Shortening prayers on journey of over 80 km…but why 80 km???

Question Title: 
Shortening prayers on journey of over 80 km…but why 80 km???
Date: 
Sun, 07/15/2007
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
I follow the opinion of Ibn Taymiyah and others – that travel is best defined by prevailing customs and not by a specific distance. However, I read in a lot of places that scholars say that a journey must be at least 80 km one-way for a person to shorten his prayers. How do they come up with this number?
English Answer: 
Many scholars are of the opinion that a traveler cannot shorten his prayers or break his fast unless he is undertaking a journey of at least 88 kilometers.

The chief line of evidence cited by scholars who hold this view is as follows:

1. It is narrated with a weak line of transmission that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “People of Mecca! Do not shorten your prayers on a journey of less that four barîd – the distance between Mecca and `Asfân.” [Mu`jam al-Tabarânî al-Kabîr (11162), Sunan al-Dâraqutnî (1/387), and Sunan al-Bayhaqî (3/137)]

2. Though the hadîth is weak, this ruling is established as being the opinion of the Companion Ibn `Abbâs.

When people asked him if they could shorten their prayers on the way from Mecca to `Arafah, he replied: “No. But you can do so if you are going to `Asfân, Jeddah, or Ta’if.” [al-Talkhîs al-Habîr (2/46)]

3. It was the practice of both Ibn `Abbâs and Ibn `Umar to shorten their prayers and break their fasts whenever they undertook a journey of more than four barîd.

Ibn `Umar, for instance, shortened his prayers on a journey from Madinah to the town of Dhât al-Nasb, which was at a distance of four barîd. [Fath al-Bârî (2/566)]

One barîd is equal to 22.176 km. This means that four barîd equals 88.704 km. This is where that number comes from.

This distance is, in fact, roughly the distance between Mecca and Jeddah.

It is important to understand that those who set this as a minimum distance for a journey are talking about the full distance of the journey one-way, and not the distance when a person can start shortening his prayers. He can start shortening his prayers as soon as he departs from his own locality, as long as the journey he is taking is at least 88 km long.

It is also important to note that this distance of 88 km is not something that all scholars agree upon. There is considerable disagreement on this matter from the earliest times to the present. There are roughly twenty different scholarly views on the issue.

And Allah knows best.

The difference between jinn & devils

Question Title: 
The difference between jinn & devils
Sheikh Name: 
Date: 
Sun, 07/15/2007
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
What are the jinn? How are they different from the devils or from Satan?
English Answer: 
The jinn are a race of intelligent beings created by Allah with free will and with accountability to Him.

They are, therefore, one of the two “great worlds” that Allah mentions in the Qur’ân: “Soon shall We settle your affairs, O both you great worlds!” [Sûrah al-Rahmân: 31]

Allah created both sets of beings with free will expressly to worship Him. Allah says: “I only created the Jinn and humanity to worship Me.” [Sûrah al-Dhâriyât: 56]

As for Satan (Shaytân in Arabic), he is Iblîs, the singular being who was created directly from fire, just like Adam was created from dust. Allah says: “And He created the jinn from a smokeless flame of fire.” [Sûrah al-Rahmân: 15]

Since he was created from fire, he has a natural tendency for anger, passion, and reprehensible behavior. He refused to prostrate before Adam as Allah had commanded him.

Allah says: “Behold! We said to the angels, "Bow down to Adam": They bowed down except Iblis. He was one of the Jinns, and he broke the Command of his Lord. Will ye then take him and his progeny as protectors rather than Me, when they are an enemy unto you? Evil would be the exchange for the wrong-doers!” [Sûrah al-Kahf: 50]

As for the term devil – or shaytân in a generic sense – it refers to all intelligent beings who choose to act in an evil and iniquitous way, regardless of whether they are form Adam’s descendents or from the descendants of Iblis.

In his book, Terms from the Qur’ân and their Definitions, al-Râghib al-Asfahânî writes:
Every rebellious being – whether from the Jinn or from humanity – is called a devil (shaytân).

Allah says: “And thus did We make for every prophet an enemy, devils from among human beings and jinn, some of them suggesting to others varnished falsehood to deceive (them), and had your Lord pleased they would not have done it, therefore leave them and that which they forge.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 112]
And Allah knows best.

