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7 Reasons Why I Love My Beard

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  1. I’m proud of my beard.  I don’t say this in an arrogant way, but what I mean is that I’m not ashamed of it.  I don’t wear it because I think I’ve attained human perfection, but because I want to imitate those of whom I know have.  I wear it because it’s the sunnah of my Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and I look up to him.  He’s my role-model.  I have it because Prophet Moses 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) had it, Prophet Jesus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) had it, and so did all other Prophets and Messengers of God.
  2. I believe that it is waajib (mandatory).  I don’t say this because I’m an extremist, but because the majority of Muslim scholars and schools of thought say so.  However, that doesn’t make me any better than you.  Actually, I know for a fact that many of you are better than me.
  3. I don’t believe it’s the most important thing in the deen.  At the same time, I don’t think it’s so trivial either, because the Prophet 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) wouldn’t waste his time on something trivial.
  4. How Long Is Yours? As to the length of the beard, I take the middle opinion.  I don’t think it should be allowed to grow indefinitely.  In fact, there are narrations from Ibn Omar and Abu Huraira raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) (two Companions who followed the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to the letter) that they used not to grow it beyond the fist.  So yes, I’m a Hanafi when it comes to the beard :)  On the other hand, goatees, shadows (5 o’clock), and soul patches are not sunnah either.
  5. I’ve had a beard since I was 20,  and not shaved it once, alhamdulillah.  It wasn’t always easy.  I had some relatives scorn me because of it.  Some told me I will never get a job because of my beard.  But, with the bounty of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), I have always had a great job.
  6. But the worst is when Muslims ridicule the beard.  I’ve heard some call it “the broom”.  I say shame on you!  Don’t you realize that your Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to wear a beard?  It’s totally your personal choice to have it or not, but you should never make fun of it.  By the same token, we should never make fun of the clean-shaven either.  Respect to all!
  7. I think it adds to a man’s beauty, if treated properly.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to say that if you have hair, then take care of it (be generous to it, to be exact).  So if you decide to grow it, don’t leave it unmade; and please don’t look like a caveman!
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Born and raised in Lebanon, Hlayhel began attending study circles at his local mosque when he was ten. He came to the United States at 17 and studied electrical engineering at the University of Houston. At its MSA, he met Sh Yasir Qadhi and worked together to raise Islamic awareness on campus. Hlayhel studied traditional sciences of Aqeedah (Islamic creed), Fiqh (Islamic law) and Nahw (Arabic grammar) under Sh Waleed Basyouni and Sh Waleed Idriss Meneese among others. After settling in Phoenix AZ, he worked tirelessly, in the capacity of a board member then a chairman, to revive the then dead AZ chapter of CAIR in order to face the growing Islamophobia in that state and to address the resulting civil right violations. Today, he's considered the second founder of a strong CAIR-AZ. In addition, Hlayhel is a part-time imam at the Islamic Center of the Northeast Valley in Phoenix, husband and father of four. His current topics of interest include positive Islam, youth coaching, and countering Islamophobia.



  1. Avatar


    February 28, 2014 at 6:52 AM

    I have to admit, this is one of the most balanced articles on the beard that I read; it doesn’t get involved into fiqhi debates about what is the correct position, but correctly points out that just the fact that Rasulullah had a beard should make us want to have one–regardless of the fiqhi status (which is wajib according to the jamhur of the ulama). Jazakallah

    • Avatar

      sallu khan

      March 5, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      wenever u take or write the blessed name of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa aalihi wa sallam say sallallahu alaihi wa aalihi wa ahli baitihi wa sallim

      sallallahu ala rasulullahi sallallahu alaihi wa aalihi wa ahli baitihi wa azwajihi wa ashabihi wa sallim

      • Avatar


        May 7, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        What about PBUH? I know that the above is more accurate because it is in Arabic but I’ve always read in most articles (in English) this phrase!

  2. Avatar


    February 28, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    100% agree with ashrafh. Pretty balanced and great article. JazakAllah Khair Br.Anas.

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    sameer mohammad

    February 28, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Kindly let me know where is it written that you are Hanfi,Shafi , Maliki or Hanbali. As u hv mentioned u Hanfi…. so answer from Quran anf Hadith if we can call ourselves a sectarian. ( hanfi etc).

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      March 1, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      Dear Sameer

      Please reread that line carefully … you might change your idea of Imam Anas being a Hanafi. :)

      As for the debate of whether it is appropriate or not, I don’t think it suits this article’s comments section so let’s not get into it here.

      Best Regards
      Comments Team Lead

  4. Avatar

    Abu Muhammad

    March 1, 2014 at 3:01 AM

    I heard from a reliable brother that there was research done that shows that women find bearded guys more attractive.

    Anyways it is a shame when Muslims make fun of other Muslims for trying to practice what they believe is proper (ex. growing the beard a fistful length).

    It is also very sad when Muslim women make fun of other Muslim women wearing niqaab, saying that it is not necessary, etc.

    I have my own views on what is right, but the main thing is that we shouldn’t insult some-one just because we are not doing it.

