At a time where there are many trying to deconstruct the fundamentals of Islam to suit their whims and desires, who only profess Islam superficially and sometimes only perform rituals just merely to confirm to their lost identity; where there are not many courageous individuals who will stand up to the oppressors corrupting the world with their filth, the following incident or jihad (struggle) of the late Mufti of Tunisia, Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad Tahir ibn ‘Ashur, reminds us about men who stood up for freedom and justice.
They did not care the least what would happen to them if they spoke out. Their familial affinity or otherwise did not deter them from practicing the Sunnah of the beloved or fulfilling a religious obligation of changing the munkar (vice) in their society.
Those who are in a position of leadership or some kind of authority should learn from this and take heed, and remember that our pious predecessors were not great because they amassed great fortune and prestige in the community – we remember and regard them to be great men because they stood up for justice and struggled to eradicate injustice in their society.
Habib Bourguiba, the late President of Tunisia argued in 1961 (1381 Muslim Calendar) that ‘fasting’ during Ramadan should not be observed for it reduces productivity. He then appeared on television with his cabinet, eating and drinking during Ramadan. Bourguiba then asked the Grand Mufti of Tunisia, Sheikh al-Tahir ibn ‘Ashur (Arabic: الشيخ الطاهر بن عاشور), to issue a fatwa accommodating the desires of the state.
The Grand Mufti of Tunisia went on television and addressed the audience and read Surat’l-Baqarah: 183:
O you who believe! Observing the fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become the pious.
God said the truth (Arabic: صدق الله العظيم), and President Habib Bourguiba lied.
Then he issued a fatwa that not observing Ramadan is a sin and whoever doesn’t observe the fasting has knowingly rejected his well-known religious duty forcibly and added that fasting does not reduce productivity.
May Allah bring forth men and scholars like Shaykh al-Islam ibn ‘Ashur and through them rectify the condition of the Ummah.