Paying the Zakah on gold & silver in modern currencie

Question Title: 
Paying the Zakah on gold & silver in modern currencie
Date: 
Thu, 07/03/2008
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
When paying one's Zakah on gold or silver, will the monetary amount due be based upon the original purchase price of the precious metal or its present market value?
English Answer: 
Originally, the Zakâh on gold and silver was paid as a percentage (2.5%) of the gold or silver itself. Gold and silver were the currency at that time. Therefore, if a person had kept a thousand gold coins (dinâr) in savings for a year, he would simply pay 25 gold coins as Zakâh at the end of that year.

Today, gold and silver are not used as currencies, but rather as an investment. Consequently, people usually prefer to pay the value of the gold or silver in in cash so they can keep their investment intact.

The present market value of the gold or silver at the time of paying Zakâh should be used to determine the amount of Zakâh that is due, since paying the equivalent in currency is taking the place of paying the Zakâh from the precious metal itself.

And Allah knows best.

Mother breastfeeding her baby for more than two years

Question Title: 
Mother breastfeeding her baby for more than two years
Date: 
Thu, 07/03/2008
Sender Name: 
none
Question in English : 
Is it permissible for the mother to breastfeed her child for longer then two years if there is a need?
English Answer: 
Allah says: “And the mothers should breastfeed their children for two whole years for him who desires to make complete the time of nursing.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 233]

This verse makes it clear that the complete duration of the nursing period is two full years.

This means that no mother can be obliged to nurse her child for longer than that. Also, it means that the father is not obliged in Islam, to pay for a wet nurse for more than two years. Also, after the two year period is over, a father who is divorced from his child's mother will no longer have to provide the specific support that the divorced mother is entitled to receive for nursing the child.

At the same time, we do not know of any evidence to prohibit a mother from nursing her child for more than two years if that is what she determines to be in the child's best interests.

And Allah knows best.

Many chains of transmission do not always indicate an authentic hadith

Question Title: 
Many chains of transmission do not always indicate an authentic hadith
Date: 
Thu, 07/03/2008
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
My question is whether or not a large number of chains of transmission support each other and make a hadith an acceptable one, even if all the chains of transmission are weak?
English Answer: 
Only in a few cases do various weak reports strengthen one another. This is the case when many people narrate the same hadîth from a clearly reliable source. Those who relate the hadîth from that reliable source are all honest and upright, but they might have somewhat weak memories. In this case, since all of them say they heard the same thing from the same reliable narrator, their various narrations corroborate and lend strength to each other.

Such hadîth are called sahîh li-ghayrihî (authentic by virtue of corroboration) or hasan li-ghayrihî (good by virtue of corroboration), depending on the degree of weakness of the mildly weak narrators in question.

In most cases, however, the existence of a large number of chains of transmission for a report do nothing to strengthen that report. For instance, if there are gaps in the chain of transmission, there is the possibility that those gaps could indicate the same weak narrator, or even worse, a liar.

When there are various named narrators in the chains of the hadîth whose identities are unknown, there is the possibility that they very weak or untrustworthy people who quote the same well-known – but inauthentic – text. If they are dishonest people, they might be quoting the same baseless text deliberately. If they are honest but extremely weak, their bad memories might cause them to confuse narrations they had previously heard and attribute baseless hadîth to the wrong narrators.

Therefore, the existence of many narrations of such quality do not lend any strength to the hadîth being reported. This is usually the case.

And Allah knows best.

Supplication for putting on a new garment for the 1st time

Question Title: 
Supplication for putting on a new garment for the 1st time
Date: 
Thu, 07/03/2008
Sender Name: 
n
Question in English : 
what is a Muslim supposed to say when he or she puts on a new article of clothing for the first time?
English Answer: 
The Prophet (peace be upon him) offered the following supplication upon wearing a garment for the first time. He would state what item it was - turban, shirt, waistcloth… - then say:
O Allah! Yours is the praise, as You have clothed me with this. I ask You the good of it, and the good that it was made for; and I seek refuge with You from the evil of it, and the evil it was made for.
(Allâhumma! Lakal-hamd, kamâ kasawtanîhi. As'aluka khayrahu wa khayra na suni`a lahu, wa a`ûdhu bika min sharrihi wa sharri ma suni`a lahu.)

