Is Islam a violent religion?

After every terrorist attack, a question is always on the mind of millions of people, Is Islam a violent religion?

If we look at the military expeditions (ghazawat) in which the Prophet Muhammad—peace and blessings be upon him—took part in during the last two decades of his blessed life (27 being the largest number that has been narrated and fighting occurred in only 9 of them) then we will see that only 1,018 people were killed: 759 of them were non-Muslims and 259 were Muslims.

Before dispatching the military forces, Caliph Abu Bakr had the following commands for his army:

  • Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path.
  • You must not mutilate dead bodies.
  • Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man.
  • Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful.
  • Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food.
  • You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.

So, is Islam a violent religion? Well, let’s drop the apologetic tone and be clear about what Islam does say: Islam does not prohibit war, but it has regulated war. It has set down clear guidelines as to when war is right:

  • To defend and protect.
  • Collective defence-to defend the Muslim lands when attacked by other nations.
  • To seek armed peace, where the two armies would meet before every battle and have peace talks.

How many people were killed in WWI? How many people were killed in WWII? How many people have been killed in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, Levant, north Africa and several other places? Did Islam cause all of that? If Islam caused all of that, then were the Islamic regulations followed? Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed during the WW fighting for the British Empire. And 4-million have been killed so far in the US-NATO wars, wars with no regulations and clearly no accountability.

In Islamic polity, it is upon the Muslims to protect Muslims, as well as non-Muslims, from all external threats. The ruler and those in authority are bound to look after the interests of all subjects using all the resources at their command. The famous Maliki scholar, Imam al-Qarafi, quotes the statement of Ibn Hazm from his book Maratib al-Ijma’:

If enemies at war come to our lands aiming at a certain dhimmi (non-Muslim who lives under Islamic governance and enjoys the rights enshrined in the contract he makes under the Shariah), it is essential for us that we—Muslims—come out to fight the enemies with all our might and weapons since the dhimmi is under the protection of Allah and His Messenger. If we did anything less than this, it means we have failed in our agreement for protection.

The main emphasis of Shariah is the sanctity of the concept of due process to guarantee the life, liberty, property and honour of every human being. Therefore, Shariah has justly regulated the conduct of the believers in this world. It has sanctioned the private as well as the society’s public conduct.

Allah says in the Qur’an

“There is no coercion into the religion. Right guidance has become clearly distinct form error.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:255]

Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi comments on the above verse:

“There is no coercion into the religion” means that the religion of Islam is at the furthest limit of clarity with the most obvious proofs of its authenticity, such that there is no need to coerce anyone to enter into it, but on the contrary every person possessing a sound intellect will enter into it voluntarily without coercion, and this is shown by His saying, “Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error,” i.e. it has become clear that Islam is right guidance and disbelief is error so that after this clarity there is no need for coercion.
[At-Tashil li’Ulum at-Tanzil, passage translated by Abdassamad Clarke]

The Significance of the Night of Emancipation—15th of Sha’ban

Hadith on the virtue of this night:

Muʿaẓ ibn Jabal narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“Allah pays special attention to his entire creation on the fifteenth night of Shaʿban and forgives all of them except one who ascribes partners to Him and one who harbours enmity in his heart.” [Al-Muʿjam al-Kabīr vol.20 pg.108-109]
— Ibn Ḥibbān has classified this narration as Ṣaḥīḥ (authentic) [Ṣaḥīḥ ibn Ḥibbān Vol.12 pg.482; Ḥadīth: 5665]
— Ḥāfiẓ Al-Haythamī has mentioned that all the narrators of this ḥadīth are reliable. [Majmaʿ al-Zawā’id Vol. 8 pg. 65]

ʿAbdullah ibn ʿUmar related that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“There are five nights on which duʿa is not turned back: Friday eve, on the eve of Rajab, the 15th night of Sha‘ban, Laylat al-Qadr, and on the eve of the two Eids.” [Muṣannaf ʿAbd ar-Razzāq, Ḥadīth 7927; authenticity unverified]

Statements of the Scholars:

Imam ash-Shafiʿi states in al-Umm:

“It has reached us that it is said that there are five nights when the duʿas are accepted; the night of Friday, the night of Eid al-Aḍḥa, the night of Eid al- Fiṭr, the first night of Rajab and the 15th of Sha‘ban.”

Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Jilani states in Ghunya al-Ṭālibīn:

“Malik ibn Anas reports from ʿUrwah, from ʿAisha (may Allah be pleased with her) who said she heard the Prophet ﷺ state that: ‘There are four nights in which the gates of righteousness are opened; the night of Eid al-Aḍḥa, the night of Eid al-Fiṭr, the night of ʿArafa (9th Dhu ʾl-Hajj) and 15th of Shaʿban.'” [pg. 448]

Al-Ajhuri al-Maliki records in Ḥusnul Bayān:

“‘Aṭā ibn Yasār—the great Tabiʿi of Madinah—said: ‘After Laylat al-Qadr, there is no other night in the year that is more virtuous than the middle (15th) night of Shaʿban.’” [pg.11]

Ibn al-Ḥajj states in al-Madkhal:

“This night has great virtue and abundant good.” He further says, “The salaf (pious predecessors) would sanctify this night and prepare themselves for it in advance.” [1/299]

Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi states in Mukhtaṣar Minhāj al-Qāṣidīn:

“The most virtuous nights, that the devout servant of Allah should observe Qiyam al-Layl therein, are:
—The odd nights from the last ten nights of Ramaḍan,
—1st and 10th of Muharram,
—1st and 15th of Rajab,
—15th of Sha’ban…”

Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī states in Laṭāʾif al-Maʿārif:

“…There is nothing established from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ nor from his companions with regard to spending the 15th night of Shaʿban in worship. But it is established that a group of Tābiʿūn —who were senior jurists of Shām—used to spend this night in worship.” He further says, “…It is thus the duty of every believer to free himself on the night for the remembrance of Allah and supplicating to Him for the forgiveness of sins, concealment of faults, and removal of hardships. And he should precede all this with repentance because Allah Almighty turns to the one who repents to Him on this night.” [pg. 264-265]

All of the above sufficiently confirms the significance of the 15th night of Sha’ban. As for a list of optional acts that can be performed on this night, see:
Optional Acts for the Night of Emancipation—15th of Sha’ban

May Allah ﷻ guide us all, and may He ﷻ allow us to maximise our benefit from the auspiciousness of this night.

Pornography: the elephant in the room

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Pornography degrades our society. A few decades ago, pornography was unlawful, prostitution was a crime, “sleeping around” was looked down upon and there were heavy restrictions on adult films. Now, all taboos and restrictions have been abrogated, not only has pornography been greatly accepted in society, it has become a major industry. Today, the content has become more explicit and easily accessible. There are now 1000+ different pornographic magazines. Porn sites comprise 12% of Internet. Even the music industry has become the ‘audio pornography’. All of this is nothing but a highly damaging material to the moral fabric of society, all you have to do is see the clear link with proportionate rises in prostitution, rapes, child abuse, incest, paedophilia, domestic violence, drug and alcohol related crimes, among other crimes.

Pornography is a social ill that has now become the social norm. It is irresponsible of us to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to this serious problem. It has affected it’s audience in such a way that men now see honourable dressed women and undress them in their minds; and the society wonders, “Why do we still see the ‘patriarchal behaviour’ in the midst of 21st century?!”

Most people think that the solution, for single men, is to get married. What about those who are married? “Well, if women made themselves more ‘appealing’ to their husbands then the husbands wouldn’t resort to porn”, is the common response. The harsh reality for most porn-addicts is that…they will resort to porn, whether they are ‘happily married’ or not married.

Porn-addicts need a serious detox. Hmm, ‘detox’ might put people off, or make them pretend that they don’t need it. Let’s call it, ‘Tazkiyatun Nafs’ [Purification of the Self]! You know, Islamify it a little, since that’s what Islam seems to have been narrowed down to: putting ‘Islamic’ before nouns (Islamic Clothes, Islamic Government, Islamic Finance, blah!) to feel, erm, Islamic?

I put up a post on this blog, two years ago, which highlighted the neuroscientific aspects of pornography and how it effects the mind.  Here are a few paragraphs from it:

Pornography is fantasy. Different scenes present with different women give the illusion of the watcher having a relationship with a new person every time. These “stars” subject themselves to different demeaning sexual practices by the men in the scenes. The acts in their totality are detestable to most mentally healthy people. However, the design of the act in a pornographic scene is to link one or two normally arousing and familiar elements with others that are not. This is how the viewer acquires new tastes in sexual practice. Electromagnetic waves are emitted from the screen with a fantasy that triggers a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing dopamine. The result is a feeling of a real, yet delusional, state of pleasure and satisfaction. The dopamine reinforces the new connections with newly acquired sexual tastes, and the next thing taking place is the man asking his wife to engage in a sexual fantasy that was downloaded into his subconscious.

The sequence of events in the brain is quite disturbingly simple. Synaptic plasticity works to form new connections as a result of watching pornography, and newly learned memories are stored. Since the experience is an arousing one, dopamine release results in very strong reinforcement of those new connections. Now that the scenes are in long-term memory, two consequences take place: 1) since the very same system stimulated by cocaine is being triggered by pornography, addiction is developed; and 2) the man will often attempt to create his own re-enactments with his wife, which leads to a great disappointment. The re-enactments do not live up to expectations because instead of many different women, it’s now only one. Worse yet, this only one woman doesn’t sound, act, or look the same as the ones downloaded into his mind. Although the first couple of re-enactments might be exciting, soon reality will strike and dopamine will no longer be released because pleasure is no longer derived.

Sadly, that’s not the end of it. After such a disappointment in the actual experience due to the unrealistic fantasy-based expectations, the brain not only refrains from releasing dopamine; it actually dips below baseline levels. It goes into a depression response that results in disappointment, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness in the marriage since the wife is “not up to what he expected”. Despite the efforts by many women to “spice things up” and even subject themselves to the demeaning acts that have been artificially downloaded into their husbands’ brains, the pornography-addicted husbands will only enjoy themselves for a very short while before losing interest. Meanwhile, the wife feels unattractive and emotionally abandoned despite her best efforts, not knowing that she couldn’t compete with the dopamine buzz offered by pornography.

