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The Fiqh Ruling On Jumu’ah Salat If Eid Falls on Friday

Muslim jurists differed on this issue and have four opinions:

The first opinion

Jumu’ah salat is still obligatory and has to be performed on time, whether one performs Eid salat or not. And this applies for both the Imam and the congregation.

This is the position of the Hanafi, Maliki and Dhahiri schools. Ibn Qudamah in his book al-Mughni attributed this opinion to the majority of the Fuqhaa’ and Muslim Jurists.

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Their evidence, according to Ibn Rushd in Bidayatul Mujtahidâ is the default ruling of Jumu’ah salat as was derived from the ayah in surat al-Jumu’ah:

“O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew…” 62:9

The binding ruling of Jumu\’ah salat was also clearly established by the many ahadith in Bukhari, Muslim and other collections of hadith, and this cannot be out ruled even if Eid falls on Friday.

Jumu’ah salat is also as obligatory as Eid salat, and performing one of them does not substitute for the other. Imam Ibn Hazam rahimahullah in his book al-Muhallaa said: “And if Eid and Falls on Friday, one should pray Eid first and then Jumu’ah. This is a must, and there is no reliable evidence to prove otherwise”. He then said: “Jumu’ah is Fard and Eid is supererogatory, and the supererogatory act does not override the Fard.”

Moreover, the scenario of Eid and Jumu\’ah is similar to Eid and Dhuhr salat in any other day besides Friday. Therefore, if dhuhr is required on Eid day, then Jumu\’ah which is the Fard of Friday is also required and remains obligatory.

The second opinion

Jumu’ah is still obligatory on the residents of towns and cities and those who live near (a reasonable distance) from the Masjid. As for the commuters and people who reside far from the Masjid, they are then, if attended Eid salat, exempt from coming back for Jumu\’ah salat. The Imam, however, is still obligated to perform Jumu\’ah.

This is the opinion of Imam ash-Shafi’ ee rahimahullah, and Imam an-Nawawi in his Majmou’ attributed it to the majority of Muslim scholars.

His evidence is the narration of Abi Ubaid, as reported in Muwatta’ Imam Malik, who said: I prayed Eid salat with Uthman ibn Affan one time. He first started with salat, and then delivered the khutbah in which he said: “This day you have two Eids coming in one day, so for the people who came form al-Awaali -the suburbs and outskirts of Madinah- whoever wishes to stay for Jumu’ah, let them stay. And whoever wishes to return home, they can leave. They have my permission.” Imam an-Nawawi rahimahullah attributed it to Bukhari, and it is indeed in Bukhari in the “Book of al-Adhaahi” or qurbani’s and sacrifices, chapter 16: What is permissible to consume from the adhaahi and what is permissible to keep?, and hadith number is 5572. (Fathul Bari’s copy)

Imam ash-Shirazi rahimahullah said: “and the people are excused from attending Jumu’ah salat in general due to extreme hardship, and requiring people (of the suburbs) to return back for Jumu’ah after they have attended Eid salat would inflict a great hardship on them.”

The third opinion

Whoever attends Eid salat is pardoned from attending Jumu’ah regardless of his place of residence, for both the Imam and the congregation. The Imam however, should still offer Jumu\’ah for those who wish to attend it and perform it for those who missed Eid salat.

Dhuhr salat, in this case, should still be performed in place of Jumu’ah. This opinion, due to its clear textual evidences, is the strongest opinion of all.

It is the opinion of Imam Ahamd rahimahullah, and is the preference of shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah who attributed it to a group of the companions such as Omar, Uthman, Ibn Masoud, Ibn Abbas and others, and then said: “and there is no knowledge of any disagreement among them on this.” It is also the opinion of many of the scholars of hadith.

The evidence for this is hadith Zaid ibn Arqam who said: The Prophet prayed the Eid salat on a Friday and granted a permission regarding the praying of Jumu’ah salat and said: “If anyone wants to pray it, he may pray.” Reported by Imam Ahmad and in the books of Sunan except for at-Tirmidhi. And was ruled Sahih by Ibn Khuzayma.

In the Sunan of Abu Dawood, Abu Hurayrah narrated, the Messenger of Allah said: “In this day you have two Eids, and for whomever wishes (Eid salat) will suffice him (form attending Jumu’ah) and we shall still be prying Jumu’ah.”

Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah adds: “Moreover, if someone attends Eid salat, he had already obtained the objective of the congregation (on Friday), so he prays Dhuhr if he did not attend Jumu’ah salat, dhuhr salat will remain on time and Eid salat achieves for him the purpose of Jumu’ah congregation. Keeping the obligation of Jumu’ah (binding)on people will definitely cause hardship for them, and would ruin the purpose of Eid, and the reason it was prescribed for to show joy and happiness. Hence, if people were held back from enjoying their time ( in order to attend Jumu\’ah salat) Eid will cause an adverse result and negates its purpose.”

The fourth opinion

Whoever attends Eid salat is pardoned and does not have to attend any salat after that until Asr salat, i.e. both Jumu\’ah and Dhuhr will no longer be required.

This is the opinion of Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah and from the companions Ibn az-Zubair. It was also reported as one opinion of Imam Ahmad.

Abdullah ibn az-Zubair radiyallahu anahu once said: “Two Eids (Eid Day and Friday)came on one Day, so he prayed two Rak’ah early in the morning and did not add anything to after that until Asr.” Ata’ reported this to Ibn Abbas when he was in Taif, and to this he replied: “The followed the Sunnah”, reported by Abu Dawood.

In refuting this final opinion, Imam al-Khattabi rahimahullah said: “This -the act of Ibn az-Zubair- could not be understood except in the context of the opinion of those who permit performing Jumu’ah prior to the time of zawal (the beginning of the time of dhuhr when the sun starts moving out of the zenith), hence Ibn az-Zubair would have prayed Jumu’ah in place of Eid and dhuhr.”

In addition to that, Ata’ who reported the incident of ibn az-Zubair also said: “On Jumu’ah time we gathered for salat but he (Ibn az-Zubair) did not come out (to lead us)so we prayed individually.” This means that they prayed dhuhr, and there is a possibility that Ibn az-Zubair did pray dhuhr in his house as well.

And Allah knows best.

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Sh. Yaser Birjas is originally from Palestine. He received his Bachelors degree from Islamic University of Madinah in 1996 in Fiqh & Usool, graduating as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to work as a youth counselor and relief program aide in war-torn Bosnia. Thereafter, he immigrated to the U.S. and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He is also an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, where he teaches popular seminars such as Fiqh of Love, The Code Evolved, and Heavenly Hues.

46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    November 26, 2009 at 8:06 PM

    If the third opinion is the strongest, does it mean that those who follow this opinion do not pray zhur in congregation behind the imam because the Jum’ah prayer would be going on at that time and the imam won’t pray both the jum’ah and zuhr prayers?

