Do We Agree?

Do not say: Do you agree with me? but say: Do we agree?


Disagreement in Islam is governed by the law of adab, which is a spiritual principle closely tied to intentionality. The rampant egotist treats difference as a criticism and a challenge, and all the dark energy of his soul presses him to triumph in the fight. He has mobilised the Prophetic insistence on truth and made of it a shield for his own insecurities. Such a person can seldom be defeated in argument, although he may walk away in disgust and confusion.

Al-adab qabl al-ilm. ‘Courtesy comes before knowledge.’ That is, knowledge rudely acquired without wisdom is not knowledge at all, but a simulacrum. Some scholars avoid outward sins, but have not been shown the way of inward struggle. ‘They remember God but seldom’ (4:142), although they believe that they are His uncompromising champions.

The true scholar does not want anyone to agree with him. He wishes simply that the scholars should agree on what is right. Because the donkey of his ego is tied by the halter of God’s inner and outer commands, he does not care for himself if he is disgraced, or defeated, or shown as an ignoramus. Imam Malik: ‘whoever says “I do not know” has given his fatwa’.

Instead, the true scholar wishes humanity to agree to serve God sincerely, and to use the mind and revelation properly in the pursuit of that quest. Nothing else matters. Two contrary fatwas in the presence of courtesy are better than a unified fatwa determined by anger and jealousy.

(Source: Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions, Contention No. 62, Pg. 108)

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