What’s alarming about this information is that the brain acts as a whole entity; its plasticity is global. Change in one area affects other regions. It is a literal re-wiring of overall neural connections as a result of pornography viewing. The extent of influence on other parts of the brain and cognition is an area of research requiring attention.

To sum up, porn is a problem that is at our doorstep, why then are we worried about issues in the other parts of the world? Porn is ruining marriages and families. Even ‘students of knowledge’ have become effected by it, who masturbate over porn at night and then share “Islamic posts” during the day. We need to tackle this sickness head-on and give it the serious attention that it deserves.

The cure for intrusive thoughts

Principle 86, from Sidi Ahmad Zarruq’s, Qawa`id at-Tasawwuf:

Perfection of worship is achieved by observing the acts of worship and being mindful of them. This is achieved by following their inner and outer rules without negligence or exaggeration. Negligence leads to perdition while exaggeration leads to innovation, especially if excessive deeds are thought to lead to proximity to God.

Thus it has been said,

– “Subhāna’l-Maliki’l-Khallāq” (Glory be to the King, the Creator), and
– “In-yasha’ Yudh-hibkum wa Yāti bi-Khalqin Jadīd” (If He wills, He can do away with you and bring in a  new creation).

The person affected by intrusive thoughts (wasawis) recites that formula, constantly, whenever he is reading his daily litany (wird). He complements that by frequently practicing forms of recreation (deflecting his mind away from those intrusive thoughts) and by acting in accordance with concessionary rulings (rukhas) of the Shariah, which have been advocated by people of knowledge in order to banish such intrusive thoughts. That is different from scrambling around for concessionary rulings in the various juristic schools across the board of human situations, for that is mere perdition and straying into error. So understand!

The Civilised Barbarians

No matter how hard you try, you can’t really be a “Modern Muslim” – which is an oxymoron. You’re not modern if you are looking to the past by seeking a 7th century moral lifestyle (Barbarians!?). This is because Islam didn’t bend or twist its rules or scriptures to change with the whims and desires of various societies, but this consistency of values is a strength, not a weakness.

The fact that we refer back to God and His Beloved Messenger (ﷺ) in helping us understand the difference between right and wrong helps us to remain consistent in our understanding, whilst the rest of society are like dry leaves blowing in the wind sometimes going this way and sometimes that way without steering any direction of their own; from Feudalism to Communism to Capitalism to not-yet-developed-ism.

So Muslims, be proud Barbarians! At least you’re more “civilised” than others.
As for the “modern” and “civilised” people, who look down upon traditional values of all sort, you might feel very safe and secure in the view that society ‘evolves’ or develops or improves over time, so it has emerged from the backwardness of the past and so now you have a more enlightened view of morals etc. The irony is that people 10, 50, or 100, or 200 years ago also would’ve thought they were living in modern times; the peak of civilisation, the pinnacle of humanity and that they had it all figured out too. People who think like that still continue to repeat the mistakes of the past and many of the old prejudices and wrongs in the world still exist, but they merely take another form. Perhaps, what you seek is already out there. 

Importance of following the Mashhur — Protocols of Fatwa

It is widely believed by those who have no formal Islamic education, or who are only half-educated, that whenever two or more opinions exist we are free to choose whatever suits our fancy. This is far from the truth and this impression has played havoc with this religion in recent decades. The truth of the matter is that a weak opinion is like a non-existent opinion. The consensus of this blessed ummah was enacted long ago stating that it is impermissible to follow a weak opinion, so what do you think about an incorrect opinion? Ibn Abidin (d. 1252/1836; Damascus) said near the end of his introduction to his Radd al-Muhtar:

وأما إذا كان التصحيح بصيغة يقتضي قصر الصحة على تلك الرواية فقط, كالصحيح والمأخوذ به ونحوهما ممّا يفيد ضعف الرواية المخالفة لم يجز الإفتاء بمخالفها, لما يأتي من أن الفتيا بالمرجوح جهل.

“However, if the wording implies that what is correct is restricted to that opinion only; for example “the sound opinion” (al-sahih), or “what is taken” (al-ma’khudh bihi) [that is, the opinion which is taken for fatwa] and the likes of that which imply that the opinion which stands in opposition to it is weak, then it is not permitted to give fatwa according to the other opinion [that is, the weak opinion], since, as we will presently explain [that is, later on in the book Radd al-Muhtar] the giving of fatwa according to the weaker opinion is ignorance.”

The author of al-Durr al-Mukhtar says towards the introduction of the book in a section concerning protocol for the mufti:

وأن الحكم والفتوى بالقول المرجوح جهل وخرق للإجماع

“Both the judgment [by a Qadi] and the fatwa [of a mufti] according to a weak opinion are ignorance, stupidity and violation of ijmaa‘.”

Ibn Abidin says in commenting on these words in the introduction to Radd al-Muhtar, his commentary on al-Durr al-Mukhtar:

كقول محمد مع وجود قول أبي يوسف إذا لم يصحح أو يقو وجهه, وأولى من هذا بالبطلان الإفتاء بخلاف ظاهر الرواية إذا لم يصح, والإفتاء بالقول المرجوع عنه.

