If Only Someone Else Said it | Mufti Taha Karaan of South Africa

It was the year 17 after the Hijrah.

Two years earlier Amiru al-Mu’minin Umar (Allah be pleased with him) traveled from Madinah to Jerusalem to receive its keys from its patriarch Sophronius. This time, having left Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) in charge of things at Madinah, he was once again on the road to Syria. Accompanying him on this journey were Madinah’s leading Muhajirin and Ansaar. Their purpose was to come to the aid of Abu Ubaydah (Allah be pleased with him) who was under siege by the Byzantines in Hims, to disrupt alignment of the people of Upper Mesopotamia with the Byzantines against the Muslims, and to generally raise the spirits of the troops.

A grueling desert trek of some 800km, normally covered by caravans in three weeks, brought them to a village called Sargh. Today the Jordanian village of al-Mudawwarah stands close to its location, just 15km from the Saudi-Jordanian border. It was to this spot that the generals of the armies in Syria came to meet the Commander of the Faithful.

Umar’s strategy worked. A force which he ordered to be dispatched from Kufa to Hims under command of Qa’qa ibn Amr combined with the battalion of Khalid ibn Walid that had arrived in Hims from Qinnasrin before the siege. Their combined forces, together with the news of help on the way from Hijaz under Amiru al-Mu’minin himself, broke both the Byzantine spirit and the potential alliance with Upper Mesopotamia. In buoyant spirits, Muslim troops opened the gates of Hims and rushed at the now demoralized besiegers. The Byzantines broke and fled.

Three days later Abu Ubaydah (Allah be pleased with him) and his fellow commanders presented themselves before Amiru al-Mu’minin at Sargh.

Every reason existed for this meeting to be one of joy, optimism, and the sharing of triumph. Companions who had not seen one another for months if not years were meeting again. Stories of victory and courage would be shared, and collective thanks would be given to Allah. But most importantly, Umar would be there.

Umar, the rock that personified resoluteness, whose inspired leadership diffused confidence and trust in Allah, but who, by the severe austerity of his own conduct, stood like a towering bastion against the love of this ephemeral world that constantly threatened to creep into the hearts of his conquering subjects.

Yet, despite all the reasons for happiness and joy, a sombre cloud was hanging over the gathering at Sargh. For distressing news has been received from Palestine. In the town of Amawaas the plague had broken out.

Umar (Allah be pleased with him) called the commanders of his Syrian armies into conference. Along with the senior companions (Sahabah) who had come with him from Madinah, they took their seats on the ground: Khalid, Abu Ubaydah and Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan (Allah be pleased with them).

Opinions differed. Some felt that the journey should go ahead, while others thought it undesirable that the Muslim leadership should enter a land in which plague was spreading. Umar listened attentively. When the time came to decide, all fell silent. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on Amiru al-Mu’minin.

“I and those with me will return to Madinah.”

For a moment everything went dead silent. Time appeared to hold its breath. No one spoke. Amiru al-Mu’minin had spoken. The consultation was over. Umar rose to leave.

Suddenly the silence was pierced by a voice in anguish. It was Abu Ubaydah. He had been one of those who advised that the journey should go ahead. But it was not by the dismissal of his own advice that he was aggrieved. He believed, having been taught so by Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), that all things, death included, happen by the foreordained decree of Allah. For Amiru al-Mu’minin to turn back at the news of plague appeared to go completely against the grain of this tenet of faith. Abu Ubaydah felt compelled to speak. He was after all this Ummah’s Custodian of Trust.

“Would you flee from the decree (Qadar) of Allah, Amiru al-Mu’minin? Would you flee from what Allah has preordained?”

A second silence imposed itself on the gathering, this one even more deafening than the first. Umar, having half turned away already, went stiff for a moment. Around them life went on in the usual clatter and banter of an army camp. But within that circle it grew very, very silent.

Umar slowly rotated back to face his interlocutor. A look of pain and dismay passed over his face. And then he spoke.

“If only someone else said it, Abu Ubaydah. How I wish those words came from the tongue of someone other than you!”

Umar loved Abu Ubaydah dearly and held him in the highest esteem. This was one of the ten men whom Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) promised Jannah. It was to him that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) gave the epithet, Custodian of Trust of this Ummah. It was men such as he of who Allah said, “They are indeed and in truth the real believers”, and whilst walking on the face of this earth they heard revelation descending in which Allah declared to all the world that He is pleased with them and they with Him.”

It is not befitting that two men of such high stature differ so publicly. It is even less desirable that an aspect of faith should be drawn into their difference. And then, Umar just didn’t like having to go against Abu Ubaydah. But when truth requires to be stated, all other considerations recede into secondary status.

Before speaking his mind, though, Umar needed his discomfort to be heard. “How I wish, Abu Ubaydah, that it was someone other than you who spoke those words!”

