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UAE Forum Silencing Populations With Legitimate Grievances

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by Amir Aboguddah

The UAE’s Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies released its most recent statement urging Muslim populations to refrain from any call for democracy if they want to live in peace. As many can see, the statement is disappointing as it essentially tells Muslims to accept the tyranny of their autocrats (unless they want to live in chaos and bloodshed). Problematically, it places the onus of preserving peace on populations rather than governments (whose main job is to preserve peace) and gives oppressive governments a pass on all of their egregious and horrific violations while asking populations to waive their rights. Even more disturbing is the fact that this argument was given an Islamic garb. The religious justification for the claim that “a call for democracy is a call for war” must be addressed as it is – with all due respect- flawed and ignores the clear Islamic tradition which encourages non-violent opposition to tyranny. Islam cannot be used as a tool by which to silence populations with legitimate grievances.

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The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslims Societies published its more recent document stating:

“In societies that are not ready, the call for democracy is essentially a call for war…Our Sharī‘ah goes to great lengths to avoid bloodshed and to maintain harmony and serenity, and our tradition teaches us that reform is preferable to revolution, as revolution brings destruction without offering solutions. History has taught us that damage to humans is very different from damage to structures. Reform is also more familiar to Arab and Islamic cultures.”[i]

Problematically, the statement equates the mere call for democracy with revolution and, consequently, suggests that it will inevitably cause bloodshed. One wonders: If a simple “call” for something is equal to revolution, then what does reform look like? Isn’t a “call” for change the practical definition of “reform” (which the Forum claims to prefer)? If a “call” for democracy is equal to revolution, thus removing that option off the table, what other options do Muslims have to exercise the power of “reform”? Nothing. The Forum has drawn a false image where there are only two options on the table, tyranny and bloodshed (with tyranny being the preferred choice).

With all due respect to the scholars that participated in the Forum and without questioning any intentions, the Forum’s statement does not seem consistent with the Islamic tradition which has clearly encouraged Muslims to hold their leaders accountable and demand change when it is needed. The Forum is correct in that the Sharia avoids bloodshed and that Muslims scholars, over the centuries, have shown an aversion to revolution due to the bloodshed and destruction it causes. However, those same scholars drew a clear distinction (which the Forum seems to ignore) between armed revolution and non-violent opposition to those in authority. A faithful reading of the Islamic tradition reveals not only that Muslims have the right to oppose those in power and hold them accountable, but that they have the duty to do so. Engaging in such action is not the same as engaging in armed rebellion.

Any Muslim with a rudimentary knowledge of his/her faith knows that every Muslim has a duty to perform ‘amr bil-maarouf (enjoining the good) and nahi ‘an al-munkar (forbidding the evil).[ii] A Muslim is commanded to change the munkar (evil) by either taking physical action, speaking up against it or, at least, rejecting it with one’s heart.[iii] It may occur to some that this duty only applies between individuals and that it doesn’t apply to the relationship between subjects and rulers, especially in light of the many hadiths that demand obedience to “those in authority”. However, the Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) —the same man who commanded Muslims to pay heed to those in authority— praised the one who stands up to a tyrannical leader by commanding him (i.e the ruler) to do good and forbidding him from doing evil. According to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), a person killed by a tyrant after commanding him to do good and forbidding him from doing evil is “the master of martyrs”, equating him with his martyred uncle (Hamza raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)). Interestingly, the words used in this Hadith, ‘amr and nahi (i.e commanding (the good) and forbidding (the evil) respectively), are the same words used in the Quran to describe the duty of Muslims to enjoin the good and forbid the evil.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also declared:

The best Jihad is a word of justice in front of an oppressive ruler.[iv]

Our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) clearly encouraged Muslims to change evil and to speak truth to power. The Prophet promises immense reward and a noble status to the one who opposes tyrannical rulers. How can the Islamic tradition encourage such behaviour while at the same time, according to the Forum, view a mere call for accountability and human dignity as a call for war? It is either that the Islamic tradition draws a clear line between revolution and non-violent demands by citizens, or that the Islamic tradition is internally inconsistent.

