Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Sheikh Ramaḍān Al-Būṭī on Dancing in Dhikr

The full statement from his work Fiqh As-Seerah (The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography) as translated by Nancy Roberts and revised by Anas Ar-Rifāʿī (Dar Al-Fikr, Damasus, 2008), p.527-531. (This book is available from www.al-haddad.co.uk.)

[Sheikh Muḥammad Saʿīd Ramaḍān Al-Būṭī:]

Two: A word on the ḥadīth concerning Abū Bakr and the additions to it which some have fabricated in order to justify a particular heretical practice. As we have seen based on the ḥadīth about Abū Bakr related by Abū Dāwūd and al-Tirmidhī, Abū Bakr brought all of his wealth to the Prophet (pbuh). Then, when the Prophet (pbuh) asked him, “What have you kept for your family?” he replied, “I have kept God and His Apostle.”
An addition to this ḥadīth has been fabricated according to which the Prophet (pbuh) then said to Abu Bakr, “O Abū Bakr, God is pleased with you. Are you pleased with him?” In response, Abū Bakr was so filled with rapture, he got up and danced before the Messenger of God (pbuh) saying, “How could I not be pleased with God?!” Having concocted this addition, its originators then turned it into evidence in support of the legitimacy of dancing and whirling in the dhikr ceremonies for which the Mevlevis and other Sufi sects are known.
As I have mentioned, the evidence upon which this practice is based is a fabrication. There is no ḥadīth, be it sound or weak, which mentions that Abū Bakr got up and danced before the Messenger of God (pbuh). Rather, all we have by way of texts on this subject is the ḥadīth related by al-Tirmidhī, al-Ḥākim, and Abū Dāwūd which, as I noted in my earlier discussion of it, contains possible weaknesses.
As for the conclusion which some Sufis draw based on this fabrication, it must be said that not only is there no support for it, but there is positive evidence against it. Specifically, it is held by the majority of Muslims jurisprudents that when dancing involves bending and swaying back and forth, it is prohibited, and that when it does not involve such movements, it is still undesirable. Hence, to introduce dance – of whatever sort if happens to be – into ceremonies devoted to the remembrance of God is to interpolate into Muslim worship a practice which is, if not utterly banned, at the very least undesirable.
Add this to the fact that the state into which these “worshippers” enter leads them to utter sounds which have nothing to do with the words employed in the remembrance of God. Rather, they are nothing but inarticulate utterances by means of which they produce a steady drone that harmonizes with the rhythms of those chanting and singing and increases the mood of escstatic exhilaration. How can this be the type of remembrance which God has commanded us to engage in, and which was practised by the Apostle (pbuh) and his Companions?! How can activity such as this be worship, when worship – as you are all aware – is what God has legislated for us in the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah, neither of which is to be added to or detracted from?
Rest assured that what we are saying is in accordance with the view which has been held by scholars of Islamic law across the ages, with none disagreeing except for a small minority of dissenters who have established practices for which God has not granted permission. As for the latter, countless are the forbidden acts which they have deemed lawful and the mortal sins which they have committed, at times in the name of ecstatic transport inspired by the love of God, and at other times in the name of liberation from the “noose” of religions obligations.
The following is a quotation form al-ʿIzz Ibn ʿAbd al-Salām, one of the most highly esteemed Muslim esteemed leaders and teachers, known and respected for his uprightness, knowledge, piety and Sufi way of life. He states,
As for dancing and applause, these are the acts of thoughtlessness and frivolity the likes of which one generally sees only in girls. No one but the lightheaded or the charlatan would engage in such practices. Why, then, do we see dancing to the rhythm of song by those whose hearts and minds have grown heedless and fickle, even though he (pbuh) has said: “The most virtuous of all generations is my own, followed by those who succeed us, followed by those who succeed them,” and even though not a single member of the righteous generations which we are to emulate engaged in such things? [1]
The same thoughts are expressed by Ibn Hajar in his book, Kaff al-Raʿāʿ ʿan Muḥarramāt al-Lahū wa-al-Samāʿ (“Preventing the Masses from Engaging in Forbidden Acts of Frivolity and Listening”), and by Ibn ʿAbidīn in his well-known, widely recognized commentary, where he distinguishes between a genuine, overwhelming experience of ecstatic transport, and a bogus show of the same.
As for Imam al-Qurṭubī, he goes into even greater detail in warning against this dangerous innovation and the reasons for the prohibition against it; those who wish to read what he says on this matter may refer to his Qurʾānic commentary on the following verses: “…and who remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and they lie down to sleep…” (Qurʾān 3:191) and, “And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed you will never tear the earth (apart), and you will never reach the mountains in height.” (Qurʾān 17:37). Were it not for the fact that it would lead to prolixity on a topic that requires brevity, I would set forth the views expressed on this matter by many other Imams as well. Be that as it may, the position I have expounded here is virtually uncontested, being agreed upon by the vast majority of Muslim scholars, both ancient and contemporary. [2]
It is clear, of course, that the prohibition of dancing being discussed here could not be applied to someone who, while engaged in the remembrance of God, entered a spiritual state in which he was no longer in control of all his feelings or actions. For when a person is in a state such as this, binding judgments such as the one under discussion cease to apply. This fact must be borne in mind when considering statements to the effect that al-ʿIzz Ibn ʿAbd al-Salām himself once went into a frenzy and got up and began jumping about. After all, given that he held the view which we quoted above, how could he have engaged in such behaviour of his own volition? [3] 
____________________
[1] Qawāʾid al-Aḥkām fī Maṣāliḥ al-Anām, 2:186

