Al-Mazari: Giving verdicts contrary to the established positions of one’s school

Al-Mazari [d. 536 AH] was asked:

Is it possible to take the position of Sa`id bin ‘l-Musayyab in an irrevocably divorced woman by considering her legalised by mere contract? And is this issue from the issues of the fundamentals of the religion (Usul), or from the subsidiary issues (Furu’) in which every mujtahid is correct? And if I do this and did follow Sa`id bin ‘l-Musayyab, then [would it be] with sin or not?

He responded:

I already have a detailed answer I gave for this specific issue, when a question from Tunis (may Allah protect it) came. A man who studied Usul under me some time back got married to a woman, divorced her thrice, then had her returned as a legal wife after another man had contracted with her in marriage without penetration. So a question came to me from the judge and scholars of [Tunis]. Upon this, I condemned him so much that they thought I had permitted them to punish him. I mentioned that if this door is opened, a lot of religious irregularities, negative consequences in following [those] rulings, and preferring scholars of the past over competent contemporary scholars (on top of the difference that has occurred between the scholars of Usul regarding the following of a deceased scholar in the presence of a competent [living] scholar).

The advice I gave was that, as part of the fortified religion, exiting from the school of Malik and his disciples must be prohibited (Nahy) as a safeguard for the means. If [following any scholar of any school from any era] was legalised, [another] man would say, “I can sell a dinar for two, due to what has been reported from Ibn `Abbas”, then another would come and say, “I can marry a woman and take her private part as legal without any representative (Wali) or witnesses, by following Abu Hanifah in the issue of representative and Malik in the issue of witnesses, and I would marry her for just a penny by following al-Shafi`i.” This would be the worst place for harm.

Such activity was usually curbed in previous eras despite the piety of its people and their fear for the sake of their honour and religion. So how about an era in which the situation has become such that its people have fallen far too short of those preceding them, as is evident for the intellectual? This era is more worthy of having such a lax approach to religious affairs curbed. The judges and jurists of [this man’s] place should therefore not even consider the position of [Sa`id bin ‘l-Musayyab]; rather they must enact an annulment against that [marriage] and break [it] up. Their own selves should not allow them to abandon the schools of Malik, al-Shafi`i and Abu Hanifah due to the agreement of all the [Muslim] cities in following them, as this marriage prevents him from [following them]. And how can his own self allow for him to take a female private part as legal today, and have it declared illegal against him by a judge – who may contemplate punishment over that – the very next day?

As for your question regarding whether this issue is from the fundamentals of religion or from its subsidiaries, then according to me, the most correct position is that it is from the subsidiaries, because the reason for difference therein are inconclusive matters, not definitive. This is because the word of marriage in Allah’s statement “… then she would not be legal for him until she marries a husband apart from him” could be the contract as its literal meaning, and intercourse as its metaphorical meaning, or vice versa…

… However, even though this is from the subsidiaries according to me, then [realise] we have already mentioned what would prevent [that] man from [taking] this [alternative interpretation of the verse].

I remember when I was an adolescent by my master in Usul (may Allah have mercy on him). It was the first [night] of Ramadan, and the people had gone to sleep without having intended to fast [the following day]. I said, “We don’t need to make up for this day as is the position of some students of Malik in a solitary narration.” My teacher took me by the ear and told me, “If you want to read knowledge like this, then don’t bother studying at all, because if you start looking for [only] the convenient things on the path, a little heretic will come out of you…”

So you can see how our Imams — who used to fear Allah — used to condemn the one who is lax in his religious affair and exits from one school to another, as this leads to tribulation. And Allah knows the secrets of His servants. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Leave that which throws you in doubt for that which does not put you in doubt.”

This amount should suffice.

[Fatawa ‘l-Mazari, pg. 151-154, Al-Dār al-Tunisiyyah Tunis, 1st edition, 1414 A.H.]

He further said, indirectly indicating to the lax nature of his contemporaries in passing rulings:

“All praise is for Allah, the only one who is praised, and the only one consulted in every affair. We seek His refuge from becoming those who are overpowered by predilection, and make ignorance their last place and abode. I turn to Allah that he does not make us from those who thinks knowledge is all about claims, and who wants to flood the laymen with his rulings – such a person is far removed. Knowledge is only that which its people testify to, and greatness is only that which is known from those who possess it. The law is not by the one who says ‘Me’, and suffices with being commended and praised.”

[Fatawa ‘l-Mazari, pg. 307, Al-Dār al-Tunisiyyah Tunis, 1st edition, 1414 AH]

Lastly, it should be noted that Al-Mazari’s opinion was directed at those in authority, passing edicts and judgements, not at laymen. He says:

“I would not pass rulings apart from that which is Mashhur. I would not place the people on anything else. Indeed, fear of Allah and safeguarding for the religion has diminished. There are a lot of those who claim knowledge and are bold enough to pass rulings without any insight. If this door was opened for them, so that they could go against the famously established position school, the tear would widen from the patch, and the school’s cover of awe would be breached. This is from the evils from which there is no hiding… “

Praising al-Mazari for his stance, Abi Ishaq al-Shatibi Ibrahim bin Musa al-Gharnati [d. 790 AH], said:

“See how this Imam and scholar, despite his leadership and greatness being agreed upon, did not allow passing rulings apart from the famously established position of the school and its known rulings, and this is a Maslahahand necessity—based viewpoint, that fear of Allah and religiosity has diminished in many of those who have jobs in the spreading of knowledge and passing of edicts. If this door was opened, the foundations of the schools – in fact all schools – would be dismantled whatever becomes necessary for something would become necessary for its likes [as well]…”

[Taken from al-Miʿyār ál-Muʿrib Wa-‘l-Jāmiʿ ál-Mughrib by ál-Wansharīsī (died 914 A.H.), 12/25, Ministry of Awqāf and Islāmic Affairs Morocco, 1st edition, 1401 A.H.; originally sourced in al-Shatibi’s al-Muwafaqat]


By Sayyidi I. Ibrahim

 

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