As a result, Muslim jurists have often drawn a distinction between ‘amr bil-maarouf wal nahi ‘an al-munkar and al-khurouj bil-sayf (rebelling with the sword).[v] The former is encouraged while the latter is, according to many (but not all) scholars, prohibited. Muslims are not only free to speak up against the tyranny of those in authority, but they are also permitted to refuse to carry out their unjust policies and to physically undo their actions, as these forms of conduct do not constitute rebellion.[vi]

This is evident in how Muslim scholars dealt with the tyrannical rulers of their time. Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة الله was called upon by the Ummayads to endorse a clamp-down on an uprising. Abu Hanifah defied the demands of the Ummayad governor and declared, “If he ordered me to count for him the doors of the mosque I wouldn’t comply. So how can I comply when he wants me to endorse his command to strike the throat of a Muslim?!”. Abu Hanifah was consequently detained and beaten for days.[vii]

The Imam remained equally true to his principles after the Abbassids overthrew the Ummayads. As part of his effort to secure his rule, Al-Mansur, the Abbasid Caliph, made the people of Mosul pledge allegiance to him and that their blood would be “lawful” if they break their pledge; essentially, they had to pledge their lives as collateral. When the people of Mosul broke their pledge, Al-Mansur, moved to act on the “agreement”. Abu Hanifah defied the Caliph and told him: “They pledged to you that which they do not have [i.e the right to contract their life away] and you took from them a pledge which you cannot take.”[viii]

More importantly, not only did Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة الله  voice opposition to the rulers of his time and refuse to obey or endorse their commands, he also supported armed rebellion against them. The Imam financially supported the uprising of Zaid Ibn Ali against Ummayad rule and also encouraged people to stand with the uprising.[ix] Similarly, and after becoming disillusioned with the rule of the Abbassids, he voiced support for the uprising of Muhammed Al-Nafs Al- Zakiyyah against the Caliph Al-Mansur and instructed one of Al-Mansur’s military men to refrain from fighting Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyyah. As a result, Abu Hanifah was imprisoned and remained in prison until his death.[x] Although I do not aim to make an argument about the permissibility of armed rebellion, I make mention of this in order to show that if Abu Hanifa was willing to support armed rebellion, then, a fortiori, anything short of that is certainly more permissible.

This is also a good time to note that the debate on the permissibility of armed revolution is a nuanced and unsettled debate. Any claim that armed revolution is categorically impressible is simply false. However, that is an issue for another time.

Imam Malik ibn Anas رحمة الله was also detained and tortured during the reign of Al-Mansur for supporting the uprising of Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyyah. People came to the Imam asking him if they can pledge allegiance of Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyyah despite having already made a pledge to Al- Mansur. The Imam said: “You were compelled to pledge allegiance. And no compelled person can be held to a pledge.”[xi]

Imam Izzideen ibn Abdulsalam رحمة الله serves as another striking example. While in his hometown, Damascus, Ibn Abdulsalam learned that the King of Damascus, Al-Saleh Ismail, formed an alliance with the Crusaders. He had agreed to sell them weapons (to be used in their crusade against the Egyptians), and surrendered to them a number of Muslim citadels. This angered Ibn Abdulsalam who declared, “It is forbidden upon you to sell to them [weapons] as you are certain that they purchase [these weapons[ to wage war against your brothers!” The Imam denounced the King from the pulpit of the largest mosque in Damascus. He was detained and, upon his release, he went into self-exile.[xii]

The Imam moved to Egypt where his bold opposition to rulers made an appearance. Ibn Abdulsalam became known as the “auctioneer of kings” because he demanded that the princes and generals of Egypt (the Mamluks) be auctioned off in the public market as slaves in order to establish their freedom (this raises a lot of questions, but that is another topic for another time).[xiii] He refused to give any legal effect to their decrees until the Mamluks complied with his demand. The Mamluks refused, prompting the Imam to pack his belongings and depart to the outskirts of the city. However, and after having attracted a large base of followers and supporters, the entire population followed him to the outskirts of the city in solidarity with their beloved Imam.[xiv] Fearing that their state would collapse, the princes and generals invited Ibn Abdulsalam back and complied with his order. The Imam was such a strong check against the power of kings and generals that upon his death, the ruling Sultan, Baybars, said in relief “Only now is my reign secure.”[xv]

All the above indicates that Muslims have the right — if not the duty— to serve as a check against the power of rulers, especially the tyrannical ones. They should be free to demand better forms of government. The words of the Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) make clear that a Muslim is rewarded for his/her opposition to tyranny. This is further supported by the actions of prominent Islamic scholars who applied that teaching in their lives. Even if we are to accept the prohibition on armed rebellion (and that is certainly a reasonable conclusion), this does not force us to adopt the opposite extreme, which is acceptance and passiveness in the face of tyrannical governments. Non-violent defiance and opposition to tyrannical rulers cannot be equated with revolution. When Muslim populations call on their governments to free political prisoners, respect fundamental rights and freedoms, and allow for the public accountability of public officials, they are enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, as per the Prophet’s instructions.