[2] Some of my readers may be surprised by the fact that I agree with the Wahhabite view on this particular matter, even though I have taken them to task for a number of other positions which they hold. Such surprise, where it exists, is no doubt due to a mistaken conception of how a Muslim ought to think and conduct himself. It is not Islamic in any way for an academic search dictated by the mind to be transformed into a bigoted prejudice that has taken over one’s soul. Nor is it consistent with the spirit or teachings of Islam for one to advocate a particular opinion or school of Islamic law on the pretext that in so doing, he is championing Islam itself, especially when such a person knows in his heart of hearts that he is simply defending the point of view because it has come to form a part of his personality and his standing among others.
When engaging in academic research, the Muslim must have in view nothing but the Book of God and the Prophetic Sunnah, and he must not allow any other power or authority to influence his emotions or thoughts. Moreover, is such a Muslim is committed to the truth, he must conduct himself in such a way that no other Muslim is caused distress by his words or angered by his judgments. If, in my discussion of issues raised in this book, I disagree in my conclusions with other people, this is not – and God is my witness – out of a desire to differ with others, but rather, simply out of a desire to be faithful to the Qurʾān and the Sunnah. Hence, I may err in my judgments and conclusions, but even if I do, my aim remains the same.
Similarly, if in my discussion of the question at hand I have reached a conclusion which agrees with that of some Muslims and differs with that of many others, including the Sufis among them, this is not because of any wish on my part to differ with them or because I take enjoyment in criticizing them; rather, it is simply because I sincerely desire not to stray for the Book of God or the Sunnah of His Messenger (pbuh). At the same time, I wish to affirm my appreciation for many of these esteemed individuals and my certainty of their integrity and the purity of their intentions, my excuse for differing with them being that this appreciation and esteem do not justify being unfaithful to the texts before me or interpreting them metaphorically such that their original intent is distorted.
If the Muslims sought out the truth they are meant to follow based on this same criterion, we would not find the various Islamic sects and groups treating each other with harshness and even enmity even if their views and interpretations happened to differ. However, prejudice and extremism have led the Muslims to the state in which they now find themselves. The Sufis call their opponents to account for what they see as fanaticism and excess, yet they do not call themselves to account for similar attitudes, and for those practices which have no basis in Islam! Is this, then, the truth which we should be living? Excess on one side only breeds excess on the other; hence, whoever wishes to come to the defence of God’s religion and the guidance brought by His Messenger (pbuh) must put an end to all extremism, harmful innovation, and heresy. This is the best possible remedy for the counter-extremism which one is likely to meet with among others.

