Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Importance of Objective Standards

Why life is meaningless and dangerous without standards and authorities

Following on from the last post about accommodating and promoting blasphemy, it has become even clearer that understanding authority in Islam is a major issue in the Anglosphere. Something cannot be labelled blasphemy or innovation unless it contradicts that which is orthodox, or standard. Despite attempts to portray things as otherwise, Islam does indeed have objective standards that determine what orthodox creed is and therefore what a Muslim is.

Insha'Allah, there will be a post very soon dedicated exclusively to explaining authority in our religion, but in the meantime it would be useful to show how objective standards are used across the board.

1) In the video above, Professor Thomas Sowell explains how there are objective standards in professional fields, especially those that have consequential knowledge, such as engineering and medicine. Consequential knowledge is knowledge that has consequences in the outside world. If an engineer makes a mistake a bridge or building might collapse. If a doctor makes a mistake a patient can be seriously harmed or even killed. If an aeroplane pilot makes a wrong decision, hundreds of lives can be at risk. There is little room for feelings, opinions, experimentation and guesswork.

2) There are also objective standards in gender and race, and again, despite attempts to portray things as otherwise, a man will always be a man, a woman will always be a woman and Rachel Dolezal will always have Czech, German and Swedish lineage. Brendan O'Neill has written an excellent article about how western society has moved from "being" to "identifying". Now, for example, a man simply has to "identify" as a woman and he is one, regardless of objective standards such as chromosomes and genitalia. Instead, it is subjective feelings that now decide such matters.

Mike Adams of Natural News wrote an insightful article several months ago about how dangerous this notion is, especially in legal matters. What if someone identifies as an animal, for example a cat, and then commits bestiality with a poor feline? Can he use the excuse that he was born into the wrong species, that he was supposed to be born as a cat and therefore all he was doing was mating with the opposite sex of his species? Again, do we ignore the objective standards that distinguish a cat from a human being and surrender to someone's feelings? The absurdity of all this was also captured brilliantly by James Delingpole after Rachel Dolezal was exposed as a white woman. However you were created (gender, race, species etc.) is not an oppressive social construct.

The articles above, especially Delingpole's, are humorous, but it's no laughing matter if these ideas are being stuffed down the throats of children. Is anyone going to bother telling these poor children that "transitioning" is nothing more than cosmetic: a man will never menstruate and a woman will never produce sperm, no matter how much surgery is done or how many hormones are ingested or injected? In addition to disfiguring and mutilating oneself, one is also making oneself infertile.

3) There are also objective standards in laws, legals codes and constitutions. If a law can be interpreted and reinterpreted according to "the age we live in" or whims and fancies, then, as George Will puts it, we have a constitution that doesn't constitute. Please watch from the seventh minute:

Or, as Walter E Williams sums it up, who would play poker if the rules were "living"?

This is similar to our understanding that there is no ijtihad in matters for which there is a clear text, or that which is known to be from the religion by necessity. Therefore, there is no ijtihad as to whether alcohol or usury are haraam, or regarding the inheritance shares that are laid out in the Qur'an. If ijtihad were permissible in these matters then the Revealed Law would disintegrate. The same goes for legal schools (madhhabs); each has its own principles (usul) as well as relied-upon (mu'tamad) scholars and books. If these are dismissed or ignored, the school disintegrates and becomes meaningless. Please see The Adab of the Mufti for more details.

4) Therefore, or last but certainly not least, we have objective standards for religion. What defines a Muslim? A Muslim, or follower of any other religion, is defined by what he or she believes in: their theology. If an individual's theology matches that of Islam, i.e. what Allah has revealed in His Book and on the tongue of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, then that person is a Muslim. If not, then no.

We are not "Muslims for Progressive Values", who, on their website, say: "We accept as Muslim anyone who identifies as such." Again, this is the total absence of objective standards. According to these people, theology is irrelevant; if you feel like a Muslim or call yourself a Muslim, you are. 

Yet, is it only "Muslims for Progressive Values" who act upon this principle? A cursory glance at Islamic events, conferences and other activity in the Anglosphere shows that this principle is actually in full effect, for we can see Sunni Muslims sharing platforms with and indeed praising individuals [see pages 12 and 16] who hold beliefs that are diametrically opposed to that which is known to be of the religion by necessity. Brother Abu Nur al-Mizzi summarised this nicely in his article:

"All of these unprincipled practices lead to the distortion and corruption of the religion from within and a dereliction of duty.  They will knowingly invite the unlearned, the open sinner, the Perennialist, those who believe that the character of the Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) is incomplete, those that openly believe and publicly defend the stance that Sayyiduna Adam (`alayhi al-salam) had parents, those that have publicly written and defend that Allah ta`ala ascends, descends, and sits with His holy Essence (dhaat), those that reject mass-transmitted beliefs, those that reject consensuses, those that deny matters known to be from the essentials of the religion, etc."

Whoever honours a person of innovation has indeed assisted in the destruction of Islam.

