Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘: Limits of Muslim Non-Muslim Cooperation

What is the Islāmic ruling on forming alliances, joining or working together with non-Muslim political parties, or taking assistance from non-Muslim groups or individuals for state administrative purposes?

What is the Islāmic ruling on taking the assistance of non-Muslim organisations to perform exclusively religious work or work exclusive to the Muslim community, like Zakāt collection/distribution or running a masjid?

In the following article, Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ provides an in-depth analysis of these questions. His discussion is written in the context of the political debates of his time in British India, where different political groups fought for independence and power. Should Muslims work with/join Congress, an ostensibly secular party, or should they join the Muslim League, an openly Muslim party? In exploring these debates, the article provides a useful historical background. It was written in the form of a fatwā shortly after the death of Mufti Shafī‘’s mentor, Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī al-Thanawi, and was endorsed by several leading scholars, including ‘Allāmah Shabbīr Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī and ‘Allāmah Ẓafar Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī.

Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘: Limits of Interacting with Non-Muslims

The following is the translation of an essay by Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ (1897 – 1976 CE)* written in the year 1932 CE. It deals with the subject of personal interactions/dealings with non-Muslims, outlining that such interactions should be respectful albeit infrequent, and should not border on close friendship or become overly frequent.** Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ lived in India under British colonial rule and was one of the most learned scholars of that era. He was writing therefore in a context not so different to that of Muslims in western countries or other non-Muslim majority countries. He also wrote a lengthier treatise on the limits of participating with non-Muslim organisations (primarily, political organisations) to achieve religio-political goals, a translation of which will also be released shortly.

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Women Attending the Masjid – A Clarification

According to the clear statements of the Ḥanafī Fuqahā’ and their understanding of the Dalā’il of Sharī‘ah, women should neither attend congregational ṣalāhs at the masjid nor attend the Eid Ṣalāh. Many people have raised objections against this position. Some of these objections reflect common misunderstandings. We therefore felt it would be appropriate to write a comprehensive clarification, addressing the following issues:

  • Approach to Dīn and its Aḥkām (commands)
  • Rulings may change based on circumstances
  • Opinions of the Fuqahā’ and their explanations of the Dalā’il
  • It is more rewarding for women to pray at home
  • A woman’s emergence from the home should be restricted

In the course of the clarification, we hope to address most of the substantive objections raised against the Ḥanafī stance, in particular the claim that it opposes the clear guidance of the Sunnah on women being allowed to attend congregational ṣalāhs at the masjid and being encouraged to attend Eid Ṣalāh.

The Distinction of Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband

Muftī Muḥammd Shafī‘ (1897 – 1976) narrates the following statement from his father, Mawlānā Muḥammad Yāsīn Deobandī (1865 – 1936) [1], about his experience at Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband in the late 19th century:

“I witnessed such a period at Dārul ‘Ulūm [Deoband] when, from the headmaster to the lowest teacher, from the chancellor to the caretaker and servant, all were great possessors of a permanent bond [with Allāh] (ṣāḥib-e-nisbat) and friends of Allāh (awliyā’ullāh). At that time, Dārul ‘Ulūm felt like an institute of learning in the daytime and a Khānqāh in the evening. The sound of remembrance and recitation [of Qur’ān] could be heard from most rooms until the end of the night. This, in reality, was Dārul ‘Ulūm’s mark of distinction – which made it stand out from all the madrasas in the world.” (Mere Wālid e Mājid, Idārat al-Ma‘ārif, p. 62) [2]

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Guidelines on Tashabbuh (Unlawful Imitation)

Imitation of non-Muslims or sinful people is not permissible, and is known as tashabbuh (unlawful imitation).

The following fall under tashabbuh:

  1. Imitation in a distinguishing characteristic of non-Muslim group/s or sinful group/s, seeing which in an individual creates a suspicion that he/she belongs with them, is like them or commits the same acts as them. [1]
  2. Imitation in a religious practice/custom of non-Muslims. [2]
  3. Imitation in something done with the intention of copying them, even if it is not religious or exclusive to them. [3]

It does not include something non-religious that is in principle permissible and not regarded as a distinguishing characteristic of theirs (e.g. certain forms of dress, eating certain dishes, dining on chairs and tables, speaking different languages, using certain medications or tools, using certain modes of transport, etc.) when not practised with the intention of copying them. [4]

It should be kept in mind that the example of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is superior in all matters. Even in matters that are not religious – like the manner of dress, sitting, eating, sleeping and so on – it is recommended as far as possible to copy the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) with the intention of being more like him. [5]

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Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī on How his Father’s Opinion about Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband Changed

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997) describes his father, Ṣūfī Aḥmad Ḥusayn (d. 1949), as someone whose “concern for Ᾱkhirah was greater than his concern for Dunyā, and while fully occupied in his work, he was from those who remembered Allāh much. The adhkār at different times included within his daily practices numbered around 20,000 in total. In one period, his practice was to recite Durūd Sharīf 4,000 times after ‘Ishā prayer. He was so punctual on Tahajjud that when I asked my noble deceased mother after his demise whether she was aware that our dear father had ever missed Tahajjud, she replied that when she first arrived, he would at times miss Tahajjud but on those days he would definitely keep fast, but for around thirty years, he never once missed it. My respected father died in Ramaḍān of 1368 in such a state that the tasbīḥ was in his hand and he was making dhikr.” (Taḥdīth e Ni‘mat, p. 22)

