Archive for the ‘Deduction discipline’ Category

Dispropotionate expiation?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

I have a question regarding fasting. I heard that if one were to intentionally break 1 day of their fast without any good reason then they would have to fast 60 consecutive days. Now when I heard this I was a little surprised as I never heard of such a thing. But when I looked it up on the internet I found out that it is a real thing.

Now I read it was from a hadith but a lot of hadiths out there aren’t authentic and have a lot of problems. This particular hadith in my initial opinion contradicts the Quran where Allah says that he doesn’t want to ‘burden us more than we can bear,’. And where the prophet says in a hadith that ‘this religion is easy and to not make it hard on yourself’. With that said, 60 days of fasting for only missing one fast is a little excessive for me and doesn’t seem like a fair thing. And I don’t think that that is something Allah wants for us.

So can you please clear up this issue for me and explain this hadith and this whole “60 day fast for only missing 1 fast type thing”?

Both Adam and Satan disobeyed a direct order from God. Yet, God forgave Adam and gave him a second chance, while He cursed Satan till the Day of Judgment. Why?

The difference between the two is that Adam recognized his error, regretted it and begged God to forgive him. Satan, on the other hand, refused to acknowledge that he did anything wrong and did not even attempt an apology to God. Adam knew his place; Satan deemed himself too big. Adam admitted his mistake; Satan argued with God. Adam bowed his head; Satan thumbed his nose. Adam submitted; Satan arrogated.

When you say “missed one day of fasting”, you’re not being accurate. Missing implies inability or forgetfulness. When one can fast but won’t, it’s not called missing, it’s called defiance. Missing is excusable; defiance is not.

That is why the expiation (“Kaffaara”) is different for each. The expiation for excusable breaking of the fast is one day of fasting later, or feeding a poor person a day’s worth of meals. The expiation of inexcusable breaking of the fast is to fast two consecutive months or feed sixty poor people. It is to teach the sinner humility before God. God does not benefit an iota from our worship. We do. It is in the best interest of the servant of God to be reminded of his place whenever he transgresses. If God leaves a sinner to himself, then know that the sinner is a lost cause, a hopeless case.

That is why the expiation, as harsh as it looks, is not disproportionate at all, nor unfair, nor contrasting God’s grace. Rather, it is tough love. A needed training of the believer who was headed the wrong way.

As for the hadeeth that tells us what the expiation is for inexcusable breaking of the fast, it was narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported by Al-Bukhaari, Muslim, Abu-Daawood and Ibn Hibbaan. It is authentic. However, it is specific about mating during the fasting day. Scholars have concluded, however, that other inexcusable acts may be expiated the same way by analogy (Qiyaas). In other words, mating is just one example.

The expiation, according to this hadeeth is (a) freeing a slave, or, if not possible, (b) fasting two consecutive months, or, if not possible, (c) feeding of sixty poor persons.

Is Islamic inheritance law unfair?

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

The British newspaper The Telegraph published today an article with the heading “Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs”. The author, John Bingham, alleges in the article that British lawyers will now for the first time be able to write wills for their clients that “deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.”

Is that true? Have testators never been able to exclude from their wills heirs they resented, or wished to penalize, and given some heirs more than others and even given people who were totally unrelated to them a large portion of their estate? I doubt that, since the English law, as far as I know, regards the testator as the sole owner of his or her estate and therefore the only one who has a say in how the estate is to be distributed. Probate courts only interfere when a litigator contests the will as being contrary to common standards of fairness.

One article I found, written by a lawyers group, spells out how a testator can disinherit some heirs. I’m sure you can find many other.

However, is Bingham’s Islamophobic allegation true about Islamic law? Does Islamic law of inheritance deny women an equal share of inheritance and exclude unbelievers altogether?

Not quite as stated. The reason women inherit half of what men inherit is because Islamic law requires men to financially support women! If this requirement is not found in a Muslim community, then the division becomes invalid. I hope that the legal guidance the article refers to has taken into consideration that important proviso. Bingham really should have asked about it before he published his article.

And what about non-Muslims, can they possibly inherit from a Muslim? While some schools of thought do not allow it, there really is nothing in the Quranic verses that makes that ruling. A Muslim testator certainly can specify a bequest in his will, not to exceed one third of the estate, to be given to any one person or group who is not a regular heir.

The questions and answers page of this software may answer more of the readers questions about Islamic law of inheritance. God says in the holy Quran “Verily, God does not wrong even the weight of a speck.” (4:40) Don’t let Islamophobic writers give you the wrong impression about God.

