Different ulama [scholars] in different madhhabs [schools of law] have different considerations and principles in looking at this question. The below is a mainstream understanding within the madhhab of Imam al-Shafi’i.
(Out of the four extant schools for Sunni Muslims, the madhhab of Imam al-Shafi’i is the third that was founded. It is the school of nearly all Sunni Muslims in Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines), east Africa (Tanzania, Somalia, Kenya), Yemen and significant parts of the rest of the Arab world.)
It is important to note: this is a general comment on the issue of talfiq [mixing between different opinions in different schools of law] that applies to most lay (unspecialised in legal studies or awaam] Muslims. Considerations differ for muftis in giving fatwa; considerations might differ for those who are studying a madhhab to a more advanced level; those who receive specific instruction as part of their tarbiya [training] in a particular relationship with a teacher; and so on.
As noted above, the details around this issue may differ within a particular madhhab, or between madhhabs. A mainstream understanding in the Shafi’i school is as follows, nevertheless, may be understood as follows.
Generally, most individual Muslims may depart from their taqlid [practice by way of imitation] of the madhhab that one has studied or been taught if the following conditions are met:
Staying within the extant schools
Impermissible and permissible talfiq
Having a need, and not treating religion like a play-thing
Philosophical and intellectual consistency
As noted, this is the general set of guidelines. They alter according to the level of learning of a person; if one is giving fatwa, another set of considerations apply; the tarbiya [training] of a particular student by a teacher; and so forth. By way of an example: many scholars, for example, will insist that their students actively avoid taking dispensations, even when it is ordinarily permitted to do so, in order to train themselves in the spiritual path. This is not a general point that is necessarily applicable to all Muslims.
As an example of how this might alter altogether – and without claiming this is the standard, normal approach – Imam Abdul-Wahhab al-Sha’rani, a prominent Egyptian scholar (b. 891 Hijri) and Shadhuli Sufi, offered the view that the pious, who are the ‘strong’, would always pursue the ‘azima [stricter] opinion from among the schools. In his perspective, the Sufi, in his struggle against his lower self would choose the stricter opinions. This would be during a particular period of the Sufi’s sulūk [wayfaring or path] – and it would be a matter of intense ethical consideration, as opposed to the legal domain per se, in that it is not everyone who is supposed to follow such a way of practice. At another stage of sulūk – including at an advanced stage – considerations might be different.
Any student of knowledge seeking to know how to apply such understanding to their lives in any given circumstance is advised to seek counsel from a faqih [jurisprudent] they trust, and who is familiar with their circumstances. May God grant us all understanding, Ameen!
Ustādh Dr. Hisham A. Hellyer (Biography from ‘A Sublime Way: the Sufi Path of the Makkan Sages’)
A noted scholar and author focusing on politics and religion, Dr Hisham A. Hellyer was born to an English father and to an Egyptian mother of Sudanese & Moroccan heritage and Ḥasanī & ʿAbbāsī lineage. He was raised between London, Cairo and Abu Dhabi, before receiving degrees in law and international political economy from the University of Sheffield, and a doctorate from the University of Warwick. He began researching Islamic law, theology and spirituality in his teens, keeping the company of and studying under a number of classically trained-scholars in the UK, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and elsewhere. They include the likes of Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, the former head of the fatwa department of South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council, and the khalifa of the Makkan polymath and sage, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki. Dr. Hellyer was appointed by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks as a Senior Scholar of the Zawiya Institute in Cape Town, South Africa.
Dr. Hellyer’s career has included positions at and affiliations with the Brookings Institution, Harvard University, the American University in Cairo, Cambridge Muslim College, and the Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation (CASIS).He is a frequent commentator and columnist in various media in the United States, Europe and the Arab world, and is included in the annual global list of ‘The 500 Most Influential Muslims’ in the world (‘The Muslim 500’). Among his written works are ‘Muslims of Europe: the ‘Other’ Europeans’ (Edinburgh University Press), ‘A Revolution Undone: Egypt’s Road Beyond Revolt’ (Oxford University Press) and “The Islamic Tradition, Muslim Communities and the Human Rights Discourse” (editor)(Atlantic Council). Dr Hellyer works between London, Washington DC, and Cairo, where he continues to research, teach, and study. @hahellyer
* Courtesy of Bayt Muhammad Academy
* 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
In this brief podcast, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani provides 10 genuinely useful tips on gaining and retaining a firm grasp of your knowledge of fiqh.
“From knowing nothing to becoming a student of knowledge”
Advice from Habib Ali Al-Jifri for Seekers of Knowledge
The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge
Habib Umar’s Advice to the Seekers of Sacred Knowledge
Shaykh Áwwamah’s advice for Students of Sacred Knowledge
Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I live in an area where there is only one mosque within walking distance and it is the local mosque affiliated to no organization or jamaat.