The bloodshed is not caused by those who use their voices as the Prophet commanded. It is caused by those who respond to those voices with bombs and bullets.

Allah knows best.

Amir Aboguddah is a JD Candidate at the University of Toronto.

[i] https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TOts39QzfEg-QQGZ-I0WD731KlSy_nL7/view

[ii] See: Quran [Al-Imraan: 104,110]

[iii] Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Iman, Hadith no. 73.

[iv] Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith no.. 2174

[v] See: Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, Jami’ Al-‘Uloom Walhikam, p. 954

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Al-Muwaffaq Al-Makki, Manaqib Abi Hanifa, p. 23 – 24.

[viii] Muhammed Abu Zahra, Tareekh Almathahib AlIslamiyyah p. 348-353.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Tajuddin Abu Nasr Al-Subki, Tabaqat Al-Shafiyyah Al-Kubra, p, 243, vol 8.

[xiii] Muhammed Al-Zuhayli, Al-Izz Ibn Abdulsalam: Sultan Al-Ulamaa wa Ba’ii Al-Mulouk p. 179-183

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Abu Musa

    December 26, 2018 at 7:55 AM

    An excellent piece – Jazakumullahu Khairan. Clarifies the misrepresentation of our Islamic tradition and even three misrepresention of facts and reality.

  2. Avatar

    khan

    January 1, 2019 at 1:00 PM

    All the rulers and systems in muslims world are remanence of colonial era and continue serve their interest in the region. Why these leaders keep telling if you change the current status-co in muslim world result will be ISIS ? Why can’t they see the return of Islam and work for it …

  3. Avatar

    DI

    January 2, 2019 at 10:37 PM

    Salam Amir,

    A couple of things.

    Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik were supporting viable alternatives from the Family of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) to the existing leadership. It is not injustice they were fighting alone, but assisting those from the Prophetic Household which is a very serious albeit neglected duty. If we had individuals such as Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya or Zaid Ibn Ali around today…then the discussion might be different…

    It is naive to imagine Islamic scholars having the same success as Imam Izz-ud-Din. I don’t think Muslims follow their scholars that loyally in our time. Most scholars who would act thus, in our day, would disappear overnight. Case in point: Shaykh Salman al-Oudah. Where is he now? Now, imagine that happening to all the ulema present at the UAE Peace forum.

    I feel much of what is being written on MM is doing a disservice and harm to Islamic scholarship (including scholars who write on this website) than any harm done by the UAE Peace forum.

    Anyways, I blogged a number of other references from Islamic history worth reading.

    di.

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#Current Affairs

This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Bidding farewell to Ramadan, celebrating Eid?

Well, the Muslims of East Turkestan under Chinese occupation had neither Ramadan nor will they have Eid…

Not only that, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) run government has transferred Uyghurs and other ethnic minority citizens from East Turkestan to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Nike, Gap, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Carters and others. Read Uyghurs for Sale for more information

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CCP is also pressuring governments across the world to extradite Uyghurs back to occupied East Turkestan.

Here is what you can do to help them:

Action Items

  1. Keep making dua for the oppressed of East Turkistan and the world.
  2. Boycott Chinese products! Do not be complicit in slave labour. Start with focusing on the companies in the graphic. Share it with #SewnWithtTears, #StopChina, #BoycottChina. Write to them and demand that they do better.
  3. Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs and the East Turkistani cause. Learn more at SaveUighur.org
  4. Work towards reducing your country’s economic dependence on China.
  5. Build alliances with all people of conscience to demand a cessation of China’s oppression of all faith groups, be it Muslim Uyghur, Hui; Chinese Christian; or Tibetan Buddhist.
  6. Encourage and promote fairer trade and commerce with Muslims and others rather than China.
  7. Inquire about Uyghur diaspora members in your area. Organize to help out orphans, widows, and students.
  8. Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  9. Get your universities/endowments to divest from China. Raise awareness about Chinese espionage and hired guns in academia. Demand academic and financial support for Uyghur scholars and students. Request more academic attention and funds for Central Asian, Uyghur, Turkistani studies. 

