Tackling Religious Literacy: Lexical Empiricism

by Marc Manley

In a recent khutbah, I addressed a major issue that Muslims in general, and American Muslims in specific, face: Religious literacy. There have been a few scholars coming out now to draw attention to this deficit in the community and I pray their efforts are doubly successful. While having a conversation today with a brother regarding fiqh, I came across a passage in the Mālikī text, al-Mudawwanah, a foundational treatise on Mālikī jurisprudence that reminded me again of the subtle and elusive nature of language. I hope these thoughts will be a small voice in  the growing chorus calling for religious literacy by Muslims everywhere.

Religious literacy is not simply a new buzz word, a phrase to kick around to either feel good about or to feel intellectually superior, but it is a real need that embraces both the fard al-‘Ayn/فرض الكفاية as well as the fard al-Kifāyah/فرض العين: Individual as well as communal obligations. Religious literacy, like its secular counterpart, allows for functionality. It is also the engine that drives the plurality in Islam. At the moment, the engine block feels like it might seize at any moment. However, with some attention, care, and maintenance, we might set out to fix this debilitating condition. I would like to use wudū’/وضوء, or ablution, as the model to open the conversation on religious literacy.

I am sure many of us have experienced the following: One enters into the mosque to offer prayers, and before doing so, one goes to perform wudū’. Whilst performing wudu’, one is interrupted by an individual who objects to the manner and method one is making wudū’. “The water needs to be running,” the person says. “The water must be like this, or like that, you must apply the water this way, or that way.” You get the gist of what I am saying. The problem does not lay solely with this interrogation, but with the excessive demand that if one does not perform wudū’ in the way this particular person deems to be correct, then one’s wudū’—and by extension, prayer—is invalid. The typical response one might have is to offer this person one’s own proofs, from the Sunnah of course, and demonstrate that despite the difference of opinion you both share, rest assured, you are performing wudū’ correctly. Much to one’s chagrin, this is met with further condemnation, bordering on hostility.

So what is at play and at stake here? What stands out plainly here is that difference of opinion or practice, in our current time, is equivalent to innovation. Yet, as we will see below, differences in practice are a staple of our religious tradition. To begin, let us look at the difference of opinion that has cropped up regarding the wiping of socks/foot versus the washing the foot. As we will see, much of the basis for this difference is rooted in language—the very means by which we come to understand and know our religion, which highly complicates the notion of literalism being the equivalent of one single interpretation:

The first entry in Imām Mālik’s al-Mudawwanah al-Kubrā looks at wudū’ and how the act of wudū’ is approached, whether one is to wipe, wash, or touch the extremities once, twice, or three times, and some of the variance which surrounds it. Mālik’s student, ‘Abd al-Rahmān Bin al-Qāsim, provides us some background information on how Imām Mālik looked at the process of wudū’:

قال بن القاسم لم يكن مالك يوقت في الوضوء مرة ولا مرتين ولا ثلاثا وقال إنما قال الله تبارك وتعالى

“[Imām] Mālik did not arbitrarily wash once, twice, or three times, but instead also looked at what God Almighty had said concerning it [wudū’]:

يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا قمتم إلى الصلاة فاغسلوا وجوهكم وأيديكم إلى المرافق وامسحوا برؤوسكم وأرجلَكم إلى الكعبين وإن كنتم جنبا فاطهروا وإن كنتم مرضى أو على سفر أو جاء أحد منكم من الغائط أو لامستم النساء فلم تجدوا ماء فتيمموا صعيدا طيبا فامسحوا بوجوهكم وأيديكم منه ما يريد الله ليجعل عليكم من حرج ولكن يريد ليطهركم وليتم نعمته عليكم لعلكم تشكرون

“O’ you who profess faith! When you stand to perform prayer, wash your faces and your hands and your arms to the elbows, and wipe over your heads, and your feet to the ankles. If you are in a state of major impurity, then purify yourselves. But if you are sick, on a journey, have come from the lavatory or have touched women and cannot find any water, then perform tayammumwith pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands. God does not want to make things difficult for you, but God does want to purify you and to perfect God’s blessing upon you so that hopefully you will be thankful.” [Qur’ān al-Mā’idah (5):6]

I have marked some of the text with some colorations to key in on some of the inflections of the language here to highlight how, from the same lexical source, differing opinions on language, nuance, grammar, etc., can extract different opinions.

The first is the highlighted command, “wash your faces”. Most importantly here is the verb, “wash”, in the imperative mood. As we’ll see, this command here will be the root of one of the differences of opinion regarding washing one’s feet instead of simply wiping over them. Of key interest here is Ibn al-Qāsim’s observation:

فلم يوقت تبارك وتعالى واحدة من ثلاث

“The Almighty did not differentiate the number of times, one from three.”

Ibn al-Qāsim does note, however, [Imām] Mālik’s approach to wudū’ in a more comprehensive manner:

و ما رأيت عند مالك في الغسل و الوضوء توقيتا لا واحدة و لا اثنتين و لا ثلاثا و لكنه كان يقول يتوضأ و يغتسل و يسبغهما جميعا

“I did not see [Imām] Mālik, concerning ghusul/غسل[washing], wudu’, where it was done solely a number of times, once, twice, or three times, but instead he used to say one does wudū’ and ghusul a number of times asbagha/يسبغ أسبغ“excellently”, where these two components are considered part of an excellent wudū’ altogether [lit. jamī’an/جميعا].”

Mālik’s method as we can see here is a conglomerate of Qur’ānic sources as well as those compiled from the Sunnah, which we will note below for reference, though for time’s sake, we’ll skip in detail. But let us return to the above phrase, “wash your faces”, فاغلسوا وجوهكم. As I mentioned, this extended passage here is one of the source points for differences on washing versus wiping. This stems not from the “fā’”, but from the “waw” and the “bā’” in the phrase:

و امسحوا برؤوسكم و أرجلكم

For the ease of argument sake, I will note the two opinions: One stronger, the other weaker. The stronger opinion links the washing of one’s feet back to the washing of one’s face. This is a matter of rhetoric, or what is also known as balāghah/بلاغة . The weaker opinion, as is favored in some Shiite as well as “Sunni” schools [as minor opinions to be sure] is that the washing of the feet is linked not to the washing of one’s face, but to the wiping of one’s head. From this understanding, those that take this weaker or should I say minority opinion, root their stance not in wanton allegory, but in the language of the Verse itself. To be clear, this is not intended to be a lesson in wudū’, but to demonstrate the fluidity and nuance of language. In this case, the interpretations are literal: They proceed directly from the source text [the Qur’ān], yet, due to the duality of language, both parties are able to extract two very different meanings from the same source. To be sure, Imām Mālik, as supported by Ibn al-Qāsim’s statement, relies not solely on this Verse, but also includes states from other Companions, who themselves provide their own accounts of how the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] performed or reacted to [actively or tacitly] their respective performance of wudū’.

To see this play out in a different manner, let us examine some of the various English translations of the Qur’ān. We will see how each of these translators interpreted this verse, taking into account the aforementioned nuances of language:

“O ye who believe! When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles” [Abdullah Yusuf Ali Translation].

“You who have iman! when you get up to do salat, wash your faces and your hands and your arms to the elbows, and wipe over your heads, and wash your feet to the ankles” [Aisha Bewley].

“O YOU who have attained to faith! When you are about to pray, wash your face, and your hands and arms up to the elbows, and pass your [wet] hands lightly over your head, and [wash] your feet up to the ankles” [Muhammad Asad Translation].

As we can see here, all three of these translators had to tackle this issue regarding the interpretive methods of language. Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s method was to use parenthetical inserts to flush out the meanings that were not explicitly mentioned in the text. Inserts such as “(and arms)”, “(with water)”, and especially in relation to the argument here, “(wash)”, show how Ali had to tackle this issue of literal interpretation coupled with implicit meanings. Muhammad Asad’s translation follows a similar path, making use of brackets to highlight implied meanings. Aisha Bewely’s translation however, skips parenthetical usage and quotes, “and wash your feet to the ankles” as if the meaning were explicit. This is done in part because Bewely, a Mālikī scholar in her own right, is assuming Mālik’s position [the above “jamī’an”] which is in favor of washing the feet, and is no doubt familiar with this very same text. Again, the message here is not who is right or wrong, but rather to demonstrate how these three translators, who recognize the ambiguity that is latent in the text [the Qur’ān]—not unlike ‘Abd al-Rahmān Bin al-Qāsim, Ibn Wahab, and Imām Mālik himself—and are all able to make “literal translations” that differ in practice, though not in meaning, as they all recognize the closing portion of the Verse:

ما يريد الله ليجعل عليكم من حرج و لكن يريد ليطهركم وليتم نعمته عليكم لعلكم تشكرون

God does not want to make things difficult for you, but God does want to purify you and to perfect God’s blessing upon you so that hopefully you will be thankful. [Qur’ān al-Mā’idah (5):6]

I will mention one last hadith here from Mālik’s al-Mudawwanah to highlight the existence of ambiguity, particularly as it relates to language. Mālik sites a hadith from ‘Uthmān Bin ‘Affān, a noted Companion of the Prophet [may God be pleased with him and peace and blessings upon the Prophet], where by ‘Uthmān uses the preposition “nawha”/نحو :

أن عثمان بن عفان دعا يوما بوضوء فتوضأ فغسل كفيه ثلاث مرات ثم تمضمض واستنثر ثلاث مرات ثم غسل وجهه ثلاث مرات ثم غسل يده اليُمنى إلى المرفق ثلاث مرات ثم غسل يده اليسرى أيضا إلى المرفق ثلاث مرات ثم مسح رأسه وأذنيه ثم غسل رجله اليمنى إلى الكعب ثلاث مرات ثم غسل رجله اليسرى إلى الكعب ثلاث مرات وأخبرنا أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم توضأ نحو وضوئي

“‘Uthmān Bin ‘Affān called to make wudū’ one day and so he performed wudū’: He washed his palms three times, then rinsed his nose and mouth three times, washed his face three times, washed his right hand to his elbows three times as well as the left, then he wiped his head and ears and washed his feet, right then left, up to his ankle bone, three times, whereupon he informed us that the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, performed wudū’similar to my wudū’.

‘Uthmān’s use of “similar”/نحو is of key importance [as is Mālik’s mentioning of it], as it highlights a proximity, not an exactness, of ‘Uthmān’s wudū’ and that of the Prophet. Mālik quotes the Prophet again:

من توضأ نحو وضوئي هذا ثم قام فركع ركعتين لا يحدث فيهما نفسه غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه

“Whoever performs wudū’ like me and then stands for prayer, praying two units, does  not talk idly to himself, he will be forgiven for what sins proceeded him.”

I hope the short example here will be of some use to demonstrate not only the pluralism that exists in Islam, but to show that literalism is not the same as uniformity. Language is a multifaceted enterprise and cannot be reduce to single interpretations. It is my hope as well to also illustrate that literal interpretations are also not problematic [as is often the opinion of certain voices who feel ‘literal interpretations’ are always locked in stasis of a time gone by]. Above all, I hope this case helps to impart the awe, humility, and respect we should all be taking when approaching this gift we call Islam. We may differ from one another, but before we cast aspersions at one another, I hope we will think twice, and take more time to grasp the enormity, if not the entirety, of these topics which are both broad and expansive.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 5, 2020 at 18:50  Leave a Comment  

The Way Forward for the Muslims is to Establish Madinan Communities, Markets and Trade

بسم اللّه الرّحمن الرّحيم

The Way Forward

This affair of ours which is the establishment of the Diin wherever we are, is the business of establishing families and clans who in turn band together in a community relationship which functions under the commands and adaab of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.  This affair of ours is about social transaction, social interaction and social contract. 

Allah has said in His Noble Book

و جعلناكم شعوبًا و قبآئل لتعارَفوا

We have made you nations and tribes so that you know one another… 49:104

When the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم arrive in Madinah, he brought together the believers from the two existing tribes al-Aws and al-Khazraj who historically had been enemies under the singular title al-Ansaar.  Furthermore, when they arrive in Madinah, he صلّى الله عليه وسلّم paired an Ansaar with a muhaajiruun (ones who had emigrated with the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم)..

There is a narration in Sahiih al-Bukhaarii about  the patterns of mutual aid which was practice in Madinah. It was narrated by Ibraahiim bin Saʿd from his father from his grand-father ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan bin ʿAuf who said, 

“When we came to Madinah as immigrants, the Messenger of Allah صلّى الله عليه وسلّم established a bond of brotherhood between me and Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ.  Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ said to me I am the riches among the Ansaar, so I will give you half of my wealth and you may look at my two wives and whichever of the two you choose, I will divorce her and when she has completed the prescribed waiting period you may marry her.  ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan said, ‘I am not in need of all of that. (Then he said),‘Is there a marketplace where trade is practiced?’  Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ said the market of Qaynuqaa’u ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan went to that market the following day and brought some yogurt and butter… ”  B34:6 

On one occasion, a Jewish leader by the name of Shaas ibn Qays passed by a group of al-Aws and al-Khazraj tribesmen enjoying each others company.  He began to reflect on the days when these two tribes were enemies of one another and so he decided to send a Jewish youth who frequented their gatherings to stir up memories of the Days of Buʿaath when the Aws had victory over the Khazraj.  When the youth brought up the matter, it aroused old pride and tribal hatred.  When the Prophet ¬ heard about this, he immediately went to them and reminded them how Islam had come and soften their hearts towards one another.  He ¬ continued talking to them emphasizing the need for unity and brotherhood.

واعتصم بحبل اللّه جميعًا و لا تفرّقوا واذكرو نعمت اللّه عليكمو إذ كنتمو أعْدآء فأَلَّف بين قلوبِكم فأصبَحْتم بنعمته إخوانًا و كنتم على شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِنَ النَّارِ فَأَنْقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا …

“And hold on to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.  And remember Allah’s favor on you when you were enemies and he join your hearts together so that by His favor you became brothers.  And you were on the brink of a pit of fire and He save you from it …” 3:103

This business is about Ṣuḥbah (companionship).  We should build and organize what we do around this principle.   Ṣuḥbah includes visiting, keeping company, inviting each other to eat (feed each other:;the secret is the food) and mutual assistance.

Diin means social transaction – which  means there is a need for adaab (good behavior / manners).  All of Islam is adaab – the adaab you owe to Allah, the adaab you owe to His Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم,  the adaab you owe to your neighbor, the adaab you owe to the members of your family, the adaab you owe to the rest of the creation and the adaab you owe to yourself.  The Holy Qur’an is a book full of adaab and the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم is the best example of the practice of it’s adaab.

Our Daʿwah

Our greatest daʿwah is our behavior (adaab) towards each other and others who are not from among us.  This is followed by our actions and our activism.  It has been said actions speak louder than words. This is followed by ours words which are our expressions  based on sincerity and truthfulness which will raise us in stature in the community or our expressions base on hypocrisy and untruthfulness which lower or standing in the community.  

When we behave with good adaab and love towards each other, our ranks will grow in-shaa’a-l-laah.  There is a natural inclination of the ahlu-l-khayr (the people of good  action and intent) to incline towards the ‘lovers’.  Who are the lovers?  They are those who love Allah more than anybody or anything; they are those who love the Prophet  صلّى الله عليه وسلّم more than themselves or those who are near and dear to them; and they are those who love each other for the sake of Allah and by means of the example of His beloved Prophet  Muhammad صلّى الله عليه وسلّم.   

We must fortify the barrier between us and the Hellfire and collapse the barrier that stands between us and the Jannah.  We must get our priorities straight.  The Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم said: “Strive for the Dunyaa (the life of this world) as if you are going to live forever, and strive for your hereafter as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

Allah has said in His Noble Book:  

ولتكن منكمو أمّة يدعون إلى الخير

Let there rise from out of you an Ummah (internationally: a nation;: a community [locally]) calling to good … (to the end of the ayat) 3:104

That community should be established on the character of Muhammad صلّى الله عليه وسلّم.

We can not remain in the position of trying to be this or that or trying to do this or that and nothing gets up off the ground.  We must check ourselves to see what we are possibly doing wrong and accept our shortcomings, and when we find them, we should do something to change them, and find the best way to bring about success.    

When you are young it is hard to stay focused, because you want instant gratification.  In reality, the business of Islamic movement is about patience, and staying in for the long  haul.   Success comes not to the swift, but it comes to he who endures to the end. It is not about taking your ball and going home when the game doesn’t go your way.   

Allah says in His noble Book:

Do you say you believe and think that you will not be tried?

On the contrary, Allah has also said,

ولِنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيءٍ مِّنَ الْْخَوفِ وَ الْجُوعِ وَ نَقْصٍ مِنَ الاَموَالِ وَ الاَنفُسِ و َالثَّمَارَاتِ وَ بَشِرِ الصَابِرينَ

“And We will try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits.  And give glad tiding to the patient ones.”  2:155

Allah also tries us with each other.  Thats why it is necessary that we become team players – people who are willing to humble our nafs in order to foster cooperation and mutual assistance rather than be a self-centered – ‘see me and see what I can do all by myself individual’.   

One of the best examples given to us by our Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم is when he was called upon to solve the problem between the tribal elders as to who would have the honor of placing the black stone in the corner of the Kaʿbah.    The Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم said, “Bring me a robe.  He صلّى الله عليه وسلّم took the robe they brought him, and spread it out on the ground and place the Black Stone on it, and then said, “Let the elders of each clan hold on to a corner of the robe.”  They all complied and together they carried the stone to the site of the reconstruction of the Kaʿbah.  Then the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم himself picked up the stone and laid it in its place.  As a result, the dispute was resolved peacefully an blood shed was avoided.

Our daʿwah should be one of action rather than words. We must overcome the prevailing condition that exist in the Muslim Ummah الكلام كثير والفعل قليل (The  words are many while the actions are few.  On the contrary, we must become a people of few words and a lot of action.

The Madinan Way

Muslim life is distinct in that it is a Diin (a social transaction) between its members based on the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.  The core value of the community are its religious beliefs. 

The Diin of Islam permeates daily life, Learning, diet, marriage, trade, and the applications of energy to business pursuits. The Diin of Islam determine hours of prayer, the daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly activities which are associated with the social transaction.  The Diin of Islam helps to determine the Muslim’s occupation, means and destination of travel, choice of friends and mates.

The natural organic environment of the Diin is found in small close-knit communities where customs and culture within the bounds of Islam are upheld, a strong sense of togetherness is fostered, continuity and consistency of Islamic practice prevails and the needs of the individual from birth to death are met and assured within an integrated and shared value system.

The Muslims best survive in small homogeneous and self-governing community.  The homogeneous character of the Muslim community can be observed in the parts its members play, the activities which govern their lives and the willingness of the members of their community to conform to the pattern of life that has been established by previous generations.  Their distinctive dress, social behavior, personal conduct and religious attitude demonstrate the seriousness of their conformity, and helps to preserve their Muslim way of life in an ever changing world.  

Self-sufficiency is the basis of upon which the economy of the Muslims rest, and although the Muslim’s economy is sometimes linked to the economy of the broader non-Muslim society outside of their community, this economic linkage is conditioned by distinct core values imbedded in their belief system and by special rules which govern such relationships.  The economic life of the Muslims is connected to trade.  Hard work, thrift and mutual aid fortify the economic independence of the Muslims.

Muslim success, with the help of Allah at self-sufficiency and self-governance is best achieved as a result of their living in close proximity to one another.   The Madinan model, based on the function of the “Little Community” has been the best example given. 

The prototype offered in the fiqh discussion put forth concerning the Madinan model is a community of Muslims living adjacent to one another in communities consisting of forty households with a Masjid, a market and a madrasah (school).  These communities in turn form a functional part of the broader society in which they are located, but at the same time they are a distinct cultural unit within that society.  Under this social arrangement, the Muslims are able to practice mutual-aid, bartering, intensive trading, thrift, educate their children, care for the elderly of their community, achieve prosperity, observe the tenets of their religion, maintain their way of life and preserve their identity.

Self-sufficiency is also the Muslims answer to government aid.  They wouldn’t have  to rely on receiving government aid of any kind, whether it is an old age pension, welfare subsidy or compensation payments.  The continued acceptance of and the reliance on such aid,  undermines the stability of the Muslim community and its ability to rely on itself. 

The Muslims must assume responsibility for their aged relatives.  Life insurance and nursing homes run contrary to Muslims values.  The goals of the greater outside non-Muslim society are unacceptable as well to the Muslims with respect to the education of their children.  

The Muslim must assume responsibility for the education of their children.  The non-Muslim school system can not be allowed to relieve the Muslim family and community of the duty of preparing the young for the future task of being honorable members of the Muslim community, raising good families and calling people to Islam.

The Market of Madinah 

There is the narration in Sahiih al-Bukhaarii that was already mentioned above but shall be repeated here about the patterns of mutual aid which was practice in Madinah. It was narrated by Ibraahiim bin Saʿd from his father from his grand-father ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan bin ʿAuf who said, 

“When we came to Madinah as immigrants, the Messenger of Allah Sallaa-l-laahu ʿalayhi wa Sallim established a bond of brotherhood between me and Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ.  Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ said to me I am the riches among the Ansaar, so I will give you half of my wealth and you may look at my two wives and whichever of the two you choose, I will divorce her and when she has completed the prescribed waiting period you may marry her.  ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan said, ‘I am not in need of all of that. (Then he said),‘Is there a marketplace where trade is practiced?’  Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ said the market of Qaynuqaa’u ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan went to that market the following day and brought some yogurt and butter… ”  B34:6 

Again from this hadith, we can see that “Trading must be promoted as the means to increase the wealth of the Ummah.” When the Messenger of Allah entered Madinah, after he built the mosque he made the market of the Muslims. This is the central model of Islamic cities.

