The Impermissibility of Commanding the Good and Forbidding the Evil in Matters of Disagreement Among the Scholars


The rulings of commanding the right and forbidding the wrong only apply to matters that are agreed upon among scholars as being obligatory or unlawful. As for something that is differed upon, such as the issue under discussion, it is not permissible to condemn someone for doing it. It is, however, recommended for one to give sincere advice to such a person and to encourage him to adopt the more religiously precautionary position by extricating himself from the disagreement of the scholars.

The great scholar, the Proof of Islam, Imam Ghazali said in the Ihya during his discussion of the integrals and conditions of commanding the right:

“The fourth condition is that the matter being condemned be something that is condemnable without being subject to scholarly disagreement. Commanding the right and forbidding the wrong does not apply to anything that falls under the realm of scholarly disagreement. It is therefore not permissible for a follower of the Hanafi school to condemn a follower of the Shafi`i school for eating a lizard, a hyena, or meat upon which the name of Allah was not pronounced [even though such matters may be unlawful in the Hanafi school].”

Imam Nawawi said in his commentary on Sahih Muslim:

“Scholars only condemn what is agreed upon [as being unlawful]. As for something that is differed upon, it may not be condemned because either (a) the conclusion of every mujtahid is correct—and this is the position adopted by many (or most) of the scholars of exacting verification—or (b) only one of them is correct but we don’t know with certainty which one is incorrect and [whoever he may be] he is not sinful [for reaching his incorrect conclusion].

However, if one encourages such a person to extricate himself from scholarly disagreement by way of giving sincere advice, then this is a good and praiseworthy thing when done with gentleness. This is because scholars agree that is encouraged to extricate oneself from scholarly disagreement when doing so does not result in contravening a sunna or falling into another disagreement.”

And Allah Most High knows best what the correct position is and to Him is the final return.

Source: The Ruling of Shaving and Shortening the Beard in the Shafi`i School –

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