Read a greater discussion of action items in A Response to Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s Comments on the Uyghurs, which also contains a greater discussion on East Turkistan’s history and its current situation. A condensed Arabic version of the article can be found here

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Coronavirus

Alternative Eid Celebrations In The Midst Of A Pandemic

“Eid-al-Quarantine” is what my sister has so fondly dubbed our upcoming Eid al Fitr this year. I find myself asking, “How are we going to make Eid a fun and special celebration this year in the midst of a dangerous pandemic?” With a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness, this Eid can be fun–no matter the current circumstances. This post will provide you with some inspiration to get your alternative Eid preparations underway! 

Special note: Shelter-in-place restrictions are lessening in many places in the United States, but this does not give us the green light to go back to life as normal and celebrate Eid in the ways we usually would have in the past. I am no health expert, but my sincerest wish for all Muslims throughout the world is that we all err on the side of caution and maintain rigorous precautions.

In-person gatherings are going to be much riskier in light of public health safety concerns. I do not recommend that people get together this Eid. Keep in mind, as well, that this is a big weekend for all Americans, as it is Memorial Day Weekend and crowds may be expected in places like parks and beaches. 

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Eid Day Must’s

Just because you are staying in, doesn’t mean that all of the Eid traditions have to go. Some may be exactly the same, some may be slightly adjusted this year. 

  • Get dressed up, even if it’s just for an hour or two. This might be a good chance to do hair and make up for sisters who normally don’t on Eid because of hijab or other modesty concerns. 
  • Take your family pictures, as usual. 
  • Decorate your house, even if it’s just with some fresh flowers in a vase or hanging up some string lights. (This time, I think sharing pictures of your setup may  have some more wiggle room.)
  • Find a way to pray Eid salah at home, if your local imam mentions a way to adapt for the current situation or check out this MM article
  • Eat some good food, and make sure to feast. 
  • Take that infamous Eid nap. 
  • Greet loved ones (phone calls, video calls, text messages, voice/video messages, make and send Eid cards).
  • Give and receive gifts. (Electronic ways to transfer money/checks in the mail, dropping off gifts to homes/sending gifts in the mail/having an online order pick-up in-store. You may also choose to do a gift exchange, if not this weekend, next). 

Virtual Parties

Virtual celebrations are a great, safe, option. The best thing about virtual hangouts is that people from all over the world can “come together” to celebrate Eid. This can be as simple as talking and catching up, or can be as orchestrated as a full-out party including games. Keep in mind, the games and virtual parties aren’t only for the kids–everyone should have fun this Eid! We recently threw a virtual birthday party for our one-year-old and it was quite the experience. 

  • Split guests into different calls (kids’ call, adults’ call; men’s call, women’s call)
  • Party agenda for a rigorously planned party so everyone knows what to expect
  • Party games, either with certain items that everyone has (or can easily and quickly purchase) or games that do not require much else besides an internet connection 
    • Games requiring physical items (think of items that everyone is likely to have and think of carnival-type games):
      • Soccer ball juggling or basketball shooting competition
      • Water balloon toss
      • Timed races (three-legged, holding an egg in a spoon, etc.)
    • Games with little to no special equipment
      • Online Pictionary https://skribbl.io/
      • Online Scrabble
      • Video games
      • Charades
      • Taboo (we do this for our cousin game nights with pictures of cards that one person sends to people from the opposite team)
      • Scattergories
      • Bingo
      • Mad libs
      • Speaking games that take turns going around a circle (going through the alphabet saying names of animals or colors or foods, rhyming words [we played the last two lines of “Down by the Bay” for our son’s birthday party])
      • Movement game (Simon says, dancing if you’re into that [“Cha Cha Slide,” dance-off, passing along dance moves as was a TikTok trend I heard of, simply dancing…])
      • Games like in Whose Line is it Anyway? or like the “Olympics” (specifically the “middle games”) that I wrote about way back
  • Performances
    • Skits prepared by one family or even across households
    • Reciting a poem or surah or singing
    • Other showcases of talent, by individuals or not
  • Gift Exchanges (I’ve been doing this virtually since 2013 with friends/distant family members.)

Alternative Virtual/Group Celebrations

Being “together” isn’t always gathering for a party, and that’s what I think most people miss during the forced isolation caused by the pandemic. There are many things you can do to get ready for or celebrate Eid with loved ones even if you’re not together. 