“As for example, opting for the opinion of Muhammad when there is an opinion of Abu Yusaf, and even more invalid is the giving of a fatwa according to an opinion which is contrary to Zahir al-Riwayah when [none of the qualified authorities] have declared that other opinion to be correct (sahih), and the giving of a fatwa according to an opinion which the mujtahid has discarded.”

What Ibn Abidin means by saying, “when none have declared that other opinion to be correct” is that none of the early mashayikh opted for that opinion declaring it to be the correct one. It is one thing to opt for an opinion and another thing to declare it correct, for in order to declare it correct the mujtahid has to be very sure about himself because what in effect he is doing is disqualifying all other opinions and requiring everybody to follow what he has designated as correct and in doing so he is taking upon himself an enormous responsibility one that he may be asked about on the Day of Judgement. The mashayikh are those mujtahids of lower rank than the, Qadi Khan (d. 592), and Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani, the author of al-Hidayah (d. 593); and others of earlier periods whose names recur in the standard works of the Hanafi Madhhab. They are sometimes referred to as mujtahids in fatwa.

Just to assure the reader that what I have said about the obligation to follow the strong opinion is not something restricted to the Hanafi Madhhab, let us look at what the authorities of the Maliki Madhhab have said in this regard. According to the established rules of the Maliki Madhhab, the mufti is obliged to give his decision according to the opinion that their authorities have designated as mashhur, unless there is another opinion in contradistinction to it that their authorities have designated as rajih. The mashhur is that opinion which is supported by a large number of authorities or most of them, while the rajih is that opinion that has a strong proof according to the competent authorities. This has been explained in al-Miyar al-Murab in the beginning of the 12th volume in the recent print by Dar al-Gharb, and in the introduction to the commentary of Mukhtasar al-Khalil by Ibn Hilal (d.903/1497), and in the book Istilah al-Madhhab ‘Inda ‘l-Malikiyah by Muhammad Ibrahim Ahmad published in 1411 H. by Dar al-Buhuth wa ‘l-Dirasat al-Islamiyah in the Emirates, and in the manzumah called Nazm Bu Talaihiyah by Muhammad al-Nabighah al-Ghalawi al-Shinqinti of Mauritania included as an appendix to the previously mentioned work, and in the book of Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Qasim al-Fasi (d. 1331 / 1913) Rafa’ al-‘Itab wa ‘l-Malam ‘amman Qala al-‘Amal bi ‘l-Da’if Ikhtiyaran Haram… In this last mentioned work, Shaikh Muhammad ibn Qasim included in the third section of the book a chapter he titled في دليل كون العمل بالمشهور أو الراحج واجبا كما أن العمل الحكم به واجبا; that is, “Concerning the proof that one is obligated to follow the mashhur or the rajih in one’s own practice as in giving fatwa and a judicial decision.” He compiled in this chapter the recorded statements of twelve great men of the Maliki Madhhab including the statement of Imam Malik. He opened the chapter saying:

اعلم أنه قد صرّح بوجوب ذلك جماعة من العلماء العاملين والفقهاء الراسخين. منهم: الإمام مالك وابن القاسم وعيسى بن دينار وابن مزين كما نقل ذلك عنهم الونشريسي في المعيار, ونصّه بعد كلام: وما أحسن ما ذكره ابن مزين عن عيسى بن دينار عن ابن القاسم عن مالك أنه قال: ليس كل ما قال رجل قولا وإن كان له فضل يتبع عليه لقوله تعالى: الذين يستمعون القول فيتّعون أحسنه أهـ ومعنى كلام مالك المذكور أنه ليس كل قول صدر من عالم فاضل يعتبر ويعتدّ به, بل إنما يعتبر قول له حظ من النظر, وهو المشهور أو الراحج ويرحم الله القائل

إلا خلافا له حظ من النظر وليس كل خلاف جاء معتبرا

“Know that numerous dedicated ulama and firmly grounded fuqahaa’ have declared that [that is, that it is obligatory to follow the mashhur or the rajih in one’s own practice as well as in the giving of fatwa and judicial decision]. Among them was Imam Malik (d. 179 / 795) and Ibn al-Qasim (d. 191 / 807) and ‘Isa ibn Dinar (d. 212 /827) and Ibn Muzayyin (d. 260 / 874) as was reported by al-Wansharisi (d. 914 / 1508) in his al-Mi‘yar [al-Mu’rab] where he said:

How fine is what Ibn Mazayyin reported from ‘Isa ibn Dinar from Ibn al-Qasim from Malik; namely, that he said:

Not everything a man has said, no matter how distinguished he might be, is to be followed, for Allah Ta’ala has said: “Those who listen to what is said and follow the best of it.” (39:18)

What Imam Malik meant is that not everything that a distinguished ‘alim has said is to be heeded and accepted; rather that opinion will be accepted which has been favorably received by the competent authorities (lahu hazz min al-nazr), and that is the mashhur, or the rajih. May Allah show mercy to the one who said [in verse]:

Not all contestation counts; rather, the contestation of those who have a share in nazr (reflection).”

