Preface Part 3: Are our differences a mercy from Allah?
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Content:
Are our differences a mercy from Allah?
Evaluating the tradition
 
Are our differences a mercy from Allah?
No Muslim can deny the noticeable differences in jurisprudence which exist between the different Islamic branches. The existence of several Islamic branches is a clear indication of the existence of such differences. In order to turn this disaster into a benefit, the Sunnis Muslim claim with pride that the prophet said: Our differences are a mercy of Allah. They therefore argue that all the branches lead to the right path, all the different jurisprudence come from the same source: The haddith of the prophet and the Quran.

How could all the branches differ from one another when they all have the same source?? This is an absurdity and a fallacy, for several reasons:

  1. Has the prophet encouraged the Muslims to differ from one another? Has he encouraged them to follow different branches of Islam? Has he encouraged the Muslims to pray differently, to perform the ablutions and recite the adhan differently, to perform Hajj differently?? Were there different ways of praying, performing ablutions and reciting the adhan during the lifetime of the prophet?? Has he encouraged the scholars to come up with new branches?? If he did, then the prophet has contradicted (God forbid!) and disobeyed the commands of Allah, which say:

    Quran 3:103
    And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of Allah on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it, thus does Allah make clear to you His communications that you may follow the right way.
    وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتَ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاء فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىَ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

    Allah (SWT) has clearly stated to all together hold fast by his covenant and not to be disunited. Are we not disunited because of our differences? There is only one truth, as encompassed by the Sunnah and the Quran. How then can several differing branches all be the same one truth??

  2. Allah also said:
    Quran 3:105-107
    And be not like those who became divided and disagreed after clear arguments had come to them, and these it is that shall have a grievous chastisement - On the day when (some) faces shall turn white and (some) faces shall turn black; then as to those whose faces turn black: Did you disbelieve after your believing? Taste therefore the chastisement because you disbelieved - And as to those whose faces turn white, they shall be in Allah's mercy; in it they shall-abide.
    وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ كَالَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاخْتَلَفُواْ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ - يَوْمَ تَبْيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ اسْوَدَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ أَكْفَرْتُم بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ فَذُوقُواْ الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ - وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ ابْيَضَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ فَفِي رَحْمَةِ اللّهِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

    If you believe that our differences in the Laws and Jurisprudence are a mercy from Allah, then you are also contradicting the Quran. Allah has clearly warned us not to be like those who became divided and disagreed after clear arguments had come to them. Have we not desagreed and are we not desagreeing after the truth came to us from the prophet Muhammad? Is not the existence of several islamic branches a proof of our desagreement??

  3. Allah also said:
    Quran 21:92
    Verily, this brotherhood of yours is a single brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore serve Me (and no other).
    إِنَّ هَذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ

    How could the Ummah be one when we have so many differences tearing us apart? The Ummah was one during the lifetime of the prophet, all the companions performed the same acts of worship. This is not the case today and it has not been the case since the demise of the prophet.

  4. Allah also said:
    Quran 6:159
    As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.
    إِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُواْ دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُواْ شِيَعًا لَّسْتَ مِنْهُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُمْ إِلَى اللّهِ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَفْعَلُونَ

    Have we not divided our religion and are we not broken into sects? Are we not far from the truth that Allah will reveal to us when we meet with him in the end? Is this verse not clear enough and an eye-opener for every Muslim that follows a particular sect?

  5. What about hadith al-Iftirak (read chapter 1):
    The holy prophet said: "Out of the seventy-one sects of the followers of Musa, only one was on the right path. The followers of Isa also divided their religion into seventy two sects, out of which only one was on the right path. Likewise there will be seventy three sects among my followers, out of which only one will be on the right path."
    افترقت اليهود على احدى وسبعين فرقة فواحدة في الجنة وسبعون في النار وافترقت النصارى على اثنتين وسبعين فرقة فاحدى وسبعون في النار وواحدة في الجنة والذي نفس محمد بيده لتفترقن أمتي على ثلاث وسبعين فرقة فواحدة في الجنة واثنتان وسبعون في النار.
    (ه) عن عوف بن مالك.‏

    Does not this hadith conform with the Quran, both of which condemn sectarianism?? Does this not conclude that most of the branches are on the wrong path? Does this not conclude that our differences and division are definitely not a mercy from Allah but a malediction and curse of the devil?

With all of this in front of you, how can you believe that our differences and division is a mercy from Allah? Worse is how can you attribute such an explanation to the prophet?? If our differences are a mercy from Allah, then it would have been a malediction if we all agreed on one explanation of the Sunnah and the Quran. Following this logic, the companions were in malediction during the lifetime of the prophet since they did not differ on anything. Right?? Do you see how this absurdity and fallacy led to another absurdity and fallacy. If this haddith is true, then we better increase our differences!!!

Allah said:

Quran 6:153
Verily, this is My way, leading straight: follow it: follow not (other) paths: they will scatter you about from His (great) path: thus doth He command you. that ye may be righteous.
وَأَنَّ هَـذَا صِرَاطِي مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُم بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

Evaluating the tradition
Before even listing few narration that refute this fabricated tradition, this hadith is contradictory to the Quran and must therefore be discarded with no further argument.

اختلاف أمتي رحمة
نصر المقدسي في الحجة والبيهقي في رسالة الأشعرية بغير سند وأورده الحليمي والقاضي حسين وإمام الحرمين وغيرهم ولعله خرج به في بعض كتب الحفاظ التي لم تصل إلينا (قال المناوي في الفيض (1/209): لم أقف له على سند صحيح وقال الحافظ العراقي: سنده ضعيف. ص).
References:
     Kanz al-U'ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, vol 10, #28686 (الباب الأول في الترغيب فيه)
     al-Jaami'i al-Sagheer, by Jalaludin al-Suyuti, vol 1, #288 (باب: حرف الألف)

ونقل المناوي عن السبكي أنه قال: " وليس بمعروف عند المحدثين، ولم أقف له على سند صحيح ولا ضعيف ولا موضوع " وأقره الشيخ زكريا الأنصاري في تعليقه على تفسير البيضاوي
References:
     سلسلة الأحاديث الضعيفة: 1 / 76 ح 57

وقال ابن حزم عنه: " وهذا من أفسد قول يكون، لأنه لو كان الاختلاف رحمة لكان الاتفاق سخطا، وهذا ما لا يقوله مسلم، لأنه ليس إلا اتفاق أو اختلاف، وليس إلا رحمة أو سخط " وأما الحديث المذكور فباطل مكذوب "
References:
     الإحكام في اصول الأحكام: 5 / 61

يقول الألباني فيه: (لا أصل له، ولقد جهد المحدثون في أن يقفوا له على سند فلم يوفقوا

Here is a summary of those who have rejected this hadith and those who have accepted it, as taken from islamic-awareness.org:

No isnad exists for this hadith: al-Subki (d. 756) said, "It is not known to the scholars of Hadith, and I cannot find an isnad for it, whether Sahih, Da`if, or Maudu`." It, along with the previous one, is often used to justify the following two extremes: (i) blind following of the views of men, with no reference to the Qur'an and Sunnah; (ii) conveniently following whichever scholar holds the easiest view, or that most agreeable to one's desires, again without reference to the fundamental sources.

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