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Aqeedah and Fiqh

AMJA Annual Closed Conference

Published

Combining between knowledge of Shari’ah and recognition of the reality is one of the goals of the Assembly of the Muslim Jurists of America always keeps in mind while conducting their daily duties. AMJA is a group of jurists and experts who work together to deeply discern the reality where fatawa apply. You can read more about AMJA by clicking here.

A part of AMJA’s focus is to bring together a wide variety of scholars from different backgrounds, different school of thoughts, as well as different ethnic background to decide on the issues that aren’t clear-cut Halal or Haram. For the last 6 years this closed conference has been taking place to come up with those tough decisions. This year, it is taking place in Montreal, Canada with focus on contemporary issues facing youth in the West.

This year’s conference is going to discuss four major issues by major scholars. Some of those scholars are Dr. Ali Alsalows, Dr. Salah asSawi, Dr. Main AlQudah, Dr. Hatem AlHaj, Dr. Waleed Basyouni, Dr. Suhaib Hasan and others. As for the four major issues, they are financial issues, social issues, aqeedah issues, and obstacles in our path of worshiping Allah.

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Financial Challenges:
According the AMJA’s Fatwa analysis, the top 3 questions received from Muslims in the West are the ruling on students loans for students who cannot afford the school cost, the issue of health insurance specially in the United States, and the ruling on taking advantage of social programs like well-fare.

As most of us know, the issue with student loans is extremely confusing. We the Muslims of the West are asked to be the doctors, the engineers, the PhDs, and the experts in whatever fields we get in, but yet, most of the careers choices that are available to us are extremely expensive. So the question that needs to be answered, is the need of becoming a highly educated (or even going to any average college is quite costly) high enough of a demand to overcome the issue of interest in the loans? Not only the evidences from the Quran and Sunnah will be considered and debated, but also the reality on the ground will be investigated and a decision will come out a the end of the blessed gathering inshaAllah.

Another issue that will involve a hot discussion is the issue of health insurance, especially for those living in the United States. Unlike Canada and the UK, health-care (as of today) is not subsidized by the government which means that those who don’t have insurance and become sick have to suffer the high cost of medication and treatment which goes in to the hundred of thousands. We all remember the case of Imam Siraaj Wahaaj (may Allah cure him) and others, now imagine the stress that an average family would go through if they face the same sickness or similar to it. Do we have a legit need to buy health insurance? What if it was offered to us through universities and/or work? Again, the evidences for and against this argument will be quite interesting to learn and understand as well as the reality on the ground from our health-care experts who are invited to share their views and experiences with jurists of AMJA

Social Challenges:
With focus on the youth and their issues and based on the culture they grew up within, the inter-gender relationship will be discussed in a great manner. This includes issues such as working together in social, religious, and/or activist jobs.

The issue of tashaboh (imitation of non-Muslims) is extremely vague and in need of clarifications. How can we understand the divine text of the ahadith that prohibited us from imitating the non-Muslims while living in a non-Muslim land? How far can we go in saying that we aren’t imitating the non-Muslims and how much is too much? The merging between the deen and the reality is what is sought after here, and I hope an pray that our scholars can reach to some what of a consensus on this issue.

Aqeedah Challenges:
The ever-going debate between being a Muslim and American or Canadian or British, does it contradict our deen? Is our loyalty (walaa and baraa) in jeopardy by living in the West? and if it is, where would those who are born and raised in the West go? And if not, to what degree can we be westernized yet keep our aqeedah safe?

This is a very good and essential question because the a lot will be built on its answer. Iif we say that we can live in West, then how far can we go with our civic duties? How about enlisting in the military? How about running for a public office? All this will be discussed and a final decision will be adapted by the Assembly inshaAllah.