This supplication is narrated in Sunan al-Tirmidhî (1689) and Sunan Abî Dâwûd (3504). It is an authentic narration.

Hafsah calling Safiyyah 'the daughter of a Jew'

Question Title: 
Hafsah calling Safiyyah 'the daughter of a Jew'
Sheikh Name: 
Date: 
Tue, 06/03/2008
Sender Name: 
noe
Question in English : 
Could you please relate the hadith about Hafsah calling Safiyyah the daughter of a Jew, and the Prophet showing that her lineage is an honor. Is it authentic? I like this account, because some people claim that Islam dislikes Jews as people – on a racial level. This proves that Islam has nothing against Jews as a people.
English Answer: 
On one occasion, the Prophet's wife Hafsah chided her co-wife Safiyyah by calling her “the daughter of a Jew”. She started to cry.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) then came in and asked her why she was crying. She said: “Hafsah called me the daughter of a Jew.”

To this the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Verily, you are the daughter of a Prophet, your uncle was also a Prophet, and you are the wife of a Prophet, so what does she have over you to boast about?”

He then turned to Hafsah and said: “Fear Allah, O Hafsah.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (3862)]

[This hadîth is authentic. It has been determined to be authentic by al-Albânî in Sahîh wa Da`îf Sunan al-Tirmidhî (3894) and al-Mishkât (6183).]

Safiyyah's statement was true, because Safiyyah’s father, Hubayy b. Akhtab, was in fact a Jew who had died without ever accepting Islam. Still, such a comment was meant as a take on Safiyyah’s person, which was only more hurtful as it was coming from her co-wife.

Safiyyah was a descendant of Aaron (peace be upon him). So, when Hafsah insinuated that Safiyyah’s being of Jewish descent was something bad, the Prophet (peace be upon him) showed Hafsah another way of looking at it: that Safiyyah was the descendant of Prophet Aaron and that her uncle was Moses, and that her husband was Muhammad (peace be upon them all), so there was no reason at all for her to be ashamed of being of Jewish descent.

Human Rights

Date: 
Tue, 05/15/2007
Short Content: 
Allah upholds our dignity and commands that we do not violate it with our own hands.
Body: 
After the great world wars in which human beings witnessed the unspeakable horrors that they were capable of unleashing upon each other, humanity began to fear itself. It was at this time that the great declarations and conventions on human rights were drafted and adopted.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is indeed a noble and historic document that enshrines the principle of human dignity and the preservation of inalienable human rights. There are Muslims who speak about it in distrustful and fearful terms, simply because it has its origins in the West and because it discusses a few principles that some Muslims may not readily agree with. For this reason, there are those who regard it as a collection of confused statements that the Muslims can dispense with. This is a point of view that Muslims need to seriously reconsider.

Many of the rights that the Declaration refers to are principles that were part and parcel of Muslim culture – and that Western civilization could very well have learned from the Muslims – at the time when Islamic civilization was ascendant. It behooves the Muslims today to be at the forefront of those who work to uphold human rights. The Muslims should be the furthest people from the evils and maladies of our present age, with all its wars, bloodshed, oppression, and tyranny.

Every positive development that humanity experiences is an opportunity for constructive activity, for positive change, and for calling people to Islam. Every alliance, conference, and treaty is a messenger of goodwill and of renewal.

Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said about an alliance for the upholding of rights that existed in Mecca during pre-Islamic times: “I had witnessed an alliance being convened in the home of `Abd Allah b. Jud`ân that if the likes of it were to occur in Islam, I would enter into it. Seek such alliances and restore even the simplest rights to the people. No oppressor should have power over the oppressed.” [al-Bayhaqî]

This alliance was a source of goodness that brought general benefit to the people, and was thereby something that Allah loved. There is nothing more destructive in life than disregard for life’s mandates, the oppression of human beings, and wanton bloodshed. These are the very evils that made the angels dread Allah’s creation of the human being.

