Followers of Different Opinions of Ulama (Scholars)
How Allah will deal on Judgement day to those followers who follow/agrees certain Islamic scholar on disputed matters and adopt their ruling in one's life. For example your ruling about paying Interest (Sood) is not haram against others who consider it haram. Of-course only one would be right in this case?
There is one principle in the Qur’an that answers all questions of this sort. The principle is that God does not expect more than what we are capable of. This has been referred to in different contexts in the Qur’an: 2:233, 286, 6:152, 7:42, 23:62. This principle is complemented by another principle that indicates that we will be judged on the basis of our honest understanding/ conviction (5:119). The second principle (honesty) is in fact the outcome of the first principle (capability). These two principles are the outcome of the fact that God is ‘just’ and will judge us on a fair basis in the hereafter. The Qur’an says that no one will be wronged even in a minor scale in the day of judgment (17:71). To be forgiven due to an honest mistake is among the primary elements of a fair judgement.
On the basis of these complementary principles every one of us is obliged to put effort and to do what is within his/her capability to understand the directives of Islam. Once we sincerely do what is within our capability then we can follow what we have honestly come to understand as the truth. Based on the above principles, if despite our sincere efforts we happen to be wrong then the Almighty will not question us.
So to take your example, imagine that you are convinced that our view about paying interest is wrong, yet, you decide to adopt it because it makes your life easier. In such case you have not act based on your honest conviction and will be held responsible for this (even if it turns out that our view was in fact correct). However if you follow our view because you sincerely found it to be justified and reasonable then even if it turns out to be a wrong view you will be safe as you did nothing against your honest conviction.
We are expected to put an ‘effort’ to investigate whether a religious view is correct or not. For every individual this ‘effort’ means something different, based on their capability.
For all practical purposes I categorise these different levels into four very broad categories:
I. Novice Level:
This is a person who does not have much knowledge of religion and is not skilful at all in analysis of religious concepts and sources. His/her level of knowledge of religion is so limited that he/she cannot even decide who might know better about religion. The duty of such a person, based on his/her capabilities, may be limited to simply finding a knowledgeable person and following his/her religious guidelines.
II. Basic Level:
This is a person who, despite having very limited knowledge of religion and almost no skills in analysing religious concepts and sources, can judge based on some reasonable criteria that who may know better about religion. The duty of such person, based on his/her capabilities, will be to investigate and decide which scholar seems to be overall more rational and informed in understanding a religious subject and to follow him/her in that.
III. Intermediate Level:
This is a person that has a limited knowledge of religion and some basic skills in analysing religious concepts and sources. The duty of such person, based on his/her capabilities, will be to hear the reasoning of different scholars on different religious concepts and to decide which reasoning seems to be more valid. This person will then follow the rulings that are resulted from that reasoning.
IV. Professional Level:
This is a person who has a reasonable knowledge of religion and is reasonably skilful in analysing religious concepts and sources. The duty of such person is to directly consult the sources of understanding Islam and analyse them while also benefiting from the analysis of the other scholars in order to reach a defendable view.
A few points to avoid any misconceptions:
1. I think anyone who has the time and abilities needs to reach the Intermediate Level, at least on those subjects that are of frequent use to him/her.
2. Obviously there are overlaps between the above levels. One may be well versed on some aspects of religion and therefore be in the intermediate or even professional level on those aspects while remaining on the basic level for other aspects of religion.
3. People in the Novice and Basic levels need to appreciate that it is only due to their limited capability that they had to accept a view based on who says it. The rational approach that is available for those with more capability is to ignore who says it and to look at the reasoning instead. They therefore should not expect others to adopt their approach or view.
4. People in all the above levels need to appreciate that their understanding may be wrong. They should never present their understanding as what God says, unless they are reading the verses of the Qur’an. Those in the professional level are by no means an exception.
5. There are certain abilities that are inbuilt in every human being. One of them is to recognise good from bad. This will include recognising that unjustified harm to others is bad. No one can justify harming innocent people by claiming that he/she simply followed a scholar in this. Such person will answer to the Almighty as God has put the ability to recognise good and evil in him (91:7, 8).