Bingham also reports in the article that the legal guidance documents will exclude out-of-wedlock children and adopted children from inheriting. Is this true? Apart from the fact that any British testator can probably do that already under British law, Islamic law does not deprive out-of-wedlock children. The Quran does not say they are excluded! As for adopted children, they are not regular heirs for the reasons we explained in previous posts, but they can inherit by way of a bequest.

Next Islamophobic allegation in the article is the exclusion of people married in a church or in City Hall! Where is that written exactly in the Quran? If the reader can point to the verse, I’d appreciate it.

Is that guidance document “the first step on the road to a parallel legal system” for British Muslims, as the article quotes some campaigners? My humble answer to this question is that it can be, but never has to be. It all depends on how Islamic law is defined. If the definition is made by a school of thought, or some influential person, then the fears expressed in the article are legitimate. But that does not qualify as Islamic law. Islamic law is the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth, properly interpreted according to universally recognized logic, called in Islamic disciplines Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction). Anything else is somebody’s opinion.

This whole issue of fear of “Sharia”, which resulted in several American states banning Sharia altogether, mixes two things which are not always related: Islam and Muslims! What Islam teaches is not necessarily followed by Muslims, and what Muslims do is not necessarily taught by Islam. To ban unfair laws is a good thing regardless of who wrote those laws. But to ban something based on misunderstanding it, or on mixing it with something else, is unwarranted.

If I were to advise the Law Society of Britain, I would only say that what they are told is Sharia may not be. It could simply be a tradition, or somebody’s refutable interpretation, and therefore should not overrule British law. They and the detractors and even many Muslims may be surprised to learn that much of British law has always been Sharia-compliant. In fact, the beginnings of the English Common Law were much influenced by Islamic law.

How can I become an Islamic scholar?

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Salam, there is something that I’ve wanted to know but couldn’t really find any defined information on.
1- What is an Islamic Scholar? 2- How does one become an Islamic Scholar? 3- How many years does it take to become one? (how long) 4- What are the necessary college classes/courses and degrees necessary to be qualified as one? (i.e., PhD?) 5-Are there different types of Islamic Scholars(specializations)? If there are, what are they?

Becoming an Islamic Scholar is something that I am really interested in in the near future. I hope this is not a lot, and I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

An Islamic scholar is one who can study an Islamic text, determine its credibility and then deduce intent from it. Like any other field of scholarship, this requires acquiring knowledge as well as skills of logical analysis and critical thinking honed by discipline and methodology.

Such scientific approach is crucial for weeding out whimsical opinions! If you have listened to some fatwas (religious edicts) issued by unknown, self-appointed Muslim scholars on satellite TV and YouTube, you know what I’m talking about.

Prior to modern times, Islamic scholars were not many and they all had to learn and be licensed (Ijaaza) by a recognized scholar. This approach carried over to modern times in the form of colleges and universities where Islamic disciplines are formally taught by teachers of high repute and earned licenses. If you want to be a formal Islamic scholar, this is the proper way to go about it. Such study takes about four years in reputable learning institutions such as Al-Azhar and Darul-Uloom universities in Egypt, for instance.

That said, one can attend these places of learning and graduate from them without actually becoming a scholar! Why? Because a student who simply memorized what he or she has been taught and echoes the rulings he or she has learned is a copy, not a scholar. Such a person cannot handle new, controversial or challenging issues. You will notice right away that they do not have what it takes and that they will end up giving their personal opinion, which is often based on their likes and dislikes.

God has honored scholars a number of times in the holy Quran. For instance,
“Verily, those who truly fear God out of all His worshipers are the scholars” (35:28) and
“But if they had referred the matter back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who can deduce from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of God upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.” (4:83)

Thus, true Islamic scholarship can save Muslims from falling prey to Satan. It can also sort out what is religion and what is tradition. So many people mix the two.

Finally, you asked about disciplines and specialties. Disciplines are many. There are disciplines centered on the Quran, such as its language and syntax, its interpretations, how to deduce rulings from it. There are disciplines centered on the Hadeeth, such as authenticating it, knowing the biographies and credibility of its narrators, how to deduce rulings from it, how it and the Sunna explain the Quran, etc. There is also the discipline of Usool-ul-Fiqh, which I personally think is near the top of disciplines, because it teaches the foundations of deduction. It disciplines the mind to be rational, logical and methodical. That way, the many pitfalls that some fall into can be systematically avoided.

There is also the discipline of law (Sharee`a), history, comparative religions and more. You can specialize in any of it. You can study with the aim of becoming a preacher, for instance, or a judge. Your academic advisor can help guide you in this endeavor. Best wishes.

