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Line in the Sand | Introduction

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Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

In this series of articles, Br. Yayha Whitmer and I will shed some light on the sad phenomenon of Muslims invoking other than Allah for their needs. Making du’aa to other than Allah is a matter that so clearly violates the message of the Quran, and even the testimony of faith, that its mere existence amongst those who subscribe to Islam, and its justification by people of knowledge, continues to boggle the minds of those Muslims who remain upon the fitrah. 

While many of the other theological innovations of non-Orthodox Islamic groups are truly not as relevant to our modern society, and can for the most part be ignored in public discourse, it is this ‘line in the sand’ that we strongly believe cannot be crossed.  Anyone who propagates the permissibility of making du’aa to other than Allah has violated the most basic message of Islam, and fallen into the essence of shirk that our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) came to eradicate. It does not matter what pseudo-Islamic arguments, or perverted understandings of the Scriptures,  are employed in attempting to justify this travesty against Allah. The fact remains that turning to other than Allah with the goal of using these beings as intermediaries to get to Allah is the very religion of the pagan Jahili Quraysh that the Quran was revealed to eradicate.

This article serves as the Introduction to a series of other articles. Most will be written by our dear brother, Ustadh Yahya Whitmer (who studied a few years with our teacher Sh. Muhammad b. Salih Ibn Uthaymin, and whom I befriended while studying with the Shaykh as well). A few will be written by myself. Ustadh Yahya has asked that I read over and comment on the series, and graciously insisted that I be listed as co-author, even though (unless otherwise noted) he is the primary author of these articles.

May Allah cause these series to have a positive effect on the Ummah!
–  Yasir Qadhi 

by Yahya Whitmer

I­­­­ remember the moment very clearly. It occurred 15 years ago and though a whirlwind of events have happened in my life since then, the resonance of this memory has not faded. It was the first time that I felt the fear of God. Not the fear of an unidentified spiritual being, but a very defined and focused fear of my Creator, who existed above and beyond me. This was especially remarkable because at the time I was an avowed and belligerent atheist, who relished debate and criticizing various religions. I was 18. I had been born into a non-practicing Christian family and by the age of 16 I had become convinced that Christianity and all its variations were nothing more than a mix of plagiarized mythologies, oppressive social control, and perhaps a bit of historic truth involving a seemingly noble person. By extension and analogy, I assumed all other religions to be the same, Islam included. I attended an international school in my youth and many of its students were from the Middle East, so I had seen enough examples of Muslim debauchery and hypocrisy to know that they were no different from anyone else. So it was with great consternation, during my first year of college, that I received the news that a young man in my dorm had converted to Islam. I had thought that he was like me: worldly, liberal, educated, and rational (yes, at 18 I thought I was pretty hot stuff). He had come from an elite prep school, he was popular, charismatic. So, what the heck was he doing?! The notion that a person from such a background could readily, of his own free will, adopt such an odd and particularly oppressive religion (so I thought) truly bewildered me.

So it began: debate, questioning, and research. Islam, aside from a nod from Malcolm X, seemed to have little validity or modern resonance. But then this person gave me a copy of the Qur’an and upon reading it my world view began to tilt and pivot; my awareness went in directions I was completely unprepared for. I remember one particular session of reading the Qur’an; the verses had thundered at me, declaring that I must submit to the One True God. Over and over, the Qur’anic message challenged me, demanding that I think, that I search, that I recognize that there is a Creator who deserved my allegiance, that living my life without concern for His wishes was not only inherently wrong and ungrateful, but would result in severe consequences. Never had I heard a call so pure. Although the Qur’anic message was expressed in a variety of ways throughout its thousands of verses, the essence of its call was clear, even to my arrogant 18 year old mind: there was a Creator, whose influence and control permeated every nook and cranny of the world, and I was meant to know Him in a more intimate and direct manner than anything I had ever conceived: He knew my heart, He saw my actions, and no one and no thing stood between us. There was no place to hide. The only option was submission, change, saying that I was sorry, and working to better myself. This was the spiritual mandate, the personal covenant that I understood from the Qur’an, and it rocked my world.

Until Islam, the concepts of God that I had encountered were comical, pitiful, fractured. He had created Adam and Eve and then lost sight of them in Eden. He had been a partisan deity, almost like a servant to the people that believed in Him. Or He looked like a giant old man with a long beard. Or He was irrelevant and salvation lied in extinguishing and controlling the self. Or he was splintered into multiple incarnations, 3 or hundreds. Or my relationship with Him occurred through a multitude of human proxies. Or my salvation could be purchased through the church. Or someone else had taken responsibility for my sins. But the Islamic concept of God was different. The Qur’an informed me that God was absolute, undeniable, irresistible. Nothing happened except by His will. He was above and beyond and yet He was close and aware. Nothing was like Him, yet He was described in terms that I could comprehend. He was Merciful and Just and demanded that we live with each other in mercy and justice as well. And finally, this Ultimate Being wanted to deal with me personally. Through submission, recognition, reflection, and prayer I could be in His presence and required no intermediary. I was promised that through embracing this relationship I would know true peace, but it was still my responsibility and my choice to make.

Something long dead inside me stirred. Though I obstinately clung to my atheism, a cognitive awakening had occurred and a question began to creep its way up to the forefront of my consciousness. It was the most basic of questions, but it had been submerged in years of self-indulgence and petty distraction. Finally, one day, as I was heading back to my dormitory, I looked up into the sky and asked myself, sincerely and for the first time, “Was God really there?” And in that moment I knew fear. I knew fear because the simple answer was, “Of course.” My own soul had answered me, my fiṭrah, my innate human nature. The sublime beauty and unified order of the natural world had answered me. The absolute uniqueness and power of the Qur’anic verses had answered me. God was there. I had lived 18 years completely ignoring Him and had planned to live the rest of my life in a similar fashion, but that wouldn’t work anymore. This God, the God that the Qur’an described to me, could not be ignored. And He did not deserve to be either.

I became a Muslim approximately 6 months after that incident. There are many things about those sequences of events that I need to be thankful for, but my main purpose in narrating this story is to say that the essence of Islam has always been clear, pure, and simple: A one on one relationship with the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He alone will take us to account and it is our hearts and our deeds that He will judge and only His Mercy that will save us. It is to this message that my soul responded and continues to respond. My studies at an Islamic University in Saudi Arabia, my time spent with Shaykh Muhammad ibn Salih Al-Uthaymeen, my readings of the works and collected statements of the earliest and best generations of Islam, all testify, agree, support, and expound on this concept. This is Islam.

Until I learned that it wasn’t, at least for a significant segment of the Muslim community.

I generally do not bother myself with what other Muslims are supposedly doing wrong, unless it is directly affecting me and my family. My own flaws tend to cause me more problems than the mistakes of others. However, due to several recent personal events, I felt a responsibility to investigate a particular brand of Sufism … but let me be clear: I abhor blind sectarianism. It is a waste of time in the best of cases and an impediment towards embracing the truth in the worst of cases. But because people I knew and cared for seemed to be heavily influenced by this ideology I felt compelled to investigate it. On one of their primary websites I found what I feared to find: to call upon other than Allah was not a problem, the website said. It was not only your actions that drew you close to Allah, but people as well; through invoking them, you could gain favor with God and your prayers might be answered. It was not singularity (tawḥīd) of worship that Allah required from us, only singularity in recognizing Allah as the Creator.

I was unnerved. Did people really see Islam this way? Did they not realize that through these amendments, these exceptions, the purity of the relationship between Creator and creation was compromised? Is not duʿāʾ the essence of worship, as the Prophet taught us? Was worship not for Allah alone? Were my hopes, my prayers, my salvation subject to the influence of other than God? Then to how many beings may my heart be attached? To how many other beings may a Muslim’s heart turn to in times of need?!

As naïve as it may seem to some readers, discovering these fatāwa, reading their justifications, and considering the spiritual implications truly disturbed me. I was familiar that concepts such as these existed in some Sufi traditions, but here it was at my doorstep, affecting people I knew and in many ways admired. Yet the difference between day and night paled in comparison to how different our views of Islam were.

This discussion about the true spirit of Islam is not irrelevant or superficial. I truly understand that we have many pressing social issues that need to be addressed. Education, spousal relations, parenting, personal and community finances, all of these are immensely important. But this issue is one that defines Islam, it is at the heart of what it means to be a servant of God. This is what opens or closes the gates of Heaven and Hell. It is the first building block of a personal relationship with the Creator; the first step towards true love and loyalty, or the first step towards infidelity and ingratitude. Even at the community level, this is relevant because unity is only achieved through a common sense of purpose. The Muslim ummah is not different from other communities because of its Arab origins or its specific rituals. It is different and defined by the message, “Lā ilāha illa Allāh” and discussion about what that really means will never be inconsequential.

Unlike previous explorations of similar topics, I intend to not just discuss whose evidence is stronger and more convincing, but also the spiritual implications of the two opposing viewpoints. The decisions you make about how you interact with your Creator are not detached intellectual choices, rather they have a direct and immediate impact upon your soul. What happens to your personal sense of responsibility, your spiritual work ethic, if you believe in direct intercession? What does it mean to believe that your actions are your only means (waṣīlah) to God’s Mercy? Are the pious a model to be imitated or something else? What of praise, what of love and attachment? Questions like these define the servant’s path to his Creator.

