A Case for Muslim Political Participation
by Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D.
Recently, a thirteen-year-old Muslim girl sent me an e-mail message stating that one of her Muslim friends in school had told her that casting a vote in American elections was haram and a sin. Almost ten years ago, two Pakistani young men brought one young American, an 18-year-old man, who may have been interested in Islam. I found him to be an Atheist although he came from a Catholic family. After three months of speaking with him, he accepted Islam and took Shahadah. He remained my student for almost a year until he fell into the hands of Hizb At-Tahrir. He then became very argumentative and, therefore, I sent him back to Hizb At-Tahrir for further learning. A couple of months before the 1992 Election time he came to me to ask one question, and it was whether I was going to cast my ballot in the election. My answer was, "yes". He said that I was a Kafir and he left. Several years later he returned to me and apologized for what he had told me; he said that he had matured, had gained more knowledge, and had left the Hizb. He admitted that he was misled by the Hizb. I do not know how many young people are being misled by the Hizb who is playing with their youthful emotions. I see a lot of emotional extremism from those who fall into the hands of the Hizb. I had been thinking about writing an article on this topic for a long time and so here it is.
The Hizb At-Tahrir (heretofore referred to as the Hizb and their followers as Hizbis) argues that there is no evidence in favor of elections and voting. The Hizb quotes a few verses of the Qur’an and Hadith to show that "Shari’ah" is against voting and political participation in a secular system. This author has already dealt with the arguments of the Hizb in his article, "AMERICAN ELECTIONS AND HIZB AT-TAHRIR". For more details see the original article mentioned above. Briefly, the reply is the following.
1. Election and polling
Election and polling is proven from the way in which the first Khalifa, Abu Bakr(R), and the third Khalifa, Uthman ibn ‘Affan(R), were chosen or elected by the Muslims of Madinah. There was a consensus (Ijma’) of Sahaba(R) which is found in authentic Hadith literature and therefore, could be considered a part of Islamic Shari’ah.
2. Absence of the prohibition
To make anything unlawful and haram, its prohibition must be stated in the text of the Qur’an or Hadith to prove it. In the absence of any text of the Qur’an or Hadith, a given substance or activity is lawful and halal. The opponents of Muslim political participation have failed miserably in presenting any text in support of their arguments because there is none. The quotes they present do not prohibit political participation and such an opinion is a corrupt ta’weel of those quotes. A ta’weel is not part of Shari’ah nor is it binding on anyone and especially, a corrupt ta’weel. Any opinion derived from such ta’weel is non-binding. See my above-mentioned article for more details.
End of the argument
The absence of tahreem makes it halal and this should be the end of the argument. However, for the sake of die-hard Hizbi enthusiasts and to inform those who are genuinely looking for guidance, I would like to submit to them the following. One should understand that the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet(S) is applicable for all time to come. The problem is faced and dissentions appear when we try to apply 14-century- old teachings to our time in which we have fast communication and transportation and where the world has become a global village. In addition, we have to deal this subject in the light of new concepts of constitution, democracy and ideology of secularism.
Evidence from the Qur’an
1. Sura Yusuf (12): 70-76 Fi Deen-il-Malik: Allah talks about Prophet Yousuf (peace be upon him) who desired to keep his younger brother Benjamin in Egypt but he could not do it fairly according to the law of the king. Therefore, he put a gold cup (measuring or drinking) of the king’s in the luggage belonging to Benjamin, as a gift or as a trap (tawriyah). Without going into the details of the commentaries, the net effect was that Benjamin was accused of being a thief and Yousuf found a way to retain him in Egypt. What we learn is that the Prophet Yousuf was ruling a kingdom according to the law of the king and not by the law of Allah (S.W.T). I quote commentary by Mawdoodi.
If it was good enough for Prophet Yousuf to rule under the laws of the king, it is obviously good enough for the Muslims in America to try to gain power and use that power to change the situation and make it more amenable to the Muslim community at large. Some argue that Shari’ah given in the Bible is not applicable in the Deen Al-Islam after the Prophet Muhammad. In part, this may be true but whatever Allah has mentioned approvingly of the events and people of the past (before Prophet Muhammad) in the Qur’an is the part of Islamic teachings. Opponents of political participation give no evidence in support of their argument that examples of Prophet Yousuf, Khidr and Musa and the Mu’min from the court of Pharaoh are not applicable in Islam. Do they mean that Old Allah is different from New Allah, what He made lawful for Yousuf is unlawful for the followers of Muhammad when it is given in the Qur’an approvingly?
