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.

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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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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A Reply to the Essay, “Perspective on Trimming/Shaving beard”

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm

In the following, we will address a 9-page essay authored by Sheikh Hategekimana Hassan of Botswana called, “Perspective on Trimming/Shaving beard.”[1] Sheikh Hategekimana attempts to show that growing the beard is not a precept of religion or Sharī‘ah, but merely a recommended cultural practice inherited from Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). He further argues that there is no sin in shaving the beard, and the widely-held notion that a person who shaves his beard should not be appointed an imam is an innovation in Islamic thought with no basis in earlier jurisprudential writings. Continue Reading