The term I translated above as “which has been received by the competent authorities” literally means a statement which has had its share of nazr; now nazr in the usage of the fuqaha’ refers to the examination, or speculation, or reflection of those who are competent to distinguish weak from sound statements and the stronger from strong statements and for this they require some share in ijtihad even if it is of a lower degree. We will see it used in this way in a text from Shaikh ‘Ulaish, the Maliki Shaikh of al-Azhar last century which we will cite presently. The correctness of this interpretation of nazr is demonstrated by Habib Ahmad al-Kiranwi, the author of Fawa’id fi ‘Ulum al-Fiqh, one of the best works, nay the best work ever written in defence of taqlid, and in the refutation of those who authorize the pseudo-ijtihad of impostors; he says there:

وقوله: “إن كانت قد تبينت له الدلالة في خلاف قول من قلده, فقد علم أن تقليده في خلافه اتباع لغير المنزل” باطل لأن العلم الحاصل للجاهل من جهة النظر والاستدلال كلا علم لحديث: قتلوه, قتلهم الله, ألا سألوا إذ لم يعلموا, إنما شفاء العي السؤال, فلا بدّ أن يكون العمل برأي نفسه اتباعا لغير المنزل لا تقليد العالم, فافهم.

“He [that is, the statement of Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751 /1350; Damascus) who is his book A’lam al-Muwaqqi’in devoted a lot of time trying ineptly to establish that taqlid is impermissible] says:

If he realized that the proof goes against what the one he follows [that is, the imam he follows in taqlid] holds, he knows that his following him [that is, in taqlid] in his opinion that is against the proof is following other than what has been revealed [to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم].

His statement is nonsense because the knowledge that an ignorant person [which he has defined as a non-mujtahid] obtains by reflection (nazr) and argumentation is non-knowledge; that is corroborated by the hadith:

They have killed him! May Allah kill them! Why did they not ask when they did not know? The remedy of ignorance is to ask.

Therefore, it is seen that following one’s own opinion is following other than what has been revealed not the following of an ‘alim. Understand the point.”

We see here that the reflection of the non-mujtahid is ignorance and incompetence; whereas, the reflection of a mujtahid is knowledge derived competently from the revelation. The former is worthy; the latter is worthless. What Imam Malik and the poet whose verse was quoted above mean then by the term nazr is the reflection, or speculation of the competent authority; that is, the mujtahid even if he a mujtahid of the lower degree by which we mean one competent to give fatwa on those issues for which there is no report from his imam, or to interpret ambiguous statements from his imam, or to decide which is the sound opinion between two or more contradictory reports from his imam.

Next Shaikh Muhammad Qasim quoted Ibn Abi Jamrah (d. 695 or 699 / 1296 or 1300) and his shaikhs:

وقد كان من لقينا من الفضلاء الأجلة يقول: لا يحل لأحد أن يتدين إلا بالمشهور, ولا يفتي إلا به.

“Those illustrious and distinguished people whom I met used to say: “It is not lawful for anybody to follow in his religion [any opinion] except what is the mashhur [opinion], and one may not give any fatwa but it.”

After mentioning this Shaikh Muhammad ibn Qasim mentioned that this statement of Ibn Abi Jamrah was reported by Abu al-Sa’ud Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi (d. 1091 / 1680) in his book al-Nawazil. It should be obvious that he quoted it as an authoritative statement.

Shaikh Muhammad ibn Qasim mentioned after a couple of other examples a statement from the same Abu al-Sa’ud Abd al-Qadir al-Fasi, whom we just mentioned, in his book al-Nawazil:

العمل بالمسهور هو الواجب وارتكاب الرخصة يوما ما للضرورة سائغ.

“Following the mashhur in one’s practice is obligatory, while following [the weak opinion, or the opinion which stands in opposition to the mashhur] as a dispensation one day out of necessity is acceptable.”

Now before the uninitiated in the science of fiqh jump to conclusions and give fatwa according to the weak opinion and put it themselves into practice every other day, they should pay close attention to the words “following” and “one day” and “out of necessity”. Shaikh Abd al-Qadir devoted several chapters in his book in discussion of the fact and in the enumeration of the proofs that it is while it is permissible to put an opinion which is weak into one’s own practice, provided it is not extremely weak, and provided that there is a real, inescapable necessity, which does not simply mean some inconvenience, and provided that it is done on a single occasion, and provided that one does not give for others a fatwa or judicial decision based on the weak opinion; otherwise, it is not permissible to do so if these conditions do not obtain. So just let the rash be careful.

Next he quoted a statement from Shaikh Ali al-Sa’idi al-‘Adawi (d. 1189 / 1775) , the author of a supercommentary called Hashiyatu ‘ala Kifayatu ‘l-Talibi ‘l-Rabbani, a commentary on Risalatu Ibn Abi Zaid;

وأما إذا كان أحدهما [أي القولان] مشهورا, فيجب العمل بالمشهور, ولا يجوز العمل بالضعيف, ولو في خاصة نفسه.

“However, if one of them [that is, the two contradictory opinions] is mashhur, then one is obligated to follow in one’s practice the mashhur, and it is impermissible to follow the weak opinion in one’s own practice.”