Finally, Worship Challenges
Worshiping Allah freely is the concern of every Muslim in the West. The fact that we live amongst non-Muslims made us very cautious about our worship. What is the ruling on doctors and other professionals who have no control over their time when it comes to Salah in general and Jummah in specific? What about students who have their finals on Fridays at the time of the Salah or those who have long classes that they encompass two or more prayers? Can they join them or do we have pray them separately? Again, the reality of our lives vs. the theoretical rulings will be questioned and a decision will be reached, inshaAllah.

In conclusion:
Having a legit consensus on such topics from such a diverse group of scholars and students of knowledge will represent the new spark of Fiqh that pertains to Muslims in the West. This reminds me of Al-Andalus and their understanding of fiqh. An inheritance of knowledge was left for us to benefit from and I hope and pray that AMJA be amongst the first of those who initiate this spark.

By the grace of Allah, I was invited to this closed conference and insha’Allah I will try to write a post summing some of the decisions taken as well as some video interviews. Look forward to it.

PS: Feel free to post in any areas you think the Assembly should investigate or pay more attention to in the future. I will make sure they know about it inshaAllah.

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34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Arif Kabir

    October 8, 2009 at 7:20 AM

    I think Shaykh Muhammad AlShareef will also be going and conducting his Ilminar there? If so, any idea on what his focus will be at AMJA?

    I definitely think they should start consider having subcommittees on making manuals for everyday questions of an American Muslim community (school, business, hospital, etc.) That way, there’s a consensus among the American Fuqaha and will make it easier on the thousands of Muslim organizations in the West.

    • Nabil

      October 10, 2009 at 11:26 AM

      Assalamu ‘aleykum,

      Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef will actually be speaking at the Path to Paradise Conference, which will be happening after the AMJA meeting which, as is mentioned in the article, is a closed meeting.

      Path to Paradise, however, is open for the public, and will have both English and Arabic concurrent sessions with many of the shuyookh that will be there at the AMJA meeting as well as others.

      For more details, make sure to visit http://www.islamconference.ca

      Jazakallah khaiyran :D

  2. Yasir Qadhi

    October 8, 2009 at 8:22 AM

    AMJA is one of the most – if not the most – scholarly body of Islamic fiqh in North America. I have great respect for it and the scholars on its committee.

    A number of AlMaghrib Instructors are also actively involved (I have attended in the past and been invited this year, but will not be able to attend because of another class), and this too is a positive sign. Even though most of the board is composed of scholars far senior to us both in knowledge and age, they realize that in order to move forward they need ‘second generation’ representation as well.

    I hope insha Allah that next year they can announce their dates earlier so that more of us can attend. I look forward to reading their conclusions for this year’s conference.

    Yasir

  3. MR

    October 8, 2009 at 10:56 AM

    I’d love AMJA to comment on this.

    • Abd- Allah

      October 8, 2009 at 8:14 PM

      Get over it already akhi.

      • MR

        October 10, 2009 at 12:24 PM

        It’s a big deal to literally hundreds of people int his community. Many masaajid and organizations have emailed me due to the post. So its a big deal to our community over here.

        • Abd- Allah

          October 10, 2009 at 1:51 PM

          lol, well then they should all get over it too.

          Your main issue was that the Muslim Link should be willing to advertise the events of ALL the different Muslim organizations, or change its name from the Muslim Link to something else. Well you have a point, however, that would also mean that Sunni Path should change its name to Sufi Path instead.

          And what you call “childish division” is one of the basis of our deen!

          By the way, just because the so called “Pledge of Mutual Respect and Cooperation” was signed by all the AlMaghrib shuyookh does not mean that Dar-us-Salaam or the entire community agrees with that pledge. Alhamdulillah, we are allowed to disagree with the shuyookh when we see that they have made a wrong decision on a certain issue. In fact, many people don’t agree with that pledge, and many more have not even heard of it!

          I am not defending the Muslim Link here, however, my advice for you akhi and anyone who might have the same issue is to get over this incident and move along with your life.

