The Limits to Differences of Opinion In Islam – Dr Umar F Abd-Allah

Differences of opinion in Islam – do they harm Muslim communities or are they a source of strength and mercy? Are such discussions the domain of the knowledgeable or us laymen? What are the limits to this within the shariah?

Are you fed up of hearing, “I don’t believe in schools of thought or madhabs, I follow Islam – pure and simple!”?

Watch this captivating and enlightening explanation of differences of opinion in Islam from one of the foremost scholars of our time, Dr ‘Umar Faruq ‘Abd-Allah.

With sincere gratitute to the Beacon Foundation.

Resources on differences of opinion in Islam:

Want a deeper understanding? Take an online course with reliable, qualified scholars at the SeekersHub Academy.
Dr Umar Faruq AbdAllah on Differences of Opinion in IslamDr ‘Umar Faruq Abd-Allah (Wymann-Landgraf) is an American Muslim, born in 1948 to a Protestant family in Columbus, Nebraska. Dr. Abd-Allah did his undergraduate work at the University of Missouri with dual majors in History and English Literature. He made the Dean’s list all semesters and was nominated to the Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society. In 1969, he won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and entrance to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York to pursue a Ph.D. program in English literature. Shortly after coming to Cornell, Dr. Abd-Allah read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which inspired him to embrace Islam in early 1970. In 1972, he altered his field of study and transferred to the University of Chicago, where he studied Arabic and Islamic Studies under Dr. Fazlur Rahman. Dr. Abd-Allah received his doctorate with honors in 1978 for a dissertation on the origins of Islamic Law, Malik’s Concept of ‘Amal in the Light of Maliki Legal Theory. From 1977 until 1982, he taught at the Universities of Windsor (Ontario), Temple, and Michigan. In 1982, he left America to teach Arabic in Spain. Two years later, he was appointed to the Department of Islamic Studies at King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, where he taught (in Arabic) Islamic studies and comparative religions for the next 16 years.
During his years abroad, Dr. Abd-Allah had the privilege of studying with a number of traditional Islamic scholars. He returned to Chicago in August 2000 to work as chair and scholar-in-residence of the newly founded Nawawi Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation. In conjunction with this position, he is now teaching and lecturing in and around Chicago and various parts of the United States and Canada, while conducting research and writing in Islamic studies and related fields. He recently completed a biography of Mohammed Webb (d. 1916), who was one of the most significant early American converts to Islam. The book was released September 2006 under the title A Muslim in Victorian America: The Life of Alexander Russell Webb (Oxford University Press).

Who Should We Learn Religion From?

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers the question: who do we take knowledge from? He details the advice of al-Khatib al-Shirbini, which revolves around three main points:
(1) consulting the scholars experts in the discipline,
(2) following those who act on what Islam entails, and
(3) following those who learned with scholars and not through only reading books.

Be Part Of Something Meaningful

This talk is part of the weekly gathering at SeekersHub Toronto, Circle of Light: A Night of Remembrance, Praise & Inspiration. Join us for free, in-person and online.
Consider taking a course with reliable scholars at the SeekersHub Online Academy. It’s free and there are over 30 topics on offer.

Resources for seekers:

Creating & Sustaining North American Muslim Scholarship

Muslim Scholarship

One from the archives! Shaykh Faraz Rabbani at the 2007 Muslim Students Association National Continental Conference, with Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, on fostering home grown Muslim scholarship.

Creating & Sustaining North American Muslim Scholarship

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi (left) and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

One from the archives! Shaykh Faraz Rabbani at the 2007 Muslim Students Association National Continental Conference, with Shaykh Yasir Qadhi (who can be heard in the question and answer session towards the end).

Death is not the only way we lose our scholars – Launch of SeekersZakat Fund

Our teachers often remind us that upon the passing of a scholar, they take with them to their grave, the treasure chests of knowledge and wisdom they’d accumulated throughout their life of; hard work, years of dedication and sacrifice and as such, their passing is a loss on multiple levels.

Now we know death is inevitable but death is not the only way we’re losing our scholars.

Ustadh Amjad explains in this video:

Due to the chaos and ugliness that is spread by ISIS and others in Muslim lands, countless scholars have had to flee Muslim countries, live in refugee camps or work 2-3 odd jobs just to get by, thus making teaching secondary.

Teaching also ends up on the back-burner for several scholars right here within our communities because the need to earn a living and provide for oneself and one’s family takes precedence.

