Fiqh-Legal Understanding

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    Since the late 1920s Muslims in Trinidad and Tobago have developed polemics around particular issues of understanding of the practiced faith.  Here is an example from 1950 in which Haji Ruknudeen Sahib, the Shaykh ul Islam of Trinidad and Tobago at the time rebutting the very public (published in a national newspaper) disagreement between Mufti Ameer Ali (leader of Ahmadi sect).  The issue at hand is the required number of prayer rotations of the Ramadan night prayer (taraweeh).  Copy courtesy Maulana Kavir Mohammed.

    The Concept of Justice

    In Light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah

    The pursuit of justice has occupied the minds of Western and Eastern philosophers from Aristotle down to our times. What is justice? How can it be achieved? Who is a just Person? These are some of the questions that have been debated in every age including our own.

    Justice is a dominant theme in the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition. It is not only mentioned explicitly in many verses, it is implicit as well in the subtext to the narratives, for example, relating to Prophets and communities before the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

    Justice is so central to the Qur’anic worldview that it is impossible for anyone to overlook it. It is glaringly evident in the life of Prophet Muhammad  and his administration of the city of Madina 1400 years ago. Not surprisingly, justice has also been a dominant theme in Muslim societies from the years of the Khulafa Al-Rasihidun and beyond. From the administration of the state down to the regulation of weights and measures in the market place, justice has always been the desired objective of Muslim societies, even as it has been elusive.

    In this essay I will attempt to outline the Islamic view of justice. I will begin with a brief overview of the concept of justice as it is conceived among western philosophers. This will be followed by examining the concept of justice through the lens of Muslim philosophers. Turning to the Qur’an and ahadith, I will examine three important and interrelated dimensions of justice. The final part of the essay will cite examples from the Prophetic and post-Prophetic traditions to demonstrate how Muslims have interpreted the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah in order to bring about what we today might describe as ‘a just society'.

    Shaykh Jad al-Haq Ali Jad al-Haq was asked a question through a letter published in the magazine Mimbar al-Islam (The Muslim Platform/Pulpit) Number 217 year 1980 regarding the Sharia ruling on music which is not associated with all the things that are normally associated with music. This question had initially been presented to a group of experts and religious scholars who met to discuss this issue but they could not agree on a ruling. They were divided into two camps, those who considered it permissible and those who regarded it prohibited (haram).
    When the letter was sent to him, his answer was:

    What is Bidah?

    With the development of the modern state in the middle east and it's evolution to totalitarianism (dictatorship and kingship) the list of things declared bidah keeps increasing.  Amongst the tools used in totalitarian states to control the population are the restriction of movement, the freedom to associate with others and the freedom to express oneself.  Proof of this is the dominance of secret/virtue police and the criminalization of normal human activities.  The totalitarian states in the middle east have successfully drafted religion into its social control mechanism to subjugate its respective populations.  Hence the growing list of religious/devotional practices that are deemed by official religious authorities as forbidden by Islamic Law.  For over 1400 years Muslims have been a people of association who found blessings in gatherings.

    This totalitarian state defined bidah today bans association thus denying the blessings of the gathering with the consequence of the loss of the sacred and attachment to the Divine realm by the Ummah of Muhammad (s) resident in those parts.  As Muslims living in societies in the west, which guarantees freedom of movement, association and expression, we have also been victims of this totalitarian influence on our way of life.  By taking the praxis of our faith wholesale from the middle east (especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) as the default arbiter of all thats correct in law, we risk importing the totalitarian influence into our own praxis.  By not filtering out  from the teachings of the official religious scholars the prism of their governing systems, we distort the praxis left to us in that living chain of scholarship which traces its interpretations and narrations back to the Prophet Muhammad (s).  The numerous locals who leave our shores to study on scholarships to institutions that teaches official religion using rote methodology are the wholesale agents and distributors of this totalitarian influence deen in our midst.  They absorbed these interpretations and then regurgitate these poisoned concepts as divine law upon us.  A university education's legacy is developing critical thinking skills.  The only critical skill learnt by these "graduates" is to criticise the praxis of the people who came before them and to "expel" them from the ambit of the faith.  Here in five minutes the Grand Mufti of Egypt explains the true meaning of the concept of bidah.  It is an essential defintion that is key to understanding our faith and the evolution of its legal principles.  To often it is used to stir confusion amongst us.  The definition is clear and deconstructs the facade of authenticity built by the "fundamentalists".

    Wudu’ [وضوء] or ablution is such a central part of our religious practice. I would even go so far as to say it is part of our identity as Muslims. In this short video, Shaykh Khatri gives us a beautiful demonstration about the intensity and intricacy of wudu’ - that it is so much more than splashing water on one’s body, but in fact is, as brother Khalil Moore points out, an act of worship.

    The usual questions

    Since the 1920s, every Muslim scholar who has travelled to Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname have been asked the same set of questions.  Here Dr. Tahir ul Qadri provides the answers from the authentic sources of a few of these questions.

    Shaykh Gibril delivers a 2 hour lecture on this great Imam, al-Nu'man ibn Thabit ibn Kawus ibn Hurmuz ibn Marzuban, al-Imam Abu Hanifa, may Allah have mercy on him (80H-150H).

    He is the first of the four mujtahid Imams whose School survived to our time and acquired the greatest following among the Sunni Schools. He is known as "The Greatest Imam" (al-Imam al-a'zam).

    "Love of Abu Hanifa is part of the Sunna" - Muhammad ibn Khazim al-Taymi al-Sa'di al-Kufi (d. 195)

    Question: What is the concept of a “praiseworthy innovation” (bid`a hasana). How can an innovation be praiseworthy? Is the mawlid (celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad) from this?

    Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

    The concept of “praiseworthy innovation” (bid`a hasana) is basically a specific form of applying a general sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), in a manner not contrary to the principles of Prophetic guidance.

    Here is a significant find.  The promoters of indiscriminate use of violence and rebellion depend on Ibn Taymiyyah's Mardin Fatwa.  Top scholars came together to deliberate on this fatwa.  They relied on the fatwa as is it is "popularly" reported.  Listen to the clip from Shaykh Hamza which is the mp3 file  attached.  Shaykh Hamza was speaking at the Rethinking Islamic Reform debate with Dr. Tarek Ramadan  held at Oxford University, UK.  It points out that Shaykh Bin Bayyah was not comfortable with the text as it was internally contradictory.  In that Ibn Taymiyyah analyzed Mardin, then declared it is neither Dar ul Kufr or Dar ul Islam but another classification of Dar al 'Ahd, yet the prescription is as if the Dar ul Kufr is equal to Dar al 'Ahd.  After the conference Shaykh Bin Bayyah tried to remove his doubt about the text of the fatwa, only to find out that the earlier manuscripts of the fatwa had amalu [sic] not qatalu [sic].  This is a significant alteration as reported by Shaykh Hamza.

    A guiding, knowledgeable word regarding bid`ah and its rulings

    A guiding, knowledgeable word regarding bid`ah and its rulings

    By Shaykh Wahbī Sulaymān al-Ghāwijī


    Translated by IPSA students under the guidance of Shaykh Mahdi Hendricks


    Translated from the original Arabic : kāmihā”)“Kalimatul ‘Ilmīyyah Hādiyah fil bid‘ah wa ah

    Published by Dārul Muslim lil nashr wal tawzī‘, Beirut, 1991


    This translation by International Peace Varsity South Africa, 2010

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