With that being the case, what is the meaningful purpose of these conferences and conventions? Is it just to "feel" good? Is there a really a consequential difference between events like this (here, here, and here) and events like this (here and here)?

It should thus be clear that for anything in life to have meaning, and especially our faith, there have to be objective standards, and there have to be authorities that uphold and defend these standards. Our foundational theology is in the Qur'an, and then we have authoritative texts, starting with Bayyaan as-Sunnah by Imam Abu Ja'far at-Tahawi, al-'Itiqaad by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and al-Fiqh al-Akbar by Imam Abu Hanifah. From texts like these, further authoritative ones have been written. These are our standards. Just because there is a movement afoot in the Anglosphere aimed deliberately at obfuscating standards and making everything subjective and relative, it does not mean we should allow Islam to be subjected to it.

And with Allah alone is every success.

Related Posts:
The Accommodation and Promotion of Blasphemy
A Guide for New Believers
A Guide to the Book of Allah
The Purpose of Life
Fatawa that Appear Islamic but Actually Serve the West
The Adab of the Mufti
Why do they support Trump?
Islam is revelation, not a race or culture
Can You See? (Jurjis)

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Accommodation and Promotion of Blasphemy: Why The Study Qur’an is not for public consumption according to Sunni Principles

A guest post by Brother Abu Nur al-Mizzi

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد أفضل الأنبياء والمرسلين وعلى آله وصحبه ومن تبعه بإحسان إلى يوم الدين

Much attention has been brought towards the new publication, The Study Qur’an, by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr and his editorial staff, with accolades and endorsements from prominent Muslim leaders/scholars to coverage in media outlets in the West.  It has also been noticed that a very small number of scholars spoke out against the book on account of its passages that violate issues pertaining to the essentials of the religion, and in turn, they received much resentment.  What was more disconcerting was to see certain Sunni authorities in North America labeling any form of opposition as uncivil, arrogant, impatient, prejudicial, bigoted, and unintelligent.  This is in spite of their knowledge that The Study Qur’an proffers the idea of the validity of certain religions outside of Islam leading to Truth and/or salvation even after one hears its pristine message today.[1]  Such a notion has interrelated and overlapping meanings with other terms that are known by some as “soteriological pluralism”, “covenantal pluralism”, “soteriological inclusivism”, “universality of religions”, “salvific inclusivity”, or “Perennialism”.  Although in a strict, philosophical sense each of these may carry a certain defined meaning, but for the sake of clarity we will simply refer to this aforementioned notion as “Perennialism” since this is what the common man tends to immediately understand from this.  The intention here is to present a short article that seeks to show by way of proofs that the stance of these few scholars who have criticized The Study Qur’an on account of its Perennialist passages is not only deeply rooted in the deen (religion) but in fact is stronger and has always been the practice of scholars from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).  There are those that might see this attempt as divisive in nature, or worse, as “fitnah-mongering”.  However, when the Sunni authorities of the land have not clarified the matter in a lucid and unambiguous manner that resembles the traditional and principled ways of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah, then those able are obliged to do so for the sake of the common Sunni who still holds such principles dear to his or her heart.  And success is from Allah ta`ala Alone.

As per the directive of Allah ta`ala,

وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَىٰ تَنفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ 
“And remind!  For indeed the reminder benefits the Believers” (51:55).  We pray that the below serves as a form of sincere counsel.

One of the striking aspects concerning the character of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) that stick out in the Qur’an is that Allah ta`ala has referred to him as “rahmah lil-`alamin” “mercy for the worlds” (21:107), but at the same time He ta`ala orders him to be “harsh upon them (disbelievers and hypocrites)” (66:9), and yet again, he’s still referred to as one possessing a “tremendous character” (68:4) or having a “beautiful conduct” (33:21). 

This apparent contrast highlights the concept of al-Hubb fillah, "love for the sake of Allah", as well as the concept of al-bughd fillah, "abhorrence for the sake of Allah", about which the Prophet (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said as narrated in Sahih Muslim:

أفضل الحب الحب في الله وأفضل البغض البغض في الله
"The greatest love is the Love for the sake of Allah while the greatest abhorrence is Abhorrence for the sake of Allah."

It is remarkable that the Prophet Muhammad's (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) "abhorring" something deemed despicable to Allah ta'ala never detracted from the former's "rahmah for the worlds" or his "tremendous character", a character we've been told to imitate in countless verses of the Qur'an. Rather, even when he showed harshness there was still mercy and exemplary character found therein. The concept of abhorrence for the sake of Allah ta'ala goes hand in hand with the concept of al-Hubb fillah, "loving for the sake of Allah", that we should love all of that which has been deemed beloved to Allah ta'ala and we see this in countless examples in the life of the Messenger of Allah (salla Allah 'alayhi wa sallam). The happy balance between the two, the know-how of when to exhibit each concept in its proper time and place, can only be achieved by way of knowledge. The scope of this discussion will revolve around how the concept of al-bughd fillah, "abhorrence for the sake of Allah", is applicable in matters that clearly contravene what we know concerning the religion of Allah, such as Perennialism. It is noteworthy to mention that bughd is not a personal matter as it only concerns the very act or belief of disobedience itself. We abhor such disobedience but pray for the disobedient to mend his ways through sincere counsel. For anyone making allegations of "fitnah-mongering" or "bigotry" towards those that sincerely seek to uphold this concept (al-bughd fillah), it only exposes their own lack of knowledge in this matter. We turn to our illustrious scholars for aid in this regard:

Regarding those matters that clearly contravene the teachings of the religion, Allah ta'ala says:

وما كان لمؤمن ولا مؤمنة اذا قضى الله ورسوله امراً ان يكون لهم الخيرة من أمرهم ومن يعص الله ورسوله فقد ضل ضلالا مبينا
"It is not open for a believing man or a believing woman , once Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should have a choice about their matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he indeed gets off the track, falling into an open error." (33:36)

The great Hanafi exegete of the Qur'an, Abu Su'ud (d.982 h), writes concerning this verse in his Irshad al-'Aql as-Salaam ila Mazaya al-Kitab al-Kareem:
و من يعص الله ورسوله في أمر من الأمور ويعمل فيه برأيه فقد ضل طريق الحق ضلالا مبينا
"{And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger} in an issue and practices it with his own opinion {he indeed gets off} the path of Truth."

Likewise, Allah ta'ala says in the Qur'an:
ان الذين يحادون الله ورسوله أولئك في الأذلين
"Indeed, those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, they are among the lowest." (58:20)

The great Maliki exegete, al-Qurtubi (d.671 h), writes in his al-Jami' li Ahkam al-Qur'an that Imam Malik (d.179 h) used this verse for censuring the Qadariyyah sect and foregoing their gatherings.

It has been narrated that the Prophet (salla Allahi 'alayhi wa sallam) said:
من وقر صاحب بدعة فقد أعان على هدم الإسلام  
“Whoever honors a person of innovation then indeed he has aided in the destruction of Islam”. – Narrated by ibn `Asakir (d. 571 h) in his Taareekh Dimashq with an isnad that doesn’t contain discredited narrators.

At this juncture, it is imperative upon us to explain that the scholars have categorized bid`ah “innovation” upon two different degrees: 
a.) bid`ah which reaches the degree of fisq (sin) and
b.) bid`ah which reaches the degree of kufr (disbelief). 

Our concern here is with the latter (reasons coming later) so we will define it as that which would include rejecting a mass-transmitted (mutawatir) matter in the Revealed Law (shar`) that is clearly known to be from the religion of Islam by necessity.[2]  Bearing this definition in mind, let us proceed to explain the application of all of the above nusus (textual evidences) by relaying the statements of the fuqaha’ (jurists).  It will soon become patently evident that the fuqaha’ did `amal (practice) of these verses and narrations as opposed to those in our day who have deemed it inapplicable.

Monday, 11 January 2016

The Dissolution of a Marriage Contract: A Way Out for Oppressed Women

A translation of this fatwa from Naseem al-Sham


Dr Muḥammad Tawfīq al-Būṭī, as-Salām ʿalaykum wa Raḥmatullāhi wa Barakātuh:

A woman, along with her husband’s father and mother, consulted me. She said that her husband was in prison for some years. After being in prison for three years he committed another crime and as a result he was given a life sentence. It has now been three years since that ruling which means that her husband has been absent for six years, in prison. Now she is asking for the marriage to be dissolved (faskh)[1] and her husband’s parents are also asking for it, saying that she is a young lady and they don’t want her to suffer. In Shāfiʿī fiqh, is there a way to do this? What would the ruling be for her in the other madhhabs? May Allah bless you. If you are able to given us an answer today, please do so.

This woman and those like here have a way out in the Revealed Law by which they can get out of this problem, and it is to make the case that they have to ask for expenditure (nafaqah) because there is no provider (munfiq), which is the husband, strictly speaking.

She can present her case to the judge (qāī) and ask for a separation (tafrīq) due to the lack of expenditure, even if she is wealthy. Even if her husband’s family take it upon themselves to provide for her, she is not obligated to accept it, because the one who is legally responsible for her expenditure is her husband, and he’s not there.

There is another way, which is to make the case that one is suffering harm,[2] but that would require a study, and therefore I think the first illustration is better and easier.

Related Posts:

[1] (tn): i.e. to nullify the marriage contract completely; this is different from divorce in that a divorce is only final if it is tripartite (al-baynūnah al-kubrā). Please see v.8, p.336-343 of Imam Wahbah az-Zuḥaylī’s Mawsūʿah al-Fiqh al-Islāmī wa Qaḍāyā Muʿāṣirah (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 2013) for further details.
[2] (tn): This shows that in addition to the case of not being provided for, a woman can also make the case that she is suffering harm in her marriage. A qāī has the authority to dissolve the marriage in such cases. However, when unqualified individuals appoint themselves as judges, believing women can suffer immeasurable harm, and this is due to not only the stunning lack of knowledge of these so-called judges but also their cultural prejudices, and Allah knows best.