But it doesn’t have to be this way…

The SeekersZakat Fund has been formed as one solution to dispelling darkness and spreading the light that is sacred knowledge. With this fund, we can enable our scholars to teach, research, write and produce content for generations to come.

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SeekersZakat Fund will collect zakat donations and distribute to the following individuals who are zakat-eligible, deserving and have been approved as such by our qualified scholars:

Muslim scholars, enabling them to teach this religion instead of just trying to get by.
Your zakat enables qualified scholars to continue transmitting sound, reliable Islamic knowledge through teaching, writing, and research.

Students of Sacred Knowledge, to preserve this religion for the next generation.
Your zakat enables numerous students of Sacred Knowledge to pursue their studies full-time under mentorship of qualified scholars, facilitating the preservation and spread of the light of Prophetic guidance.

Others in dire need of urgent assistance.
Your zakat helps address the immediate needs of those who have been overwhelmed by difficult circumstances. Such cases are individually considered and assessed for zakat eligibility.

This is a critical and urgent need in our times. We owe it to these scholars, whom the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself referred to as his inheritors. We owe it to our future generations and we owe it to ourselves.

So give your zakat to the SeekersZakat Fund, even if in advance.

This is the best zakat you could give. Ibn Abidin said, ‘The best zakat is to those most worthy, and through which there will be the greatest resultant benefit’.

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If you already gave your zakat please support us with your charity by becoming a monthly donor here.
For other amounts or one-time donations, click here.

Donations are Tax Deductible in the US.
We ensure that the zakat you give us is distributed in accordance with Islamic principles

The threat to religious guidance – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the importance of Spreading Prophetic Light

In this article, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the urgent need to #SpreadLight in our times of confusion and crisis. Support SeekersHub #SpreadLight by visiting our website.
The threat to religious guidance
There is a crisis in Islamic scholarship.
Due to the turbulent and unsettled state of much of the Muslim world, we face a crisis in the preservation of Prophetic guidance.
It is no longer safe for scholars or students in many of the central lands of traditional mainstream Islamic scholarship – including Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.
We personally know scholars who have been kidnapped, detained, jailed, tortured, or simply disappeared. Other scholars have been forced to flee their homes and remain in refugee camps. Still others are in foreign lands where they struggle to make ends meet.
This, instead of teaching seekers of knowledge, transmitting prophetic guidance and understanding, and spreading light in confusing times.
SeekersHub Global’s endeavour to spread light
Over the past few years, Seekers has comitted to assist teachers in desperate circumstances. We have been able to do so through charity and zakat funds raised specifically to help them.
A number have also been put on scholarly stipends. Now, they can devote themselves to teaching in a structured manner, transmitting the wealth of knowledge Allah has blessed them with, and training the next generation of scholars.
These are the people who will preserve and promote the beautiful and balanced way of mainstream Islam.
Among the scholars who had been affected by the economic and social instability—and resultant rising cost of living–in the Muslim world was Shaykh Ali Hani, recognized recognized by senior scholars as one of the foremost authorities in both the Arabic sciences, and the sciences of Qur’an, and Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir). Leading scholars seek him out to study under him.

An asset to the SeekersHub Family

sh_ali_haniLike many scholars, he was struggling to simply provide for his family, and thus limited in his ability to teach, research, or write.
SeekersHub has brought on Shaykh Ali Hani as a dedicated researcher and scholar. Through this support, he is teaching a full curriculum of the Arabic sciences, starting with Arabic grammar (nahw), morphology (sarf), and then the Qur’anic sciences (uloom al-Qur’an), and then finally Qur’anic exegesis (tafseer).
A number of these courses are already available online, and each term, we will offer more.
Thousands of students have already benefited. Thousands will continue to.
Through SeekersHub Global’s support, Shaykh Ali Hani has published an acclaimed commentary on the classic Arabic primer “al- Ajrumiyya”, which has already gone into a second edition.
He is in the process of writing commentaries on a full curriculum of classical Arabic grammar study texts, making them available and accessible to today’s students.
In the upcoming years, Shaykh Ali will also embark on a complete and detailed tafsir of the Qur’an.
The next generation of scholars
We hope to make the knowledge of other leading scholars available, in order to preserve the light of the Prophetic inheritance and facilitate its transmission to future generations.
This is a critical and urgent need in our times. We owe it to these scholars, whom the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself referred to as his inheritors. We owe it to our future generations. We owe it to ourselves.

