Islaam has laid down lofty standards for how the Muslim, who traverses the methodology of the Prophetic Sunnah, should deal with his brother who has differed with him in an issue of Ijtihaad. Indeed, how outstanding is the statement of the merciful gift [i.e. the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam]:
"Indeed I have been sent to perfect noble manners." [Reported by al-Bukhaaree in al-Adabul-Mufrad (no.273). It was declared to be saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.45).]
From these etiquettes (Aadaab) are:
1 - To have an open heart in accepting what comes to you by way of clarification of the mistakes that you have made, and to know that this is from the sincere advice which your brother for Allaah's sake is giving to you as a gift. So know that your refusal of the truth and your becoming angry for your own self is actually from pride; may Allaah protect us. Indeed, the most eminently truthful, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said:
"Pride is to reject the truth and to scorn other people." [Reported by Muslim (no.91)]
There are many examples of this noble mannerism that our Pious Predecessors have demonstrated to us; from them is what al-Haafidh Ibn Abdul-Barr said:
"A number of people informed me that Aboo Muhammad Qaasim ibn Asbagh said: 'When I travelled to the east, I stopped of at al-Qayrawaan and I took the hadeeth of Musaddad from Bakr ibn Hammaad. I then proceeded to Baghdad and met the people. When I left, I returned to him [i.e. Bakr] to complete the hadeeth of Musaddad, so one day I read to him the hadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam: "That a people from Mudar came in stripped woolen shirts (mujtaabee an-nimaar)" He said to me: It is: 'mujtaabee ath-thimaar'. So I said: 'Mujtaabee an-nimaar' is how I read it out to all those I read it to in Andalus and Iraq. So he said to me: 'You have, by entering Iraq, contradicted us and become arrogant against us.' Then he said: 'Stand with us and let us go to that Shaykh - a Shaykh who was in the Masjid - for he has the likes of this knowledge.' So I went with him and we asked him about this, so he replied: 'It is: 'mujtaabee an-nimaar,' just as you said. They used to wear stripped clothing, with pockets at their fronts. And nimaar is the plural of nimrah.' Bakr ibn Hammaad then said whilst holding his nose:
"My nose debases itself to the truth, my nose humbles itself to the truth, [and] he then departed." [Mukhtasar Jaami` Bayaanul-`Ilm wa Fadlihi (p.123); abridged by Shaykh Ahmad ibn `Umar al-Mumasaanee.]
O my brother for the sake of Allaah - may Allaah safeguard you - do you not see this amazing sense of justice. How much are we in need of it today?! However, this is not possible except for those who purify their intentions for Allaah's sake. Indeed here is Imaam Maalik, may Allaah have mercy upon him, saying:
"There is nothing in our time more scarce than justice." [Mukhtasar Jaami` Bayaanu1-`Ilm wa Fadlihi (p.120)]
So what is the case in our present time; a time in which false desires are plentiful? We seek refuge in Allaah from the misguiding trials.
2 - That you should use the finest and most appropriate words when discussing and debating with your brother, for Allaah the Exalted has said:
"And speak good to the people." [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:83]
Abud-Dardaa relates that the Prophet, 'alayhis-salaam, said:
"There is nothing that will be heavier in the Believer's scales, on the Day of judgement, than good character. Indeed Allaah hates the wicked and the ill-mouthed person." [Reported by Aboo Daawood (no. 4799), it was declared to be saheeh by al-haafidh Ibn Hair in Bulooghul-Maraam (no.1523).]
3 - That you should discuss with your brother with that which is better, for that which is even more appropriate. Your guiding principle in this should be the truth and its clarification; it should not be to seek victory for your ego or your soul that invites towards evil. Your character in that which you utter should be one of sincerity (ikhlaas). If however, the affair with your brother reaches the level of speculative argumentation, then give him the greeting of salaam and remind him of the saying of the Messenger, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam:
"I am a guarantor for a house on the outskirts of Paradise for the one who leaves of arguing, even if he is in the right." [Reported by Aboo Daawood (no.4800). It was declared to be hasan by Shaykh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.273).]
Al-Haafidh Ibn 'Abdul-Barr mentioned that Zakariyyah ibn Yahyaa said:
"I heard al-Asma'ee saying that `Abdullaah ibn Hasan said:
"Argumentation corrupts friendship and unties the strongest of bonds. The least harm it contains is strife, and strife leads to severing relations."
Ja'far ibn 'Awf said: I heard Mis'ar saying, whilst addressing his son Kidaam:
"I present to you my advice, O Kidaam;
So listen to a father, compassionate to you.
As for joking and argumentation, then leave them;
They are traits I do not approve of for a friend.
Having tried them, I did not found them praiseworthy,
Neither for a close neighbour, nor for a close friend.
[Mukhtasar Jaami` Bayanul-`Ilm wa Fadlihi (p.278)]
The Pious Predecessors have left us splendid examples about the etiquettes of differing; amongst them is:
What al-Bukhaaree (no.5704) and Muslim (no.220) report from Husain ibn 'Abdur-Rahmaan who said:
I was with Sa`eed ibn Jubayr when he said: "Who amongst you saw the shooting stars last night?" I replied: "I did." Then I said: "Not because I was praying at that time, but because I had been stung by a scorpion." He said: "So what did you do?" I replied: "I used an incantation (ruqyaa)." He said: "Why did you do that?" I said: "Because of a hadeeth related to me by ash-Sha`bee." He said: "What did he relate to you?" I replied: "He related from Buraydah ibn al-Husain who said:
"There is no incantation, except for the evil eye or a sting."
Sa'eed said: He has done well in halting at what he has heard [of knowledge]. However Ibn 'Abbaas related to us ... [and he went on to narrate the hadeeth]."
Look at this sublime mannerism from one of those who inherited knowledge from Ibn 'Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him. He was not severe, rather he was kind to him because he was acting upon what he had of the evidence.
Then he explained to him what was better, but with a gentle rectification supported by proof.