    • Avatar

      O H

      March 1, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      @Abu Muhammad: Your right akhi, my own cousins were saying horrendous stuff and calling me and my brother extremists once they saw us on skype! In fact the scholars have said hating any element of Islam or mocking any element of the deen is a nullifier of the shahaada i.e. kufr.

      By the way I hope no Muslim man keeps a beard for attracting women!

      Jazak Allaahu Khair brother Anas for the beneficial article and it is an issue people under-estimate and laugh away :(.

      • Avatar


        March 3, 2014 at 1:44 AM

        ‘Alaykum salaam akhi

        Which scholars have said that hating/mocking elements of the deen nullifies the shahaada? And what is this ruling based upon? [Genuine question based on not having seen the evidence but having heard the statement many times – nowadays on the internet one has to put disclaimers on to enquiries such as these because they are often asked sarcastically or in a challenging-‘don’t make statements you can’t back up yo’ kinda way].

        Agreed that one shouldn’t wear the beard to attract women (one should never do anything purely for people – the first aim is obeying Allah’s command and any humans who appreciate that is a just a side-benefit) – however in today’s culture, shar’i beards are generally not considered attractive. Generally, I say. If a whole lot of sisters reply to this castigating me for my ignorance I will be glad to be proven wrong:-)

        Jazak Allaahu Khair brother Anas, indeed.

        • Avatar

          O H

          March 3, 2014 at 11:16 PM

          Refer to the small book titled “Nawaaqid-ul-Islaam” (The Nullifiers of Islaam) by Imaam Muhammad bin ‘Abdil-Wahhaab which is available online or in bookstores. These nullifiers have been agreed upon my many scholars. Below are relevant sections:

          -Whoever Ridicules, Scorns or Makes Mockery of
          Anything of the Religion of the Prophet, Its Reward or
          Its Punishment, Has Committed Kufr (Disbelief).

          Allah, the Most High, says:
          …Say: Was it Allah, and His Ayaat (proofs, signs, revelations) and His Messenger that you were mocking? Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed… [at-Tawbah 9:65, 66]


          -“Man Abghada shay’an mimmaa jaa’a bi-hi ar-Rasool
          wa law ‘amila bi-hi, kafara.”

          “Whoever Hates Anything of What the Prophet Came
          with Has Committed Kufr (Disbelief), even if he
          practices it [i.e. that thing which the Prophet has come

          Allah, the Most High, says:
          But those who disbelieve, for them is destruction, and (Allah) will make
          their deeds vain. That is because they hate that which Allah has sent down (al-Qur’an, Sharee’ah, etc.); so He has made their deeds fruitless.
          [al-Qur’aan, Soorah Muhammad 47:8, 9]

          • Avatar


            March 3, 2014 at 11:52 PM


            I was aware of some of these Quranic verses, but they didn’t spring to mind at the time. I suppose because the beard is such a ‘contentious’ issue with regards to its fard/wajib/sunna status.

            Shukran katheer for the reminder. Indeed mockery (including of other people’s religions – is an evil practice which if of no benefit to anyone.

  5. Avatar


    March 1, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Probably the best encouragement I’ve found on this issue.

  6. Avatar

    Raheel Awan

    March 2, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Jazakallah for this info.

  7. Avatar

    Riaz Khan

    March 3, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Ouch! “I believe that it is waajib (mandatory). I don’t say this because I’m an extremist, but because the majority of Muslim scholars and schools of thought say so. However, that doesn’t make me any better than you. Actually, I know for a fact that many of you are better than me.”

    Waajib is that compulsory act which is established by a Dhannee proof, i.e. a proof that is not as doubtless as a Qat’ee proof. The person who neglects a Waajib (compulsory) act without a valid excuse is liable for punishment and although the person who rejects the Waajib act is not a Kaafir, he will certainly be regarded as a Faasiq.

    • Avatar

      Arbab Shazan

      March 4, 2014 at 11:58 PM

      What is the evidence that beard is fird or waajib?

      • Avatar


        March 5, 2014 at 2:13 AM

        There is quite a significant amount of evidence supporting this view: see for instance.

        See also this search query on the same database:

        The scholars have used these, and other hadith, to classify the growing of the beard as compulsory (in most cases).

        See as an example of a certain view of the Shafi’i madhab which deems shaving/removal of the beard as ‘just short’ of sinful. When considered with the ‘ijma of the ahlus-sunnah, this is a minority opinion. This, however, does not automatically make it incorrect or impermissible to take.

      • Avatar

        O H

        March 5, 2014 at 7:42 AM

        The four schools of thought have all deemed the beard to be obligatory. Some of the evidences are:

        Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Be different from the mushrikeen: let your beards grow and trim your moustaches.” According to another report: “Trim your moustaches and let your beards grow.”
        There are other hadeeth which convey the same meaning, which is to leave the beard as it is and let it grow long, without shaving, plucking or cutting any part of it. Ibn Hazm reported that there was scholarly consensus that it is an obligation (fard) to trim the moustache and let the beard grow. [Check this source for more info:

  8. Avatar


    March 4, 2014 at 4:41 AM

    First thing first, beard or niqab are absolutely the choice of the individual and should be respected always. But as far as the Prophet’s beard was concerned, it was probably in line with the norms of his time and place, which means most men of that time would have worn their beards similarly, whether muslim or not. For this and other reasons, the wearing of beards as a form of devotion makes me slightly uncomfortable personally, as this seems akin to wearing a t-shirt of one’s favourite musician; it implies that the religion is more about the messenger than the message, which cannot be right? Also, judgement goes both ways, and often bearded ones make assumptions about or belittle the clean-shaven.