My ultimate goal in writing this series is not condemnation, but dialogue. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen had a very specific method for dealing with differences within the Islamic ummah. He insisted that only the opinion and its evidences be discussed without mentioning the name of the person whom he disagreed with. By doing this, he was able to maintain focus on analyzing the strength of each argument and minimize individual reasoning from being clouded due to personal attachments. Following in the footsteps of my mentor, I will only be discussing the opinions, through direct quotation and minimal paraphrasing, and I will not mention names. I will also not pass judgment, implied or otherwise, on any person, no matter how vehemently I disagree with them. As a student of knowledge, I am equipped to discuss concepts, but judging individuals and their creed is far beyond my capabilities or responsibility.

Compassion, wisdom, and patience were the hallmarks of the Prophet’s call and so should they be with us. The people of the Qiblah have done enough to deserve such courtesy. My only request of any person who reads this series and disagrees with me is that s/he make the arguments and implications of each opinion the primary criteria, not the people who hold the opinions. Allah sent us this Book, this Messenger, and this Message, in Truth and it is to the Truth that we are ultimately obligated.

In this series, Shaykh Yasir Qadhi and I will discuss 4 main domains, where the evidences, conclusions, and implications of the 2 opposing viewpoints will be contrasted:

1. The Jamāʿah. What is this “main body” of Muslims that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has instructed us to adhere to?

2. Tawaṣṣul and Waṣīlah. What are the “means of approach”, the ways in which we may seek closeness to our Creator?

3. Tawḥīd. What does this word really mean and which interpretation of it is represented by “Lā ilāha illa Allāh”?

4. What now? Equipped with the information presented, what should a Muslim do? What attitude should he/she take with people that disagree? What other insights are needed to keep this message relevant and compelling? And how should it affect his/her relationship with Allah?

My secondary goal is to inspire a deeper appreciation of the tenets of Islam that I believe in. There is an old Arabic saying, bi-ḍiddi yatabayyanu al-ashyāʾ (by opposites things become clear); in comparing the differing opinions, I have grown in gratitude and love for the concepts that provide the foundation for my faith; I have a greater realization of how deep their roots grow and of how firm they stand in the face of challenges and opposition… much like a blessed tree. I hope that the reader may find similar or greater inspiration.

I pray that Allah pours His Mercy upon all my teachers, both living and dead, and I pray that you find true benefit in what I have written. And Allah knows best.

Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Javad Ayaz

    March 9, 2012 at 3:18 AM

    As a sufi….i will be watching this with interest :)

    • Avatar

      Yahya Whitmer

      March 9, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      Glad to have you in the discussion.

  2. Avatar

    Javad Ayaz

    March 9, 2012 at 3:32 AM

    Have you actually attended a gathering of sufis? It may change your perspective, although I do agree that some people may go over the top and commit shirk.

    Becoming a Sufi has changed my life. The Shaykh commands that you recite 150000 “La ila illala” a day as a bare minimum a day.  This along with the mandatory regular daily prayers.

    Indeed Islam for a substantial time during the time of the Prophet SAW was dhikr of the Almighty.

    • Avatar

      Yahya Whitmer

      March 9, 2012 at 9:33 AM

      Yes, I have attended Sufi gatherings and personally know some of the big names in the Western Sufi scene. As I mentioned in the article, there are many things that I respect and admire about these various brothers, but this particular issue is something that I cannot ignore. I never would have become a Muslim if not for the purity of worship to the Creator alone. A central theme in this series is to explore what “La Ilaha Ill Allah” really means. I’m sure you can appreciate that it is just as important for its meaning to be clear in the heart and then implemented through daily life, as it is to say the blessed Kalimah.

      • Avatar

        Javad Ayaz

        March 9, 2012 at 9:45 AM

        Indeed it is their lack of knowledge that leads people to such practices but I also believe Islam is as much spiritual as it is ritualistic. 
        La Ilaha Ill Allah and Huwa Hu ( He who is) are the essence of all life.

        I am familiar with both eastern and western Sufi gatherings and it is indeed us Easterners who kind of go overboard with this. In my experience, reverts are much more rational thinking when it comes to Sufi practices.

        Many Sufi’s ( African for example) incorporate the singing and dancing which is perhaps debateable.

        May I ask which of the Sufi’s gathering you attended?

        • Avatar

          Yahya Whitmer

          March 9, 2012 at 10:00 AM

          I think it’s best not to mention names or even the specific tareeqa. And to tell you the truth, the practices of the various gatherings is not even my concern at the moment, but rather whether or not they consider dua to anyone other than the Creator to be shirk.

          • Avatar

            Javad Ayaz

            March 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM

            I can only speak for my own tariqa and can confirm I have never heard of the instances you have mentioned…Alhamdullilah

          • Avatar

            Yahya Whitmer

            March 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM

            Alhamdulillah, yes thankfully many Sufis reject these types of practices.

    • Avatar

      Yahya Whitmer

      March 9, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      Yes I have been to Sufi gatherings and personally know some of the big names in the Western Sufi scene. As I mentioned, there are many things that I respect and admire about these brothers, but this issue is something that cannot be sidelined. I never would have become a Muslim were it not for the purity of worship to Allah alone. One of the main themes of this series is to explore what “La Ilaha Ill Allah” means. I’m sure you can appreciate that it is just as important to have the Kalimah’s meaning clear in the heart and implemented in everyday life, as it is to say it on a regular basis.

  3. Avatar

    siraaj

    March 9, 2012 at 4:07 AM

    Salaam alaykum Sh Yahya,

    Jzk for this introduction, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series.  I personally cannot see the logic in calling out to other than Allah for help.  However, I do realize that humankind has a general problem of emotionally affiliating itself with groups, organizations, individuals, leaders, political parties, and so on in varying degrees and within the muslim religious community, it sometimes manifests itself in madhab followers in one madhab denouncing others (eg hanafis vs shafi’ees) or making up stories about the piety of the individual followed.

    on the more extreme side, I do see how this over-emotional attachment can morph from devoted student / follower to something beyond which is undesirable.  I think this characteristic is generally problematic among all muslim groups, especially when you have different groups with different paradigms in approaching a problem converse with one another (they dont really “converse”, they fight, and by they, I mean the followers, and to a certain extend, their leaders), and while it may be irritating, at least on a theological level it can be tolerated, but when it crosses into something similar to roman catholic sainthood, I believe we’ve now gone too far across the line.

    Siraaj

  4. Avatar

    Umm Zahrah

    March 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    alHamdulillah, I was so happy to see the start of this series, may Allah bless this effort. 

    I remember attending a sisters’ social on dealing with depression and the one thing that kept going through my mind as I listened to the stories was that this is a problem with Iman.  And indeed, at the heart of so many social issues is this, this relationship with Allah which has suffered so much and it reverberates throughout every other aspect of our worldly life.  And I’m not just referring to repenting for our sins, but the whole concept of submitting one’s self to Allah completely and calling upon none other than Him. 

    If this one, simple act was rectified, so many other problems would be easily solved. Every single time I get a question about or request for advice from sisters regarding any issue, I would turn back to calling upon Allah alone and Tawheed.  Immediately, it’s as if something inside these sisters clicks and they realize the true reality of their affairs and they no longer need advice.  They only need to remain firm on the straight path.

    May Allah bless this effort, and bring the much needed clarity our Ummah needs, Ameen!

    • Avatar

      Yahya Whitmer

      March 9, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      The barakah of a pure and personal relationship with Allah is truly limitless, thanks for commenting.

  5. Avatar

    Amal

    March 9, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    A much needed series
    Barak Allahu feekum

  6. Avatar

    Salman Muhammad

    March 10, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    I used to be fascinated with sufism long time ago but soon abandoned it after discovering that it had far too many Greek and Christian philosophical concepts which are foreign to what I understand about Islamic faith.  My original fascination was due to Al Ghazali books, first Ihya and then his memoir Munqih.  Alas, most sufi books that I read thereafter were different from Al Ghazali’s. 

    Further, central to sufism of Al Ghazali is zuhud, but I soon to find out that most sufis I know lead the kinds of lives far from being zuhud.  Many, in fact, appear to live the opposite way.

    For the last few decades I have been more interested in seerah, history and fiqh, which appear to make more sense to me. 

    You have made a nice introduction, a sort of a preamble to what you are going to say.  I shall be looking forward to next entries. 

  7. Avatar

    Ssa227

    March 10, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    This looks like a very interesting series. I will also be following this closely. I have many friends who are staunchly Sufi and these are some of the thoughts I also have.

  8. Avatar

    abu Rumaysa

    March 10, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    as one who comes from a background of sufi tradition and one who entered into the fold of Islamic orthodoxy and had to deal with the subsequent confrontations with influential family members, I can directly relate to this article… i do recall that for most evidences provided, they would essentially have their own interpretations and I guess being a lone “baby” sheep, my words had little or no influence…

    now that I look back in hindsight, I recall that good character and patience  were primarily the keys in keeping those relationships healthy and provided fruition in the struggle for clarifying those issues…mind you this all took place over many years….