2. Surat Al-Kahf (18):71,79. In these verses we learn that Musa (peace be upon him) was guided by Allah to meet a sage (wise man) who damaged a boat belonging to a poor boatman. This boatman made a living by ferrying people across the river. However, there was a non-Muslim tyrant king who confiscated good boats but not defective boats. The sage (allegedly Khidr) did not curse the tyrant king or his system but he went about protecting people within his kingdom from this tyranny. The sage damaged the boat of this poor man enough so that it would not be confiscated. It appears that whatever the sage did was according to Allah’s (S.W.T.) guidance. There is no condemnation of the tyrant ruler nor is there any incitement to rebellion. Using this analogy, Muslims in America should find a way to protect themselves using the system and try to improve their lot within the system until such time when they have a dominant influence.
3. Surah Ghafir (Al-Mu’min) 40:28-45. When Musa (peace be upon him) called Pharaoh to Allah (S.W.T.) and showed His miracles, Pharaoh was scared and suggested to his courtiers that Musa(S) be killed for the protection of their society. However, there was a secret believer in Musa(S) among Pharaoh’s people, he stood up in support of Musa (S). This believer’s name is not given in the Qur’an but his speech is quoted at length by Allah (S.W.T.) in a praiseworthy manner. Had this believer walked out of the mushrik court immediately after he believed in Musa (S), he would not have had an opportunity to stand up in defense of Musa (S) and his message. It is obvious that total dissociation from a non-Islamic system is neither recommended nor wise. Staying within the system and participating in it provides an opportunity to raise the voice in support of righteousness, justice, and equity. Total dissociation will work when Muslims have a very large presence and their dissociation will cripple the operation of the government; this is leverage. Without leverage, total dissociation is suicidal; you are giving the enemy a free and open hand to destroy you.
Evidence from the Seerah
The information and page numbers given below are taken from the Seerah book, "AL-RAHEEQ AL-MAKHTUM" by Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri, published by Darussalam.
1. Invitation to the pagan leaders of Quraysh
(page 82) Prophet (S) used the pagan method of inviting people to a dinner and presenting the message to them. His first attempt ended in failure due to the opposition by Abu Lahab. In this first meeting, only Ali ibn Abi Talib, a young boy of 10 or 12 years old, stood up and spoke in support of the Prophet; no adult Arab pagan did. The second such attempt brought his own uncle, Abu Talib as a sponsor and a supporter for his work but not a convert from the Quraysh leadership. Abu Talib reportedly said, "I swear by Allah to protect him as long as I am alive" and he kept his word despite his idolatry beliefs. As one can see that the Messenger of Allah worked under the sponsorship and protection of a pagan, albeit his own uncle. His mushrik uncle was his wali for ten years. Didn’t the Prophet understand the Qur’an when it said not to take mushrikoon as awlia’(plural of wali)? One may argue that it was before the revelation of these verses which told us not to take non-Muslims as awlia’. Isn’t the Prophet’s whole life a role model for us? Do you pick and choose to follow the Messenger or not to follow him at your own whims? Allah carried the Prophet through all kind of conditions and preserved this information for us to use as our role model under given conditions. Today the condition of the Muslims in the West is somewhat like the condition of the Muslims in Makkah, however, thanks to the development of humanism (perhaps under Islamic influence) we do not face widespread persecution as the early Muslims faced in Makkah.
2. Call from Mt. Safa
(page 83) The pagan prevailing system to call 911 to give an urgent message to the people, was to climb on Mt. Safa in Makkah and call people by tribal names. When people gathered the message was given. The Prophet adopted the same system. He climbed on Mt. Safa and called, "O Sabaha! O Bani Fahr! O Bani Adi". When people gathered, the Prophet gave his message. It is worthy of note that the Prophet used an existing system to disseminate his message.
3. Giving the message at Hajj time
(page 85-86) Mushrik leaders of Quraysh under the leadership of Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheera passed a resolution to warn pilgrims about Prophet Muhammad so that they would not listen to him. The Prophet did use the occasion and conveyed his message to the pilgrims tent by tent. This was use of existing pagan system. All did not condemn the use of the prevailing non-Islamic system of calling people to Islam. Unless we sit with them, how do we expect to have their attention.