    • Avatar

      O H

      March 6, 2014 at 8:24 PM


      The beard is NOT absolutely the choice of the individual. If a Muslim fails to obey a certain commandment/obligation (e.g.the beard) then he is sinful in that regard. Obedience to the Prophet’s commands, as mentioned in the 2nd section of my answer, is mandatory. If one fails to comply they should be remorseful and ask Allaah for strength and assistance so they may overcome their weakness in submitting to the commands instead of justifying boldly their error.

      “It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.” (Qur’an Chapter 33 Verse 36).


      Obey the Messenger. It is part of our shahaada we profess as Muslims! It is is no way contradictory to the message nor does it contradict the obedience/worship of Allaah as you have implied in your assertion.Some Qur’an verses below

      “And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad, saaws, gives you, take it and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain from it.” (Qur’an 59 Verse 7)

      Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an Chapter 3 Verse 31)

      “Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah (Qur’an Chapter 4 Verse 80)

      “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad SAW) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much”.(Qur’an Chapter 33 Verse 21)


      Regarding wearing the beard making you slightly uncomfortable let me remind you of some other Qur’an verses which address this.

      “But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.”(Qur’an Chapter 4 Verse 65)

      Hating any part of the Islamic Shari’ah, whether it be the commandments stipulated in the Qur’an and Sunnah, or any other element of Islam is Kufr/disbelief as mentioned by the scholars and their proof is.

      “But those who disbelieve (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism), for them is destruction, and (Allah) will make their deeds vain.That is because they hate that which Allah has sent down (this Quran and Islamic laws, etc.), so He has made their deeds fruitless.” (Qur’an Chapter 47 Verse 9

      By the way I am not saying you have commited Kufr but your negative stance towards the beard requires this word of caution lest you fall into this error.

      Just advising you as a brother in Islam with no negativity intended but benefit which helps us all. May Allaah guide us all to the straight path, Ameen. Please study the Seerah-biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him) which is a great source if inspiration for all Muslims and by the Grace of Allaah many people have entered Islam after studying the biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

  9. Avatar


    March 4, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    First of all, beards or niqab are entirely an individual choice and as such must be respected. As far as the Prophet’s beard is concerned, however, it seems very likely that it was in line with the norms of his time and place; which is to say that probably most or all adult men of the time wore their beards in a similar way, whether they were muslims or not. For this and other reasons, wearing a beard as a devotional display seems to me to be akin to wearing a t-shirt of a popular musician; an outward show that says nothing about what’s in a man’s mind or heart. And judgement goes both ways: bearded ones frequently belittle or assume things about the clean-shaven.

  10. Avatar

    Abu Milk Sheikh (@AbuMilkSheikh)

    March 5, 2014 at 2:24 AM

    8. The instant love for the sake of Allah and brotherly connection that happens when two bearded brothers, who are complete strangers, cross paths. “Go ‘head mah brotha! I feel you!”

    9. In a jama’ah of strangers the one with the longest beard is automatically the Imam for salah.

    10. The fact that disbelievers are intimidated by, fear or respect it.

    11. It is claimed that Umm al-Mumineen A’isha once may have made an oath by Allah saying “By the One who beautified man through the beard”

  11. Avatar

    Arbab Shazan

    March 6, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    The following is likely the full hadith!

    Abu ‘Umamah reports: The Prophet (sws) once came to some old men of the tribe of Ansar. These men had extremely white beards. Seeing them, the Prophet remarked:
    ‘O People of Ansar dye your beards in red or golden colors and do not follow these People of the Book’.
    They declared:
    ‘O Prophet these People of the Book do not wear shalwars and loin cloths’.
    At this, the Prophet said:
    ‘Wear shalwars and loin cloths and do not follow these People of the Book’.
    They declared:
    ‘O Prophet these People of the Book neither wear shoes nor socks [while praying] ((Abu Da‘ud, Kitabu’l-Salah).
    At this, the Prophet said:
    ‘Wear shoes and socks and do not follow these People of the Book’. They said:
    ‘O Prophet these People of the Book lengthen their moustaches and shave their beards’.
    At this, the Prophet said:
    ‘Clip your moustaches and lengthen your beards and do not follow these People of the Book’. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hambal, vol. 5 p. 264)

    It is evident from the words of this Hadith that some Muslims of the Ansar were following the People of the Book in some of their practices thinking that they were obligatory. Besides other things, they thought that it was necessary to lengthen the moustache and shave off the beard. The Prophet (sws) told them that this was no religious directive. On the contrary, this was a religious innovation; so if they wanted, they could lengthen their beards and clip their moustache instead. Similarly, refraining from dyeing one’s hair was no religious requirement. If they wanted they could dye their hair as well. In other words, this Hadith is not asking men to grow beards; it is merely saying that keeping beards and clipping moustaches is not a condemned religious practice as certain people are contending. It is perfectly allowed in Islam. So, just as dyeing hair, wearing socks and shoes while praying have not become necessary directives as per this Hadith, keeping a beard as an obligatory directive cannot be deduced from it as well.