    • Avatar

      PD

      November 26, 2009 at 10:04 PM

      I was wondering the same thing…

    • Yaser Birjas

      Yaser Birjas

      November 28, 2009 at 1:57 PM

      This means, they are exempt from coming to the masjid for the congregational salat. That is the whole purpose of this concession, and they can just pray dhuhr at home. If they decided to come to the Masjid and join the Imam who will be praying Juma’ah, then they should join with the intention of Jumu’ah. They cannot just come in and pray dhuhr and leave while the Imam is delivering the khutbah. They cannot join the Imam who is making Jumu’ah and make their intention for dhuhr either. If show up at Jumu’ah time while the khutbah is running then they should join the Jumu’ah salat.

      And Allah knows best.

      • Avatar

        Salman

        July 17, 2015 at 3:48 AM

        Eid Mubarak. Read read this 30 mins before Juma. Will continue with festivities :)

        Jazak Allah Khair. May Allah accept our good deeds.

  2. Avatar

    The Caliphate

    November 26, 2009 at 10:09 PM

    This happened recently I believe, a few years ago. I was living in Atlanta back then. But I remember Eid (I can’t remember which one) fell on a Friday.

    We did the same thing…made the Eid prayer but not the Jumuah prayer. But I think the Imam at the masjid in my area still gave a khutbah for those who wanted to pray.

    Mashallah. Allah is the best of planners.

  3. Avatar

    ibn abihi

    November 26, 2009 at 10:22 PM

    “Dhuhr salat, in this case, should still be performed in place of Jumu’ah. This opinion, due to its clear textual evidences, is the strongest opinion of all.”

    Who’s opinion is this, that it’s the strongest? Then why the difference of opinion in the first place?

    • Avatar

      Ibn Masood

      November 27, 2009 at 10:44 AM

      Strongest opinion according to Sheikh Yaser.

    • Yaser Birjas

      Yaser Birjas

      November 28, 2009 at 2:23 PM

      The difference of opinion is based on the following arguments:
      1. The ahadith and reports in regard to the issue did not reach some of the Fuqahaa’, especially the early generation of Fuqahaa’
      2. The argument over the validity of the said narrations. Some Fuqahaa’ considered them authentic and others did not. And based on what they have believed is right, they formulated their opinions.
      3. The difference of opinion on the principle of “Asl” or default on this issue, is it the Ayah in surat al-Jumu’ah or the hadith of Zaid and the athar of Uthman which both obviously establishe an exception for the Eid on Friday.
      4. The position from the ahaad hadith, does it qualify a “Nas” or a text that is mentioned in a decisive context in the Qur’an?

      And Allah knows best.

      • Avatar

        Shahab

        July 16, 2015 at 7:22 AM

        Shaykh, which opinion is “strongest” is decided by the manhaj. Ibn Taymiyyah (rah) found the third opinion “strongest” because he followed the manhaj of Imam Ahmad.

        Those who followed the manhaj of other a’immah found other evidences “stronger”. They knew the evidences of Imam Ahmad (and later ibn Taymiyyah), but that did not constitute “strongest” available evidence (due to various other rules).

        It is a bit disappointing to see this kind of write ups even now after much clarification has come about in the last decade or so on how the madhhahib work. Unfortunately, the modus operandi of the 90s still lingers on.

        It would be much more scholastically honest to note that each opinion is “strongest” based on the manhaj of each of the schools. For example, Ibn Rushd has a complete treatise on this matter of Eid and Jumu’ah and shows exactly why opinion 1 is “stronger” than opinion 3 from various angles.

        So, Sir, it is all relative. Calling one particular opinion “strongest” implies a lot of negative things about the rest unless one clearly mentions that their reason for choosing this opinion is because they follow a particular manhaj.

  4. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    November 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM

    Eid Mubarak! As for questions about why there are multiple opinions about this or other issues of fiqh, I recommend people take a class such as Yaser Birjas’ “The Code Evolved.” That class specifically looks at the evolution of fiqh/jurisprudence.

    Jazak Allah khayr for posting this article! I’d like to suggest an addition or clarification regarding the third opinion. Since the imam would still perform the Jum’aa khutbah and salat, the congregational mid-day prayer for Friday remains Jum’aa and not dhuhr.

    According to all of the first three opinions, if there was Jum’aa at your masjid last week, there should be Jum’aa there today. Prayer with the jamat is still better than prayer alone, so go pray in jamat. The third opinion merely relieves you of the obligation of praying Jum’aa today.

    • Avatar

      ud-Deen

      November 27, 2009 at 9:28 AM

      jazakAllaah khair, that’s cleared the confusion

  5. Avatar

    Umm Esa

    November 27, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    I truly appreciate this information. Indeed…it was a needed article, and it is relevant.
    JazakAllahu khayran…

  6. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    November 27, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    Assalam Alaikum

    Shaykh Yaser, two questions regarding the fourth opinion:

    1) “In refuting this final opinion, Imam al-Khattabi rahimahullah said: “This -the act of Ibn az-Zubair- could not be understood except in the context …”

    How is this a refutation? It is just explaining the opinion in detail. I don’t see how this is a refutation of the opinion, but it is more of an explanation of it.

    2) “In addition to that, Ata’ who reported the incident of ibn az-Zubair also said: “On Jumu’ah time we gathered for salat but he (Ibn az-Zubair) did not come out (to lead us)so we prayed individually.” ”

    Can you please mention the reference for this and how authentic it is if it was classified by any of the scholars of hadith?

    JazakAllah khayr

    • Yaser Birjas

      Yaser Birjas

      November 28, 2009 at 4:25 PM

      1) Because al-Khattabi gives an interpretation different from the one composed by the followers of the forth opinion, he eventually refuting their explanation to the incident as not praying jumu’ah at all.

      As-San’aani in Subul as-Salam added that there is no evidence that Ibn az-Zubair did not pray dhuhr at home either. And , one cannot conclude, from this narration only, that the opinion of Ibn az-Zubair is not to pray dhuhr at all.

      2) This narration in particular is in Sunan Abi Dawood in the Book of Salat, ch. 217 If Eid falls on Friday, hadith # 1071. Imam an-Nawawi rahimahullah said about this hadith in al-Majmoou’ : “Reported by Abu Dawood, with a good chain (bi’isnaadin hasan) or -an-Nawawi is still judging- Sahih equivalent to the condition of Imam Muslim (sahihun ala sharti Muslim)”
      sh. al-Albani rahimahullah considers it Sahih as well.

      And Allah knows best.

      • Avatar

        Abu hamza

        July 4, 2015 at 1:38 PM

        “In refuting this final opinion, imam al-Khattabi rahimahullah said: “This -the act of Ibn az-Zubair- could not be understood except in the context of the opinion of those who permit performing Jumu’ah prior to the time of zawal (the beginning of the time of Dhuhr when the sun starts moving out of the zenith), hence Ibn az-Zubair would have prayed Jumu’ah in place of Eid and Dhuhr.””