          • MR

            October 12, 2009 at 11:09 AM

            It’s a big deal bro trying to advertise events with with Hamza Yusuf on it. If you remove the name, the reality is, not a lot of ppl will come. Seriously think about it. If you put an advertisement saying “Fundraiser for Islamic School in Baltimore, On such date at such time.” No speaker name given because the newspaper doesn’t’ like the speaker. Then 1000s of Muslims in the area that read the Newspaper won’t really take the event seriously. Now say the advertisement had “Fundraiser for Islamic School in Baltimore with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf”. More people would be interested in it due to his name.

            I didn’t make a big deal out of it with the Malaria event, because I understood that okay, maybe they don’t want to advertise due to the shia speaker invited ( he actually couldn’t come to the event although his name was on it). But this is for Sh. Hamza. He’s mainstream. The Muslim Link writs articles about him and their events. They also invited Imam Zaid to Dar-us-Salaam. So what’s the big deal in keeping his name on an Islamic School fundraiser?

            What bothers me is that the same masjid that is having the event with Sh. Hamza helped advertise the Muslim Links fundraiser event with George Galloway. What if the masjid said we can’t allow advertisements for non-Muslims, thus we’ll have to remove his name. Then the flyer would say The Muslim Link fundraiser on such and such day. The Muslim Link wouldn’t like that because the whole purpose is to get people to come with the name of George Galloway on the ad.

            So it’s okay to advertise George Galloway for a fundraiser but not Shaykh Hamza Yusuf? A non-muslim better than a Muslim?

            Sunnipath doesn’t have to be renamed to sufi path since they teach sunni stuff. They dont just teach sufism. They also teach fiqh and aqida as well.

            It is a big deal man. It’s hard to fund raise money for an Islamic school alone, but if you get Sh. Hamza to come, then you can expect a increase in attendance thus more donors. When you get denied by a large newspaper circulated in the direct market audience, that’s a serious issue. That’s indirectly preventing the success of building an Islamic school.

            Like it or not, big names bring people. Yasir Qadhi, Siraj Wahhaj, Hamza Yusuf bring more people to the event rather the less known names.

    • PakistaniMD

      October 10, 2009 at 6:22 PM

      People have no idea how big of a deal this is to people who are concerned about stability and unity in the MD-DC area. There is a reason why Dar-us-Salaam community is generally considered “closed” and “supra conservative”… they can’t tolerate other ideas/groups. Oh and MR… I’ll bump you up!

  4. MR

    October 8, 2009 at 2:10 PM

    I have submitted my question. :-D

    • NahyanInc

      October 9, 2009 at 12:03 PM

      dang bro, that’s such a simple comment and you still got (-) thumbs down :P

      haters… :D

      • MR

        October 10, 2009 at 12:25 PM

        People hate the truth sometimes when it goes against their own ideas and thoughts.

  5. Ahmad AlFarsi

    October 8, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    I thank Allah that we have such an academic board of contemporary scholars here in the US as AMJA. May Allah allow AMJA to thrive and be a source of guidance in these times of fitnah. Amin.

  6. Umm Khadija

    October 8, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    Mashallah, AMJA scholars do a fantastic job, I had the honor of learning some tajweed with Sh. Main Al Qudah. He is the best!!! All of us in the class miss him dearly! Also they have a great system of online fatwas via their website and are available over the phone at certain times (see their website) to answer questions etc. Dr. Main Al Qudah was also able to guide us to a solution with our mortgage issue. (Alhamdulilah!) and inshallah we should be riba free very soon!!! :D I would encourage everyone to use AMJA’s services.

  7. lb

    October 9, 2009 at 12:28 AM

    The AMJA meeting is hosted in Montreal by an org called PATH TO PARADISE which will also be holding the PATH TO PARADISE CONVENTION (kind of the public part of the AMJA meeting)

    Check: http://www.IslamConference.ca !

  8. Px

    October 9, 2009 at 1:24 AM

    AMJA is one seriously underrated organization, despite having some of the top scholars among their list of scholars. They need to broaden their scope rather than restricting themselves to mainly an ‘academic’ body.