    The above commentary is not mine but taken from a site. It looks reasonable and rational. It looks to me the most natural position is to allow a person the freedom of choice. The above commentary is in tune with that freedom.

    والله أعلمُ بالـصـواب
    and Allah knows the right”

  12. Avatar

    Wael Abdelgawad

    March 9, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    You didn’t mention that it keeps your face warm in winter, gives you a strong, masculine appearance, prevents skin problems that come from shaving, and gives you something pleasant to stroke when you’re trying to look thoughtful. :-)

  13. Pingback: 7 Reasons Why I Love My Beard | | Follow the quran

  14. Avatar


    April 29, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    The most important thing is to have good character and conduct. Also taking care of prayers, it will be the first thing asked on the day of Qiyamah. May Allah swt give all our muslim brothers tawfeeq to wear a beard. Its a huge sunnah and personally I think majority of men look more attractive with it, its a sign of masculinity and maturity :-)

    • Avatar

      David Ray

      May 7, 2014 at 6:00 AM

      HI, I recently had a look into Islam to see what all the fuss was about. Down here in Australia you have a reputation for fanatical behaviour at the silliest of reasons and many other more serious allegations, which I wont mention now, as I am writing to learn with mutual respect. I have read that the Koran states over 30 times to fight the unbeliever in your life time and states 500 times how the unbeliever with suffer after there life time. Quran 8:55 “SURELY THE VILEST OF ANIMALS IN ALLAH’S SIGHT ARE THOSE WHO DISBELIEVE”. I’m not a disbeliever as I didn’t know there were 1.3 billion people who consider my friends and family vile, till the Sydney pack rapes occurred, 15 yrs before 9/11, and i first learned what a Muslim was, but you would consider me a nonbeliever, so i’m wondering weather there’s anything nice about my mother in the Koran. Thanks for any help.

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#Current Affairs

Criticism, Accountability and the Exclusion of Quran and Sunnah – Critiquing Ahmed Sheikh’s Critique

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Let me begin by making two things clear. First, this article is not seeking to defend the positions of any person nor is it related to the issue of CVE and what it means to the Muslim American community. I am in no way claiming that CVE is not controversial or harmful to the community nor am I suggesting that affiliations with governments are without concern.

Second, this paper is meant to critique the arguments made by the author that encourage holding Islamic scholars accountable. I encourage the reader not to think of this article as an attempt to defend an individual(s) but rather as an attempt to present an important issue through the framework of Islamic discourse – Quran, hadith supported by scholarly opinion. In that spirit, I would love to see articles providing other scholarly views that are contrary to this articles. The goal is to reach the position that is most pleasure to Allah and not the one that best fits our agenda, whims, or world views.

In this article I argue that Islamic scholars in America cannot effectively be held accountable, not because they are above accountability but because (1) accountability in Islam is based on law derived from Quran and hadith and this is the responsibility of Islamic experts not those ignorant of the Islamic sciences. And to be frank, this type of discourse is absent in Muslim America. (2) Muslim Americans have no standard code of law, conduct, or ethics that can be used to judge behavior and decisions of Muslim Americans. I do believe, however, that criticism should be allowed under certain conditions, as I will elaborate in the proceeding paragraphs.

To begin, the evidence used to support the concept of holding leaders accountable is the statement of Abu Bakr upon his appointment to office:

O people, I have been appointed over you, though I am not the best among you. If I do well, then help me; and if I act wrongly, then correct me.

This is a well-known statement of his, and without a doubt part of Islamic discourse applied by the pious companions. However, one should take notice of the context in which Abu Bakr made his statement. Specifically, who he was speaking to. The companions were a generation that embodied and practiced a pristine understanding of Islam and therefore, if anyone were to hold him accountable they would do it in the proper manner. It would be done with pure intentions that they seek to empower Abu Bakr with Quranic and Prophetic principles rather than attack him personally or with ill intentions.

Furthermore, their knowledge of the faith was sufficient to where they understood where and when the boundaries of Allah are transgressed, and therefore understood when he was accountable. However, when these facets of accountability are lost then the validity of accountability is lost as well.

To give an example, during the life of Abu Bakr, prior to appointing Omar (ra) as his successor he took the opinion of several companions. The prospect of Omar’s appointment upset some of the companions because of Omar’s stern character. These companions approached Abu Bakr and asked him “what will you tell Allah when he asks why you appointed the stern and severe (ie Omar).” Abu Bakr replied “I will tell Him that I appointed the best person on earth,” after which Abu Bakr angrily commanded them to turn their backs and leave his presence.

