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

What is Manhood (Rujūlah)?

Image Courtesy of Time4Thinkers

The definition of manhood (Rujūlah) has been endlessly discussed and dissected in scholarly tomes. For many ancient cultures, manhood was rooted in being a warrior. But it was a battlefield-specific manhood ill-prepared for life during peacetime. In early American history, manhood was connected with being a yeoman farmer or independent artisan. But when the Industrial Revolution moved men from farm to factory, men wondered if true manliness was possible in the absence of the economic independence they once enjoyed. In the 20th century, manhood meant being the familial breadwinner. But during times of Depression and Recession, and when women joined the workforce in great numbers, men felt deeply emasculated.

When manhood is connected to such cultural, and ultimately ephemeral guideposts, and times change, a crisis of manhood results. Some men then cling stubbornly to a past that cannot be recreated while others seek to redefine manliness in ways that while well-intentioned, end up stripping manhood of its unique vitality. Thus, the definition of manhood clearly needs to be rooted in a firm and immovable foundation. One that works across time, place, and culture and is attainable for any man, in any situation.

So how do we define manhood (Rujūlah)?

For Aristotle and many of the ancient Greeks, manhood meant living a life filled with eudaimonia. What’s eudaimonia? It is living a life of “human flourishing,” or excellence. Aristotle believed that man’s purpose was to take actions guided by rational thought that would lead to excellence in every aspect of his life. Thus, manhood meant being the best man you can be.

For the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue. In fact, the English word “virtue” comes from the Latin word virtus, which meant manliness or masculine strength. The Romans believed that to be manly, a man had to cultivate virtues like courage, temperance, industry, and dutifulness. Thus for the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue.

For us, Muslims, the Prophet ﷺ is al-Insān al-Kāmil (The Perfect Man); manhood can therefore be defined as the imitation of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in ethical, spiritual and moral behaviour. A man should try his best to be what the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was, and those perfect characteristics and exalted qualities and magnificent ethics are innumerous:

  • His ﷺ Vigilance
  • His ﷺ Wisdom
  • His ﷺ Knowledge
  • His ﷺ Eloquence
  • His ﷺ Courage
  • His ﷺ Physical Strength
  • His ﷺ Generosity
  • His ﷺ Shyness
  • His ﷺ Loyalty
  • His ﷺ Patience
  • His ﷺ Perfect Resilience
  • His ﷺ Asceticism; Reliance upon God
  • His ﷺ Responsibility
  • His ﷺ Forgiveness
  • His ﷺ Military Leadership
  • His ﷺ Justice
    His ﷺ Integrity
  • His ﷺ Perfect Care for Cleanliness
  • His ﷺ Humility
  • His ﷺ General Manners and Etiquette
  • His ﷺ Kindness to His Family and Relatives
  • His ﷺ Kind way of Covering with Others
  • His ﷺ Excellent Way of Rebuking and Censuring
  • His ﷺ Perfect Way of Teaching and Guiding
  • His ﷺ Perfect Method of Directing People to Higher Aspirations
  • His ﷺ Mercy with Animals
  • His ﷺ Amiability in Social Settings

Both genders are capable of and should strive for virtuous, human excellence. When a woman lives these virtues, that is womanliness; when a man lives the virtues, that is manliness. Which is to say that women and men strive for the same virtues, but often attain them and express them in different ways. The virtues will be lived and manifested differently in the lives of sisters, mothers, and wives than in brothers, husbands, and fathers.


– Sayyid Muhammad ibn ‘Alawī al-Mālikī (2013). Muhammad ﷺ the Perfect Man. UK: Visions of Reality Books. Contents.
– Brett & Kate McKay. (2010). What is Manliness. Available: Last accessed 12th Aug 2014.
– Harvey C. Mansfield (2007). Manliness: Yale University Press. 304.
– Image courtesy of Time4Thinkers.

Will I be punished even if I believe in the Divine?

hopeThe answer can be found in the following verse of the Qur’an, Surah an-Nisā 4:147, in which Allah says:

{ مَّا يَفْعَلُ ٱللَّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِن شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنْتُمْ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ شَاكِراً عَلِيماً }

Why would God punish you if you are thankful and believe? God is ever Thankful, Knowing.