4. The Bazaars of Tihama
The Prophet used to go to the bazaars of Tihama, which were like county fairs in the U.S., where he met people and conveyed his message. These bazaars were centers of pagan celebrations.
5. Migration to Habasha
(page 102) The Prophet sent out a party of Muslims to Habasha, ruled by a Christian king Najjashi. In our time, many Muslims are escaping the tyrant rulers of the Middle East and settling in the Secular-Christian West. Did the Prophet advised his companions to condemn the Christian rule of Najjashi, call him names and work to bring him down? Did Muslims boycott the culture and political system of Najjashi and isolated themselves in their own cells? These Sahaba lived as Muslims within a non-Islamic culture and politico-economic system of Habasha. When Muslims were called to the court of the king they went and, within the rules of Islam, they respected and honored him. When Najjashi called them to the court, the Sahaba did not send him their refusal note with insults to him; O Najjashi, you are a kafir, you are a Christian, therefore, we will not talk to you until you take Shahadah. What is the lesson here? When Bill Clinton called a few Muslim leaders to the White House, what should have been their response? Is it better to meet and talk to develop understanding or send him a refusal note with insults? What would you do if you receive an invitation and an opening to bring the President, his family and his staff members closer to the Muslims?
6. Search for a sponsor and a protector
(page 140) After the death of Abu Talib, the Prophet lost his sponsor and protecting friend (wali) and he began the search for another. He called many tribal chiefs and finally he went to Taif where he was rebuked and injured. Upon his return from Taif , he approached ‘Abd Yalil ibn ‘Abd Kalal, a mushrik, for support but he declined. He approached Al-Akhnas bin Shuraiq and Suhail bin ‘Amr and both mushrik leaders declined to sponsor him or give him protection. Finally, Mut’im bin ‘Adi, a mushrik tribal leader, came forward to sponsor the Prophet and take him under his protection. Abu Jahl inquired from Mut’im bin ‘Adi whether it was protection only or conversion; he replied that it was protection only. Thus the Prophet took a mushrik as his protecting friend, wali. Didn’t the Prophet know that he was taking a mushrik as wali, a protecting friend? Didn’t Allah know that he was going to reveal verses against what He was subjecting His own Messenger? What is the lesson here? The verses of the Qur’an should be interpreted within a context and they are relevant within a given environment. The determination of relevant environment and context is a part of Fiqh where we may have disagreements but we should learn to live with. Calling kafir, munafiq, fasiq to those Muslims with whom you have disagreements in Fiqhi maters is evil and creation of fasad and fitnah.
7. Migration to Madinah
(page 171) When Allah permitted the Prophet to migrate to Madinah, the Quraysh learned about it and put a bounty of one-hundred camel on his head, alive or dead. The Prophet and Abu Bakr put their lives in the hand of a mushrik guide, Abdullah bin Uraiquit for protection and road guidance. It was essentially taking this mushrik as their wali temporarily. Don’t we read in the Qur’an where Allah admonished Muslims from taking non-Muslims as awlia’? How do you interpret this? The verses of the Qur’an should be interpreted within a given context otherwise the same verses may become a source of trouble as they did for the Khawarij. Some of our brothers use Qur’an the way Khawarij did and the Khawarij were fought against and killed by the fourth Khalifa Ali ibn Abi Talib and Khulafa of Banu Umayyiah until they were eliminated.
8. Pacts with the Jews
It is well-known that the Prophet entered in to mutual protection pacts with the Jewish tribes of Bani ‘Awf, Banu Qainuqa’, Bani Nadhir and Banu Quraiza. These were pacts of mutual support and mutual protection. It was acceptance of Jews as Awlia’, protecting friends of the Muslims. Did the Messenger of Allah violate teachings of the Qur’an?
9. Pacts with the Mushrik Tribes
After the pact of Hudaibyah with Quraysh, the Prophet entered into many pacts with many pagan tribes. Some of the pacts were for mutual defense and others were for neutrality. Mutual defense pacts were in essence taking mushrik tribes as awlia’. One of them was the tribe of Banu Khuza’ah. When Banu Bakr, an ally of the Quraysh, attacked Banu Khuza’ah, they invoked their pact with the Prophet and sought help. The Prophet abrogated the treaty with the Quraysh and marched towards Makkah which ended up in victory over Quraysh and capture of the city.
