Amr is a statement

By default without added context, can any mere action prove compulsion and be construed as an amr (imperative)? The answer according to the Ahnaf is ‘No’ as an amr is a statement and not an action.

By Alm. S A Rahman

فال العلامة أبو البركات في كتابه المنار: منه (اي من الخاص) الأمر و هو قول القائل لغيره علي سبيل الإستعلاء إفعل. و يختص مراده بصيغة لازمة حتي لا يكون الفعل موجبا خلافا لبعض أصحاب الشافعي رحمه الله تعالي للمنع عن الوصال و خلع النعال. و الوجوب أستفيد بقوله عليه السلام صلو كما رأيتموني أصلي لا بالفعل و سمي الفعل به لأنه سببه اهـ

Amr is a statement said to someone other than themselves from an authoritative position using imperative words. Amr is a type of khas and it is specific with a statement or word. Hence, an action by it mere act will not be considered an amr (imperative) nor wajib.

The Ahnaf maintain that amr (imperative) are words; actions by default do not infer an imperative or compulsion.

The prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) used to fast a number of days without breaking the fast in between. Upon seeing this, the sahabah also began fasting without a break. The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) told the sahabah to stop fasting in this manner as they did not have the same strength Allah Almighty had given him.

In another instance, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) was praying and whilst in salah, he took off his shoes. The sahabah also took off their shoes in turn. Upon finishing, the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) asked the sahabah why they had taken their shoes off during salah. They replied, ‘We saw you take it off so we took it off’. The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Jibra’il (peace be upon him) informed me that on it there was impurity’.

If actions were imperative, in both instances it would have been compulsory for the sahabah to do as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did. However, this was not the case as the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) did not expect the sahabah to do these actions as a matter of compulsion without his express direction.

In contrast, some argue that an imperative can be inferred through an actions as well as words. They use the occasion of the battle of Khandaq. The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) missed his Zuhr, Asr and Maghrib salah due to the battle and so he prayed the missed salahs together at Isha consecutively. The sahabah also did the same thing. Some say that this is evidence that amr can be through action as the sahabah had to pray the same way after seeing the prayer of the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, this proof is incomplete. The prophet (peace be upon him) did pray the missed salahs as mentioned but he then turned and said ‘Pray as you see me pray’. So the sahabah were not compelled to pray by the mere fact that they saw the prophet (peace be upon him) pray rather it was because he commanded them to pray.

قال الله سبحانه و تعالي و ما امر فرعون برشيد

Alternatively, some argue the case that an amr (imperative) can be inferred through action by using the ayat (11:97), ‘The amr of the Pharaoh was not rashid (prudent)’. The word ‘rashid’ is used in Arabic to describe an action whilst ‘sadid’ is used to describe a statement. Hence, here the amr refers to the action of the Pharaoh and not his statement. Allm. Nasafi declares this argument to have moved beyond the matter being discussed. Here, Amr refers to action as a metaphor due to it being the cause for action. Whilst, the key discussion here is whether amr can be inferred through action literally and by default without the aid of further contextual evidences.

 

How to study Usul al-Fiqh

By Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
Extracted from Mastering Usul Fiqh in Islamic Studies Bulletin – 9 Shawwal 1434

To master usul for a person with a Hanafi background, one must first have a strong foundation in fiqh. Study Usul al-Shashi to get an in-depth understanding of the central masa’il covered in usul fiqh as well as an introduction to the core principles. Thereafter, read Manar al-Anwar along with Nur al-Anwar to understand the principles in detail along with the evidence which support and justify these rules as well as answers objections posited by the mutakillimin. This will make it easy to decipher the usul of Bazdawi, Sarakhsi, Jassas and make Talwih accessible. Now that a solid foundation in the Hanafi approach is developed, one should consolidate the learning with the reading of Husami with special attention on the Qiyas section; this will cover the topics in Taqwim al-Adillah, Tasis al-Nazar and Usul Karkhi. This should suffice for one to understand the Hanafi evidence and usul.

To advance one should study Tawdih with Talwih. This will summarise the key mutakallimin works such as Ihkam and Muntaha al-Sul along with what was covered in Manar and Husami in addition to gaining the Ash’ari insight via Talwih. This should give one scope to understand most of the books of the other Mazahib. Follow up with the study of Musallam al-Thubut with Fawatih al-Rahmut; this will suffice to understand the works of the later works of the muta’akhkhirin including Jam’ al-Jawami’ and Tahrir.

For further detail, read Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami’s article, ‘Mastering Usul Fiqh’. Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Issue 3. Available at http://uloom.com/dibaj/article/130818501

Where does tawatur start?

By Shaykh al-Hadith Ml. Muhammad Yunus Jawnpuri
Yawaqit al-Ghaliyah v.1 pp.40
Translated by Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami – 9 Rabi II 1437 | 20 Jan 2016

For tawatur, it is a condition in every stage that group be such that collusion upon a lie be normally impossible. All usul experts state this point.