Imam al-Qushayrī [d.376 AH] comments:

This verse is among the verses which engenders beautiful hopefulness and powerful optimism because He has made two things: “Thankfulness” (Shukr) and “Belief” (Īmān), among the signs of protection (amān) in what is to come; and these are easy and light qualities…

It is said that if you are thankful and believe, you confirm the truth that your salvation is through God, not because of your thankfulness or your belief.

It is said, Allah is thankful to his servant because He knows his weakness, and it is said He is thankful to him because He knows that his servant is not disobedient and that his aim is not to oppose His Lord. Rather, he sins because of the overwhelming cravings that are among the states of being human.

It is said [the servant] is thankful to Him because he knows in the state of his sins that he has a Lord who pardons him.

[Latā’if al-Ishārāt [Subtleties of the Allusions] by Imām Abu’l-Qāsim al-Qushayrī].

If you look for the words “most people” in the Qur’an, you will find that most of mankind:

 “do not know” [7:187],
“do not give thanks” [2:243]
“do not believe” [11:17].
“defiantly disobedient” [5:59],
“ignorant” [6:111],
“turning away” [21:24],
“do not reason” [29:23], and
“do not listen” [8:21].

So be of the “few”, whom Allah says about them:

“And few of My servants are grateful.” (34:13)
“But none had believed with him, except a few.” (11:40)

May Allah forgive us all and make us amongst those who believe and are thankful.

The Pious “Drunkard” and “Fornicator”

Sultan Murad IV [d. 1640 CE]

Sultan Murad IV, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623-1640, would often anonymously go into the midst of the people and see their state. One evening, he felt an uneasiness in himself and the urge to go out. He called for his head of security and out they went. They came to a busy vicinity, and found a man lying on the ground. The Sultan prodded him but he was dead and the people were going about their own business. Nobody seemed to care about the dead man lying on the ground.

The Sultan called upon the people. They didn’t recognise him and asked him what he wanted. He said,

“Why is this man lying dead on the ground and why does no one seem to care? Where is his family?”

They replied,

“He is so and so, the drunkard and fornicator!”

The Sultan said,

“Is he not from the Ummah of Muhammad ﷺ? Now help me carry him to his house”

The people carried the dead man with the Sultan to his house and once they reached, they all left. The Sultan and his assistant remained. When the man’s wife saw his dead body, she began weeping. She said to his dead body,

“May Allah have mercy on you! O friend of Allah! I bear witness that you are from the pious ones.”

The Sultan was bewildered. He said,

“How is he from the pious ones when the people say such and such about him? So much so that no one even cared he was dead!”

She replied,

I was expecting that. My husband would go to the tavern every night and buy as much wine as he could. He would then bring it home and pour it all down the drain. He would then say, “I saved the Muslims a little today.” He would then go to a prostitute, give her some money and tell her to close her door till the morning. He would then return home for a second time and say, “Today, I saved a young woman and the youth of the believers from vice.”

Winter Rags by Richard Lithgow

The people would see him buying wine and they would see him going to the prostitutes and they would consequently talk about him. One day I said to him,

“When you die, there will be no one to bathe you, there will be no one to pray over you and there will be no one to bury you!”

He laughed and replied,

“Don’t fear, the Sultan of the believers, along with the pious ones shall pray over my body.”

The Sultan began to cry. He said,

“By Allah! He has said the truth, for I am Sultan Murad. Tomorrow we shall bathe him, pray over him and bury him.”

And it so happened that the Sultan, the scholars, the pious people and the masses prayed over him.

We judge people by what we see and what we hear from others. Only if we were to see what was concealed in their hearts, a secret between them and their Lord. If Allah knows, why does it matter who knows and who doesn’t know?!

“O you who believe, abstain from many of the suspicions. Some suspicions are sins. And do not be curious (to find out faults of others), and do not backbite one another. Does one of you like that he eats the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor it. And fear Allah. Surely Allah is Most-Relenting, Very-Merciful.” (49:12)

“O infidels, kill the evil-doers!”

The Qur’an tells us that when Sayyidnā Mūsā (Moses), peace be upon him, met with Sayyidnā Khidr, peace be upon him, Khidr said to him:

“You will not be able to bear with me patiently. How could you be patient in matters beyond your knowledge?”

So Mūsā – peace be upon him – promises to be patient and not to question the actions of his teacher, but cannot stop himself from doing so when he sees what the man that Allāh had sent him to learn from does. First he makes a hole in a ship that they were on, and removes two of its wooden planks, and then when they are back on the land, he sees a young boy playing with other boys, and decapitates him.