        With all due respect, could this not have just been al-Khattabi’s assumption/presumption i.e. that Ibn az-Zubair held the opinion that one can pray jumu’ah prior to the zawal? Is it not also just his presumption then that he must have prayed Salaatul Jumu’ah early in the morning? Surely, is it not equally plausible, all things being equal, that Ibn az-Zubair did not hold this position and therefore prayed two rakahs of Salaatul Eid at that time of the morning? In fact, without any further evidence to the contrary, is it not more likely that this be the case?

        “In addition to that, Ata’ who reported the incident of ibn az-Zubair also said: “On Jumu’ah time we gathered for salah but he (Ibn az-Zubair) did not come out (to lead us)so we prayed individually.” This means that they prayed Dhuhr, and there is a possibility that Ibn az-Zubair did pray Dhuhr in his house as well.”

        But if we read the report of Ibn az-Zubair’s action again:

        Abdullah ibn az-Zubair radiyallahu anahu once said: “Two Eids (Eid Day and Friday)came on one Day, so he prayed two Rak’ah early in the morning and did not add anything to after that until asr.” Ata’ reported this to Ibn Abbas when he was in Taif, and to this he replied: “The followed the Sunnah”, reported by Abu Dawood.

        There are two points to take into consideration: First, it clearly states that he “did not add anything to it after that until asr”, and makes no mention, explicitly or implicitly, of whether or not he prayed individually or in congregation later in the day; second, Ibn Abbas is reported to have said he “followed the Sunnah” based solely upon what Ata’ told him which was that he did not add anything until asr.

        Finally, the fact that the congregation was waiting for Ibn az-Zubair does not really mean anything. In the same way one may posit they were waiting because they were expecting to pray dhuhr, one can also posit that they were either mistaken in their expectation; or that the fact Ibn az-Zubair did not come out further proves there was no salaat, neither Jumu’ah nor dhuhr; or the fact that there are no reports of them questioning Ibn az-Zubair later and him giving them an explanation or clarification or clear-cut orders for the future clearly demonstrates that again nothing is reported because there is nothing to report i.e. he prayed two rakahs in the morning (salaatul Eid) and did not pray again until asr. His companions were either mistaken to have waited, or unclear/unsure what to do and therefore came out for prayers in congregation just in case, or over-zealous in their seeking Allaah’s pleasure.

        The fact that Ibn az-Zubair did not pray until asr does not in any way negate the opinion that the imam should hold the Jumu’ah prayer or even that one can pray dhuhr alone at home. It just means you do not have to. Simple. Allaaho Alam.

        Do my arguments hold any weight or merit any further discussion? If so, please clarify. If not, please forgive my ignorance. I do not intend to create any confusion or fitna. Jazaak Allaah Khair.

  7. Avatar

    Abdullah

    November 28, 2009 at 12:14 AM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    From my experience the strongest opinion is the first followed by the Maliki and Hanafi schools. I’ve only heard of people who follow salafism follow the third and fourth opinions.

    • Avatar

      QasYm

      November 28, 2009 at 11:15 AM

      wa alaikum salam

      Sorry but your second sentence made no sense.

    • Yaser Birjas

      Yaser Birjas

      November 28, 2009 at 4:37 PM

      Jazakum Allahu khayran, but the third and fourth opinion are greatly recognized and disputed in books of Fiqh and commentary of hadith as much as the first and second too.

      Even Imam Abul Hasan Noorideen as-Sindi al-hanafi on his commentary on the hadith of Ibn az-Zubair, as in Sunan an-Nasaa’iee said: “And the opinion of our Ulamaa’ -the Hanafi scholars- that attending Jumu’ah is still obligatory, and there is no doubt the ahadith in this chapter are proof evidence that attending Jumu’ah does not stay obligatory. Moreover, some of them even indicate that even dhuhr is no longer obligatory, as it is in the narrations about Ibn az-Zubair, and Allah the Most High knows best.” an-Nasaa’iee with the commentary of as-Suyooti and the footnotes from Imam as-Sindi, the Book of Eid Prayers, Ch. “The Concession for not attending Jumu’ah for one Who Attends Eid Salat”

      And Allah knows best.

  8. Yaser Birjas

    Yaser Birjas

    November 28, 2009 at 3:35 PM

    This applies to those who wish to attend the Masjid at dhuhr time. If they do so, then they have no other option but attend the Jumu’ah with the Imam if it was already on.

    And allah knows best.

  9. Avatar

    Yus from the Nati

    November 28, 2009 at 11:24 PM

    AS,

    Can you please write more articles like these. I really enjoy them and the interesting views of the fiqh scenarios.

  10. Avatar

    ibnTauficTheSecond

    November 29, 2009 at 12:22 AM

    Assalamualaikum,

    If we follow the school of thought of Imam Abu Hanifa, then what should we do? You said that the third opinion is the strongest, but the first is the opinion of the madh-hab I follow and it is not wrong.

    JazakAllaahu Khair

  11. Avatar

    AbdulBasit Khan

    December 2, 2009 at 4:49 PM

    Shaykh Yaser is the best, imho

    • Avatar

      Yus from the Nati

      December 3, 2009 at 11:58 AM

      I agree.

  12. Avatar

    Mohammed

    March 10, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    As-Salamu ‘alaykum

    I live in a neighborhood that does announce that those who prayed ‘Eid, don’t have to come for Jum’ah Prayer. Khayr, the Hanabilah hold that opinion, but, as community leaders I don’t think they should give that opinion, since most people who do come to Juma’ prayer, a good majority, don’t pray dhuhr pray, as can be seen during Dhuhr prayer in the masjid, and so they shouldn’t give this opinion, as it gives the public the ‘option’, which in the end makes them not pray Dhuhr at all.

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      March 10, 2010 at 10:00 PM

      as it gives the public the ‘option’

      Akhi Mohammed, giving the people who prayed the Eid prayer the option of whether they want to pray Jumuah or not is the sunnah. When the Prophet peace be upon him prayed the Eid prayer on a Friday, he then gave people the option to come pray Jumuah or not. So there is nothing wrong if the people who prayed the Eid prayer chose not to show up for the Jumuah prayer.

      • Avatar

        Mohammed

        March 11, 2010 at 6:52 PM

        It’s fine, some consider it sunnah, but my point is many people don’t pray Dhuhr either, so that ruling shouldn’t be given, i’m not looking at it from the point of sunnah or not, but if they would do what they should, that is either pray juma’ or dhuhr, so in order for people to keep praying, that ruling shouldn’t be announced. I’d like to see what Shaykh Yasir has to say, Inshallah.