Fast forwarding to the life of Uthman, large groups of Muslims accused Uthman of changing the Sunnah of the Prophet in several manners. Part of this group felt the need to hold Uthman accountable and ended up sieging his home leading to his death. Now, when one researches what this group was criticizing Uthman for, you find that Uthman (ra) did make mistakes in applying the sunnah that even companions such as Ibn Mas’ood expressed concern and disagreement with. However, due to the lack of fiqh and knowledge, these Muslims felt that the actions of Uthman made him guilty of “crimes” against the sunnah and therefore he must be held accountable.

With this I make my first point. A distinction between criticism and accountability must be made. Ibn Mas’ood and others criticized Uthman but, since they were scholars, understood that although Uthman was mistaken his mistakes did not cross the boundaries of Allah, and therefore he was not guilty of anything and thus was not accountable.

Holding Muslim scholars accountable cannot be justified unless evidence from the Quran and hadith indicate transgression against Allah’s law. Thus, before the Muslim American community can call for the accountability of Dr. Jackson, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, or others, an argument founded in Quran and Sunnah and supplicated by scholarly (classical scholars) research and books must be made.

It is simply against Islamic discourse to claim that a scholar is guilty of unethical decisions or affiliations simply because CVE is a plot against Muslims (as I will detail shortly). Rather, an argument must be made that shows how involvement with CVE is against Quran and sunnah. Again, I emphasize the difference between criticizing their decision because of the potential harms versus accusing them of transgressing Islamic principles.

To further elaborate this distinction I offer the following examples. First, Allah says in context of the battle of Badr and the decision to ransom the prisoners of war,

“It is not fit for a prophet that he should take captives until he has thoroughly subdued the land. You ˹believers˺ settled with the fleeting gains of this world, while Allah’s aim ˹for you˺ is the Hereafter. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. Had it not been for a prior decree from Allah, you would have certainly been disciplined with a tremendous punishment for whatever ˹ransom˺ you have taken. Now enjoy what you have taken, for it is lawful and good. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (8:67-69)

In these verses Allah criticizes the decision taken by the Muslims but then states that ransom money was made permissible by Allah, and therefore they are not guilty of a punishable offense. In other words, Allah criticized their decision because it was a less than ideal choice but did not hold them accountable for their actions since it was permissible.

Another example is the well-known incident of Osama bin Zaid and his killing of the individual who proclaimed shahadah during battle. Despite this, Osama proceeded to slay him. Upon hearing of this the Prophet (s) criticized Osama and said, “did you see what is in his heart?”

Although Osama’s actions resulted in the death of a person the Prophet (s), did not hold Osama accountable for his actions and no punishment was implemented. Similarly, Khalid bin Waleed killed a group of people who accepted Islam accidentally and similarly, the Prophet (s) criticized Khalid but did not hold him accountable.

Why was there no accountability? Because the decisions of Osama and Khalid were based on reasonable – although incorrect – perspectives which falls under the mistake category of Islamic law “And there is no blame upon you for that in which you have erred but [only for] what your hearts intended. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful” (33:5)

The previous examples, among others, are referred to in Islamic discourse as ta’weel (interpretation). There are many examples in the lives of the companions where decisions were made that lead to misapplications of Islam but were considered mistakes worthy of criticism but not crimes worthy of punishment or accountability.

Ta’weel, as Ibn Taymiyya states, is an aspect of Islam that requires deep understanding of the Islamic sciences. It is the grey area that becomes very difficult to navigate except by scholars as the Prophet (s) states in the hadith, “The halal is clear and the haram is clear and between them is a grey area which most people don’t know (ie the rulings for).”

Scholars have commented stating that the hadith does not negate knowledge of the grey entirely and that the scholars are the ones who know how to navigate that area. The problem arises when those ignorant of Islamic law attempt to navigate the grey area or criticize scholars attempting to navigate it.

Going back to Ibn Taymiyya -skip this part if you believe Ibn Taymiyya was a dancing bear- I would like to discuss his own views on associating oneself with oppressive rulers. In his book “Islamic Political Science” (As Siyaasa ash Shar’iah) he details the nuances of fiqh in regards to working with or for oppressive rulers.

It would be beneficial to quote the entire section, but for space sake I will be concise. Ibn Taymiyya argues that the issue of oppressive rulers should not be approached with a black and white mentality. Rather, one must inquire of the relationship between the person and the ruler.

One can legitimately adhere to the verse “And cooperate in righteousness and piety” (5:2) while working for an unjust ruler such as: “performing jihad, applying penal laws, protecting the rights of others, and giving those who deserve. This is in accordance to what Allah and His messenger have commanded and whoever refrains from those things out of fear of assisting the unjust then they have left an obligation under a false form of asceticism (wara’).”

Likewise, accepting a position under an unjust regime may prevent or reduce the harm of that regime, or prevent someone mischievous from taking the position and inflicting even more harm, then such an association is Islamically valid. Furthermore, someone working in a particular department is not responsible or accountable for the crimes being committed in another department nor are they guilty of “cooperat[ing] in sin and aggression” (5:2). He ascribes these fiqh rulings to the majority of scholars including Abu Hanifa, Malik and Ahmed.