Islamic Trade


When the Messenger of Allah entered Madinah, after he constructed the masjid, he organized the market of the Muslims. The Madinan model is the central model for Islamic trade in all of the Islamic cities.  

Islamic Trading raises societies by raising people’s capabilities to their highest economic potential, offering equal accessibility to the business nexus to everyone in identical conditions of equality and justice.

Up until the 15th century the Muslims completely dominated world trading.

Under the Islamic model, in principle, unemployment shouldn’t exist, and the one earning income is not a slave of a salary, but rather enjoys his own business, free from the compulsion of having to work for someone else for a meager wage.

In the Islamic model, multinationals and hyper-markets do not exist. Unlike the model of one owner with a thousand employees that is the case of many hyper-market today. On the contrary, in the Islamic Model we have a thousand free owners in an open Free Market.

The Islamic model removes any form of monopoly that makes everybody a salaried worker and gives a chance of independence to the self-motivated individual in a ‘free-market without an interest based economy’.

The Muslims Must Establish Real Free Markets (Islamic Open Air Market [Suuq]), regulated according to the Islamic Law.


The Market is in fact the most essential of all the elements that constitute the practice of trading. It is the open space where trading and the pricing of the goods takes place. The Market is the space for the free evaluation, in it a substantial part of our freedom is invested. The guaranteeing of the freedom in the market is a pillar in the guaranteeing of freedom of the society in general.

Freedom of the market does not mean what the modern economists mean by free market. Free market is that market where usury (interest), monopolies, restrictions of access or prices, privileges and impositions are not allowed. For a start, the medium of exchange can not be imposed, but should be commonly agreed upon by the people.

The market is also the physical space where trading takes place. The protection of this physical space and the preservation of its main legal parameters is therefore a task of major importance in our days.

Like a mosque as Rasuulu-l-laah صلّي اللّّه عليه و سلم,  indicated  and  guarantees that most people can enter the business nexus with the absolute minimum conditions. he shops and the end to reserved space, something that Umar Ibn al-Khattab clearly forbade in the market place; just as we will not tolerate reserving a place in the prayer-line of the mosque; but more significantly it is the end of the supermarket.

The supermarket is the most infamous of all monopolies for it affects the most important of all institutions of trading, the marketplace. If the marketplace is monopolized, soon the distribution and production processes will be monopolized as well, forcing people to abandon honest business endeavors in favor of artificially higher profits gained from monopolistic privileges.

The Rasuulu-l-laah صلّي اللّّه عليه و سلم, not only made the markets accessible to all, professionals and non-professionals, but also made them free and he forbade charging any form of tax or rent. It is very important to realize, that the first thing that gets corrupted when a Muslim society is in decline is the marketplace. That is why the market is the most regulated by Law, and about 1/3 of all Islamic Law is about trading. The market is corrupted most readily by the introduction of private shops and consequently by renting the spaces. Umar Ibn al-Khattab رضي اللّه عنه, had to fight against it even in Madinah.

Soon after his arrival in Madinah al-Munawwarah, when he صلّى الله عليه وسلّم created two institutions, a mosque and a market,  the Prophet of Islam, صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, made it perfectly clear, by his statements and explicit injunctions, that the marketplace was to be a space freely accessible to everybody, with no divisions (such as shops), and where no taxes, levies or rents could be charged.

The Messenger of Allah, صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, said: The Market is like a Mosque… 

The Messenger of Allah, صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, said: “Markets should follow the same sunnah as the mosques: whoever gets his place first has a right to it until he gets up and goes back to his house or finishes his selling. (suq al-muslimin ka-musallah l-muslimin, man sabaqah ila shay’in fa-huwa lahu yawmahu hatta yada’ahu.)”. (Al-Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, V, 488, no. 2688)

It is a sadaqah, with no private ownership... Ibrahim ibn al-Mundhir al Hizami relates from Abdallah ibn Ja’far, that Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Hasan said, “The Messenger of Allah, صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, gave the Muslims their markets as a charitable gift (tasaddaqa ‘ala l-muslimina bi-aswaqihim).” (Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, 304)

With no rent charged …

Ibn Zabala relates that Khalid ibn Ilyas al-‘Adawi said, “The letter of Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz was read out to us in Madinah, saying that the market was a sadaqah and that no rent (kira’) should be charged on anyone for it.” (As-Samhudi, Wafa al-Wafa, 749)

With no taxes levied on it …

Ibrahim ibn al-Mundhir relates from Ishaq ibn Ja’far ibn Muhammad, from Abdallah ibn Ja’far ibn al-Miswar, from Shurayh ibn Abdallah ibn Abi Namir, that Ata’ ibn Yasar said, “When the Messenger of Allah, salla’llahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, wanted to set up a market in Madinah, he went to the market of Bani Qaynuqa’ and then came to the market of Madinah, stamped his foot on the ground and said, “This is your market. Do not cause it be narrower (than this) (la yudayyaq), and do not let any tax (kharaj) be levied on it.'” (Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, 304)

Where no reservations or claims can be made …

Ibn Zabala relates from Hatim ibn Isma’il that Habib said that Umar ibn al-Khattab (once) passed by the Gate of Ma’mar in the market and [saw that] a jar had been placed by the gate and he ordered that it be taken away. … Umar forbade him to put any stones on the place or lay claim to it (in any way) (an yuhajjir ‘alayha aw yahuzaha). (As-Samhudi, Wafa al-Wafa, 749)

And where no shops can be constructed …

Ibn Shabba relates from Salih ibn Kaysan that The Messenger of Allah, salla’llahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: ‘This is your market. Do not build anything with stone (la tatahajjaru) (on it), and do not let any tax (kharaj) be levied on it.'”  (As-Samhudi, Wafa al-Wafa, 747-8)

Abu-r-Rijaal relates from Israa’il, from Ziyaad ibn Fayyad, from one of the Shaykhs of Madinah that Umar ibn al Khattab, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, saw a shop (dukkan) which someone had newly put up in the market and he destroyed it. (Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, 750)

Trading must be promoted as the means to increase the wealth of the Ummah. The exaggerated rents paid nowadays by shopkeepers all over the world and in places like the Grand Bazaar and the enormous amount of small traders selling very inefficiently in the streets or in small shops all around the town, are clear signs that people need open markets.

Open Islamic markets will not only unleash the inhibited potential of the local people, but will also attract traders from other countries who will come to trade in our open markets. The return of the caravans to our cities will be the sign of the restoration of the glory that the town had in the past. And we will achieve that simply by following the same method that the great sultans used: the promotion of Islamic Trading. 

Most of the design features are focused on the increase of the productivity for the traders, through architectural design and use of technology. For example, to facilitate the daily movement of the merchandise and to provide the buyers with some convenient technical facilities for the payment and the collection of the goods. 

Employment is the Lowest Form of Economic Activity. Trading must be promoted as the means to increase the wealth of the Ummah. 

Most employees spend their lives working for others, paying off debts to others and performing tasks that others tell them that they “must” do.  The vast majority of employees are no more than indentured servants.  It is just that the mechanisms of servitude are more sophisticated these days.

Debt bondage at an early part of adulthood. creates obligations that must be met to avoid the unwanted consequences that are faced when debts are not paid.  Most people don’t realize that over the course of a lifetimes the amount of money that they repay on their debts is far greater than the amount that they originally borrowed. As a result, they spend most of their lives as employees of others paying off debts, without ever working for themselves or owning their own businesses  In fact, their tenure of employment, makes the businesses that other people own more profitable.

So if they spend the best years of their lives building businesses for others in order to  service debts owed to others while making others wealthier, what does that make them?  Answer: dependent and indentured (bound) because of debt bondage.

Employees, particularly those at the bottom end of the infrastructure, will be provided with a basic salary which usually amounts to a fraction of that of their employers profits. The amount they receive merely enables them to feed, clothe and house themselves.

In some cases, the salary provided will just barely cover the employee’s living costs, making it almost impossible for them to save up any money, and thus keeping them trapped. Those with families and mortgages would likely face financial ruin if they were to lose their jobs. This in turn creates an atmosphere of fear and desperation.

Unlike the slave and the serf, the employee is a “free”  to work or to be idle. Idleness of course is not really a choice because of the more than likely negative consequences that will come as a result of it. Therefore, the so-called freedom of choice is no real choice at all.. The worker as an individual appears to be free; in reality however, he becomes enslaved by the need for employment.

The employee sells his labour at so much per hour, per day, per week.  Yet, he never participates in ownership of either the means of production or the finished product. He receives the wages that were agreed upon only.

On the other hand, the guild craftsman of the earlier ages stood a better chance at becoming his own master. Even the individual slave now and then might rise above his fellows and buy his freedom or escape from slavery; but the modern employee is solidly enslaved to his wage and his debt. Employment is slavery and debts are the chains that bind.

The Islamic Guild Represented the Free Society of Free People. 

For centuries, Muslims living within an Islamic Madinah belonged to an Islamic guild. The relationship in Islamic guild which is the relationship of the master craftsman / apprentice is a higher relationship than employer / employee.

The Guilds Are Born FromThe Open Market

If the market was only accessible to a few then a few masters would keep their apprentices as employees forever, because they would depend on those few to buy and sell.

But the guild master knows that once his apprentice has reached a certain professional expertise he is able just like him, by virtue of the open Islamic market, to buy the same materials and sell his manufactured products in the same market as he does. The guilds are, thus, natural to the Islamic market. And it follows that wherever there is an Islamic market, it will be difficult to find life-time employees. For many employees of today, the Islamic market is an opportunity to emancipate themselves to rise above the salary and to unleash their own inhibited motivation to work, individually or in a group, for themselves.

The employee, as a member of a class of people forced to work for someone else or otherwise be on the dole (unemployed), did not exist in Islam. This is why some people have spoken about the Islamic guilds as the condition of a society without a working class, for only slaves historically speaking could be classified as the working class.

The End of Unemployment Must Coincide with the End of Employment.

Unemployment based on the non-Muslim model hides a more severe problem which is the massive situation of implicit enforced employment, due to access being denied to the market and business opportunities for a significant segment of society. That is the real problem. Unemployment is only the severe symptom of that problem.

Trading must be promoted as the means to increase the wealth of the Ummah.

In the open Islamic market an old lady can come in the morning produce and sell a soup in the Islamic market and go in the afternoon with the earnings she has honestly earned. In the Islamic market a carpenter can buy wood at the same price as the factory does and can then sell his product alongside all other wood producers in the same place. The comparative quality, price and acceptance of their products, and nothing else, will then determine the success of these two people.

Accessibility and no rent in the Islamic market secure that the only minimum conditions are required to enter into the business nexus.

If we now consider the enormous potential wasted by unemployment, plus the inhibited talent of life-time employees (the lowest form of economic activity), plus the resources wasted in the really unnecessary yet unavoidable ‘private tax’ on thousands of private shops who pay exorbitant rents, plus the immense wealth lost by forbidding trading (that is the caravans), then, if we add all this, it becomes very clear that not to have Islamic markets is a luxury that no society can afford.

Unemployment is a time-bomb in Europe and America. There is no answer within their economic models. All the economists can do is to accommodate, as best they can, the increasing number of the unemployed, as if it were something natural, that can at best perhaps be stabilized.

On the other hand, we Muslims, have a model that has worked in the past and it will work in the future In shaa’a-l-laah. It is Islamic trading. Islamic trading will not only eliminate unemployment but will eliminate inflation as well. 

The Caravans 

The caravans can only happen if there is a place to go to; that is if there is an Open market. Their disappearance is the clearest symptom of the abolition of trading. The caravans represent an open distribution network which means that anyone can sell anything, anywhere within that trading network.

The caravan is the transportation and agency. Who would go on their own if they could participate of the expectation and the attention of the caravan of the whole city? Just like who wouldn’t like to sell out of the market-place, if in the market-place is where all the customers were? Nobody was denied from doing it on their own, but the Caravan represented the interest of the great majority of sellers in the town. They all nurse and care for its reach and quality.

The caravans can only happen if there is a place to go to; that is if there is an Open Market. Their disappearance is the clearest symptom of the abolition of trading. The caravans represent an open distribution network which means that anyone can sell anything, anywhere within that trading network.

aravans both serve to acquire good materials for production andto acquire new customers to sell directly without barriers or intermediaries

Why would traders join the caravans?

A caravan is more powerful than an individual and might obtain, from the government of the land visited, special privileges which would not be granted to the solitary merchant.

A caravan offers protection since a large part of international trading is protection against robbery, fraud, trickery and deceit.

A caravan stops corruption since its trade would be carried on year after year, and would be anxious to build up and maintain a reputation for honesty and fair dealing.

A caravan offers access to the benefits from the services that it has already established throughout the years in the areas of protection, storage, accommodation and, most importantly, reputation.


Islamic Trading versus Monopolistic Distribution 

All civilizations created markets for trading, because there can be no trading without markets, without markets there can only be monopolistic distribution.

What is the difference between trading and monopolistic distribution?

Trading is the movement of merchandise to be sold Islamic market. Trading requires a market place, so that the merchandise can move from one place to another in order to be sold. The caravans cannot exist if there is not a place to go.

Distribution is the movement of merchandise already sold. Without a market place, merchandise can only move if it is already sold. Without the market, trade disappears and only monopolistic distribution is left. Caravans cannot go to a supermarket. 

Accessibility and Openness of Trading

Accessibility is the opposite of monopoly and privilege.

It is the condition for the return of all other elements of Islamic trading.  Without markets no guilds. Without the markets no trading.  Without trading no caravans

Islamic Trading – Accessibility Based on Trade

There are the three institutions of Islamic trading:

A. Open Markets Islamic Market

B. Open Distribution Caravans

C. Open Production Guilds

Non-Islamic trading is based on non-access based distribution.

There are the three institutions of non-Islamic trading. These are the new institutions that have replaced the institutions of Islamic trading:

A.Closed Markets Shops or Supermarkets

B. Closed Distribution Exclusive Distributors

C. Closed Production Patent or Capital Corporation

The highest degree of civilization and justice comes from the Institutions of Islamic trading based on the following three elements: 

* Markets

* Caravans

* Guilds

These institutions have been present in the culture of man  since the beginning of the civilized world, only to be completely supplanted in the modern times by un-Islamic economic theory and  un-Islamic trade practices.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 1, 2020 at 16:36  Leave a Comment  

Shaykh Abdul Rashid Ali Sufi Reciting in Khalaf Reading Style – Complete Qur’an

Shaykh Abdul Rashid Ali Sufi Reciting in Khalaf Reading Style – Complete Qur’an
The Reciter is Shaykh Abdur Rashid Ali Sufi who is reciting in Qirā’atu Khalaf (the reading method) of Khalaf. A Qirā’at is a method of pronunciation used in the recitations of the Qur’an. There ten Qirā’āt methods. Seven qirā’āt (methods of recitations) out of the ten qirā’āt have authentic chains of transmission as outlined by Imam Ash-Shaatibiyy. Each of the seven qirā’āt has two separate modes of reading that were made famous by each of the two main students of the original teachers (imams) of the recitation. The remaining three qirā’āt that have been mentioned by Imam ibn Al-Jazari are also named after the students of the scholars who were the original reciters.
Each qirā’āt has two narrators of the recitation of the first scholar, sometimes the two different narrations they learned from the first scholar are almost identical, other times, there is quite a difference between them. Each qirā’āt (methods of recitations) was either transmitted directly from the Imam himself or transmitted with a shaykh or two in between the student and the main teacher.
What’s really interesting is that each qirā’āt has received its name from the main student who mastered and popularized the reading rather than the master teacher who taught it. Another interesting point is that even though two modes of reading may have been transmitted from the same teacher, they may have very different rules, as each has its own chain of transmission and each has its own identity. The main point is that these are all authentic ways of recitation passed down in chains of transmission from the Messenger of Allah, (S.A.W), person by person until the recitation has reached us today.
In respect to the Khalaf reading method, you’ll notice the high ended pronunciation placed on the Alif Maqsuurah. For example in Surah (93) Suratu-ḍ-Ḍuḥaa the Shaykh reads the verse , wa-ḍ-ḍuḥay, as opposed to wa-ḍ-ḍuḥaa and wa maa qalay as opposed to wa maa qalaa as found in the other readings styles.
Those who are hearing this for the first time; keep an opened mind. Don’t assume the reciter is making mistakes. He’s not.
Another example of the uniqueness of this reading style is found in Suratu-l-Faatiḥah wherein the Shaykh reads verses 6 and 7: ihdina-z-ziraṭa-l-mustaqiima ziraṭa-l-ladhiina an ʿamta ʿalayhum ghayru-l-maghḍuubi ʿalayhum wala-d-daaaaaa liiiiiin,
as opposed to ihdina-ṣ-ṣiraṭa-l-mustaqiima ṣiraṭa-l-ladhiina an ʿamta ʿalayhim ghayru-l-maghḍuubi ʿalayhim wala-d-daaaaaa liiiiiim, as found in the other readings styles.
Click on the following link:
Click the following link to read each Surah individually:
Click on the following link to down a copy of the Qur’an in the Khalaf style of reading with the color coded rules of tajwīd:
Published in: Uncategorized on February 14, 2020 at 10:02  Leave a Comment  

Aspects of The ʿAmal of The People of Madinah

Aspects of The ʿAmal of The People of Madinah

 ©Al-Madanii Publishers

© 1996 Amal Al-Madanii Publishers

Chapter 1: The Origin of the Sunnah

The Sunnah is a model pattern of behavior.  Ibn Mandhuur in his Lisaanu-l-Arab on the authority of at-Tahdhiibu-l-Lughah compiled by Abu Mansuur Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Azhar al Haraawī has defined the term sunnah in the following manner: السُّنَّةُ هِـيَ الطَّرِيقَةُ الْـمَحْـمُودَةُ الْمُسْـتَقيمَةُ (the Sunnah is the commendable straight way).  And so the sunnah is a model behavior and an exemplary conduct which is followed by those who regard it as the most correct example of behavior without deviating to the right or to the left and without paying attention to any other way.

The original and primary meaning of the verbسَـنَّ (sanna) from which the word سُـنّة (sunnah) has been derived is he introduced; he set an example. Thus, the sunnah was an example that had been set or introduced.  From this concept came a secondary meaning he followed a trodden path .  It can be seen from these means, that the original meaning for the word sunnah is a practice which was introduced and exemplified by a previous person or a former group of people as a way of behaving which became the most correct and normal behavior for the people who followed them.

The term سُـنّة اللّه (Sunnatu-l-laah) which has been used in the Qur’an in Surahs 33:38; 33:62 (twice); 35:43 (twice); 40:35 and 48:23 (twice) means the natural and moral law governing the rise and fall of nations of the world.  Both the verbal noun form سنة  (sunnah) and its verb form   سنّ (sanna) when applied as one of Allah’s actions or what is a manifestation of one of Allah’s actions means: He prescribed or manifested something.  This is further evidence that the original meaning of sunnah signified something that is introduced rather than something that is followed .  

Its second meaning, does not come from the first form root  verb سَـنَّ (sanna), but rather from its derived forms such as اِسْـتَسَنَّ (istasannaa), تَـسَنَّنَ (tasannana), اِسْـتَـنَّ (istanna) all of which mean he followed .  From these verbs forms we are able to form a sentence with any one of the three verbs – for example:

اِسْـتَنَّ سُنَّةَ مُحَمَّدٍ – (istanna Sunnah Muhammad [He followed the Sunnah of Muhammad]) meaning: عَمِلَ بِهَا (ʿamila bihaa [He acted in accord with it]) or اِسْتَسَنَّ بِصِرَاتِهِ (istasanna bi ṣiraatihi [He followed his way or path]) meaning: اِتَّبَعَهَا (ittabaʿahaa [he observed, took heed, bore kept in mind (his duty) to follow the way, path or conduct of]) فُـلاَن فُـلاَن (fulaan fulaan [so and so]).  

Therefore this second meaning for the word sunnah has come to mean model behavior, exemplary conduct or a set example and although someone can set a bad example or bad sunnah, if he desires it to be followed by others, he probably did not intend to set a bad example and in his mind he believes his behavior to be correct.  Thus, the word sunnah is always applied to positive intent although the outcome may be negative.

The phrase سنّة النبي (Sunnat-an-Nabii [Sunnah of the Prophet]), سنّة الرسول (Sunnat-ur-Rasuul [Sunnah of the Messenger]) and سنّة محمّد (Sunnatu Muhammad [Sunnah of Muhammad]) do not appear in the Holy Qur’an.  The term which appears in the Holy Qur’an to describe the behavioral pattern of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  is ‘uswatun hasanatun’ (an excellent example).  The word sunnah being used in connection with the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  seems to have originated from the Prophet himself صلى الله عليه وسلم .  In His last sermon delivered during his farewell pilgrimage to Makkah which is reported in the Muwatta of Imaam Maalik  as follows: 

“Yahya related to me from Maalik  that he heard that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘I have left among you two matters.  You will never go astray if you hold fast to them: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.’”  

And so even though the phrase Sunnat-ur-Rasuul (Sunnah of the Messenger does not appear in the Holy Qur’an, it is clear that the concept of Sunnat-ur-Rasuul has been established since the beginning of the Prophet’s mission and the existence of a Sunnah that belongs to the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم and that is derived from his example is confirmed by the words of Allah the Most High 

In the Holy Qur’an:

“Surely in the Messenger of Allah is ‘uswatun hasanatun’ (a good example) for you, who expect (to encounter) Allah and the Last Day.”

