Sometimes Muslim reformists or Muslims taking on certain reformist positions will cite a rare, unusual classical opinion to support their view. This is, of course, “cherry picking” and it is intellectually dishonest. This is the same critique we would make against ISIS and their approach to the tradition. What both ISIS and these reformists are doing is post hoc justification. They already have something they want to accomplish, whether it is advancing political terror or advancing some liberal ideology whatever the case may be. And then they scan the vast sea of Islamic scholarship for anything that might lend support to their particular agenda.
Most of the time, by the way, even their reading of the classical texts is wrong or ripped out of necessary context, but let’s put that aside. We know that actions are by intentions, so that should be the question when we are confronted by these reform efforts. They will claim, “such and such is a known opinion within the tradition.” And that may be true and in some circumstances even respectable. But our question should be: Why are we citing these unusual opinions? What is the intention here? To advance a certain point of liberal ideology, which itself is intellectually and morally questionable? Rather than bastardizing Islamic scholarship, why not exercise a little bit of critical thinking and question that liberal position?
In other words, sincerity entails being concerned with the majority views first and forement (even if one does not always accept or follow it), because probabilistically speaking, the majority view is more likely to represent the truth. But if one’s main concern is justifying one’s own views, any opinion no matter how rare or underrepresented is good enough.