[3] See Ibn Ḥajar’s Kaff al-Raʿāʿ, 48 on the margin of his book, Al-Zawājir
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NOTE: The above footnotes are also the Sheikh's words, not mine. - Mahdi 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Beliefs of the Ashʿarīs: In a Calm Dialogue with the Specious Arguments of their Opponents - Refuting Dr. Safar Al-Hawali: Part 1


Assalaam alaykum,

Alhamdulilah, the introduction to ʿAqāʾid Al-Ashāʿira fī Ḥiwār Hadiʾ maʿ Shubhāt Al-Munāwiʾīn (The Beliefs of the Ashʿarīs: In a Calm Dialogue with the Specious Arguments of their Opponents) is now available from www.marifah.net.

[Part 2 was posted in November]

There is also an additional article from Imām Ibn Fūrāk al-Shāfi’ī regarding what is meant when we say that Allah is 'above' or 'in' His creation.

And with Allah alone is every success!

Assalaam alaykum,

Mahdi

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

From the Dīwān of Imām Ash-Shāfiʿī, may Allah have mercy on him

Let the days do what they will

Let the days do what they will
Be content with yourself when the divine decree is decided

Don't be impatient with adversity
For what happens in the life of this world does not last

Be strong in the face of afflictions
Let your character be one of forbearance and trust

If your flaws are many amongst the creation
And you are happy when they are covered

Veil them with generosity, for every flaw
Is covered - as they say - by generosity

Never appear humiliated before your enemies
For indeed the malicious joy of enemies is a trial

Don't hope for generosity from a miser
For in fire there is no water to quench one's thirst

Your provision is not diminished by you biding your time
And your provision is not increased through toil

No grief lasts, and no joy
And there is no privation and no prosperity

If you have contentment in your heart
You and the owner of the world are equal

When death befalls someone
No earth can protect him, nor sky

Allah's earth is vast, but
When the judgement descends, there's no escape

Let the day be treacherous from time to time
For there is no remedy in the face of death

[Translated from the Dīwān of Imām Ash-Shāfiʿī, p.26-27, Dār Al-Kutub Al-ʿIlmiyyah, Beirut, 1984]

Biography of Imām Ash-Shāfiʿī [d.204 AH/810 AD]:

D. 204 AH/819 AD. Known as the reviver and renewer of Islam in his era, Imām Ash-Shāfiʿī was the first of all the absolute mujtahids to write down a book explaining how to derive rulings in a systematic and cogent way. A direct descendant of the great-grandfather of the Prophet Muḥammad, may Allah's prayers and peace be upon him, and raised in the shadow of Masjid al-Aqṣā and the Sacred Masjid of Makkah, his knowledge of deriving furūʿ (branches) from Usūl (foundations) was second to none. It is for this reason that any faqīh after him owes a debt to him, for making fiqh an easier exercise to partake in for the scholar.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Western Mass “Education”

Book Review: Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto (New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, 2009)


Blurb for the 2009 edition: ‘Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City’s public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory government schooling has nothing to do with education, doing little but teach young people to conform to the economy and the social order. Dumbing Us Down reveals the shocking reality of today’s school system and has become a beacon for parents seeking alternatives to it. This edition celebrates the fact that the book continues to be highly relevant in setting the agenda for a complete overhaul of how we educate our children – and for what.’

The author: John Taylor Gatto is an internationally renowned speaker who lectures widely on school reform. He taught for 30 years in public schools before resigning on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal during the year he was named New York State's official "Teacher of the Year." On April 3, 2008, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard credited Mr. Gatto with adding the expression "dumbing us down" to the school debate worldwide.

Since its first publication in 1992, John Taylor Gatto’s damning exposure of compulsory schooling (not “education”) in America has sold over 150, 000 copies, and by writing this book review I would like to see that number rise further, as the information this rather short book contains opens one’s eyes and explains why school, especially in America but also Canada and the United Kingdom, was a miserable experience for so many of us and is now a miserable experience for our children. Furthermore, we can’t actually recall what we were taught that was of any benefit.

