Category Archives: Fiqh/Law

All posts dealing with Islamic Jurisprudence and Principles of Jurisprudence. Includes Islam Q&A.

Women Leaders…

Note: I have edited my needless conclusion, which is merely a personal opinion undeserving of being written or read, and not in line with the propriety of a beginner student of knowledge. Conclusions are for the fuqaha to make. Thus, I will only leave the actual translation of Maulana Thanawi’s verdict here, wa billahi tawfiq – Salman


salamu `alaykum

I remember, one day in college, some of us brothers were discussing who the next MSA president would be. A few were quite fearful, for whatever reason, that a sister would emerge into that role. I remember remarking to these brothers, “What’s the problem with that?” to which they replied that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

‏لن يفلح قوم ولوا أمرهم امرأة

“Never will a nation be successful that is ruled by a woman.”

(Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi. Also narrated in Kitab al Fitan by Bukhari and Tirmidhi, the latter from Muhammad ibn Muthana, and Nasa’i in Fadha’il)

Of course, they were mistaken in applying this narration generally across the board and thus forbidding female-leadership unconditionally. Yet, the fact of the matter is that such a narration is quite specific in its application, in the type of governance and leadership it refers to, and is not a universal negation of women holding any sort of leadership position.

Our Master, Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (May Allah be well-pleased with him) clarified this at length in his Imdad al Fatawa when asked regarding current day female leaders. He replied:

“Government can be of the three types:

Firstly, one that is autocratic (tamam) and generally encompassing (`aam). By ‘autocratic’ what is meant is the leader having sole authority, such that his/her governing is individual (shakhsi) without any need or approval from any other governor upon whom his/her decisions rest (mawquf). By ‘generally encompassing’ what is meant is that his/her subjects not be an exceedingly minute (qalil) group.

Secondly, one that is autocratic but not generally encompassing.

Thirdly, one that is generally encompassing but not autocratic.

An example of the first type is a woman being given sole sultanate or presidency, with the conditions mentioned previously.

An example of the second type is a woman receiving complete administrative duties over a small group, at the exclusion of all others.

An example of the third type is a woman being a democratic leader, yet, such that her guardianship is only an apparent (suri) one and not real (haqiqi). Rather, an integral part [of such a system of government] is seeking counsel (mashwera), and real leadership (wali haqiqi) therefore belongs to the parliament.

Analyzing the wording of the narration in question carefully brings to light the fact that it is in reference to the first group. Thus, the reason behind the [prophetic] statement, which was due to the Persians making Kisra [s: the name given to the leader] the monarch, unconditionally and completely as pointed to by the word usage, and connecting such leadership over a nation (qawm) – all of this contextualizes the narration.”

He continues a few lines down by stating:

“This is in opposition to the second type, which although has complete guardianship is not consigned over a nation [s: a “generally encompassing” body, as outlined before].

It is in opposition to the third type, which although is connected to a nation, does not constitute absolute and complete guardianship due to the presence of a counsel. Even though such counsel is given preference over individual counsels, it does not constitute complete and absolute guardianship…

Such contextualization is clear from the words of the hadith.”

Maulana Thanawi then continues by giving proof from the texts proving the validity and legitimacy of female leadership in certain cases – such as those of type two and three.

For type two, he brings forth the narration:

“A woman is a guardian over the household of her husband.”

(Bukhari and Muslim)

This proves that the leadership and guardianship of a woman, even if completely, over a minute constituency is valid.

As for type three, he gives the example of Queen Bilqis, who is referred to in the Qur’an, as being a “democratic leader” and the absence of any texts that imply her being removed from such a post even after her accepting the religion of Allah.

Since the basis was the establishment of her rulership and nothing specifies her removal from such a position, Maulana Thanawi brings forth the well known principle (qa’ida) that “Any matter passed upon by Allah and His Messenger without condemnation is a proof upon us.” Thus, it is established from the Qur’an that such a leadership is permitted for a woman since the reality of such governance is based on counsel and the woman only serves as the guardian of the counsel – not the ultimate authority.

Rather, Maulana stipulates that even if the woman has complete and sole leadership yet she, out of her own accord, chooses not to opinionate solely on her individual views and opinions, even this type of leadership does not enter into the forbidden leadership that the narration alludes to.

All of this is proof for the validity of the third type of government.

To conclude, he states:

“When the evidence establishes that the guardianship and leadership being referred to is that of type one then it becomes clear that the leadership of women in our times does not enter into this narration. This is because if we consider those that she rules over to be a small minority then it is of the second type [which is not interdicted]. If we do not consider her leadership to be over a very small group, which is what is clear today, even then such governance is democratic [and thus not interdicted]. This is whether such a system is manifestly apparent, such as in the case of the presence of a clearly viewable parliament, or non-apparent, such as the absence of a parliament yet the necessity of having laws passed through the consent of a representative or penitent of the leader. This enters into the third type.”

