Imam al-Shāfiʻī, Mālikīs and Egypt: Refuting derogatory remarks

By Mufti Zameelur Rahman

Recently, Nahiem Ajmal (Mufti Abu Layth) has put forward the claim that the great imām, Muḥammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfi‘ī (raḥimahullāh), a founder of one of the four accepted madhhabs of fiqh, developed his ideas of juristic reasoning based on an emotional detachment from his initial allegiance to the school of his great teacher, Imām Mālik, another of the founders of one of the four accepted madhhabs of fiqh. He claims that although al-Shāfi‘ī was valued as a student of Imām Mālik during his time spent in ‘Irāq and Makkah, when he eventually settled in Egypt, he was eclipsed by Mālik’s more prominent students who had spent a longer time with him, and thus no longer held any authority as a representative of Mālik. As a result of being devalued in this way, al-Shāfi‘ī left his allegiance to Mālik, and developed his own juristic theory, in order to become independent of him and his school. Some of Abu Layth’s claims in order to support this idea are as follows:

  • When al-Shāfi‘ī arrived in Egypt, such prominent and long-time students of Mālik as Ibn al-Qāsim and Ibn Wahb were present
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī was a “little boy” when he went to study with Imām Mālik, probably “around 10 or 11”
  • To the Egyptian students of Mālik, al-Shāfi‘ī was a “nobody”
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī said “Layth ibn Sa‘d is more learned than Mālik” in order to provoke the Mālikīs who had “annoyed him”
  • In Egypt, al-Shāfi‘ī didn’t have “many friends”
  • Al-Shāfi‘ī “couldn’t stand Ashhab” because “Ashhab couldn’t stand him”
  • The isnād-centred theory of jurisprudence outlined by al-Shafi‘ī started with him, and he had no precedent

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The Birthdate of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah

By Mawlana Zeeshan Chaudri

He was born in the year 80AH which was during the time of the young companions.[1] Other scholars like Zāhid al-Kawtharī have argued for an earlier date, which would have made it more acceptable for him to have narrated and learnt from the companions.[2] He presents the narration from Tarīkh Bahgdād, where Muzāḥim Ibn Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah[3] narrates from his father (or possibly someone else) that Abū Ḥanīfah was born in the year 61AH[4]. Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī follows this narration up with the words ‘I do not know of any support for the person holding this opinion’[5].

The problem with the narration is apparent, and that is we are not sure who the actual narrator is. Is it Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah or someone else?[6] If the narrator is Dhawwād Ibn ‘Ulbah, then he has been weakened by many Ḥadīth scholars[7] and if it is other than him, then an unknown authority narrates the date. This would then hold no weight.

As for al-Kawtharī’s evidences for an earlier date, he begins by citing from Abū Ḥātim Ibn Ḥibbān’s (d.354/965)[8] biography of Abū Ḥanīfah in his ‘al-Majrūḥīn min al-Muḥaddithīn wa al-Dhu’afā’ wa al-Matrūkīn’[9], which mentions the birthdate of Abū Ḥanīfah as 70AH, without mentioning any other date. This was read by al-Kawtharī in al-Azhar Library, Egypt. Although he does mention that there has been a correction in the margin of the manuscript which places the date at 80AH.[10]

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The Sunnah of the Muṣallā of Ṣalāt al-ʻĪd

By Shaykh al-adīth Mawlānā Fal al-Raman al-Aʻamī
Translated by Muft
ī Afal usayn Ilyās

Here follows an abridged translation of an Urdu treatise entitled ʻĪd Gāh kī Sunnīyat by the erudite and noble scholar ʻAllāmah Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Faḍl al-Raḥman al-Aʻẓamī (b. 1356/1946). The treatise was initially abridged and translated by Muftī Afḍal Ḥusayn Ilyās (d. 1439/2018).  Here we present to you an edited version of this translation, which has been edited for style, ease of reading and adopting Arabic transliteration standards.

Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā al-Aʻẓamī in his treatise firstly finds that performing Ṣalāt al-ʻĪd at the Muṣallā is a Sunnah and has been the standard practice from the time of Allāh’s Messenger ﷺ. He goes on to further elucidate this by quoting various classical and contemporary ʻulamā who all agree on this. Towards the end he goes on to establish whether sport grounds, parks, etc. are permitted for performing Ṣalāt al-ʻĪd. For those readers who are interested, in particular students and scholars, the full treatise with detailed references is available online here.

We make duʻāʼ that Allāh ﷻ instill in us the importance of following the Sunnah of His Messenger ﷺ at all times.

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See related article:
The Wisdom behind changing the route to the Musallah of Salat al-‘Id

The importance of and need for Arabic literature

By Mawlānā ʻAbd Allāh Patel Kāpaudrī
Translated by Mawlānā Mahomed Mahomedy

The following article is a transcript of a speech delivered by the honourable Mawlānā ʻAbd Allāh Kāpaudrī at Dār al-‛Ulūm Chāphī, Pālanpūr, Gujarat on 20th March 2006, entitled: “The importance of and need for Arabic literature”.