  13. Avatar

    Hasan

    June 17, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Actually, the position of the Hanafi maddhab is not the first position, but the second, same as the Shafi’iyyah. This article shows clearly that one should not determine the rulings of the legal guilds (maddhaahib) by referring to texts that are written by scholars not belonging to that maddhab. In this case, Ibn Rushd made a mistake in his Bidayat al Mujtahid.

    After narrating the hadith of Uthman in his transmission of the Muwatta, where Uthman allowed the travelers from the outskirts of the city to leave without praying Jumu’ah, Imam Muhammad ibn al Hasan ash Shaybani adds:

    وبهذا كله نأخذ، وانما رخص عثمان في الجمعة لأهل العالية لأنهم ليسو من أهل المصر وهو قول ابي حنيفة رحمه الله

    We adhere to all of this (i.e. it is permissible to not pray Jumu’ah if one lives far from the city) . Uthman was making a concession to the dwellers of Aliyah for they were not residents of the city. That is the verdict of Abu Hanifah, may Allah have mercy on him.

    Imam Tahtawi adds that that is the position of the Hanafi maddhab as well in Hashiyah At Tahtawi Sharh Maraqi Al Falah.

    Wallahu A’lam

  14. Avatar

    Justin

    September 8, 2010 at 10:21 PM

    Thank you, Shaykh, for the clear explanation of this issue.

    It seems many issues in Islam come down to following multiple scholarly opinions because so many issues are gray, i.e. texts can be interpreted differently. That fundamental truth about Sharia and Fiqh cannot be reconciled with what many takfirist militant ideological preachers preach about a perfect black-and-white Sharia-law/ideology inherently opposed to “western” Secular-law/ideology. These are mental constructs; the reality is not so simple. Extremist Sharia rhetoric of the Anjem Choudary variety was born out of the efforts of some Muslims to resist Western imperialism, but one can be critical of Western ideology and law and resist imperialism without rejecting the “West” wholesale. Did not the Prophet, SAW, tell us that wisdom is the property of the believer, he should claim it wherever he finds it? Is there not wisdom in the Far East and the Far West?

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      September 8, 2010 at 10:56 PM

      Did not the Prophet, SAW, tell us that wisdom is the property of the believer, he should claim it wherever he finds it?

      Assalam Alaikum brother Justin

      This hadith about wisdom being the item of the believer, where ever he finds it he takes it, it is not an authentic hadith and it has a very weak chain of narration.

      • Avatar

        ilyas

        September 9, 2010 at 9:25 PM

        Salaam ‘alaikum,

        Are you sure? It’s attributed to Sayyidi Abu Hurayrah, radhiAllahu anhu in the Sunan of Imam al-Tirmidhi who graded it sahih.

        • Avatar

          Abd- Allah

          September 9, 2010 at 10:10 PM

          Salaam ‘alaikum,

          Are you sure? It’s attributed to Sayyidi Abu Hurayrah, radhiAllahu anhu in the Sunan of Imam al-Tirmidhi who graded it sahih.

          Wa Alaikum Assalam Warahmatullah

          Yes brother ilyas, i am sure. Abu Hurayrah radiallahu anhu narrated this hadith, and it is found in Sunan Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah among others, but it is not authentic and has a very weak chain of narration. Although Imam Tirmidhi rahimahullah included this hadith in his Sunan but he commented on it and said that there is a weak narrator in its chain. So i’m not sure who told you that Imam Tirmidhi rahimahullah has graded it as sahih, but you might want to let them know that he did not and he actually commented on its weakness.

          I don’t know of any scholar of hadith who has graded this hadith as authentic, however there are many scholars of hadith who have commented on its weakness and said that it is not authentic.

          I hope this answers your question bro.

          • Avatar

            Justin

            September 16, 2010 at 2:46 AM

            Don’t you think the point I was trying to make is valid?

            By the way, just because a hadith is weak does not mean the Prophet SAW did not say it. In fact, he might have said it so we should withhold judgment, although we can’t make a legal rule from it and it is not ranked as Sahih.

  15. Pingback: Retread | Yaser Birjas | Fiqh Ruling on Jumu’ah Salat if Eid falls on Friday (as it will for many) | MuslimMatters.org

  16. Avatar

    umm.esa

    September 9, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    JazakAllahu khyran for this well-written article.

    Shaykh Yaser, I was wondering about two issues, so if you could please explain them that would be highly appreciated:

    1- To my understanding, the first and second opinions seem to be the same, i.e. the default is one must pray salatul Jumu’ah. I tried doing some compendious research and noticed that even Hanafi madh-hab gives a concession to people in the outskirts and suburbs of not attending Jumu’ah. Please explain because I fail to understand the fundamental difference between the two opinions.

    2- I also noticed an usul-ul-fiqh issue that I wanted to clarify: For those who support the first/second opinions argue that Hadith is a very strong proof, but of a lower degree than the Holy Quran; therefore, it is not going to overtake the explicit command in the Qur’an regarding attending Salat-ul-Jumu’ah .
    I was taught that an authentic hadith has the same level as a proof, but obviously differs in holiness. Therefore, if you could explain this disparity in understanding the status of hadith vs Qur’an with regards to using , I’d be grateful.

    Wassalam

  17. Avatar

    Hasan

    September 10, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    No, an authentic (sahih) hadith is not at the same level as mutawatur. That’s why the ahadith of Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud cannot abrogate the command in the Qur’an. And that is the position of Abu Hanifah, Malik, and Shafi’i, and the majority of the fuqaha.

  18. Avatar

    masood

    July 16, 2015 at 1:51 AM

    was praying at home allowed or recommended at the time of Rasulullah salallah wa alaihi wasalam. how could a sahabi leave a jamaat prayer and pray at home??????????

    • Avatar

      Mohammed M.

      July 16, 2015 at 4:49 PM

      A very good point. When you look at all the narrations on the issue, you get a clear cut picture: Those who came from far and villages, they do not have to pray Jumuah because it would be cumbersome to go and come back.

      Also, according to some Madhabs, throughout the year, there is no Jumuah for people who live in small towns and villages. As for those who live in cities and they have a local Jumuah, they have to perform it.

      When isolated narrations are looked at, you get a distorted picture of the issue. ISIS is good at looking at isolated Quran verses and Hadith to come to rulings.

    • Avatar

      Abu hamza

      July 19, 2015 at 5:42 PM

      True. That’s why it makes more sense that he did not pray anything until Asr. Neither Jumuah nor Dhuhr. And Ibn Abbaas validated this by saying he followed the Sunnah. Allaahu Alam.

  19. Avatar

    ahmed

    July 16, 2015 at 5:20 AM

    jazak Allah khyr
    is it obligatory upon the Imams of all masjids to offer Juma even if they know no one will show up when given the option?