Untitled1Supporting female and male scholarship

SeekersHub is also supporting many committed and dedicated students of knowledge, male and female, through our work-study scholarships.
This enables them to commit themselves to the path of knowledge, and provides the training, guidance, and mentorship to develop the skills needed to be effective scholars, teachers, community leaders, and inheritors of the Prophetic tradition.
The need to support such worthy students of knowledge is critical at a time when there are few reliable mainstream institutions that do the same.

Let’s not fail the next generation

If our community fails to support students who are dedicating themselves to become scholars, we will fail to preserve Prophetic guidance.
By supporting such students, we ensure the preservation of Islam in our families, our communities; We are actively participating in the preservation of God’s greatest gift to creation – the gift of Islam, the gift of the light of Prophetic guidance.
Help #SpreadLight. Help SeekersHub Global support needy and deserving scholars and students of knowledge. Give your Zakat generously. Actively encourage family and friends to do so. And pray for the success of this initiative to preserve and #SpreadLight – the light of the Beloved of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).

Love & Balance: Following Our Scholars to Allah – Reflections by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

16255162654_95153fb928_zIf you haven’t already connected with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on social media, you should. He often shares beneficial advice and insightful reflections. The following, posted recently, is just one example.
You can follow Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on both twitter and facebook.
The affirmation of rank with Allah doesn’t negate the manifestation of very human qualities, as Ibn Ata’illah reminded.
(1) We shouldn’t imagine our scholars and leaders to be “supermen” or “superwomen” without faults and shortcomings.
(2) Yet we need to expect uprightness, commitment to striving to do the right thing, and the humility to rectify wrongs and errors, with remorse.
(3) And we respect them for their sincerity, their striving, and their example.
The sunna teaches balance. We need scholars and leaders to look up to, respect, learn from, and follow. But we follow them as means to following the way of Allah and the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), not as ends in themselves.
And we uphold sincere counsel (nasiha) with them, as an act of faith and as a religious duty. “Religion is sincere concern,” said the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and he mentioned, “… the leaders of the Muslims,” as one of the expressions of our sincere concern and counsel.
May Allah grant us balance, sincere concern, and the love, respect, and principled following of those who follow in the luminous footsteps of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk) towards Allah’s Love.
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Further resources:
Is the hadith: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” authentic? If so, what does it mean?
What is the Limit of Using Honorific Titles for Scholars?
Differences of Opinion & Determining Sound Scholarship

How to Respond to Setbacks in Islam’s Religious Discourse – Habib Ali al-Jifri

Original post can be found here.
The solutions to the setbacks facing Islam’s religious discourse require a unification of efforts and and an assumption of responsibility by all stakeholders involved.
They, the stakeholders, are: (1) the scholars/ulama (who have the largest share of the responsibility since every area has it own expertise and this is their area of expertise); (2) political leaders; (3) the media; (4) the wealthy, business people, and economists; and (5) academics who preside over the teaching, schooling and education of younger generations.
These five groups have a primary responsibility in redressing the setbacks. A secondary responsibility falls on the listener – i.e. he/she whom listens to and is a recipient of the discourse.
Habib-Ali-For example, if the listener observes that the speaker’s tone is repressive or inciting, he/she should bring it to the speaker’s attention that this is unacceptable and walk away in peace. The speaker, who is being seen as a representative of the Islamic tradition and applying it, will thus begin to feel that if he deviates from this path there will be no one left willing to listen.
The Prophet said, peace be upon him: “Verily God will not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people (from their hearts), rather, He will take knowledge away by taking away the scholars (by reclaiming their souls); so that when He leaves no scholar behind, people will take the ignorant as leaders. Then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts (fatwa) and they deliver them without knowledge. They go astray, and cause other to go astray”. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim).

Please ‘like’ the page ‘Habib Ali al-Jifri English‘ page on Facebook.

Ascribing to the Prophet the Fulfillment of Needs and the Removal of Harm

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Im having doubts about a durood known as “Durood Narriyah.”

