an affair in which there is a difference of opinion regarding, or when we are asked by the general people? May Allaah reward you with good.
This question which the questioner mentions does not only happen to a student of the Sharee'ah, rather it is general to everyone. When he sees differing of the scholars regarding a fatwa he gets perplexed, but the reality is that there is no confusion in that because a person, when the fatawa differ, he follows what he sees to be closest to the truth, in accordance to the expansiveness of his knowledge and the strength of his faith. Just as a person, when he is sick and two doctors differ with respect to his illness, then he takes the speech of the one that he sees as being more preferable when the cure is described to him. And if the two matters are equal to him, meaning that he does not prefer the opinion of one of the two differing scholars over the other, then some of the scholars state that he follows the saying: "[Take] the more severe position because it is the safest." Some of the scholars state that he follows the easier position because that is the origin in the Islamic Sharee'ah, and it is said that he chooses between the two.
However, the correct position is that he follows the 'easier' position because this conforms with the ease in the Islamic Religion due to the statement of Allaah, the Blessed and the Most High:
"Allaah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you." [Al-Baqarah (2):185]
"...and He has not laid upon you in religion any hardship" [Al-Hajj (22):78)]
And his (salallaahu 'alaihi wassallam) statement: "And make things easy and do not make things difficult." [Al-Bukhaaree in 'Al-Ilm' (69)]
And also because the origin is acquittance or discharge from responsibility in an affair until he establishes that which removes this origin. This principle is for the one who is not able to arrive at the truth by himself. And if he is able to do that, such as the student of knowledge who is able to read what is said in this affair, so gives preference to what he sees to be the preferred position due to the Sharee'ah proofs with him, then it is binding upon him to research and read to attain knowledge of that which is more correct from these statements regarding which the 'ulemah differ.
Taken From Kitaabud-Da'wah (5), pp 45-47.
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-`Uthaymeen
Translated By: Abu Khadeejah 'Abdul-Waahid