    I also think that due to the lack of due attention and due consideration of Allah’s attributes and Tawheed itself, many well known leaders sometimes cross lines (either explicitly or in-explicitly), may Allah ta`ala guide and forgive us and them..ameen..

    for instance if a well known leader in our times here in the west tries to justify the following statement made by a “saint”: 
    “If you ( O my followers/students, fall into a calamity, call unto me and I will come to your aid”)

    or 
    another well known leader tells his congregation about his own particular experiences of being in a life threatening situation and he called on to the jinn to help him…

  9. Avatar

    Gibran Mahmud

    March 11, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    “non-Orthodox Islamic groups”Now you are becoming more like Orthodox Jews. This is a fulfilment of the Prophecy. We are literally following these men into the lizard hole.Don’t use the word “orthodox”. Just say “pseudo-Islamic groups”.

    We are called Muslims and our religion is Islam. We do not need to call ourselves Sunni-the Quran and Sunnah are what we hold onto to keep aright. The Shias are exactly that-sect of Ali RA(in their distorted version). Hadith rejectors are just that. Ahlul Bidah is just that.Lets let someone else follow them into the Lizard Hole. What do we have Surah Al Fatiha for? Samina wa ata’na. We hear and we obey.

  10. Avatar

    Hassan

    March 13, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Assalam-o-Alaikum. I have a question to the respected shyookh about the naming “Orthodox Muslims”.

    Now from previous articles and discussion, it seems scholars of muslimmatters were trying to get away from labels. Is that my correct understanding? If they were indeed trying to get away from the labels (like salafis, wahabis, deobandis etc), then may I humbly ask if calling oneself Orthodox muslims would create a new label? Of course I do not know details of what/how they categorize orthodox muslims (like what sort of belief to be held etc), but it definitely seems that you are calling yourself a new name distinguished form names used in past.

    And if that was not the intention (trying to get away from labels), rather you felt that there is no proper name to classify the ideologies you hold, and hence you described yourself as orthodox muslim, may I ask the details of it. (from outside it seems somewhere between salafis and ikhwanis).

    I am sorry this question may have not be relevant directly to the topic, but I been thinking about it for a while, and there is always been debate here and there about calling oneself something other than muslim.

  11. Avatar

    Naimabrobert

    March 13, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    A compelling introduction, masha Allah. Will be following with interest…

  12. Avatar

    Mohammed

    March 13, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    asSalamu `alaykum

    Please have a listen to what the science of tasawwuf is truly about. They are a bit long but they are worth every second, alhamdulillah.

     http://www.sacredlearning.org/tasawwuf

    Also, you can a better understanding through this site insha’Allah:
    http://tasawwuf.org/

    • Avatar

      Omar

      June 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      Wa alaykum Assalam,

      I personally used to listen to the speaker on that website. His name is sh Hussein if I remember correct. One thing which didn’t sit well with me and eventually made me stop listening to his lectures completely was that far too often he would say “my sheikh said the prophet sws did..”. Maybe he has that much trust for his sheikh but for me personally, I would much rather have heard the reference for the Hadith as opposed to these vague references. After stopping listening to him I have learnt more and there are other mistakes in his methodology which I am able to identify, but due to my lack of knowledge I don’t trust myself to articulate clearly, so I’ll leave that to anyone else who may have also heard some of this speaker’s recordings.

  13. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    March 14, 2012 at 4:47 AM

    EDIT THIS (in my last comment): The dua came from the means, so you invoke that means, that is the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam). 

    TO READ AS THIS: The dua came and was taught by the means (the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam), so you invoke that means (the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam) in making dua to Allah. It is like the hadith: Abu Umamah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) made many supplications which we did not memorize. We said to him: “O Messenger of Allah! You have made many supplications of which we do not remember anything.” He said, “Shall I tell you a comprehensive prayer? Say: `Allahumma inni as’aluka min khairi ma sa’alaka minhu nabiyyuka Muhammadun sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam. Wa `a`udhu bika min sharri mas-ta`adha minhu nabiyyuka Muhammadun sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam. Wa Antal-Musta`anu, wa `alaikal-balaghu, wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah (O Allah, I beg to You the good which Your Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) begged of You; and I seek refuge in You from the evil where from Your Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) sought refuge. You are the One from Whom help is sought and Your is the responsibility to communicate (the truth). There is no power or strength except with Allah the Exalted, the Great.”'[At-Tirmidhi]

  14. Avatar

    Yahya Whitmer

    March 15, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    This not a point by point response to your comment, just an answer to some of your more salient points:1.In regards to your accusation of attempting to stir up controversy for the sake of publicity, I ask you to please not interpret people’s intentions. You can’t demand honesty and fair conduct when you undermine those very principles yourself. Take everything at face value and leave our intentions to God. And besides, to use the names of the Sufi scholars, label them and their followers with the most inflammatory titles possible, and engage in personal attacks and accusations would have been a better recipe for publicity.2.This debate is indeed old, going back to the time of Nuh (alayhis-salam). I believe that every generation of revelation concerns itself with this topic and I am attempting to follow in that path.3. The term “Tawassul” is ambiguous and has many different interpretations and implementations. There is only one interpretation that I am addressing in this article: supplications(du’a) directed to other than Allah. The tawassul via Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) was not of this type, as Abbas himself proceeded to make du’a to Allah.4. Your accusation of placing “my own understanding above that of Allah, His Rasul (salallahu alayhi wasalam) and his Companions” is extraordinarily presumptuous. You are again presuming to know my internal state. I kindly request that you adhere to the common etiquette of debate, as exemplified by the likes of Al-Shafi’i and Abu Haneefah.5. I am unfamiliar with the book that you have mentioned, but I am familiar with the general arguments and interpretations that you have presented to justify your position. They will be addressed soon in sha Allah.6. I am unfamiliar with the class you are referring to that was taught by Yasir Al Qadhi, but I do know Yasir to some degree and I believe that he addresses topics with an academic rigor and fairness that is rarely found in modern Islamic discourse.7. I strongly disagree that Judaism, Christianity represent Tawhid. Please continue to be a part of this discussion as we will address this topic in detail later. The Tawhid that the Messengers taught, singularity in worship, is only currently manifested in the world by true Islam. It is very interesting that you consider religions that permit the worship of created beings to represent Tawhid, but your belief is in accordance with what we understand about this brand of Sufi theology; it espouses that Tawhid only represents a recognition of singularity in Creation and Control. We contend that Tawhid also demands singularity of worship.8. I strongly disagree that da’wa fails when the focus is solely on Tawhid, but again, our interpretations of that word differ radically. My interpretation involves a strengthening of every aspect of the intimate and direct relationship with the Creator, both internally and externally. It involves knowing His names and attributes and recognizing and praising the manifestations of those attributes throughout the created world. It involves absolute trust in my unseen Lord, a trust possible only through faith and contemplation of his signs and verses. It involves admitting my deepest fears and darkest sins to the only being who has been with me through every moment of my life, and the only being in whose strength, mercy, and forgiveness I can truly rely. I am very sorry that you find this to be unfullfilling.Please realize that you have described Tawhid as being an inadequate platform upon which to base da’wah. Your opinion is in direct contradiction with the wisdom of the Creator Himself and every generation of messenger that He has sent, including our Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him). It is in direct contradiction with the path “of those whom You have favored” (as is referenced in Al Fatiha). I’m sorry friend, but it is hard for me to imagine a clearer indicator that there is something very wrong with your perception of fundamental principles of Islam. I hope that you take time to reflect upon this point. Surah Al A’raf is particularly relevant.

    • Avatar

      Yahya Whitmer

      March 15, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      ugh. I apologize for the poor formatting. I would delete and redo if I could.

  15. Avatar

    Yahya Whitmer

    March 15, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    This not a point by point response to your comment, just an answer to some of your more salient points:
    1.In regards to your accusation of attempting to stir up controversy for the sake of publicity, I ask you to please not interpret people’s intentions. You can’t demand honesty and fair conduct when you undermine those very principles yourself. Take everything at face value and leave our intentions to God. And besides, to use the names of the Sufi scholars, label them and their followers with the most inflammatory titles possible, and engage in personal attacks and accusations would have been a better recipe for publicity.

    2.This debate is indeed old, going back to the time of Nuh (alayhis-salam). I believe that every generation of revelation concerns itself with this topic and I am attempting to follow in that path.

    3. The term “Tawassul” is ambiguous and has many different interpretations and implementations. There is only one interpretation that I am addressing in this article: supplications(du’a) directed to other than Allah. The tawassul via Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) was not of this type, as Abbas himself proceeded to make du’a to Allah.

    4. Your accusation of placing “my own understanding above that of Allah, His Rasul (salallahu alayhi wasalam) and his Companions” is extraordinarily presumptuous. You are again presuming to know my internal state. And I’m not sure if you realize it, but you are accusing me of Kufr. I kindly request that you adhere to the common etiquette of debate, as exemplified by the likes of Al-Shafi’i and Abu Haneefah.

    5. I am unfamiliar with the book that you have mentioned, but I am familiar with the general arguments and interpretations that you have presented to justify your position. They will be addressed soon in sha Allah.

    6. I am unfamiliar with the class you are referring to that was taught by Yasir Al Qadhi, but I do know Yasir to some degree and I believe that he addresses topics with an academic rigor and fairness that is rarely found in modern Islamic discourse.