Specificities meant for generalities

Monday, August 13th, 2012

In a previous post, you mentioned the hadeeth which instructs us to make up for missed prayers by praying them later. Most scholars who read this hadeeth agreed that it is specific for unintentional missing of prayers, such as due to sleep or forgetfulness, and that it does not include intentional missing. That is why they have ruled that prayers intentionally missed cannot be compensated, but that the repenting Muslim should offer a lot of nawafil (extra) prayers and hope that God will forgive him. Isn’t it true that the hadeeth is specific?

Scholars of Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction) have noticed many examples in the Quran and the Hadeeth of statements using a specificity but whose coverage is clearly general. They coined this style خاص أريد به العموم (a specificity meant for generality). This Arabic style is an alternative way of quoting examples to illustrate a point which is general.

Let me give you an example. In verse 6:151, God says, “…and do not kill your children because of poverty; We provide for you and them.” Here God cites a specificity, namely, poverty, as the reason some people killed their children. Does that mean that killing one’s children for other reasons is OK? Obviously not. The reason given was only an example to illustrate the point that there is no cause for one to kill one’s children, as God is in control and provides.

One simple way to figure out if a specificity is meant for a generality is absence of the generality! And that is why the prayer expiation hadeeth was meant for generality, because we do not have any statement in the Quran or the Hadeeth that tells us what do with a person who purposely missed his prayers. It is that lack of direct evidence that forced scholars to conjure up an expiation. Some scholars even said that there is no expiation and that a man purposely neglecting his prayers is an apostate and must be killed! An opinion that is totally without merit.

On hijab, niqab, beards and faith healing

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

The dean of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar university, Egypt, made announcements that are bound to get criticism. Dr. Aamina Nusayr said that Niqab (face veil) is a Jewish tradition and not part of Islam, while Hijab (head scarf) is. She criticized Salafis who let their beard grow to look like a “radish bundle” as she put it, and finally she said that healing with the Quran is hocus pocus; that the Quran heals the soul, not the body.

What do you think?

There is no evidence from the Quran that the Niqaab is required for Muslim women. The only evidence comes from hadeeths that state that the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) wore it. Some scholars view that as a mandate on all Muslim women, but the majority see it as a special status for the Prophet’s wives only. Other women may elect to wear it, but they are not required to. That view best matches the evidence. Whether the Niqaab is a Jewish tradition is something that Jewish readers and historians are better qualified to confirm or refute.

Dr. Nusayr said that 13 exegetes have interpreted the so-called Hijaab verse (24:31) to mean the head and neck, not the face. I agree that it does not address the face, but I respectfully disagree that it orders covering of the hair. The verse clearly orders covering the upper chest, using whatever the woman is wearing on her head. The assumption that the woman is wearing a head cover is what prompted most scholars to say that a head cover is required. But the verse never said it was!

So, why does the Quran make this assumption? It’s because everybody at that time covered their heads – women and men. In fact, that was the custom of all people, not just the Arabs, throughout the centuries. Only in the Twentieth Century did people start to go out with exposed hair.

The Hijaab verse requires women to cover their decollete area, that’s all. The reason is that many dresses at that time were tailored with an open decollete area, and Islam makes it clear that this area is a charm that can incite lust and therefore should be covered. A dress that does not have such design already complies with the Hijaab verse, whether the woman is covering her head or not.

Interestingly enough, the verse mentions one more thing that women of the time used to wear: ankle bracelets! Should we then conclude that ankle bracelets too are required?! I’m not aware of any scholar who suggested that. Ankle bracelets are neither required nor forbidden. They are simply allowed, just like head covers are. What is forbidden about ankle bracelets is banging the feet so that they chime, thus drawing attention to the woman’s legs though they are hidden. You can see the fallacy of the conclusion that because God mentions a head cover it must be required.

It also follows that ankle bracelets that chime all the time are forbidden even if the woman wearing them never bangs her feet. It also follows that a woman wearing ankle bracelets that never chime may bang her feet as much as she likes! Get it? The scholars who have been fixated on the words “their head covers” totally miss the points of the Hijaab verse, namely: (a) Women should cover areas of their bodies that tend to arouse men’s lust, and (b) Women should not draw attention to those areas even if they are covered. That would defeat the purpose of covering them!

As for the unruly long beard, the evidence for it comes from a hadeeth where the Prophet (PBUH) says, “Let the beards grow, and trim the mustaches. Do the opposite of the Magi.” Narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported by Muslim who rated it authentic.

