The Ethics of Disagreement In Islam by Taha Jabir Alalwani
The Ethics of Disagreement may be perceived as an explanation of the etiquette envisioned by Islam for all those engaged in discourse and intellectual dialogue. To a great extent, the book is an exposition of the higher principles and purposes of the Shari'ah which provide Muslims with perspectives far vaster than those afforded by pedantic debate over points of law and procedure, or fine distinctions between conflicting theological arguments. In fact, experience has shown that long immersion in such futile debate often renders the mind incapable of comprehending real situations and making value judgments on changing circumstances.
Since the book was originally intended to address opposing Islamic political parties in one particular part of the Muslim world, the author went to great lengths to give examples from classical Muslim historical experience. In particular, he analyzes instances of judicial disagreement between the early fuqaha , differences that were not allowed to go beyond the academic or to cause hard feelings among the debaters and dissenters alike. Certainly, the differences between those early scholars never led them to lose sight of the higher purposes of the Shari ah or their responsibilities.
Although this book may more appropriately be titled The Ethics of Disagreement between the Classical Jurists , it nonetheless serves as a useful introduction to the subject of disagreement in general. It also lays down for contemporary Muslims many commendable examples for forbearance and understanding on the part of some of the greatest personalities and scholars in Muslim history. In this lies the utility of this book.
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