The Sunnah of the Prophet  صلى الله عليه وسلم is divided into three matters: سنة فعله (sunnatu fiʿalihi [the sunnah of what the Prophet  صلى الله عليه وسلم did]), سنة قوله (sunnatu qawlihi [the sunnah of what he  صلى الله عليه و سلم said]) and سنة التقرير (sunnatu at-taqriir [the confirmed sunnah of what was done or said in his presence and he did not disapprove it].  

This standard of conduct or Sunnah was not only practiced during the life time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, but continued to be practiced after his lifetime.  The Ṣaḥaabah, the Tabiʿuun  and the Tabiʿu-t-Tabiʿiin continued to apply these fundamental principles in the early Madinan community on a more elaborate scale due to new and developing problems which confronted that ever expanding Muslim community.  As a result, the Sunnah of the Prophet began to take shape as ‘formal law’ (fiqh) and a ‘normative practice’ (ʿAmal) which was based on ‘the past practice’ (ʿamalu-s-saalif), and with the passage of time, two distinct and sometimes opposing views evolved concerning the process of deriving the Sunnah.  The first and earlier view was based on the idea that the on going behavioral practice of the Muslims was linked to the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم not only by oral traditions (ḥadiths), but also by the behavioral tradition (ʿAmal) going back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the two generations that followed his.  A fuller discussion of this matter is coming in the next chapter.   


Chapter 2: ʿAmal and Ḥadith: Two Approaches to the Sunnah

Over time two views evolved concerning the methodology that should be used to derive and formulate the Sunnah.  

One group – the people of Madinah utilized Ḥadith to derive the Sunnah. The Ḥadith they used were not only from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, but also from the Sahaabah and Tabiʿiin and Tabiʿu-t-Tabiʿiin. They also used the authoritative pronouncements of the khalifahs, the decision of the qaadis, and the generally practice  which had been agreed upon through the consensus of the ʿulamaa’ of Madinah as sources for deriving the Sunnah.  To them, the sunnah was organic, that is to say, an on going living reality that extended from the time of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم to their time.   

The other group – the Muhadith-thuun (scholars of traditions) believed that sunnah was only derived from Ḥadith going back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

Imaam Maalik, who recorded the ʿAmal (social and behavioral practice) of the people of Madinah in his book Al-Muwatta generally opens each of its legal chapters with a Ḥadith from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.  However,  he and the people of Madinah did not believe that the Sunnah was solely derived and formulated from these oral transmission (Ḥadith).  They believed that the Sunnah was best derived and formulated from the living transmission in the form of ʿAmal.  In the case of Imaam Maalik, it was the ʿAmal of the People of Madinah which was consider to be the primary source for deriving and establishing the Sunnah.  The ʿAmal of the people of Madinah was seen as a standard of behavior that was linked to the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and a living and continuous practice which had passed from father to son from the time of Prophet up until their era. A statement which has been ascribed to Rabiiʿah ibn Abi ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan one of the teachers of Imaam Maalik sums up the position of Imaam Maalik  and the Madinans on this point:

A thousand from a thousand is better than one from one.  For one from one would tear the Sunnah right out of our hands.”, that is to say, accepting a practice that a thousand people have learned from a thousand people who came before them is better than  accepting a practice which is in base on one Ḥadith that has been transmitted only from one transmitter to another and that stands in direct opposition to that accepted practice or ʿAmal.

Ibn al-Qaasim the chief transmitter of Maalik’s views and his pupil said: in reference to a particular Ḥadith concerning a woman married without the permission of her guardian, “This Ḥadith has come down to us and if it were accompanied by a practice which had been passed on by the predecessor of those from whom we have taken it, it would be right to follow,  but in fact, it is like those other Ḥadith which are not accompanied by practice.  This point of view which has been expressed by Ibn al-Qaasim was rendered after giving Maalik’s  view that the marriage of a woman without the permission of her guardian was invalid although interpretation of the Ḥadith from ʿAa’ishah in which she acted as an agent in the marriage of Hafsah bint Abdu-r-Rahmaan to al-Mundhir bin az-Zubair (without the permission of her father who was away traveling) has given the impression that such a marriage was valid.  Ibn al Qaasim does not challenge the authenticity of the hadith, however he states:

“We do not know what the tafsiir (explanation) of this is, except that we assume that she appointed someone else to actually contract the marriage.”   

He further states:

“The ʿAmal (concerning this matter), which is confirmed and accompanied by practice is found in the words of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, ‘A woman should not be married without a legal guardian’ and the words of ʿUmar, ‘A woman should not marry without a legal guardian’ and the fact that ʿUmar separated a man and a woman who married without a legal guardian.’ ”  

So ḥadiths of this nature were not discredited in principle nor adopted in practice by the Madinans.  They were transmitted from the Companions to the Tabiʿiin and then they were transmitted to the Tabi’u-t-Tabiʿiin all without having been rejected or doubted.  But the Ḥadith which were not exemplified by a traceable on going practice of ʿAmal (behavior) were left aside while what was corroborated by an on going practice was followed.

The above evidence points out the difference between Imaam  Ash-Shaafiʿii  view of what authenticates the Sunnah and that of Imaam Maalik.  According to Imaam Ash-Shaafiʿii  the only valid and authoritative way to authenticate a sunnah practice is to rely on Ḥadith going back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.  Ash-Shaafiʿii  is very emphatic on this point and he does not even recognize practice or consensus when they do not conform to the Qur’an and Sunnah.  According to Ash-Shaafiʿii  Sunnat-al-Islam and Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم are synonymous.  Imaam Ash-Shaafiʿii  said in his Risaalah:

“When a reliable person relates from a reliable person until it reaches the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, then it becomes authoritative,  we will not set it aside unless another Ḥadith from

the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم becomes available which contradicts it…”  On the other hand, according to Maalik, Sunnah is not merely based on Hadith.  It must also be corroborated as a practice by a traceable  ʿAmal.


Chapter 3 The Amal of Madinah: Imaam Maalik’s View

Imaam Maalik considered the ʿAmal of the people of Madinah as a primary source and he relied upon it for his futaawaa (legal judgements).  Thus in the Muwatta, Imaam Maalik says quite often after mentioning reports and hadiths, “The matter is unanimously agreed upon by us” or he would mention a chain of authorities upon whom he relied heavily when there wasn’t a transmitted hadith.  It has been expressed in his letter to al-Layth bin Sa’d which demonstrated his great reliance upon them as well as his disapproval of those who followed other than their way.  An example of Imaam Maalik’s disapproval of other ways comes at the very beginning of this letter.  It reads as follows:

“From Maalik  bin Anas to al-Layth bin Saʿd as-Salaamu alaykum: 

I beforehand, praise Allah other than Whom there is no god.  After this, may Allah grant us and you protection by means of obedience to Him secretly and openly.

May He grant us and you full pardon from every unacceptable thing.  Know, may Allah have mercy on you, that it has reached me that you al-Layth ibn Sa’d, are giving fataawa  (legal decisions) to the people with things which are inconsistent with what is generally agreed upon by those of us (the fuquhaa of Madinah) and (the people) of our city.

You, by virtue of your trustworthiness, your excellence and your rank among the people of your city, and the dependency of those around you upon you and their reliance upon what comes to them from you – should in reality have fear for yourself, and you should follow that which by following it, you hope to be safe.  For Allah, the Most High has said in His Book:

    ‘The forerunners, the first of the Muhaajiruun and the Ansaar and those who followed them in the performance of good deeds, Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him.  He has made ready for them gardens with rivers flowing beneath them, timelessly forever without end.  That is the great victory.’  9:101

And  the Most High has said,

So give glad tidings to the slave who listen to the speech and follows that which is best…   39:17-18

Therefore the other people must follow the people of Madinah.  To it the Hijrah was made and in it the Qur’an was revealed, the lawful was declared lawful and the unlawful was declared unlawful while the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم was in their midst and they were in the presence of revelation to the Messenger Of Allah  صلى الله عليه وسلم and the act of revelation itself.  He صلى الله عليه وسلم gave them commands and they obeyed him.  He صلى الله عليه وسلم established the Sunnah for them and they followed him until Allah brought his life to an end and chose for him the reward of His Presence.  The Prays of Allah be upon him and His Peace, His Mercy and His Blessings.

       Then after him صلى الله عليه وسلم, those people from his ummah who obeyed him, rose up and assume authority by means of that which had been sent down to them.  Whatever they knew, they acted by.  Whatever they didn’t have knowledge of, they asked questions concerning it. Then they adopted that which they found to be the strongest position. As a result of their ijtihaad and their direct knowledge of the matter through experience, memory or proximity.  If there were those who held a different opinion or people expressed other opinions which were stronger or more worthy to be followed, they would set their own opinions aside, and follow and practice the others’ opinion.  Then the Tabiʿuun came after them following that same path.  They followed that Sunnah.

   Therefore, if a matter in Madinah is clearly practiced, I am not of the opinion that anyone has the right to go contrary to it because of the legacy which they (the people of Madinah) possess.  They (The other people) are  not allowed to assume this or presume this.  If the people of the (other) cities begin saying, ‘This is the ʿAmal (behavioral practice) which is in our city and this is what was done in it by those who passed from among us, they wouldn’t have certainty about that nor would that be permissible for them to claim.  Therefore, be careful.  May Allah have mercy upon you in this matter that I have written to you about.  

Know that it is my hope that I have not been called to write this to you, except out of the desire to give sincere counsel for sake of Allah glory be to Him.  I continue to hold you in the highest regard and to have the best thoughts about you.  Therefore give this letter of mine to you the closeness to your heart which it deserves.  If you do this, you will know that I have spared no efforts in giving you sincere advice.  May Allah give us and you the success to be able to obey Him and to obey His Prophet in every matter and in every circumstance, and peace be upon him and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. 

   In this statement Imaam Maalik  makes it clear that he believes it is unsound for the rest of the people in the other regions to differ with the ʿAmal of the people Madinah and in fact the other should follow the ʿAmal of the people Madinah.  

Then, he further clarifies what he means after that with proof which defends his position and this way which he follows.  The basis of this proof is that the fact that the Qur’an which contains the Laws (was revealed in Madinah) and the Fiqh of Islam was revealed in Madinah and its people were the first of those who turn towards the precepts of the Diin and to be addressed about command and prohibition.  They obeyed Allah’s command.    They stood as pillars of the Diin.  Then after the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, Abu Bakr, ʿUmar and ʿUthmaan assumed leadership over them and the people of the Prophet’s Ummah obeyed them and carried out his Sunnah صلى الله عليه وسلم after aspiring it and studying it from the very beginning.  

Then after them came the Tabiʿuun (the progeny of the first generation) following the same path and following that (same) Sunnah.  It is by this that Madinah became the inheritor of the knowledge of the Sunnah.  The fiqh of Islam was strictly adhered to by the Tabiʿu Tabiʿiin (the progeny of the second generation).  It is that strict adherence (to the preceding practice of the Sunnah) which in Imaam Maalik’s view that does not allow for anyone else (from the other regions) to differ with it, because of the inheritance with which the People of Madinah had been entrusted and because none of the other Muslims could claim this about their city nor presume this about themselves.  

This is Imaam Maalik’s proof about the matter which he advances in support of the ʿAmal of the Madinah, and at times he use to place the ʿAmal of people of Madinah above the hadith.  And the reason that he usually mentions why he held such a view was that the ʿAmal which was practiced in Madinah was based on well known transmitted Sunnah, and that well known Sunnah should be placed above transmitted hadith. 

Imaam Maalik was not the first to hold this view however.  We have seen the opinion of Rabiiʿah his shaykh whose opinion has been mention in the previous chapter: “A thousand from a thousand is better than one from one.  For one from one would tear the Sunnah right out of our hands. 

Imaam Maalik said, 

Men from the people of knowledge and the Tabiʿiin have related the hadiths and we are not unaware of this, but the ʿAmal is passed on in a different way.  He said I saw Muhammad bin Abi Bakr ʿAmr bin Hazm who was a judge and his brother who knew many Ḥadith and who was a man of truth.  I heard ʿAbdullaah when Muhammad gave a judgment in the case, mention a Ḥadith which was at variance with the judgment while reproaching him.  ʿAbdullaah said to him, “Did this not come in such and such hadith?”  Muhammad said, “Certainly!  Then ʿAbdullaah said, “Why didn’t you take into account when you passed judgment?”  Muhammad then said, “Where are the people (that is to say: What is the opinion of the people of knowledge) in regards to the matter?”  What he meant is that the practice in Madinah did not agree with it.  The ʿAmal is stronger.”

As previously stated, it can be seen that Imaam Maalik   did not introduce this position (that the ʿAmal is stronger than the hadith) but rather, he was following a path that had been trodden by others before him from among the Tabiʿuun and the people of knowledge.  However, this view became well known through him because it was a position taken by him in the deliverance of (his) fatwaawa (formal legal opinions), and because some of what he gave as legal opinions has been recorded as being at variance with the reported hadith which he had transmitted.  It was in the successive Islamic ages which followed his, that he became more well known than those from whom he took it.  Thus the position became ascribed to him however he was a follower of it and not its originator. And Allah is the Best Knower In this matter.


Chapter 4 Madh-hab and ʿAmal 

What must be clearly understood at the out set of this discussion about madh-hab is that the concept madh-hab with regards to Imaam Maalik and the people of Madinah is totally different to the concept of madh-hab which is applied to the other cities and their imaams and their madh-habs.  The original and early meaning of madh-haab with regards to the people of Madinah is synonymous with the meaning for the word ʿAmal. In the Muwatta, Imaam Maalik  refers to the ʿAmal as:

الأَمْرُ الْـمَعْمُولُ بِهِ وَمَعْرِفَةٌ ذَلِكَ فِي صُدُورِ النَّاسِ وَمَا مَاضَى مِنْ عَمَلِ الْـمَاضِي فِيهِ

Al-‘amru-l-maʿmuul bihi wa maʿrifah dhaalika fii suduuri-n-naasi wa maa maadaa min ʿAmali-l-maadii fihi  

‘The issue concerning their practice (ʿAmal) , and what is known about it, is in the hearts of the people, and what it is done in accordance with the ʿamal al-maaḍii ( the past practice) is (also) in their hearts.  [ al-Muwatta with the sharḥ (commentary) of az-Zurqaanii]

ʿAmal is the action or practice which is done in accordance with or on the strength of the behavior or actions of someone.  The ʿAmal of Madinah therefore is the action or practice of the people of Madinah who sought to perform every action or practice in accordance with or on the strength of the behavior and actions of Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, the Sahaabah, the Tabiʿuun and the Tabiʿu-t-Tabiʿiin.

Thus, it can be clearly seen that the ʿAmal of Madinah’ in reality is no more than the Sunnah of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم combined with the accepted practices of the Salaf (The Worthy Predecessors – the people of three generations) whom the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم called outstanding in the well known and sound hadiths.  In regards to this matter, Imaam Maalik  is reported to have said:

“…I have thus said that it is my opinion after having considered the matter deeply in relation to the Sunnah and what has been endorsed by the people of knowledge who are worthy of being followed and what the practice has been from the time of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, and the Rightly Guided Khalifs along with those whom I have met in my life-time.  It is their opinion (I have followed) and I have not gone beyond them for (the opinion) of anyone else (لَمْ أَخْرُجْ عَنْ جُمْلَتِهِمْ إِلَى غَيْرِهِمْ [lam akhruj ‘an jumlatihim ilaa ghayrihim]).” 

With regards to the word Sunnah, there are phrases and expressions which Imaam Maalik uses in his Muwatta that clearly show that what he means by the word Sunnah is established practice and authoritative precedent. That is to say, the establish practice or authoritative precedent of either the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, or the members of the three pre-eminent generations or the ʿulamaa (scholars) of the city who were his contemporaries.   

Phrases and expressions that are used by Imaam Maalik to mean the establish practice or authoritative precedent are as follows:

1. سنة نبيه

1. Sunnatu Nabiyyihi – The Sunnah of His Prophet                    

٢ . … السنة عندنا التي لا اختلاف فيها

2. … the Sunnah with us in which there is no disagreement concerning it.  

٣ . و تلك السنة التي لا اختلاف فيها عندنا و الذي لم يزل عليه عَمَلُ الناس

3. That is the Sunnah in which there is no difference of opinion among us and which is still the ʿAmal of the people.

٤ . فهذا الذي كنت اسمع و الذي عليه أمر الناس عندنا 


4. And so this is what I have heard and it is the practice the people among us.           

٥ . السنة عندنا والذي الدركت عليه أهل العلم ببلدنا …

5. (This is ) our Sunnah which I saw the people of knowledge in our city doing …  

٦ . فهذا الأمر عندنا و الذي سمعت من أهل العلم

6. This is common practice among us and that which I have heard from the people of knowledge.

٧ . و بلغني أن عمر بن الخطاب قال …

7. And it has reached me that ʿUmar bin al-Khattaab said …

٨ . و هو الأمر الذي لم يزل عليه أهل العلم ببلدنا 

8. It is the common practice which the people of knowledge in our city continue to do.


        As for the word مَذْهَب (madh-hab), it is rooted in the first form verb ذَهَبَ (dhahaba) which means he went , while ذَهَبَ إِلَى (dhahaba ilaa) means he held  the view, he was of the opinion and the phrase ذَهَبَ مَذْهَبَهُ (dhahaba madh-habahu) means he embraced so and so’s ideas; he followed so and so’s principles or rules; he went the way so and so went.  Thus, when Imaam Maalik  said he considered a matter according to the madh-hab of the people of Madinah he meant that he was making legal judgements according to the opinion, way and/or method of the people of knowledge in Madinah who were his contemporaries or were his predecessors going back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.  Even when he is force to use ijtihaad, 

Imaam Maalik sets as his boundary as the madh-hab or way of the people of Madinah.  It is reported that Imaam Maalik  said:

“Where I have heard nothing from them (the scholars of Madinah), I have used my own judgement and considered the matter according to the madh-hab (way) of those whom I met, until I felt that I had arrived at the truth, or near it, so that it would not be outside of the madh-hab of the people of Madinah and their opinions…”

And so it can be seen from this statement, that in its early usage, the word madh-hab is nearly synonymous with the word ʿAmal.  Therefore, it can be said that Imaam Maalik’s madh-haab was the ʿAmal of Madinah. 

Ibn Taymiyyah said concerning this matter:

         “Praise belongs to Allah.  It is the Madh-hab of the people of Madinah – the City of the Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم, the Abode of the Sunnah, the Abode of Hijrah, the Abode of Assistance.  In Madinah Allah prescribed the Sunnah of Islam and His Shariiʿah, to Madinah the Muhaajiruun emigrated to Allah and His messenger صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم, and in Madinah were the Ansaar – ‘…those who lived in the Abode before them [the Muhaajiruun] and had adopted  faith…’ [59:9]

Their Madh-hab which existed in the time of the Sahaabah, the Taabiʿuun, Taabiʿu Taabiʿiin was the soundest of the Madh-habs of the people of all the cities of Islam in the east and in the west – in both Usuul (roots) and Furuuʿ (branches).”  

Ibn Taymiyyah further states:

“In the generations which the Messenger of Allah صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم praised, the Madh-hab of the people of Madinah was the soundest of the madh-habs of the people of the cities.  They followed in the footsteps of the Messenger of Allah صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم more than the rest of

the cities.  The people from the other cities had less knowledge about the Prophetic Sunnah than them and they followed it less. They were not in need of the administration of the rulers.  The needs of the scholars and the needs of the worshippers (elsewhere) were more than the needs of the people Madinah. This is due to the fact they (The People of Madinah) had less need than the others for any of these things because of what they possessed from the Prophetic Traditions which everyone needs to know and to follow.  It is for this reason, that none of the ‘ulamaa (scholars) of the Muslims was of the opinion that the ijmaaʿ (consensus) of any city from among the cities of the Muslims other than Madinah was a proof which should be followed – not in that era nor eras which follow – not the ijmaaʿ of the people Makkah, Ash-Shaam, Iraq – nor that of any of the other cities of the Muslims.  Those who relate from Abu Haniifah or one of his companions that the ijmaaʿ of al-Kuufah is a proof which must be followed by every Muslim have placed Abu Haniifah  and his companions in error by relating that.  As for Madinah, the people have conversed about the ijmaaʿ of its people and it is well known from Maalik  and his companions that the ijmaaʿ of its people is a proof and that the rest of the  Imaams contest them on that.” 

Ibn Taymiyyah again says:

“As for the three pre-eminent eras (the eras of the Prophet صلى اللّه عليه وسلّم and his Ṣaḥaabah, the Tabiʿuun and the Tabiʿu Tabiʿiin), there was no evident bidʿah (innovation) in the Prophetic City of Madinah during those eras at all, nor did any innovation in usuulu-d-diin (the fundamental principles of religion) emerge from it like what emerge from the rest of the cities.” 

Chapter 5 What is the Difference between the Maalikii Madh-hab and the Others (I.e. Hanafii, Shaafiʿii and Hanbalii)

The first and foremost thing that should be said about this subject is that none of the Imaams set out to found a school, but rather each Imaam assumed a tasked that was written on his heart by Allah.  The period they live in, the time they live in, the social environment in which they grew and lived all impacted these men and directed them towards the task of formulating a method by which to capture, preserve, protect and advance the Sunnah.  The schools of fiqh that became attributed to them by their students who desired to capture, preserve, protect and advance the methodology of their teachers.  This continued until the Middle Ages when certain scholars decided the gates to ijtihaad were closed.  Thereafter, every legal matter and new situation was reviewed and adjudicated on the basis of previous precedents and fatwas given by predecessors going all the way back to the Prophet Sallaa-l-laahu alayhi wa-s-Sallam. 