Next Shaikh Muhammad ibn Qasim quoted Imam Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ‘Ulaish (d. 1299 / 1882) , the defiant, fearless Shaikh of al-Azhar last century in his al-Ajwibah:

إذ يجب العمل بالراجح والمشهور مذهبنا, وإن لم نعلم دليله ولا قوّته ولا الاتفاق عليه, فإنه – أي ما ذكر من الراحج أو المشهور- حجة علينا ما دمنا في ربقة التقليد. قال ونظْرُنا في الأدلة والاتفاق والاختلاف فضول, إذ وظيفتنا مخض التقليد واتّباع الراجح أو المشهور, والله سنحانه وتعالى أعلم.

….For one is obligated to follow in one’s practice [the opinion] that is rajih, or mashhur of our madhhab [that is, the Maliki Madhhab] even if we do not know the proof for that opinion, nor the strength of the opinion [that is, by ourselves; rather, we can know it by the fact that the competent authorities have declared it to be mashhur, or rajih], nor the fact that there is agreement [that is, by ourselves; rather we can know that by the fact that the competent authorities have declared it to be the mashhur], for it [that is, the rajih, or the mashhur] is the compelling authority over us as long as we are tied with the tether of taqlid. Our speculation (nazr) based on the proofs and on the agreement [of the fuqahaa’] and their disagreement is meddling [the Arabic term fudul here expresses a presumptuous and vain interference in a matter for which we have no competence], for our job is pure taqlid, and ours is to follow the rajih, or the mashhur. Allah, whom I declare to be perfect beyond all defect and exalted beyond all comparison, knows better.

In al-Miyar al-Mu’rab al-Wansharesi (d. 914 / 1508) quoted his shaikh who quoted Ibn Farhun, an ‘alim of high authority in the Maliki madhhab:

فهل يلزم القاضي المقلد إذا وجد المشهور أن لا يخرج عنه؟ وذكر عن المازري أنه بلغ درجة الاجتهاد وما أفتى قط بغير المشهور وعاش ثلاثا وثمانين سنة, وكفى به قدوة في هذا! فإن لم يقف على المشهور من الروايتين والقولين, فليس له التشهي والحكم بما شاء منهما من غير نظر في الترجيح.

Is the qadi who is a muqallid [that is, he is not a mujtahid of any degree] if he finds an opinion [which the competent authorities have designated as] mashhoor compelled to not depart from it? It is reported that al-Mazari [d. 536 / 1141] attained the rank of ijthihad, and yet never did he give a fatwa against the mashhur and he lived to be eighty-three years old, and enough is al-Mazari as an example in this [that is, sticking to the mashhur]. Furthermore, if one does not discover any of the authorities designating either one of two reports [from Imam Malik or one of the Maliki imams], or of two opinions, one is not permitted to follow his whim and chose either one of them without seeking to find some [legitimate] way of giving preponderance (tarjih) to one of them.

Upon completing the citation of twelve authorities Shaikh Muhammad ibn Qasim al-Fasi, some of which we have omitted in order to make what is already a long digression briefer, on the obligation of following the mashhur and the rajih, summarized the matter thus:

فتحصل من كلام هؤلاء الأئمة الأعلام أن العمل بالمشهور أو الراجح واجب, فالاقتداء بهم واجب على ما قال ربي الله ثم استقام, ولنختم هذا الفصل بكلام العلامة ابن السبكي في جمع الجوامع ليكون كلامه لكلام الأئمة المتقدمين كالطابع ونص المقصود منه ممزوجا بشرحه: (والعمل بالراجح واجب) بالنسبة للمرجوح, فالعمل به ممتنع سواء كان الرجحان قطعيا أو ظنيا اهـ منه في كتاب التعادل والتراجيح, فقوله العمل بالرجحان يسمل ما إذا كان راجحا بكثرة الأدلة وقوّتها, وهو المسمى بالراجح عند الفقهاء كما مرّ في الفصل الأول, ويشمل ما إذا كان راجحا بقوة قائله وهو المسمى بالمشهور عند جمهور الفقهاء كما مرّ أيضا, نقل ذلك الشمول بعض المحققين عن الشيخ التاودي, والله اعلم.

Thus, what we have learned from the statements of the preceding illustrious imams is that we are obligated in our practice to follow the opinions which are mashhur, or rajih, and furthermore, all those who declare “My lord is Allah” then are steadfast [in obeying Him] are obliged to follow them [because they know what we do not and because they are to be trusted]. Let us close this section with the mention of what [Taj al-Din] al-Subki [d. 771 / 1370; Damascus] wrote in is Jam’u ‘l-Jawaami’ [a famous work in the principles of fiqh] including its commentary [by Jalaal al-Din al-Mahalli (d. 864 / 1459; Cairo)]:

We are obligated to follow in our practice the strong opinion (al-rajih); that is, with respect to the weak opinion, for it is prohibited to follow the weak opinion regardless of whether the preponderance [of the strong opinion] is determined by proofs which are conclusive [qat’i; which means they leave now room for any doubt], or by proofs which are tentative [zanni; which means that while they may be strong, they leave some room for doubt]. Now the author’s statement “to follow in our practice the strong opinion” includes what has been determined as strong based on the number of different proofs and their strength, and that is what is technically called al-rajih by the fuqahaa’ as we discussed previously in the first section.