A moment’s pause. And then, in his own characteristic fashion, Umar clarified an aspect of belief in Qadar which Abu Ubaydah appears not to have grasped or to have for the moment lost sight of.

“Yes, indeed. We flee from Allah’s Qadar. Towards Allah’s Qadar. We flee from what Allah preordained to what Allah preordained.”

Consider this. You come with your flock to a valley with two sides. One side is lush and fertile, the other is dry. If you graze your flock on the fertile side, is it by anything other than what Allah preordained that you do so? And if you graze them on the dry side, is it by anything other than what Allah preordained?

The lesson was crystal clear. Nothing you do, no route you take, and no choice you make is beyond the pale of Qadar. Such is our belief in Qadar. So whatever you may want to question, do not question our belief in Qadar.

Among the men who had come with Umar from Madinah was Abdur Rahman ibn Awf (Allah be pleased with him). For some or other reason he was absent from this council. When he arrived a while later he was appraised of what had transpired between Umar and Abu Ubaydah. Unlike the others, though, he had actually heard something from Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) that had a direct bearing on the matter in question. And as was the habit of the Sahabah, he promptly transmitted what he heard.

“I heard Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) say: ‘If you hear about a plague in a land, then do not enter that land. And if a plague breaks out while you are there, then do not flee it and leave.’”

Although Umar did not know it at the time of his altercation with Abu Ubaydah, the hadith fell squarely on his side. But no surprise there. This was Umar, after all. The man whose words had so often before been confirmed by nothing less than revelation from on high. The one about who Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, if there is in this Ummah an inspired person as there were in previous nations, then it would be none other than he.

We could of course go on and on enumerating his merits and extolling his achievements. But this is where we stop.

We stop because what needed to be learnt has been understood. So often it is those we hold in the highest esteem who throw at us the accusation that our choices and actions go against belief in Qadar. The sincerity and concern for the religion with which they do so are probably no less than of Abu Ubaydah ibn Jarrah (Allah be pleased with him).

So how are we to respond?

Do we hit back in similar tone and innuendo? Do we reverse the accusations and guilt-tripping? And most importantly, do we succumb to the demands of base instinct and dispense with all reverence and respect?

Allah forbid than any of those thoughts should even come to mind. And if ever they do, then may Allah forgive us for even thinking that.

If we are to respond, we will respond in the manner taught to us by those who were taught by Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). We will respond in the words and attitude of the one man of whom Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) said that if there were to be a prophet after him it would be he. Ours will be the response of Amiru al-Mu’minin Sayiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him).

“If only someone else said it, Abu Ubaydah.”

How we wish, our dearest elders, that these hurtful words were spoken by someone other than your respected selves!

And that is as much as we will ever say.


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan:

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi’i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan (may Allah have mercy on his soul), was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al-Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of Islamic study.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al-Uloom al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopaedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.

Adhering to the National Lockdown – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council

In this video, Mufti Taha Karaan reminds the Muslim community of Cape Town to continue to adhere to the rules of the national lockdown. Mufti Taha emphasizes the strategic importance and benefit social distancing will have on the outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, he addresses the elders of the community to be an example for others and not to place themselves in vulnerable situations. Furthermore, Mufti Taha makes mention of how we should negotiate the various conspiracy theories that have become extremely prevalent. We should remember that Allah has ordained a destiny for Muslims and humanity, and that should provide us with solace from any anxiety.

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mufti Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council.


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan:

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi’i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan (may Allah have mercy on his soul), was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.
Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al-Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.
Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of Islamic study.
Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al-Uloom al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.
In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.
His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopaedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.

Guidance on COVID-19 (Part 4) – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council

In this fourth and final video of a 4 part series, Mufti Taha Karaan advises Muslims on what they should do when they are in self isolation at home. He asks Muslims to reflect on their internal states and morality, and question themselves honestly if they have contravened the rights of others. Muslims should in engage in sincere repentance and introspection so that they can identify their internal faults and contradictions.  Additionally, he recommends that Muslims use their time constructively so that when this crises ends they are able to contribute positively in society.

 

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mutfi Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


Guidance on COVID-19 (Part 3) – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council

In this 3rd video of a 4 part series, Mufti Taha Karaan discusses what the concept of reliance on Allah really means. There are many individuals advocating for Muslims to shun social distancing and isolation because of their understanding of relying Allah. Mufti Taha explains that relying on Allah entails following and adopting the means that He has created in the world. Therefore, not taking the necessary means of social distancing to curb the rate of Covid-19 transmission is in fact not relying on Allah. Mufti Taha also emphasizes that now is not the time to dispute and bicker amongst ourselves as Muslims because this one of the reasons where mercy and blessings are removed from communities.