The first Madh-hab was that of Imaam Abu Haniifah originally know as the “School of Ra’ii (Opinion) and in later generations the Hanafii Madh-hab.  The method of this madh-hab or school of fiqh to deriving the Sunnah was influenced by the fact that it was functioning in an environment that was away from the original source Madinah and although their were Companions and men of knowledge who had arrived in Iraq and who live amongst them, new situations were occurring on a regular basis.   Few Companions travelled from Madinah and stayed in Iraq.  This was because of a policy that been established by ʿUmar which prevent scholars of the Diin from leaving Madinah in mass. In the absence of known or direct precedents, and because of the limited number of companions living in their midst, the ʿIraqiis resorted to making new rulings based on an understanding of the legal purpose of a prior ruling from the Kitaab, Sunnah, ijtihaad or ijmaa’a of first three generations.  They also formulated hypothetical cases which had not occurred in order to have judgement in place for their possible occurrence; and it for this reason that the people of the Iraqii School  are sometimes referred to as ‘the what-iffers’.  

In the case of Imaam Abu Haniifah, to whom the Madh-hab is attributed, he would go beyond the outward meaning of something and search further for their intent.  He would then use analogy to arrive at his judgements and opinions.   In doing this, it was not his intention to establish a new sunnah, but rather to uphold the already established Kitaab wa-s-Sunnah as it was being applied to anew situation.


What has been identified as the second madh-hab is the Madh-hab of the People of Madinah which as was previously mentioned  pre-dates Imaam Maalik who recorded and transmitted it in his well known book al-Muwatta.  Again, as previously mentioned, the methodology  used by this madh-hab for deriving the Sunnah was by direct transmission, that is say that one generation of people received it from the prior generation through the transmission of behavior and actions. These behaviors actions may or may not have been record in Ḥadith or they may have even be contradicted by one sound Ḥadith or another, but with the Madinans, an ʿamal  (precedent behavior or practice) which emanated from the first three generations would have precedence over the Ḥadith because as it was said and believed by them, as ibn Abi ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan is reported to have said: “A thousand from a thousand is better than one from one.  For one from one would tear the Sunnah right out of our hands”. 

As previously mentioned, to the Madinans accepting a practice that a thousand people have learned from a thousand people who came before them is better than  accepting a practice which is in base on one Ḥadith that has been transmitted only from one transmitter to another and that stands in direct opposition to ʿAmal).  This is because that thousand people weren’t just ordinary people but rather they were the upright people of the first three generations whose behavior and adaab towards the Sunnah is impeccable and who are considered the most truthful of the generations about this matter.  

The third Madh-hab is the Shafiʿii which has been attributed to Imaam Shafiʿii.  Imaam Shafiʿii unlike Imaam Maalik who remained in Madinah and Imaam Abu Haniifah who travelled very little, Imaam Shafiʿii traveled widely and  much.  In the course of his travels, he had an opportunity to see how the Diin was developing in the different parts of the Ummah.  He also had the opportunity to study most if not all the fiqh methods of his time.  

These experiences help to shape Imaam Shaafiʿii’s views as to the best way to preserve and advance the knowledge of the Sunnah of the Prophet.   In his travels,  Imaam Shafiʿii began to notice an alarming amount of diversity in the practice of the Diin and out of fear that the Diin would become fracture because of these diverse approaches, Imaam Shafiʿii saw it as his task to develop a minhaaj (methodology) of hard copying and codifying an authoritative source from which all the approaches to the Sunnah will be measured.   The Qur’an had been codified and established in book form during the time Khalif ʿUthmaan.   Now it was time to do the same with authentic hadiths.  And so arm with the Qur’an and the Hadiiths as authoritative textual sources, Imaam Shaafiʿii established an impeccable method for deducing the Sunnah which left little room for corrupt innovations to creep into the Diin.  

Another thing that resulted from Imaam Shafiʿii’s methodology for deriving the Sunnah was the need to have trustworthy textual evidence.  This in turn led to establishment of the science of Ḥadith and the great collections of hadith; and as we review the biographies of many of the well known Ḥadith collectors, we find that many of them were followers of the Shafiʿii Madh-hab.  

The last of the four recognized Sunni Madh-habs is the Hanbalii Madh-hab which was established around the methodology and teachings of Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal by his students and followers. It is even questioned by some whether or that this methodology can genuinely be called a madh-hab.  Case in point, the other three madh-habs were used for the purpose of governance whereas the methodology of Imaam Hanbal was established for collecting hadith.  Imaam Hanbal is seen more in the light of being a man of Ḥadith rather than a faqiih.   His methodology is base on investigating and deriving sources rather than deriving the law itself.  

This does not mean that Imaam Ahmad did not have the capacity to be a faqiih and that he himself did not give fataawa.  He had that capacity and beyond according to what has been transmitted about him.  What is being discussed here is his area of concentration which was compilation and authentication of hadiths and clarification of their context and meaning.  

In the end, when we discuss the differences between the Madh-habs, we should not discuss them as competitive differences, but rather their differences should be seen the light of methodological differences that evolve out each of the Imaam’s need to fulfill a task or service towards the preservation or the advancement of the Sunnah. Any competitive differences that evolve are as result of ignorant students and adherents to each of the Madh-habs.

Chapter 6 What Has Been Related As To Why ʿAmal is Chosen As a Higher Proof of the Sunnah Than the Ḥadith   

In his book ‘Tartiibu-l-Mudaarik’ Qaadi ʿIyaad has devoted a chapter to what has been transmitted concerning the matter of the ʿAmal being a proof of the Sunnah even if it contradicts hadith.  The title of the chapter which we have quoted below and translated in full is: 

The Chapter About What Has Come from the Salaf and the ʿUlamaa About the Necessity for Returning to the ʿAmal of the People Madinah and Its Being a Proof with Them Even If It Differs with Al-Athaar (the related Sound Hadith). 

[ Tartiibu-l-Mudaarik  by al-Qaadi ʿIyaad (Wuzaaratu-l-Awqaaf  Government of Morocco Edition – Ribat) pgs. 44-46 ]


It reads as follows:

روى أن عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله تعلى عنه قال على المنبر احرّج بالله عز و جلّ على رجل روى حديثـًا العمل على خلافه

It has been related that ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with him) said from the mimbar, “I forbid by Allah Exalted and Mighty is He, any man to relate a Ḥadith with which the ʿAmal differs.

قال ابن القاسم و ابن وهب رأيت العمل عند مالك اقوى من الحديث     

Ibn Al-Qaasim and Ibn Wahb said: “I saw that the ʿAmal with Maalik  was stronger than the hadith.”

قال مالك  وقد كان رجال من أهل علم من التابعين يحدثّون بالاحاديث و تبلُغهم عن غيرهم فيقولون ما نجهل هذا و لكن مضى غيره 

Maalik  said, “There were people among the men of knowledge from among the Tabi’uun who narrate hadiths and hear other hadiths  and so they say, ‘We are not ignorant of this, but the ʿAmal that has come down to us is different.’ ”

قال مالك رأيت محمد ابن أبي بكر بن عمرو بن حزم و كان قاضيا و أخوه عبد الله كثير الحديث رجل صدق فسمعت عبد الله إذا قضى مجمد بالقاضية قد جاء فيها الحديث مخالفا للقضاء يعاتِبُه يقول له ألم يأت في هذا حديث كذا ؟ فيقول له بلى فيقول له أخوه فما لك لا تقضي به فيقول فأين الناس عنه ؟ يعني ما اجمع عليه من العمل بالمدينة يريد أن العمل به اقوى من الحديث    

Maalik  said I saw Muhammad bin Abi Bakr ʿAmr bin Hazm who was a judge and his brother who knew many Ḥadith and who was a man of truth.  I heard ʿAbdullah when Muhammad gave a judgment in the case, mention the Ḥadith which was at variance with the judgment while reproaching him saying to him, “Did this not come in such and such hadith?”  He (Muhammad) said, “Certainly!”  Then his brother (ʿAbdullah) said to him, “Why didn’t you take it into account when you passed judgment?”  Muhammad then said, Where are the people (that is to say: What is the opinion of the people of knowledge) in regards to the matter?”  What he meant is that the practice in Madinah did not agree with it.  He (also) meant by this that the ʿAmal was stronger.”

قال ابن المعذَّل سمعت إنسانًا سأل ابن الماجشون لِمَ رويتم الحديث ثم تركتموه ؟ قال ليعلم أنّا على علم تركناه

Ibn Al-Muʿadh-dhal said, “I heard a man ask Ibn Al-Maajishuun, ‘Why do all of you transmit the Ḥadith and then leave it (that is to say, not act by it)?’  He (Ibn Al-Maajishuun) said, ‘So that it is known that we were fully aware of it while we did not act by it .’ ”

قال ابن مهدي السنّة المتقدّمة من سنة أهل المدينة خير من الحديث و قال أيضًا إنّه ليكون عندي في الباب الاحاديث الكثيرة فأجد أهل العرصة على خلافه فيضعف عندي أو نحوَه

Ibn Mahdi said, “The well established Sunnah from the Sunnah of the people of Madinah is better than hadith.”  He also said, “I have many hadiths on the subject yet I have found Ahlu-l-ʿArsah (the people who teach in the masjid) at variance with them and so they (those hadith) are weak to me or close to that condition.

قال ربيعة ألف عن ألف أُحبّ إلى من واحد عن واحد لان واحد عن واحد ينتزع السنة من ايديكم

Rabiiʿah said one thousand from one thousand is preferable to one from one because one from one would snatch the Sunnah right out of your hands.


قال ابن أبي حازم كان أبو الدرداء يسأل فيجيب فقال له إنّه بلغنا كذا و كذا بخلاف ما قال فيقول و أنا قد سمعته و لكنه ادركت العمل على غير ذلك

Ibn Abii Haazim said, “Abud-Dardaa’ would be questioned and he would answer the questions.  He (the questioner) said to him, ‘Such and such has reached us’ contrary to what he (Abud-Dardaa’) had said, he would say, ‘And I have heard it (also) but I know that the ʿAmal is different.’”

قال ابن أبي الزناد كان عمر بن عبد العزيز يجمع الفقهاء و يسألهم عن السنن و الاقضية التي يعمل بها فيشبتها و ما كان منها لا يعلم به الناس القاه و ان كان مخرجه من ثقة

Ibn Abii-z-Zinaad said, “ʿUmar bin ʿAbdi-l-ʿAziiz use to gather the ʿUlamaa’ and ask them about the Sunnahs and legal judgements.   Those which were acted upon he would affirm and those which the people did not act upon he would discarded even when they came from a trustworthy source.” 

قال مالك انصرف رسول الله صلّى الله عليه و سلم من غزوة كذا في نحو كذا و كذا ألفًا من الصحابة مات بالمدينة منهم نحو عشرة آلاف و باقيهم تفرق في البلدان فأيّهما احرى أن يتّبع و يؤخذ بقولهم من مات عندهم النبي صلّى الله عليه و سلّم و اصحابُه الذين ذكرت أو من مات عندهم واحد أو اثنان من اصحاب النبي صلّى الله عليه و سلّم ؟

Maalik , “The Messenger of Allahصلى الله عليه وسلمreturned from such and such a ghazwah with so many thousand of the Sahaabah – ten thousand of whom died in Madinah while the remainder became 

dispersed (through out other) countries.  So which of them is more worthy of being followed and which of them is more worthy of being accepted in what they have said, those among whom the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  and his Companions died whom I (meaning Maalik) have mentioned or those among whom (only) one or two of the Companions of the Prophet  صلى الله عليه وسلم died?”

قال عبيد الله عبد الكريم الرازي قُبِضَ رسول الله صلّى الله عليه و سلّم عن عشرين ألف عين تطرِف

ʿUbaydallah ʿAbdul Kariim ar-Raazii said, “The messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم died and twenty thousand eyes were weeping eyes.”     

Chapter 7 The Rank of Maalik Among the Muhadith-thuun; The Muwatta of Imaam Maalik and What is Known About It and What Has Been said about Maalik Concerning It

The Muwatta is the earliest written source book of Salafii behavior and its best indicator.  It is not a book of analogy or legal theory, but rather it is a book of behavior and action.  Imaam Maalik saw the ʿAmal of Madinah as the foremost behavior for the Muslim ummah.  This is why he found it necessary it to codify this behavior in the Muwatta.  

The Muwatta of Imaam Maalik  can be defined as both a book of hadiths and a book of ʿAmal – the ʿAmal of Madinah.  In the Muwatta 1,720 hadiths can be found.  Out of this number, 600 hadiths are musnad that is to say traceable directly back to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم without interruption.   222 of the hadiths found in the Muwatta are al-mawquf – those ending with the Prophet’s Companion’s and 285 of the hadiths are sayings of the Tabi’uun – the successors of the Companions.  Thus, out of the 1,720 hadiths found in the Muwatta, 822 Ḥadith come from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  while 898 are derived from others. 

The ‘Amal found in the Muwatta is based on the fundamental principles laid down by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, as well as authoritative pronouncements of the Khalaafah Rashiiduun and other companions charged with that responsibility, legal opinions and juristic statements of the fuquhaa, verdicts passed down by the Qaadis, and decisions of the past people of authority from the city of Madinah and those who were its current scholars.

In his book Sihhatu Usuuli Ahli-l-Madinah Ibn Taymiyyah has devoted a whole section to the rank of Imaam Maalik  among the muhadith-thuun as well as the position of the Muwatta as a source of the Ḥadith and Sunnah it is quoted in full as follows:

إذا تبين ذلك فلا ريب عند أحد أنّ مالك رضي الله عن اقوم الناس بمذهب أهل المدينة رواية و رأيا فإنه لم يكن في عصره و لا بعده اقوم بذلك منه كان له من المكانة عند أهل 

الاسلام الخاص منهم والعام ما لايخفي على من له بالعلم أدنى المام و قد جمع الحافظ

 أبو بكر الخطيب اخبار الرواة عن مالك فبلغوا ألفا و سبعمائة أو نحوها و هؤلاء الذين اتصل إلى الخطيب حديثهم بعد قريب من ثلاثمائة سنة فكيف بمن انقطعت اخبارهم أو لمم يتصل إليه خبرهم فإن الخطيب توفي سنة اثنتين و ستين و اربعمائة عصره عصر ابن عبد البر و البيهقي و القاضي أبي يعلى و امثال هؤلاء واحد و مالك توفي سنة تسع و سبعين و مائة أبو حنيفة سنة خمسين و مائة و توفي الشافعي سنة اربع و مائتين و توفي أحمد بن حنبل أحدى و اربعين و مائتين         

“It is absolutely clear and no one has any doubt that Maalik  was the strongest of the people of the madh-hab of the people of Madinah in respect of both transmission and opinion.  There was no one in his time nor after him who was stronger in those things than him.  Among the people of Islam, both the elite and the common, he has a position which is not hidden from anyone who has the least inspiration of knowledge.  Abu Bakr al-Khatiib has compiled the reports of the transmitters about Maalik  and they reached about 1700.  They are only those whose hadiths reached al-Khatiib after about 300 years, so how about those whose reports were cut off or whose reports did not reach him?  Al-Khatiib died in 462 and he was contemporary with Ibn ‘ʿAbdu-l-Barr, al-Bayhaqii, Qaadi Abu Ya’laa and others like that, while Maalik   in 179 and Abu Haniifah  died in 150 and Ash-Shaafiʿii  died in 204 and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal  died in 241.

و لهذا قال الشافعي  ما تحت أديم السماء كتاب اكثر صوابا بعد كتاب الله من موطأ مالك و هو كما قال الشافعي  و هذا لا يعارض ما عليه أئمة الاسلام من أنه ليس بعد القرآن كتاب اصح من صحيح البخاري و مسلم مع الائمة على أن البخاري أن اصح من مسلم و من رجح مسلما فإنه رجحه بجمعه الفاط الحديث في مكان واحد فإن ذلك ايسر على من يريد جمع الفاظ الحديث و أما من زعم أن الاحاديث التي انفرد بها مسلم أو الرجال الذين انفرد بهم اصح من الاحاديث التي انفرد بها البخاري و من الرجال الذين انفرد بهم فهذا غلط لايشك فيه عالم كما لا يشك أحد ان البخاري اعلم من مسلم بالحديث و العلل و التاريخ و إنه افقه منه إذ البخاري و أبو داوود  أفقه أهل الصحيح و السنن المشهورة و إن كان قد يتفق لبعض ما انفرد به مسلم أن يرجح على بعض ما انفرد به البخاري فهذا قليل و الغالب بخلاف ذلك فإن الذي اتفق عليه أهل العلم أنه ليس بعد القرآن كتاب اصح من كناب البخاري و المسلم         

And for this reason, Ash-Shaafiʿii  said:  ‘There is no book under the surface of heaven more correct after the Book of Allah than the Muwatta’ of Maalik’, and it is just as Ash-Shaafiʿii  said.  This is not in contradiction to what the Imaams of Islam said about there not being after the Qur’an any book sounder than Sahiihi-l-Bukhaarii and Muslim.  According to the Imaams al-Bukhaarii is sounder than Muslim.  Whoever prefers Muslim, prefers him because he place all the versions of each of the Ḥadith together in one place.  That is easier for someone who wants to collect all the versions of the hadith.  As for people who claim that the hadiths which are found in Muslim solely, or the men (from whom he took hadith) solely are sounder than the hadiths which are found solely in al-Bukhaarii or the men (whom he took hadith) solely, this is an error about which no scholar has any doubt, just as no one has any doubts that al-Bukhaarii had more knowledge than Muslim about the hadiths and the defects and the history (of them), and that he knew more fiqh than him.  Al-Bukhaarii and Abu Dawud knew the most fiqh of all of the people of the Sahiihs and famous Sunan.  If it does occur that something found in Muslim exclusively  is preferred to something found in al-Bukhaarii exclusively, this is rare. The majority of cases is contrary to that.  That upon which the people of knowledge agree is that after the Qur’an there is no book sounder than the book of al-Bukhaarii and (the book of) Muslim.”

انما كان هذان الكتابان كذلك لأنه جرد فيهما الحديث الصحيح المسند و لم يكن القصد بتصنيفهما ذكر آثار الصحابة و التابعين و لا سائر الحديث من الحسن و المرسل و شبه ذلك و لا ريب أن ما جرد فيه الحديث الصحيح المسند عن الرسول الله صلى عليه و سلّم فهو اصح الكتاب لأنه أصح منقولاً عن المعصوم من الكتب المصنفة  

These two books are looked upon in that manner because the hadiths of sound isnad have been compiled in both of them.  The intent in compiling these two (books) was not to mention the traditions of the Companions and the Tabiʿuun nor even all of the hadiths which are good and the mursal hadiths and what is similar to that.  There is no doubt that what has been compiled in it (the Sahiih) are the Ḥadith of sound  isnad from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم. And so it is the soundest book because it is the soundest transmission from among the impeccable books which have been written.

و أما الموطأ و نحوه فإنه صنف على طريقة العلماء المصنفين إذ ذاك فإن الناس على عهد رسول الله صلى علىه و سلم كانوا يكتبون القرآن و كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قد نهاهم أن يكتبوا عنه غير القرآن و قال من كتب عني شيئا غير القرآن فليمحه ثم نسخ ذلك عند جمهور العلماء حيث أذن في الكتابة لعبد الله بن عمرو و قال اكتبوا لأبي شاه و كتب لعمر بن حزم كتابا قالوا و كان النهي أولاً خوفًا من اشتباه القرآن بغيره ثم أذن لما أمن ذلك فكان الناس يكتبون من حديث رسول الله ما يكتبون و كتبوا أيضا غيره 

As for the Muwatta’ and books like it, they were written in the manner of the scholars who wrote at that time.  The people in the time of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, people used to write down the Qur’an. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم had forbidden them to write down anything other than the Qur’an from him.  He صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Anyone who has written down anything except the Qur’an should destroy it.’  Then he صلى الله عليه وسلم abrogated that according to the majority of the ʿulamaa’ wherein he صلى الله عليه وسلم gave permission for writing to ʿAbdullaah Ibn ʿAmr.  He صلى الله عليه وسلم said to Abi  Shah اُكْتُبُواْ ‘write (meaning all of you).’  He wrote a document for ʿAmr ibn Hazm.  They (The ʿulamaa’) said that the original prohibition was for fear of making the Qur’an like something else. Then he صلى الله عليه وسلم gave permission when that matter was secure.  Then the people used to write from what they wrote of the hadiths of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, and they also wrote down other things.

و لم يكونوا يصنفون ذلك في كتب مصنفة إلى زمن تابع التابعين فصنف العلم فأول من صنف ابن جريح شىئًا في التفسير و شيئًا في الاموات و صنف سعيد ابن أبي عروبة و حماد بن سلمة و معمر و امثال هؤلاء يصنفون ما في الباب عن النبي صلى عليه و سلّم و الصحابة و التابعين و هذه هي كانت كتب الفقه و العلم و الأصول و الفروع بعد القرآن فصنف مالك الموطأ على هذه الطريقة و صنف بعد عبد الله بن المبارك و عبد الله و بن وهب و وكيع بن الجراح و عبد الرحمان بن مهدي و عبدالرزاق و سعيد بن منصور و غير هؤلاء فهذه الكتب التي كانوا يعدونها في ذلك الزمان هي التي اشار إليها الشافعي  فقال ليس بعد القرآن كتاب اكثر صوابا من موطأ مالك فإن حديثه اصح من حديث نظرائه

They did not write that (hadiths etc.) in books which were written until the time of the Tabiʿu-t-Tabiʿiin.  Then knowledge became written. Ibn Jurayh was the first to write something about tafsiir and something about death.  Saʿiid ibn Abii ʿUruubah, Hammaad 

ibn Salamah, Maʿmar and men like these wrote what is found concerning the subject of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, the Companions and the Tabiʿuun.  These are the books of الفقه (Islamic Law), العلم (knowledge), الأصول (roots) and الفروع (branches) of the Diin after the Qur’an.  Maalik  wrote the Muwatta’ in this manner.  He wrote after ʿAbdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak, ʿAbdullaah ibn Wahb, Wukay’ ibn al-Jarrah, ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan ibn Mahdi, ʿAbdu-r-Razzaaq, Said ibn Mansuur and others.  These books which were being considered in that time were those which Ash-Shaafiʿii   indicated when he said, ‘There is no book after the Qur’an more correct than the Muwatta’ of Maalik.  His hadiths are sounder that the hadiths of those men who were of an equal rank in knowledge.’ 