  20. Avatar

    asif

    July 16, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    Jazak Allahu khairan Shaykh Yasir for the info. Here is another piece which also presents the opinions on the issue:

    Is the Friday Prayer Obligatory After the `Id Prayer if `Id Should Fall on a Friday?
    -By Imam Ibn Rushd al-Hafid

    http://www.ilmgate.org/is-the-friday-prayer-obligatory-after-the-id-prayer-if-id-should-fall-on-a-friday/

  21. Avatar

    Mohammed M.

    July 16, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    According to the following, those who “follow the stronger opinion”, need to perform Jumuah. It is the best write up on the issue in English:

    https://ahadithnotes.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/the-ruling-of-the-jumuah-prayer-on-the-day-of-id-in-light-of-textual-evidence/

  22. Avatar

    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena

    July 16, 2015 at 7:22 PM

    EID MUBARAK.!
    May ALLAAH arRahman arRaheem Shower More Blessings upon You All. WasSalaam.
    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena.
    Sri Lanka.

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Identity Scholarship: Ideological Assabiya And Double Standards

The Prophet helped the Arabs overcome their asabiya (tribalism) and enter a new defining bond of Islam. The criterion for right and wrong was no longer clan membership, but rooted in the religion of Islam. Muslims were instructed to defend the truth, command good, and forbid evil regardless of tribal affiliation. Asabiya does not just relate to kin-based tribes.  One of the resurging traces of jahilya affecting our discourse is ideological tribalism. In ideological tribalism, we hold double standards between our tribe and other tribes, and overlook fallacies in our group that we would not for other groups. Just as we protect an idea that represents our identity, when a personality reflects our group identity, there is a personal reason to defend the personality. It then becomes instinctual then to double-down in discussions even when wrong to show group strength, which at this point is a survival mechanism and not a true dialectic. Abandoning a quest for truth and succumbing to an in-group vs. out-group dichotomy leaves us to defend falsehood and dislike truth. Refusing to accept truth is one way the Prophet described arrogance. 

Group belonging

One of the main drivers of identity scholarship is group belonging. When we focus on defending our group rather than principles which extend beyond group delineations we prove false our claims of wanting the truth.  The burden of moral responsibility is not offset by finding someone to follow [1]. Charismatic leaders have an ability to tap into latent desires of individuals and awaken in them the desire to be part of something greater than themselves. Their own identities are often validated by following the charismatic figure, and they then work hard to preserve the group as they would to preserve their own selves.

According to Ann Ruth Willner, charismatic authority “derives from the capacity of a particular person to arouse and maintain belief in himself or herself as the source of legitimacy. Willner says that the charismatic leadership relationship has four characteristics:

  1. The leader is perceived by the followers as somehow superhuman.
  2. The followers blindly believe the leader’s statements.
  3. The followers unconditionally comply with the leader’s directives for action.
  4. The followers give the leader unqualified emotional commitment.
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Charismatic leadership satisfies our desire to be part of something bigger, and paradoxically, to hand all power over to someone else can make us feel more powerful because we think that person is the best version of ourselves. We feel that we have gained ‘agency by proxy.’ We have also dumped all responsibility for decisions onto the leader- what Erich Fromm, the scholar of Nazism, called an ‘escape from freedom.’ When we are in a charismatic leadership relationship, our sense of self-worth gets (attaches) attached to the identity of the leader, so that we take personally any criticism of that leader, and have as much difficulty admitting flaws or errors on the leader’s parts as we do on our own. Because we see the leader as us, and we see us as good, we simply can’t believe that he or she might do bad things” (59) [2].

Charismatic leadership is emotional and works on desires. This type of leadership has no relation to truth. It exists and persists due to feelings, hence contradictions, double-standards, and outright hypocrisy aren’t issues for those in the relationship. Even when the leader confidently behaves irresponsibly, followers do not think less of him. What is inconsistent and irresponsible for an out-group observer is charming to members of the in-group. As Miller points out: 

Followers don’t expect charismatic leaders to be responsible for what they say, nor to behave responsibly; their irresponsible behavior is part of their power. Their use of hyperbole and tendency to be unfiltered in speech are taken to signify their passionate commitment to the in-group (60).

Such loyalty is not specific for charismatic leaders, The Minimal Group Paradigm shows that we have more empathy for our in-group even if that in-group is arbitrarily assigned, and we will act biased in their favor against an arbitrarily assigned out-group. This is a tendency against which we must actively fight to maintain clarity in thinking and fair standards in discussions. When group loyalty is prized there is a fear of opposing the group, which obliterates any chance of scholarly discourse. Questioning a position becomes akin to questioning authority and leaves the questioner ostracized and out-casted. When the out-group is pejoratively labeled, there is an additional fear of thinking like or ending up in that group. 

Identity scholarship

Rather than looking at the argument constructed and judging whether or not it is sound, identity scholarship approves or dismisses arguments based on the person making them. Arguments are then validated by personalities and not standards of scholarship.  This is a dangerous shift from reasoning and evidence to personalities. 

Identity scholarship leverages the need to belong and centers the personality over the argument. However, focusing on the strength of arguments and not the personality is especially important given that the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is applied to vocationally trained Muslims, seminal graduates, preachers, or to those who display a scholarly caliber in Islam alike. This is a sufficient crisis. The term is heavily equivocated, and should never serve to stand in place of standards of scholarship in discourse. 

Ambiguity in the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is exploited by groups to strengthen their influence. Not always pernicious, this is the natural progression of proselytizing via group identity. An in-group who will dismiss dissenting voices for not having studied long enough, not obtaining ijazas, will promote voices of similar or less educated Muslims when those voices are in their ‘in-group.’ Titles like ‘ustadh’ and ‘ustadha’ are quickly conferred upon those who are volunteers or proponents of the ‘in-group’ even with minimal study. Advocating for the correct paradigm is rewarded more than a knowledge based approach to issues. Giving titles to those with social capital in your in-group is also an effective way for brand expansion. For example, loosely affiliated students with avenues into the growing Muslim mental health field are often referred to as ‘ustadha.’  Also, traditionalists will often promote in-group religious figures engaging in no-risk activism like condemning already popularly condemned figures as exemplary ‘scholars and activists’ who should be followed by other activists.  

If a person has been doing this long enough they become ‘shaykh,’ and then eventually a ‘senior scholar’ with assumed wisdom and spiritual insight, worthy of deference. I am well acquainted with the unfortunate irony in traditional circles where those who push a manhaj of studying at the feet of scholars have by and large not done so beyond attending general lectures by visiting scholars.  Many do not even know Arabic, but their zeal and tenure of feel good lectures in a community primarily interested in nasheeds and tea coupled with their promoting the right figures secure for them a scholarly status by generations who venerate the theory of studying at the feet of scholars. 

Thus authority and titles are conferred by virtue of in-group allegiance. 

