To be more transparent with the process of arriving at an answer, I have introduced a ‘certainty level’ system to indicate how confident I am of the answers presented. The scale is out of five and here is what each level means:
5 – This means the rule is a clear black or white. All known Muslim scholars throughout history have said the exact same thing on this issue. Examples: pork is prohibited, women must cover their hair in public, making ghusl (taking a bath) is required after intercourse.
4.5 – This means that a rule is almost clear cut, but there might have been a few scholars in history that disagreed. Very few people followed this opinion of theirs and it may be even doubtful whether they actually held that opinion or not, since much context behind their statements have been lost. You should generally avoid even mentioning such thing as a “legitimate difference of opinion”. This category is only mentioned for transparency and for scholarly accuracy. If you encounter a 4.5, you should follow it and not assume there is another ‘respectable’ or ‘valid’ opinion. It is better to not even quote that the opinion exists for the average Muslim. Example: Women being allowed to lead men in prayer which was very briefly mentioned by Abu Thawr, Al-Muzani, At-Tabari, and Ibn ‘Arabi.
4 – This is an opinion I feel represents what Allah and His Messenger really intended. Although some scholars held a different position, I believe they were mistaken, and the mistake is significant enough to advocate against Muslims, in general, from following that view. Example: Losing wudu due to touching a woman, the validity of a buyback sale.
3 – This is my preferred view on the issue but other scholars have differed since the texts have some level of ambiguity which can allow room for another opinion(s). The valid opinion(s) fall within a range and is not a free-for-all to interpret such texts however you want.
2 – This is when I do not have a strong position on the view I am presenting. It is possible I may change my view later on.
1 – This is when I am unsure and have not conducted enough research on an issue. I only give such a view to someone who absolutely needs an answer right now because some answer is better than no answer at all.