(Arabic: "disagreement"), in Islam, differences of opinion on religious matters. Such diversity is permissible as long as the basic principles of Islam are not affected. Ikhtilaf is thus the opposite of ijma' (consensus). Ikhtilaf permits a Muslim to choose the interpretation of religious teachings that best suits his own circumstances and causes the least harm. Two famous sayings from Hadith in favour of ikhtilaf were attributed to the Prophet Muhammad: "Difference of opinion in the Muslim community is a sign of divine favour"; and "It is a mercy of God that the theologians differ in opinion."

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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