We are not paying the needed attention to Arabic literature. Hadrat Maulānā Muhammad Yūsūf Sāhib Kāndhlawī rahimahullāh went for the Bhopal ijtimā‛. So we proceeded from Dhābel to go and meet Hadrat. We presented ourselves before him at the house where he was staying. Hadrat was very happy to see us, he got up from his place, embraced us, and said: “My heart is most delighted at meeting teachers of the jāmi‛ah.”

We then began conversing with him, and at one point he said: “Maulwī Sāhib! I studied adab (Arabic literature) very well. Maqāmāt Harīrī, Mutanabbī, Hamāsah and so on are in the syllabus [so we obviously studied these books]. But in addition to these, I also memorized Qasīdah Burdah, Sab‛ah Mu‛allaqāt and so on.”

Consequently, Hadrat rahimahullāh had very good control over the Arabic language. If you were to read Amānī al-Ahbār (an Arabic commentary of Sharh Ma‛ānī al-Āthār), you will notice his sentences flowing. Normally, our Indian ‛ulamā’ cannot write in this manner. We are in the habit of writing in a rhyming style. Because we study Maqāmāt, we write in that style. I noticed that Hadrat Maulānā’s speeches used to be very simple and flowing. This is because he undertook a deep study of literature, and memorized these books. This is how Allāh ta‛ālā gave him this ability.

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Opinion: If you pay peanuts you get monkeys

By Imam Ajmal Masroor[1][2]

I saw a post on one of the WhatsApp groups. A number of things in this advert intrigued and alarmed me. The [organisation] is looking for an Imam who is:

  1. A Hafiz – someone who has memorised the entire Quran, it has taken that person 2-4 years to complete that.
  2. Mawlana – an Asian title attributed to those who have completed their Islamic education from a reputable seminary and it takes 8 years usually.
  3. This Imam must be a British born for obvious reasons, but most important reason probably is to be able to speak English and relate to people.
  4. The Imam should have graduated from a Qawmi Madrasah which is a non political private seminary usually aligned to Deobandi brand and Hanafi school of thought of interpretation of Islam from Indian subcontinent.
  5. The Imams job would be leading prayers and teaching children Monday to Friday.
  6. In return he would be given a salary of £13200 per year which comes to £1100 per month.

This advert raises a number of questions for me. When a person invests 8-10 years of their youth in memorising the entire Quran and studying books upon books of Islamic literature, do they graduate to be paid peanuts by the community they would serve? Would we accept our graduate children earning such a salary after completing their university degrees?

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Why do we refer to ourselves as Māturīdīs?

By Rustam Mahdi
Translated by Mawlānā Suhail Akubat

The following is a translation of a short and basic Arabic article by Rustam Mahdi entitled “Why do we call ourselves Maturidis?”[1] A brief footnote has been added to clarify one particular issue which Salafis commonly use to claim that Hanafi ‘aqida is different from Maturidi ‘aqida.[2] – The Translator

It saddens us that a statement has begun to circulate amongst people, especially the salafis, that: ‘Why do you call yourselves Maturidis? Is the creed of Abu Hanifah not convincing enough for you that you have turned away from it and have turned towards that which Abu Mansur al-Maturidi was inclined to?’

The problem with many Salafis is that they assume that whatever they present is clear binding proof, and do not notice doors that have been opened which they have no ability to close. It saddens us that we observe attempts at denigration using questions such as these, which are cheap in the marketplace of academia, by those ascribed to learning; although we do not find it surprising that they are widespread on the tongues of uneducated laymen.

Hence I would like to mention – and Tawfiq is from Allah – that it is from a person’s academic character to evaluate substances and not mere terminologies. This is because variation and divergence in terminologies is of no consequence when they point to the same reality. Hence it is fine for a person who believes in the Din of Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to refer to himself as “Muhammadi”, in attribution to him (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), or “Bakri”, in attribution to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, or “‘Umari” in attribution to ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, or ‘Uthmani in attribution to ‘Uthman b. Affan, or “‘Alawi” in attribution to ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with them). All of these terminologies indicate that the one being attributed is on the Din of these very individuals.

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Editorial: Disassociate from Deoband at your own peril

By The Editor

Recently it has become uncomfortable and disconcerting for myself while taking a hiatus away from the doldrums of online Deobandiyyat. However, with the arrival of one of the greatest Deobandi scholars in the world – if not the greatest – to the shores of South Africa, ‘Allamah Khalid Mahmood (hafizahullah), there has been a need to pen a few words on the feelings and thoughts being experienced in light of recent developments that have come to light.