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Spiritual Connection between the Awliyā’ of Deoband and ‘Allāmah Ibn ‘Ᾱbidīn al-Shāmī

The great recent Ḥanafī jurist of Shām, ‘Allāmah Ibn ‘Ᾱbidīn (1783 – 1836), was connected to the Naqshbandī spiritual line via his teacher, Mawlānā Khālid al-Naqshbandī, a Kurdish-Damascene spiritual master. Mawlānā Khālid al-Naqshbandī (1779 – 1827 CE) spent some time in India where he became a disciple and successor (khalīfah) of Shaykh Ghulām ‘Alī al-Dehlawī (1743 – 1824 CE), the foremost successor of Mirzā Maẓhar Jān-e-Jān (1701 – 1781), whose spiritual chain reaches Mujaddid Alf-e-Thānī. (Shaykh Ghulām ‘Alī al-Dehlawī is also known as Shaykh ‘Abdullāh al-Dehlawī). Ibn ‘Ᾱbidīn describes Mawlānā Khālid al-Naqshbandī as “the unique imām, the noble, committed and matchless scholar, Ḥaḍrat Sayyidī Shaykh Khālid, who has spent his efforts in benefitting [Allāh’s] slaves, and guiding them towards holding fast to the profession of Tawḥīd, such that he became the pivot (quṭb) of the gnostics in all places and the absolute refuge of the aspirants (murīdīn), and the clear and manifest Naqshbandī Ṭarīqah became famous through him in all Islāmic lands…” (Majmū‘ah Rasā’il Ibn ‘Ᾱbidīn, 2:284)

The father of Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (1829 – 1905) –  the spiritual and scholarly fountainhead of Deoband –, Mawlānā Hidāyat ‘Alī (d. 1836), was, like Mawlānā Khālid al-Naqshbandī, a disciple and spiritual successor (khalīfah) of Shaykh Ghulām ‘Alī. (Tazkirat al-Rashīd, 1:17)

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Sins and the Danger of Sū’ al-Khātimah (Death upon Disbelief)

Explaining the importance of obedience, avoidance of sins and repentance for the preservation of īmān, Imām al-Ghazālī writes:

Īmān is not one door but is over seventy doors, the highest of them the testimony that there is no deity but Allāh and the lowest of them removing harm from the road. An example of this is someone saying: “The human being is not one entity, but is over seventy entities, the highest of them is the heart and soul and the lowest of them is removing offensive things from the skin in that one has a trimmed moustache, clipped nails, and skin free of filth, so that he is distinguished from unrestrained beasts soiled in their faeces with offensive forms owing to their lengthy talons and hooves.”

 

This is a fitting example for īmān is like a human being. Losing the testimony of Tawḥīd entails complete negation just like losing the soul. The one who does not have [anything] besides the testimony of Tawḥīd and Risālah is like a person with amputated limbs, gouged-out eyes, missing all external and internal parts besides the essence of the soul. Just as the one whose condition is such is close to dying – the weak and isolated soul, from which the parts that assist and strengthen it have fallen behind, parting from him – similarly, the one who does not have [anything] besides the essence of īmān and falls short in actions comes close to the tree of his īmān being uprooted when strong winds that shake the īmān strike it at the initial arrival and coming of the Angel of Death. Every īmān whose roots are not established within certainty and whose branches are not spread out within actions will not remain firm in [the face of] the torrents of horrors when the head of the Angel of Death appears. Sū’ al-khātimah (an evil end) will be feared for him, unless he is watered with acts of obedience with the succession of days and hours so that [his tree of īmān] becomes firmly-rooted and strong.

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Ruling of Hair Transplantation

Question:

Is hair transplantation permissible?

Answer:

Hair transplantation is a form of treatment for baldness. It involves taking hair follicles from parts of the body/head and attaching it to the balding area.

Hair transplantation entails making use of detached solid parts of the human body for medical treatment which as a rule is not permissible.

Making use of a detached solid part of the human body for treatment is only permissible when the detached part is returned to its original place (e.g. a fallen tooth or a cut finger is put back in its place).

Hence, hair transplantation is not permissible as it would fall under the general impermissibility of making medical use of detached solid parts of the human body.

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The Danger of Insincerity amongst the ‘Ulamā’

While discussing insincerity in Dīnī activities, Imām al-Ghazālī says:

‘The people most subject to this tribulation are the ‘Ulamā’ since the motive for most in sharing knowledge is the delight of being superior, and the joy of being followed, and the happiness of being praised and glorified, but the Shayṭān deceives them about this, saying: “Your motive is only to spread the Dīn of Allāh, and to defend the Sharī‘ah which the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) established.” You see the sermoniser mentioning the favour to Allāh of his advice to people and his admonition of kings, and he is overjoyed with people’s acceptance of his speech and their attraction to him, while claiming that he is happy because assisting the Dīn has been made easy for him. Yet, if one of his peers who is better than him at sermonising were to appear, and the people turned from him and moved towards him, this would hurt and worry him. Had his motive been Dīn he would have thanked Allāh (Exalted is He) since Allāh (Exalted is He) has sufficed him of this task using another. Thereafter, the Shaytān despite this does not leave him, and says: “You are only worried because the reward has ceased coming to you not because people’s faces have turned away from you to another, because if they received the reminder from your speech you would be rewarded – and your concern for missing out on reward is praiseworthy.” The poor individual (miskīn) does not realise that his submission to the truth and his handing over the task to someone better is greater in reward…’ (Iḥyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, Dār al-Minhāj, 9:71)