(Imdad al Fatawa, Vol 5 Pg: 91)

And Allah Knows Best




Filed under Fiqh/Law, General

Imitating Non-Muslim Dress: Is It Always Impermissible?

salamu `alaykumHave you ever seen a brother walking around with a t-shirt on? Someone wearing a tie? Dress pants? A sister wearing jeans, modestly covered by a lengthy upper-garment? If you have, then you have also probably seen someone mentioning the impermissiblity of doing so due to it being an imitation of the non-Muslims, something the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) emphatically forbade.

It is narrated in the Sunan of Abu Dawud (#4032) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم

“He who imitates a nation is from them.”

He (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) also said, as narrated by Imam Tirmidhi in his Sunan :

“He is not from us who resembles other than us.”

Similarly, there are many other narrations from the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that command the Muslims to avoid imitating specific groups. For the sake of brevity these narrations will not be mentioned.

From this, one may conclude that imitating the non-Muslims in any way, shape, or form is interdicted by the shari`ah. This, however, is not the case as the scholars of the religion make clear in their expositions.

The Linguistic Meaning of “Shabbaha”

The word is derived from the root sh-ba-ha and indicates “likeness, similitude, assimiliation, parable, resemblance”. For example, it is said:

شبہه به

“He made it to be like it”

It also comes in the meaning of مثله , as in Urdu we say “mithal ke tor pe“, to mean “comparison” or “likeness”. Thus, one states:

شبہت الشىء بالشىء

“I placed the thing [in place] of the other thing.”

What is signified by this is a common attribute shared by the two “things”. So, here it comes in the meaning of, for example, “The brightness is like this brightness” or “The hardness is like this hardness” or “`Ali is like a lion” and so forth. Another eample of this is:

ومنه : أشبه الولد أباه : إذا شاركه في صفة من صفاته

“The son resembled his father, when he shared in an attribute from his attributes.”

The Legal Definition & Conditions Of Impermissibility

The Mawsu`at al Fiqhiyya states that the scholars of law did not stray from this linguistic usage of “shabbaha”. This is because the linguistic meaning of a word is taken into consideration when formulating the legal meanings of expressions. Thus, for example, the reason why the Hanafi scholars consider intention to be an obligatory condition for the validity of one’s tayammum is because the word “tayammum” – in its linguistic sense – carries the meaning of “directing oneself” (qasd). This is mentioned by Imam Zayla`i in his Tabiyin al Haqa’iq:

التيمم في اللغة القصد قال الله تعالى { ولا تيمموا الخبيث } أي لا تقصدو

Defining “imitation”, Mufti Taqi `Usmani states in his Taqrire Tirmidhi (Vol 2, Pg: 331):

“‘Imitation’ (tashabbah) is (a word) used for one who directs himself (qasd), of his own accord, to a specific group in order to imitate them and be like them.”

It is important here to note the stipulation of “directing oneself” or “resolving” to imitate the disbelievers as a condition for impermissible “imitation”. This condition was also mentioned by Ibn `Abidin in his Radd al Muhtar and Imam Haskafi in his Durr al Mukhtar. Imam Haskafi stated:

وجوزه الشافعي بلا كراهة وهما بها للتشبه بأهل الكتاب : أي إن قصده ؛ فإن التشبه بهم لا يكره في كل شيء ، بل في المذموم وفيما يقصد به التشبه ، كما في البحر .

“(s: Regarding reading from the mushaf in salah) And it was permitted by Shafi`i, without dislike, and the two companions (s: of Abu Hanifa) considered it disliked because it was an imitation of the People of the Book i.e. with the intent/resolve to do so. Indeed, imitation of them is not disliked in all things, but (only) in (the imitation) of the unlawful and in imitation with the resolve to be like them.”

Ibn `Abidin states in his commentary:

قال هشام : رأيت على أبي يوسف نعلين مخصوفين بمسامير ، فقلت : أترى بهذا الحديد بأسا ؟ قال لا قلت : سفيان وثور بن يزيد كرها ذلك لأن فيه تشبها بالرهبان ؛ فقال { كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يلبس النعال التي لها شعر } وإنها من لباس الرهبان . فقد أشار إلى أن صورة المشابهة فيما تعلق به صلاح العباد لا يضر ، فإن الأرض مما لا يمكن قطع المسافة البعيدة فيها إلا بهذا النوع . ا هـ وفيه إشارة أيضا إلى أن المراد بالتشبه أصل الفعل : أي صورة المشابهة بلا قصد .

“Hisham said: ‘I saw on Abu Yusuf two sandals with crampons and said, ‘Do you wear this out of distress?’ He replied, ‘No’. I said, ‘Sufyan and Thawr ibn Yazid disliked it because it resembles the monks’. He stated, ‘The Prophet wore sandals which had hairs on it.” (Ibn `Abidin states) Indeed, it (such sandals) are from the dress of the monks. Verily this points to the fact that such appearance of imitation linked to the righteous servants was not harmful… and in it is also an indication regarding the basis of such imitative action – it was an appearance of imitation without resolve (s: to be like them).”

In the Mawsu`at it states:

والتشبه في غير المذموم وفيما لم يقصد به التشبه لا بأس به

“And imitation in other than the unlawful and in what one does not resolve to imitate (the non-Muslims in), then there is no harm in it.”