    7. I strongly disagree that Judaism, Christianity represent Tawhid. Please continue to be a part of this discussion as we will address this topic in detail later. The Tawhid that the Messengers taught, singularity in worship, is only currently manifested in the world by true Islam. It is very interesting that you consider religions that permit the worship of created beings to represent Tawhid, but your belief is in accordance with what we understand about this brand of Sufi theology; it espouses that Tawhid only represents a recognition of singularity in Creation and Control. We contend that Tawhid also demands singularity of worship.

    8. I strongly disagree that da’wa fails when the focus is solely on Tawhid, but again, our interpretations of that word differ radically. My interpretation involves a strengthening of every aspect of the intimate and direct relationship with the Creator, both internally and externally. It involves knowing His names and attributes and recognizing and praising the manifestations of those attributes throughout the created world. It involves absolute trust in my unseen Lord, a trust possible only through faith and contemplation of his signs and verses. It involves admitting my deepest fears and darkest sins to the only being who has been with me through every moment of my life, and the only being in whose strength, mercy, and forgiveness I can truly rely. I am very sorry that you find this to be unfullfilling.

    Please realize that you have described Tawhid as being an inadequate platform upon which to base da’wah. Your opinion is in direct contradiction with the wisdom of the Creator Himself and every generation of messenger that He has sent, including our Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him). It is in direct contradiction with the path “of those whom You have favored” (as is referenced in Al Fatiha). I’m sorry friend, but it is hard for me to imagine a clearer indicator that there is something very wrong with your perception of fundamental principles of Islam. I hope that you take time to reflect upon this point. Surah Al A’raf is particularly relevant.

    • Avatar

      Abu Musa

      March 16, 2012 at 1:15 AM

      MashAllah – I was looking forward to this piece before i read the Ustadh’s response to brother Dawud – NOW I AM REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!
      Many sufi groups inherently claim adab, ikhlaas etc..but the manor in which the Ustadh responded to the presumptuous nature of the post is MashAllah a clear indication that no one can claim a mononpoly on those qualities.
      Well answered, balanced and void of emotional baggage – MashAllah.

      • Avatar

        BintKhalil

        March 16, 2012 at 3:22 AM

        Assalamu alaikum

        Indeed Dawud Israel’s comment shows just how needed this series is.

    • Avatar

      Sarmd

      March 18, 2012 at 2:58 AM

      Salam Br. Yahya,

      You wrote “he (Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen) was able to maintain focus on analyzing the strength of each argument and minimize individual reasoning from being clouded due to personal attachments.”

      This statement sound fine.  In fact, it easier said than done.  Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen’s (RA) ideas issued from a certain Islamic prespective. Like others he didn’t begin from a clean slate.  He was one of the leaders of the Wahabi/Salafi perspective.  I hasten to add that I am not using the word ‘Wahabi’ in a deragotary way.  I see it as one of the legitimate view points within Islam.  Just as the ‘Sufis’ for example, do not get mad when they are labelled ‘Sufis’, the Wahabis should not when they are labelled ‘Wahabis’.  The label doesn’t mean much, what matters are the contents.

      I understand that you studied in Saudi Arabia.  I did too. But my major was not in Islamic Studies but in Mathematics.  I obtained by BS from King Saud University. However, I attende many of the teaching majalis of the Shaykh.  I am sure we were not there at the same time because I left Riyadh in 1986.  I respected the Shaykh a lot and still do.  But I came to know later that the Shaykh’s belief regarding Tawasul was not only in the minority but is at odds with, even,  Imam Ahmad’s belief.

      It is not easy to brand muslims mushrikiin because they beleive in the efficacy of Tawasul, espicailly when the vast majority of the ulama accepted it. Of course, calling others mushrikin will not do them any harm, but will come to haunt the caller a Day when it is too late to rectify. Why would one put oneself in such a position?

      Wassalam

      • Avatar

        Yahya Whitmer

        March 18, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah Br. Sarmd,

        I appreciate your comments and understand where you are coming from. Thank you for your genuine concern. Indeed labeling anyone a mushrik is an ENORMOUS issue, it’s truly hard to express just how serious it is. Thankfully the ability and responsibility to do that are not a part of my life. This article has not and will not (by the grace of God!) make a declaration of kufr/shirk on any person of the Qibla.

        Please bear in mind that there are many interpretations of the term tawassul, some of which are agreed upon by all generations of scholars, some of which there is legitimate difference and discussion, and some of which are an absolute aberration, only rearing its head in the late part of the third Hijri century, after the passing of the three blessed generations that the Prophet (alayhis-salam) had mentioned. This form of tawassul involved Direct Invocation of the “pious”. This is shirk,  a betrayal of the Creator’s divine right and that is why we are attempting, to the best of our ability, to address this issue. In our theology, where we believe that Allah alone has the right to be worshiped (and du’a is the essence of worship!) this is an issue that simply cannot be ignored for the sake of unity. 

        Interestingly enough, I started my personal journey from several “dirty” slates. I was heavily prejudiced against Islam, but its light pushed through all that grime. After becoming a Muslim, I was heavily influenced by Sufi figures and in all fairness I can say that they had my emotional loyalty more than Salafism. It was a great struggle to overcome that emotional attachment and realize that the simple principles of following the sunnah/evidence and singularity of worship were the true spirit of Islam that deserved my dedication.

        To see that spirit for yourself, please reflect upon Islam’s darkest hour. After the passing of the beloved, a man who was loved in ways that the human heart could never feel towards any other person, in that moment where the greatest flame flickered and went out from the world, leaving it in darkness… how did the light return? What were the words that were said that rekindled the light of Islam and that did justice to the life, legacy, and mission of the Prophet? What did Islam’s first Caliph say? “Who ever used to worship Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad has died. And who ever worships Allah, let him know that Allah is the Ever Living!” We were not told to assuage our despair by making dua to or through the Prophet (alayhis-salam), but rather to re-devote ourselves to the direct and intimate relationship with our Ever Living Creator.

        Thanks for your time and concern.

    • Avatar

      Dawud Israel

      March 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM

      “Text without context is pretext.” 

      Re-read my comment because it seems you are, again, cherry-picking or read quickly edited
      Addressing what you said… 

      #4 is not what I was saying about your internal state, just the general thought process and mentalities that manifest in these discussions. I am calling that tendency out before it falls into that state. My point was about ISTIHSAN and arbitrary understanding as opposed to the understanding Qur’an/Sunna/Ijma makes clear. 

      #5 As I said, my views are my views, they are NOT representative of the ideas in that book. I STRONGLY suggest you read that book. If you disagree, then mashallah, Allah wills it, and that is definitely your free choice, but at least understand the topic entirely before you talk about it like you are an expert. I mean, claiming objectivity and then proceeding with complete bias is shameless. Be just. Be honest. If you are scared of the idea that you might be wrong and won’t read the other viewpoint, then you aren’t loyal to ‘ilm, but you are loyal to your own ideas. Where is the sacrifice? 

      If you have the courage and fairness to read the book, then do so, if not, then I know this conversation and discussion will not bear fruit and despite your hardest efforts, you will be frustrated. You have to be honest and actually understand what most Muslims think of when they say tawassul/istighata, not what you or a few new Muslims think of when tawassul/istighata are mentioned. Its one thing to be told, “someone told me the sufi people believe this…” and arguing against that, basically attacking a straw man and its another thing to go and learn. We have to verify our sources and that is also part of our deen with the isnad. Hearsay has no isnad and that is why it has no basis in our religion. 

      #6 Make no mistake, I have a lot of respect for sh. Yasir Qadhi. I am just pointing out the deficiencies I’ve seen in approaching this topic in the past, namely cherry-picking quotations in the LUL course. I think he unknowingly did that so I am not casting aspersions, but it sets a precedent that if one side cherry picks (knowingly or unknowingly) then so does the other-side and it becomes a cherry-picking contest and truth is lost. Showing half the picture is not like showing the whole picture and so we have to strive to get the whole picture. And again, text without context, is pretext. 

      The problem is when you don’t know that you don’t know. Meaning, its not like so-and-so is concealing something intentionally, but it is probably that they think they have a complete understanding but don’t know that they actually have an incomplete understanding due to their lacking exploration of Sunni Islam. That is why I suggested reading that book; if there is something you don’t know you don’t know, it will become clear. And Islam is a religion of clarification as the Quran is kitabil mubeen. #7/#8 Semantics. I am using the term tawhid broadly, to mean monotheism. Tawhid as per Islam is something else and that is what we both treasure and value. What makes this umma unique is sayyidina Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) and the Qur’an was given to him, not Moses. If Moses and Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) lived at the same time, Moses would have to follow Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam). That needs to be underlined. Don’t cherry-pick my statements, because you expose your own competency. 

      di. 

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        March 19, 2012 at 5:28 PM

        Wow, you did not use to be arrogant and disrespectful before, what has happened to you?

        This article is just introduction to actual series of articles, I would suggest you point out opposing view on each point that you disagree, you are refuting things even before the articles are published.