We read in the Qur’ân: “Behold, your Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth.’ They said: ‘Will You place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- while we do celebrate Your praises and glorify Your holy (name)?’ He said: ‘I know what you know not’.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 30]

There are universal values that people share, regardless of their religious persuasions. All rational people agree on the value of preserving human dignity. This remains a coveted spiritual and moral ideal, even in times when its practical realization in the world is sorely wanting.

Human rights are not merely some document to be read or words to be heard and written down. They must be a cultural reality that all people put into practice in their lives. It grieves me that we as Muslims, who can so readily criticize the West whenever they are guilty of a human rights violation, perpetrate the very same violations against people in our own lands.

Allah says: “And do not kill yourselves. Indeed Allah is merciful towards you.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 29]

Allah upholds our dignity and commands that we do not violate it with our own hands. I sadly feel that we like to hear sweet talk about rights while perpetrating mistreatment and abuse to all sorts of people.

It is high time that we translated the principles of human rights is into a clear program, both in Islamic work and in Law, by which we can guarantee the rights of the people living in Muslim lands and hold up our conduct as a positive example for the rest of the world.

In the Gulf States and elsewhere, we need to protect the rights of expatriate workers whose sponsors abuse them and delay paying them the full compensation that is their due. We need to uphold the rights of the poor and weak. We need to protect the rights of women, about whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I swear by Allah. I strongly affirm the rights of two groups who are weak: orphans and women.” [Sunan Ibn Mâjah – and authenticated by Ibn Hibbân and al-Hâkim]

Allah shows us the importance of freedom of thought, the right to hold to one’s own opinion and to express one’s culture when He says: “And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, save with such of them as commit oppression; and say: “We believe in that which has been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.” [Sûrah al-`Ankabût: 46]

Allah speaks specifically about the rights of non-Muslims when He says: “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who do not fight you because of your faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for indeed Allah loves those who are just.” [Sûrah al-Mumtahanah: 8]

If human rights violations in the Muslim world have been encouraged by certain right-wing extremists in the West, those violations have also been aggravated by the practical and ideological failure in the Arab world to defend human rights.

If we are not going to become wholly distracted by laying the blame on Western organizations and international breaches of human rights, we must work to correct ourselves, our culture, and our practices with respect to those human rights that we all recognize and uphold.

Islam has given us the practical teachings to assist us in upholding human rights. We have to monitor our own conduct in the Muslim world. This comes as part of our Islamic duty of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. Allah says: “The believers, men and women, are protectors of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong; they establish prater, pay the Zakâh, and obey Allah and His Messenger. To these people Allah will show mercy. Indeed Allah is mighty and wise.” [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 71]

The purpose of Islamic Law is to protect society. Its job is not to prevent the occurrence of certain sins and misdeeds. That is an impossible goal. Its job is rather to minimize evil in society and minimize its harm. One of the most important aspects of the task of enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong is that of ensuring that people’s rights are upheld, good works are carried through, and injustice prevented.

The agencies in society who are responsible for carrying out this noble task must defend the rights of the people. As a result, they will be loves by the people.

The Muslim world needs to draw up charters which can be referred to, which outline the rights of the people, proclaim those rights, and uphold them. The people will be able to sense how important and serious their human rights are. Likewise, there need to be organizations established to carry out this work alongside the human rights organizations that already exist, and which are certainly doing their job, but are still far too few compared to what is needed to solve the world’s problems.

We need rights organizations to do for human rights what Islamic workers engaged in enjoining right and forbidding wrong are doing for Islamic mores. We need commissions that oversee and monitor how human rights are honored in society. Such organizations can instill in the people the value of human rights in a wholesome and ethical way.

Not only must a culture of human rights be cultivated through sermons and speeches, the matter needs to be added to our school curriculums. Educators and students need to be trained in knowing their rights as well as their responsibilities towards others. In this way, a proper understanding of these crucial issues can be disseminated throughout society and blossom into the reform that our societies need.