The 2009 edition includes a brilliant forward by Thomas Moore, who mentions that Gatto’s understanding of education is that it should include the community: ‘John Gatto makes the important point that a community needs old people and children mixing together.’ For Muslims, this is extremely relevant for a number of reasons. First of all, it is very common in Muslim households, throughout the world, to find three generations living under one roof. One of the benefits of this is that the children can benefit directly from their grandparents. For example, while the father is at work, the son can spend his time with his grandfather, who has most likely retired after living a long life full of experiences and stories. Also, in addition to being retired, the grandfather is approaching the end of his life and is preparing himself to meet his Lord, so he is devoting more of his time to supererogatory acts of worship, such as extra fasting, night prayers and recitation of the Qurʾān. Think of the benefit that the grandchildren obtain by watching their grandparents doing these things, by watching them in this state. What better education could there be for children at that age? As a second point, Muslim institutions of learning have never (until the colonial age) categorised their students according to age, i.e. the grade classification system. How can children grow, develop and mature when they are constantly around their own age group? As a former schoolteacher in the UK, I myself have seen children behave horribly while at school but then behave the complete opposite later that same day while attending a class with adults at a community centre.

The book itself is a collection of five lectures and essays delivered and/or written by Gatto. The first lecture is called ‘The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher’, in which Gatto explains the seven lessons that teachers actually teach. The first is confusion. How is this so? Gatto says: ‘Everything I teach is out of context. I teach the un-relating of everything. I teach disconnections…’ In other words, it’s all information with no meaning. Gatto states: ‘I teach the un-relating of everything, an infinite fragmentation the opposite of cohesion; what I do is more related to television programming than to making a scheme of order. In a world where home is only a ghost because both parents work, or because of too many job changes or too much ambition, or because something else has left everybody too confused to maintain a family relation, I teach students how to accept confusion as their destiny. That’s the first lesson I teach.’

The second is class position, i.e. teaching children their place in society. The third is indifference, in which children are taught not to care too much about anything. Gatto makes an interesting point about bells: ‘Indeed, the lesson of bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything? Years of bells will condition all but the strongest to a world that can no longer offer important work to do. Bells are the secret logic of school time; their logic is inexorable. Bells destroy the past and the future, rendering every interval the same as any other, as the abstraction of a map renders every living mountain and river the same, even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.’ Isn’t it interesting that in the Muwaṭṭa of Imām Mālik and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, and other collections, there is the ḥadīth: “The angels do not accompany a group that has a dog or a bell.”?

The fourth and fifth lessons are emotional dependency and intellectual dependency. The first is a direct attack against individuality. Pupils are not allowed to express any form of individuality but instead must conform to the system. As for the latter, intellectual dependency, Gatto says: ‘This is the most important lesson of them all: we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives.’ Please see the article below ‘The religiosity and idolatry of the AGW movement’. Is it any wonder that so many of these brainwashing organisations exist and are flourishing in the west; from Greenpeace to Salafiyyah to a whole host of ‘sufi’ tareeqas? As Gatto says: ‘Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that our entire economy depends on this lesson being learned. Think of what might fall apart if children weren’t trained to be dependent: the social services could hardly survive – they would vanish, I think, into the recent historical limbo out of which they arose. Counsellors and therapists would look on in horror as the supply of psychic invalids vanished. Commercial entertainment of all sorts, including television, would wither as people learned again how to make their own fun. Restaurants, the prepared food industry, and a whole host of other assorted food services would be drastically down-sized if people returned to making their own meals rather than depending on strangers to plant, pick, chop, and cook for them. Much of modern law, medicine, and engineering would go too, as well as the clothing business and school teaching, unless a guaranteed supply of helpless people continued to pour out of our schools each year…We’ve built a way of life that depends on people doing what they are told because they don’t know how to tell themselves what to do.’

The last two lessons are provisional self-esteem, so that children’s evaluation of themselves is based on certified officials as opposed to parents, families and friends, and one can’t hide, so that children can be groomed into accepting constant surveillance throughout their lives.