The argument against those who are affiliated with the UAE is simply not grounded in fiqh or supported by clear evidences from the Quran and hadith. How does being part of a peace forum make the participants guilty of the crimes in Yemen? The claim that such participation enhances the influence of these regimes is not necessarily consistent with Quran and hadith.

Dr. Jackson, I argue, is in line with Islamic discourse when he says that being part of such initiatives does not mean he agrees with all they do. The same goes for CVE. As Ibn Taymiyya suggests above, participating in such programs is Islamically justifiable if the goal is to reduce the harm and this is what Dr. Jackson claims. Ibn Taymiyya gives the example of someone working as a tax collector for a ruler who unjustly takes taxes from his citizens. If the individual can reduce the amount being taken then his position is Islamically valid.

One might state that such a claim – reducing the harm – is naïve and an excuse to justify their affiliations. No doubt this is a possibility, however, I once again quote Ibn Taymiyya,

“The obligation is to bring about the benefit to the best of their ability and or prevent the harm or at least reduce it. If there are two possible benefits then the individual should pursue the greater of the two even if it leads to losing the lesser. If there are two possible harms to prevent then they should prevent the greater of the two even if it results in the occurrence of the lesser.”

There are ways of determining whether a persons is clearly excusing himself. At the same time, the debate as to whether the benefits outweigh the harm is almost always within the grey area mentioned above. Thus, it is irresponsible to attack Islamic scholars and call for their accountability for positions that are not clearly against Quran and hadith.

Another rebuttal might claim that the rulers during the time of Ibn Taymiyya were better than present day rulers and that his fiqh was addressing his realities which are inconsistent with ours. My response is that although that is true, Ibn Taymiyya’s teachings are not built on contextual realities that are only effective in those realities. Rather, his teachings are built on principles that are formulated in a way that renders it capable of measuring a particular context. In other words, it acts in a way that considers the realities and context as part of the equation and decision process.

A third rebuttal might claim that Ibn Taymiyya, like many others, warned of the harms of befriending rulers. Again, this is accurate, however, an important distinction must be made and that is between spiritual advice and fiqh rulings. An issue can be spiritually problematic but permissible fiqh-wise and this differentiation is seen in the lives of the companions and spiritualists in general.

For example, the companions rejected many worldly pleasures out of zuhd and wara’ (two forms of asceticism) and not because they are forbidden. To be more specific, a person may restrict themselves from drinking green tea not because it is forbidden by Quran or hadith but because of they view it as a desire that distracts them from the next life.

Similarly, the discouragement scholars expressed towards relationships with rulers was because of the spiritual harms and not because of an unequivocal prohibition against it. This is an important facet of Islamic discourse that should be recognized by the Muslim community. That is, a person can critique an issue from various angles (for example the psychological harms of political rhetoric and how it effects a person’s spirituality) while remaining neutral to Islamic law. What I am trying to say is that legitimate criticisms can be made about a particular issues without having to bring a person’s Islamic credibility into the discussion.

To conclude, I’d like to once again emphasize a distinction between criticism and accountability. Criticism is justified when the criticizer is qualified in the topic and when the one being criticized has made a mistake. Accountability is legitimate when a person has transgressed red lines established by Islam itself. But, in order for such accountability to be valid one must invoke the Quran and hadith and here lies the problem.

In the several articles posted against UAE and CVE, Quran and hadith are excluded and such has become Muslim American discourse – we are Muslims who invoke Allah and His messenger yet exclude their words from the conversation. I remind the Muslim American community and myself of the following verse “And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result” (4:59).

I would like to pose the following questions to the Muslim American community:

  • Under what code of law and ethics should scholars be held accountable? In other words, what standards do we use to deem a scholar accountable or guilty? Who determines these laws and principles? Is it other scholars who are well versed in fiqh? Is it American standards or perhaps Muslim American activists and whatever is in line with their agenda?
  • Who or what institution has the authority to hold scholars accountable?
  • To what extent do we consider Quran, hadith, fiqh and scholarly opinions in determining illegal actions, problematic decisions, and or immoral behavior?
  • Are these laws and principles only applicable to scholars or are other Muslim leader figures held to the same standards?
  • Are all scholars “dancing bears” who have no credibility? If not, who, in your opinion, is trustworthy and credible and why do you think so? Is it because they are following Quran and Sunnah, or because they fit activism?
  • Do you believe that certain celebrated Muslim American activists / politicians present theological and moral problems to American Muslims that are corrupting their faith and behavior? Should they be held accountable for their statements and actions? What about the various Muslim organizations that invite them as keynote speakers and continue to show unwavering support?
  • Do you believe it is fair to say that these celebrated activists are not responsible for clarifying to the community their controversial positions and statements because they are not scholars or seen as religious figures?
  • Do you believe that activism is dominating Muslim American discourse and do you believe that there is a serious exclusion of Quran and hadith in that discourse?

I hope the community will acknowledge the concerning reality of the exclusion of Quran and hadith from our affairs. Until we live up to the standards of Quran and sunnah our criticism will only lead to further division and harm.

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Do You Know Why Uzma Was Killed?

#JusticeForUzma is a campaign that highlights the many terrible ways household help is treated in places around the world. Here, Fatima Asad writes about how she is raising her children to be the change they want to see in their society.