Slip into demagoguery

When we accept an in-group and out-group dichotomy and don’t argue fairly, we lay the foundation for demagogic discourse. As Patricia Mill-Roberts writes “If people decide to see things as a zero-sum game- the more they succeed, the more we lose, and we should rage about any call made against us, and cheer any call made against them- then democracy loses” (13). The best way to avoid this is by maintaining fair discussions and letting go of double standards. Arguments appealing to in-group or out-group positions rather than being based in fact should not be accepted regardless of which group they are coming from. Several tactics used in these types of arguments are described below. 

Creating a strawman

Falsely representing the out-group is a common tactic in demagogic discourse. One example is portraying out-group critics as only critics. The critic is frozen in time as someone who has accomplished nothing, helped no one, and as only one who sees the faults in others. The in-group then goes on to list what they have accomplished -‘albeit with some faults’- to not seem as braggarts, but insists that those faults are magnified by the arm-chair critics. 

Another example is labeling Muslims more concerned with academic preservation and development as Muslims in ivory towers. This suggests knowledge is only relevant if immediately actionable and discounts the role of theoretical knowledge in both present and future action as well as an intrinsic end.  

Even when it comes to the epitome of practical action, Allah tells the Muslims to not all go out in battle, but to have groups remain behind to study.

Condescending discrediting

One way demagoguery characterizes the out-group is by a “dithering, wavering, impaired masculinity, and weakness…”(66).  Just as Rudy Giuliani dismissed those protesting Trump’s 2016 win as “professional protestors” with nothing else to do in life, so do we dismiss dissenting voices. 

Terms like ‘keyboard warrior’ should be dropped from the vernacular of anyone who uses the internet for Islamic education. If the internet is good enough for theatrical Ramadan reminders and choreographed Islamic reflections, it should also be good enough for dissent and valid critiques.[3] We have to embrace the fact that the internet is not a pretend medium; social media posts are used in newsfeeds, are reacted to on the mimbar, and even prompt live events. If we dismiss valid criticisms made online as the act of ‘keyboard warriors’ we should also call those giving dawah online ‘studio daa’is.’  

Discrediting due to inexperience

Experience is an important element in answering questions and dealing with different scenarios, and, should rightly be considered when one is looking for a teacher, etc. However, frequently, the standards for what constitutes experience are used inconsistently. The same individuals who refer to young teachers as ‘shaykh’ or ‘mufti’ while in their in-group, dismiss ‘shaykhs’ and ‘muftis’ in the out-group of similar age and experience, arguing that a person can’t be a ‘real’ mufti because studying 7 years doesn’t make anyone a scholar. Graduating from a seminary or Islamic university will be the standard for members of an in-group to be called scholars, but the out-group will be ‘immature graduates’ who have not learned wisdom.  Wisdom itself will be defined as the avoidance of actions which challenge the in-group. Likewise an activist saying the right thing and echoing in-group talking points will be called ‘ustadh,’ but if from the ‘out-group’ dismissed as a Godless- activist’ that just hates hierarchy. 

Victimization and Victimology

Demagoguery thrives on the in-group being victimized by the out-group. It is common for religious figures to dismiss valid criticism as nothing but hate, envy, or ignorance [4]. When criticized by activists, it is common to label them as ‘anti-clerical’ activists who only have an issue with Islamic leaders because they are neo-Marxists. 

‘Neo-Marxist’ is used as a catch-all term to discredit those who disagree with the positions of some religious leaders to insinuate the disagreements are rooted in hate for hierarchy or authority thus being illegitimate. Even conservative and practicing Muslims are labeled as ‘leftists’ and ‘Godless activists’ for simple critiques. In Sufi groups, disagreeing with leadership is often said to be the result of being spiritually veiled, or the work of ‘dark forces’ and ‘shayateen’ dividing us. If we can agree that black-magic and evil-eye are real but should not be the first culprit in a failing marriage, let’s also look for practical failures when religious organizations break down before we start blaming the ‘shayateen.’  

On one hand the in-group claims they are victims, on the other they blame the out-group for having a victim mentality.  This may seem like an obvious contradiction, but as Miller explains,  

If condemnation of out-group behavior is performed by a very likeable persona, then onlookers are likely to conclude that the rhetor would never engage in the behavior she or he is condemning. This maneuver is especially effective with people who believe that you can know what someone believes by listening to what values he or she claims to espouse, and with people who think you can predict behavior by listening to values talk (who believe that ‘good people- that is, people who say the right things- don’t do ‘bad’ things) (56) 

Another tactic is using terms like ‘victomology’ to belittle legitimate grievances of being wronged and falsely representing those grievances as an attitude of being a victim in life.

Being oppressed (mazlum) does not require living a tough life, being a victim in life, or being part of an oppressed group. We are told by the Prophet that delaying a payment owed while being capable of paying is oppression (Muslim). When our God given rights are transgressed upon, we are mazlum in that situation. It is not uncommon however to see Muslims want to claim their rights and express they have been wronged to be dismissed as those who love to be victims. Ironically, this is even done by organizations that describe themselves with the leftist concept of ‘safe spaces.’  

Disregarding Nuance

“Demagoguery is comfortable because it says the world is very simple, and made up of good people (us) and bad people (them)” (24). 

We must understand that if someone does not see an issue as black or white, it’s not because they are obviously corrupt, willfully ignorant, or stupid.  The word nuance itself triggers cynicism and is treated as an excuse to employ mental gymnastics to deny what is ‘obvious.’  The fact of the matter is when it comes to khilafi issues there is generally a vast scope of acceptable actions, and when it comes personal ijtihaadi matters for policy there is often no clear-cut best answer. Thus in such matters the objective is to come to a best resolution or course of action. In short, we should all take appropriate measures in our decisions to ensure the benefit outweighs the harm. Certain positions are cautioned against due to the likelihood of harm to one’s religion, but that likelihood may not serve as evidence that one has harmed his religion. As the great scholar Muhammad Awama relates in Ma’laam Irshadiya, the way of the scholars is to leave people in what they are following as long as it is correct and has a valid legal perspective [5]

Scholarly discourse

Advice from recognized experts in a field carries weight, but it should not be conflated with a scholarly argument. A common mistake is to confer authority upon an opinion outside the area of one’s authority. Scholarly works must prove themselves to be scholarly as stand-alone works. Even if a great scholar has published many scholarly works, his advice should be taken as advice. For example, Imam al-Ghazali was a great scholar, but Dear Beloved Son is not a scholarly work.  We have a malfoozaat (wisdom-sharing) tradition that is precious, but we must know where to place it in the hierarchy of Islamic knowledge. 

Islamic scholarly discourse should be evidence based, demonstrative of legal proficiency, and cater to Islamic concerns. Those engaging should share the evidence for what they say, the sources of the rulings they share, the difference between the reason for a ruling and the wisdom of a ruling [6], understand contextual fatwas,[7] and understand which rulings are based on urf and which rulings are intrinsic obligations or prohibitions. These are just some elements of Islamic scholarly discourse, and it cannot exist alongside identity scholarship. 