  16. Avatar

    Regular Baba

    March 15, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Salam Bro Dawud,

    One comment here about this statement:  “Tawhid and dawa fails when it focuses solely on tawhid”.  I’m sorry I don’t understand how you can make such a statement.  Allah SWT says in the Quran that the ONLY sin He does not forgive is shirk.  To me, that means that if a muslim neglects every single thing in his deen, but keeps his tawhid, then there is still a chance for him.  But if a muslim obeys Allah SWT in every single matter, but somehow falls into shirk, then there is absolutely no chance for him whatsoever.  The Quran was revealed by Allah SWT to be read and pondered upon not just by non muslims but by muslims.  Why does the topic of tawhid come again and again and again in the Quran?  To me, it’s clear why : because there are traps of shirk which muslims can fall into, and as a muslims we must take great care to watch out for those traps.  Honestly bro, your statement reminds me of what many Christians say, when they say that believing in Jesus is more important for them than tawhid.  Without 100% absolute, correct tawhid, there is NO ISLAM.

    One thing which I have never understood about those people who claim that you can call to others than Allah is that the Prophet(SAW) warned us to stay away from doubtful things.  Many such people take this to be stuff like the food of the people of the book (which is actually explicitly stated as being HALAL in the Quran), but somehow seem to allow doubtful things when it comes to tawhid.  At a very minimum, calling on someone other than Allah is surely a big question mark.  That being the case, why not regard it as being from the doubtful things and staying away from it?

    • Avatar

      Dawud Israel

      March 19, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Wa aleikum salam wa rahmatullah, 

      “One comment here about this statement:  “Tawhid and dawa fails when it focuses solely on tawhid”.  I’m sorry I don’t understand how you can make such a statement.  Allah SWT says in the Quran that the ONLY sin He does not forgive is shirk.  To me, that means that if a muslim neglects every single thing in his deen, but keeps his tawhid, then there is still a chance for him.  But if a muslim obeys Allah SWT in every single matter, but somehow falls into shirk, then there is absolutely no chance for him whatsoever.  The Quran was revealed by Allah SWT to be read and pondered upon not just by non muslims but by muslims.  Why does the topic of tawhid come again and again and again in the Quran?  To me, it’s clear why : because there are traps of shirk which muslims can fall into, and as a muslims we must take great care to watch out for those traps.  Honestly bro, your statement reminds me of what many Christians say, when they say that believing in Jesus is more important for them than tawhid. Without 100% absolute, correct tawhid, there is NO ISLAM.”

      So, where do you get “100% absolute, correct tawhid” from? Where did you get it from? Did you talk to Jibril? Did you find a ladder to the heavens and get it directly from Allah? You got it from Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam). Without Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wasalam) your Islam is nothing. In fact even your dua is nothing. 

      This hadeeth was narrated by al-Tirmidhi (486) from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: “Du’aa’ is suspended between heaven and earth and none of it is taken up until you send blessings upon your Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).” Ibn Katheer said: Its isnaad is jayyid. It was classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. 

      • Avatar

        Regular Baba

        March 21, 2012 at 8:04 AM

        So, where do you get “100% absolute, correct tawhid” from?

        From the Quran and Sunnah.  And one thing that is crystal clear FROM THOSE SOURCES is what Brother Yahya is planning to address, that calling upon others than Allah is shirk, plain and simple. 

      • Avatar

        Skillh

        April 2, 2012 at 10:07 PM

         Dear sheikh yasir qahdi and Yahya Whitmer can you please in the follow up articles go in depth in the defintion of Ilah?

        The Asharis/sufis have a problem with the Definition of Ilah as  being something worshipped…

        “The Ash`ari definition of ilah, which,Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, means ‘the
        one who can independently create’. Hence, if you don’t believe your dead
        Shaykh can create life or give you sustenance himself, but rather does
        so by a power given to him by Allah, this would not be shirk according
        to that definition.”

         He, i.e. Ibn Jareer Al-Tabari, then went on to
        say a couple of lines down;

         “If it is said; And what proves that uluhiyyah
        means worship and that an Ilah “إله” is one that is worshipped and that it has an
        originality in “Fa’al and yaf’al” “فعل, يفعل”(i.e. it being an Arabic verb)” .

        And then he went on to prove it with
        an Arabic poem said by Ru’bat Ibn Al ‘Ajaaj. And then he brought the
        interpretation of Ibn Abbas on the verse in Surah Al’Araf, verse 127 where
        Allah says, “And the chiefs of Pharaoh’s people said: Do you leave Musa and his
        people to make mischief in the land and to forsake you and your gods? He said:
        We will slay their sons and spare their women, and surely we are masters over
        them”, but Ibn Abbas used to read the verse differently by reading وإلاهتك instead of وآلهتك and he’d say upon
        interpreting the word وإلاهتك which is the way he’d read it, he’d say; “i.e.
        your worship”.

          So the verse will mean according to the
        interpretation of Ibn Abbas “And the chiefs
        of Pharaoh’s people said: Do you leave Musa and his people to make mischief in
        the land and to forsake you and your worship? He said: We will
        slay their sons and spare their women, and surely we are masters over them”.

         So this is a clear indication that the word
        Ilah means worship since Ibn Abbas interpreted وإلاهتك to mean “And your worship”, and
        he said (i.e. Ibn Abbas) in support to his interpretation by saying as Ibn
        Jareer Al-Tabari supplies in his tafseer;

         “Forsake you and your worship; Only Pharaoh was worshipped and he
        never worshipped. And that’s how Ibn Abbas and Mujahid used to read this verse.
        On the authority of Mujahid in the (interpretation of the verse), “Forsake you
        and your uluhiyyah” i.e. your worship”

         

        Ibn
        Jareer then says;

         “And there’s no doubt that Al-Ilahah “الإلاهة” – according to how Ibn Abbas and
        Mujahid interpreted it – is from the source of the saying of one; so and so has
        divined Allah a divinity. Like it is said so and so worshipped Allah a worship
        and he interpreted the dream an interpretation. It indeed became clear from the
        words of Ibn Abbas and Mujahid that “Aliha” “أله” means worshipped and
        that “الإلاهة” “Al-Ilaha” is its
        source”. [End quote].

          So you see here
        that a verse was interpreted with another verse and the saying of a companion
        was transmitted with the linguistic meaning of the word touched upon at great
        lengths. So the one who strips his eyes from blind-following and throwing
        unfound accusations towards the people of knowledge would submit to the
        interpretation of Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and Ibn Jareer Al-Tabari to the word
        “Ilah” and that it means one that is worshipped.

        • Avatar

          Yahya Whitmer

          April 3, 2012 at 11:08 AM

          Absolutely, that is one of the sub-topics that we will address. It’s awesome to see people showing such insight into the deep rooted nature of the problem. As you mentioned, certain theological schools define a “god” as a being capable of creation. All of this is a result of their interaction with Greek philosophy. The Arabic/Quranic definition of “god/ilah” is a being that is worshiped. The ramifications are just as you mentioned and this is not empty theory either. Yasir had a frank conversation with one of the greatest living classical Asharite scholars, who said that to call upon the Awliyaa was haram, but not Shirk. Subhan Allah wa la ilaha illa Huwa. Allah bless.

          • Avatar

            Skillh

            April 3, 2012 at 3:08 PM

             Jazakallah khair dear brother looking forward to it also It would be greatly appreciated that you talk about the issue of affirmation and negation regarding the shahada which is also linked to this topic.

            You stated brother
            “Tawḥīd. What does this word really mean and which interpretation of it is represented by “Lā ilāha illa Allāh”

            We know that in the Shahada we have to Negate and then Affirm but different sects have a different opinion specially ashari/sufis and shia

            The Hanbali/Salafi/Athari Negation is:

            “Kufr bi Taghoot”

            Then Hanbali/Salafi/Athari Affirmation is:

            “There is only one God worthy of worship”

            But Ashari/Sufi/ Shia see it different they say:

            The Negation is Hasr Meaning  the negation we are negating everything other then god”

            And they say the Affirmation is:

            “No God but Allah”

            So because of this Negation and Affirmation Difference they see no wrongs in the actions when they go to the graves and ask for intercession and to them it doesn’t violate the kalimah.

            This is the Root of Wasila/tawasuul etc as well as the issue of Ilah. I hope you and Sheikh Yasir Qahdi give insightful view on why many islamic sects follow the above?

  17. Avatar

    siraaj

    March 19, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    Dawud, I considered offering a response to your comments, but then someone went and wrote this article:

    http://muslimmatters.org/2012/03/19/a-muslims-guide-to-facebook-arguments-and-online-ridiculousness-in-general/

    and I laughed, remembering I didn’t want to return to these types of online “discussions” I left behind years ago :)

    You’ve written some pages-worth of critical material in this discussion without having read the body of Sh Yahya Whitmer’s work.  I would suggest / request that you extend him the courtesy that you requested for the book you asked him to read, that you read his articles in full, and then discuss your disagreements.

    You almost seem guilty of what you condemn.

    I’d also ask for a sampling of quotes out of context from LUL with (in your estimation) full context.  One or two of the more egregious misreadings should suffice.

    Siraaj

  18. Avatar

    none

    March 21, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    This series will not eradicate extreme sufism, shirk or grave worship or do justice to the call of Imam Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (rahimullah), Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (rahimullah). These factions are here to stay as long as Allah wills, as a means for the people of Tawheed to improve their ibadaah and their imaan and to worship Allah alone properly as commanded. However we all fall into traps and learning about it will inshaAllah have an impact on us. We need to better understand these concepts to protect ourselves, not necessarily to put down others, but to save ourselves from falling into the traps of Shaytan. May Allah bless the effort and allow us sinners to benefit from it and repent to Him. 