A number of persons who have set themselves up as authorities routinely resort to weak, or even incorrect opinions playing on the general ignorance of the Muslims, so let the reader take proper stock of the preceding citations.

Ibn Abidin cited statements from a number of ulama of the different madhhabs including Ibn Hajr al-Haitami and Ibn Salah confirming that there is complete agreement (ijma) among those whose opinion counts that is impermissible to act or give fatwa according to weak opinions; he said in the beginning of his article Sharh Manzumah ‘Uqud Rasm al-Mufti, which is his poem on protocol for the mufti along with his commentary on that poem; it has which has been published along with his other articles in Majmu’ah Rasa’il Ibn ‘Abidin;

ترجيحه عن أهله قد علما اعلم بأن الواجب اتباع ما
يرجحوا خلاف ذاك فاعلم أو كان ظاهر الرواية ولم

أي إن الواجب على من أراد أن يعمل لنفسه أو يفتي غيره أن يتبع القول الذي رجّحه علماء مذهبه، فلا يجوز له العمل أو الإفتاء بالمرجوح إلا في بعض المسائل للضرورة القاسية كما سيأتي في النظم. وقد نقلوا الإجماع على ذلك في الفتاوى الكبري للمحقق ابن حجر المكي: قال في زوائد الروضة إنه لا يجوز للمفتي والعامل أن يفتي أو يعمل بما شاء من القولين أو الوجهين من غير نظر [حتى يعرف الراجح منهما، وإن كان غير أهلا للنظر، وهو حكم كل أهل زماننا، فالواجب أن ينقل الترجيح من أهله] ، وهذا لا خلاف فيه وسبقه ألى حكاية الإجماع فيها ابن الصلاح الباجي من المالكية[ ت 474] في المفتي وكلام القرافي[أيضا من أئمة المالكية، ت 684] دال على أن المجتهد والمقلد لا يحل لهما الحكم والإفتاء بغير الراجح لإنه اتباع الهوى[كما رأيتَ في كلام الغزالي في رسالته إلى أبي بكر ابن العربي الذي نقلت لك وترجمته لك] وهو حرام إجماعا، وأن محله في المجتهد ما لم تتعارض الأدلة عنده و يعجز عن الترجيح وإن لمقلده حينئذ الحكم بأحد القولين إجماعا. وقال الإمام المحقق العلامة قاسم بن قطلوبغا [المحدث الحنفي، تلميذ لابن الهمام، ت 879] في أول كتابه تصحيح القدوري: إني رأيت من عمل في مذهب أئمتنا رضي الله عنهم بالتشهي حتى سمعت من لفظ بعض القضاة هل ثمّ حجر؟ فقلت نعم اتباع الهوى حرام، والمرجوح في مقابلة الراجح بمنزلة العدم، والترجيح بغير مرجّح في المتقابلات ممنوع. وقال في كتاب الأصول لليُعمري [من أئمة المالكية، ت 734]: من لم يطلع على المشهور من المذهب من الروايتين أو القولين، فليس له التشهي والحكم بما شاء منهما من غير نظر في الترجيح [والأمر كما قلت من قبل في تعليقي على كلام ابن حجر]. وقال الإمام أبو عمرو [ابن الصلاح] في آداب المفتي: اعلم أن من يكتفي بأن يكون فتواه أو عمله موافقا لقول أو وجه في المسألة ويعمل بما شاء من الأقوال والوجوه من غير نظر في الترجيح فقد جهل وخرق الإجماع.

“Know that it is obligatory to follow what the competent authorities have determined to be sound, or to follow the opinion of Zahir al-Riwayah and provided they [the competent authorities] did not give preference to an opposing opinion [outside Zahir al-Riwayah], so be informed. [I have rendered the foregoing passage in prose although the original was in rhyming verse.]

We mean to say that it is obligatory for one who wants to act for himself, or to give a decision (fatwa) to another, to follow the opinion which the ulama [that is, those who are mujtahids in fatwa not the puny people of later times] of his madhhab have confirmed (rajjahahu / رجّحه) [that is, declared to be sound or correct]. Thus, it is not permitted for him to act, or to give fatwa, according to the weak opinion [al-marjuh / المرجوح, which literally means “outweighed”] except in a few issues for some pressing need [with conditions similar to those mentioned by Shaikh Abd al-Qadir previously; see page 41] as we will mention presently in the poem [that is his own manzumah which he is here commenting on]. The thorough verifier and careful investigator (al-muhaqqiq) Ibn Hajr [al-Makki (d. 975 h. / 1567; Makkah)] reported that there is consensus (ijmaa) on this matter in his book al-Fatawa al-Kubra [also known as al-Fatawaa al-Fiqhiyyah], for he wrote: “He wrote [al-Nawawi]:

It is not permitted for the mufti or even for the one who simply wants to act for himself to follow whichever of two opinions he pleases, or whichever interpretations of the statements of the imam (al-wajhain) without investigating (al-nazr) , and that is something about which there is no disagreement.