There has been disuccsions in some quarters of our local scholarship who traditionally have been known to associate themselves with Deobandiyyat – due to the virtue of being graduates of Deobandi Dar al-‘Ulums both locally and from the subcontinent – to advocate towards a disassociation from Hanafiyyat generally and Deobandiyyat specifically. To understand further it should be borne in mind that the concept of Deobandiyyat in simple terms is the understanding of all aspects of the Shari’ah as per the the scholars of Deoband starting with Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi and Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahimahullah). The maslak, manhaj and mizaj of these scholars and their long line of students spanning a century and a quarter is what defines DeobandiyyatDeobandiyyat is by no means a homogeneous school of thought, it is in reality an understanding of the Shari’ah according to the 13 centuries of scholarship of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah, in particular adhering to the Hanafi school of thought in fiqh, the Ashari and Maturidi schools of thought in ‘aqidah as well as accepting in suluk the Chisti, Naqshbandi, Suharwadi and Qadiri schools.

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Ḥafiẓ Patel, the saint of Dewsbury: An Obituary

By Shaykh Ismā’īl Ibrāhīm Patel

As Dewsbury Markaz was my local mosque growing up, seeing him was a routine occurrence in my daily life. Knowing he is no longer either at Markaz or on a Dawah journey somewhere in the world will take a long time to sink in.

Although no single post can do his life justice, I feel compelled to share some experiences to my connections here and elsewhere, who may not have known him as well but happen to read some of my musings. He was, after all, ultimately responsible for creating hundreds of accomplished graduates in Islamic studies, thousands of people active in the field of Dawah, and hundreds of thousands rectifying their religious lives. I can confidently say that I personally would not be anywhere near what I am today had it not been for his efforts during my life – and, in fact, for his efforts decades before I was even born.

Everybody who knew him – student, teacher, the local layman, and those regularly engaged in Jama`at ‘l-Tabligh – will have their personal experiences and stories about him. I was a student at Markaz during the 98-03 period. I was not present when he really hard-grafted himself into who he eventually became, during the 60s, 70s and 80s. I only hear stories, like how he was advised – for fear of life and limb – not to go out to invite people to the mosque in Johannesburg after nightfall, only to do the exact opposite.

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The Fiqh and Wisdom of observing ʻIddah

By Mufti ʻAbd al-Qādir Ḥusayn

In the dictionary the word Iddah means counting in terms of quantity. But for all intents and purposes Iddah in the context of when a husband has divorced his wife or when a husband has passed on – according to the jurists and fuqaha – will mean the lady has to observe Iddah. The waiting period until the counting period ends.

The Iddah for a divorced lady:

Whenever clarity on any issue is sought, the first point of reference is the Noble Quran. All Mighty Allah SWT states: the ladies who have been divorced will wait with themselves for three qurooh. Because the Arabic language is so unique and rich, certain words have two opposite meanings. In the Hanafi and Hanbali madhabs, when the husband divorces his wife by giving one or two or three talaqs, the Iddah will be the duration of three menses. So the ideal situation will be for the husband to divorce his wife in the period of cleanliness and in that period he has not fulfilled the conjugal rights with his wife, he issues the talaq either verbally or in writing. After the third menses ends, the Iddah has concluded. However another meaning of qurooh is tuhur which means cleanliness theretofore according to the Maliki and Shafi madhabs three periods of cleanliness have to pass. That is if a husband gave his wife talaq during her period of cleanliness, her Iddah begins, counting that period as the first period of cleanliness. Once the third period of cleanliness ends, the Iddah has concluded. The reason for differences of opinion in verdict between the different schools of thought is because Arabic words have different meanings and to understand this text and context need to be looked at. Another interesting issue connected to this: a husband has married his wife but he has not gone into Khalwah (privacy) with her and they have not consummated their marriage, and just after the nikah they have a heated argument in the presence of some people and the husband issues talaq. All Mighty Allah has addressed this issue also, “O you who believe! When you marry believing women, and then divorce them before you have sexual intercourse with them, no iddah (divorce prescribed period) have you to count in respect of them. So give them a present, and set them free (i.e. divorce), in a handsome manner.” (Al-Ahzab-49) Immediately after the divorce the woman is able to marry another man. It is important to note that even if the marriage was not consummate but the married couple were alone, in privacy together, and then Iddah becomes necessary.

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Conduct of the Salaf with their contemporaries: Respect and honour

By Mawlānā Ḥabīb al-Raḥmān Khān Sherwānī
Translated by Mawlānā Muammad Mahomedy

Mawlānā Muammad Qamaruz Zamān Allāhābādī in his biography of his shaykh, Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh entitled Tadhkirah Muli al-ʼUmmah has included an entire part on the relationship and bond that existed between Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh and his contemporary ‛ulamā’ and mashāykh. In the introduction to this part Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh writes concerning the benefits of writing on this:

The first benefit of this is that the merits and achievements of our elders will come to the fore. Secondly, there is a famous saying which goes:

اَلْمُعَاصَرَةُ سَبَبُ الْمُنَافَرَةِ

Contemporariness is a cause of mutual dissent.

However, the attributes and qualities of our elders clearly demonstrate how they used to respect each other and how one would acknowledge the excellent qualities of the other.

Obviously, our immediate elders strictly followed the ways of our earlier elders. Based on their honesty and sincerity, they were very open-hearted and magnanimous in this regard. They would relate the merits of their contemporaries without hesitation and look up to them with approval.

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