Mufti Taqi `Usmani further says:

“Imitation, without resolve or intent (s: to imitate the non-Muslims) is not prohibited even though one resembles the non-Muslims due to it.”

Another aspect that falls into impermissible “imitation” is something that is specifically a sign of the non-Muslims, such as wearing a cross, a yamaka, and its like – such that an onlooker would consider that person from among such people. This is prohibited.

أن يكون التشبه في الوقت الذي يكون اللباس المعين شعارا للكفار ، وقد أورد ابن حجر حديث أنس رضي الله عنه أنه رأى قوما عليهم الطيالسة ، فقال : كأنهم يهود خيبر ثم قال ابن حجر : وإنما يصلح الاستدلال بقصة اليهود في الوقت الذي تكون الطيالسة من شعارهم ، وقد ارتفع ذلك فيما بعد ، فصار داخلا في عموم المباح ا

Therefore, it can be stated that “Prohibition of Imitation” of the non-Muslims comes into effect in one of two ways:

(1) Either through one’s directing oneself in imitating them, of his own accord, with the intention of being like them, or

(2) Through imitation of something religiously or otherwise unique to them, in a way that would allow an onlooker to consider one as “one of them”.

Interpreting the Narration “He who imitates a nation…”

From what has preceded, it can be seen that the narration prohibiting imitation can be interpreted in two ways:

(1) If “imitation” here is taken in its linguistic capacity to mean “general likeness” then the the general usage of the word “imitation” will be considered as an application of “the universal used in terms of the speicifc” (`aam makhsus). This is easily gleaned from the fact that specific aspects such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and so forth are precluded – by default – since imitation in them cannot be avoided. Imam Ibn `Abidin states in his work:

مطلب في التشبه بأهل الكتاب ( قوله لأن التشبه بهم لا يكره في كل شيء ) فإنا نأكل ونشرب كما يفعلون بحر عن شرح الجامع الصغير لقاضي خان

“(imitation of them is not disliked in all things) such as our eating and drinking…”

(2) If “imitation” is taken in its legal sense then the narration is specific from the very get go to mean what was mentioned earlier. Thus, what is meant is that imitation of the non-Muslims is only prohibited if one of the two conditions previously mentioned above are met.

The Role of Custom (`Urf) In Defining “Imitative” Aspects

Despite the fact that the conditions for prohibited imitation are fundamentally twofold, some people may still argue that these conditions are actually effectively met by wearing the clothes of the “westerners”.

The fallacy of such an argument is, firstly, that no Muslim in the west wakes up in the morning and intends to wear jeans to imitate the non-Muslims, or T-Shirts, or Calvin Klein dress shoes, or Nike. Even if specific people do, this is not a sufficient criteria for a general ruling or prohibition.

Secondly, the “west” as a “nation” includes both Muslims and non-Muslims and it can no longer be said that the western dress is an exclusively “non-Muslim” one. Thus, such clothing is *not* a distinct and unique sign of non-Muslims. The principle here is, as Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi and others mention, that if something becomes customary and general in a land then the prohibition of imitation is lifted.

Maulana Thanawi states in his Tuhfat al `Ulema (Vol 2, Pg 130):

“If wearing coats and pants became customary here (in India)… then it will not be prohibited to wear.”

Similarly, he stated (Ibid, Pg: 131):

“It was asked whether it is permitted for women to wear cuffs on the sleeves of their upper-garments? The reply was that wherever it is considered an imitation of men it is forbidden and wherever it is not then it is permitted.”

(Note here that the same conditions apply for women imitating men and vice versa as stipulated previously)

He also said (Ibid, Pg: 130; Imdad al fatawa, Vol 3):

“A person inquired that if a Muslim is residing in London and dresses in a shirt and pants does this count as imitiation of the non-Muslims? It was replied that this is not considered imitation because there, in London, such dress is not thought of as something extrinsic to the land. Rather, everyone wears such clothing. If over here (the subcontinent) coats and pants become customary then it would not be forbidden here also.”

Mufti Taqi `Usmani On The Principles Of Dress

Mufti Muhammad Taqi `Usmani, one of the elading scholars of the Hanafi school in our times, said (Taqrir):

“The law has given much flexibility as it relates to the fiqh of dress, and has not made necessary on the ummah any specific form of dress whose opposing would be impermitted. Rather, Islam has laid down general principles related to dress and has made permissible for people to wear any type of clothing as long as it conforms to these guidelines. “

These principles are, in summary:

(1) The covering of the `awra, which for men is from just below the navel upto and including the knee and, for women, all of her body except her hands, face, and feet.

(2) The total avoidance of imitating the opposite sex.

(3) The total avoidance of imitating the non-Muslims.

(4) The total avoidance of wearing dress for the purpose of displaying arrogance and not being excessive.

(5) The total avoidance of wearing that which has been interdicted, such as silk (for men), dragging the garment out of pride (for men), and so forth.

An Answer On Women’s Clothing: Ustadha Shazia Ahmed

Q. Must a teenager wear a jilbaab once she reaches puberty? If her clothes are not tight fitting, does it not suffi

In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate.