In the next chapter, ‘The Psychopathic School’, Gatto enumerates eight pathologies of the children he teaches, which are: they are indifferent to the adult world, they have almost no curiosity, they have a poor sense of the future, they are ahistorical (i.e. have no understanding of how the past has affected the present), they are cruel to each other, they are uneasy with intimacy or candour, they are materialistic, and, last but not least, they are dependent, passive and timid in the presence of new challenges. Is this really what we want for our children? To fix this, Gatto suggests: ‘Independent study, community service, adventures and experience, large doses of privacy and solitude, a thousand different apprenticeships – the one-day variety or longer – these are all powerful, cheap, and effective ways to start a real reform of schooling.’ In other words, education should be taken out of the hand of so-called experts, who really know nothing about children and education, and be put back into the hands of families and communities.

The third chapter, entitled ‘The Green Monongahela’, includes the beautiful story of a girl called Milagros, of student of Gatto’s who was a brilliant reader but put in a low-level reading class, because the ‘administration’ had deemed that that was her place. After much struggle, Gatto finally managed to get her into the advanced reading class, and that same girl went on to become an award-winning teacher herself.

The fourth chapter is called ‘We Need Less School, Not More’, in which Gatto says: ‘No one survives these places with their humanity intact, not kids, not teachers, not administrators, and not parents.’ He then goes on to discuss the key differences between communities and networks. ‘A community is a place in which people face each other over time in all their human variety: good parts, bad parts, and all the rest. Such places promote the highest quality of life possible – lives of engagement and participation.’ Networks, on the other hand, divide people and make them feel lonely, because they are inhuman mechanisms. Belonging to various networks eventually makes one feel alone in the middle of a crowd. For further discussion on this matter, read this article by Malcolm Gladwell. How human is Facebook, really?

The final chapter is called ‘The Congregational Principle’, in which the author condemns the idea of central planning and explains how the early European settlers in New England were Congregationalists and strictly individualistic. Each congregation has its own way of raising and educating children and even within each congregation there was a lack of uniformity. This allows for people to do their own reading and research, but still within set parameters. Orthodox Muslims (Ahl us-Sunnah wa Al-Jamāʿah) have the set parameters of the four madhabs and the creedal disciplines of the Ḥanbalīs, Ashʿarīs and Maturīdīs, while it is the Salafī cult that advocates central planning and ‘one right way’ of doing things. Central planning always stunts and numbs people because it prevents them from growing and developing naturally. Shiekh Ramaḍān Al-Būṭī, in his great work Fiqh As-Sīrah, explains why the prohibition of alcohol in Islām worked and why it failed miserably when the US government tried to do it from 1919 to 1933. The key is that love of Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was planted firmly into the hearts of the Companions first, so that when the prohibition came they readily and willingly accepted it. In the US, the love of alcohol hadn’t been removed from the people’s hearts, so they resorted to clandestine methods of acquiring booze, which led to the formation of bootlegging syndicates and people like the notorious gangster Al Capone. Grassroots, family-based and/or community-based education, produces genuine, long-lasting changes in people, whereas government education and moralising, planned from central headquarters and issued from the top, always fails miserably.

In conclusion, Muslims living in the US, UK or Canada, and other countries, should consider the options of homeschooling or founding their own schools. In addition to the harms and dangers that Gatto mentions in his book, we should also be wary of the content that is taught, the beliefs and values that are being inculcated, such as atheism, secularism, evolution theory, the unity of all religions and other brands, forms and doctrines of kufr. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that our great scholars and jurists, such as Imam Ibn Al-Ḥājj [1], the great Maliki, Imām Yūsuf an-Nabahānī [2] , the great Shafiʿī, and Imām Aḥmad Shākir [3], the great Ḥanafī, have declared it impermissible for Muslims to send their children to such schools, and their ruling is the consensus of the Ummah.

The consensus of our scholars should be enough to dissuade us from sending our children to these schools, but for people who may think that it is pragmatic or practical, or even beneficial to do such a thing to their children, Gatto’s work should leave them in no doubt as to what is the best option for them. Furthermore, for Muslims who think it would be a good idea to borrow the western model and call it ‘Islamic’ when setting up their own schools, Gatto’s work comes as a stark warning and admonition. It is not just the content of these schools’ curricula that is the problem; the methods and means used are also damaging.

And with Allah alone is every success!

Dumbing Us Down
is available from New Society Publishers as well as Amazon US and Amazon UK.
_________________________________________
[1] See Al-Madkhal under the chapter ‘The Prohibition of sending Muslim children to Christian schools’
[2] See the Imām’s book Taḥdhīr ul-Muslimīn ʿan Madāris in-Naṣārā (A Warning to the Muslims about Christian Schools)
[3] See the Imām’s book Al-Khawātir fī At-Taʿlīm (Dangers in Education)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Book Release: The Divine Lightning

By Imam Sulaiman Ibn ‘Abdul Wahhab, translated by Al-Hajj Abu Ja’far Al-Hanbali (Spire Publishing, 2011)


Whether it be Al-Qaeda, Ahle Hadith, GIA or any other medley of titles, these groups stem from the same source: Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab and his Ikhwan, or 'Brotherhood' movement. For the first time in English, the reader has a full historical and theological explanation of Salafi yyah. The author, Imam Sulaiman ibn `Abdul Wahhab, was the first to write about and ultimately fall victim to the movement. Anyone seeking answers - Muslim or not - needs to understand that this tribulation did not begin on a Tuesday in 2001, but in the mind of a false prophet more than 200 years ago.

Order your copy now from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

For Al-Hajj Abu Ja’far’s other books please visit www.htspub.com. For recordings of his classes and lectures please visit the Reasons for Faith Channel.

UPDATE: The book is also availble from/via Amazon Japan, Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany, and Amazon France. Amazon Austria will redirect you towards Amazon Germany. I hope that helps!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Fiqh of Minorities (Part 1)

By Sheikh Muḥammad Saʿīd Ramaḍān Al-Būti

It is not a coincidence that the call to ‘Fiqh of Minorities’ has come together with the plan aimed a dividing Islam.
[1]

In an age in which the leaders of the ideological attack are planning, throughout the world, to divide the single global Islam into various local “Islams”, that differ and are in conflict with one another, [this ideological attack] follows in succession the voices calling to “Fiqh of Minorities” and these [two ideas] grant legitimacy to one another. In clarification of the matter, [Fiqh of Minorities] is nothing other than an Islamic garb that is appropriate for the Islam that is thriving today in the west, in Europe and America, not the other Islam that is prevalent in the traditional Muslim lands.

I have inquired before: ‘What are the reasons or foundations that make it necessary to give rise to this “Fiqh of Minorities”?’

The reply was: ‘There are many: the principle of benefits…necessities permit that which is forbidden…difficulty brings about ease…nothing has been made difficult for you in this religion. [See Al-Ḥājj 22:78]

I said: ‘But these reasons are not specific to Muslims living in Europe or America, rather they are reasons for a global Islamic fiqh that does not have a particular land. There has not been a day when there have not been reasons for what is called “Fiqh of Minorities” or anything else. Wherever you find a necessity, in its known legal meaning, the causative prohibition for it is lifted. And wherever you find a difficulty that goes beyond the usual limit, a legal dispensation is undertaken to lift it. And whenever the two benefits [the lifting of the causative prohibition and the legal dispensation] are opposed in the hierarchy of the objectives of Revealed Law, the first of them takes precedence. We have not found in the Qur’an or the Sunnah, and not in the speech of any of the imams of the Revealed Law, that these reasons are particular to the circumstances of minorities that are living in Dar al-Kufr[2] , and that it is not permissible for other Muslims, living in the Islamic world, to take them or use them as a basis.

I was told: ‘Indeed the necessities that create the urgent need for a special fiqh for these minorities are a result of their presence in societies that are not Islamic, and have particularities that are distinct from Islamic societies.’

I said: ‘What Islam is this that decrees that the mere presence of a Muslim in Dar al-Kufr is considered a necessity justifying the legislation of a special Islamic fiqh for him, in harmony with what surrounds him from the tendencies of kufr, iniquity, and disobedience? So why did Allah legislate emigration (hijra) and command it, from Dar al-Kufr (if it is not possible for a Muslim to apply the rulings of Islam in it) to Dar al-Islam? Why didn’t the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and his Companions, when they were in the midst of the polytheists in Mecca, depend on that which he did not know, called “Fiqh of Minorities”?

If the mere presence of Muslims in Dar al-Kufr brings about the necessity, justifying the creation of a new fiqh that is appropriate to those lands and those in them, then who are those whom Allah, Exalted is He, said regarding them:

"When the angels seized the souls of those who were doing wrong to their own souls, they asked them: “What was the matter with you?” They answered: “We were oppressed in the land.” The angels replied: “Was not Allah’s earth spacious for you to emigrate in it?” Hell is the abode of such people and it is a very evil abode indeed." [An-Nisāʾ 4:97]?

And we were rejoicing because of the gradual increase of Muslims in the west, with their adherence to Islam and upholding of its rulings, causing the dissolution of the deviating Western civilization, dissolving in the stream of the Islamic civilization.

But we today, in the shadow of this beautiful call to what is known as “Fiqh of Minorities”, know that we are threatened with the opposite of what we were rejoicing about. We are threatened with the dissolution of the Islamic presence in the stream of the deviating Western civilization, and this fiqh is responsible.

[1] This was Sheikh Al-Būti's Word for the Month for June, 2001.

[2] According to Imām ibn Mufliḥ al-Ḥanbalī in Al-Adāb ash-Sharʿiyyah [v.1 pp.191-92], Dār al-Kufr are the lands in which the laws of kufr are predominant, while Dār al-Islām are the lands in which the laws of Islam are predominant. Please click on 'The Abodes of the Earth' below for further details.

Related Posts:
Fiqh of Minorities (Part 2)
The Abodes of the Earth

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Objectives of the Revealed Law (Maqāṣid Ash-Sharīʿah)

A Brief Introduction

In the Name of Allah, The All Merciful, The Most Merciful

In the Arabic language, the word maqāṣid comes from the word maqṣid or maqṣūd. The maqṣid is the place that it is intended while the maqṣūd is the objective that is intended. In the terminology of Uṣūl Al-Fiqh, the maqāṣid are the objectives and wisdoms that the Lawgiver has laid down for every ruling of the Revealed Law, realising advantages for His slaves in the life of this world and the Hereafter by bringing about that which benefits them and warding off that which harms them.

The foundational purpose behind the legislations of Islām is consideration for the benefits of Allah’s slaves in terms of their Dīn as well as the life of this world in that which facilitates their task as vicegerents and enables them to inhabit and develop the earth.

Whenever Allah’s slaves seek benefit there is the risk of them moving away from the truth, due to those benefits mixing with harms, or going beyond moderation and balance and falling into neglect or excess, or the risk of following vain desires by giving precedence to worldly matters over matters of the Hereafter, or bringing something forward that should be delayed and delaying something that should be brought forward, or these benefits are subjected to opinions and vain desires…The Wise Lawgiver has laid down the foundations for procuring benefits and their limits by way of clarifying the general and comprehensive objectives of legislation, then ordering what branches out from these objectives in a precise manner such that no scope is left for vain desires to intervene or interfere and thus become the arbiter therein. Indeed, everything that brings about an objective of the Revealed Law is a sought-after benefit, and everything that contravenes the objective of the Lawgiver is a harm that must be averted and the means to it must be blocked.

The Lawgiver’s general objective behind legislating rulings:
Indeed whoever examines the rulings of the Revealed Law and follows their development will find that legal responsibility (at-taklīf) is entirely about averting harm and bringing about benefit, and thus the rulings of the Revealed Law have only been established out of consideration for the benefits of Allah’s slaves and realising the utmost goodness for them in the life of this world and the Hereafter, or both of them together.

The reasoning behind The Lawgiver’s rulings and legislations is shown in the Noble Qurʾān and the Prophetic Sunnah; benefits for the slave in this world and in the Hereafter. This is what affirms His intention towards realising the welfare of His slaves and their success in both worlds. The Lawgiver’s consideration for the benefits of His slaves is not restricted to the scope of customs, transactions and punitive measures. Rather, they also include acts of worship that are considered to be the prime objective of worship…because Allah the Exalted has no need of His creation. Their obedience does not benefit Him and their disobedience does not harm Him. Rather, the objective of their worship is to return the benefit therein to them. Allah the Exalted has said, concluding the āya on wuḍūʾ (ablution): “Allah does not want to make things difficult for you, but He does want to purify you and to perfect His blessings upon you so that hopefully you will be thankful.” [Al-Māʾidah 5:6] Thus, Allah, Mighty and Majestic, has explained the objective behind legislating wuḍūʾ, which is purification from dirt, uncleanliness and sins. Likewise, He the Exalted explained the objective behind legislating the prayer in His statement: “The prayer precludes indecency and wronging.” [Al-ʿAnkabūt 29:45] The one who performs the prayer properly will be protected from committing blameworthy statements and actions. He the Exalted explained the objective behind legislating zakāt in His statement: “Take zakāt from their wealth to purify and cleanse them.” [At-Tawba 9:103] Thus, He has clarified that the objective behind legislating zakāt is to purify the wealthy from all forms of uncleanliness, material and spiritual.

The āyāt that show that the objectives of the Lawgiver are consideration for the benefit of His slaves, in their transactions, customs and punitive measures, include His, The Exalted’s, statement: “Among His Signs is that He created spouses for you of your own kind so that you might find tranquility in them. And He has placed affection and compassion between you.” [Ar-Rūm 30:21] Thus, the objective behind legislating marriage is tranquility, affection and compassion between the two spouses. The objective behind prohibiting intoxicants is in His, The Exalted’s, statement: “You who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, stone altars and divining arrows are filth from the handiwork of Shayṭān. Avoid them completely so that hopefully you will be successful.” [Al-Māʾidah 5:90] These things are filth. The objective behind legislating retaliation (al-qaṣāṣ) is in His, The Exalted’s, statement: “There is life for you in retaliation, O people of intelligence, so that hopefully you will have fear of Allah.” [Al-Baqara 2:179] i.e. preventing criminals from transgressing against life. From these āyāt it is clear that the Lawgiver’s general objective behind legislating rulings is consideration for the benefit of His slaves in both worlds, and it is the general objective behind all of legal responsibility and all states. The scholars have divided these benefits into three degrees: indispensible benefits (maṣāliḥ ḍarūriyyah), necessary benefits (maṣāliḥ ḥājiyyah) and refining benefits (maṣāliḥ taḥsīniyyah), and each of these degrees has that which perfects it (mukammilāt).

The objective behind maintaining these benefits is represented in preserving the five comprehensives (al-kulliyāt al-khams): Ad-Dīn (the religion), an-nafs (life), al-ʿaql (intellect), an-nasl (lineage), and al-māl (wealth and property). Therefore, preserving the foundations of these comprehensives is considered part of the indispensible benefits, while preserving other than them is considered part of the necessary or refining benefits.

Preserving the foundation of the Dīn requires faith in the pillars of the creed and establishing its acts of worship, such as the prayer, zakāt, fasting and the Ḥajj. The demand for these to be carried out is from the indispensible benefits, because the foundation of the Dīn cannot be established without them. As for demanding that which perfects this foundation, such as dispensations that makes things easier for those who are legally responsible, these are from the necessary benefits. As for demanding that which perfects supererogatory acts, etiquettes and virtues, this is from the refining benefits.

[Translated from Uṣūl al-Fiqh: As-Sanah Ath-Thāniyah min Salak Al-Bakālawriya, Shaʿbah At-Taʿlīm Al-Aṣīl, Maslak Al-ʿUlūm Ash-Sharʿīyyah by Ustadh ʿAli Filālī and colleagues at the Qarawiyyin High School, Fes, Morocco, p.11-12]