 

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mutfi Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


 

Guidance on COVID-19 (Part 2) – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council

In this second video of a four-part series on COVID-19, Mufti Taha Karaan explains the religious rationale and reasoning on why the Friday congregational prayer should be suspended. Additionally he provides evidence from the rich Islamic legacy of when congregational prayers should be prayed at home. By analogy, the COVID-19 poses a greater risk to the well being of the community and therefore becomes a valid reason to pray at home. Mufti Taha emphasizes that such reasoning is not a distortion of Islamic law, but rather a means to preserve life which is an objective of Islamic law.

 

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mufti Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


Guidance on COVID-19 (Part 1) – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)

In this first video of a four-part series, Mufti Taha Karaan advises Muslims to practice social distancing with immediate effect in order to prevent and reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission. The unfortunate reality is that places of worship such as mosques are communal places where transmission can spread. In light of this, Mufti Taha advocates for the Friday congregational prayer to be suspended in the mosques, and the five daily prayers to be prayed at home. This is a difficult decision, but a necessary one for us as Muslims. We all have to play our role in curbing the spread of the novel Coronavirus

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mufti Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


 

Dealing with the Coronavirus – Mufti Taha Karaan

In this talk, Mufti Taha Karaan provides a conceptual approach in understanding the phenomenon of a communicable disease in relation to religious law, creed and daily activities of living. The COVID-19, which has now been classified as a pandemic, has caused much societal confusion and panic. Many countries have declared national states of emergency. As Muslims, we should ensure that we are cognizant of how our religion advises us in taking practical precautions in safeguarding our health and well-being. Additionally, we should be cautious not to misinterpret the events around us as a divine punishment. Furthermore, Mufti Taha Karaan discusses the impact of a communicable disease on Islamic jurisprudence and religious societal obligations.

 

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Connecting to the Imams of Fiqh – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of Bayt Muhammad Academy

In this video, Mufti Taha Karaan elucidates with eloquence and precision why Muslims should connect and find value in the various schools of Islamic juristic thought. Contrary to what many believe and assume, the schools of Islamic jurisprudence have always employed rational and intellectual tools in their respective methodologies when arriving at solutions for people and societies. As the world changes and progresses, new challenges will arise and confront people. It is in these circumstances that qualified and astute scholars will need to build on the legacy of the past in order to guide and provide new solutions for Muslims in the modern era.

* This video was recorded on Monday 22nd May 2017 at Masjid-e-Rizwan in Blackburn (UK) as part of Mutfi Taha Karaan’s Affinity lecture tour with Bayt Muhammad Academy. For the original youtube link please click here

Understanding the Trends in Fiqh Literature – By Mufti Taha Karaan

In this short article, Mufti Taha Karaan succinctly provides a descriptive account on the various trends and genres of fiqh literature. By way of the Shafi school of thought, Mufti Taha Karaan briefly explains the reasons and objectives of the various categories of legal writing in fiqh.

* This article was edited from its original source.


There are certain general tendencies in Islamic legal writing:

  1. There is firstly the phenomenon of the mutawwalat, lengthy, comprehensive and detailed works that would typically deal with several angles of fiqh at once: the basic points of the law, the intra-madhhab differences, the inter-madhhab differences, comparative evaluation of these differences, the extraction of qawa’id and dawabit, application of usul takhrij of ahadith, and other miscellaneous matters. The earliest works in fiqh could be classified in this genre. Imam al-Shafi’i’s Kitab al-Umm, most of Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan’s six works that form the zahir al-riwayah in the Hanafi madhhab, and the Mudawwanah of the Malikis would be examples.
  2. This first trend was followed by the phenomenon of ikhtisar through which the mukhtasarat, or abridgements made their appearance. Imam al-Muzani’s Mukhtasar in which he condensed the fiqh of Imam al-Shafi’i is regarded as the prototype amongst mukhtasar works. In it he (successfully) attempted to reduce the entire scope of Imam al-Shafi’i’s fiqh into manageable proportions–manageable in the sense that while it covered the entire fiqh spectrum, it did so in a size that allowed students to memorise, and teachers to cover it completely, and thereby train new generations of fuqaha in greater numbers within a comparatively short period. Such was the success of this mukhtasar that it induced al-Muzani’s nephew, Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi, to author a similar mukhtasar for the Hanafi madhhab. It would also be through the writing of a mukhtasar that Abul Husayn Al-Khiraqi laid the foundations of a systematic madhhab drawn from the fiqh of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
  3. The oral teaching of the mukhtasar works naturally entailed more material than the text of the mukhtasar provided. In the case of our madhhab, for example, solutions to problems as yet unsolved would be regularly provided by the fuqaha of the madhhab in the centuries following Imam al-Shafi’i’s demise. To distinguish these subsequently contributed views from the opinions of Imam al-Shafi’i himself, we call his opinions the aqwal, and their opinions the wujuh. The ones who contributed the wujuh were fuqaha who themselves possessed the requirements of ijtihad though often in an affiliated sense (mujtahid muntasib), or to a restricted degree (mujtahid muqayyad). On account of their contribution of  wujuh to the madhhab they are called the As-hab al-Wujuh. With many of the As-hab al-Wujuh it would happen that their students would document their mentor’s independent contributions to the madhhab. These would then be transmitted to subsequent generations of fuqaha, often in the form of commentaries upon Mukhtasar al-Muzani known as ta’liqat. The phenomenon we see emerging here is that of the shuruh, or commentaries whereby the trend of condensation is reversed into expansion.

