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Today's Reminder

January 31, 2023 | Rajab 9, 1444

Living The Quran

Exclusive Prerogative
Al-Nisa (The Women) - Chapter 4: Verse 48 (partial)

"Surely God will not forgive the association of partners (shirk) with Him, but He forgives (sins) less than that of whomever He wishes."

To lay down what is lawful or not is the exclusive prerogative of God and neither the Prophets themselves nor the ulama could modify the revealed rulings or make new decisions out of the Revelation framework. In fact, to make unlawful what is lawful or lawful what is unlawful is similar to shirk, assigning oneself or another as God’s partner. This is the gravest sin in Islam.

Man, by fixing or modifying what has been clearly revealed, takes rights which are absolutely not his, and, consciously or not, places himself beside the Creator. Be this through prophethood, an institution organised into a hierarchy (Church or Council) or an individual claiming authority, all is totally unacceptable in Islam. Many stories have been quoted in this regard regarding our great ulama. The ulama of the first three generations (salaf) did not say that something was unlawful unless its unlawfulness was based on indisputable evidence, that is through a clear statement in the Quran or the Sunna.

Thus, the Believer must understand the importance of sticking firmly to what God has revealed and not go beyond allowed rights. Neither in the sense of limitless liberality or inordinate excess in prohibiting things or activities.

Compiled From:
"To Be A European Muslim" - Tariq Ramadan

From Issue: 842 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Quality of Worship

A believer who worships continuously may feel weary at some point. God, out of His mercy, knows that we humans could naturally feel weary, even in worship. Therefore, He diversified the acts of worship so that we can worship God in a variety of ways.

For example, prayer is a fixed act of worship that must be performed five times a day. But God recommended other forms of supererogatory prayers, such as the late-night prayer, the prayer of thankfulness, and prayer in times of need, and so forth. If the believer is weary from (optional) prayers, he may perform the obligatory prayers only, but at the same time, he may involve himself in other forms of worship, such as charity, performing umra, seeking knowledge, being kind to neighbours and relatives, helping people, and so forth. All these are forms of worship that draw one closer to God.

People are different, and diversity is a universal law of God. Diversity is not limited to natural capabilities only, but there is diversity in one's ability to keep up with certain actions and enjoy them. In His infinite knowledge, God prohibited some acts of worship at certain times. The Prophet said: "Surely this religion is firm. So apply it with tenderness. The traveller who is too harsh on his riding animal will not reach his destination and the riding animal will die" [Bayhaqi]. This is why the Prophet recommended that we do not pray right after the sunrise, right before noon time, or in the late afternoon after the asr prayer. The wisdom behind not praying any recommended prayer in these times is to make us eager to perform them when we are allowed. The same applies to fasting. We are not permitted to fast at certain times, for example, immediately before the beginning of Ramadan or on the first day of Eid.

When God opens for you the door of reading the Quran, you may wish to read it all the time. But we are not allowed to read the Quran while kneeling down or prostrating in prayer, in the bathroom, or while we are in a state of impurity. Because God knows our nature, He diversified the acts of worship and prohibited them at certain times.

Then, when God guides you to perform an act of worship, perfect it and ascend in the levels of quality of worship.

Compiled From:
"A Journey to God: Reflections on the Hikam of Ibn Ataillah" - Jasser Auda

From Issue: 977 [Read original issue]

Cool Concepts

Istihsan

With regard to the Shariah law of inheritance, the conventional argument given in support of the larger share that men get in inheritance compared to women, namely that men are responsible for providing women with maintenance both before and after marriage, as well as some remedial financial provisions that help divorced women, still holds good for the vast majority of women in areas and countries where employment and education opportunities are severely limited for women. The picture is also not always a negative one as Muslim men, in many countries and cultures, tend to be on the whole protective of women in the family. We may nevertheless, draw attention to two points on the subject of inheritance:

Bequests (a gift of personal property by will) can be used to adjust some instances of unequal distribution of shares under the Quranic laws of inheritance. The testator (a person who makes a will ) enjoys some flexibility with regards to making a bequest and how he or she may choose to use it. Under the Sunni law of succession, the testator is entitled to make a bequest of up to one third of his or her estate in favour of an outsider, or even a legal heir as under the Shia law. Sunni law also permits making a bequest to a legal heir, who may be suffering disability and need, with the consent of the other surviving heirs, which Shia law allows even without such consent, provided it does not exceed the limit of one third.

Some instances of obvious imbalance in the distribution of inheritance can also be addressed by recourse to the principle of istihsan (juristic preference), especially in cases where strict enforcement of the existing law leads to unfair results in the distribution of family wealth. In such situations istihsan authorizes the judge and the jurist to find an alternative and a preferable solution to the case before them which would realize considerations of equity and fairness. Muslim jurists and judges have not made an effective use of the resources of istihsan. In the renowned case of al-mushtarakah (the apportioned) which was decided by caliph Umar bin al-Khattab, a woman was survived by her husband, mother, two germane (full brothers) and two uterine brothers (half brothers having the same mother but a different father.). The Quranic rules of inheritance were strictly applied but the result was such that the two maternal brothers received one-third of the estate and the two full brothers were totally excluded. This is because the former are Quranic sharers (dhawul-furud) whereas the latter belong to the category of residuaries (asabah). The former must take their shares first and what is left is then distributed among the residuaries. The full brothers complained to the caliph and forcefully pleaded with him about the justice of their case. According to reports, the full brothers addressed the caliph in the following terms: suppose our father was a donkey (which is why the case is also known as al-himariyyah), we still shared the same mother with our maternal brothers. The caliph was hesitant to act in the face of the clear Quranic mandate, yet he decided on equitable grounds, after a month of consultation with the leading Companions, that all the brothers should share equally in the one-third.

Unfair results of a similar type can occasionally arise, sometimes due to technical reasons, which could be addressed by recourse to istihsan, and the judges should not hesitate to do so when istihsan can be invoked to serve the ideals of equitable distribution. To give an example, suppose that a deceased person is survived by a son and a daughter. During the lifetime of his father the son had bad relations with him and did not bother to seek his forgiveness even during the months of his last illness, while the daughter took the responsibility and spent much of her hard-earned income on her father's medical bills before he died. When this happened, however, the son was quick to claim double the share of his sister in inheritance. This would be the kind of case where istihsan can be invoked to remedy the unfair outcome that is anticipated from a strict conformity to the normal rules of inheritance. This is the basic rationale of the doctrine of istihsan, to remedy unfair results which may arise from a strict application of the existing rules of Shariah. Istihsan does not seek to introduce new law. It is rather designed so as to address case by case situations where strict implementation of the existing law may lead to unfair results. We need lawmakers, judges and jurists of great professional fortitude to make laws and adjudicate cases that break away with the prevailing mindset of taqlid (blind following).

Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 273-275

From Issue: 565 [Read original issue]