  19. Avatar

    Fathin

    March 23, 2012 at 6:22 AM

    May Allah bless you. ALLAH IS GREATEST 8)

  20. Avatar

    Yahya Whitmer

    April 11, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    2nd part coming soon in sha Allah

  21. Avatar

    wir349

    May 16, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    Alhumdulilah, another Aqeedah article. What I like best about these articles is not only do we learn about Aqeedah but the discussion that follows has many lessons about how people think, how to give Da’wah, differing viewpoints  and lessons of Adaab. Really beneficial.

    • Avatar

      Yahya Whitmer

      May 17, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      Glad to have you aboard, the continuing conversation is a big part of what keep me interested as well. I have learned alot.

  22. Pingback: Line in the Sand | Part 1 - MuslimMatters.org

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#Islam

A Word On Muslim Attitudes Toward Abortion

Dr Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, Guest Contributor

Published

on

The Qur’an describes Muslims committed to its mores as “a moderate nation,” and that sense of balance qualifies them to stand as “witnesses over humanity” (Q 2:143). Contemporary Muslims revel in this assertion, especially when it seems that “Islam” proposes a via media solution to a highly polarizing subject as abortion. What currently constitutes “Islam” on a given topic, however, often reflects the personal prerogative apparently offered to the average Muslim by a list of diverse legal perspectives. In other words, the mere fact that multiple legal opinions exist on one or more topics is now taken as license to appropriate any one of them, without any deep ethical reflection on the implications of the opinion, however anomalous it may be.

“Islam is the golden mean between all ethical extremes” is what certain Muslims would assert. So if one extreme bars abortion under all circumstances and the other seeks to allow it throughout the duration of the pregnancy, one would assume that Islam must land somewhere in the middle, both forbidding and allowing abortion in certain circumstances. This moral assumption isn’t far from the truth. However, the mere existence of multiple opinions on a topic does not mean that each opinion has equal validity, nor does it mean that every opinion is valid for one to adopt. Similarly, “Islam” or “Islamic law” cannot be summed up into a simple formula like “majority rules” or “when in doubt about prohibition or allowance, the action is, therefore, merely disliked.”

Legal positivism plagues both religious and secular-minded people. Just as an act does not acquire its moral strength simply because it is legal, morally appropriate opinions are not always codified into law. If it is true that any unjust law is no law at all, where is the injustice and to whom is it being perpetrated against in the debate between pro-lifers and pro-choicers? Is it deemed unjust to prevent a pregnant woman from disposing of an “insignificant lifeless part of her body” that no one other than herself should be able to decide what to do with? Or is one “depriving a helpless growing person” of the opportunity and right to exist after its Creator initiated its journey into the world? Does a law that prevents a woman impregnated by a family member or rapist from an abortion oppress her? Or does such a law protect the life of a vulnerable fetus, who, like other weak members of society, is expected to be protected by the strong? Does it do both or neither? And if one is taking the “life” of this fetus, what proof is there that it is a living creature?

While these are all extremely important questions, this missive is neither intended necessarily to answer them nor to resolve today’s raging political debate. The main goal here is to offer ideas that should be on the minds of Muslims when deciding to join such debates or promoting the idea that their “religion” provides the best solution to social polarization, when by “religion” we mean the opinion of a small minority of scholars in some place and time in Muslim history.

Islamic law is very sophisticated; the legislative process is not facile, nor is it a place where any Muslim is entitled to pragmatically select the opinions that he/she finds attractive and accommodating. It demands knowledge of particular aims, the ability to properly realize those aims in the lives of people, and understanding the epistemic and metaphysical foundations that ensure that judgments conform to coherent rationale. In other words, the laws of Islam and the opinions of jurists cannot be divorced from their philosophical and evidentiary underpinnings. Otherwise, the thread holding the moral tapestry of Islam together falls apart completely at its seams.

Is Abortion Lawful in Islam?

Many past and present have written about the Islamic view of abortion. The ancient scholars prohibited it at all stages of the pregnancy and made practically no exception. Some would later allow for it only if the mother’s life was in danger. That notwithstanding, six popular legal opinions exist regarding abortion:

  • Unlawful (haram), in all stages of the pregnancy.
  • Permitted (ja’iz), during the first 40 days but unlawful (haram) afterwards.
  • Disliked (makruh), before the passage of 40 days but unlawful (haram) afterwards.
  • Permitted (ja’iz), if it is from illicit intercourse (zina).
  • Permitted (ja’iz) without conditions, before 120 days.
  • Permitted only for a legitimate excuse.

The late mufti of Fez, Morocco, Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ta’wil (d. 2015) said,

The first opinion forbidding that during the [first] 40 [days] and beyond, regardless of whether or not it is due to an excuse, even if from illicit intercourse, is the view of the supermajority [of jurists].[1]

The Qur’an is a Book of Ethical Teaching

The reasons for the cavalier attitude among contemporary Muslims about abortion are multiple. The most significant reason may be that at times Islam is seen as a synonym for shariah. The truth, however, is that the shariah is only part of Islam. Islam covers law (fiqh), creed (aqidah), and ethics (akhlaq). Even though the Qur’an consists of laws, it is not a book of law. It is a book of ethical teachings. Merely 10%–12% of the Qur’an relates to legal injunctions. It is not characteristic of the Qur’an to enjoin upon Muslims to command what is “compulsory” or “recommended” and to forbid what is “unlawful” and “disliked.” What is common though is for it to command us to do what is “ma’ruf” and to avoid what is “munkar.”

“Ma’ruf” and “munkar” can be translated respectively as “what is socially commendable” and “what is socially condemnatory.” This is in spite of the fact that social acceptability and unacceptability are often subjective. This does not mean that the Qur’an is morally relativistic. It is quite the contrary. What this means, however, is that the Qur’an’s aim is not merely to teach Muslims what one can and cannot do. It means, rather, that the Qur’an has a greater concern with what Muslims “should” and “should not” do. For this very reason, the companions of the Prophet seldom differentiated between his encouragement and discouragement of acts by the juristic values of disliked, unlawful, recommended, and compulsory. Rather, if the Prophet encouraged something beneficial, they complied. And, if he discouraged from something potentially harmful, they refrained.

The Qur’an permits many actions. However, to permit an act is not equivalent to encouraging it. It permits polygyny (Q 4:3), the enslavement of non-Muslim war captives (Q 8:70), and marrying the sister of one’s ex-wife (Q 4:23). Similarly, some Muslim jurists validate marriage agreements wherein the man secretly intends to divorce the woman after a certain period of time known only to him.[2] This is the case, even though the average Muslim man is monogamous; practically no Muslim today believes it is moral to enslave a person; the vast majority of Muslims find the marriage of one’s sister-in-law upon the death of one’s wife to be taboo; and they chide men who marry with a temporary intention of marriage. If the mere existence of permission or legal opinion permitting a socially condemnable act is a legitimate reason to adopt it, why would Muslims be uneasy about these cases but inclined to take a different stance when it comes to abortion?

The proper Islamic position on any given issue of public or private concern should not only consider what the law or jurists have to say about the topic. Rather, one should also consider how theology and ethics connect with those laws or opinions. That is to say, one should ask, “What wisdom does God seek to realize from this injunction or opinion?” assuming that such a wisdom can be identified. Secondly, one need ask,

“Who and how many will be helped or harmed if this action is undertaken?”

The Qur’an is the primary source of Islam’s ethics. And, one often observes a major difference between its morality and the morality validated by certain jurists, often lacking a clear connection to Qur’anic and prophetic precepts. That notwithstanding, a juristic opinion can sometimes masquerade as one that is authentically Islamic, especially when it aims to appease or assuage a social or political concern. Consequently, one finds some contemporary scholars championing opinions simply­ because they exist, like that of mainstream Shafi’is who traditionally argued that the reason for jihad was to rid the world of unIslamic doctrines (kufr); or certain contemporaries who validated taking of the lives of innocent women, children, and other non-combatants in suicide bombings; those who endorsed the execution of Jews for converting to Christianity and vice versa;[3] or others who classified slaves as animals rather than human beings?[4] For, surely, there are Muslim jurists who validate each one of these opinions, despite their evidentiary weakness. Hence, simply because there is an opinion allowing for abortions does not necessarily mean that it is something Islam allows, even in cases of rape and incest.

When Does Life Begin?

Medieval Muslim scholars, naturally, lacked the scientific tools that we have today to determine whether or not the fetus growing in its mother’s womb was actually a viable creation and a living creature from conception. Other than when the fetus first showed signs of movement in its mother’s belly, scholars took their cues from the Qur’an and prophetic tradition on when the fetus possessed a soul or if it did so at all. For this reason, very few scholars have offered clear answers to the question of when human life begins, while they agreed that upon 120 days, the child is definitely a living person.

