Public Lecture on "Dealing with Diversity: Reviving The Ethics of Disagreement"
Date : 27th May 2016 (Friday)
Time : 09:30am - 11:30am
Venue : IAIS Malaysia
Shaiykh Faid Mohammed Said is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor Abdul Raheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom.
10.05am Presentation by Syaikh Faid Mohammed Said
11:00am Q&A Session
11:30am Concluding Remarks by the Moderator, adjournment and refreshment
On 27 May 2016, IAIS Malaysia co-organized (with Crescent Collective, Radical Middle Way Asia, Simply Islam and Seekers Hub) a lecture by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said on “Dealing with Diversity: Reviving the Ethics of Disagreement”.
Shaykh Faid noted that in Islam, “reform” means going back to tradition, not away from it, for it is in the earliest generation, i.e. the community of the Prophet (pbuh) himself that the moral order of Islam was given expression directly under the Prophet’s oversight. In this moral scheme, respect for the diversity of opinions is held as a normative postulate. A frequently cited hadith narrates how the Prophet endorsed both group of companions who disagreed over ablution and prayer, thereby illustrating his recognition of the validity of disagreements.
The Prophet’s companions later travelled beyond Makkah and Madinah, naturally encountering diverse customs and cultures, which in turn are reflected in the diverse views that they held. The caliphs Abu Bakr and ‘Umar al-Khattab reportedly have had more than 90 points of disagreement between them, just as other companions and even followers (tabi’in) also held varying opinions. A famous letter by Imam Malik to his companion al-Layth Ibn Sa’d al-Fahmi reproaching the latter for issuing fatwas at odds with the people of Madinah, illustrates how the early scholars could maintain proper respect and decorum even when they disagreed over substantive legal points.
Yet disagreement does not in itself translate to diversity: Ibn Taymiyyah argued that ikhtilaf is different from khilaf, disagreement lacking observance of ethics. Disagreement should thus be guided by the ethic of moderation (wasatiyyah), among others, to ensure that the community becomes neither too rigid as to be impenetrable to new ideas, nor too ‘tolerant’ as to lack decisiveness and firm stance which are preludes to action.
Above all else, the adulation of diversity is grounded in the sanctity of knowledge in Islam. It was this ennoblement of knowledge that empowered the early Islamic community, a time when former slaves like the tabi’in (“followers”) Mujahid b. Jabr, Tawus b. Kaysan and Ata b. Abi Rabah were elevated as respectable Imams for none other than their knowledge. [Tengku Ahmad Hazri]