The Prophet Mūsā is shocked and appalled at these apparently evil acts, but is later told the wisdom behind them. The ship belonged to poor people who needed it for their living. But there was a King who was in an urgent need of ships and was seizing every good ship and adding them to his fleet. When he would find a hole in that ship, he would decide that it would not be of any help for the urgent matter. The poor people will keep the ship; which they can fix later on.

As for the young boy, his parents were pious, and the child would have grown up to be very evil, oppressing them with rebellion and disbelief. So Allāh, Most Wise, had him killed and gave the parents a better offspring instead: He gave them a daughter that was very merciful to them, and that married a Prophet. Her child was also a Prophet and Allāh guided through him one of the nations of mankind. [Some of the details are from the Qur’anic commentaries].

So Sayyidinā Khidr was , so-to-speak, the “hand of God” in doing things that on the outside appear absolutely evil or outrageous, but in reality will lead to a good outcome that is hidden from our eyes. It is interesting that we find some rare accounts of the Mongol invasions of the Muslim world, scattered in different books of history, literature, and Sufi hagiographies, that understand that event in the same light, and even place Sayyidinā Khidr there, with the same role that he played in the Qur’ān.

Ibn Karbala’i, who wrote in the 16th century a compendium of hagiographies of the Sufis buried in Tabriz, has an entry on a  13th-century Sufi known as, Baba Hamid, who came from a little village near Tabriz that came to be named after him.

Ibn Karbala’i says that it is widely reported that “at the time when Genghis Khan came out upon the land of Iran” some of the awliya of that era saw Sayyidinaā Khidr, “who was running ahead of that band of obstinate apostates and was helping them; he was saying:

“Kill, O infidel people, these evildoers!” (uqtuloo ya qawm al-kafara, haadhihi al-fajara).”

Baba Hamid, he says, was one of those who recognised Sayyidinā Khidr, so he said to him:

“Even you?!”

So Sayyidinā Khidr replied:

“Even He!”

This account is interesting because more than a century earlier, the Indian Sufi, Sayyid Ashraf Jahangir Simnani, wrote two letters in which he said that the wealth and luxury of the Khwarezmian dynasty made the people there forget about worship and to do wicked things. But he said, the saints who remained devoted to Allāh and His worship, began to hear voices from the unseen world, coming from all sides, saying:

“O infidels, kill the evildoers!” (Ya ayyuhal kafara, uqtulul fajara!)

These voices, he said, began to arise in those regions in the year 591 AH/1195 C.E.

Likewise in the 15th century, Dawlatshah Samarqandi, in his anthology of poetry and poets Tadhkirat al-Shu’ara, wrote of a dialogue between the Khwarizm Shah and his son Jalal al-Din that is said to have been recounted by one of Khwarizmshah’s poets. He says that the son asked his father why, being a great King who ruled Iran unchallenged for 20 years, and famous for his bravery and power, he was now fleeing from a band of infidels (the Mongols) and allowing the Muslims to fall into their hands. The father said:

“My son, you do not hear what I hear.”

The son insisted on an explanation, so the father said:

“Every time I arrange my ranks for battle, I hear a group of the men of the unseen world (rijaal al-ghayb) saying: “O infidels, kill the evildoers!” (ayyuhal kafaratu’uqtulul fajarata); fear and terror and dread overcome me. Forgive me, my son.” (Khwarizmshah then fled to an island on the Caspian Sea, where he died).

Dawlatshah continues:

“And it is related by those to whom hidden realities are unveiled (ashaab al-kashf) and by the saints of the faith that they saw the men of God (rijaal Allah) and Sayyidinā Khidr in front of the army of Genghis Khan, guiding that army. The discernment of the intelligent is struck dumb by this phenomenon, and the wisdom of the wise is rendered weak by this fact; but ‘God does what He wishes and commands what He wills’”.

The oldest story of them all, only 50 years after the Mongol destruction of Baghdad, comes from one of the discourses of the famous Indian Sufi Nizam ud-Din Awliya. In the year 708 AH/ 1308 CE, he talked about the famous Qalandari Sufi Qutb al-Din Haydar. He says:

“When the emergence of Genghis Khan was underway, the infidels turned toward Hindustan; and during that time, [Qutb ad-Din Haydar] one day turned to his companions and said, “Flee from the Mongols, for they will prove to be overpowering.” They asked how this would be. He said: “They are bringing a dervish along with them, and they are under the protection of that dervish. In my inmost being (sirr), I wrestled with that dervish; he threw me to the ground. Now the reality is that they will be victorious; you must flee!” After that he himself went into a cave and disappeared; and in the end it happened as he had said.”

