Ramadan Lesson Day 11: Sh. Uthaimeen on the Differences Between the Madhahib (Schools of Law):
“One of the principles on which the madhhab of Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) is based: he thought that if the salaf (early generations) differed concerning something, and there was no definitive text concerning it, then all views are acceptable, because he (may Allah have mercy on him) venerated and respected the views of the Sahaabah. He said: If there is no definitive text to rule out any of these views, then the matter is broad in scope.
Undoubtedly this view of Imam Ahmad is one of the best means of bringing the ummah together and uniting them, because there are some people who take the differences of opinion in matters in which ijtihaad is justified as a means of division and dissent, to the extent that they may even regard a brother as being misguided when they themselves may be the ones who are misguided. This is one of the problems that have become widespread nowadays, despite the optimism one may feel at this awakening among the youth in particular. But this awakening may be spoiled by that and revert to a steep decline because of this division, and you may see any one of them, if his brother differs from him with regard to a matter of ijtihaad concerning which there is no definitive text, feeling put off by him and beginning to revile him and speak ill of him.
This problem is the greatest cause of rejoicing among the enemies of this awakening – may Allah cause them to fight among themselves. It has gone so far that some people may hate a brother in faith more than they hate the evildoer – Allah forbid. This is undoubtfully harmful and the seekers of knowledge should put an end to this matter that harms us all. Has revelation come to you from Allah to tell you that your view is the correct one? If no revelation has come to him to tell him that his view is the correct one, then how can he know that? Perhaps the view of his companion is the correct one, and he is mistaken. This is the reality: nowadays no revelation comes to anyone, but the Qur’an and Sunnah are before us. If the matter is open to ijtihaad, then each of us should be tolerant of his brother’s ijtihaad.
There is nothing wrong with calm and beneficial discussion among brothers, but I prefer that the discussion between those who hold different points of view should not be in the presence of others, because others may interpret this discussion in a way not intended by those who are discussing the matter, and those who are discussing it may end up reaching an agreement, whereas others who are present may develop some resentment in their hearts even after this agreement is reached, so the Shaytaan may stir up enmity between them, in which case the problem still remains.
I say: May Allah reward Imam Ahmad with good for this excellent approach, that if the early generations differed about a matter concerning which there was no definitive text, then the matter is broad in scope and all opinions are acceptable. End quote.”
Ash-Sharh al-Mumti‘ (5/136-138)