It is important to realize that imperatives in religious texts are two types: mandates or recommendations. Scholars of Foundations have devised a simple rule to be able to tell which is which. If the order is accompanied by explicit words that it is a mandate, then obviously it is. If the flip-side of the order is prohibited, then the order is a mandate. Otherwise, the order is a recommendation. The consequence of this distinction, as the scholars defined it, is that with a mandate you are rewarded when you do it and punished when you don’t. With a recommendation, on the other hand, you are rewarded when you do it, but not punished when you don’t. There is no evidence that shaving a beard is prohibited. Therefore, the order in the hadeeth is a recommendation.

The other point to consider is that the hadeeth clearly states a contingency, namely, that Muslims should look distinctly different from the Magi. A command revolves around its contingency, as the scholars have concluded, so the hadeeth only applies if today’s Magi all have the same distinct look and a Muslim imitates that look. I rather doubt that today’s Magi all wear their facial hair the same way.

Finally, healing with the Quran is not hocus pocus. God says in it, “And We send down of the Quran what is a healing and a mercy for the believers” (17:82). This verse does not say whether the healing is spiritual, physical or both. Since it doesn’t, we have to assume both unless other evidence suggests otherwise. Verses 10:57 and 41:44 also make the same statement. There is evidence from the Hadeeth for and against faith healing. Evidence for it comes from `Aa’isha and evidence against it comes from Ibn `Abbaas. `Aa’isha’s narration quotes the Prophet (PBUH) making a supplication for a sick person, but he did not recite any verses. Therefore, we can conclude that faith healing (Ruqya) is not recommended, while supplications are. Furthermore, to say that this is the only way to heal is a stretch, since neither God nor His Messenger have suggested that. God is the Healer whether the medicine is the Quran, a supplication or pharmaceutical.

God knows best.

Why not a Muslim Pope?

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Why don’t the Muslims create a Muslim “Pope” to represent the ummah and clear up misconceptions about Islam and our beloved Prophet (saws)? If the Christians have someone to represent them, why can’t we? Don’t you think we need a Caliph or “Pope” like figure to represents us? Thanks.

No, I don’t. Islam is not confined to the opinion of any one person or group. The only person who ever had that kind of authority was the Prophet, peace be upon him, as he was assigned that responsibility by God. But even he had to consult with the Sahaaba (his fellows) on many issues in which he did not receive revelation. After he died, no one person or a select group had an exclusive right to interpret Islam. That is why the Salaf (Muslim predecessors) differed with each other, however respectfully, on nearly every detail of the religion that is not one of the fundamentals. That is why you see multiple schools of thought (Mazhaahib). If there would be a Muslim “Pope”, which school of thought would he follow? And what happens to Muslims who favor a different school of thought, something which they have every right to?

The Quran sets all the guidelines that Muslims need. In today’s parlance, it is a Constitution. It states principles, rules and credos. And it repeatedly invites its readers to reason and to consult each other in order to arrive at the correct conclusions. As a result, Muslims developed a very sophisticated deduction discipline (Usool-ul-Fiqh). Neither the Quran nor the Sunna (practice of the Prophet, PBUH) have sanctioned a priesthood or a clergy system. They have praise for scholars but nothing more.

As for a Caliph, it depends! A benevolent, freely elected leader of Muslims would be a good thing, but any other can do more harm than good, as history teaches us.

The noble relationship between husband and wife

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Assalaamu alaikum WR WB Akhi

I want to know the concept of Islam with regards to the relationship of Husband and wife in Islam.
We all know that Hawwa was created from Adam (PBUH). I heard some one saying that every girl on the face of the earth is created from her husband. Is this true according to Islam?
The ones who publish this concept do take the verse as their Daleel, which says that every thing is created with their pairs.
Is the bond of husband and wife so noble, which is already being predestined with a special treatment as they say?
Plz throw light Insha Allah
Fee Amanillah

Wa Alaykum Assalaamu wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakatuh, Sister.

The relationship between husband and wife is indeed a noble one, but it is not predestined because it involves initiative from one and approval from another, both are freely made decisions.

God does say that He created all creatures in pairs, “And of everything We created pairs, that they may remember.” (51:49). A pair has two of a kind, each complementing the other and is not complete without it. That is the metaphor for marriage.

If every girl on earth was created from her husband, then how were the girls who remain unmarried created?! The notion that for every one there is a soul mate out there somewhere is sweet and romantic, but cannot be proven. Many people married more than once and had a happy marriage every time. How come those people have many soul mates?