كذلك إمام أحمد لما سئل عن حديث مالك و رأيه و حديث غيره و رأيهم رجح حديث مالك و ررأيه على حديث أولئك و رأيهم و هذا يصدق الحديث الذي رواه الترمذي و غيره عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال يوشك أن يضرب الناس اكباد الإبل في طلب العلم فلا يجدون عالماً اعلم من عالم المدينة فقد روى عن غير واحد كابن جريح و ابن عيينة و غيرهما إنهم قالوا هو مالك 

It was like that when Imaam Ahmad was asked about the Ḥadith and opinion of Maalik  and the Ḥadith and opinion of others.  He preferred the Ḥadith and opinion of Maalik  over the Ḥadith and opinion of those people.  This confirms the Ḥadith which at-Tirmidhii and others related from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم: “A time is quickly approaching when the people will beat the livers of their camels (that is to say drive their camels) in search of knowledge and they will not find an ʿaalim (scholar) more knowledgeable than the ʿaalim of Madinah.”  It has been related  by more than one transmitter like Ibn Jurayh, Ibn ʿUyayna and others all of whom said that it is Maalik.

الذين نازعوا في هذا لهم مأخذان أحدهما الطعن في الحديث فزعم بعضهم أن فيه انقطاعا و الثاني انه اراد غير مالك كالعمرى الزاهد و نحوه فيقال ما دل عليه الحديث و إنه مالك أمر متقرر لمن كان موجودًا و بالتواتر لمن كان غائبًا فإنه لا ريب أنه لم يكن في عصر مالك أحد ضرب إليه الناس اكباد الإبل اكثر من مالك و هذا يقرر بوجهين أحدهما يطلب تقديمه على مثل الثوري و الأوزاعي و الليث و أبي حنيفة و هذا في نزاع و لا حاجة إليه في هذا المقام والثاني أن يقال إن مالكا تأخر موته عن هؤلاء كلهم فإنه توفي سنة تسع و سبعين و مائة و هؤلاء كلهم ماتوا قبل ذلك فمعلوم أنه بعد موت هؤلاء لم يكن في الأمة اعلم من مالك في ذلك العصر و هذا لا ينازع فيه أحد من المسلمين و لا رحل إلى مالك لا قبله و لا بعده رحل إلىه من المشرق والمعرب و رحل إليه الناس على اختلاف طبقاتهم من العلماء و الزهاد و الملوك و العامة و ان انتشرًا موطأ في الأرض حتى لا يعرف ذلك العصر كتاب بعد القرآن كان اكثر انتشارًا من الموطأ   

Those who challenge this view have two approaches to the (hadith).  One is to dispute the Ḥadith with some of them alleging that there is an interruption in them (that is to say they are not complete), while others maintain that it is someone other than Maalik  who is meant like al-ʿUmarii az-Zaahid and people like him.  It is said that what the Ḥadith demonstrates is the fact that it is Maalik  (who is meant) which is a confirmed matter for all who were present then, and by multiple transmission (tawatir) for all who were not there.  There is no doubt that there was no one in the time of Maalik  to whom people drove their camels more than Maalik.  This is confirmed in two ways.  The first way is by establishing his precedence over people like ath-Thawrii, al-Awzaa’ii, al-Layth, and Abu Haniifah .  While there is dispute about this, there is no need to raise it at this point.  The second confirmation is that it is said that Maalik  died after all them (those who are mentioned above).  He died in 179 and all of them died before that.  So it is known that after the death of those men. 

There was no one in the community with more knowledge than Maalik  at that time.  None of the Muslims disputes this.  No one travelled to any ʿulamaa’ of Madinah as the amount of people who travelled to Maalik ,not before him or after him.  

They travelled to him from the east and from the west, and people of different levels travelled to him.  They were from among the scholars, the ascetics,  the kings and the common people.  His Muwatta’ spread throughout the land until there was no book known at that time after the Qur’an to have a greater dissemination than the Muwatta’.

أخد الموطأ عنه أهل الحجاز و الشام و العراق و اصغر من أخذ عنه الشافعي و محمد بن الحسن و امثالهما و كان محمد بن الحسن إذا حدث بالعراق عن مالك و الحجاز بين تمتلئ داره و إذا و إذا حدث عن أهل العراق يقل الناس لعلمهم بأن علم مالك و أهل المدينة اصح و اثبت

The people of the Hijaaz, Syria and Iraaq took the Muwatta’ from him.  The youngest of those who took it from him were Ash-Shaafiʿii , Muhammad ibn al-Hasan and those who were similar to them.  When Muhammad ibn al-Hasan used to related something from Maalik  in Iraaq and the Hijaaz, his house was full, but when he related from the people of Iraaq few people came since they knew that the knowledge of Maalik  and the people of Madinah was sounder and firmer.

و أجل من أخذ الشافعي العلم إثنان مالك وابن عيينة و معلوم عند كل أحد أن مالكًا أجل من ابن عيينة حتى أنه كان يقول إني و مالكا كما قال القائل و ابن اللبون إذا ما لز في قرن لم يستطع صولة البزل القناعيس  

The two people from whom Ash-Shaafiʿii  took the major portion of his knowledge were Maalik  and Ibn ʿUyayna.  It is known by everyone that Maalik  was greater (in knowledge) than Ibn ʿUyayna so that he (ash-Shaafi’ii) used to say, “Maalik  and I are as the sayer aid:

‘The short horned suckling cannot attack and puncture the (more powerful) nine year old.’ ”

و من زعم أن الذي ضربت إليه اكباد الإبل في طلب العلم هو العمري الزاهد مع كونه كان رجلا صالحا زاهدا  آمرا بالمعروبف ناهيًا عن المنكر لم يعرف أن الناس احتاجو ا إلى شيء من علمه  و لا رحلوا إليه فيه و كان أذا اراد أمرًا يستشير مالكًا و يستفتيه كما 

نقل إنه استشاره لما كتب إليه من العراق أن يتولى الخلافة فقال حتى اشاور مالكا فلما 

استشار اشار عليه أن لا يدخل في ذلك و أخبره أن هذا لا يتركه ولد العباس حتى تراق فيه دماء كثيرة و ذكره له ما ذكره عمر بن عبد العزيز لما قبل له ولّ القاسم بن محمدا إن بني أمية لا يدعون هدا الأمر حتى تراق فيه دماء كثيرة

As for those who claim that the one to whom the camels livers were beaten in search of knowledge was al-ʿUmarii az-Zaahid – though he was an ascetic righteous man who commanded the right and forbade the wrong – it is not known that people were in need of any of his knowledge or travelled to him for it.  When he himself wanted to know something he would consult Maalik  and ask for his fatwaa concerning it, like what has been transmitted in that he (al-ʿUmari) consulted him (Maalik) when he wrote to him from Iraaq about them assuming the khalifate there.  He said, “Not until I consult Maalik .”  When he consulted him, he (Maalik) advised him that he (al-ʿUmari) should not involve himself in the matter and informed him that the descendants of al-ʿAbbas would not give it up without a lot of blood being spilled over it.  He mentioned to him what ʿUmar ibn ʿAbdu’l-ʿAziz had mentioned when he was told, ‘Appoint al-Qaasim ibn Muhammad.’  He said, ‘The Banu ʿUmayyah will not give up this command until a lot of blood is spilled over it.’

و هذه علوم التفسير و الحديث و الفتيا و غيرها من العلوم لم يعلم أن الناس اخذوا عن العمري الزاهد منها ما يدكر فكيف يقرن هذا بمالك في العلم و رحلة الناس إليه

As for the knowledge of tafsiir and Ḥadith and fatwaas, and other kinds of knowledge, it is not known that people took any of fore-mentioned (kinds of knowledge) from al-ʿUmari az-Zaahid, so how can he be compared to Maalik  with respect to knowledge and the people travelling to him for it?

ثم هذه كتب الصحيح التي أجل ما فبها كتاب البخاري أول ما يستفتح الباب بحديث مالك 

و إن كان في الباب شيء من حديث مالك لا يقدم على حديث غيره و نحن نعلم أن الناس ضربوا اكباد الأبل في طلب العلم فلم يجدوا عالما اعلم من مالك في وقته

Then even in the books of Sahiih collections of which the book of al-Bukhaarii is the most important, the first Ḥadith with which he begins the chapter is the Ḥadith of Maalik , and if there is any Ḥadith of Maalik   on the subject, he does not put other Ḥadith ahead of it.  We know that people beat the livers of their camels to search for knowledge and did not find any man of knowledge with more knowledge than Maalik  in his time.

و الناس كلهم مع مالك و أهل المدينة إما موافق و إما منازع فالموافق لهم عضد و نصير و المنازع لهم معظم لهم مبجّل لهم عارف بمقدارهم و ما تجد من يستخفّ باقوالهم و مذاهبهم إلاّ من ليس معدودًامن أئمة العلم و ذلك لعلمهم أن مالكا هو قائم بمذهب أهل المدينة و هو اظهر عند الخاصة و العامة من رجحان مذهب أهل المدينة على شائر الامصار.      

As for all of the other people with respect to Maalik and the people of Madinah, either they agreed with them or disagreed with them.   Whoever agreed with them was a helper and a supporter, and whoever disagreed with them still respected them and regarded them with high esteem while acknowledging their worth.  You will not find anyone who disrespects or gives little value to their words and their madhaahib except for someone who is not counted among the leaders of knowledge.  That is because they know that Maalik  is the chief proponent of the madh-hab of the people of Madinah.  The superiority in importance and influence of the madh-hab of the people of Madinah over the rest of cities is clear.  

فإن موطأه مشحون إما بحديث أهل المدينة و إما بما اجتمع عليه أهل المدينة إما قديمًا و إما حديثًا و إما مسألة تنازع فيها أهل المدينة و غيرهم و يختار فيها قولاً و يقول هدا احسن ما سمعت فأما بآثار معروفة عند علماء المدينة 

His Muwatta is filled either with the Ḥadith of the people of Madinah or with that which the people of Madinah agreed upon both old or new.  As for those matters about which the people of Madinah and others differed, he had a favorite statement concerning them.  He would say, “This is the best of what I have heard,” and so it was by traditions well-known to the ʿulamaa’ of Madinah.

و لسنا ننكر أن من الناس من انكر على مالك مخالفته أولا لاحديثهم في بعض المسائل كما يذكر عن عبد العزبز الدراوردي إنه قال له في مسألة تقدير المهر بنصاب السرقة تعرقة يا أبا عبد الله أي صرت فيها إلى قول أهل العرلق الذين يقدرون اقل المهر يناصب السرقة لكن النصاب عند أبي حنيفة و اصحابه عشرة دراهم و أما مالك و الشافعي و أحمد فالنصاب عندهم ثلاثة دراهم أو ربع دينار كما جاءت بذلك الاحاديث الصحاح

We do not deny that among the people who contend with Maalik ,  differing with him first, about some questions like the ones which are mentioned that came from ʿAbdu-l-ʿAziiz ad-Daraawardii.  He said to him regarding the question of the amount of the bride-price being determined by the minimum for theft, ‘You already know, Oh Abu ʿAbdullaah!.’  That is to say, you have already taken the position of the people of Iraaq who have determined that the minimum of the bride-price as the minimum amount of theft, but the minimum with Abu Haniifah  and his companions is ten dirhams, and with Maalik , Ash-Shaafiʿii , and Ibn Hanbal , the minimum is three dirhams or a quarter of a dinaar, as has come in sound hadiths.

فيقال أولا إن مثل هذه الحكاية تدل علي ضعف اقاويل أهل العراق عند أهل المدينة و إنهم كانوا يكرهون الرجل أن يوافقهم و هذا مشهور عندهم يعيبون الرجل بذلك كما قال إبن عمر لما استفتاه عن دم البعوض و كما قال ابن المسيب لربيعة لما سأله عقل اصابع المرأة  

It is said first of all that stories like these show the weakness of the positions of the people of Iraaq in the view of the people of Madinah, and that they used to dislike the man that agreed with them [the Iraaqis].  This is famous among them – that they would censure a man for that, like what Ibn ʿUmar said when he was asked to give a fatwaa concerning the blood of gnats and like what Ibn-al-Musayyab’s said to Rabiiʿah when he asked him about the blood money for a woman’s fingers.

و أما الثاني فمثل هذا في قول مالك قليل جدًا و ما من عالم إلاّ و له ما يرد عليه و ما احس ما قال إبن خويزمنداد في مسألة بيع كنب الرأي و الإجارة عليها لا فرق عندنا بين رأى صاحبنا مالك و غيره في هدا الحكم لكنه اقل خطأ من غيره  

Secondly something like this in the speech of Maalik is very rare.  There is no scholar who does not have something which can be refuted.  How excellent is what Ibn Khuwayzmindad said about the question of selling books of opinion and taking a payment for 

it.  ‘We believe that there is no difference between the opinion of our companion Maalik  and others in this principle, but he was less subject to error than other people.’

و أما الحديث فاكثره نجد مالكا قد قال به في إحدى الروايتين و إنما تركه طائفة من اصحابه كمسألة رفع اليدين عند الركوع و الرفع منه و أهل المدينة رووا عن مالك الرفع موافقا للحديث الصحيح الذي رواه لكن إبن القاسم و نحوه من البصريين هم الذين قالوا برواية الأولى و معلوم أن مدونة أبن القاسم أصلها مسائل أسد بن الفرات التي فرعها أهل العراق ثم سأله عنها أسد ابن القاسم فاجابه بالنقل عن مالك و تارة بالقياس على قوله ثم أصلها في رواية سحنون فلهذا يقع في كلام ابن القاسم طائفة من الميل إلي اقوال أهل العراق و أن لم يكن ذلك من أصول أهل المدينة  

As for the hadith, the majority which we find from Maalik  have been reported by him through one of two transmissions, even though some of it was abandoned by his companions, like    the question of lifting the hands going into rukuu’ and when rising up from it.  The people of Madinah related from Maalik  that the raising of them  is in accordance with the sound Ḥadith which he related, but Ibn al-Qaasim and other Basrans reported the former transmission.  It is known that the main reason for the writing of the Mudawwana of Ibn al-Qaasim was the questions of Asad ibn al-Furaat which he received from the People of Iraaq.  Then Asad asked Ibn al-Qaasim about them and he replied to him either with a direct transmission from Maalik  or sometimes with his own words.  Then the source of its transmission was Sahnuun.  This is why the words of Ibn al-Qaasim contain an inclination towards the words of the people of Iraaq, even if that is not from the fundamental principles of the people of Madinah.”

Chapter 8 What Has Been Said About The Position of the Hands in the Prayer According Maalik and the ʿAmal of Madinah

The placement of the hands in salaah is another example of an action by ʿAmal verses an action by hadith.  In the Muwatta, Imaam Maalik  has recorded two hadiths in the ‘Book of Prayer’ the section on:  وضع اليدين إحداهما على الأخرى في الصلاة (The Placing of the Two Hands One Over the Other in Salaah).   They are quoted as follows:

 (حَدَّثَنِي يَحْيَ عَنْ مَالِكٍ) عَنْ عَبْدِالْكَرِيمِ بْنِ أَبِي الْمُخَارِقِ الْبَصْرِي أَنَّهُ قَالَ مِنْ كَلاَمِ النُّبُوَّةِ إِذَا لَمْ تَسْتَحِ فَافْعَلْ مَا شِئْتَ وَ وَضْعُ الْيَدَيْنِ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الأُخْرَى فِي الصَّلاَةِ يَضْعُ الْيُمْنَى عَلَى الْيُسْرَى وَ تَعْجِيلُ الْفِطْرِ وَ الاسْتِيناءُ بِالسُّحُورِ

Yahya reported from Maalik  from ʿAbdu-l-Kariim bin Abii al-Mukhaariq al-Basrii  that he said from the words of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم “If you do not feel shy, then do what you like.   The placing of the hands one over the other in salaah is the placing of the right over the left.  You should hurry to break the fast and delay the suhuur (the meal before the fast).”

(حَددَّثَني يَحْيَ عَنْ مَالك عَنْ أَبِي حَازِم بِنْ دِينَارٍ) عَنْ سَهْلِ بِنْ سَعْدٍ أَنَّهُ قَالَ كَانَ النَّاسُ يُؤْمَرُونَ أَنْ يَضْعَ الرَّجُلُ الْيَدَ الْيُمْنَى عَلَى ذِرَاعِهِ الْيُسْرَي فِي الصَّلاَةِ قَالَ أَبُو حَازِمٍ لاَ اَعْلَمُ إلاَّ أَنَّهُ يَنْمِي ذَلِكَ 

Yahya reported from Maalik from Abu Haazim bin Diinaar from Sahl bin Saʿiid that he said, “The people were ordered that the man should place the right arm over his left in salaah.  Abu Haazim said, “I only know that he traces that back.” (That is to say, he ascribes to a Prophetic tradition)

Although these Ḥadith have been related in the Muwatta, it appears that they are in that category of Ḥadith that were considered sound in all of its aspects and it was even recorded in the Muwatta yet it were not acted upon because according to the Mudawwana Imaam Maalik  disapproved of placing the right hand over the left in Fard Salaah but permitted it in the Nafl salaah.  In the Mudawwana Imaam Maalik is quoted as saying: 

لا اعرف ذلك في الفريضة و لكن في النوافل إذا طال القيام فلا بأس بذلك يعين به على نفسه

“I do not know of this in the faraa’id (obligatory prayers) but in the nawaafil (voluntary prayers) it can be done if the standing has been long in order to make it easy for himself.” [ al-Mudawwanatu-l-Kubraa transmitted by Imaam Sahnuun bin Saiid at-Tanuukhii page 74 (Daaru-s-Saadir edition) Beirut, Lebanon]

In the same above Ḥadith which was transmitted by Sahnuun, he relates:

عن ابن وهب عن سفيان الثوري عن غير واحد من اصحاب رسول الله صلى الله علىه و سلم أنهم رأوا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وضعًا يده اليمنى على يده اليسرى في الصلاة

“From Ibn Wahb from Sufyaan ath-Thawrii  who received it from more than one of the companions of the Messenger Of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم saw the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم place his right hand on his left in the salaah.”

In spite of this report, the two Ḥadith recorded in the Ḥadith and the fact that the majority of jurist consider the position of qabd (the placing the right hand over the  left in the prayer as a sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, it was consider makruuh by Maalik  what was preferable with him was the ʿAmal of praying with one’s hands in the position of sadl (hands hanging in a natural position to sides of the body).

Ibn Rushd explains in his book ‘Bidaayatu-l-Mujtahid’ the cause of the difference of opinion between Imaam Maalik  and the rest of the jurist.  He says:

و السبب في اختلافهم إنه قد جاءت آثار ثابتة نقلت فيها صفة صلاته عليه الصلاة و السلام و لم ينقل فيها أنه كان يضع يده اليمنى على اليسرى و ثبت أيضًا أن الناس كانوا يؤمرون بذلك و ورد ذلك أيضًا من صفة صلاته عليه الصلاة و السلام في حديث أبي حميد فرأى قوم أن الآثار التي اثبتت ذلك اقتضت زيادة على الآثار التي لم تنقل فيها هذه الزيادة و إن الزيادة يجب أن يصار إليها و رأى قوم أن الاوجب المصير إلى الآثار التي ليس فيها هذه الزيادة لأنها اكثر و لكون هذه ليست مناسبة لافعال الصلاة و أنما هي باب الاستعانة و لذلك اجازها مالك في النفل و لم يجزها في الفرض …   

“…The reason for their difference of opinion is that confirmed hadiths have been report in which the description of the Prophet’s  prayer  عليه الصلاة والسلم have been transmitted, however it has not been transmitted in them that he عليه الصلاة والسلم used to place his right hand over his left during the prayer while it has also been reported that the people were commanded to do that.  And it has also been mentioned in a hadith of Abuu Humayd concerning the description of the Prophet’s  prayer  عليه الصلاة والسلم .  

A group of jurists, therefore, held the view that the traditions in which this (qabḍ) is confirmed created the need for the addition of more details to those traditions in which this detail was not transmitted.  And when added, it then becomes a necessary part of it. 

Another group of jurist said that it is necessary to adopt the traditions in which this additional detail has not been transmitted because they are more numerous, and also because it (this practice of qabḍ) is not suitable for prayer because it belongs to the category of seeking support and so for that reason Maalik permitted it in the nafl prayer and not in the fard prayer…

Both az-Zurqaanii in his sharh on the Muwatta of Imaam Maalik and Khaliil bin Ishaaq in his ‘Mukhtasar’ have reconfirm Imaam Maalik’s position on the placement of the arms in salaat.   Az-Zurqaanii


و روى ابن القاسم عن مالك الارسال و صار إليه اكثر اصحابه و روى أيضًا عنه اباحته في النافلة لطول القيام و كرهه في الفربضة و نقل ابن الحاجب أن ذلك حيث تمسك معتمدا لقصد الراحة

“Ibn al-Qaasim has related from Maalik the transmission and many of his companions went to him and he also related from him the allowance of it (qabd) in the naafilah salaah because of standing in prayer for a long time while he disliked it in the fard salaah.”