There should be private forums with prerequisites where scholarly discourse can take place. When these discussions move outside of their proper place other issues such as discussing weak or aberrant (shadh) fiqh opinions arise, which to an undiscriminating audience all will seem co-valid on the spectrum of differing opinions in sharia. Promoting aberrant positions caters to our cultural preferences of thinking outside the box and carries the façade of an intellectual approach to Islam. In Maharam al-Lisaan (Prohibitions of the Tongue) Muhammad Mawlud lists both mentioning the conflict between the Sahabah, and mentioning aberrant opinions as prohibitions.  This is not due to the utterance being sinful, but rather to the misconceptions it can lead to for the average Muslim if not properly addressed.  

There may be a need to dismiss open innovators and those spreading misguidance, because there is no end to the possibilities of innovation and it obfuscates what should be self-evident, and can be very difficult for even scholars to refute in ways that resonate with those affected by innovation. The double standard as previously mentioned is when lack of formal credentials is only a problem for out-groups. 

How to have productive discourse

Islamic historical discourse has its share of polemics. There are commentaries, fatwas and treatises which insult valid ijtihad and even refer to the entirety of a madhab with epithets. Some scholars were harsh and had a penchant for polemics. Transgressions into mockery and slander were not condoned, and belligerent attitudes were something scholars sought to check with reminders of adab al-ikhtilaf (the etiquettes of disagreement). While the previously mentioned certainly existed and such an approach may serve to strengthen positions of the in-group to the in-group, it does not make for productive dialogue with the out-group.

Outside of scholarly discourse, when we debate policy and Islamic positions, we need to have sincere, fact based arguments with the goal of arriving at truth. Our ability to accept truth no matter who says it shows we have transcended in-group vs. out-group tribalism and have entered the realm of sincere discourse.  Overcoming in-group tribalism and following the truth, rather than blindly following our ‘fathers’ is a central message in the Quran. 

And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?  2:170 

Arguments on points should never be personal. We should train ourselves to evaluate arguments and understand that people we like can make mistakes, and people we dislike and generally disagree with may be right on certain matters. 

Don’t take cheap shots if you disagree with someone, such as pointing out a typo to insinuate incompetence. 

It’s important to leave double-standards, and to point them out when someone is employing them.  When one side is unfair or uses double standards, it encourages the opposition to act in kind, and the discussion devolves into a fight. When disagreeing with someone, never insult that person.  When a personality is attacked, the response will be defending the personality, and the entire discussion is derailed. 

Sharing a post, or article should not be seen as endorsing an individual or a post. Sometimes it’s a means of opening a discussion, other times to share beneficial points even if the entirety of what is shared is not beneficial. Furthermore, endorsing an individual in one area is not a blanket endorsement, and should never be taken as such.  The Hanafi tradition was able to benefit from legal fatwas while not accepting theology of Mu’tazilite scholars. Likewise, many of our best tafseers are from Mu’tazilite scholars. The widely studied and highly regarded Tafseer al-Baydawi is basically a reworked Mu’tazilite tafseer without the Mu’tazilite aqidah. Scholars have been able to ‘take the good and leave the harm.’ 

“I don’t think you could search America, sir, and find two men who agree on everything.” – Malcolm X

We need to uplift our intellectual level and drop disclaimers like “I don’t agree with everything in this article” or “I don’t agree with everything he said.”  It is only worth stating when you do agree with everything someone says or does.  The common disclaimers should be taken as givens and we shouldn’t capitulate to a cultural push of walking on egg-shells so no one accuses us of supporting the wrong person or idea. 

It is critical we operate under the assumption that sharing a panel with or working with an individual is not an endorsement of that individual. Likewise, working with an organization is not an endorsement of that organization. Such associations are attacked as potentially confusing to the average Muslim, but we must work towards establishing that such actions are not support. 

Here we see an ambivalent conceptualization of the ‘average Muslim’ as someone who both deserves transparency from religious scholars for their actions as well as one who is easily confused or misled by the actions of Muslim scholars. If we can accept both propositions, that a scholar’s actions are not proof, and that working with someone and sharing posts and platforms do not equate support for every particular view or stance of a person, we may set the foundation for being issue focused rather than personality focused. 

In conclusion, it is important we all hold ourselves to high standards of discourse and not support behavior or fallacies from our in-group that we would deride from an out-group. The groups themselves are inevitable and not a problem, but we have to work to overcome the natural ideological tribalism that accompanies group membership.  If we personally transcend in-group bias and reflect it in our discourse, we can overcome the pettiness and hypocrisy that stifles productive discussions. 

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 16: The Best of You

Now that we have learnt about fruit out of season, let’s now talk about the best of you.

I want you all to think about your closest friends and how you treat them. 

Question: Would anyone like to share how they try to treat their closest friends?

That’s wonderful! You try to be thoughtful and considerate of their feelings. You bring snacks to share with them, you may buy or make them a gift.

Question: Now, I want you to close your eyes and think of the way you treat your family members. Is it the same?

Question: Why do you think that there is a difference between the way we treat our friends and the way we may treat our siblings or parents?

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Yes, we do spend a lot of time together. We see each other when we’re cranky or frustrated. Sometimes we want our own space to think, or we don’t want someone interfering with our things. Those are all valid reasons. But, do you know that it is more beloved to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that you treat your family members better than you even treat your friends?

It’s true! In a hadith, Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: 

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِهِ وَأَنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِي وَإِذَا مَاتَ صَاحِبُكُمْ فَدَعُوهُ

“The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.” 

Question: What are some ways we can be the best to our family members? I’m going to share with you a hadith that may help you get some ideas: 

وعن أبى أمامه الباهلى رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ “أنا زعيم ببيت في ربض الجنة لمن ترك المراء، وإن كان محقاً، وببيت في وسط الجنة لمن ترك الكذب، وإن كان مازحاً، وببيت في أعلى الجنة لمن حسن خلقه” ‏(‏حديث صحيح رواه أبو داود بإسناد صحيح‏).‏

“I guarantee a house in Jannah (Paradise) for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.”

If we work on these three things: less arguing, no lying, and good manners, alongside all of your other suggestions, we will be rewarded with Jannah, inshaAllah

Question: Do you think we can all work hard to be the best to our family members?

