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Question: Why some of your answers are in contradiction to the rulings given by Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Baaz and his student like Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajid. Exampless are: your anwser concering Hijab, Machine Slaughter, Interest Based Mortgage. They consider covering face and hand mandatory. Also machine slaughter is not considered as Zabihah and Interest based any loan including mortgage to buy a house is considered haram. I am very concerned about this as these are some very basic aspects of lives of people living is the West.

I thank you for pointing this out to me as it gives me an opportunity to explain. Let me first state that I respect the late Sheikh Abd al-Azeez b. Abd Allah b. Baaz, may Allah have mercy on him, who had been the Vice-chancellor of the Islamic University of Madinah while I was a student there. I still vividly recall the remark made about him by one of my esteemed sheikhs from Syria-- who was my professor at the time-- to a visiting scholar from Egypt: When the latter asked the former about Sheikh Ibn Baaz, he had this to say about him, “He is one of the remnants of the salaf al-ssalih in Madinah”. I couldn’t agree more with this statement, as I too came to personally know about the piety and selfless character of this late sheikh.

Having said this, however, I must say: I do not agree with all of his views in fiqh or other matters. In differing with him, however, I have only chosen to leave his views in preference to the views of other reputable scholars and authorities. With respect to this question, I recall the retort of Imam Abu Hanifah to an interlocutor who had harshly criticized him for finding fault with the view of Hasan al-Basari on a certain issue of fiqh. When the man bluntly asked the Imam: “Are you saying that Hasan (i.e. Hasan al-Basari) is wrong and you are right?” The great Imam calmly replied, “Yes, I say: ‘Hasan is wrong, but Abd Allah is right!’ Imam Abu Hanifah thus wanted to remind his critic that while rejecting the view of Hasan, he had opted for the view of Abd Allah b. Mas’ud who was undoubtedly a greater authority than Hasan, may Allah have mercy on them all.

Furthermore, one of the well established principles of fiqh and etiquettes of fatwa is that one is not allowed to offer rulings based on the works or rulings of past scholars without knowing and understanding their arguments/proofs. Since I am not convinced of the rationale/argument behind the rulings of the late sheikh Ibn Baaz on the issues you have cited, I have chosen to disagree with him. In doing so, I have opted to go with the rulings or views of other scholars and authorities (on said issues) whose rationale/arguments and subsequent rulings I am convinced of.

Secondly, it is equally important for us to know that fiqh is not a dogmatic science, where one is forced to adopt a single view whether one agrees with it or not. Rather, we have the flexibility to hold different views so long as we are not doing so out of our own whims, but are doing so based on sound principles and valid interpretations of the sources.

Finally, tolerance is one of the great legacies that the great Imams left us with. I firmly believe that we ought to uphold this legacy and build on it. This is especially true if we wish to generate fresh thinking and renew the concept of ijtihad (Creative Interpretation) – both of which we are in dire need today.

Let me conclude by supplicating in the manner of the great Companion Abd Allah b. Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him: ‘Our Lord, increase our knowledge (of our Deen), our true understanding of it, our veracity, sincerity, faith as well as our certainty of conviction’ –aameen.

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