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Last week, Pakistani society was struggling with the story of the horrific murder of Uzma, a teenager, who worked as a house maid in the city of Lahore. The 16-year-old was allegedly tortured for months and then murdered by the woman she worked for…for taking a bite from the daughter’s plate. #JusticeForUzma is a campaign that highlights the many terrible ways household help is treated in places around the world. Here, Fatima Asad writes about how she is raising her children to be the change they want to see in their society. 

By Fatima Asad

Living in Pakistan, my children realize that within the gates of our neighborhood, they will see no littering, they will not experience water or electricity shortages and certainly, no one will be knocking on the door begging for food or money. The reason they have this realization is because I make it the day’s mission to let them know about their privilege, about the ways they have been blessed in comparison to the other, very real, living, breathing little girls and boys outside those gates. Alas, my children come face to face with those very real people as soon as the gates close behind us.

“Why are there so many poor people in Pakistan, Mommy?” they ask, quite regularly now, unsatisfied with the answers I’ve provided so far. The question perpetually makes me nervous, uncomfortable, and I hastily make a lesson plan in my mind to gradually expose this world’s truths to them… ahista, ahista…(slow and steady).

But on days like these, when we find out about the death of yet another underprivilged young girl (they’re becoming redundant, aren’t they?), on days like these, I want to hold them, shake them, scream at them to wake up!

Wake up, my child! Beta jaag jao.

Do you know why that little girl we see outside, always has dirt on her face and her hair is in visible knots?

It is because, there are too many people who can take a shower anytime they want, who have maids to oil, brush and style their hair.

Do you know why there are children with no clothes on their backs?

It is because, there are too many of us with too many on ours. There are too many of us with walk-in closets for mothers and matching wardrobes for their infant daughters. We obsess about tailors, brands, this collection, last season. How often do we hear or say “can’t repeat that one”, “this one is just not my thing anymore…”

Do you know why there are children with their cheeks sunk deep in their skulls, scraping for our leftovers in our trashcans?

Because there are too many of us, who are overstuffed with biryani, burgers, food deliveries, dinner parties, chai get-togethers, themed birthday cupcakes, and bursting appetites for more, more, more, and different, different, different.

There are too many of us craving the exotic and the western, hoping to impress the next guest that comes to lunch with our useless knowledge of foods that should not be our pride, like lasagna, nuggets, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, pizza, minestrone soup, etc.

There are too many of us who do not want to partake from our outdated, simple traditional cuisines… that is, unless we can put a “cool” twist on them.

Do you know why there are children begging on the streets with their parents? Because there are too many of us driving in luxury cars to our favorite staycation spots, rolling up the windows in the beggars’ faces.

We are rather spent our money of watching the latest movies for family nights, handing out cash allowances to our own kids so they won’t feel left out when going out.

Do you know why there are mothers working during the days and sacrificing their nights sewing clothes for meager coins? Why there are fathers, who sacrifice their sleep and energy to guard empty mansions at the cost of their self-respect? Because there are too many of us attending dance rehearsals for weddings of the friends we backstab and envy. Because there are too many of us binge-watching the latest hot shows on Netflix, hosting ghazal nights to pay tribute to dead musicians and our never-ending devotion for them, and many more of us viciously shaking our heads when the political analyst on TV delivers a breaking report on a millionaire’s private assets.

Do you know why there are people who will never hold a book in their hands or learn to write their own names? Do you know why there will never be proof that some people lived, breathed, smiled, or cried? Because there are too many of us who are given the best education money can buy, yet only end up using that education to improve our own selves – and only our own selves. There are too many of us who wear suits and ties, entrusted with building the country, yet too many of our leaders and politicians just use that opportunity to build their own legacies or secret, off shore accounts.

Do you know why children, yes children, are ripped apart from their parents, forced to provide their bodies and energies so that a stranger’s family can raise their kids? Because, there are too many of us who need a separate maid for each child we birth. Because, there are too many of us who have given the verdict that our children are worth more than others’.

Because, there are too many of us who need a maid to prove to frenemies our monetary worth and showcase a higher social class.

Because, there are too many of us who enslave humans, thinking we cannot possibly spoil our youth, energy and time on our own needs, our own tasks, our own lives.

Because, there are too many of us who need to be comfortable, indulged, privileged, spoiled, educated, satisfied, excited, entertained and happy at the expense of other living souls.

And we do all this, thinking—fooling ourselves into believing— that our comforts are actually a way of providing income for another human being. Too many of us think that by indulging in our self-centered lifestyles, we are providing an ongoing charity for society’s neediest.

Too many of us are sinking into a quicksand that is quite literally killing us. This needs to stop immediately. This accelerating trend of possessing and displaying more isn’t going to slow down on its own- in fact, it’s become deadly. Too many of our hearts have hardened, burnt to char.

More of us need to sacrifice our comforts, our desires, our nafs so others can have basic human rights fulfilled. More of us must say no to blind consumerism, envious materialistic competition and the need for instant gratification so others can live. We may have the potential to turn into monsters, but we have exceedingly greater potential to be empathetic, selfless revolutionaries. Too many of us have been living for the here and now, but more of us need to actively start thinking about the future.

