Ibn Taymiyyah on Compulsion:

The jurist and the cleric cannot compel people to follow their school of thought

By Abu Amina Elias for


Ibn Taymiyyah was asked about a person in authority whose view is that partnerships involving shared labor are not permissible. Can he prevent the people from this?


He cannot prevent the people from this, nor from the likes of this, because it is permissible legal reasoning; neither does he have any text from the Book, the Sunnah or the consensus to prevent this, especially when most of the scholars are of the view that this is permissible; and this is what has been acted upon by the Muslims in their lands in general. This is like a judge who is not allowed to negate the judgment of others in the likes of such issues, nor is it for the scholar or the cleric (mufti) to compel the people to follow him in the likes of such an issue. This is why when Ar-Rasheed sought Malik so that the people should adhere to the Muwatta’ in the likes of these issues. Malik prevented him from this and he said:

إنَّ أَصْحَابَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ تَفَرَّقُوا فِي الْأَمْصَارِ وَقَدْ أَخَذَ كُلُّ قَوْمٍ مِنْ الْعِلْمِ مَا بَلَغَهُمْ

The Companions of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, spread out into different regions; so each community took the knowledge that reached them.

Once a person wrote a book about the various different opinions, so Imam Ahmad said:

لَا تُسَمِّهِ كِتَابَ الِاخْتِلَافِ وَلَكِنْ سَمِّهِ كِتَابَ السُّعَةٌ

Do not call it the book of differences; rather, call it the book of flexibility.

Due to this, one of the scholars stated:

إجْمَاعُهُمْ حُجَّةٌ قَاطِعَةٌ وَاخْتِلَافُهُمْ رَحْمَةٌ وَاسِعَةٌ

The consensus of the Companions is a decisive proof, whereas their differing is a vast mercy.

Umar ibn Abd Al-Aziz, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

مَا يَسُرُّنِي أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَمْ يَخْتَلِفُوا لِأَنَّهُمْ إذَا اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى قَوْلٍ فَخَالَفَهُمْ رَجُلٌ كَانَ ضَالًّا وَإِذَا اخْتَلَفُوا فَأَخَذَ رَجُلٌ بِقَوْلِ هَذَا وَرَجُلٌ بِقَوْلِ هَذَا كَانَ فِي الْأَمْرِ سَعَةٌ

What would make me feel uneasy is if the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not differ. Since when they concur upon an issue, then anyone who opposes them will be considered a deviant. But if they differ, then one person can adopt one of their views, whilst the other can adopt the other view; hence, there would be flexibility in this matter.

Likewise, Malik and other scholars have said:

لَيْسَ لِلْفَقِيهِ أَنْ يَحْمِلَ النَّاسَ عَلَى مَذْهَبِهِ

It is not for the scholar to compel the people to adopt his school of thought.

This is why scholars who wrote books enjoining good and forbidding evil – among the followers of Al-Shafi’ee and others – have stated:

إنَّ مِثْلَ هَذِهِ الْمَسَائِلِ الِاجْتِهَادِيَّةِ لَا تُنْكَرُ بِالْيَدِ وَلَيْسَ لِأَحَدِ أَنْ يُلْزِمَ النَّاسَ بِاتِّبَاعِهِ فِيهَا وَلَكِنْ يَتَكَلَّمُ فِيهَا بِالْحُجَجِ الْعِلْمِيَّةِ فَمَنْ تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ صِحَّةُ أَحَدِ الْقَوْلَيْنِ تَبِعَهُ وَمَنْ قَلَّدَ أَهْلَ الْقَوْلِ الْآخَرِ فَلَا إنْكَارَ عَلَيْهِ وَنَظَائِرُ هَذِهِ الْمَسَائِلِ كَثِيرَةٌ

Verily, there is to be no forbidding with the hand in the likes of such issues of legal reasoning, nor is it for anyone to compel the people to follow him in his view. However, he may speak about it with evidence based upon knowledge. Whoever then sees the correctness of one of the two views after it is clarified to him, then he may follow it, but whoever follows the other opinion, then there is to be no forbidding him; and there are many issues like this.

Source: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa 30/79-80 مجموع فتاوى ابن تيمية الفقه باب الشركة مسألة حكم شركة الأبدان

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

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