Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Question: Assalamu alaykum
Allah says in the Quran that no one is higher than another except through Godfearingness. Yet, in the hadith prohibiting zakat for Ahl al-Bayt, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) says that Zakat should not be given to the family of Muhammad because it is from the dirt of the people.
So, using logic, this means that the Ahl al-Bayt are in a sense, “too pure,” for zakat while others can use “the dirt of the people.” Doesn’t this mean that there is a superior cast in Islam?
Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh
I pray you are well.
Yes, the overall, default ruling in Islam is that no individual has a higher rank than another except through the criterion of Godfearingness (taqwa). Allah said, “Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah are the most Godfearing of you.” (49:13). May Allah grant us all this great honour. Amin.
Taqwa is the means to nobility which can take a lowly slave and raise him above aristocracy. Bilal was, at a point, tortured in Mecca. Then there came a day when he called the adman whist standing on to of the Kaʿba itself.
This is with regards to individuals. As for groups and collectives, some – in general – have virtues others do not; or some possess praiseworthy traits to a degree that others do not. The Arabs, for example, are like this.
The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Indeed Allah chose Kinana from the descendants of Ismaʿil; and He chose Quraysh from Kinana, and Banu Hashim from Quraysh, and Me from Banu Hashim.” (Muslim).
This means that, as a whole, from the tribes of Arabs there are those with praiseworthy traits and qualities that other tribes may not have. There may be individuals from one tribe who are superior to many members of other tribes who are seen as superior in general. The discussion is about collectives.
These qualities can be many, such as generosity, bravery, being true to one’s word, etc. Although these traits can be acquired through effort, for some they are transferred from parent to child over generations. Recent discoveries in the field of Morphic Resonance would seem to corroborate this.
No one surpasses the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, in this. For this reason, his descendants, in general, have a higher social standing in Islam. It is perfectly possible, however, for someone who is not descended from them to be superior to an individual amongst them. (Alusi, Ruh al Maʿani; Ibn al Humam, Fath al Qadir).
When addressing the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who are also from his household (Ahl al-Bayt), “O Prophetic House, clearly Allah just wants to remove all filth from you and to completely purify you.” (33:33).
There are many hadith which indicate their virtues individually and collectively. One such hadith was narrated by sayyiduna Jabir, who said he heard the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, say on the day of Arafa (in the farewell pilgrimage, “O people, I have left that which you will not go astray with if you hold onto it: the books of Allah, and my family.” (Tirmidhi).
Suitability in Marriage
Suitability is also considered in marriage because it is the union of two families, and not just of two individuals. Someone could possess many praiseworthy qualities, however, the family may not wish to consider him due to a perceived social stigma because of his wider family.
In the absence of such suitability issues, should the lady be happy to marry someone it is obligatory on the family to allow them to marry them (Marghinani, al Hidaya). Personal merit is a better measure of suitability, in general, as not everyone inherits all the virtues of their lineage.
Making Getting Married Easy
The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “If someone whose religious practice and character are pleasing to you comes with a marriage proposal [for a lady] then marry him [to her]. Should you fail to do so there will be corruption in the land and widespread problems.” (Tirmidhi).
Some parents go beyond the due diligence expected of them and try to prevent marriages based on standards which have no religious basis. For example, insisting that the suitor has to be a relative, or from a particular village ‘back home’, or belonging to a now redundant ‘family profession’ classification. At times this delays people from marrying way past their prime – if they do marry at all. In some situations people resort to extra-marital sex as a way to fulfil their needs. This has many other problems attached to it, such as abortions.
In some parts of the Middle East there is a practice of demanding an extortionately high mahr, which makes marriage near impossible for many young men and ladies. It is notable, however, that the righteous in Damascus would make the process of marriage as easy as possible for people. Some asked for a low – but respectable – mahr, and others even approached young men in whom they recognised virtue, and offered them their daughters.
We can infer from the hadith that in situations where getting married is made complicated – whether it is through prolonged engagements, demands of high mahrs, expectations of flashy, ostentatious weddings, and so on – many, widespread problems can be expected. The solution is to return to the sunna.
I pray this helps. May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.
[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat
Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time.
Over the following eighteen months he studied a traditional curriculum, studying with scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish.
In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years, in Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil.
His true passion, however, arose in the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, considered by many to be one of the foremost tafsir scholars of our time who provided him with the keys to the vast knowledge of the Quran. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.
When he finally left Jordan for the UK in 2014, Shaykh Ali gave him his distinct blessing and still recommends students in the UK to seek out Shaykh Abdul-Rahim for Quranic studies. Since his return he has trained as a therapist and has helped a number of people overcome emotional and psychosomatic issues. He is a keen promoter of emotional and mental health.