Folks who interpret 51:49 and similar verses to mean an exclusive pairing of mates, are entitled to their interpretation, but you should recognize that it is nothing more than an interpretation. If God wanted to teach this notion, He would have explicitly stated it. In fact, what God says in 4:1 clearly refutes that theory. The verse says, “O people! Watch out for your Lord who created you from one soul and from it He created its mate, and He spread out from them many men and women.” (4:1) Only Eve was created from her husband. The rest of us were created from both of them.

Do Muslims have to take an afternoon nap?

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Verse 24:58 of the Quran defines three periods during which children and servants must knock before entering the bedrooms of adults. One of these periods is “when you have shed off your clothes at noon”. Does this mean that Muslims are required to take a siesta?

LOL. No. When the Quran describes what the Arabs used to do and does not praise it or criticize it, then it is using something they are familiar with to make a point. In Seventh Century Arabia, most houses did not have solid doors to rooms if at all. Children and servants used to go about the house freely all day long and if an adult was taking a nap and has not covered himself or herself, because it was hot, then parts of their bodies may have become exposed to the youngsters. God wants to protect the honor of people and the innocence of children. That is why He specified nap time as one of the three times children and servants must seek permission to enter a room in which an adult may be taking a nap.

The command in the verse is to seek permission. There is no command, nor prohibition, to take a nap! A Muslim is not in violation of this verse if he or she never takes an afternoon nap.

By the same token, when the Quran directs women to cover their bosoms, in verse 24:31, it says that they should use “their head covers” to do that. Does that imply that women are required to cover their heads? No. The Quran is again using a custom to make a point. The custom was that all women, and all men for that matter, covered their heads to protect them from the blazing sun and desert sand. And the point being that it is improper for women to show their bosoms in public, but because, at that time, dresses were customarily designed to show the bosom area, the Quran is suggesting a simple way for women to be modest without having to tailor new dresses. The command in this verse is to cover the bosom, not the head. A Muslim woman who wears a dress that does not show the bosom is already in compliance with this verse, whether or not she’s covering her head.

Was there once a “stoning verse”?

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Is there such thing as a “Verse of Rajm or stoning”? I read a hadith that says in Sahih Bukhari:
Volume 8, Book 82, Number 816 :

Narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas:

‘Umar said, “I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, “We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,” and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession.” Sufyan added, “I have memorized this narration in this way.” ‘Umar added, “Surely Allah’s Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him.”

Is this hadith authentic?

And also, is it possible for a hadith to be authentic but still contradict the Glorious Quran? Thanks, and in no way did I mean to cause offence.

This hadeeth is problematic because it alleges that several verses were revealed but never recorded as part of the Quran. This is called Naskh in Islamic literature and is often, incorrectly IMHO, translated abrogation. This is a complex, and controversial, subject in Islamic literature, but if you’re interested to know more about it you can check out this discussion forum.

Because this hadeeth is reported in Al-Bukhaari (and Muslim’s) Hadeeth compilation books, regarded by all Sunni Muslims to be authentic sources, many scholars are adamant that there was once a stoning verse. The majority of them have opined that it was abrogated by 24:2, the only explicit verse that sets a penalty for adultery in an unambiguous, most emphatic language. There is no other penalty for adultery in Islam than what verse 24:2 states.

The subject of abrogation is perhaps the strangest subject you will ever read in the classic books of the Salaf. If you are interested in learning what has been said about the stoning verse and whether it was abrogated by 24:2 or abrogated it (!!), you may want to read this discussion topic.

To answer your last question, yes, a hadeeth can be rated authentic but still appear contradictory to the Quran. It’s not because the Prophet (PBUH) would contradict the Quran, but it’s because the hadeeth is either misunderstood or mistransmitted. Read some of the posts in categories Authentication and Abrogation for more details.

Fire against fire

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

A man asked a Shaykh (Muslim scholar), “O Shaykh, the hell is made from fire, and Satan is made from fire! So, how will the punishment harm him when they are created from the same thing?”

The Shaykh told him to come closer, then he slapped him across the face! The man was in shock and asked, “That hurts! Why did you slap me!?” To which the Shaykh replied, “What is my hand made from?” The man replied, “Flesh.” He then asked the man, “And what is your face made from?” He answered, “Flesh!” The shaykh conclusively asked him, “Now, did you not feel pain?”

via Islamic Experiences

Clever, eh?

I’d add that the power of God overrules the laws that govern His creatures. He said to the fire in the pit where Abraham was thrown, “O fire! Be cool and safe on Abraham!” (21:69) And Abraham walked out of the pit unscathed.