The Arabic wording is like this:

للَّهُمَّ صَلِّ صَلاةً كَامِلَةً وَسَلِّمْ سَلَاماً تَامّاً
عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ الَّذِي تَنْحَلُّ بِهِ الْعُقَدُ
وَتَنْفَرِجُ بِهِ الْكُرَبُ وَتُقْضَى بِهِ الْحَوَائِجُ
وَتُنَالُ بِهِ الرَّغَائِبُ وَحُسْنُ الْخَوَاتِمِ
وَيُسْتَسْقَى الْغَمَامُ بِوَجْهِهِ الْكَرِيمِ
وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ فِي كُلِّ لَمْحَةٍ وَنَفَسٍ
بِعَدَدِ كُلِّ مَعْلُومٍ لَكَ

The English translation is like this:

“O Allah! Bestow complete blessings and perfect peace on our master Muhammad by whom all our difficulties are removed, all calamities and agonies prevented; all needs fulfilled; all our cherished desires obtained; and a good end to life; and send us rain-showering clouds by means of his noble countenance, and on his family and companions in every moment and every breath, as many times as is in Your Knowledge.” 

Does the durood contain shirk, as its saying that Rasulullah (saw) removes difficulties etc..? Or is the translation just bad?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

The translation of this supplication is accurate, and its content is unobjectionable.

What Muslims Believe

It is the belief of all Muslims that Allah is the creator and sustainer of all things. From the perspective of pure divine oneness (tawhid), efficacy belongs only to Allah and never to creation. This is the reality indicated in the Qur’anic verse, “You did not slay them, but God slew them; and when you threw, it was not you that threw, but God threw,” (8:17) for it ascribes actions to creation but negates such an ascription at the same time. This is because while humans possess agency and acquire their actions, they do not create them. Allah does.

From this understanding, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the cited supplication. While we affirm that in reality Allah is the one who removes hardships, calamities, agonies, and fulfills our needs, it is unsound from an Islamic perspective to deem the ascription of these aspects to others as being “shirk”. Does medicine not remove the hardship of sickness? Or water the agony of thirst? Or food the need for satiation?

Undoubtedly, and we are more than aware as Muslims that it is not in reality the medicine, water, or food that intrinsically gives rise to these effects, but Allah who does. However, Allah has in his infinite wisdom created normative relationships between things and the effects they seemingly produce. Thus, no matter how many times you touch fire, you will get burnt because Allah has willed and created a relationship between fire and burning. This is His sunna in the world.

The Prophet: A Means by Which All Good is Sought

Likewise, Allah has made certain people a means for the lifting of the hardships and agonies of others, and the fulfillers of their needs. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is at the forefront of such people as established in countless traditions, such as:

1. The narration regarding the supreme intercession (shafa`ah al-udhma) that describes people on the Day of Judgment as being in a state of ”gloom and agony” until they ”approach Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and say, ‘O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allah, the seal of the messengers… intercede for us to your Lord. Do you not see what we are experiencing?” [Bukhari]

Here, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is sought by people as a means for the lifting of perhaps one of the greatest agonies they are facing.

2. The narration where `Ali (Allah be well pleased with him) was suffering from ophthalmia, an inflammation of the eyes, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) ”spat into his eyes and he was cured.” [Bukhari, Muslim] Here, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) removed a physical hardship that `Ali was facing.

3. The narration where Ibn `Umar (Allah be well pleased with him) recites the verses describing the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as ”A fair-skinned one by whose face rainclouds are sought.” [Bukhari] The Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would seek him out to attain rainfall and overcome famine.

4. The narration where the people “rushed in the direction of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)” after he had performed ablution because they did not have any water to satiate their thirst with.

Upon informing the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) of their need, he “placed his hand in the container, and water began to flow from his fingers like a spring.” Here, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) fulfilled the need people had of requiring water to drink and make ablution from.

5. The narration of the young man who came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to offer his pledge of loyalty and “grasped the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) by the two sides of his waist and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I seek from you protection from the fire.'” When he was told by others around him to let go, he responded, “By the One Who has sent him, I shall not let go of him until he grants me protection from the fire!” [Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman]

There are countless other such narrations that establish the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as a means by which Allah lifts the hardships of people, fulfills their needs, and grants them good. This is why the Companions and the righteous Muslims who followed them set their gaze on the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as their means to worldly and next-worldly success.

It is completely within Allah’s power to accomplish His will in any manner He wills. In the same manner that food fulfills our hunger, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) has been made the means for the fulfillment of many of our needs. There is no shirk in this, because ultimately we know it is Allah who is in reality running the show and no one else.

Having a Good Opinion of Scholars

Finally, it should be noted that often times such supplications have been transmitted to us by righteous scholars in the past. In this case, it is the Abdul Wahhab al-Tazi, a great scholar from Morocco who is counted amongst the spiritual masters of his time. It would be wise for us not to consider the words of such scholars whose knowledge and righteousness was attested to by numerous people as lacking even basic understanding of our religion: tawhid.