According to the Andalusian scholar of Seville, Ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1148),

The child has three states: 1) one state prior to coming into [material] existence …, 2) a state after the womb takes hold of the sperm …, and 3) a state after its formation and before the soul is breathed into it …, and when the soul is breathed into it, it is the taking of a life. [5]

Al-Ghazzali (d. 1111) said,

Coitus interruptus (‘azl) is not like abortion and infanticide (wa’d) because it [abortion] is a crime against an actualized existence (mawjud hasil). And, it has stages, the first being the stage of the sperm entering into the womb, then mixing with the woman’s fluid, and then preparing for the acceptance of life. To disturb that is a crime. Then, if it becomes a clot (‘alaqah) or a lump (mudghah), the crime is more severe. Then, if the soul is breathed into it and the physical form is established, the crime increases in gravity. [6]

These are some of the most explicit statements from Medieval Muslim scholars; they deemed that life begins at inception. The Qur’an states, “Does man think that he will be left for naught (sudan)? Was he not a sperm-drop ejected from sexual fluid?” (75:36-37). In other words, the “sperm-drop” phase is the start of human existence, and existence is the basis for human dignity, as with other living creatures. The human being was a “sperm-drop.” If that is so, this strongly suggests that meddling with this fluid, even before the fetus begins to grow and develop limbs and organs, would be to violate the sanctity of a protected creature. The Qur’an further says, “Did We not create you from a despicable fluid? And then, We placed you in a firm resting place, until a defined scope” (Q 77:20-22). The use of the second person plural pronoun (you) in these verses strongly suggests that the start of human life begins at inception. This is not to mention the multiple verses forbidding one from killing one’s children due to poverty, fear of poverty, or out of shame or folly.

The Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) similarly offers sufficient indication that even though the fetus is not fully formed, it is still an actualized existence and living creature. The Prophet reportedly said, “The miscarried fetus will remain humbly lying with its face down at the gates of heaven saying, ‘I will only enter when my parents do.’”[7] Similarly, it is reported that when the second caliph ‘Umar b. al-Khattab ordered that an adulteress discovered to be pregnant be stoned to death, the companion, Mu’adh b. Jabal, said to him, “Even if you have a right to punish her, you do not have a right to punish what is in her belly.”[8] The Prophet and his followers after him never executed a pregnant woman guilty of a capital crime until she gave birth and someone had taken on the care of the child. In addition, they imposed a hefty fine on those who were directly responsible for a woman’s miscarriage.[9] All of this indicates that the fetus is to be respected from the time the male’s sperm reaches the ovum of the woman.

Imam Al-Razi’s Ethical Reflection on the Qur’anic Verse, 6:140

God says in the Qur’an, “Ruined are those who murder their children foolishly without knowledge and forbid what God has provided them with while inventing falsehoods against God. They have strayed and are not guided aright” (6:140).

About this verse, Imam Fakr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210) comments,

Many issues relate to the verse: the first issue is that God mentioned, in the preceding verse, their murder of their children while depriving themselves of the sustenance that God provided them with. Then, God brings these two matters together in this verse while clarifying to them all that is a logical consequence of this judgment, such as ruin, folly, lack of knowledge, the deprivation of what God has provided them, false statements against God, straying, and the privation of guidance. So these are seven characteristics, each of which is an independent cause for censure. The first is ruin (khusran), and that is because a child is an immense blessing from God upon a person, so when one strives to terminate its existence, he/she suffers great ruin and especially deserves great censure in life and a severe punishment in the hereafter due to terminating its existence. Censure in life is warranted because people say one has murdered one’s child out of fear of it eating one’s food. And there is no censure in life greater than such. Punishment in the hereafter is warranted because the closeness resulting from childbirth is one of the greatest sources of love. Then, upon achieving it, one sets out to deliver the greatest of harms to it [the child], thereby committing one of the gravest sins. As a consequence, one of the greatest punishments is warranted. The second is folly (safahah), which is an expression of condemnable frivolousness. That is because the murder of the child is only committed in light of the fear of poverty. And, even though poverty is itself a harm, murder is a much graver harm. Additionally, this murder is actualized, while the poverty [feared] is merely potential (mawhum). So enforcing the maximum harm in anticipation of a potential minimal harm is, without doubt, folly. The third regards God’s saying, “without knowledge.” The intent is that this folly was only born of the absence of knowledge. And there is no doubt that ignorance is one of the most objectionable and despicable of things. The fourth regards depriving one’s self of what God has made lawful. It is also one of the worst kinds of stupidity, because one denies one’s self those benefits and good things, becoming entitled by reason of that deprivation of the severest torment and chastisement. The fifth is blaspheming God. And it is known that boldness against God and blaspheming Him is one of the cardinal sins. The sixth is straying from prudence (rushd) with relation to the interests of the faith (din) and the benefits found in the world. The seventh is that they are not guided aright. The benefit of it is that a person might stray from the truth but may return to proper guidance. So God clarifies that they have strayed without ever obtaining proper direction. So it is established that God has censured those described as having murdered children and denied what God has made lawful for them, with these seven characteristics necessitating the worse types of censure. And that is the ultimate hyperbole.[10]

The Ethical Contentions of a Moroccan Mufti

We have already quoted Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ta’wil of Morocco. Like the medieval scholars, he maintained a very conservative opinion on abortion, allowing it only if the mother’s life was at risk. The following is a list of his nine ethical contentions against abortion and those scholarly opinions allowing it. The bulk of what follows is a literal translation of his views. Regarding why abortion is immoral, he says:

  • Firstly, it is a transgression against a vulnerable creature who has committed neither sin nor crime, a denial of it from its right to existence and life that God has given it and Islam has guaranteed as well as the taking of a life in some situations.
  • Secondly, it is a clear challenge to God’s will and a demonstratively defiant act meant to stubbornly contend with God’s action, creative will, and judgment. And that manifests itself in the murder of what God has created, the voiding of its existence, and a commission of what He deems unlawful.
  • Thirdly, it a decisively demonstrative proof of hard-heartedness, the absence of mercy, and the loss of motherly and fatherly affection or rather the loss of humanity from the hearts of those who daringly undertake the act of abortion with dead hearts and wicked dark souls.
  • Fourthly, it is the epitome of self-centeredness, selfishness, narcissism, and sacrifice of what is most precious¾one’s own flesh and blood, sons and daughters¾to gratify the self and enjoy life and its attractions far away from the screams of infants, the troubles of children, and the fatigue resulting from them.
  • Fifthly, it is a practical expression of one’s bad opinion of God, the lack of trust in His promise to which He decisively bounded Himself to guarantee the sustenance of His creation and servants. It also shows ignorance of His saying, “And, there is not a single creature on earth except that God is responsible for its sustenance, just as He knows its resting place and place from which it departs. Every thing is in a manifest record (Q 11:6); as well as His saying, “And do not kill your children due to poverty. We will provide for you as well as for them” (Q 6:151); in addition to His saying, “And, do not kill your children out of fear of poverty. We will provide for them and for you” (Q 17:31). This is in addition to other verses and prophetic traditions that indicate that all provisions are in God’s control and that no soul will die until it exacts its sustenance in full as the Prophet said.
  • Sixthly, it is a bloody war against the Islamic goal, introduced by the Prophet and to which he called and strongly encouraged, of population growth and increase in posterity.
  • Seventhly, it undermines the aims of the Islamic moral code that considers the preservation of offspring to be one of the five essentials upon which the sanctified revealed moral code is built.
  • Eighthly, it goes against the nature to which God has disposed both animals and human beings to of love of children, childbearing, and the survival of progeny….
  • Ninthly, it is the grossest display of bad manners towards God and the epitome of ingratitude towards a blessing and the rejection of it. And that is because both pregnancy and children are among God’s favors upon His servants and among His gifts to the expectant mother and her husband.

These are some important matters of consideration. Every Muslim, woman, and man, will ultimately need to decide what burdens he/she is prepared to meet God with. While abortion is an emotionally charged matter, especially in Western politics, emotions play no role in the right or wrong of legislation. Although our laws currently may not consider a fetus aborted before its survival outside of the womb to be viable, the Muslim who understands that legal positivism does not trump objective or moral truths should be more conscientious and less cavalier in his/her attitude about the taking of life and removing the viability of life.


[1] Al-Ta’wil, Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Qasim. Shadharat al-Dhahab fi ma jadda fi Qadaya al-Nikah wa al-Talaq wa al-Nasab. Hollad: Sunni Pubs, 2010, p. 148.

[2] Muhammad b. ‘Abd Al-Baqi Al-Zurqani quotes Ibn ‘Abd Al-Barr as saying,

They unanimously agreed that anyone who marries without mention of a particular condition while having the intention to remain with her for a period that he has in mind is permitted (ja’iz), and it is not a temporary marriage. However, Malik said this is not an attractive thing to do (laysi hadha min al-jamil). Nor is it part the conduct of moral people (la min akhlaq al-nas). Al-‘Awza’i took a solitary view saying that it is a temporary marriage. And, there is no good in it (la khayra fihi). ‘Ayyad stated it.

Al-Zurqani, Muhammad b. ‘Abd Al-Baqi b. Yusuf. Sharh al-Zurqani ‘ala Muwatta’ al-Imam Malik. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, (no date), 3/201.

[3] Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said about the prophetic tradition, “Kill whoever changes his lifepath”, “Some Shafi’i jurists clung to it concerning the killing of anyone who changes from one non-Islamic faith to another non-Islamic faith (din kufr)…”

Al-‘Asqalani, Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Hajar. Fath Al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari. Muhammad Fu’ad ‘Abd Al-Baqi Edition. Riyadh: Al-Maktabah Al-Salafiyyah, (no date), 12/272.