    People like Shaykh Dr. Wahba al-zuhaili have done a lot with regards to fiqh in current times, and it needs to be made available to laymen like us.

    Also, the rising stars of da’wah and scholarship need to reach the level of AMJA scholarship to truly consider themselves scholars.

  9. another muslimah

    October 9, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    Alhamdulillah, AMJA online is where I go to get fatwas. You feel very comfortable with their opinions. In my experience, the scholars answer with knowledge, thinking, manners, consideration of our context, and fairness to madhabs.

  10. Hamza21

    October 9, 2009 at 3:38 PM

    I never heard of this group nor it’s scholars, many of whom don’t even live in the North America. This group seems to more of the colonization mentality of many foreign muslims have.

    http://www.esnips.com/doc/f6300736-3ffe-4d3f-a387-c615c41c89e1/The-Enslavement-of-the-Black-American-Muslim-by-Imam-Luqman-Ahmad

    Some of these scholars may have the knowledge but don’t the experience, which necessary to give fatawa. I would advise NA muslims to use common sense when reading this group’s fatawa and as well as give the up the “savior” mentality that somebody is going to solve your problems for you. Until this group involves more input from actual NA muslims I will stay away this organization.

    • ibnabeeomar

      October 9, 2009 at 3:50 PM

      i love how you have “NEVER HEARD” of this group OR its scholars. then you proceed to accuse them of colonization mentality, lacking experience, and not taking input from NA muslims.

      Beautiful.

      I wonder if our scholars will ever be able to reach the pinnacle of erudite scholarship you have displayed so tactfully – of ignorance, straw-man, assumption, and refutation. Textbook brilliance by any standard.

    • Ahmad AlFarsi

      October 9, 2009 at 4:05 PM

      “savior” mentality that somebody is going to solve your problems for you

      What ARE you talking about, sir? Simply because we have an academic committee of scholars who live here and have knowledge of the West from whom we can get academic and reasonable fatawa, you claim we have a “savior” mentality?? Dude, if you have some issues with some of their scholars, take it up yourself with them, but don’t conflate unrelated topics….

  11. Ahmad

    October 9, 2009 at 4:06 PM

    Sub7anAllah, these are “scholars” in their right sense. They are more knowledgeable of the affairs on the Muslims in North America then most Muslims combined in North America. Do not the dream interpretations, the fatwas, the questions, the situations, the problems, the research papers, the daily fatwa lines, the 10’s of 1000’s of hours in the classrooms and reading the texts, the discrimination that they face daily reveal to you that they are “aware” of their surroundings.
    Many of them have lived in the states for 20 plus years and have seen the ups and downs of all the movements inside and outside of the US. Many of them know more about US laws and customs then several attorneys combined in addition to Islamic law.

    Because they simply do not concede to everything certain “American Muslims” would like to push as the new agenda, the new fiqh, the new modernist outlook on the Quran and Sunnah, you choose to discredit them.

    I remind you, that they follow the Quran first and foremost, the Sunnah, then the consensus (ijmaa) of the Scholars and many North American Muslim organizations do not uphold to this in any sense even for contemporary issues.

    I pray that Allah SWT shows us the truth as the truth and allows us to follow it and shows us falsehood as falsehood and allows us to completely abstain from it.

  12. AbuUmar

    October 9, 2009 at 8:05 PM

    as salamu`alaykum

    I think AMJA is one of the most important organizations that needs our support. May Allah bless them and continue to grow them. The only issue I have with them is that right now they are only known by the scholars, the Imams and those who are active in seeking knowledge, but they don’t have much exposure to the general Muslim population. It’s good they have closed sessions with the Imams and the scholars but they should also concentrate on doing some public events.

    wallahu `alam

  13. Ahmad AlFarsi

    October 11, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    when most don’t even live in this country or continent?