Once a woman reaches the age of puberty (and a little before it, too), she must in front of marriageable men:

a) cover her body with clothing that is

1) loose; tight-fitting clothes are unlawful

2) thick enough such that the color of the skin does not show through

3) and long enough to cover the body;

She should also try not to wear clothing that attracts attention according to the culture of the area where she lives. For example, bright colors are perfectly normal in some parts of Africa, whereas they would turn heads in some parts of Canada.

As long as she fulfills these conditions, she is not obliged to wear the Arab style jilbab or abaya.

More importantly though, is modesty in her character. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said that modesty is a branch of faith and in another hadith, he said that it only brings good. Modesty is lacking in today’s times, so whoever is blessed with this characteristic, has indeed been given a beautiful quality.

And Allah knows best.


Further, for men, somewhat tight clothing that does not clearly define their `awra is slightly disliked. Tight clothing that fully defines the shape and form of the `awra would be prohibitively disliked and sinful.


This was a general summary of the issue. Simply, wearing the everyday clothes most of us wear is perfectly fine. One should, though, try to avoid modern day fashion brands that are signs of the corrupt – as wearing such clothes does have spiritually negative effects regardless of whether we “feel” it or not.

However, one should equally strive to emulate the prophetic sunna. It is highly recommended to follow the sunnas of dress, which are general principles one should follow not limited to any specific type of clothing. The prophetic message was for all mankind and not merely a specific group. Thus, we see in the sunna these general principles that are applicable everywhere.

Among the sunna actions of dress are:

(a) Keeping the pants above the ankles,

(b) For women to keep their garments lengthy, such that one’s `awra does not become uncovered when doing everyday actions,

(c) Being moderate i.e. neither too lavish nor too tattered. Imam Sarkhasi said that the way of moderation in dress is sometimes wearing ones best clothes (even when alone to test one’s intention for Allah, not only doing so in front of people), usually wearing moderate clothes, and sometimes wearing old and worn-out clothes. The latter is for the purpose of realizing one’s blessings and being thankful.

(d) Wearing white (sign of purity) and black (sign of majesty) are both from the sunna,

(e) For men to cover their heads,

(f) Being generally modest, and

(g) Not causing undue attention, and striking a balance between following the sunna and this.

Further, one should also avoid pride, arrogance, and forgetting the Divine favors bestowed upon one. One should be wary of ulterior motives.

Like food and drink, clothing is a blessing from Allah. It is like a gift and the least that is expected of one is to not use such a gift in disobeying or doing anything against the giver of the gift. This is the lowest level of thankfulness (shukr).

It is pertinent to note here that the blessings bestowed upon us by Allah are aspects which we have done nothing to earn. Rather, it is out of Allah’s generous nature that we are able to attain these blessings. These blessings should become indicators pointing to the greatest blessings bestowed upon us, which are that of life and faith. Take these small things as aspects reminding you of Allah. This is the state of the “knower” for he sees the signs of God in everything for “Verily in these are signs for people of understanding.” (20:128)

Be thankful to Allah, since thankfulness is the key to increase of one’s love, faith, and general good, turn to Him in true submission and humble yourself.






Filed under Fiqh/Law

Did Someone Say “Good Bida`”?

salamu `alaykum

There has always been confusion regarding the stance of the Deobandi scholars on the issue of “good bida`” (i.e. bida` hasana). Do the Deobandi scholars reject this concept? Is there really a difference between them and other traditional scholars on the issue? How do they explain the new acts that they themselves do?

Point 1: There Is No Real Difference Except In Usage

In reality, there is no essential difference between the definition of the scholars who named a particular practice as bida` hasana and the Deobandis. Nor do the Deobandi scholars reject such a concept. If anything, the only difference is in wording (lafdh) and the rule has always been “there is no argumentation when it comes to usage.” Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi explicitly states this in his Imdad al Fatawa. He says:

“The establishment or negation of innovation being divided into “good” (hasana) and “bad” (sa’iyya) is disputed merely due to (difference) in usage… and there is no arguing when it comes to usage (istilah). After realizing and understanding this principle all subsequent and prior doubts are removed.”

(vol 5, Pg: 283. Maktaba Dar al `Ulum Khi Ed.)

Maulana Gangohi states in his fatawa :

“This is a difference in usage. Everyone means the same thing.”

(Pg: 155 Dar al Isha`at Ed. 2003)

This principle is something one should actively take note of since it is common for people to descend into petty quarrels due to differences in how they express certain points of the religion – even though both methods of expression are sound in meaning-.

Point 2: The Deobandi Definition & Explanation

Both the Deobandi scholars and others consider new practices that arise as permissible on the condition that they conform with the general dictates of Sunni methodology. As such, the Deobandis only argue that these matters are in *reality* not innovation because they conform to the general purport of the sunna and what it points (ishara) to. Due to this, such new acts will be considered sunna or mustahab and so forth, altough they may “appear” to look like innovations.