[4] Al-Ra’ini, Muhammad al-Hattab. Qurrah al-‘Ayn bi Sharh Waraqat al-Imam al-Haramayn. Beirut: Mu’assassah al-Kutub al-Thaqafiyyah, 2013, p. 78.

[5] Al-Wazzani, Abu ‘Isa Sidi al-Mahdi. Al-Nawazil Al-Jadidah Al-Kubra fi ma li Ahl Fas wa ghayrihim min al-Badw wa al-Qura al-Musammah bi Al-Mi’yar Al-Jadid Al-Jami’ Al-Mu’rib ‘an Fatawa al-Muta’akhkhirin min ‘Ulama al-Maghrib. Rabat: Wizarah al-Awqaf wa al-Shu’un al-Islamiyyah, 1997, 3/376.

[6] Al-Ghazali, Muhammad Abu Hamid. Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din. Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, p. 491.

[7] This is how Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi relates the report as related by Al-Wazzani in his Nawazil 3/376. In the Musnad of Abu Hanifah, however, the Prophet reportedly said, “You will see the miscarried fetus filled with rage.” When it is asked, “Enter Paradise”, it will respond, “Not until my parents come in [too].” Al-Hanafi, Mulla ‘Ali Al-Qari. Sharh Musnad Abi Hanifah. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1985, p. 252.

[8] Ibn ‘Asakir, Abu al-Qasim ‘Ali b. al-Hasan. Tarikh Madinah Dimashq wa Dhikr Fadliha wa Tasmiyah man hallaha min al-Amathil aw ijtaza bi Nawahiha min Waridiha wa Ahliha. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1997, p. 342.

[9] Among the fines due for causing the miscarriage of a fetus are: 1) prison or flogging; 2) the penance for murder (kaffarah), which is the freeing of a slave, fasting two consecutive months which is compulsory for Shafi’is and recommended for Malikis; and 3) the gifting of a slave to the woman who lost her child.

[10] Al-Razi, Fakr al-Dina. Tafsir al-Fakr al-Razi al-Mushtahir bi Al-Tafsir Al-Kabir wa Mafatih al-Ghayb. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1981, pp. 220-221

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What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

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The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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Should I Pray Taraweeh Or Make Up Prayers?

Danish Qasim

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Every Ramadan I’m asked by Muslims whether they should pray Taraweeh or make up missed prayers. They have the guilt of missed prayers but the desire to pray Taraweeh. They do not want to miss out on the special Taraweeh prayer but know that they have to make up obligatory prayers.

I find Muslims bogged down by not only the number of prayers to make up but by the fact that they have to make up prayers that they missed, sometimes too many to count. They emotionally want to move past the memory of missing prayers. While one should not dwell on the sin of missed prayer, at the same time, they should also realize that the prayers remain a debt that needs to be addressed.

Many of us feel a shame associated with past sins. This connection is a sign of true repentance. Shame due to sins, however, becomes problematic when it serves as an impediment for our religious progress. When the guilt reaches this level, one should seek refuge in Allah from Shaytaan and ignore all negative thoughts.

We, as Muslims, should believe that Allah has forgiven our sins, including missed prayers. Forgiveness is done through our repentance. Therefore, we should see makeup prayers as an opportunity to draw closer to Allah, rather than a punishment. Allah tells us in a Hadith Qudsi that

“My servant does not draw nearer to Me with anything more beloved to Me than what I have ordained upon him. He continues to draw near to me with nafl (non-obligatory) actions until I love him” (Bukhari).

Each time we perform a make-up prayer, we are doing what Allah loves us to do the most- an obligatory action. We are drawing nearer to Allah and should feel grateful for being able to do so.

In the Hanafi school of thought, one can pray makeup prayers as non-emphasized sunnahs, which include the prayer of greeting the mosque[1] and Tahajjud prayer. Many Muslims feel more spiritual praying these types of nafl prayers, and they will take their time to pray with the presence of heart. However, when they pray makeup prayers, they rush, praying quickly to get past it as soon as possible. The dreadful feeling of makeup prayers is due to a negative association for the initial neglect, but we must see makeup prayers as not only more critical than nafl prayers, but as something that can be done as nafl prayers.

Taraweeh is an emphasized Sunnah[2] and for Hanafis that means one does not neglect taraweeh[3] due to previously missed prayers[4]. One should have a regiment of making up prayers, such as praying one makeup of Zuhur after praying Zuhur for the day and manage that along with Taraweeh.

For Malikis[5] and Shafis[6] however, one is not supposed to pray Taraweeh if he has prayers to make up. For those following this view, I would advise them to still go to the masjid if that is their habit during the Taraweeh time and pray those due prayers in a space outside of the congregation so they can still enjoy the Ramadan atmosphere in the masjid. Also, it’s worth noting that in the Shafi school, one can have the intention of a makeup prayer even if the imam is praying a different prayer[7]. Hence, twenty rakah of Taraweeh in units of two can be prayed by a follower as ten makeup prayers for Fajr.

Ramadan is a great time to form positive habits. If you do not already have a routine of making up missed prayers, establish one this Ramadan. Make your routine something that you can be consistent with throughout the year, not just when you have the Ramadan energy. We are advised in a hadith to only take on the amount of good actions that we are able to bear because the best actions are those in which we can be persistent, even if they are minor (Ibn Majah 4240).

Lastly, as Ramadan is here, I urge everyone to remember that praying Isha in congregation is more important than praying Taraweeh in congregation. Taraweeh is more alluring due to its uniqueness, and you will see latecomers quickly praying Isha so they can join the Taraweeh prayer. Each prayer is worship, but the priorities of worship are based on its status. Obligatory prayer is more important than a non-obligatory prayer, although every prayer is important. We must prioritize what God prioritizes.

[1]  “ويسن تحية ) رب ( المسجد ، وهي ركعتان ، وأداء الفرض ) أو غيره ، وكذا دخوله بنية فرض أو اقتداء ( ينوب عنها ) بلا نية)”
(رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

[2]  (التراويح سنة  مؤكدة لمواظبة الخلفاء الراشدين  للرجال والنساء إجماعا ” ( رد المحتار على الدر المختار

[3] (والسنة نوعان : سنة الهدي ، وتركها يوجب إساءة وكراهية…”  (رد المحتار على الدر المختار”

[4] وأما النفل فقال في المضمرات : الاشتغال بقضاء الفوائت أولى وأهم من النوافل إلا سنن…”
المفروضة وصلاة الضحى وصلاة التسبيح والصلاة التي رويت فيها الأخبار . ا هـ . ط أي كتحية المسجد ، والأربع قبل العصر والست بعد المغرب” (رد المحتار على الدر المختار،باب قضاء الفوائت)

[5]   (ولا يتنفل من عليه القضاء، ولا يصلي الضحى، ولا قيام رمضان…”  (لأخضري”

[6]   “وَإِنْ كَانَتْ فَاتَتْ بِغَيْرِ عُذْرٍ لَمْ يَجُزْ لَهُ فِعْلُ شَيْءٍ مِنْ النَّوَافِلِ قَبْلَ قَضَائِهَا”
(الفتاوى الكبرى الفقهية على مذهب الإمام الشافعي ,فتاوى ابن حجر الهيتمي)

[7]

تنبيه : تصح قدوة المؤدي بالقاضي ، والمفترض بالمتنفل ، وفي الظهر بالعصر ، وكذلك القاضي بالمؤدي ، والمتنفل بالمفترض ، وفي العصر بالظهر ؛ نظراً لاتفاق الفعل في الصلاتين وإن تخالفت النية ، والانفراد هنا أفضل ؛ خروجاً من الخلاف ، وعلى أن الخلاف في هذا الاقتداء ضعيف جداً فلم يقتض تفويت فضيلة الجماعة ، وإن كان الانفراد أفضل . ( تحفة المحتاج مع حاشية الشر واني ۲ / ۳۳۲ – ۳۳۳ )

وذكر في ( إعانة الطالبين ۲ / ۷ ) : وإن لم تتفق مقضيتها شخصاً . . فهي خلاف الأولى ولا تكره

. وذكر في « البجيرمي على المنهج ۱ / ۳۳۳ ) : قوله ( ويصح الاقتداء لمؤد بقاض ومفترض بمتنفل . . . ) : أي ويحصل له فضل الجماعة في جميع هذه الصور على ما اعتمده الرملي .

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– قول متن المنهاج ( وتصح قدوة المؤدي بالقاضي ، والمفترض بالمتنفل . . . ) قضية كلام المصنف – أي النووي – كالشارح الرملي أن هذا مما لا خلاف فيه ، وعبارة الزيادي وابن حجر : ( والانفراد هنا أفضل ؛ خروجاً من الخلاف( فيحتمل أنه خلاف لبعض الأئمة وأنه خلاف مذهبي لم يذكره المصنف ، لكن قول ابن حجر بعد على أن الخلاف في هذا الاقتداء ضعيف جداً . . ظاهر في أن الخلاف مذهبي . ( الشبراملسي ) . ( حاشية الشرواني ۲ / ۳۳۲ )

وهذا لا يجوز في المذهب  الحنفي  “…يشترط أن يكون حال الإمام أقوى من حال المؤتم أو مساويا”  (رد المحتار على الدر المختار(

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