    Where you getting your information from? All their scholars who give fatawa live in North America. I think you are getting confused by seeing that some of the consultants for AMJA (who do not issue fatwas, but whom the AMJA fatwa committee choose to ask for clarification on Shar’i matters) live overseas…

    And simply because you don’t keep yourself educated about scholars in our part of the world, does not mean that they are “unknown” to most North American Muslims.

    Clearly, they are unknown to you… that is about all that can be said I guess.

  14. Abd- Allah

    October 11, 2009 at 3:15 PM

    “I have been involved in Islam for almost twenty years” (from Hamza21’s comment above)
    “I’ve been down with Hip Hop since 1982 and been a DJ since 1985.” (from Hamza21’s profile on his blog)

    Brother Hamza, my advice would be for you to stick to what you know best and give your opinions and views on issues in your own field of expertise, which seems to be Hip Hop since you have been involved in it longer.

    “has one Saudiyyah ever been held responsible for their divisive and misguided fatawa? Albani? uthaymin?ibnBaz? anybody?”

    And show respect to the great scholars of this Ummah. Albani, Bin Baz, and Bin Uthaymeen have more knowledge in Islam and following the sunnah than you or your misguided sufi shuyookh can ever dream of. And just for your information, Albani is not from Saudiyyah!

    I don’t want to sound harsh, but calling the greatest 3 scholars of recent times “misguided” would only be said by someone who is misguided himself.

  15. Maverick

    October 11, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    Hamza21

    You named a bunch of popular scholars [and I mean that in a positive way] – they are all well-respected, well-known, etc. But what method are you using to compare their expertise with the AMJA shyoukh? Just because one scholar isn’t very well-known – amongst laymens’ circles such as those that you seem to run around in – doesn’t mean that they are unqualified to lead the masses.

  16. Hamza21

    October 13, 2009 at 12:59 PM

    I don’t wish to turn this issue to a debate I have given up debate long ago but I will say I didn’t say Albani was from Saudi but he lived there and his views were exactly the same as wahaabi scholars. Any fool knows that. Also I didn’t say albani and the like were misguided but I said “their divisive and misguided fatawa “, which anybody who has seen how their words were used within the US would know it for themselves how misguided their stances were within the american context.

    On on final note if you wish to drink the kool aid go ahead but I refuse to handle over my intellect to a group of unknowns.

    • Ahmad AlFarsi

      October 13, 2009 at 1:42 PM

      But you did incorrectly say that AMJA scholars who give fatwa don’t live in North America, when they do :)

      No one has ever asked you to hand over your intellect… following scholarship is not handing over one’s intellect, but taking advantage of the research of others.

      • xx

        October 14, 2009 at 1:48 AM

        coming straight from the AMJA website:

        How can AMJA -whose members are spread all over the world- give fatwa on events of the American society?
        Through the highest international communication technologies including Emails and AMJA website on the internet that make contacting those in Tokyo as fast as those in Washington.

        How can a fatwa be given to the US by someone who has no contact with the American reality?
        This question has been answered before; AMJA is held responsible -from the first moment- for the base that fatwa-givers should combine knowledge of Shari’ah, and recognition of the reality. “A Fatwa” -as scholars say- is the knowledge of necessity in the reality; this could be accomplished through what is previously referred to namely; the availability of a number of experts -not less than jurists at AMJA- representing the eye of AMJA by which reality is seen and several of its aspects is known. Juristic assemblies all over the world scrutinize medical issues like the transplant of body organs, human-made fertilization and human cloning, etc. However nobody says that the jurist is to be necessarily a physician so as to able to give a fatwa on these issues, but it is enough for him to know all details of such matters through those experts related to such assemblies;

        • Ahmad AlFarsi

          October 14, 2009 at 8:19 AM

          As I said earlier, their consultants may not live in the US, but those on AMJA who are responsible for giving fatwa (Islamic rulings), all live in the US, except for one which lives in the UK. Of course, there is no problem with them having legal experts in other countries, but the scholars issuing fatawa are the ones who need knowledge of our living situation.

