BY OYEWUNMI.O. KAFAYAT
Ikhtilf (Arabic: “disagreement”) In Islam it refers to disagreements over religious matters. It is unethical to judge someone who holds a different viewpoint than oneself. When there is Ikhtilaf in a position, the necessity to command the right and forbid the wrong is disregarded.
Thus, Ikhtilf is the absolute opposite of Ijma (consensus). On a given topic, the presence of Ikhtilf allows Muslims to pick the interpretation of religious teachings that best matches their circumstances and causes the least harm. As long as the fundamental principles of Islam are not jeopardized, diversity is acceptable.
However, the veracity of this statement, whether it genuinely came from Muhammad or not, is disputed. This statement is frequently cited as a hadith however, it is not included in any of the six authentic collections of hadith, and its chain of narrators is unknown. This statement comes in a variety of forms. It is translated as “The difference of opinions among my Companions is a mercy for you” in some versions, and “The difference of opinions among my Companions is a mercy for my Ummah” in others. In terms of narration, many hadith experts consider both of these versions to be weak or da’if.
Ikhtilaf (difference) and Mukhalafah (inconsistency/disagreement) are [terms which apply] when everyone pursues a path that is distinct from the paths taken by everybody else in his situation or speech.” That is to say, they are appropriate when there is no conflict or discord, but when “ikhtilaf in speech” occurs between people, it may imply a conflict, hence the term can be used when there is a disagreement or a heated fight.
Ikhtilaf does not have the semantic connotation of conflict and strife. Rather, it represents situations and mental attitudes of persons who are not necessarily at odds with one another; yet, when a person is dissatisfied as a result of a disagreement with another person for any reason, this Ikhtilaf might become a source of conflict.
khilaf (also commonly translated into English as “difference”) is a broader term than dhidd (opposite), because although when two opposites occur there is a ‘difference’, not every ‘difference’ is an ‘opposite’. Black and white are opposites and different, but red and green are different without being opposites.
The following are four distinctions between Ikhtilaf and khilaf:
1 – In a case where the paths are diverse but the aim is for them to be one [and the same], Ikhtilaf applies. When both of them — the road and the intention – are different, there is a khilaf.
2– Ikhtilaf is evidence-based, whereas khilaf is not evidence-based.
3 – The result of Ikhtilaf is Rahman (divinely provided mercy), but the result of khilaf is bid’ah (heretical innovation).
4 – If a judge finds that there is a khilaf, it is possible to appeal the decision on the basis of khilaf, al Ikhtilaf (recognition of disagreement between jurists).
Ikhtilaf differs from khilaf in that the means are different but the end is the same, whereas khilaf differs in that both the means and the ends are different.
Ikhtilaf and the areas in which they manifest themselves Ikhtilaf (difference) can be found in a variety of places:
1 – Ikhtilaf in religious affiliation, such as the distinctions between Islam and other religions like Judaism and Christianity.
2 – Ikhtilaf in creed, such as the Qadariyyah, Jabariyyah, and Jahmiyyah disputes among Muslims.
3 – Ikhtilaf in fiqh (jurisprudence) between the Ibadis, Hanafis, Malikis, Shafi’is, Hanbalis, Zaidis, and Dhahiris. This sort of ikhtilaf, known as ikhtilaf fi’l furu’ (“difference in the branches”).
During the existence of the Prophet, disagreements were settled by Allah’s Messenger himself. As a result, it is impossible to speak about an Ikhtilaf in the true sense throughout that time period. However, since the revelation ceased and no source of settlement remained after his death, we can claim that the first serious disagreements occurred. The major causes for Ikhtilaf during the Companions’ period include not being able to reach the relevant nass or ruling, and the fact that the hadith did not arrive through an.
The contrasts of opinion that emerged during the tabi’un (successors of companions) period were primarily dependent on geography and location. The usage of terms literally or metaphorically, whether the hadith is known or not, the legitimacy of the hadith, differences in knowledge and ijtihad method, and social circle are the main causes for the Ikhtilaf in that period. The impact of ra’y and hadith schools, as well as differences of opinion coming from evidence, language, and geography, are among the grounds for the Ikhtilaf in the tabi’un period.
During the period of mujtahid imams, from the beginning of the 2nd century to the 4th century after Hijrah, the Islamic state expanded its borders to include Spain and China, and other sub-African countries while social and cultural dynamism flourished. Massive data for the systematization of Islamic fiqh has been compiled from comprehensive interpretations of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, as well as the rich accumulation of Companions’ ijtihad and fuqaha tabi’un. During the age of tabi’un, training was based on basic trends, however, during this time, a person-oriented new legal framework known as “madhhab” (Islamic jurisprudence school) formed among these schools.
Islamic law continues to have an impact on how Muslim societies organize their lives, with a population of over two billion people globally. Some Islamic law studies continue at the legislative level, while others are held at the academic level in the official and civil fields, particularly in universities, in today’s world where multidimensional developments are experienced in every field of social life and thus legal problems are increasing and deepening.