  • Share special recipes with each other or plan to serve the same meals.
  • Coordinate Eid outfits or attempt to do matching henna designs.
  • Send Eid pictures to family and friends.
  • Prepare and cook meals or clean or decorate while on a video call (you don’t have to be talking the entire time).
  • Watch the same movie or show (whether that’s something everyone does as separate households or you do concurrently/even with a video or phone call running. This might be a good time to watch Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King” and do the 10 things it invites us to do.)
  • Go through family pictures or old videos together. Maybe even create a short slideshow/video of your favorites. 
  • Story time full of family legends and epic moments (the best Eid, a difficult time of sickness, immigration or moving story, new baby in the family, etc.). Someone build the fire and get the s’mores going.

Alternative “Outings”

In the same breath, it’s so refreshing to go out and do something fun, not just stay cooped up in your house, right? Seriously. 

  • Check out a virtual museum tour
  • Go on a nice drive to some place you love or miss going to, like drive by the masjid or school or a beautiful area (but stay in your car if there are other people around)
  • Watch an Eid Khutbah (or a regular one) on Eid day (make it special by listening outside in your yard or as a family where you pray).
  • Create a movie theater experience inside the home (that might just mean some popcorn and homemade slushies).
  • Get carry out from a favorite restaurant (if it’s open), and finally have the motivation to take a longer drive if needed
  • Make fruit or gift baskets for friends and family and drop them off at their homes
  • A “paint night,” or some other craft, that everyone in the family participates in
  • Decorate your car and drive around to show it off to friends (I’ve heard there’s an actual Eid car parade at various masaajid in Chicago

Interesting Alternative Community Celebrations I’ve Heard About

Some communities are getting super creative. As I mentioned above, a handful of masaajid in Chicago (Orland Park Prayer Center, Mosque Foundation, and Islamic Center of Wheaton as well as Dar Al Taqwa in Maryland) are putting together Eid drive-thru car parades. I’ve heard of different communities, whether officially sponsored by the masjid or just put together by groups of individuals, having a drive-in Eid salah, in which families pray in their cars in a rented drive-in theater or parking lot (Champaign, Illinois and a community in Maryland). I’m  definitely impressed with that last option, and I’m waiting to hear about more creative ways to get together and worship and celebrate.

So, what am I doing for Eid (weekend) this year? All the must’s, inshaAllah, including getting extra dolled up and making donuts from biscuit dough. A “game night” (virtual party) with alumni from my MSA. A gift exchange party with my cousins as well as another gift exchange party with classmates from my Arabic program (we’ll send unboxing videos out instead of meeting at the same time.) Check out a local college campus we’ve been dying to drive around. Binge a few episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender newly released on Netflix and do some online Memorial Day sale shopping. Le’s put a tentative on all of those, haha.

At the end of the day, Eid al Fitr is about acknowledging the month of worship we engaged in during Ramadan and spending quality time with loved ones. It doesn’t really matter what that quality time looks like–as long as it is intentional, this Eid will be special no matter what, inshaAllah. Who knows, this might be one of the best, most memorable holidays ever!

Eid Mubarak!

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#Islam

Eid Prayer During the Pandemic

Introduction

We have observed a Ramadan that was unlike anything we have experienced before. The community and individuals everywhere have shown dedication, commitment, and creativity. We learned to pray tarāwīḥ on our own in our homes. We read the Qur’an everyday consistently. We attended daily lectures and reminders delivered by our imams, teachers, and scholars online. We gathered virtually to hold iftars and check in on each other. We donated to our organizations to gain the blessings of charity in Ramadan. All of this and more is only possible through the guidance of Allah and resilience of our faith.

We now find ourselves approaching Eid al-Fitr. Eid is an occasion of celebration, joy, gathering, and gratitude to Allah for his countless blessings. We all have cherished memories of past days of Eid. However, we face the prospect of an Eid that is difficult and challenging. Similar to our mindset in Ramadan, we can and should find a way to have a joyous and meaningful Eid. Shāh Walīullah al-Dihlawi writes in his Hujjatullah al-Bālighah, “Allah provided us with two days of celebration that commemorate the markers of the Islamic tradition. He associated celebration with the remembrance of Allah and acts of devotion on the day of Eid, ensuring that the congregation of believers would not be for mere vanity. Rather, the gathering of Muslims would revolve around exalting the Word of Allah.”

The Obligation of Eid

The scholars of the four major schools of thought have differed regarding the obligation of the Eid prayer. Their differences stem from their methodologies in interpreting the verses of the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition ﷺ. The Shāfiʿī and Mālikī schools agree that the Eid prayer is an established Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ, and the prayer is highly recommended for every individual to attend.[1] However, the Ḥanafī school has deemed the prayer as wājib, necessary, for every believing man of age.[2] The Ḥanbalī school has ruled the Eid prayer as farḍ al-kifāyah[3].[4] 

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The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ prayed the Eid prayer in congregation with the Companions from the time it was prescribed until he passed. The Ḥanafī school has considered this consistency demonstrated by the Prophet ﷺ as an indication that the Eid prayer cannot be merely a recommendation. Additionally, the Prophet ﷺ did not go out of his way to inform his Companions of the lack of obligation as he did with ṣalāh al-tarāwīḥ.[5] The scholars of the Ḥanbalī school referenced the command in the Qur’an, “Pray to your Lord and sacrifice,”[6] and concluded the Eid prayer is farḍ al-kifāyah.

The Shāfiʿī and Mālikī schools quote a well-known Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ in which he informs an inquisitive Bedouin regarding the Islamic mandates. The Prophet ﷺ tells the man about the five obligatory daily prayers. The man asks the Messenger ﷺ if there are any additional prayers that are required and he responds, “All other prayers are optional.”[7] Therefore, they regard the Eid prayer as voluntary.[8] 

The Khutbah of Eid

On the day of Eid, it is recommended, according to the majority of scholars, to have a khutbah given by the Imam. The Imam advises the people in the congregation and reminds them of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ. Unlike the Friday khutbah, the Eid khutbah is given immediately after the congregational prayer is completed. The Friday khutbah is considered an essential pillar of the Jumu’ah obligation. However, the scholars of the four major schools have all come to the conclusion that the khutbah on the day of Eid is not required for the validity of the Eid prayer.[9]

Congregations

The following question has emerged in light of our current situation: Are we excused from the obligation to gather together and worship Allah for Friday, Eid, and congregational prayers? Is the concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 a legitimate reason for individuals to not attend religious services in person?

The scholars of the Ḥanafī school list reasons that excuse individuals from attending congregational prayers. The list includes inclement weather, sickness, paralysis, old age, and notably, fear of harm. It is reported in an authentic Hadith that the Prophet ﷺ once excused the Companions from attending congregational prayers by instructing the Mu’adhdhin to call the adhān and announce, “Pray in your homes.”[10] The Ḥanafī scholar al-Ṭahṭāwī uses this Hadith as proof that those exposed to immediate danger should be excused from congregational prayer, including Friday and Eid prayers.[11]

Al-Shurunbulālī[12] reminds us that the reward is still obtained by individuals who are not able to attend due to challenging circumstances. If an individual is prevented from fulfilling an obligation due to an acceptable and valid excuse, that person will still be rewarded (if Allah wills) according to his or her intention.[13] The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us, “Actions are rewarded based on their intentions. Every person will be rewarded according to his or her intention.”[14]

Recommended Eid Rituals

While our ability to congregate for Eid may be limited, this should not prevent us from observing the rituals recommended in our tradition.[15] 

  1. Supplicate to Allah ﷻ the night before Eid and ask Him for forgiveness for any shortcomings.
  2. On the morning of Eid, recite the Takbīrāt of Eid[16], glorifying Allah and rejoicing in the occasion.[17]
  3. Take a shower and celebrate by donning your best garments. It is also customary to apply perfume.
  4. Demonstrate the end of the month of fasting by eating something after Fajr on the morning of Eid. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would not leave his house on the day of Eid without eating some dates.[18]
  5. Be kind and generous.
  6. Congratulate others.
  7. Fulfill your obligation of contributing zakat al-fir before the morning of Eid. The majority of scholars are in agreement that zakat al-fir is mandatory for every believer male or female, young or old.[19] This serves the purpose of uniting Muslims on the day of Eid so they may celebrate regardless of financial circumstances.

Requirements to Conduct Eid Prayer

When performing the Eid prayer, one should, first and foremost, observe the requirements of ritual prayer (ṣalāh) such as being in a state of purification and facing the qiblah. The scholars have agreed that the prescribed time of the Eid prayer begins shortly after sunrise and ends before Ẓuhr time starts.[20] 

For the validity of the Eid prayer, the scholars among the Shāfiʿī, Mālikī, Ḥanbalī,  and Ḥanafī schools have stipulated: the prayer should be conducted during the prescribed time of Eid prayer.[21] The Ḥanafīs and some Ḥanbalīs[22] have additionally stated that the Eid prayer must be conducted in a group.[23] The Ḥanafīs specified that this requirement is fulfilled with 2 or 3 adult males other than the imam.[24] Moreover, the Ḥanafī scholars have stated that an Eid prayer should be accessible by the general public and not be in a restricted or an exclusive space.

Conducting the Eid Prayer

The Eid prayer itself is conducted very similarly to any other congregational prayer. The four major schools agree that the Eid prayer should be performed out loud with 2 rak’āt, units of prayer, just like the Fajr congregation. However, there is a difference of opinion in regards to the number of extra takbīrāt that are said in the Eid prayer. The format of the prayer has been detailed below based on the different opinions.

Mālikīs[25]

  • Make wuḍū’, face the qiblah and begin the prayer with Allāhu akbar
  • Perform 6 additional takbīrāt[26], say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Finish the first rak’ah
  • After standing for the second rak’ah, perform 5 additional takbīrāt, say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Complete the prayer as usual

Ḥanbalīs[27]

  • Make wuḍū’, face the qiblah and begin the prayer with Allāhu akbar
  • Perform 6 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Finish the first rak’ah
  • After standing for the second rak’ah, perform 5 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Complete the prayer as usual

Shāfiʿīs[28]

  • Make wuḍū’, face the qiblah and begin the prayer with Allāhu akbar
  • Perform 7 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Finish the first rak’ah
  • After standing for the second rak’ah, perform 5 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Complete the prayer as usual

Ḥanafīs[29]

  • Make wuḍū’, face the qiblah and begin the prayer with Allāhu akbar
  • Perform 3 additional takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Finish the first rak’ah
  • After standing for the second rak’ah, recite Surah al-Fatihah and an additional surah out loud
  • Perform 3 additional Takbīrāt, raise your hands and say Allāhu akbar for each takbīrah
  • Say Allāhu akbar and bow into rukū’
  • Complete the prayer as usual

Conclusion

Eid is an occasion of glorifying Allah, praying for the acceptance of our deeds, and enjoying the blessings of Allah. It is a day to spend time with family and loved ones. The regulations of social distancing have limited our ability to congregate and spend time together as a community. However, these restrictions do not prevent us from fulfilling the rituals and traditions of Eid.

We recommend that every Muslim observes the Eid rituals as mentioned above. It has been authentically reported that the Companion of the Prophet ﷺ Anas ibn Mālik did not make it to the Eid prayer, so he gathered his family and offered the Eid prayer at home in the same manner the imam would with the congregation.[30] Furthermore, the Mālikī, Shāfiʿī, and Ḥanbalī schools allow people to perform the Eid prayer individually or with family at home. While the Ḥanafī school traditionally does not allow this, many senior Ḥanafī scholars have eased the condition of performing the Jumu’ah prayer in a public place during the current pandemic. Therefore, we recommend that individuals and families who are not able to attend an Eid congregation pray the Eid ṣalāh as detailed above at home.

May Allah accept our deeds. May Allah provide us with a joyous Eid. May Allah alleviate the current crisis. May Allah protect us all.

Allah knows best.

AbdulNasir Jangda

Sohaib Sheikh

26 Ramadan 1441 AH/19 May 2020 CE

Qalam Institute’s  mission is to educate humanity about Allah, His message, and His Messenger ﷺ. This article is written by the instructors at Qalam. Please consider supporting them as they create beneficial content for people to study their religion. 


[1] al-Majmu’ 5:2, al-Jumal ala sharh al-Manhaj 2:92

[2] Bada’I al-Sana’I 1:274

[3] farḍ al-kifāyah: An obligation that is mandated at a communal level. If a community fulfills the obligation, any other people that did not participate are excused from the obligation.

[4] al-Mughni 2:304

[5] Bada’I al-Sana’I 1:274, al-Hidayah 1:60, Tuhfah al-Fuqaha 1:283

[6] Qur’an 108:2

[7] Sahih al-Bukhari 2678

[8] Jawahir al-Iklil 1:101, al-Majmoo’ 5:3

[9] al-Lubab 1:118-119, Maraqi al-Falah 91, Tabyin al-Haqaiq 1:226, Fatawa al-Hindiyyah 1:141, Fath al-Qadir 1:428, al-Durr al-Mukhtar 1:782-784, al-Sharh al-Saghir 1:530, al-Sharh al-Kabir 1:400, al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah 86, Mughni al-Muhtaj 1:311, al-Muhadhab 1:120, al-Majmoo’ 5:36, al-Mughni 2:384-387, Kashaf al-Qina’ 2:61-62

[10] Sahih al-Bukhari 10:29, Sahih Muslim 6:32-33, Sunan Abi Dawud 2:672-673, Sunan Ibn Majah 5:989-991, Sunan al-Nasa’I 7:660, Sunan al-Nasa’I 10:78

[11] Hashiyah al-Tahtawi ala Maraqi al-Falah 297

[12] Hanafi scholar who authored the famous work Nur al-Idah

[13] Nur al-Idah 65, Hashiyah al-Tahtawi ala Maraqi al-Falah 299

[14] Sahih al-Bukhari 1:1, Sahih Muslim 33:222

[15] al-Fiqh al-Islami Wa Adillatuhu 1412-1416

[16] Takbirat of Eid: Saying Allahu Akbar and La Ilaha Illa Allah

[17] al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah 13:213-214

[18] Sahih al-Bukhari 13:5

[19] al-Zayla’I 1:307, Ibn Abidin 2:110, Fath al-Qadir 2:30, Bulghat al-Salik 1:200, Sharh al-Minhaj 1:628, Kashaf al-Qina’ 1:471

[20] Fath al-Qadir 1:424, al-Lubab 1:117, Maraqi al-Falah 90, al-Dur al-Mukhtar 1:779, al-Bada’I 1:276, al-Sharh al-Saghir 1:524, al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah 85, Mughni al-Muhtaj 1:310, al-Muhadhab 1:118, Kashaf al-Qina’ 2:56

[21] al-Dasuqi 1:396, Asna al-Matalib 1:279

[22] Imam Ibn al-Qudama stated both opinions in the Hanbali school regarding the requirement of a congregation to conduct Eid prayer. Some Hanbali scholars require a group of people for the validity of the Eid prayer while others said that an individual can pray Eid by him or herself. al-Mughni 2:291

[23] Kashaf al-Qina’ 1:455, 2:50, Bada’I al-Sana’I 1:275

[24] Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad stated that 2 congregants other than the Imam are the minimum required to be considered a congregation. Imam Abu Yusuf was of the opinion that 3 congregants other than the Imam are required.

[25] al-Sharh al-Saghir 1:525, al-Sharh al-Kabir 1:397, al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah 86, Bidayah al-Mujtahid 1:209

[26] Takbirat of Eid: These are extra Takbirs unique to the Eid ṣalāh. According to the majority of scholars, these Takbirs are conducted by the Imam raising his hands as he does when he starts the prayer and saying Allahu Akbar. The stronger opinion according to the Malikis is that when performing the extra Takbirs, the Imam does not raise his hands but says Allahu Akbar.

al-Sharh al-Saghir 1:525, al-Sharh al-Kabir 1:398

[27] Bidayah al-Mujtahid 1:209, al-Mughni 2:376-384, Kashaf al-Qina’ 2:59-65

[28] Mughni al-Muhtaj 1:310, al-Muhadhab 1:120, al-Majmoo’ 5:18

[29] The famous Companion, Ibn Masood, said in regard to the ritual of Eid prayer, “The Imam of the prayer should say Takbir to initiate the prayer. Afterwards, he should perform 3 additional Takbirat followed by the recitation of Surah al-Fatihah and another Surah following it. Then the Imam should continue his prayer, go into Ruku’, Sujood until he stands up (for his second Rak’ah). He should read Surah al-Fatihah and another Surah and proceed to perform 3 Takbirat followed by the Takbir to go into Ruku’” – Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar 4:347

al-Lubab 1:117, Maraqi al-Falah 90, Fath al-Qadir 1:425-427, Tabyin al-Haqaiq 1:225, al-Dur al-Mukhtar 1:779-782, al-Bada’I 1:277, al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah 1:141

[30] al-Sunan al-Kabir 3:503, al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah 2:183, Sahih al-Bukhari includes this Hadith in his Tarjamtul Baab 2:23

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