It is one thing to not understand certain statements; it is another thing to consider it shirk. The former is understandable while the latter is unacceptable. It would be from having a good opinion (husn al-dhann) of a fellow Muslim to simply consider the intent behind his utterance as sincere and sound even if one cannot fully grasp such an intent.

If you continue to have doubts, I would advise you to simply not read the mentioned supplication whilst maintaining a positive opinion of its author. Rather, suffice with what your heart connects to and feels at ease with. There are many ways to send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). May Allah increase you and us in love for him.


Is the hadith: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” authentic? If so, what does it mean? – Faraz Rabbani

Is the hadith: “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” authentic? If so, what does it mean?

by Faraz Rabbani

Abu al-Darda’ (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets.” [Related byTirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Ibn Maja, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, and others] Ibn al-Mulaqqin, Zayla`i, Ibn Hajar, and others seemed it sound (hasan) or rigorously authentic (sahih)]

When Fudayl ibn Iyad (Allah be pleased with him) heard this hadith, he commented, “The people of spiritual wisdom (hukama’) are the inheritors of the prophets,” [Ibn Nu`aym, Hilyat al-Awliya, 8.92] explaining the nature of knowledge that is ultimately sought.

Imam al-Ayni (Allah have mercy on him) explained in his commentary on Sahih al-Bakhari, Umdat al-Qari (2.39) that this hadith is inspired from the words of Allah Most High, “Then We gave the Scripture as inheritance unto those whom We elected of Our servants.” [Qur’an, 35.32]

The knowledge possessed by these scholars is the knowledge deemed beneficial (al-`ilm al-nafi`) by Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). This knowledge was defined by Imam Ghazali as being, “Knowledge of the way to Allah Most High and the next life.”

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It is not just information: rather, it is the way of transforming oneself outwardly and inwardly, in order to become true slaves of Allah, on the path of His Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

This is the “deep understanding in religion” that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) praised when he said, “Whomever Allah wishes well for He gives deep understanding (fiqh) in religion.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

This deep understanding (fiqh) was defined by Imam Abu Hanifa (Allah have mercy on him) when he said, “Fiqh is to know one’s self: what is for it and against it.” Deep understanding of religion encompasses all three dimensions of the religion: beliefs (iman), outword actions (islam), and, most importantly, spiritual excellence (ihsan).

The person who possesses this knowledge is one deserving of being called a true scholar (faqih). A true scholar is defined as being, “A person of knowledge (`ilm) who acted (`amal) on their knowledge, so Allah bequeathed them knowledge of what they didn’t know.”

Everyone who acts on their knowledge has a share of this understanding (fiqh), and of Prophetic inheritance. The one realized in this knowledge is a true inheritor (warith) of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk).

A sure sign of having this knowledge & inheritance is that one upholds excellence of character, as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The weightiest thing on the Scales on the Day of Judgment is good character.” [Abu Dawud] And he said, “The believers most perfect in faith are those best in character, and the best of you are those best to their spouses.” [Tirmidhi]

The best of good character is restraint and forbearance (hilm), for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Forbearance (hilm) is the best of character.” The most beautiful of character and conduct was the character and conduct of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk).

True inheritors of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reflect some of this excellence and beauty in their character and conduct. This character emanates from making Allah one’s true concern; being conscious of Allah; and true love for Allah.


The Pinnacle of Beneficial Knowledge

The pinnacle of beneficial, consequential knowledge is experiential knowledge and love of Allah, for Allah Most High said, “And those who believe are overflowing in their love of Allah.” [Qur’an, 2.165].

As Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi explains in “The Centrality of Love in Islam” (Islamica Magazine, Fall 2003),


“Love is the central emotion in Islam. Without it there would be no motive to expend effort in worshipping God, acquiring knowledge, increasing in virtue, or benefiting others. Neither would there be any motive to strive for excellence in all these endeavours.

“Current Muslim failures are undoubtedly due to the majority having forgotten that the God they worship requests nothing less than excellence in everything they do. That the love of God be supreme in one’s heart is a prerequisite for sincere tawhid.”

Shaykh Zaid Shakir translated an excellent work by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, The Heirs of the Prophets (Starlatch Press.

May Allah grant us beneficial knowledge, and the success to act upon it as He loves, so that we become of those who love Him and whom He loves.


Faraz Rabbani