Stages in the Prophet’s life in terms of political power and following
I can discern seven stages in the Prophet’s life and at each stage his policies were different when dealing with the opponents and non-Muslim allies. There is a great deal of guidance in these stages for the Muslims. Many naïve Muslims cannot discern different strategies during changing situations but they take his last two years and want to apply in every situation, which is a great error leading to missteps.
(a) From the first revelation until the death of Abu Talib.
(b) From the death of Abu Talib until his migration to Madinah.
(c) From his arrival in Madinah until the battle of Uhud.
(d) From the battle of Uhud until the battle of Khandaq (or Ahzab).
(e) From Ahzab until the Treaty of Hudaybiyah.
(f) From the Treaty of Hudaybiyah until the conquest of Makkah and the battle of Hunayn.
(g) The last two years of his life when he was the supreme ruler of the entire Arabian Peninsula.
The Prophet and his followers were extremely weak in Makkah, therefore, he followed a policy winning hearts. In Madinah, until the conclusion of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah he had some political strength but militarily weak. After Hudaybiyah he became coequal in power with other Mushrik tribes and their leaders until the conquest of Makkah and defeating Mushrikoon in their last ditch battle at Hunayn. After Hunayn, he became all power ruler. We must read verses of the Qur’an in the light of prevailing conditions at the time of those revelations.
The question arises of how to interpret verses of the Qur’an which teach the Muslims not to take non-Muslims as awlia’ in preference to the Muslims, such as oft quoted verses by Hizb At-Tahrir, these being 3:28, 5:51,81 and others. In the understanding of this author, the difference is between individual interest and community interest. Individually, Muslims should prefer to deal with other Muslims as much as possible. However, in the interest of the community we are allowed to enter into pacts and agreements for mutual community interest and benefits with non-Muslims. Unfortunately, many of us have turned around the teachings. For hiring a plumber and purchasing groceries and other products and services, some of us prefer non-Muslims and avoid Muslims. This is against the teachings of the verses referred to above in this paragraph. When it comes to the community’s interest and speaking with politicians, we invoke these verses of awlia’ and cause harm to the community due to our ignorance of the Qur’an.
The Prophets as the role models
Allah (S.W.T.) said in the Qur’an:
According to the above quoted verses in translation, all prophets and messengers are role models for the Muslims and lastly, Prophet Muhammad(S) is the role model for all times to come. If the Sunnah of any of the previous prophets does not contradict the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad(S), their Sunnah is also a pattern for the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad’s(S) entire life from the day he received the first revelation, until the day he met his and our Rabb, is a role model for the Muslims unless there is a text to contradict any of his sayings or actions.
Consequently, we find that the actions of the Prophets Ibrahim, Yousuf and Muhammad (peace be upon them) and the others are good patterns for us. We find in the Qur’an, "We make no distinction between any of His messengers" (2:285). No one can say that the Sunnah of the Prophet Yousuf(S), as found in the Qur’an, is no longer a pattern for us. No one can say that the early years of the Prophet Muhammad(S) are no longer a pattern for us. Whenever Muslims find themselves in a similar or comparable condition or situation in which Prophet Muhammad(S) found himself, Muslims can emulate his pattern. In the course of living by the Shari’ah as much as possible, we may, in fiqhi matters, adopt a different line from those Muslims living in Muslim-majority countries. This is the essence of Dr. Taha Jaber Al-Alwani’s contention that in Shari’ah we must abide by it in toto but in fiqh we may adopt what is suitable for us and it may be different from that which is practiced in the Muslim-majority countries. This opinion has earned for Dr. Al-Alwani a lot of wrath from the blind imitators who are not able to think, yet they carry the title of "Ulama", "Mawlana", "Hazrat Ji", "Mufti", "Sheikh", "Ma’lam" and so on. Allah(S.W.T) challenges the students of the Qur’an, "Ya Uooli al-Albab", "Hum Ya’qiloon", "Hum Yatafakkaroon", this is Allah’s(S.W.T.) challenge to blind imitators or those who do not try to get into the depth of the message of the Qur’an.