I have the same right over the mosque as they have, but when there is no time for tahiyat al masjid, I tend to stay standing until one or two minutes before the iqamah is given. Sometimes people will force me to sit down saying it is a sunna.
I want any unbiased islamic fatwa/hadith/Qur’anic interpretation from any faqih/mufti that will help me make wiser/less fitna-inducing decisions.
Jazak Allah khayr.
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I pray you are well.
It is better for you to sit. Firstly because it is disliked to remain standing whilst the Iqama is being given until the statement of “hayya ‘ala ’l-falah.” (Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar).
Secondly, because the Messenger of Allah said, “The believer gets on [with people].” (Ahmad) Going against the regular practice of people causes friction, and a believer is someone who leaves a positive mark on people with a smile, a light joke, or an endearing gesture.
Doing something that rubs people the wrong way will make you a bullseye for a lot of glares and comments. This could leave you with an unpleasant feeling about the masjid and its people, or even put you off from going there.
It is best to overlook minor annoyances, or, even better, to deal with them with a sense of humor. We have all dealt with the uncles in the mosque who have a heart attack if someone walks in with their socks on, or if the Iqama is not called when the second hand reaches “12” on the clock – sometimes, even if the imam is not present!
In many cases these people are the ones who gave their hard-earned money to build the masjid in the first place, and they are particular about how things are done. Give them a smile, make a joke about something, and walk away having shown good character, honoured the elderly, and done something to please Allah. A pleasant sentence is charity (Bukhari).
Sometimes, it is better to do something sub-optimal in fiqh if it means not causing friction – unless it means that something impermissible will be done. An example of this is what to after the prayer ends.
The position of the Ḥanafī school is to ask for forgiveness (astaghfirullah) three times, and then say a short sentence of duʿa or praise (Allahumma Anta ’s-Salam, wa minka ’s-salam…) before immediately getting up for the sunna prayers. To sit and say one’s devotional prayers and praises is slightly disliked. Even reciting Ayat al-Kursi is deemed too long a wait. (Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah).
However, in many mosques, the imam will sit and make a collective supplication after the prayer. Getting up at this point could cause offence§, so it is better to sit and do what everyone else does, and then get up for the sunna prayers.
Going to the masjid is about pleasing Allah. He should be focus of the entire endeavor. If a particular masjid resembles a concentration camp then it might be better to pray in another masjid, if possible, where you can focus on Allah.
May Allah make our hearts attached to the mosques and shade us with His shade on the day where there is no shade save His. Amin.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.
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After a long climb, the group stop by a mountain pool to make ablutions (wudu) and pray Asr, the daily afternoon prayer. What follows is an impromptu lesson from Shaykh Asim Yusuf on how the fiqh rulings on water, impurity and ablution work in practice.
Shaykh Asim Yusuf is a co-founder of the Path to Salvation Syllabus in the UK.
Shaykh Dr Asim Yusuf, who goes by the pen-name of Talib al-Habib, is a Consultant Psychiatrist with a special interest in Islamic Spirituality and Mental Health. He is acknowledged as an authority on Islamic Psychology and is regularly to deliver lectures and seminars on the subject. He serves on the advisory panel of the Centre for Islam and Medicine, as well as in an advisory capacity to a number of community initiatives and charities.
The Ornamented Ladder into the Science of Logic (“Al-Sullam Al-Munawraq”) is a highly popular didactic poem by Imam ʻAbd al-Rahman al-Akhdari (1514 – 1546). Shaykh Ahmed Saad Al-Azhari, Founder and Director of the Ihsan Institute has made a full recording for students of knowledge who are striving to memorise this text.
The 144-line poem outlines the principles of Aristotelian logic and explains how logic could be used to support the Islamic creed (‘aqidah) and jurisprudence (fiqh). The work is studied across the Muslim world as a primer on logic and is often read in conjunction with al-Akhdari’s own prose commentary.
Resources for seekers:
Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally
Question: Assalam alaykum,
I really like my teacher who is a learned person who has studied in Al Azhar but in teaching Fiqh he sometimes mix the opinions of different schools. Should I continue to study with him even if he doesn’t follow one school?
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
Studying with a Teacher who does not follow a Single School of Law
It is better to stick with a teacher one trusts, even if this teacher does not necessarily follow a single school of thought in all legal issues. Normally, a layperson would simply do this, as they likely would not have the tools (or time) to adequately assess this teacher’s rationale for choosing an opinion.
Choosing Opinions from without one’s Chosen School
It is, generally speaking, permissible to prefer non-authoritative positions from within one’s own school, or valid positions based on sound scholarship from other schools.
A scholar might do so for any number of academic or personal reasons. He might feel, for example, that another opinion more closely accords to modern or situational circumstances; or that it is truer to the available evidence; or that another’s legal methodology on a certain matter is sounder. Alternatively, he might simply find it easier to implement.