Khaliil bin Ishaaq says in the Mukhtasar: 

و سدل يديه 

(“and he should let his hands hang” [that is to say, let them hang to his side”]) 

One final point on this matter. As mentioned above, the majority of Sunni ulamaa maintain that the placing of the hands in the position of qabd is the most correct position for them, yet among the majority of the Shiiʿah ulamaa you will find the opposite. They maintain that the position of the arms is sadl.  There is a view that this position of the Shiiʿah ʿulamaa is derived directly from the amal of the people Madinah because the dispute which arose between them and the Sunnis occurred at an early date in Islamic history and was based on issues of politics rather fiqh.  In other words the Shiiʿahs did not drop their arms to their sides as one of the signs of their opposition to the Sunnis.   And Allah is the Best Knower in this matter.




Published in: Uncategorized on February 4, 2020 at 14:57  Leave a Comment  

Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani 

Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī (310/922 – 386/996) 

The Author of Ar-Risālah

Taken From Tartīb al-Madārik by Qādi ʿIyād

Abū Muhammad ʿAbdullah ibn Abī Zayd was one of the people North Africa. Abū Zayd’s name was ʿAbdu-r-Rahmān according to Ibn Makula and Qadi Ibn al-Hadhdha’. He was from the tribe of Nifza and lived in Qayrawān.

His Position in Knowledge

He was the Imam of the Mālikis in his time and their model. He had a comprehensive grasp of the school of Mālik and explained its statements. He had extensive knowledge and a prodigious memory and transmission. His books are ample testimony of that. His writing was fluent, clarifying and defining what he said. He defended the school of Mālik and established evidence in its support. He knew how to refute the people of sects. In addition to his writing, he was very righteous, scrupulousness and chaste. He obtained leadership in the deen and this world. and people from all regions traveled to visit him. His companions were noble and many people took knowledge from him. He composed a summary of the school and undertook to spread it and defend it. His books filled the lands and were well-known to most of its people.

Ash-Shirāzī said, “He was known as ‘little Mālik’. Abū-l-Hasan al-Qabisī mentioned him and said that he was a reliable imam in his perception and transmission. Abu-l-Hasan ʿAli ibn ʿAbdullah al-Qattān said, ‘I did not imitate Abū Muhammad ibn Abī Zayd until I saw as-Sabaʿi imitated him.'”

Abū Bakr ibn at-Tayyib mentioned him in his book and esteemed his value and merit. The same was true among other scholars in the east. Ibn Mujāhid al-Baghdādī and other Baghadādī companions of him asked him for an ijaza.

Abū ʿAbdullah al-Mayrūqī said “He possessed knowledge, scrupulousness, excellence, and intellect. He is too famous to need to be mentioned.”

Ad-Da’ūdī said, “He was quick to follow the truth. He studied fiqh with the fuqahā’ of his land and listened to its shaykhs. He relied on Abu Bakr ibn al-Lubbad and Abū-l-Fadl al-Mumsī, and also studied with Muhammad ibn Masrūr al-ʿAssal, ʿAbdullah ibn Masrūr ibn al-Hajjam, al-Qattān, al-Ibyyānī, Ziyād ibn Mūsā, Saʿdun al-Khawlānī, Abu-l-ʿArab. Abū Ahmad ibn Abī Sa’īd, Habīb, the client of Ibn Abī Sulaymān, and others. He traveled and went on hajj and listened to Ibn al-ʿArabī, Ibrahīm ibn Muhammad ibn al-Mundhir, Abū ʿAlī ibn Abī Hilāl, and Ahmad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Hammād the Qādī. He also listened to al-Hasan ibn Badr, Muhammad ibn al-Fath, al-Hasan ibn Nasr as-Susī, Darras ibn Isma’il, ʿUthman ibn Sa’īd al-Gharabulī, Habīb ibn Abī Habīb al-Jazarī, and others. Ibn Sha’bān, al-Aburriī and al-Marwazī asked him for an ijaza. Many people listened to him and a lot of people learned fiqh with him. His adherents in Qayrawān included Abū Bakr ibn ʿAbdu-r-Rahmān, Abu-l-Qāsim al-Baradha’i, al-Lubaydi, the sons of al-Ajdabī, Abū ʿAbdullah al-Khawwas, and Abu Muhammad al-Makkī al-Muqrī’.

The people of Andalusia who followed him include Abū Bakr ibn Mawhab al-Maqburī, Abū ʿAbdullah ibn al-Hadhdha’ and Abū Marwān al-Qanazi’ī. The people of Ceuta include Abū ʿAbdu-r-Rahmān ibn al-ʿAjuz, Abū Muhammad ibn Ghalib, and Khalaf ibn Nasr. The people of the Maghrib include Abū ʿAli ibn Amdakatu as-Sijilmāsī.

His Books

He has the Kitāb an-Nawādir wa-z-Ziyadat ‘ala-l-Mudawwana which is famous and has more than a hundred sections, and the famous Mukhtasar (Summary) of the Mudawwana. Instruction in fiqh in the Maghrib is founded on these two books.

He also wrote a revision of the ʿUtibīyya, The Imitation of the People of Madina, The Defence of the School of Madina, the famous Risāla, the Kitāb an-Tanbīh on the position of the children of apostates, Waqfs for the Children of Notables, Explanation of the Times of the Prayer, Trust and Reliance on Allah, The Book of Gnosis and Certainty, Insurance of Provision, Kitāb al-Manāsik, a treatise on those who are moved by the recitation of the Qur’an and dhikr, a book on Turning Away the Beggar, the Protection of the Reputation of the Believer, Kitāb al-Bayān on the inimitability of the Qur’an, Kitāb al-Wasawis, a treatise on giving relatives some of the zakat, a treatise prohibiting argumentation, a treatise refuting the Qadarīyya and rebuttal to the treatise of al-Baghdādī al-Mu’tazilī, the Kitāb al-Istizhār on the refutation of the conceptualists [fikriya], Removal of Uncertainty on the same topic, Book of Admonition and Counsel, Treatise on the Seeker of Knowledge, The Excellence of Praying at Night in Ramadan, Excellent Warning for the People of Truthfulness, a letter to the people of Sijilmasa on recitation of the Qur’an, and a treatise on the fundamentals of tawhīd. All of his books are beneficial and extraordinary and full of knowledge.

It is mentioned that one day he went to visit Abu Sa’id, the nephew of Hisham, and found his gathering in session. Abū Sa’īd said to him, “I have heard that you have written books.” “Yes,” he replied, “may Allah make you prosper!” He said, “Listen to a problem.” Abū Muhammad told him, “Mention it, may Allah make you prosper. If I am correct, you will tell me. If I am wrong, you will teach us.” Abū Sa’īd was silent and did not do that again.

The Rest of his Biography

Abū Muhammad was one of the people of righteousness, scrupulousness, and excellence. It is reported that he got up one night to do wudu’ and poured water from the jug into the vessel and spilled it. Then he poured it again and spilled it. Then that happened a third time and he had some doubts and remarked, “You are recalcitrant towards us.” He heard someone he could not see say, “The child wet the bed over the jug and we disliked for you to do wudu’ from it.”

When he wrote his books about the conceptualists and criticised the book of ‘Abdu-r-Rahmān as-SiqillĪ in al-Kashf and al-Istizhār and refuted a lot of what they had transmitted regarding miracles (kharq al-‘adat) according to what was affirmed in his book, the false Sufis and a lot of the people of hadith objected to that and spread it about that he denied miracles (karamāt), which he did not do. Indeed, at the beginning of his book, he articulates his aim, which is to refute a certain group of people found in Andalusia and the east. Many well-known books have been written on that, including the books of Abū-l-Hasan ibn Jahdam al-Hamdānī, Abū Bakr al-Baqillānī, Abu ‘Abdu-r-Rahmān ibn Shaqq al-Layl, Abū ʿUmar at-Talamankī, and others. The most correctly guided of them in that and had the best knowledge of his aim and its worth was the Imam of his time, Qadi Abu Bakr ibn at-Tayyib al-Baqillani. He made his aim clear.

Al-Ajdabi said, “I was sitting with Abu Muhammad when Abu-l-Qāsim ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ibn ‘Abdū-l-Mu’min the mutakallim was with him. A man asked them about al-Khidr and whether it could be said that he was still in this world in spite of all this time and would die until the Final Hour comes and whether this is refuted by the words of the Almighty, ‘We did not give any human being before you immortality.’ (21:34) They both replied to him that that was possible and permitted and al-Khidr could live until the Final Trumpet was blown. Immortality is connected to remaining as long as the Next World remains, and remaining until the Trumpet is blown is not immortality. Do you not see that Iblis – may Allah curse him – is not immortal, but he is one of those deferred until the Day of a Known Time.

It is mentioned that Abū Muhammad wrote to Abū Bakr al-Aburrī:

Hearts refuse the hearts of a people 

when they have no portion with them.

But selves choose selves

while they have no portion with them.

That is only because of secrets

known by the All-Watchful Witness.

Abū-l-Qāsim al-Lubaydi said, ʿĪsa ibn Thābit al-ʿAbid met Shaykh Abū Muhammad and they wept a lot together and admonished one another. When he wanted to leave, ‘Isa said to him, ‘I want you to write my name on the carpet under you. When you see it, you can make supplication for me. Abū Muhammad wept and said to him, ‘Allah Almighty says, “All good words rise to Him and He raises up all righteous deeds.” (35:10) Let me make supplication for you, but where are the righteous deeds to elevate it?'”

His Death

Abū Muhammad ibn Abī Zayd died in 386 and was elegized by a lot of the writers of Qayrawān who composed a number of moving elegies about him.

It is mentioned that Abū Muhammad was seen in his assembly reflecting in sorrow and he was asked what the reason for that. He replied, “I dreamt that the door of my house had fallen down. Al-Kirmānī says that it indicates the death of the owner of the house.” He was asked, “Is al-Kirmānī considered to be like Malik in his science?” “Yes,” he replied, “In his science, he is like Mālik is in his knowledge.” It was not long after that that he died, may Allah have mercy on him.

Click the following link to download an English translation of:

Risālah ībn Abī Zayd al Qayrawānī

Click the following links to download:

An-Nawādir wa-z-Ziyādāt ʿala-l-Mudawwana by Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī. This is Ibn Abī Zayd’s book in which he discusses and gives clarification about issues found in the Mudawwana. 13 volumes (Arabic only):

Volume 1 introduction

Volume 1-1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

Volume 5

Volume 6

Volume 7

Volume 8

Volume 9

Volume 10

Volume 11

Volume 12

Volume 13

Published in: Uncategorized on July 21, 2019 at 04:07  Leave a Comment  

The Ten Qirā’āt (Methods of Recitations) of the Holy Qur’an

A Qirā’āt is a method of pronunciation used in the recitations of the Qur’an.
There are seven qirā’āt (methods of recitations) out of the ten famous qirā’āt that have authentic chains of transmission outlined by Imam Ash-Shatibiyy.
Each of the seven qirā’āt has two separate modes of reading that were made famous by each of the two main students of the original teachers (imams) of the recitation.
Each qirā’āt (methods of recitations) was either transmitted directly from the Imam himself or transmitted with a shaykh or two in between the student and the main teacher.
What’s really interesting is that each qirā’āt has received its name from the two main students who mastered and popularized the reading rather than the master teacher who taught it. Another interesting point is that even though two modes of reading may have been transmitted from the same teacher, they may have very different rules, as each has its own chain of transmission and each has its own identity.
The remaining three qirā’āt have been mentioned by Imam ibn Al-Jazarī, are also named after the students of the scholars who were the original reciters. As in the way of Shaṭibiyyah, each qirā’āt has two narrators of the recitation of the first scholar, sometimes the two different narrations they learned from the first scholar are almost identical, other times, there is quite a difference between them.
These are all authentic ways of recitation passed down in chains of transmission from the Messenger of Allah, (S.A.W), person by person until the recitation has reached us today.
Conditions for the Validity of Different Qirâ’ât 
Conditions were formulated by the scholars of the Qur’anic recitation to facilitate critical analysis of the above mentioned recitations. For any given recitation to be accepted as authentic Sahih, it had to fulfill three conditions and if any of the conditions were missing such a recitation was classified as Shādh-dhun (irregular; abnormal)).

The first condition was that the recitation has an authentic chain of narration in which the chain of narrators was continuous, the narrators were all known to be righteous and they were all known to possess good memories. It was also required that the recitation be conveyed by a large number of narrators on each level of the chain of narration below the level of Sahābah (the condition of Tawātur). Narrations which had authentic chains but lacked the condition of Tawātur were accepted as explanations (Tafsīr) of the Sahābah but were not considered as methods of reciting the Qur’an. As for the narrations which did not even have an authentic chain of narration, they were classified as Baatil (false) and rejected totally.

The second condition was that the variations in recitations match known Arabic grammatical constructions. Unusual constructions could be verified by their existence in passages of pre-Islamic prose or poetry.

The third condition required the recitation to coincide with the script of one of the copies of the Qur’an distributed during the era of Caliph ʿUthmān. Hence differences which result from the placement of the dots (for example تعملمون with the two dots of the letter taa occurring above in the formation of the letter, and يعملمون with the two dots of yaa occurring below in the formation of that letter) are considered acceptable provided the other conditions are met. A recitation of a construction for which no evidence could be found would be classified Shādh-dhun. This classification did not mean that all aspects of the recitation was considered Shādh-dhun. it only meant that the unverified constructions were considered Shādh-dh.

In regards to the Ten Famous Recitations, the following information is taken from Al-Qira’atu-l-ʿAshru-l-Mutawātir min Ṭarīqati Ṭayyibati-n-Nashri found on introduction pages:ز، س، ش, – Publisher: Dar al-Sahaba Ṭanṭā, Egypt. It mentions the names of the ten famous master reciters and their two most outstanding students who transmitted the readings take from the original teacher:
1. Teacher: Nafiʿ al-Madanī (of Medinah): Ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ibn Abī Naīm.
1) Student of Nafiʿ: Qalun: He is Abū Mūsa, ʿIsa ibn Mina.
2) Student of Nafiʿ: Warsh: ʿHe is ʿUthmān ibn Saʿīd al-Qutbī.
2. Teacher: Ibn Kathir and he is ʿAbdullāh Ibn Kathir.
1) Student of Ibn Kathir: Al-Bazzī: He is Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdullāh bin Abū al-Ḥasan al-Bazzi.
2) Student of Ibn Kathir: Qunbul: He is Muḥammad bin ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān bin Muhammad bin Khālid.
3. Teacher: Abū ʿAmr: He is Zubān ibn al-ʿAlā ʾbin ʿAmmār
1) Student of Abū ʿAmr: Ḥafṣ al-Durī: He is Ḥafṣ ibn ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAziz.
2) Student of Abū ʿAmr: As-Sūsī: He is Ṣāliḥ ibn Ziyād.
4. Teacher: Ibn ʿĀmir: He is ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿĀmir.
1) Student of IbnʿĀmir: Hishām: He is Hishām ibn ʿAmmār
2) Student of IbnʿĀmir: Ibn Dhakwān: He is Abdullāh bin Aḥmad Bashīr bin Dhakwān.
5. Teacher: ʿAasim, He is ʿAasim bin Bihdalah.
1) Student of ʿAasim: Shuʿbah: He is Abū Bakr Shuʿbah ibn ʿAyyash.
2) Student of IbnʿĀmir: Ḥafṣ: He is Ḥafṣ ibn Sulayman ibn al-Mughirah.
6. Teacher: Ḥamzah ibn Ḥabib ʿAmmāratul-Zayyat al-Taymi
1) Student of Ḥamzah: Khalaf bin Hishām.
2 )Student of Ḥamzah:  Khallād ibn Khālid.
7. Teacher: ʿAlī bin Ḥamzah Al-Kasaa’ī
1) Student of Al-Kasaa’ī: Abū al-Ḥarith al-Layth bin Khālid.
2) Student of Al-Kasaa’ī: Ḥafṣ al-Duri, the transmitter of Abū ʿAmr (see above).
8. Teacher: Abū Jaʿfar: Yazīd ibn al-Qaʿqaaʿ
1) Student of Abū Jaʿfar:  Ibn Wardān: He isʿĪsā ibn Wardān.
2) Student of Abū Jaʿfar: Ibn Jummāz: He is Sulayman bin Muslim bin Jummāz.
9. Teacher: Yaʿqūb bin  Isḥāq bin Zayd al-Ḥaḍramī
1) Student oYaʿqūb: Ruways: He is Muḥammad bin al-Mutawakkil al-Lu’lu’ī.
2) Student oYaʿqūb: Rawḥ: Abū-l-Ḥasan, Rawḥ ibn ʿAbd al-Muʾmin.
10. Teacher: Khalafbin Hishām  The transmitter of Ḥamzah (see above)
1) Student oKhalaf: Isḥaq bin Ibrahim bin ʿUthman al-Warāq.
2) Student oKhalaf: Idrīs: He is Idrīs bin ʿAbdul Karīm.
Click the following links to download copies of the Qur’an with color-coded rules for each of the reading styles mentioned above:
1. Nāfiʿ
2. Ibn Kathīr
3. Abū ʿAmr
Ḥafṣ al-Duri
4. Ibn ʿAmir
Ibn Dhakwān
5. ʿAasim
6. Ḥamzah
7. Al-Kisa’i
Abū al-Ḥārith
8. Abū Jaʿfar
ʿĪsā ibn Wirdān
Ibn Jummaz
9. Yaʿqub
10. Khalaf
(click on the following link to download the section on the Ten Imams of recitation:
 Al-Qira’atu-l-ʿAshru-l-Mutawātir min Ṭarīqati Ṭayyibati-n-Nashri found on introduction pages:ز، س، ش, – Publisher: Dar al-Sahaba Ṭanṭā, Egypt.
(click on the following link to download the entire book:
Al-Qira’atu-l-ʿAshru-l-Mutawātir min Ṭarīqati Ṭayyibati-n-Nashri
Published in: Uncategorized on January 17, 2019 at 08:01  Comments (4)  

Chapter Twelve from the African Caliphate – The Vision of a Mujaddid

Chapter Twelve 

The Vision of a Mujaddid

We shall now take our leave from the volatile arena of jihad for a quieter, more serene, but equally vital arena of Shehu Usman’s thoughts on the new, noble state that had just come into being. How, for example, would he visualize the unfolding of history in the course of the life of this young state? What was his vision of an Islamic state (dar al-Islam). In which way, for example, would it differ from the Hausa kingdoms it had replaced, and if decline is inevitable for all peoples and all states, what would be his recipe for avoiding disintegration? Our main sources in this endeavor are the Shehu’s Bayaan Wujub al-Hijrah, his Kitaab al-Farq and his Uṣuul al-ʿAdl.

The Road to The Revival of the Sunnah  

The Shehu saw his role in leading to the establishment of the khilaafah (caliphate) as similar, in many respects, to that of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) who came to call his people ‘to profess belief in the unity of Allah, and demonstrated to them shining miracles in the face of which no man of sound judgment would doubt that he was the Messenger of Allah’; however, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was at first rejected and severely persecuted. His followers were killed and forced into exile, but he endured and persisted in his mission.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) had an ardent desire to see his people spared the prospect of destruction, even though their treatment of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was contemptuous and unjust. “When their persecution intensified,” the Shehu recalled, “Gabriel came to him and said, ‘Oh Muhammad, Allah has ordered heaven, earth and the mountains to obey you.’ He replied, ‘I (wish to) grant a respite to my community for it may be that Allah will forgive them’.” The question of rushing to establish a ‘state’ on the ruin of his community was never contemplated by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). All along, he had hoped for one of three things: that his people be guided to the right path, by which they would be saved from the wrath of Allah, and made to live a successful life here, and a still worthier and more successful life in the hereafter; that in the case of their rejecting his message, Allah might, in His unbounded mercy, grant them His pardon; and that, alternatively, He would at least, raise out of them a generation that would accept the message and be guided rightly.

The Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) conviction that perseverance was a key to ultimate success restrained any tendency in him to seek an armed confrontation prematurely. “In spite of the offer his Lord gave him,” the Shehu insisted, “he was not the first to resort to force against them, on the contrary, he used to present himself to the tribes and during festive seasons saying, ‘Who will believe in me? Who will help me so that I can convey the message of my Lord and thus secure for himself (a place in) paradise?’ In the end, Allah opened for him the door of hijrah and through it, the ultimate door to the perfection of religion and the termination of the days of ignorance.”

The system established by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), after his victory over the systems of ignorance, thrived principally on his ‘sublime attributes’, including his personal discipline and his austere and abstemious life, in the midst of numerous opportunities for an easy and comfortable life which his position as the head of state necessarily opened to him. The leader’s self-restraint, his indifference to material privileges and his selflessness constitute the essence of being an Imam – as opposed to being a king. It is in this way that a leader symbolizes the spirit that gives birth to a new system, and carries it further and reinforces it by personal example and commitment.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also had an absolute sense of humility, both in his personal conduct and his exercise of power. The Shehu noted that when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was given the option of being either a prophet and a king or a prophet and a slave, he replied, ‘Rather a slave!’ He noted further that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prevented his people from standing up for him as a mark of respect, saying, “I am only a slave. I eat as a slave eats and sit as a slave does.” His humility in private life was also revered by the Shehu:

“In his own house, he used to pursue the occupation of his family, i.e. serve them. He deloused his clothing, patched it, repaired his sandals, served himself, gave fodder to his camel used for water-carrying, swept the house, ate with the servant and kneaded dough with him and carried his own goods from the market, (a job) which he allowed nobody else to do for him… He himself served when entertaining a guest… He used to accept the excuse which one made, be the first to shake hands with his friends, and he never interrupted anyone who was speaking, nor made any displeasing remark to anybody. He never avenged himself save when the holy things of Allah were abused, then he would punish for the sake of Allah.”