Allah says: “In truth your Lord destroyed not the townships tyrannously while their people were doing right.” [Sûrah Hûd: 117]

Female Circumcision & Islam

Date: 
Sat, 05/27/2006
Image: 
Short Content: 
The question of female circumcision in Muslim lands attracts considerable media attention. This is probably due to the negative reactions and condemnation that the practice provokes – especially in European countries that have large Muslim communities.
Body: 
The question of female circumcision in Muslim lands attracts considerable media attention. This is probably due to the negative reactions and condemnation that the practice provokes – especially in European countries that have large Muslim communities. This attention grew considerably after one African Muslim discussed on television the way that this circumcision is carried out and declared that the practice was recommended by Islamic Law. This led certain countries to pass legislation prohibiting female circumcision on the grounds that it is harmful to women and a violation of their rights.

Pre-Islamic Arabia

Before discussing this practice in light of Islamic teachings, it behooves us to consider that the circumcision of girls is a custom that has been practiced since ancient times in parts of Africa, particularly in Egypt, Nubia, Sudan, and their surroundings. The prevalent type of female circumcision practiced in that region is known as Pharaonic circumcision, and it seems that the reason for it was the desire of the men in those societies to weaken the sexual desire of women in order to ensure their chastity.

It is quite possible that this practice spread to neighboring Arab countries from Egypt and practiced on occasion or that Arabs were at least aware of this custom before the advent of Islam, since customs can spread from one society to another. However, I have not come across any verifiable evidence that the Arabs of pre-Islamic times were in the practice of circumcising their daughters. Among them were those who killed their daughters fearing the shame that they brought and had no need for circumcision.

What is reported in the Sunnah

There are some narrations attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) concerning female circumcision. The most important of which are the following:

1. “Circumcision is Sunnah for men and an honorable thing for women.” [Musnad Ahmad (19794)]

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalâni discusses this hadîth in al-Talkhîs al-Habîr (4/1407):
Ahmad and al-Bayhaqî narrate this hadîth from al-Hajjâj b. Arta’ah who narrates it from Abû al-Mulayh from Usâmah from his father.

This al-Hajjâj is one who is known to use ambiguous terms in conveying his chain of transmission, and moreover he is inconsistent in this narration. Sometimes he cites his chain of transmission as given above and at other times he mentions an additional narrator named Shidâd b. `Aws after Abû Mulayh’s father. This is how we find the hadîth being narrated in Musannaf Ibn Abî Shaybah, Ibn Abî Hâtim’s `Ilal, and Mu`jam al-Tabarânî al-Kabîr.

At other times, he narrates the hadîth from Makhûl from Abû Ayyûb. This narration can be found in Musnad Ahmad. Ibn Abî Hâtim mentions this in al-`Ilal and quotes his father as laying the blame for the mistake on either al-Hajjâj or the narrator who relates it from him `Abd al-Wâhid b. Ziyâd. Al-Bayhaqî says about `Abd al-Wâhid b. Ziyâd: “He is a weak narrator and his narrations are incomplete.”

In al-Tamhîd, Ibn `Abd al-Barr says: “This hadîth depends upon the narration of al-Hajjâj b. Arta’ah whose narrations cannot be used as evidence for anything.”

The hadîth is in fact related by a narrator other than al-Hajjâj b. Arta’ah. This statement is related in Mu`jam al-Tabarânî al-Kabîr and in Sunan al-Bayhaqî on the authority of Ibn `Abbâs back to the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, al-Bayhaqî himself declares it to be a weak hadîth when he mentions it in Sunan al-Bayhaqî. He says in his work al-Ma`rifah: “It is not authentic as a statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him).”
Therefore, this is a weak hadîth.

2. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have passed by a woman performing circumcision on a young girl. He instructed the woman by saying: “Trim, but do not cut into it, for this is brighter for the face (of the girl) and more favorable with the husband.” [Mu`jam al-Tabarânî al-Awsat (2274)]

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalâni discusses this hadîth as well in al-Talkhîs al-Habîr (4/1407-1408):
Al-Hâkim relates it in al-Mustadrak from `Ubayd Allah b. `Amr who narrates it from Zayd b. Abî Usayd from `Abd al-Malik b. `Umayr from al-Dahhâk b. Qays that in Madînah there was a woman called Umm `Atiyyah who used to circumcise the slave girls, so Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said to her: “O Umm `Atiyyah! Trim, but do not cut into it, for this is brighter for the face (of the girl) and more favorable with the husband.”