Call of the Qur’an
Allah(S.W.T.) says in the Qur’an:
This address is made to the whole of mankind, not only to the Muslims. However, Muslims have the responsibility to enjoin others among humankind to the keeping of the truth.
In another place of the Qur’an Allah says:
Again, according to this verse, the calling of people to Allah(S.W.T.) is one of the greatest virtues. Isolationism and dissociation from humankind does not provide the opportunities of calling people to Allah(S.W.T.). How do you call people to Allah(S.W.T.) if you have no interaction? How do you call a congressman or a senator or a cabinet member to Allah(S.W.T.) unless you talk to them as coequals? If you make an appointment to see any of them, you go as a beggar. If you are an elected member of the Congress or Senate you sit with them as a coequal, the way in which the "believer" was regarded in Pharaoh’s court. He spoke as a coequal, had an impact on his fellow courtiers, and was able to dissuade Pharaoh from carrying out his idea of killing Musa(S). Furthermore, we have a living example. Suhail Khan was employed by Congressman Tom Campbell of California and due to their close interaction, the pro-Zionist congressman was neutralized. Congressman Tom Campbell presented a bill in the House proposing to stop all forms of aid to Israel and Egypt. The bill failed due to the lack of adequate support in the House. In fact, Muslims should accept the blame because they have been indifferent and complacent in taking action to remove ignorance, prejudice, hate, and fear of Islam from American society. There are several other success stories of changing the minds of anti-Islam people through close interaction. Muslims need to interact with other people at every level of American life.
Abu Jahl Attitude
One of the readers of my articles forwarded to me a letter from a self-proclaimed "scholar", "alim", and "imam" who condemned Dr. Taha Jaber Al-Alwani, Dr. Jamal Badawi and Dr. Yousuf al-Qardawi as heretics and whose articles are not worth reading. This was the attitude of Abu Jahl who tried every trick in his hat in preventing people from listening to the Qur’an or the Prophet’s message. Contemporary Abu Jahls are trying to prevent the people from reading the material written by those who have a different approach, even if it is rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Objections to Muslim political participation
1. Taking non-Muslims as awlia’
The following Qur’an verses are quoted as a proof against Muslim political participation.
Anti-political participation people, very conveniently, leave out verses 3:26-27 and 29, which are there before and after the verse quoted above. This is intellectual dishonesty. All verses 3:26-29 ask about taking non-Muslims as friends, in preference to the Muslims. There are two possible scenarios for developing friendship with the non-Muslims.
(i) This "Muslim or group of Muslims" never really accepted Islam excepts by their tongues to deceive real Muslims. They were living among the Muslims, they were praying in the Masjid An-Nabawi behind the Prophet and, concurrently, conspiring with the Pagans, Christians and the Jews for their self-protection and to hurt the Prophet and the Muslim community. Their real purpose was to destroy Islam and make personal or tribal gains. This is condemned in these verses and they are given the news of their doom.
(ii) The Prophet and the Muslims approached pagans, the Jews and the Christians to enter into mutual defense or neutrality pacts for the purpose of wakening the enemy, the tribe of Quraysh, and to strengthen the position of the Muslims. This issue is not addressed to in these verses. If Allah addressed to the Prophet, He is condemning him and that is not possible. In addition, when the Prophet sent a group of Sahaba to Habasha and put them under the protection of Najjashi did he violate the intent of these verses? When the Prophet lived under the protection of Abu Talib and latter under the protection of Mut’im bin ‘Adi, did he violate the intent of these verses?
When Hizbis quotes these verses to those Muslims who are proponents of political participation, the Hizbis are appointing themselves into the position of Allah and saying that these people’s intention is to hurt the Muslim Ummah and to make some gains for themselves and their cronies. Do these people know condition of the heart of dozens of Muslim leaders in America? This is very big allegation and these people are going to pay for it on the Day of Judgement, very dearly.
Similar intellectual dishonesty is obvious when they quote verse 4:139 and leave out 4:137,138 & 140. Also they quote 4:144 but leave out 4:143 and 145. Similarly, 5:51 is quoted leaving out other verses from the passage 5:49-58. All of these verses of the Qur’an relate to hypocrites who never really accepted Islam. These hypocrites were reaching out to the non-Muslims for the purpose of material gain and power for themselves at the expense of true Muslims. Is this the case that applies to our brothers at CAIR, AMC, AMA, UMAA, IAP, AMPCC. AMPAC, ISNA, ICNA, AIC, heads of hundreds of Islamic organizations around the country and this author? Have all of us joined together for our personal benefits and power at the expense of the Muslim Ummah? Are you going to stand up in front of Allah on the Day of Judgement and testify against us?