 

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Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas | Book Review

In the second decade of the 21st century in America, Muslims consider themselves “as American as apple pie,” don American-flag hijabs, and consider their presence and participation in American politics as a crowning achievement. There is little to no resemblance between the majority of the American Muslim population today, and the very first Muslims who landed in America – not as privileged individuals, but as enslaved people at the hands of vicious white colonizers who had already decimated the Indigenous population and who had no qualms about destroying the lives of their slaves. Dr Sylviane A. Diouf’s book “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas” tracks the journeys and experiences of African Muslims who found themselves shipped aboard slave-trafficking vessels and taken to the other side of their known world. From their induction into the Transatlantic slave trade, to their determination to uphold the five pillars of Islam – regardless of their circumstances – to the structure of the enslaved Muslim community, their prized (and dangerous) literacy, and their never-ending resistance against slavery, Diouf illustrates in incredible detail the powerful and painful experiences of enslaved African Muslims, and the legacy that they left behind in the Americas.

This review of “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas” will focus on the unique qualities and formidable faith of the very first Muslims in the Americas, and the legacy that they left for Muslims in the Americas today.

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In Chapter One, Diouf begins by answering the very first question that arises when considering the path of enslaved African Muslims: how did they end up enslaved in the first place? Slavery already existed as an institution in Africa, though vastly different from the horrifying standards of the European slavers. Between the existing slave trade, military conflicts that created prisoners-of-wars who were then sold as slaves, and the European propensity for kidnapping innocent people, many Muslims found themselves swept into the Transatlantic slave trade. These same Muslims were the ones who provided us with much of the knowledge that we have today regarding the American slave experience. Most African Muslims were literate, due to the religious and cultural importance of education; of those enslaved, many were religious scholars or students of knowledge. They described how they were captured, the torturous journey of the slave caravans across the continent, and the even more horrific experience of the slave ships themselves. These men also documented their lives as slaves, and indirectly, provided deep insight into their own inner nature. 

Despite the intense pressure and demands on African enslaved people to renounce their ‘heathen faith’ and be inducted as Christians, African Muslims demonstrated a commitment to Islam that should cause modern Muslims today to feel deeply ashamed in comparison. The very first words that Job ben Solomon (Ayuba Suleyman Diallo) uttered, after running away and then being discovered in Pennsylvania, were the shahaadah; Omar ibn Sa’id wrote numerous Arabic manuscripts, in which the shahaadah was always found (Diouf, 2013, p. 72-73). When Catholic priests tried hard to educate slaves about Christianity as part of the conversion process, the African Muslims were both resistant and unimpressed; they were already familiar with many Biblical stories, thanks to their Qur’anic education. Of those who seemed to have accepted Christianity, many did so only outwardly, while confirming their belief in Allah and His Messenger in every aspect of their lives. Indeed, in Brazil and other areas where there were large concentrations of Muslim slaves, the Muslims established underground madaaris to maintain and pass on their Islamic knowledge and education. Muhammad Kaba Saghanughu was a man whom the missionaries had thought was successfully converted when he provided all the right answers to their pre-baptismal questions – eleven years later, in a Baptist Missionary Society notebook, he wrote a 50-page fiqh manual in Arabic that encompassed the rulings of salaah, marriage, and other topics. 

Slavery did not stop the African Muslims from maintaining their salaah in whatever manner they could manage, considering their circumstances. Some did so in secret, while others insisted on upholding their salaah in public, to the extent that these incidents were recorded by the descendants of slaves and slaveholders alike. In Brazil, the African Muslim community – both enslaved and freed – held together so strongly that they were able to secretly establish Salatul Jumu’ah and attend gatherings of dhikr, even in the face of intense scrutiny (Diouf, 2013, p. 88-89). 

Perhaps one of the most greatly moving examples of enslaved African Muslims’ dedication to their Islam was that even in the midst of the utter poverty of slavery, they found a way to uphold zakaah, sawm, and Hajj. In Brazil, it was recorded that the Muslims would end Ramadan with the exchanging of gifts, no matter how simple they were; in truth, these gifts were zakaatul fitr and zakaatul maal.

In other areas, the descendants of Muslim slaves recalled that their parents and grandparents would make rice cakes called saraka at least once a year – saraka was a corruption of the Arabic word sadaqah, and the rice cakes were a Jumu’ah tradition in West Africa. (Diouf, 2013, p. 92-94) In Ramadan, many Muslims sought to fast; indeed, despite the incredible hardship and lack of nutritious food that the slaves already endured, there were those who fasted voluntarily outside of Ramadan as well, often by pretending to be ill. They knew that their situation meant that fasting – in Ramadan and outside of it – was not obligatory on them, and yet, to them, no circumstance was bad enough to warrant not even attempting to observe Ramadan. Hajj was another pillar of Islam that was both impossible and no longer obligatory on the enslaved Muslims; yet in Brazil, in a house that was used as a masjid, there were illustrated depictions of the Ka’bah – demonstrating the emotional bond that the African Muslims had with the Sacred House. 

Throughout Diouf’s book, the overwhelming theme that arises is the fierce commitment that enslaved African Muslims had to Islam. It was not superficial, shallow, or easily shrugged away in the face of difficulty. Instead, the African Muslims held onto their belief in Allah and their daily, lived practise of Islam, even when they had every excuse to relax their obligations. They upheld their Islamic and cultural dress code, not just at its minimum standard of modesty, but in a way that clearly demonstrated their religious identity (Diouf, 2013, p. 101-110). They found ways to make prayer mats and dhikr beads; they gave their children Muslim names in secret, when they were expected to present themselves as Christians; they even strove to observe whatever they could of the Islamic dietary code, by refusing to drink alcohol or eat pork – Ayuba Diallo went so far as to only eat dhabiha meat that he himself slaughtered (Diouf, 2013, p. 119-122). The enslaved African Muslims valued their Islamic identity above all. Even in slavery, they knew that their ‘izzah came from their Deen – and so did those around them, who noted their unique bearing in the face of the horrors of slavery. 

The story of the African Muslims who were enslaved and brought to the Americas is not merely a history lesson, or a token homage in honour of Black History Month. It is a story that echoes the persecution of the earliest Muslims in Makkah, and applicable to Muslims today. Muslim minorities in the West are often all too eager to complain of our difficulties and to seek religious exemptions for our minor inconveniences. Yet who are we in comparison to the earliest African-American Muslims, who endurable the unspeakable? Who are we, with our privileges, with our very freedom, in comparison to those Muslims who were stripped of everything and everyone they knew and loved, and who still held ever tighter to the Rope of Allah? One may say that it is unfair to compare us and them; that to recognize their struggles should not mean invalidating the challenges we face today. Certainly, we face numerous different fitan that are very different from what they experienced, but the truth is that we should compare our attitudes with those of our predecessors. We should be ashamed of our own weaknesses in times of privilege compared to their strength in times of oppression. More importantly, we must learn from them what it means to have such a relationship with our Creator and our Deen that we are capable of surviving and thriving in even the worst of circumstances. 

May Allah have mercy on the enslaved African Muslims who endured one of this Ummah’s historic tragedies, and may He make us of those who demonstrate their strength of love for Him through every tragedy of our own.

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