Another attribute of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was that he fixed his gaze in the course of his entire life on the hereafter, disdaining to take advantages of his life lest he should be occupied with it to the detriment of his relationship with Allah. Even as the booties from the battlefields kept pouring into his treasury, even as territories came under his control at a rate beyond his imagination, even as people came to him in complete submission, the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mind was always occupied with the thought of Allah, and his ultimate abode. “Nothing is dearer to me,” the Shehu quoted the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), “than to join my brothers and my intimate friends (i.e. his fellow Prophets).” One month later, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) died, without ever desiring to enjoy material benefit from his lifetime struggle in the guidance of mankind – he died seeking purely the reward that is with Allah.

The Shehu’s objective in telling about the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the four Rightly Guided khulafaa’ (Caliphs) (Allah be pleased with them) perhaps killed two birds with one stone: he showed the attributes of the best of Muslim leaders, the nature of the Islamic state (dar al-Islam) and the fundamental goals of Islamic polity; and secondly, he showed the likely trend in the history of his own state – from a merciful and compassionate khilaafah (caliphate), to monarchy and then to universal corruption and tyranny; and all could happen within a period of only fifty years.

Shehu’s Vision for the khilaafah (caliphate) 

The mujaddid‘s vision of his own khilaafah (caliphate) was essentially characterized by two fundamental attributes: a commitment to moral values and to an unconditional, universal justice. The mujaddid was determined to create a state far superior to and totally different from the Hausa states he had just overthrown. The new spirit can be summarized in two words: justice and piety.

The Moral Foundation of the State

Of the ten ‘qualities commendable both for princes and others’, mentioned in Bayaan, we shall content ourselves with five. These qualities are an expression of the Shehu’s concept of the nature of the new social order.

The first quality is wisdom – that moral and intellectual discipline which enables a person to join the company of angels while retaining essential human characteristics. It is the ability to strike a balance between the material and the spiritual in life. Proceeding from the two premises laid down in the ḥadiith: namely that ‘the best men are the wisest’ and that ‘wisdom takes one nearer to Allah’. The Shehu stated that to be wise means that one should be a master of one’s desires. Wisdom is therefore acquired not as much from books as from a life supported by honest and lawful income. The overriding importance of wisdom to the new order was articulated by the Shehu. “A wise man,” he said, “is guided aright by his wisdom and fortified by his sound judgment, so that what he says is sound and what he does is commendable, while an ignorant man is caused to go astray as a result of his ignorance; so what he says is unsound and what he does is objectionable.” Further, “the merit of wisdom is that one can judge what one has not witnessed according to what one has witnessed. So he who can judge what he has not witnessed by what he has witnessed is called wise.” Wisdom entails the ability to make sound moral judgments and the possession of a keen and penetrating sense of history. The Shehu was, however, quick to add a proviso: “wisdom is essential, but its value can be undermined if it is not freed from its mortal enemies – caprice, envy, arrogance, greed and other desires.”

A second quality that should characterize the spirit of the new state is knowledge. The need for the ruler of the Islamic state (dar al-Islam) to be a man of knowledge is vital, for in as much as the ruler is the symbol of the state, his actions, behavior and character are bound to influence society as a whole. “All people,” the Shehu explained, “derive fine qualities from the ruler and are indebted to him for laws, the checking of quarrels and settling of disputes. So, more than any other of Allah’s creation he is in need of being acquainted with learning and gathering (knowledge) of the law.” The very fact of his being a leader places on him the obligation to be learned. To be successful in government the ruler should not have to rely on aides who might tell him what they think he wants to hear, rather than what he ought to be told. “For a ruler,” as the Shehu says, “sets himself up to deal with people’s natures, to settle their disputes, and to undertake their government. All that requires outstanding learning, keen insight and extensive study. How would he get on if he had not made the necessary preparations and made himself ready for these matters?” An ignorant ruler is most likely to be held hostage by his own advisers who inflate his ego in order to use him for their own purposes. A state will be on a sure path when the love of knowledge, its acquisition and its propagation becomes a characteristic.

The role of scholars as administrators, judges, custodians of moral values and ideological guides of the khilaafah (caliphate) was crucial. In fact, the success of the state depended ultimately on the extent to which it was able to draw inspiration and support from the scholars.

A further essential quality to the state is that of generosity, which operates on two levels: the first level consists of the material support that a state can give to individuals, which individuals can give to each other, with the aim of strengthening mutual brotherhood, and the second level of generosity is the higher, which entails being ‘so generous with your soul that you wear it out for the sake of Allah, in worshipping Him and in willingly undertaking jihad in His path, seeking nothing but His good pleasure’. The khilaafah (caliphate) had two tasks before it: the advancement of the well being of the people through a voluntary mutual support scheme initiated by the people themselves but boosted by the state, and the development of the khilaafah (caliphate) through a continuous effort to defend the state and expand its frontiers.

The quality of patience is also necessary. In the post-jihad phase, it acquires a new significance. It means an unswerving determination to carry out the fundamental objectives of the state and to establish the required institutions, regardless of the material and moral costs. Patience would mean a determined resistance to the forces of evil which might have adopted new tactics to frustrate the realization of the objectives of the state.

The last of the five essential qualities is gratitude. How else could Muslims express their appreciation for Allah’s support? When they were weak, He strengthened them. When they were scattered, He brought them together. When they were oppressed, He gave them victory and made them rulers.

Allah has said, “Few are those who are thankful among My servants.” Gratitude is of three degrees. Gratitude from the heart, from the tongue, and from the bodily members. The first is to recognize that blessing comes from Allah alone. On this subject there is Allah’s word: “Whatsoever blessing you have, it comes from Allah.” The second, which is gratitude from the tongue, is to talk about that, as in Allah’s word: ‘And as for your Lord’s blessing, declare it.’ The essence of it is to praise the Beneficent for His beneficence. The third, which is gratitude from the bodily members, is to pay Allah’s due with each member and to worship Him with all of them. On this subject there is Allah’s word: “Labor, O House of David, in thankfulness.”

The Social Edifice of the State

We shall now look at the Shehu’s conception of justice that should characterize the state. Proceeding from the principle established in the Qur’an that Allah is not heedless of the atrocities being committed by oppressors – He is only giving them rope with which to hang themselves – the Shehu postulated two assumptions in his Bayaan: first, oppression is the main source of the collapse of a people: “oppression is the thing most conducive to the withholding of divine favor and the occurrence of catastrophes.”; and second, the oppressed are the ones most likely to triumph. Allah’s statement that He would ultimately destroy the oppressor and oppressive systems is, in the Shehu’s words, ‘a sufficient warning to the oppressor, and a sufficient consolation to the oppressed’.

Justice, then, was Shehu Usman‘s recipe for national stability and progress. it is the key to a nation’s endurance on the stage of history. The principles of justice put forward by the Shehu and the social and political policies he recommended for the state are the subjects of his Uṣuul al-ʿAdl and Kitaab al-Farq. In Uṣuul al-ʿAdl, the Shehu laid down ten principles of justice, mainly addressed to the overall ruler himself, as the symbol of the state. The first of these principles is that the sulṭan should bear in mind the implications of his office. It is on the one hand a source of blessing for one who exercises it properly and on the other, for one who misuses it, it is a source of unmitigated torment and misery. The just sulṭan will have the enviable benefit of being the ‘dearest of people to Allah’, and the unjust sulṭan will have to pay the consequences of being the most hateful of people to Allah.

The essence of justice is that the laws of Allah should be applied meticulously, without fear or favor. Since Allah established His law in a perfect order and for the purpose of realizing a comprehensive justice, it is foolish for a sulṭan to tamper with it, even with good intentions. The ruler should recognize one fundamental principle: Allah knows best how society should be organized and managed, and how an abiding and comprehensive justice can be achieved, as set out in the Shariiʿah.

An additional principle is that the ruler should endeavor to have upright and courageous scholars as his advisers and should himself listen to their advice. The scholars, on their part, must advise the ruler in accordance with what is best for both the ruler and the ruled, and must therefore, not hide anything from the ruler for fear of displeasing him. Here the Shehu was stressing the crucial role of the intellectual community in the state. As the conscience of society, they are under a binding obligation to give direction to government. Similarly, as the symbol of the oppressed, they have a duty to raise their voices against injustice and against all tendencies that could lead to permissiveness and luxury. Their exalted status in society demands that they dissociate themselves from all oppressive policies, and that they rush to the aid of the oppressed against the oppressor. They must share the people’s aspirations, yearnings and, as much as possible, their sufferings, and because the scholar’s association with the rulers is to establish justice, such an association should cease when justice is abandoned by the state. Thus, in reality, the scholar’s tent should ever be pitched with the people, not with the ruling class, and the intellectual community should not constitute a community separate from the mass of the people.

The Shehu went on, in the third principle of justice, to state that it is not sufficient for the ruler himself to be fair and just. He must ensure that all the departments of state of government functionaries obey the rules of justice, until, we presume, the whole state is permeated by justice. The ruler must never tolerate any act of injustice committed by any of his officials – be it his personal servant, an army officer, a civil servant or a governor, for Allah will hold him personally responsible for an unjust act committed by those who serve in his government.

As the fourth principle states, the ruler should put himself in the position of his subjects whenever he introduces policies. If he feels that as a subject of the state, the policy would be advantageous to him, he should proceed with it, but if he feels he might be injured by the policy, he should abandon it, otherwise his actions would amount to a misuse of authority, and even treason against the people.

In addition, as the fifth principle states, the ruler must open his doors to complaints of aggrieved and oppressed citizens, and must beware of the danger of turning a blind eye. If he ignores the injustices committed by his officials and strong citizens against the common people, he cannot be helped by his personal piety. His most important task as a ruler is to establish justice and prevent injustice, and not to be engaged day and night in personal piety, for ‘redressing the grievances of the Muslims is more meritorious than voluntary acts of devotion’. The shutting of the door against the poor and the oppressed is characteristic of unbelieving rulers, and not of a Muslim ruler, we are told in Kitaab al-Farq.

In three more principles, the Shehu warned against forms of behavior that could undermine the government itself. The ruler must not allow himself to be dominated by arrogance, for pride might kindle in him the fire of anger. Anger on its part blots out intelligence. The ruler who is likely to be roused into anger, should remember the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) words: “Woe to him who gets angry and forgets Allah’s anger against him.” The ruler should treat his people with forgiveness, forbearance and magnanimity. He should avoid treating his people harshly or unkindly by imposing unjust taxes on them, or misusing or squandering their wealth and resources. The states resources should be utilized in such a way that everyone has his basic needs satisfied, and economic and social justice reaches every corner of the state. The ruler should not allow his passions and appetites to get the better of him. The Shehu recounted the story of ʿUmar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) in which he asked a certain ascetic, ‘Whether he had heard any objectionable thing about him’. The ascetic replied, “I heard that you have been putting two loaves on the tray for your meals, and that you possess two shirts, one for night-time and one for day time.” ʿUmar (Allah be pleased with him) asked if there was anything else, to which the man answered in the negative. “By Allah,” replied ʿUmar (Allah be pleased with him), “both these two things shall also cease.” That a Muslim ruler should live sumptuously is offensive.

In the ninth principle, the Shehu turned the ruler’s attention to the crux of the matter – the Day of Judgment. He noted that in the hereafter, there are two homes, paradise for those who are righteous, hell for those who have squandered their lives. Real life is that of hereafter, and if one is seeking power, glory, prestige and enduring happiness, the hereafter has the best prospects. It is futile to risk that higher existence for the fleeting and delusive pleasures of this life, but more important is the fact that on the Day of Judgment, every human being will give his account before Allah. The ruler will in addition account for his stewardship: how he tackled poverty and spread happiness, how he battled against injustice and initiated or facilitated the flow of justice, how far he had curbed the excesses of the rich and powerful, and protected the poor and the weak, how he had taken care of the citizens, particularly, the children, the old, the sick, and the most important of all, women. In addition, he will have to account for the three most important issues of government and of human society: the blood of the citizens, their property and their honor. In essence, the Shehu was saying but one thing, that the ultimate source of restraint for a ruler in the face of enormous power at his disposal is his inner self, his conscience, his consciousness of Allah.

Finally, in the tenth principle of justice the Shehu reiterated that Allah has sent prophets to show mankind the best way to organize their lives, so that none can ever have an excuse for following a wrong cause. He sent the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) as the last of the prophets to give glad tidings and to warn people. “He perfected his Prophethood,” the Shehu said, “in such a way as to leave neither room nor warrant for any addition whatsoever – thus, He made him the seal of the Prophets.” That perfected model, therefore is the one the leader should follow. The tenth principle is, in fact, the sum total of all the principles the Shehu enumerated. He was effectively telling his own men, if you want to rule with justice, if you want a perfect model for your government, if you want your rule to succeed, your state to live long, your society to be happy, then follow the footsteps of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) – read the Seerah, retain the essence of it. The Shehu thus returned to his theme, namely, that he wanted the Sokoto khilaafah (Caliphate) to be the nearest approximation to the state established by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) himself.

As for the policies, the Shehu grouped them, in his Kitaab al-Farq, into two categories: those geared towards elimination of corruption in both spiritual and mundane matters’, and those intended for the well-being of the people. The former include the defense of the state against unbelievers, brigands and rebels, the blocking of all sources of corruption and the prevention of crimes and other social evils. The pursuit of the well-being of the people includes such measures as improvements to the mosque, which symbolizes Muslim piety and unity, the ‘commanding of the people to strive earnestly to study the Qur’an’, disseminating knowledge in all its ramifications, the improvement of the market system, the relieving of the burden of poverty from the people, and ‘commanding everything that is good’. These constitute the essence of the social and economic policy of a state. Briefly, the Shehu was telling the young state, defend yourself against all possible enemies, wage war against corruption, crime and oppression, re-establish the purity and sanctity of religion, give education the utmost priority with the Qur’an as its root, establish justice as the basis of the economy, fight against poverty, enrich the people and make them happy, and do whatever Allah has ordered to be done.

Forestalling Disintegration

Is there a way in which a state can forestall its decline, or at least lengthen its life? We draw from the Shehu’s thoughts on this subject in the Bayaan.

The state, in the post-jihad phase, should endeavor to end disputes, conflicts and divisions by a sustained policy of forgiveness and leniency towards those who might not have full sympathy with its cause, but who are, nevertheless its citizens. “The wise men,” the Shehu emphasized, “have said, Authority cannot go with revenge, nor leadership with self-esteem and self-admiration. Be it known that it is better that you should pardon wrongly in one thousand cases than to punish wrongly in a single case.” Hence, transgressors should be ‘killed by goodness not by evil’. Perhaps in this way, the process of reconciliation in the wake of turmoil and upheaval associated with jihad could be facilitated, but if punishment is unavoidable, then it should not exceed the limit set by law. Yet, “if vengeance against… a wrongdoer may stir up civil strife or incite a man known to be docile to commit an offense, and the wrongdoer comes to seek forgiveness, then in this case pardon is better.” This does not imply giving a free-hand to corrupt elements, for “if the wrongdoer shows forth wickedness openly and is uncouth to people and does harm to the young and the old, then it is better to take revenge on him.”

The state should not allow the fervor of jihad to get the better of its citizens. Those who have lost their power as a result of the success of the jihad should not be subjected to ill-treatment nor to confiscation and seizure of property or land, for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has warned that, “for him who seizes a Muslim’s property with his right hand, Allah has made hell binding upon him,” even if such property does not amount to more than a twig of a tree. Assaults on people’s honor must be discouraged and prevented. Once the objective of establishing a new order is achieved, the State must not allow the uncovering of old wounds, nor the unnecessary slandering of people.

The new state must guard its secrets and not expose itself to  enemies. Proceeding from the ḥadiith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), “Seek the help of secrecy in achieving your aims,” the Shehu counseled, “Know that keeping secrets is a commendable practice for all mankind and a necessary quality for kings, and an essential duty for wazirs, courtiers and the royal retinue.” ʿAli ibn Abi Taalib (Allah ennoble his countenance) said, “Your secret is your captive so long as you do not tell it, but when you do, you become its captive.” Hence, “He who keeps back his secret attains his end and keeps free of attack. Your secret is part of your blood, so do not let it circulate in veins other than your own, and if you tell it, then you have shed your blood.”

The state has to be conscious of the fact the complexities of human nature and society are not swept away merely because a jihad has taken place. As long as ‘every human being has in himself some aspects of animal behavior’, as the Shehu said, those complexities will remain. The state, and especially the ruler, must learn to deal with complexities in such a way that the prosperity of the state and of the people can be guaranteed and sustained without necessarily harming any section of society.

The state must anticipate having leopards, monkeys, donkeys, dogs, polecats, dung-beetles, hawks, wolves, ostriches or jerboa among men. Caution, therefore, is the key policy in these matters. For instance, in dealing with the dung-beetle among men – those who ‘delight in eating human excrement and are accustomed to the smell of filthy things’, by trading in worldly tales, lies and superstitions – the ruler should throw flowers on them, for ‘they die when musk or flowers are cast on them’. The ostrich, ‘which buries all its eggs in the sand and sits on only one egg,’ thereby creating false impressions, should never be believed. ‘The man of experience… is not deceived by that first egg (but) goes on digging until he achieves his end.’ Such is the treatment of liars. As for the jerboa which creates two openings to its hole and enters through one hole and comes out through another, thus symbolizing hypocrisy, the best course of action is that he should be avoided completely. As for the lion, ‘no peace can exist in the face of a lion’s roar,’ so the answer is a full-scale defense of state interests.

There has to be recognition that the state can only be preserved by a rigorous and austere political culture, a deep sense of justice, and humility on the part of rulers. Conversely, the state can be toppled by the forces of luxury, nepotism, and oppression. On luxury, the Shehu warned that, “when Allah desires to destroy a state, He hands its affairs over to extravagant sons of rulers whose ambition is to magnify the status of kingship, to obtain their desires and indulge in sins. And Allah takes glory away from them as a result of that.” Nepotism has the effect of bringing a government to an end, while injustice terminates the life of a kingdom.

Finally, if despite these precautions and measures the state finds itself in a state of disharmony, it should question its policies of social justice and equity. If they are not the cause of the insecurity or the trend towards disintegration, then the ruler must return quickly to the roots, ‘by summoning the scholars and enjoining truth and acting in accordance with it, by upholding the Sunnah, by making justice prevail and by sitting down on skin (rugs) to review torts’. In addition, he should quickly restore honor to whom it is due, abolish unlawful and oppressive taxes, and forced labor, and give due respect to scholars and men of piety. ‘He should not deprive a chief of his chieftaincy, rather he should make sure that every mighty man retains his position, and cause everyone to occupy the place he is entitled to. Only then can he be chief of chiefs.’

A king gains victory over his enemies according to his justice over his subjects and is defeated in his wars according to his injustice. Seeing to the welfare of subjects is more effective than a large number of soldiers. It has been said that the crown of a king is his integrity, his stronghold is his impartiality and his wealth is his subjects. There can be no triumph with transgression, no rule without learning of the law and no chieftaincy with vengeance.

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Mulḥatu-l-Iʿraab – Arabic Grammar Text and Audio

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Mulhatu-l-ʿIraab Text

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Matnu Alfiyyah ibni Malik (Audio – Slow Recitation) Arabic Grammar Text

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Alfiyyah Ibni Malik

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Chapter Six from the African Caliphate – Reviving the Sunnah


Chapter Six of  the African Caliphate – Reviving the Sunnah 

By Ibraheem Sulaiman

The goal of tajdiid, as we have stressed, is to effect an all-embracing transformation of society. The means includes calling people to religion, commanding the good and prohibiting evil, and working relentlessly to demolish the edifice of innovation. It also includes establishing, once again, the supremacy of the Sunnah. The mujaddid’s ultimate ambition is to establish a society that approximates as closely as possible to the prophetic society.

That precisely was Shehu’s ambition and his declared goal. His purpose, he reiterated continually, was to revive the Sunnah and annihilate satanic innovations that had either crept into the social fabric of society or had been an exotic imposition on its culture and traditions. We have so far examined his concept of amr wa nahy, and we have had a taste of the content of some of his public lectures and realized the great efforts he expended in educating society in the principles of Islam. What remains for us is to see how he set about reviving the Sunnah, demolishing innovations, thereby reshaping the beliefs, thinking, practices and the very character of society.

In doing that, we have to take a very close look at Shehu’s monumental work – indeed his magnum opus if we agree with Ismail Balogun – which we may consider not only as the basic reference on this matter, but also as the summary of what Shehu taught and preached. This is the Iḥyaa’ as-Sunnah wa Ikhmaad al-Bidʿah. The book is unique in two respects. It is a book of practical, social and moral education which focuses its attention entirely on Hausa society with the sole object of rectifying its wrong deeds and guiding it aright. There is no theory in it. Everything it deals with was practiced by society. Secondly, it is a book of protest, albeit of a legal nature, albeit restrained. In a way, it takes the line of al-Barnawi’s Shurb az-Zulaal, except that the Ihyaa’ was written by a mujaddid and is a textbook of tajdiid.

