On difference of opinion

For reasons of complex insecurities, people in Pakistan often are very intolerant of any difference of opinion. I have found modern Pakistanis finding it very hard to reconcile between beleif that Islam is the true religion and the reality of numerous interpretive possibilities.

This is why often we see them getting enamored by promises of a single ‘unifying interpretive framwork, some modernist movements in Pakistan are relevant examples.

I beleive this is because Pakistanis have focused predominantly on the sciences and have completely neglected the humanities and liberal arts. Disciplines of study have profound impacts on our interpretive lenses and we tend to apply the orientations developed in our academic life to all spheres of life. Sciences are positivistic, at least as taught in Pakistan, and the liberal arts are more interpretive; this fundamental difference can help explain a lot …

Imam Malik declined to comply with Caliph Harun al Rashids request for him to hang a copy of the Muwatta upon the wall of the Ka’ba and issue a command for everyone to adhere to it, in order to ensure that people did not differ over religious matters. Imam Malik repeatedly refused and stated:

“The companions also differed in subsidiary issues and all of them were considered correct. Their statements and schools of thought are practiced throughout the world and there is no sense prohibiting the people from other schools of thought.”

Our Propher considered such differences a mercy to the Umma and our earlier generations appreciated this and never made issues of differences on subsidiary issues. Now, we hate each other on these differences. We should fear Allah and not hate other Muslims.

Pakistanis should concern themselves with what is of immediate concern to them, each individual, first and foremost in controlling his nafs and increasing zikr.


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