Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan
Question: I’m reading “Ascent to Felicity” by Faraz Khan. On the section under when ghusl is not necessary to be made. The last point says: intercourse with an animal, without the emission of sperm (page 50).
This threw me off for many reasons. How could something that is forbidden in every circumstance not make you unclean and sinful? And why is there no footnote to clarify that?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.
To begin, such acts are clearly unlawful and absolutely disgusting, based on both revelation and reason.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever has intercourse with an animal should be killed along with the animal.” The Companion Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with them both) explained that the animal should be killed since its meat should not be consumed, due to the repulsive act done to it. Yet with respect to the criminal, the hadith is understood as having exaggerated wording as a form of emphasis, since the ruling for such a person according to the schools of law is that he is severely punished by the government, but not given capital punishment [Awn al-Ma’bud Sharh Sunan Abi Dawud]
Understanding the Issue in Question
One important thing to keep in mind when reading classical fiqh literature such as “Ascent to Felicity” is that, when jurists are dealing with a particular topic, they not only want to be thorough in dealing with situations relevant to that topic, but are also teaching students underlying legal methodology.
So regarding the example you mention, Imam Shurunbulali is presenting different scenarios that do not necessitate the ritual bath (ghusl), even though one might think otherwise. This is due to differences in underlying legal reasoning between normal intercourse and these scenarios — based on definitions, legal analogy, legal preference and other tools that make up the foundation of jurisprudence — however rare, bogus or abominable those scenarios might be.
Moreover, there is a principle in law that states, “That which is clear does not need clarification.” There is no doubt whatsoever that intercourse with an animal is abhorrent and despicable, according to both natural human disposition (fitra), reason, and the noble Sacred Law. It is undoubtedly a grave sin and enormity. Yet the underlying legal reasoning of what technically warrants a ritual bath is not met.
The discussion is not one of whether this scenario is sinful or not. That is a different discussion, and is dealt with elsewhere. Indeed, legal manuals assume a working knowledge of the general ethics of the Qur’an and Sunna. The role of such manuals is not to delineate “virtue”, but rather to define limits and clarify issues. One’s study of such manuals needs to be coupled with reading the Qur’an and prophetic teachings, as well as books on noble character (fada’il) and spirituality (tasawwuf).
The Lack of Annotation on This Point
As for the lack of a footnote on this point, that is certainly my shortcoming. In retrospect, there is probably more than one issue in the text that warrants annotation yet lacks it. Yet there was limited room, as “Ascent to Felicity” is supposed to be a mid-sized manual. Also, it is hoped that one studies the book with a qualified teacher who would properly explain issues such as this one.
Whatever good or benefit one gains from this work, it is solely from Allah Most High out of His pure largess. Whatever one finds of mistakes, confusion or errors, they are undoubtedly from me and my falling short of what is rightfully due in serving the religion and the Muslims. I pray Allah pardons me, and that the readers excuse me as well.
If you find any other issues that are confusing, please send in the question to SeekersGuidance and we will try to address it inshaAllah.
And Allah knows best.