Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Can one follow a minority position or weak opinion?
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
It is clear from Ibn Abidin's Sharh `Uqud Rasm al-Mufti that weak opinions are of two types:
(a) Opinions that are "weak" because they are 'less strong' than preferred opinions, but are in themselves of strength in terms of the soundness of the legal bases and arguments they use as support;
(b) Opinions that are very "weak" such that they are unsound, aberrant, or baseless. This type of opinion cannot be followed, by scholarly consensus--as Ibn Abidin transmits from Ibn Qutlubugha, Qarafi, and Ibn al-Salah.
As for "less strong" opinions, they can be followed if done soundly; if applicable to one's situation and circumstances; and if they are valid to follow in the current age, given its circumstances and considerations.
This is why Ibn Abidin quotes from Ibn Nujaym that applied Shariah rulings that could depend on context cannot be taken simply from books, even if reliable, but one must return to the scholars of each age to determine what the right course of action is, and what positions are invalid to follow. There are classically "relied-upon" positions that leading contemporary ulema of the school say are haram to follow or to give fatwa on, because of the general harm that would be entailed in doing so -- and it is a well-established fiqh maxim that, "Harm is lifted," as numerous texts of the Qur'an and Sunna make clear.
One should also remember well that the primary purpose (maqsid) of the Shariah is the protection, preservation, and strengthening of deen. A number of scholars have mentioned that one can understand from Allah's saying, "And those who believe are most intense in their love of Allah," [Qur'an, 2.165] that faith entails preferring what is most pleasing to Allah, and that one's faith entails preferring one's benefit in the next life -- which is also the Pleasure of Allah--to one's benefit in this life.
This is why the ulema of Halab (Aleppo) frequently mention, "Choose a fatwa that saves you, not a fatwa that merely pleases you."
And Allah alone gives success.
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