Before Ibn Hajr, Ibn Salah [d. 643 / 1245; Damascus] and [Abu ‘l-Waleed] al-Baji [d. 474 / 1081; Almeria, who was a mujtahid in fatwa and a consummate and famous muhaddith] of the Malikis in [his book] al-Mufti, and what al-Qarafi [(d. 684 / 1285; Cairo) a Maliki imam of high standing and a specialist in the principles of fiqh] said indicates that both it is not lawful for either the mujtahid or the muqallid [that is, the non-mujtahid who is bound to follow the mujtahid so that it does not act blindly] to give a decision [in a court of law] or a fatwa according to other than the strong opinion (al-rajih) because doing otherwise is to follow one’s desire [since whatever is not based on knowledge must be based on whim or sentiment] and that is haram [absolutely prohibited] by consensus. This applies to the mujtahid in those cases where there is no conflict among the proofs that he has related to an issue, and where he is not incapable of determining one of the proofs to be stronger [for otherwise, he is free to choose whichever opinion one he prefers]. If the mujtahid is incapable of determining one of two opinions to be stronger, then the one who follows him (al-muqallid) is free to choose whichever of the two opinions he wishes, and this is a matter of consensus (ijma‘), [that is, agreement among those whose opinion counts, namely, the mujtahids].

The imam [that is, the one whom the ulama make their arbiter in questions of dispute], the muhaqqiq [that is, one who is astute at verifying learned issues and is utterly thorough in his investigations proving everything that he says] the allamah [that is, the very learned] Qasim al-Qutlobugha’ [d. 879 / 1474; Cairo] in the beginning of his book Tas’hih al-Quduri / تصحيح القدوري :

I have seen those who act arbitrarily in the madhhab [that is, the Hanafi Madhhab] of our imams, may Allah be pleased with them, [note that he purposely mentioned imams to suggest that not everything everyone who claims to follow the Hanafi Madhhab says warrants being ascribed to the madhhab]. Indeed, I heard a qadi (judge) say: “Is that prohibited”? I replied:

“Yes, because following one’s desire is haram, and the weak open (al-marjuh / المرجوح) [literally, the opinion which is outweighed] in the face of the strong opinion (al-rajih / الراجح) is as if it did not exist, and choosing one opinion over another that opposes it without any basis is prohibited.”

Al-Ya‘muri [a Maliki alim] said in his Kitab al-Usul:

“Whoever does not find the mashur in the madhhab from one among two reports [from Imam Malik], or two opinions in the madhhab , he may not follow his whim or choose whichever opinion he pleases without investigating what opinion deserves to take precedence.”

Imam Abu ‘Amr Ibn al-Salah said in his Adab al-Qadi:

“Know that whoever confines himself to giving a fatwa, or basing his practice, on an opinion, or an interpretation on a mas’alah (issue) and follows whatever he pleases of the opinions and interpretations without considering what opinion deserves to take precedence acts stupidly and violates consensus.””

Ibn Abidin wrote in the same article a little later:

وقولي [أي في النظم] عن أهله، أي أهل الترجيح، إشارة إلى أنه لا يكتفي بترجيح كل عالم كان.

“My statement [in the verse mentioned above at the outset of the previous long quotation] “the competent authorities,” that is, “those who are qualified to weigh the conflicting opinions” is an intimation of the fact that not just every alim’s weighing (tarjih) is sufficient.”


By Ustadh Abdus Shakur Brooks ©

The Etiquette of Punctuality

Aniversario“Muslim Standard Time” has become something of an accepted custom amongst Muslims – viewing it as acceptable to be late to appointments and other arrangements.

This is something that goes directly against the etiquettes of a Muslim, as it displays open disrespect towards those transgressed against, and also shows a lack of appreciation of the value of time. During the closing du‘ā’ of Rihla 2014, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf repeated thrice: “Oh Allah, protect us from wasting our time.”

Unfortunately, this has also become commonplace amongst students of knowledge and often scholars of religion. So let this be a reminder to us, one & all.

Being late is a form of stealing. When you make others wait for you, you rob minutes from them that they’ll never get back.

Being late is arrogant and shows an overestimation of ones worth. Being on time shows your respect for others.

Being late is essentially breaking a promise. Being on time shows others that you are a man of your word.

In the first verse of Sūrat al—Mā’ida, Allah called upon the believers, O you who believe! Fulfil your promises (Quran, 5:1). Allah also praised Prophet Ismā‘īl, He was true to his promise, He was a Messenger and a Prophet (Quran, 19:54).

Keeping appointments is vital to our lives. Time is the most precious commodity. Once wasted, it can never be recovered. If you made an appointment, whether with a friend, colleague or for business, you should do your utmost to keep this appointment. This is the right of the other persons who, despite other commitments, favoured you with a part of their valuable time. If you do not come on time, not only have you disrupted their schedule but you have also marred your image and reputation. If your punctuality becomes poor, you will lose people’s respect. You should keep all your appointments whether they are with an important person, a close friend or a business colleague. You will then be responding to the call of Allah, And keep the promise; the promise is a responsibility (Quran, 17:34).

Never make a promise while intending not to keep it. This is forbidden as it falls within lying and hypocrisy. Bukhārī and Muslim narrated that the Prophet said,

“Three traits single out a hypocrite, even if he prays or fasts and claims to be Muslim:
If he speaks, he lies.
If he makes a promise, he does not keep it.
If he is entrusted, he betrays the trust.”

Source: Islamic Manners, by Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah