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.

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

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