2. Acquiescence to (incline towards) those who do wrong
The verse quoted is 11:113 "And incline (tarkunu) not toward those who do wrong lest the Fire touch you, and you have no protecting friends (awlia’) against Allah, and afterwards you would not be helped." Here tarkunu has the meaning, "to be satisfied with their wrong doing" or "to return to idolatry" or "to acquiesce to the unjust". Are they accusing the Muslims that they will justify the wrongs done by the American government because Muslims have a voice? No! The whole purpose is to reach into the halls of power and raise a voice against wrongs done by the American government. The goal is opposite of what this verse implies. None of the Muslim leaders is going to become a Christian or a Jew or an atheist because he is able to talk to a Congressman or a Senator or the President or others in power.
3. Acceptance of status quo
This has the connotation of the acceptance of secularism as an alternative to the Deen Al-Islam. This is a false accusation. Read Surah 104 and find what Allah has to say about such people who make false allegations. Accusers misunderstand the American constitution and they think that this inherently anti-religion and certainly anti-Islam. In fact, the American constitution is religion-neutral. The analogy is that of water, which has no color, no shape, no smell and no taste. Water takes the shape of the container, and takes the taste, color and smell of whatever is added to it. Similarly, the American constitution takes the color, shape, smell and taste of those who are using it to run the country. This is all the struggle about who appoints justices for the interpretation of the constitution. For 170 years, the constitution remained supportive of the religion of Christianity without favoring any particular denomination. The Warren Court in the 1950s began to turn the constitution into anti-religion until it became what it is today, supportive of all kind of evils. If Muslim justices sit in that position, the same constitution has the potential (theoretically speaking) of supportive of Islamic rules and values. Non-participation of the Muslims in the political process is saying that "I do not care and I will let the opportunity of Islamization pass by". How would you answer Allah? Actually, the alternative is even worse, that is, indifference and complacency to the evils. This may even be considered a passive participation in the propagation of evil worldwide.
4. Desensitization of the Muslims
This argument assumes that political participation will not allow Muslims to continue with Islamic schools, teaching Islam to adults and Da’wah to non-Muslims, and masajid will be closed down. In fact, Muslims will gain better opportunities to practice Islam and live as devoted Muslims. This is the whole idea, that is, to improve the conditions for the Muslims to promote and propagate Islam much more freely than it is done now. When Muslims get into the position of power they can try to use the system to remove all evils in this society.
5. Hung up in fiqhi terminology
In the middle ages some scholars developed fiqhi terms, such as Dar Al-Islam (the land of Islam), Dar Al-Kufr (the land of disbelief) and Dar Al-Harb (the land of war). The rights and duties of Muslims and non-Muslims were assigned according to the status of a country where a Muslim may be living. These terms are not rooted in the Qur’an and have a very weak foundation. Islamic history is that it was established and nurtured in the land of immigration (Madinah Al-Munawwara). America offers the same opportunity, it is therefore, correct to call this country Dar Al-Amal (the land of hope and opportunity). Many immigrants take this land as a place of temporary stay and they think that they will eventually return to their country. The history belies this kind of thinking. Muslims are buying homes, retiring here, their children are natives of this country and they are building cemeteries and mortuaries at a fast pace. Muslim cemeteries are being established, not only in large urban areas but in many small towns.
The above five points have been taken from Dr. Taha Jaber Al-Alwani’s Fatwa. I have not used his words but his ideas and his explanations. Anything good in it, credit goes to Dr. Al-Alwani and errors are mine and I would like to be corrected.
This article is a humble contribution to the understanding of a non-problem made into a problem by the ignorant "Muslims". I would like to emphasize that Muslim political participation in the West is not a matter of Shari’ah but a matter of Ijtehad. In the matters of Ijtehad, Muslims may disagree and take different routes, which is not a sin. All sincere Muslims should have unanimity of goal but they may differ in taking paths to arrive there.