Studying one School before Delving into Others
A student of knowledge would normally seek grounding in one school of thought before branching out into others. This prevents one from getting confused between schools and conflicting opinions, and allows one to reasonably ensure that their practice is logically sound and internally consistent. It is not uncommon, however, for a person to come across other opinions during one’s course of study, and it is not, generally speaking, blameworthy to follow them.
Harmony and cohesion in a society are directly proportional to its adherence to share moral values. A society that does not adopt common values and turns away from a higher moral path becomes self-centered, and, as a result, experiences deterioration both internally and in relationship to others.
It may also adopt a negative value system based on an absence of individual limitations until society itself becomes absolutist, and people see themselves as absolute, so no restrictions apply to their behaviour not those set by scripture, not by consensus, not by general principles and axioms, and not even for the sake of the common good. Such a society can wage unlimited war, which is the very definition of fundamentalism, regardless of the belief system that drives the aggression.
The values of reason, justice, and moderation promote love and nourish humanity. It is our duty to revive the values of reconciliation and forgiveness and to commit ourselves to peace instead of conflict.
While some try to justify conflict in Islamic terms, these values are not Islamic. They are Western Hegelian values, for it was Hegel who believed that “Destruction is the basis for construction” and that society is based only on the struggle between slave and master. Destruction, which is an expression of ignorance and intolerance, has never been an Islamic value. Our tradition teaches us that trust and love are the basis for coexistence.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not demolish the Ka’aba. He left it untouched so that he could rebuild it on the base laid by Abraham, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, all while winning the favor of Quraysh. When the ‘Abbasid caliph wanted to demolish it and rebuild it on the location of Maqam Ibrahim (Abraham’s station), Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy on his soul, forbade him from doing so and said, “Do not let this House (of Allah) be a toy for princes.” In addition, neither the Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, not any of his successors ever demolished any churches, synagogues, or fire temples, as Ibn al-Qayyim discusses.
When the pious caliph, ‘Umar ibn Abd al-‘Aziz, assumed the caliphate, the understanding of the Shari’ah was already in decline, yet he wrote to his governors, “Do not demolish any church, synagogue, or fire temple.” Demolition and destruction are not Islamic values; they are values that grew out of ignorance and intolerance.
The following Hadith can be applied to a solidary society:
“The example of the person abiding by Allah’s order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example foe those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, ‘Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving us from troubling those who are above us.’ So, if the people in the upper part left the others to do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe.”
Learning about differences leads to an open mind, as Al-Maqqari advised:
“Learn about differences in order to open your mind, for he who learns about the differences between scholars and of their knowledge and opinions will surely have an open mind.”
We must navigate our differences without arrogance or abusive language, with an open mind and the intention of discovering truth rather than winning an argument. We can learn from the example set by Imam al-Shafi‘i, as described by Yunus al-Sadafi: “I have never seen anyone more reasonable than al-Shafi‘i. I debated with him once on a matter, and then we parted ways. He met me again, took my hand, and said, ‘Abu Musa, is it not right that we remain brothers even if we disagree?”
Imam al-Shafi‘i also said, “I have never debated people without praying to Allah to grant that the truth manifest in their hearts and on their tongues so that they may follow me if I am right and that I may follow them if they are right.”
Giving others the benefit of the doubt means assuming their best intentions, as did the Mother of Believers, Our Lady ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, and Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, “Abu Abd al-Rahman did not lie; perhaps he forgot or made a mistake.”
Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on his soul, said, “No man more learned than Ishaq has crossed the bridge, and if we disagree, it is because people disagree.”
Distinguishing among the categories of prohibitions and obligations menas understanding that there are degrees of prohibition: what is prohibited may be haram (prohibited) or makruh (disliked). The same applies to obligations, as we explained earlier.
In summation, our Islamic values are as follows:
Excerpted from the “Framework Speech for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies,” Abu Dhabi, 9–10 March, 2014 — In Pursuit of Peace: 2014 Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies
In March 2014 H.E. Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah founded this groundbreaking initiative as Chair and President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. The forum addresses the critical humanitarian crisis within the vast framework of the Islamic tradition and legal theory.
In 2014 Over 250 of the world’s leading Islamic scholars from different persuasions, academics and thought leaders gathered to attend the opening of the Forum. The Forum is the first global gathering of scholars ever organized to form a unified front against the scourge of extremist ideologies, sectarianism, and terrorism that has afflicted the Muslim world for decades.
Since the opening of the Forum, delegations of experts, academics and scholars from the Forum have travelled to Africa to countries such as Senegal, Mauritania, and Morocco to engage with Governments, NGO’s and religious actors to gain insight on how to stop the increasing violence in Africa. These trips have resulted in the planning of two proposed reconciliation initiatives that will be held in April and June of 2015.
These events’ encourage a multi-disciplinary participation, in order to develop mechanisms and support required for peace and reconciliation in Central Africa Republic (C.A.R) and Nigeria.
The 2nd Annual gathering of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societieswill take place April 26th — 30th in Abu Dhabi
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