Do we want to raise generations that will break bread with the less fortunate or do we want to end up with vicious monsters who starve and murder those they deem unworthy? The monsters who continue to believe that they have been blessed with more, so others can be given less than they are entitled to.

It is time for change andthe change has to start from within these gates.

#justiceforuzma #justiceformaids


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OpEd: Breaking Leases Into Pieces

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Ali ibn Talib raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)once said, “Know the truth and you’ll know who’s speaking the truth.” 

I am based in Canada and was recently having coffee with friends. In the course of the conversation, a friend (who I consider knowledgeable) said that it’s okay to pay interest on a leased car because interest doesn’t apply to lease contracts. This completely caught me off guard, because it made no logical sense that interest would become halal based solely on the nature of the contract.

I asked him how this can be true and his response was that the lease contract is signed with the dealer and the interest transaction is between the dealer and the financing company so it has nothing to do with the buyer. Again, this baffled me because I regularly lease cars and this is an incorrect statement: The lease agreement is signed with a third party financing company who is charging you directly for the interest they pay the car dealership. Therefore, any lease contract that has interest associated with it is haram. This is the same as saying your landlord can charge you interest for his mortgage on a rental contract and this would make it halal. I tried to argue this case and explain to my friend that what he was saying was found on false assumptions and one should seriously look into this matter before treating riba in such a light manner.

Upon going home that night, I pulled out all my lease contracts (negotiated to 0% mind you) and sent them over to my friend. They clearly showed that a bill of sale is signed with the dealer, which is an initial commitment to purchase but the actual lease agreement is signed with a third party financing company which is charging you interest directly. If this interest rate is anything above zero it is haram (anything which is haram in a large quantity is also haram in a small quantity).

To my dismay, instead of acknowledging his mistake, my friend played the “Fatwa Card” and sent me a fatwa from a very large fatwa body in North America, which was also basing their argument on this false assumption. Fortunately for me, my friend pointed out the hotline number and the day and time the mufti who gave the fatwa would be available to answer questions.

I got in touch with the scholar and over a series of text messages proceeded to explain to him that his fatwa was based on a wrong assumption and for this reason people would be misled into leasing cars on interest and signing agreements with financing companies which are haram.
He was nice enough to hear my arguments, but still insisted that “maybe things were different in Canada.” Again this disappointed me because giving fatwa is a big responsibility – by saying “maybe” he was implying that full research has not been done and a blanket fatwa has been given for all of North America.

It also meant that if my point was true (for both Canada and the United States) dozens of Muslims maybe engaging in riba due to this fatwa.

The next week I proceeded to call two large dealerships (Honda and Toyota) in the very city where the Fatwa body is registered in the US and asked them about paperwork related to leasing. They both confirmed that when leasing a new vehicle, the lease contract is signed with a third party financing company which has the lien on the vehicle and the dealer is acting on the financing company’s behalf.

It is only when a vehicle is purchased in cash that a contract is signed with the dealer. This proved my point that both in the US and Canada car lease contracts are signed with the financing company and the interest obligations are directly with the consumer, therefore if the interest rate is anything above 0% it is haram. I sent a final text to the mufti and my friend sharing what I had found and letting him know that it was now between them and Allah.

1. As we will stand in front of Allah alone on Yaum al Qiyamah, in many ways we also stand alone in dunya. You would think that world renowned scholars and an entire institution would be basing their fatwas on fact-checked assumptions but this is not the case. You would also think that friends who you deem knowledgable and you trust would also use logic and critical thinking, but many times judgment is clouded for reasons unbeknownst to us. We must not take things at face value. We must do our research and get to the bottom of the truth. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says to stand up for truth and justice even if it be against our ourselves; although it is difficult to do so in front of friends and scholars who you respect, it is the only way.

2. There are too many discussions, debates and arguments that never reach closure or get resolved. It is important to follow up with each other on proofs and facts to bring things to closure, otherwise our deen will slowly be reduced to a swath of grey areas. Alhamdulillah, I now know enough about this subject to provide a 360 degree view and can share this with others. It is critical to bring these discussions to a close whether the result is for you or against you.

3. Many times we have a very pessimistic and half hearted view towards access to information. When I was calling the dealerships from Canada in the US,  part of me said: Why would these guys give me the information? But if you say Bismillah and have your intentions in the right place Allah makes the path easy. One of the sales managers said “I can see you’re calling from Toronto, are you sure you have the right place?” I replied, “I need the information and if you can’t give it to me I don’t mind hanging up.” He was nice enough to provide me with the detailed process and paperwork that goes into leasing a car.

Finally, I haven’t mentioned any names in this opinion and I want to make clear that I am not doubting the intentions of those who I spoke to; I still respect and admire them greatly in their other works. We have to be able to separate individual cases and actions from the overall person.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) guide us to the truth and rid of us any weaknesses or arrogance during the process.


Ed’s Note: The writer is not a religious scholar and is offering his opinion based on his research on leasing contracts in North America.

Suggested reading:

Muslim’s Guide to Debt and Money Management Part 6

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