Nature of Differences
Difference and disagreement mean that each person follows a special course that is different from that of others with regard to status or saying. Thus, difference is used to describe the variety in saying, opinion, status, form or situation.
The Will of Allah, the Al-Mighty has ruled to create people with different minds and perspectives, as well as different languages, colors, perceptions and beliefs. Allah Almighty says in His Ever-Glorious Qur’an,
“And His Signs are the creation of heavens and earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors. Surely, there are signs in this for all the worlds.” (Al-Rum 30:22)
All these matters lead to the diversity of opinions and judgments which may vary according to whoever is behind them.
If our different tongues and colors as well as the characteristics of our creation are but a sign of Allah the Almighty, the different perspectives and minds and what is produced by those perspectives and minds are also a sign from Him as well as an evidence of His great Power. Reconstruction of the universe, prosperity of existence, and the emergence of life would not have been possible, had all people been created equal in everything, but all is equipped to perform what he was created for. Allah Almighty says in His Ever-Glorious Qur’an,
“Had your Lord willed, He would have made mankind a single nation. But, they continue in their differences, except those on whom your Lord shows mercy. For this end He has created them.” (Hud 11:118-119)
Allah’s Will has ruled to create people with various perspectives and attitudes as well as the ability to choose their own attitudes and course freely and to be held responsible for their choices.
This entails that people should be different, and that this difference may even extend to the foundations of faith, except for those on whom Allah showed mercy.
Difference among people in saying may lead to the insistence of one or both of the opponents on own saying, opinion or situation and their attempt to convince others and force them to adopt these. This is called, ‘argument’. Hence, argument means negotiation based on dispute and struggling, “the human is the most disputatious of things.” (Al-Kahf 18:54)
If the dispute between the arguers aggravates and each prefers to have the upper hand than to work for the predominance of the truth and the right, and it becomes difficult to reach an agreement or a deal, then this case is called ‘discord’ which is mentioned in Allah’s Saying: “If you fear discord between them”, i.e. sharp disagreement followed by a dispute that forces each one of them to take refuge in an incision that is different from his companion’s.
The difference, which occurred among the ancestors of this nation – and is still a reality – represents part of this natural phenomenon, and it will remain to be a positive phenomenon with many benefits if such difference does not exceed its limits, and the nation follows its principles.
Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Kulliyyah of Languages and Management (KLM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was Assistant Professor and worked for a number of international universities in Malaysia and Egypt such as Al-Madinah Interanational Univerity, Shah Alam, Malaysia (Mediu) and Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST), Egypt; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department, www.islamOnline.net; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators & Linguists (Wata). He is a published writer, translator and researcher. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.