The above should give you a broad idea of the expansion-condensation-expansion model along which legal writing proceeded in Islam. This same model replicates itself in the post-wujuh era. Imam al-Ghazali’s 3 abridgements of his teacher Imam al-Haramayn’s Nihayat al-Madhhab, Imam al-Rafi’i’s celebrated commentary upon the last of those 3 abridgements, al-Wajiz, Imam al-Nawawi’s condensation of this commentary by al-Rafi’i into Rawdat at-Talibin, of his Muharrar into the Minhaj, and al-Nawawi’s own magnificent commentary upon al-Shirazi’s Muhadhhab are all excellent and prominent examples.

The factors that prompted a shift from expansion to condensation and vice versa were several:

  • Firstly, the issue of need. Students needed condensed works to facilitate their studies and reduce the amount of time spent in entry level studies. It is not uncommon to find the author of a mukhtasar stating his reason for condensation to be “to facilitate memorisation and study for the beginner”.
  • Secondly, comprehensive documentation. Every stage in the development of the madhhab would bring new material; all this new material had to be incorporated into the madhhab. When the era of wujuh drew to a close we see the emergence of comprehensive works in both the Iraqi and Khurasani branches of the madhhab (or tariqahs,as they are called). In the former tariqah there are al-Muhadhdhab and al-Tanbih by Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi, and in the latter tariqah Imam al-Haramayn’s Nihayat al-Matlab, followed by his pupil al-Ghazali’s 3 abridgements al-Basital-Wasit and al-Wajiz. Similarly, after the period of recension by al-Rafi’i and al-Nawawi, the peripheral contributions to the madhhab by men such as Ibn al-Rif’ah, his pupil Taqi al-Din al-Subki, al-Bulqini, al-Isnawi, al-Adhra’i and al-Zarkashi were subsumed into the second wave of recension that came in the 10th century, in the form of the commentaries upon the Minhaj by Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari and his pupils al-Khatib al-Shirbini, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami and Shams al-Din al-Ramli.
  • Thirdly, style. Language develops constantly, and one of the most pronounced forms of linguistic evolution has to be the refinement and sharpening of legal language. The systematic limpidity of Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi’s Muhadhdhab and the logically integrated arrangement of al-Ghazali’s Wasit and Wajiz give evidence of the maturation of legal style in their age.
  • Fourthly, personal development. At a somewhat less significant level, scholars would sometimes condense the work of an earlier scholar simply for the sake of thoroughly encompassing the contents of the earlier work. Such condensations would be done not for the sake of publishing the work, but rather for the advancement of the condenser’s personal knowledge.

Having thus far covered the trends in legal writing in Islam, I would like to draw a distinction between substantial or essential works on the one hand, and peripheral or supplementary works on the other. The works of which I have spoken above all fall within the substantial category, while the hawashi form the peripheral category.


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


 

A Synopsis of the Science of ‘Aqeeda Based on al-Hawi al-Qudsi of Qadi Jamaluddeen al-Ghaznawi (Part Two) – Mufti Taha Karaan

Since the enlightenment period, belief in God and organized religion has come under significant attack.  The unremitting question regarding the compatibility of revelation and reason continues to plague us in current times.  Atheism as a “belief” system or worldview is on the rise, and many individuals feel obfuscated and confused amidst the high levels of intellectual scepticism.

How should Muslims face and immunized themselves from these ideological challenges? How did our luminous scholars of the past respond to the various intellectual and doctrinal quagmires of their age so that they were able to preserve sound belief in the integrals of Islam?

In this lecture, Mufti Taha Karaan succinctly articulates a systematic overview of the various components that contribute to the Islamic science of belief (‘aqeeda) and dialectical theology (kalam). By contextualizing the various challenges that historically confronted Islamic doctrine, he provides a lucid methodology in comprehending the integral epistemic avenues that contribute to correct belief in Islam.
Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan:
Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi’i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan (may Allah have mercy on his soul), was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.
Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al-Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.
Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of Islamic study.
Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al-Uloom al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.
In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.
His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopaedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted

 

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