What’s interesting is that most of these accounts (and there are a few more scattered about), are unconnected to each other, and there is no evidence that their transmitters had knowledge of each others’ works. Whether or not they are true, Allāh only knows. But when we see great catastrophes that we don’t understand in life, we must remember that Allah does what He wills, and that there is always a hidden reason that we don’t understand.
As  Muhammad Iqbal said in his poem Jawāb-e-Shikwā:

It is evident from the story of the Mongol invasions
that the Ka’bah found new protectors in the people of the temples.


– DeWeese, Devin, “Stuck in the Throat of Chingiz Khan: Envisioning the Mongol Conquests in Some Sufi Accounts from the 14th to 17th Centuries”. History and Historiography of Post-Mongol Central Asia and the Middle East: Studies in Honor of John E. Woods, ed. Judith Pfeiffer and Sholeh A. Quinn in collaboration with Ernest Tucker (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006), pp. 23-60.
– Muhammad Uthman al-Mirghani (al-Khatm): Taaj al-Tafaaseer li-Kalaam al-Malik al-Kabeer.
– Hulago Khan’s letter to the Mamluks where he claims to be sent by God against those who have incurred His anger: )

Taken from:

والحمد لله رب العالمين على نعمه كلها
اللهم صلّ وسلم وبارك على سيدنا ومولانا محمد خير البرية
وعلى آله في كل لمحة ونفس عدد ما وسعه علم الله

ISIS and the End of Times

by Ustadh Abdul Aziz Suraqah

Understand that the bulk of apocalyptic literature is riddled with weak narrations and even forgeries. Nevertheless, if a narration with a weak chain speaks about a future event and that event plays out exactly as recorded in the narration, then the narration can be strengthened. Whether or not this narration is sound according to the standards of hadith-authentication can be left for the scholars to discuss, but read this narration and consider it in light of what is going on in the world today. Allah knows best.

Nu’aym b. Hammad records in his Kitab al-Fitan (The Book of Tribulations):

“It is related on the authority of ‘Ali (may Allah ennoble his countenance): ‘When you see the black flags, remain where you are and do not move your hands or your feet (It’s a common phrase meaning: “Stay put and don’t get involved in the fighting”). Thereafter there shall appear a feeble folk to whom no concern is given. Their hearts will be like fragments of iron. They are the representatives of the State (Ashab al-Dawla). They will fulfill neither covenant nor agreement. They will invite to the truth, though they are not from its people. Their names will be agnomens [i.e., Abu So-and-so], and their ascriptions will be to villages. Their hair will be long like that of women. [They shall remain so] till they differ among themselves, and then Allah will bring forth the truth from whomever He wills.'”

عن علي قال: إذا رأيتم الرايات السود فالزموا الأرض ولا تحركوا أيديكم ولا أرجلكم! ثم يظهر قوم ضعفاء لا يوبه لهم، قلوبهم كزبر الحديد، هم أصحاب الدولة، لا يفون بعهد ولا ميثاق، يدعون إلى الحق وليسوا من أهله، أسماؤهم الكنى ونسبتهم القرى، وشعورهم مرخاة كشعور النساء حتى يختلفوا فيما بينهم ثم يؤتي الله الحق من يشاء

1. Black flags: ISIS use black flags.
2. Feeble: They are newcomers to the fight in Syria and relative nobodies till they took swathes of land that was taken by other fighters.
3. Hearts like fragments of iron: Watch any of their videos and judge for yourself.
4. Ashab al-Dawla: They call themselves, the Dawla.
5. Breaking agreements: They broke agreements and refused Shariah arbitration.
6. Invite to the truth, though not from its people: Yes, they’re Khawarij (Separatists).
7. Their names will be agnomens: Of course, they’re a bunch of Abu Fulans.
8. Their ascriptions will be to villages: Villages here could be read as cities; most of them are al-Iraqi, al-Misri, al-Maghribi, al-Tunisi, etc.
9. Long hair: See Abu Ibrahim and the other assorted characters.

And Allah knows best.