          Let’s take the members of the Fatwa committee one-by-one.

          The Fatwa-Issuing Permanent Committee of AMJA consists of:

          Dr. Farouq As-Samaraa`i – Imam of Al-Huda Mosque in Columbia Heights, Minnesota

          Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah – Imam of West Bank Muslim Association, in Louisiana. Visiting Research Scholar to Islamic Da’wah Center in Houston, TX.

          Dr. Muhammad Muwaffak Abd Allah Al Ghaylany – Imam of the Islamic Center in Grand Blank City in the state of Michigan; faculty member at the Shari`a Academy in America; President of the League of Imams in North America.

          Dr. Salah Al-Sawy – lives in Michigan (I believe he just moved there from Virginia)

          Dr. Sohayb Hassan Abd Al Ghaffar – lives in UK

          Sheikh Walid Ben Edris Al Manisy – Imam of the Islamic Center of Dar al-Faruq, Minneapolis

          case-closed, walhamdulillah.

  17. Px

    October 14, 2009 at 1:21 AM

    Just look how much destruction fatawa of saudiyyah scholars have caused in the American ummah but yet has one Saudiyyah ever been held responsible for their divisive and misguided fatawa? Albani? uthaymin?ibnBaz? anybody?

    Which fataawa boy? al-albani, Ibn Baz, Ibn Uthaymeen never really gave any fataawa that were of any consequence in the West. It was indivudals (read: mainly converts) who followed certain ‘scholars’ who used the names of these great scholars as a prop to legitimate their cult.

    Fear Allah before making such accusations, you need to scrub your tongue.

  18. Abu Wael

    March 16, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Assalamu alaykum,
    I wish I participated earlier.
    Brothers you are talking as if it is a must to live somewhere to be able to give Fatwa. Who established this principles and who agreed on it as a basis of giving fatwa to start with. From logical point of view, it is neither fair nor practical. You may say that from a REALISTIC point of view it is better to be living in the society you are giving fatwas to and It is a must to be well aware of the circumstances and life style of that given society. Other wise you are indirectly insinuating that all the tabieen scholarship onward to our present time who gave fatwas for people living in areas that the (muftis) never lived in are null and void or in the least not accurate. Is that what you saying?
    Making a rule is not based on our desires or how we feel about things. Let alone starting to judge based on the rules we just made up without any academic foundation. The whole world will collapse if only you make rules and fatwas for those you live in the modest of. don’t you think?
    All this of course beside the fact that AMJA scholars live in the west.

    • Abd- Allah

      March 16, 2010 at 6:07 PM

      Akhi Abu Wael, you are right in what you said, but the fact of the matter is that it is much easier to shoot down the fatwa of one of the big scholars by simply discrediting it on the basis that he lives some where else, rather than to try and refute that fatwa with strong arguments and with proofs from the Quran and sunnah. It is much easier to just say that this scholar doesn’t live here in the west so he doesn’t know the reality of things and his fatwa on this issue is wrong and not credible. This “pick and choose” approach makes things easier for a person to take what he likes from a the sayings of the big scholars, and then use this excuse that they don’t live in the west to leave what we don’t like and we don’t have to take it and simply can discredit it by using this argument, without having to go through the usual method of using knowledge and proof to refute arguments and support others. And it is unfortunate that we do see some people who do this, and try to discredit what the big scholars have said using that excuse that they don’t live here in the west.

    • Ahmad AlFarsi

      March 17, 2010 at 11:40 AM

      JazakAllahu khayran for your feedback Sh. Mamdouh.

      I wasn’t trying to imply that scholars must live in an area to give fatwa. Some others were trying to discredit AMJA by claiming that their scholars don’t know our situation; rather than attempting to argue with them on that principle, I wanted to simply nip their argument in the bud by showing that they live here anyways, walhamdulillah.

      But, jazakAllahu khayran for sharing the knowledge.

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