This was explained in detail by Hakimul Ummah Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (Allah be well-pleased with him) in his Imdad al Fatawa (Ibid). He clearly differentiates between:

[1] haqiqi bida` (intrinsic/real), and
[2] suri bida` (extrinsic/appearingly)

He states regarding the latter (Vol 5, Pg: 293):

“[The meaning of bida` surriyya] is that which is in itself not found in the sunna (explicitly) but is infered from the general principles (of the Law).”

Then Maulana states:

“[Regarding whether bida` suriyya and hasana are two seperate thing] (bida`) Sa’iyya (bad innovation) and (bida`) haqiqiyya are one; (bida`) hasana (good innovation) and suriyya are one.”


He elaborates further on the narration “All innovation is misgudiance” (kul bida` dhalala) by stating that if “innovation” is defined solely as haqiqi (intrinsic/real) then the narration is non-exclusionary, meaning that it includes every “real” innovation. Since, “real” innovation is by default considered “bad”, and that which does not conform to Sunni methodology, then there is no problem in accepting “all” (kul) in the narration to actually mean “every innovation” without specification.

However, if innovation is defined generally as including both the haqiqi and the suri then the latter will not enter into this narration, and the narration will be considered `aam makhsus i.e. a general expression used to indicate something specific. “All” (kul) will therefore only include in it haqiqi bida` and not suri. Thus, it does not mean “every innovation” but “every real (haqiqi) innovation”.(Ibid, Pg: 292)

Similarly, Imam Anwar Shah Kashmiri stated in his Faydh al Bari:

والبدعة عندي ما لا تكون مستندةً إلى الشرع، وتكون ملتبسةً بالدين

“And innovation according to me is that which has no support in the shari`ah…”

And the shari`ah here refers to the basic sources of Sunni methodology, as he makes clear in his `Urf al Shadhi when he states:

واعلم أن البدعة ما لا يكون أصله في الأصول الأربعة

“Know that innovation is that which does not have any basis in the four fundamental principles (qur’an, sunna, ijma`, and qiyas).”

This is also what Maulana Idris Kandihlawi states in his commentary on Mishkat al Masabih.

Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (Allah be well-pleased with him) says in his fatawa (Pg: 155):

“There is no such thing as “good innovation” (bida` hasana) and whatever is called bida` hasana is in reality a sunna (s: confirmed, derived, or indicated by the sunna). However, this is a difference in usage. Everyone means the same thing.”

Point 3: The Hanafi Scholars Who Divided Innovation Into “Good” Or “Bad”

Others, however, labelled the above as “good innovation” – whether by using the term or actually explaining it in detail. So it is in actuality merely khilaf lafdhi as has been mentioned before.

The muhaqiq of the Hanafi school, Allamah Ibn `Abidin stated in his Rad al Muhtar that innovation is of five types, as did many other scholars before him. He stated:

مطلب البدعة خمسة أقسام ( قوله أي صاحب بدعة ) أي محرمة ، وإلا فقد تكون واجبة ، كنصب الأدلة للرد على أهل الفرق الضالة ، وتعلم النحو المفهم للكتاب والسنة ومندوبة كإحداث نحو رباط ومدرسة وكل إحسان لم يكن في الصدر الأول ، ومكروهة كزخرفة المساجد . ومباحة كالتوسع بلذيذ المآكل والمشارب والثياب كما في شرح الجامع الصغير للمناوي عن تهذيب النووي ، وبمثله في الطريقة المحمدية للبركلي

Among the other scholars in the Hanafi school who explicitly accepted (or used) the division of innovation into hasana and sa’iyyah were:

[1] Ibn Nujaym in his Bahr al Ra’iq sharh `ala Kanz al Daqa’iq,
[2] Al Birgivi in his Tariqa al Muhammadiyya, and its commentators such as Imam Khadimi,
[3] Imam Tahtawi in his Hashiya,
[4] `Ala al Din Haskafi in his Durr al Mukhtar,
[5] The authors of Fatawa al Hindiyya,
[6] The great Indian commentary on the Durr entitled Ghayat al Awtaar by Maulana Muhammad Nantowi,
[7] `Allama Shabbir Ahmad `Uthmani, the Deobandi scholar, in his Fath al Mulhim, and so forth.

Point 4: Conclusion

In conclusion: Deobandis do not reject new practices, but they do not label them as “good innovations” since the phrase “innovation” is haqiqatan signifying something bad according to them. Rather, new acts that conform to the general methodology of Sunni Islam, even if not explicitly found in the sunna, are referred to as sunna. Apparently, they seem to look like innovation but in reality are not.

Others, differing in terminology, labelled such things as bida` hasana and found no qualms in using sucha phrase. To them bida` hasana is no different than sunna hasana as in the prophetic narration “whoever starts a good sunna will have the reward of it.”

The most important thing to note is that both opinions strictly stipulate that any new action that does not conform to Sunni methodology, or is not derived from the general indication of the sunna, is rejected since “that which is not from this way of ours will be rejected”, as the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said. However, that which does conform and has some basis will be accepted. Whether one wishes to refer to it as “good innovation” or as a “sunna” that only “appears” to look like an innovation is ultimately inconsequential.