It likewise related by al-Tabarânî, by Abû Nu`aym in al-Ma`rifah, and by al-Bayhaqî with essentially the same chain of transmission except that narrator `Ubayd Allah b. `Amr narrates it from “a man from the city of Kufah” from `Abd al-Malik b. `Umayr.

Al-Mufdil al-`Ulâ’î says : “I asked Ibn Ma`în about this hadîth and he told me that its narrator al-Dahhâk b. Qays is not al-Fahrî.”

However, al-Hâkim and Abû Nu`âym discuss him under the biographical entry of “al-Fahrî”.

`Abd al-Malik b. `Umayr is inconsistent in how he narrates this hadîth. Sometimes it is narrated from him as mentioned above. At other times, he is allegedly relating it from `Atiyyah al-Qurazî as beginning with the words: “In Madînah, there used to be a practitioner of circumcision called Umm `Atiyyah…” It is related in this way by Abû Nu`aym in al-Ma`rifah. At other times he allegedly relates it with Umm `Atiyyah being the narrator [and not the practitioner]. This is how it is related in Sunan Abî Dâwûd.

Abû Dâwûd [in Sûnan Abî Dâwûd (5271)] declares the hadîth to be defective on account of the narrator Muhammad b. Hassân, saying: “Muhammad b. Hassân is an unknown narrator and this hadîth is weak.”

Ibn `Adiyy and al-Bayhaqî confirm Abû Dâwûd’s judgment that Muhammad b. Hassân is an unknown narrator. `Abd al-Ghanî b. Sa`îd, the author of Idâh al-Shakk, disagrees, saying: “He is Muhammad b. Sa`îd al-Maslûb.” He goes on to narrate this hadîth from Muhammad b. Sa`îd al-Maslûb in his biographical entry for that narrator.

There are two other lines of transmission for this hadîth:

1. Ibn `Adiyy narrates it from Sâlim b. `Abd Allah b. `Umar – and al-Bazzar relaes it from Nâfi` - from `Abd Allah b. `Umar that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O women of Madînah! Do it lightly, trim and do not cut into it, for it is more favorable with your husbands. And do not deny Allah’s grace.” This wording is from al-Bazzar. In al-Bazzâr’s chain of transmission, there is the narrator Mandal b. `Alî who is a weak narrator. In Ibn `Adiyy’s chain of transmission, there is the narrator Khâlid b. `Amr al-Qurashî who is even weaker.

2. Al-Tabarânî relates it in al-Mu`jam al-Saghîr – and Ibn `Adiyy relates it as well – from Abî Khalîfah who narrates it from Muhammad b. Salâm al-Jamhî from Zâ’idah b. Abî Ruqqâd from Thâbit from Anas with a text like the one found in Sunan Abî Dâwûd.

Ibn `Adiyy comments on this line of transmission, saying: “Zâ’idah is the only narrator to relate his hadîth from Thâbit.”

Al-Tabarânî says: “Muhammad b. Salâm is the only one to relate it like this.”

Tha`lab says: “I saw Yahyâ b. Ma`în among some people with Muhammad b. Salâm right in front of me and he asked him about this hadîth.”

Al-Bukhârî says about Zâ’idah: “His hadîth are false.”

Ibn al-Mundhir says: “There is no report about circumcision that can be relied upon and no chain of transmission that can be followed.”
In Nayl al-Awtâr (1/137-139), al-Shawkâni discusses the hadîth of Umm `Atiyyah and says basically the same things about its weakness that Ibn Hajar says above.

Female circumcision according to the scholars of Islamic Law

Due to the weakness of the hadîth that refer to female circumcision – with some of their narrators being known for deceptiveness and others whose narrations carry no weight – scholars of Islamic Law have differed widely regarding its legal ruling.