Its thirty-three chapters deal with the three fundamental issues of Shehu’s message: Imaan, Islam and Iḥsaan, with Islam – the regulation of life in general – taking twenty-seven chapters. Both Imaan and Iḥsaan have one chapter each, and one chapter is devoted to the Sunnah in its broader sense and one to innovations. It is our intention to consider ten of the chapters with a view to understanding the state of Islam in Shehu’s society and the methodology of tackling its problems through a peaceful, though vigorously educational mobilization.

Principles of Social Mobilization

The principles he laid down in the introduction to the Ihyaa’ are so important that we prefer to call them principles of social mobilization, for if we want to know why the Shehu succeeded where others had failed in their efforts to bring about an abiding social transformation, it is because the Shehu throughout his active struggle adhered to certain tenets which facilitated his work and encouraged people to flock to him.

The first of these principles is that the revival of the Sunnah and removal of innovations, that is the reorientation of society on Islamic lines rests, fundamentally, on counseling and sincere advice (naṣiiḥah) to Muslims. It precludes, as a matter of necessity, bringing shame upon them or finding fault with them.

“Whoever has as his intention the unveiling of the secrets of the people and preoccupation with their faults, Allah, certainly, will bring him to account and take him to task, because whoever pursues the weakness of his brother, Allah will pursue his weakness until He exposes him, even if he is in the recess of his house.”

Faultfinding and putting people to shame, even under the pretext of seeking a social transformation, constitutes ‘a grave risk and a tremendous sin’ and it is hypocritical. And he referred to the hadiith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Do not look at the wrong actions of people as if you were lords. Look at your wrong actions as if you were slaves.”

Secondly, the purpose of striving for the establishment of the Sunnah is, by implication, to attract people to the fold of Islam, to reassure them in their faith and actions, and not to reject them. Rejection of the people is as great a risk and sin as searching for their weaknesses. In any case, the Shehu stated, to find a valid legal justification to repudiate a person for his action is not only difficult, but almost impossible, since one must have a unanimous opinion of the great jurists that such an act is absolutely illegal. People should not be reproached except for a violation of the most fundamental principles of religion concerning which the ummah is unanimous as to their binding nature or their being prohibited, but this, of course, would not prevent the caller from guiding people by advice (naṣiiḥah) and excellent exhortation.

The Shehu’s third principle is that healthy intellectual growth, even though tension-ridden, is essential for an all-round transformation. Therefore, the view of other scholars on derivative aspects of the law (furuuʿ) must not only be accommodated, but encouraged, even if they conflict with the opinions of the established scholars, as long as they do not conflict with the Qur’an and Sunnah. Although consensus is to be preferred, a person is perfectly within his rights to choose an opinion he likes in the school of his choice. The reason for accommodating and encouraging divergent views and opinions is to make religion easy and within the reach of every person. Common people, however should not be subjected to unnecessary burdens in practicing religion. Though they must be educated as far as possible in their faith, worship and social life, they should essentially be left with their basic religious duties and occupations, and no more.

The opinions of the jurists, he maintained, are all paths leading to paradise and roads leading to felicity, therefore, ‘whoever follows any of the roads, it will certainly lead him to where the jurists have reached, and whoever deviates from the path, it is said to him, Away with you!’

The fourth principle is that it is not permitted for a person calling to the way of Allah – or for anybody for that matter – to hate the sinners among the people of Laa ilaaha illa-l-laah any more than he should hate the righteous among them. This principle is of extreme importance for us, because it strikes at the very root of the philosophy of tajdiid. If a movement that is intent on improving the intellectual perception and moral quality of people, insists on having only those whom it considers good and upright while rejecting those it considers immoral, does it not render its work fruitless, for the very meaning of tajdiid is the raising of people from the abyss of moral decadence, and this meaning is lost as soon as they are rejected as sinners. Indeed, if everybody were righteous and excellent, there would be no need at all for such movements. A social movement is judged not by the number of good people it is able to attract to itself, but by the extent to which it is able to lift sinners from the abyss of darkness to light, and the extent to which it is able to transform society from moral decadence to honor and justice.

The sinner, the Shehu explained, may be ‘hated’ for his sins, but he must at the same time be loved for being a Muslim. In addition, a Muslim is under an obligation to give due respect to a fellow Muslim, though he be a sinner. By his faith, a believer manifests his relationship with Allah, be he pious or not, be he truthful or not. This expression of relationship has the effect of conferring dignity and sanctity on him, and makes it obligatory on other Muslims to honor him and respect his person as much as possible, and to refrain from either looking down upon him or disgracing him.

The last principle is that the caller must strive for the unity of all Muslims. The people of Laa ilaaha illa-l-laah, the Shehu explained, have a common bond with Allah, and they are, as such, all close to Him and are members of His family. So close, indeed, that if they were to fall into error and commit as much sins as would almost fill the whole earth, Allah would meet them with similar amount of forgiveness, so long as they do not ‘worship gods other than Him’. It is a grave error, therefore, to nurse only hatred towards such people, for that is prohibited, and Allah has made known the punishment of such warring against His awliyaa in this world and in the next. Hostility is allowed only against an enemy of Allah – who is anyone who worships a god instead of Allah.

These principles were clearly enunciated in response to a situation which the Shehu considered as unhelpful to the cause of Islam. It was a situation in which preaching was merely a barrage of insults and denunciation, which proved to be valueless and counterproductive to the extent that it alienated the scholars from the whole body of Muslims whose attention was ostensibly being sought. The approach to the issues of faith and law was narrow and rigid which stultified thought and reduced the practice of the law to the letter, losing the spirit. It was a situation in which the mass of the people were regarded with contempt as being sinful and ignorant by those who claimed to be guiding them. Consequently, they were not educated, their lot was not improved, they were not raised morally and they were divided on frivolous, sectarian lines.

That the Shehu departed from a method such as daʿwah (calling to the way of Allah) was indeed one of his major achievements. To him what the Muslims needed and what they would always need was naṣiiḥah, a sincere and sympathetic guidance to right conduct, and education in the principles of worship and transactions. Indeed, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) himself said that religion is naṣiiḥah. Muslims, to the Shehu, had no need for uncouth or depraved language from the ʿulamaa’ nor does Islam allow that as a means of educating and guiding people. Similarly, as far as the Shehu was concerned, the generality of Muslims, though ignorant of religion and slack in its observance did not need to be repudiated or condemned and alienated as sinners. They needed reassurance, understanding and patience from those who sought to guide them, more so when their ignorance and laxity could be traced to the excesses of the leaders whom the majority of the ʿulamaa’ supported.

The correct way to approach the people, as the Shehu quoting Imam Al-Yusi in al-Amr noted, is alaa sabiil al-luṭf, through kindness and friendliness, as one would naturally expect from members of the family of Allah. In the same vein, Muslims do not need to be divided and subdivided into countless fragments in the name of daʿwah. Such a method is counter productive and malicious. The factors which instigate one scholar to plunge Muslims prematurely into a war of self-annihilation are the same as those which cause another to create discord and tension among Muslims, keeping them perpetually at war with each other, so that the enemy gains the upper hand. Differences in opinion are vital, according to the Shehu, for the health of society since ‘difference of opinion is mercy’. To quarrel over what is essentially a source of mercy for Muslims is to insist on inflicting a wound on the family of Allah.

Errors in Hausa Society

Islamic society is that which is governed by the Qur’an, Sunnah and ijmaaʿ, and which safeguards itself continuously against the inroads of bidʿah or innovations. What the Ihyaa’ sought to do was to re-establish the supremacy of the Qur’an, Sunnah and ijmaaʿ in those areas where bidʿah had infiltrated. In Professor Balogun’s rendering:

“If you have become certain of the obligation to adhere to the Book, the Sunnah and ijmaaʿ from what we have said, then let the weight of your deeds conform with them. For every religious duty you intend to perform, ask those who know whether it is Sunnah, so that you may carry it out, or bidʿah so that you may shun it.”

But what is bidʿah? bidʿah the Shehu said, is what is extraneous to the Qur’an, Sunnah and ijmaaʿ – a new aspect introduced into religion, but which is not part of it, though it has a semblance of being part of it either in essence or similitude. For a thing to be regarded as bidʿah, however, it is not enough that it is new, but it must also constitute a negation of the essence of the three sources, but if novelty is consistent with the spirit of the law and advances the cause of Islam it is not considered extraneous. Thus, the ḥadiith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), “Whoever introduces in this affair of ours (i.e. Islam) something that does not belong to it shall be rejected,” should be applied to that which vitiates or nullifies religion.

On the strength of this postulate, the Shehu gave us three broad categories of bidʿah. The first – the good bidʿah – consists of those matters which the Shariiʿah considers as either obligatory or recommended, though they have not been practiced by the prophetic generation. To this category belong the compilation of the Qur’an, the taraawiih prayer, the establishment of schools and defense systems. The second category – the repugnant bidʿah – is that which the Shariiʿah considers either to be prohibited or to be disapproved of, in addition to the fact that it was unknown in earlier generations. To this group belong such state policies as illegal and unjust taxation, giving preference to ignorant men over learned men in appointments to public offices or appointing leaders on the basis of lineage and going beyond what is expressly stipulated in worship. The third category – the permissible bidʿah – is that which the Shariiʿah permits, though it was not practiced by earlier generations. Technical innovations which ease life, taking delicious food and drink and living in beautiful houses are part of this category. This distinction between the various categories of bidʿah is essential, the Shehu maintained, so that one knows that not every bidʿah is reprehensible or extraneous to the law, and that a deed is judged according to the category of the bidʿah to which it belongs.

Innovation in Faith

We are now in a position to look into some of the specific aspects with which the Ihyaa’ dealt in the area of Imaan, Islam and iḥsaan, to see not only the Shehu’s notion of society, but also his method of protest and of re-shaping it. We start with faith. What it took to belong to the ummah, the Shehu said, was a person’s affirmation of the faith, and whoever did that was considered a Muslim and was governed and protected by Islamic law. He could marry from the Muslim community; he could lead the prayer; his food was lawful; he could inherit and bequeath and be buried in a Muslim graveyard. People are judged in this world according to what is apparent, and therefore, no one’s heart should be pierced to uncover its secrets. ‘It is not for us to suspect the faith of any Muslim, be he an ordinary person or otherwise, since the heart is not the place for probing into someone else’s faith’. And the heart is beyond reach of any other than Allah.

It is sufficient for the common man to believe in the essentials of the faith. He is not expected to strain his mind in deducing reasons for them. His faith is in no way impaired simply because he cannot prove it intellectually, but for people of intellect, ahlu-l-baṣiir, it is essential that they reflect on the essence of religion, since ‘religion is built on clear insight’ more so when they engage in  daʿwah. The various forms of bidʿah introduced in faith included: going to extremes in matters of religion, involving the common people in fruitless arguments on religion, invalidating their faith, or plunging into intricate, and often irrelevant philosophical speculations. Philosophical thoughts on faith, ʿilm al-kalaam, might be justified as a means of protecting the faith from the unbelieving or heretical philosophers, and might be useful for the thoughtful, but they are of no use to the faith of the majority of Muslims.

Innovations in the Practice of the Law

The Shehu thought it necessary to stress certain aspects of marriage. A person should marry with the sole purpose of ‘establishing the Sunnah’, in other words, for purely Islamic purposes. One should marry as soon as one can afford it, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “Oh young men! Those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains the eyes and preserves morality.” A person should look for a spouse with a religious disposition. No one should seek in marriage a woman whom a fellow Muslim is already intending to marry. The guardians of a woman should not prevent her from marrying a person of her choice who fulfills the Islamic requirements of marriage. And finally, waliimah – the marriage feast – should be celebrated.

The Shehu was particularly bitter about the custom in which the guardians of a woman took the dowry instead of giving it to her; and the custom in which men and women gathered indiscriminately for the waliimah and behaved in an unbecoming manner. He also descried the practice of beds due’ – the pervasive custom in Hausaland which stipulated that a husband pay money to the woman for his first conjugal association with her. To the Shehu, this had a semblance of adultery. Why should people not do what the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) asked: perform ṣalaat and pray for Allah’s blessing in the marriage?

On trade, the Shehu stressed that according to the Sunnah, buying, selling and giving credit should all be conducted with gentleness and kindness, and he quoted the ḥadiith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), “May Allah show mercy to a man who is kindly when he sells, when he buys and when he makes a claim!” The debtor should be allowed more time to repay if he is in difficult circumstances. If possible, his debt should be remitted altogether. There should never be deceit or fraud in business transactions.

There were different forms of bidʿah introduced in trade in Hausaland. One was allowing ignorant men to engage in business for themselves in markets or serve as agents for others. This was wrong, because such a person would not know the laws governing business transactions. To let him do business was gross negligence not allowed in matters of religion. The next bidʿah was the custom of sending women to trade while the men stayed at home, which he likened to habits of Europeans. Women are not expected, by law, to mix unnecessarily with men, and the market place in particular is not a healthy forum for the meeting of men and women. A further bidʿah was that the woman, who by necessity transacted business herself, did not acquire the knowledge of the law. A woman has to be taught the rules of trade and business, because this knowledge is as obligatory as the knowledge of prayer and fasting. Once she has learned the law, she can carry on business if she has no one to undertake it on her behalf.

In the administration of law, the Shehu first stressed that the Shariiʿah should be implemented as an act of respect and veneration for Allah. He also emphasized that in the dispensation of justice, high and low should be treated equally. He made reference to the ḥadiith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) who said when some people wanted to intercede on behalf of a highly-placed woman who had committed theft:

“What destroyed your predecessors was just that when a person of rank among them committed a theft they let him alone, but when a weak one of their number committed a theft they inflicted the prescribed punishment on them. I swear by Allah that if Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad were to steal I would have her hand cut off.”

Judgment, the Shehu continued, should be based on the evidence before the judge, and a judge should maintain perfect neutrality towards both sides in a dispute and should not give judgment when in the heat of anger.

The innovations which had been introduced included the substitution of fines, ‘out of greed for money’, instead of prescribed punishments. Ignorant people were appointed judges in preference to learned people or incompetent people were given the office, because their parents had been judges. Further innovations included giving judgment on tribal lines to promote selfish interests.

On clothing the Shehu stressed, among other things, the need for a person to wear what was within his means, to have a preference for white clothes, to avoid clothes made of silk, and not to be arrogant in matters of dress. On the question of bidʿah, the Shehu disapproved of clothes with long and wide sleeves, the kind worn in almost every part of West Africa, since it is not permitted for a man to add to his clothes what is not needed or necessary’, though this was permitted to a woman. Significantly, he noted that despite this disapproval, the wearing of flowing robes did have a purpose. It enhanced the prestige of judges and men in authority, thus indirectly advancing the prestige of Islam.

The wearing of dignified robes therefore, is allowed when circumstance make it necessary, because ‘the conditions of Imams and men in authority change in line with the changes in cities, times, generations and situations, so they need to adopt new forms of adornment and new policies which were not needed in the past, and these might even be obligatory in certain circumstances’. Thus, what is by law disapproved of becomes imperative politically, diplomatically and socially. This principle became a serious matter of contention in the later period of the movement. A good number of bidʿah which were disapproved of or even prohibited should be raised to the status of the permissible, recommended, or even obligatory bidʿah when circumstances change. It is for this reason that scholars have been told often that they should not be dogmatic or extremist.

A bidʿah on which, according to the Shehu, there was a consensus of opinion was that it was forbidden for a woman to show a dirty and unkempt appearance at home, but to appear clean and smart when going out.

On the subject of food, the Shehu stressed that meals should be taken with humility that the servant who prepared the meal should be made to share in it and that proper hygiene should be observed. The Shehu was concerned about two kinds of bidʿah. One was earmarking specific dishes for certain individuals, usually the heads of family, which was prohibited if arrogance or pride was intended, otherwise it was merely disapproved of. It was essential that people eat in groups, the Shehu emphasized, so that they could mutually benefit from each other’s blessings and take care of the poor amongst them.

The Shehu was also concerned about the practice – most common among the wealthy – of giving women ‘the causes to grow fat’. This is prohibited if it interferes in the practice of religion, or causes injury to her health, if not, it is merely disapproved of, but he noted that obesity, which is generally the result of excessive eating, is a violation of the sacred law. It is a waste of money and it could lead to a woman having to uncover part of her body, or worse, it could result in her inability to perform her obligatory duties, such as standing for prayer.

There is disapproval the Shehu said, of a person eating without placing water at his side, because by so doing he could ‘cause his own destruction’. Similarly, he should not drink water in large draughts, nor rush to his meal while it is too hot. A person should not engage in excessive joking while eating for fear that he might choke or cause another person to choke, nor should he be too talkative or totally silent.

On the matter of entering another person’s house, the Shehu maintained that permission should be sought three times. If none was given, one should leave. One should also seek permission before disturbing another person’s privacy and announce his name if required. On greeting, one is required to greet whomever one meets, whether or not one knows that person. The young should first greet the old, the one riding should salute the one walking, the one walking should salute the one sitting and the small company should greet the larger one. Shaking hands is recommended.

The bidʿah of bending to greet another person – the practice of the poor in the community – is prohibited by consensus if one has to bend very low, and disapproved if it is not as low as the rukuuʿ. Of course, bowing the head very low to the ground is much more serious, since it has the semblance of prostration, and even the ordinary bowing of the head is prohibited. One should not remove one’s hat or cap as a sign of respect during greetings, for it amounts to imitating non-Muslims. In this category, also falls the waving of the fingers or hands in greeting. The former is the custom of Jews, the latter of Christians.

Innovations in Ihsaan 

We now come to the important question of Iḥsaan, which the Shehu stated is to adhere to the way the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) lived. And this consists of several things. One of them is that one should endeavor to conquer distraction and absent mindedness in worship, and seek to perfect worship by keeping in mind always that one is, in reality, in the presence of Allah.

Ihsaan demands that a person should seek nearness to Allah by diligently performing the obligatory duties as well as the nawaafil. The Shehu here quoted the ḥadiith in which Allah said, “No one draws near to Me with anything dearer to Me than what I have made obligatory for him.” A person should seek nearness to Allah by abandoning what Allah has prohibited and what is disapproved of. Efforts to avoid what is prohibited should be as great, if not greater, than efforts to perform one’s obligations, for the prevention of corruption takes precedence over the pursuit of good.

Iḥsaan demands that one should never regard oneself as superior to any other person in the eyes of Allah, for no one is sure of what his ultimate end will be. In addition, one should endeavor to develop the qualities of faith within oneself, for there are as many as sixty.

Punishing oneself, by beating one’s body with sticks, iron bars or branding it with hot substances is a forbidden bidʿah by consensus. Similarly, it is forbidden to seek spiritual perfection by having recourse to ways and methods that are prohibited by law. In any case, good can never be reached through evil. Amusements such as beating drums to heighten spiritual ecstasy are forbidden innovations. It is also forbidden to perform a deed on the basis of what one has seen in a dream, since that would conflict with the Shariiʿah. It is, finally, a prohibited bidʿah that one should regard oneself as having reached a station with Allah in which one is absolved of the responsibilities and duties that are enjoined on every other Muslim.

Advice for the ʿUlamaa’ 

We conclude with an examination of further principles of social movement outlined in the Ihyaa’. We considered five of them at the beginning of the discussion. The rest come now at the end as they do in the Ihyaa’.

Preaching, or more appropriately the effort to transform society, is essentially a peaceful process which should not be discordant or create deliberate tension or disorder, for there is no way in which people can ever be changed by force. If there is to be any use of force at all, it should not be initiated, encouraged, or invited by a person whose work requires peace and reasoning.

The scholar has two responsibilities in his search for knowledge and its dispensation. He should seek those aspects of knowledge which are relevant to the needs of his society, for the possessor of such knowledge is ‘a precious gem’. He should disseminate his knowledge with absolute humility, bearing in mind that, like any other human being, he is subject to ‘error, misinterpretation and digression’ and that he alone cannot comprehend everything.

The duty to educate the people, wherever they are, is absolutely binding on scholars. The responsibility for change and transformation is theirs. If the scholars fails to perform this duty, they will incur the wrath of Allah.

Know that it is obligatory on every learned person not to keep quiet because innovations have appeared and spread in these times. The ḥadiith says: “When tribulations appear and the learned one keeps quiet on him then is the curse of Allah.” Most of the people are ignorant of the Shariiʿah, and it is obligatory that there should be in every mosque and quarter in the town, a faqiih teaching the people their religion.

The man who intends to strive against corruption and for a better society must start with himself. This is a principle which one comes across at all stages in the thought of the movement.

“It is incumbent on every scholar to begin with himself and to get used to practicing the obligatory duties and avoiding forbidden practices, he should then teach that to his family and relations. He should then proceed to his neighbors, then to the people of his quarter, the inhabitants of his town, the surrounding suburbs of his city and so on to the farthest part of the world… This is the foremost concern of anyone to whom the matter of his religion is important.”

Finally, there must be a belief in the mind of the scholar who undertakes the task of social change that the salvation of the ummah lies solely in the revival of the Sunnah. In the past, it was the Sunnah that saved this ummah from disintegration, and nothing would save it from the same fate except the Sunnah.

The Shehu ended his book with the following quotation from Abu al-Abbas al-Abyani, one of the Andalusians: “There are three things which would find enough space were they to be written on a fingernail, and in them is contained the good of the world and the hereafter”:

Adhere, do not innovate;

Be humble, do not be arrogant;

Be cautious, do not be too accommodating.

Published in: Uncategorized on April 7, 2018 at 15:40  Leave a Comment  
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