And Allah Knows Best



Update: Please also see Mufti Muhammad’s answer.


Filed under Fiqh/Law

“The Sufi Has No Madhab”

salamu `alaykum

It is said:

الصوفي لا مذهب له

“The Sufi has no madhab for himself.”

Hakimul Ummah Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (May Allah sanctify his secret) stated in explanation of the above:

“This does not mean that the Sufi is one without a school of thought (la madhab) but that he is careful and excercises caution in every matter. This is called piety and God-fearingnes. Our fuqaha (the scholars of law) have explained this as well stating that avoiding differences of opinion (khilaf) is recommended (mustahab) as long as doing so does not entail committing a disliked (s: whether ‘slight’ or otherwise; also leaving the difference should not make one fall into another difference and the difference should have some basis (Suyuti)) action in one’s own school.”

(Anfaase `Isa, Pg: 282)

Among the scholars who mentioned the principle that avoiding differences is recommended are Imam Suyuti in his al Ashbah al Nadha’ir, Imam Khadimi in his Sharh Tariqa al Muhammadiyya, Imam Nawawi, and many others.

It is related that Al Bistami said that the Sufi should acquire enough knowledge that would make his actions in accordance with the Law according to the position of all four schools. The underlying reasoning behind this, according to Imam Khadimi, is that even though one considers his school to be correct, there still remains a possibility of error on specific issues. Thus, for example, the books of fiqh mention that it is recommended to renew ablution when one touches a woman – to avoid the difference of opinion with the Shafi`i school. (Maraqi al Falah, Al Durr)

Al Bistami also said:

وَأَمَّا الرُّخَصُ فَيَجِبُ تَرْكُهَا عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ اتِّفَاقًا

“As for dispensations, it is necessary to leave it at all costs.”

This is the path of taqwa.




Filed under Fiqh/Law, Tasawwuf

Why was the verse of purification revealed after the Hijra…

… when ablution was already being practiced and done in Mecca? What was the need for doing so and the wisdom underlying it? Usually, people overlook such things, due to whatever reasons, but there is no doubt that there are deep meanings and lessons to be found in these very subtle points – in both the texts of the Qur’an and hadith.

The verse of purification is found in surah al ma’idah. Allah Most High says:

يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا قمتم إلى الصلاة فاغسلوا وجوهكم وأيديكم إلى المرافق وامسحوا برؤسكم وأرجلكم إلى الكعبين

“Oh you who believe! When you stand for prayer wash your faces and your arms to the elbows, wipe your heads, and [wash] your legs to the ankles.”

According to the commentators of the Qur’an, such as Imam Qurtubi in his Al Jami` Al Ahkam al Qur’an, this verse is madani, meaning that it was revealed after the hijra of our beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). In specific, it was revealed quite late in the Prophet’s life as is gleaned from hadith in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, the Mustadrak of Hakim, and others – some scholars even stipulating that it was the last of the Qur’anic chapters revealed. This is detailed in Mufti Muhammad Shafi`s Ma`ariful Qur’an for whoever is interested in reading more into the issue.

Imam Haskafi in his al Durr al Mukhtar mentions two basic wisdoms behind the revelation of this verse at such a late period, even though ablution was being practiced well before the verses nuzul (coming down). He states (with Ibn `Abidin’s hashiya included):


( قوله : ففائدة نزول الآية إلخ ) جواب عما يقال إذا كان الوضوء فرض بمكة مع فرضية الصلاة وهو أيضا شرع من قبلنا فقد ثبتت فرضيته فما فائدة نزول آية المائدة ؟ أفاده ط . ( قوله : تقرير الحكم الثابت ) أي تثبيته ، فإنه لما لم يكن عبادة مستقلة بل تابعا للصلاة احتمل أن لا تهتم الأمة بشأنه ، وأن يتساهلوا في شرائطه وأركانه بطول العهد عن زمن الوحي وانتقاص الناقلين يوما فيوما ، بخلاف ما إذا ثبت بالنص المتواتر الباقي في كل زمان وعلى كل لسان . ا هـ . درر . ( قوله : وتأتي ) مصدر تأتي معطوف على ” تقرير ” . ( قوله : اختلاف العلماء ) أي المجتهدين في النية والدلك والترتيب ونقضه بالمس وقدر الممسوح

(a) That the benefit in revealing this verse after the hijra was to establish the command of ablution again. Ibn `Abidin explains this by stating that wudhu’ was not (and is not) considered an independent act of worship but rather a tabi` of prayer. It was possible that people not grasp and understand its relevance – thus, easing themselves greatly in regards to fulfilling its conditions and integrals. This could also arise due to the diminishing of its transmitters. However, the Qur’anic verse established its importance and its mass-transmission (tawatur), something that remains in every time period on every tongue.

(b) Another reason was to establish khilaf among the `ulema since such difference is a mercy. Ibn `Abidin adds that this means, “The people of ijtihad (differing) in intention, rubbing the limbs, order of ablution, nullification through touching (the private parts), and the extent of wiping.”