In the Hanafî school of law there are two different opinions. Some Hanafî scholars consider it to be a Sunnah for women. Others consider it to be merely an honorable thing. [refer to: al-Fatâwâ al-Hindiyyah and al-Ikhtiyâr li-Tahlîl al-Mukhtâr]

It is considered a preferred act (mandûb) for women in the Mâlikî school of law. They rely upon the hadîth of Umm `Atiyyah for this ruling. [refer to: Bulghah al-Sâlik li-Aqrab al-Masâlik and Ashal al-Madârik Sharh Irshâd al-Sâlik]

In the Shâfi`î school of law, circumcision is considered an obligation for both men and women. This is the official ruling of that school of thought. Some Shâfi`î scholars express the view that circumcision is obligatory for men and merely Sunnah for women. [refer to: al-Majmû`]

In the Hanbalî school of law, circumcision is obligatory for men and merely an honorable thing for women. It is not obligatory for them. The Hanbalî jurist Ibn Qudâmah observes: “This is the view of many people of knowledge. Imam Ahmad said that it is more emphatic for men.” [al-Mughnî (1/115)]

Among contemporary legal scholars, al-Sayyid Sâbiq writes: “The hadîth that call for female circumcision are all weak. Nothing among them is authentic” [Fiqh al-Sunnah (1/36)]

Conclusions:

It appears that female circumcision is more a cultural practice than a matter of Islamic teachings. We have seen that the hadîth which refer to the practice are all weak. The presence of that practice in Egypt an Nubia up to this day is just a continuation of a practice that has been around since the time of the Pharaohs. It is often hard for people to give up deeply ingrained customs and cultural practiced. They continue to be passed down from generation to generation.

Another example of the tenacity of custom is the practice among Indian Muslims where the woman pays a dowry to the husband. This is a pre-Islamic Indian custom that Islam declares false. Islam requires the husband to pay a dowry to the wife. Nevertheless, this custom persists among Muslims in both India and Pakistan, even though the history of Islam in India goes back for many long centuries.

Likewise, Islam put an end to many pre-Islamic customs that marginalized women and denied them their rights. It put an end to people condemning each other’s lineages. It put an end to the practice of wailing at a person’s burial. Nonetheless, these practices can still be seen in some Muslim societies and are often regarded by the people of those societies to be part and parcel of Islamic Law.

The Shâfi`î school of law has been the prevalent legal school in Egypt since its formative years. It may be that the scholars of the Shâfi`î school who promoted the view that female circumcision is obligatory had been influenced by the prevailing culture of the region.

There is no evidence that this practice was widespread among the Pious Predecessors. Moreover, the practice has never been prevalent in the regions where Islam originated – Mecca and Madinah and the surrounding areas of Arabia. It is extremely rare. If female circumcision had truly been endorsed by Islamic Law, it would certainly have been practiced and perpetuated in those regions. Only male circumcision is practiced, due to the authentic evidence in the Sunnah that it is part of the natural way (fitrah).

We conclude that female circumcision is merely a cultural practice that has no prescribed Islamic ruling for it and that is supported by no decisive textual evidence. It is simply a regional custom in the places where it is practiced. We must then take into consideration that many medical professionals consider it to have detrimental affects for the girls who undergo the operation. On that basis, it would be impermissible to allow this custom to continue. In Islamic Law, preservation of the person – the life and bodily soundness of the person – is a legal necessity. Anything that compromises this legal necessity by bringing harm to the person is unlawful.

And Allah knows best.

Violent Crimes in Islam’s Name are a Tragedy

Date: 
Sun, 04/15/2007
Short Content: 
Salman al-Oadah expresses his disgust at the bloody atrocities that have been perpetrated in Islam’s name.
Body: 
Salman al-Oadah, the General Supervisor of IslamToday, expressed distress over the bloody atrocities that have recently been perpetrated in Algeria and Morocco.

He said: “A person must feel appalled when Islam is exploited as a means to justify the killing of civilians, included women, children, and the elderly.”

“It does not matter if the victims are Muslim or not…The lives of all people are inviolable.”

He emphasized that Islam came to build, not to destroy, expressing that he is appalled at the atrocities being perpetrated throughout the Arab world in Islam’s name, making specific mention of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco, and Algeria.

He protested: “Do they think we are supposed to kill everybody who disagrees with us? Do they think we are supposed to point weapons at their throats? Is that how problems are solved?”

He mentioned that what is most frightening is the tendency of these people to justify killing others on any grounds – including other Muslims by declaring them to be “unbelievers”. He is appalled that these terrorists believe themselves to be on the truth, in opposition to the rest of the world.

Sheikh Salman emphasized the need for Muslim scholars, preachers, and people of influence to take a clear stand against these violent crimes that disgrace the religion of Islam.