And Allah Knows Best




Filed under Fiqh/Law

Are Your Trousers Dragging…?

salamu `alaykum

I recall an incident my close friend related to me, which was the main inspiration behind this post, wherein he was pulled out of his prayer and lectured against harshly merely due to the fact that his pants were not above his ankles. Talk about extreme measures… but the reality is that such an attitude is not uncommon among some of the religious youth and even (some) scholars. Although many would not go to the extent of pulling someone out of his prayer, there is certainly a looking down upon those who “drag their garments”. Ofcourse, the fundamental reason behind such an attitude is biased partisanship as well as a lack of awareness that the matter at hand is differed upon.

Before beginning, it is pertinent for everyone to know, in specific those associated with the path of Hakim al Ummah Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi, that the first step in suluk – in traversing the path to Allah – is to consider oneself the most inferior of all of Allah’s creation, so much so that even if one sees another engaging in sin he will not hold him in contempt for it is possible that the perpetuator of sin repents from his sin and becomes one of Allah’s friends whereas we become entrapped in the desires of the devil and the nafs.

It is also pertinent to know that the Akabir of Deoband spoke about ikhtilaf and its limits. Maulana Thanawi (Allah sanctify his secret) has a very detailed treatise on this very topic that has been reproduced in Bawadir al Nawadir. The issue at hand is a fiqhi one, regarding which Maulana Thanawi (Allah sanctify his secret) says:

“The third type of difference is the difference that relates to a religious matter from among the branches (furu`), with proof – whether that proof is textual, or ones ijtihad, or ones following of a righteous person’s ijtihad and fatawa. This is the type of difference that has been present among the community from the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) … and a rule pertaining to such a difference is that when it is well and accepted one cannot have antipathy towards another and nor can he accuse him of misguidance and evil, something prevalent amongst the extremist’s books and speeches. This is clear innovation, misguidance, intolerant bias, and against the way of the pious predecessors (salaf).”

(Bawadi al Nawadir Pg: 671-674, Idarat Islamiyat Ed: 1985)

With the above in mind, it is now possible to proceed. There are two major opinions within the Hanafi school regarding having one’s trousers below the ankles:

(1) The scholars of Deoband and others state that doing so is makruh tahriman (prohibitively disliked) whether it is done with pride (خيلاء ) or not,

(2) Many of the Hanafi scholars among the muta’akhirin and muhaqiqin say that it is makruh tanzihan (slighlty disliked) and therefore not sinful if done without pride. However, if done with pride it will be makruh tahriman.

The reason for this difference is due to conflicting hadith on the issue, some mentioning the impermissibility of dragging the garment below the ankles unconditionally while others establish such impermissibily with the accompaniment of pride. Imam Bukhari narrates in his Sahih:

‏حدثنا ‏ ‏آدم ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏شعبة ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏سعيد بن أبي سعيد المقبري ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبي هريرة ‏ ‏رضي الله عنه ‏
‏عن النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏قال ‏ ‏ما أسفل من الكعبين من الإزار ففي النار

“The Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Whatever from the waist-cloth is below the ankles is in the fire.”

(Kitab al Libas, Bab Ma Asfal Min al Ka`bayn Fahuwa fil Nar. Also narrated in Sunan al Nasa’i, Sunan Abu Dawud as part of a longer narration, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Yet elsewhere, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is reported to have conditioned this, such as his saying:

‏ ‏لا ينظر الله إلى من جر ثوبه ‏ ‏خيلاء

“Allah will not look towards one who drags his garment out of pride”

(Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Libas – with a number of chains and variants all mentioning “pride”. Also narrated in Bukhari)

Similarly, it is narrated in Sahih Bukhari that the Prophet said to Abu Bakr, on the latters inquiry of his dragging his garment unintentionally:

فقال النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏لست ممن يصنعه ‏ ‏ خيلاء

You are not of those who do so out of pride.”

(Kitab al Libas)

(1) Hakim al Ummah Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi states in his Imdad al Fatawa (4:121-122):

“There is no reason to condition the general meaning of the narration and therefore hanging the garment is impermissible unconditionally and also hanging the garment with pride. Yet, if some level of difference is admitted between both prohibited acts then there is room for accepting such a difference in that one instance mentions only one prohibited action, that of hanging, while the other mentions two, both hanging and pride … as for the condition of pride then it is mentioned because many people who do this action knowingly do so out of pride.”

Elsewhere, Hakim al Ummah states:

“According to the Hanafis, in such a case the unconditional will remain unconditioned and the conditional will remain conditioned.”

This is also what Imam Anwar Shah Kashmiri stated in his Fayd al Bari:

قوله: ( من جرّ ثوبه خيلا ء ) وجرُّ الثوب ممنوعٌ عندنا مطلقا

“His saying “He who drags his garment with pride”: The dragging of the garment is impermissible with us unconditionally.”

Mufti Taqi `Uthmani states in his Taqrir al Tirmidhi (2:340):

“According to me, what seems more preferable is that, in actuality, prohibition due to pride is not conditioned with the meaning that one can drag his garment if he is not certain of feeling pride and arrogance. The correct interpretative scenario is that there is no doubt regarding the fact that its impermissibility is based on pride itself… meaning that dragging the garment is usually done as a result of pride and arrogance.


In this way the ruling of prohibition was built on pride, but pride is a hidden matter. One cannot tell if someone is doing such an act out of pride/arrogance or not, and on many occasions the one who does so arrogantly does not even know that he is engaged in such pride/arrogance. This is why its prohibition was built on the appearance of signs, and the sign was the dragging of the garment below the ankles. When this sign is manifested then it will be thought of as an act being done out of pride/arrogance, except if there is some extraneous proof that negates such pride/arrogance, for example dragging the garment without one actively and knowingly doing so.


Then, regarding this matter, two things should be kept in mind: Firstly, that no matter how arrogant one is, do you think he will admit to such arrogance and pride? If he admits to it, then he is not an arrogant man in the first place. Secondly, such arrogance is done only on the part of he who does not recognize such pride and arrogance. Then, the ruling that if pride is present it is impermissible and if it is not then it is permissible is meaningless.”

(2) The other position is that it is slightly disliked:

It is stated in one of the leading fatwa references of the Hanafi school, the Fatawa Hindiyya:

إسبال الرجل إزاره أسفل من الكعبين إن لم يكن للخيلاء ففيه كراهة تنزيه ، كذا في الغرائ

“The man’s lenghtening of his waist-cloth below the ankles without the presence of pride, then in it is slight dislikedness.”

Imam Badr al Din `Ayni stated in his Umdat al Qari Sharh Sahih Bukhari:

أي هذا باب في بيان حكم من جر إزاره من غير قصد التخييل فإنه لا بأس به من غير كراهة وكذلك يجوز لدفع ضرر يحصل له كأن يكون تحت كعبيه جراح أو حكة أو نحو ذلك إن لم يغطها تؤذيه الهوام كالذباب ونحوه بالجلوس عليها ولا يجد ما يسترها به إلاَّ إزاره أو ردائه أو قميصه وهذا كما يجوز كشف العورة للتداوي وغير ذلك من الأسباب المبيحة للترخص وقال شيخنا زين الدين وأما جوازه لغير ضرورة لا لقصد الخيل

“This is a chapter in discussion of the ruling on dragging the garment without pride and indeed there is no harm in it (la ba’asa bihi)…”

This was also the position of Imam `Ala al Din ibn `Abidin in his Hada’iyya al Ala’iyya (Pg: 238, Dar Ibn Hazm) who states:

لا يجوز إسبال الثوب تحت الكعبين، إنْ كان للخيَلاء، والتكبر، وإلاّ جاز، إلا أنّ الأفضل أن يكون فوق الكعبين، ويكره لبس ثيابٍ كثياب الفَسقة وزيِّهم، فإن اعتاد الناس لبسها، وصارت شعارَهم، (ف) لا يكر

“It is not permitted to drag ones garment below the ankles if done out of pride and arrogance, otherwise it is permitted (wa ila jaaz) although what is superior (afdhal) is that it be above the ankles (fawq al ka`abayn).”

This was also the position of Imam Nahlawi in his Al Durar al Mubaha.

Indeed, all of these scholars saw the general wordings of the hadith in question to be conditioned, and expounded on it with many proofs, among them the actions of the companions themselves, `urf (custom), and the general establishment of karaha tahnzihi – not tahrimi – in prohibited acts relating to aspects of adab. Ofcourse, this can also be detailed more from a methodological point of view, but the author neither has the ability nor the resources to engage in such a discussion.

Lastly, it is useful to note that Mufti Taqi `Uthmani himself mentioned this difference at the very beginning of his discussion on this issue. He states:

“The position of one group among the scholars is that hanging the garment is impermissible only when one does it with the intention of pride, and if one does not then there is no harm in it. At most, it is considered slightly disliked.”

To all those on the Ashrafiyya silisla, one of the practices that is to be implemented on one joining the path is to keep ones pants above his ankles. Maulana Thanawi makes this clear in his Takashaf. At the same time no one has the right to look down upon or criticise one who does not do so, since the matter is differed upon. If we do so, we will be going against the teaching and general guidelines outlined by our Akabir on the issue.

And Allah Knows Best


Filed under Fiqh/Law, Hadith

Is it true that there is “blatant shirk” in many parts of the Qasida Burda?

Answered by Sayyidi Shaykh Faraz Rabbani (Seekersdigest)


Some learned scholars say that there is “blatant shirk” in many parts of the Qasida Burda–that it goes against Allah’s Oneness of Lordship, His Oneness in Names & Attributes, and also His Oneness in Divinity…


In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His Beloved Messenger Muhammad, his noble folk, righteous companions, and all followers

No, the Qasida Burda doesn’t contain “shirk” (associating partners with Allah) or other deviations from sound Islamic belief. Rather, it is a pure expression of deep and passionate love for the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), whose love is a condition of faith. [Read full answer]



Filed under Fiqh/Law, Hadith, Tasawwuf, `Aqida