قال ابن الهمام في التحرير خبر جماعة يفيد العلم. لا بالقرائن المنفصلة. بخلاف ما يلزم نفسه أو المخبَر عنه. و عنه يتفاوت عدده. و شروط المتواتر تعدد النقلة بحيث يمنع التواطؤ عادة علي الكذب و الاستناد إلي الحسّ و لا يشترط في كل واحد و إستواء الطرفين و الوسط في ذلك أي التعدد و الإستناد لأن أهل كل طبقة لهم حكم أنفسهم فيشترط كل منهما فيهم. انتهي بزيادة من التقرير و التحبير لابن أمير الحاج – ص 233 ج 2

Muhaqqiq Ibn Humam has declared the middle and the two sides being equal a condition. This mentioned by all the usul experts. The meaning of the two end (tarafayn) is [as follows]. The beginning side (ibtida’) refers to where the sanad starts. The ending side (intiha’) refers to where the sanad ends. The ending side is the sahabi. Hence, all the examples of mutawatir which the ulama have wrote, in every one there is a large group of sahabah (may Allah almighty be pleased with him). Muhaqqiq Ibn Humam writes on,

و الحنفية قالوا الخبر متواتر و آحاد و مشهور وهو ما كان آحاد الأصل متواترا في القرن الثاني و الثالث اهـ

This text states the very same thing. The reason being, from the three generation (qurun thalathah), the first generation (qarn) is that of the sahabah, the second qarn is that of the tabi’in and the third qarn is that of the tab’ tabi’in. Despite a hadith being mutawatir in the second qarn it is not considered mutawatir because there was no tawatur in the first qarn. Consequently, for tawatur it is a conditional that in the generation of the sahabah, there also be a large group.

قال صاحب مسلم الثبوت و عندما عامة الحنفية ما ليس بمتواتر آحاد و مشهور اهـ و قال صاحب فواتح الرحموت فالقسمة عندهم مثلثة وجه الحصر أن الخبر إن رواه جماعة لا يتوهم تواطؤهم علي الكذب ثمّ وثمّ فمتواتر و إلا فإن روي عن صحابي جماعة لا يتوهم تواطؤهم ثمّ و ثمّ و تلقّته الامة بالقبول فمشهور اهـ

This text is clear, in the generation of the sahabah, a [large] group is a condition.

و قال ابن عابدين في حاشية الدر المختار (ص 177 ج1) المشهور في أصول الفقه ما يكون من الآحاد في العصر الأول اي عصر الصحابة ثم ينقله في العصر الثاني و ما بعده قوم  لا يتوهم تواطؤهم علي الكذب

[…]

[Shaykh al-Hadith] Muhammad Yunus [Jawnpuri]
(may Allah almighty increase his blessing)
قد عرضته علي شيخنا (مولانا محمد زكريا الكاندلوي نور الله مرقده) فأقره
Friday, 10 Jumada II 1390

Types of mutawatir

Tawatur can be achieved in four ways – tawatur fil isnad, tabaqat, ta’amul and qadr mushtarak. All of them lead to certainty.

Mutawatir

By Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
8 Rabi II 1437 | 19 January 2016

The author of Usul al-Shashi writes,

Mutawatir is that which is transferred from one group to [another] group such that there is no possibility of collusion upon a lie due to them being so many. [Furthermore,] it should have reached you in the same way. Examples of it is the reporting of the Quran, numbers of raka’ats and amount fixed for zakat. Its ruling is that it results in certainty (ilm qat’i) and to deny it is kufr.

Tawatur can be achieved in four ways – tawatur fil isnad, tabaqat, ta’amul and qadr mushtarak. All of them have the same ruling.

Tawatur fil Isnad

The message which is narrated with so many sanads in every generation from the time of the Prophet to now such that it is impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie in any given generation.

Example: من كذب علي متعمدا فليتبوء مقعده من النار

Tawatur fi al-tabaqat

The message for which there are no huge collection of identifiable sanads but in every generation there are so many narrators stating it from the time of the Prophet to now that it is impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie in any given generation.

Example: The Quran

Tawatur fi al-ta’amul

The message for which there are no huge collection of identifiable sanads or statements but in every generation there are so many people acting upon it from the time of the Prophet to now that it is impossible upon to have colluded upon a lie in any given generation.

Example: The five times prayer

Tawatur fi al-Qadr al-Mushtarak

The message for which there are no instances which are reported or acted to the level of tawatur, however, when multiple corroborative instances are combined it becomes such that is was impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie in any given generation.

Example: The miracles of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

An introduction to mutawatir

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Allamah Abu Barakat al-Nasafi writes in Manar:

[Mutawatir] is the message which is narrated by a group whose number [is so high that it] cannot be accounted and it is [normally] impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie. This criterion extends [to every point in the chain]. Hence, its end will be like its start, its start like its end and middle like it two sides. For example, the reporting of the Quran and the five salahs. [Mutawatir] results in knowing with certainty (yaqin) like seeing gives necessary knowledge.

Mulla Jiwan explains the text in his commentary, Nur al-Anwar:

[Mutawatir] is the message which is narrated by a group whose number [is so high that it] cannot be accounted and it is impossible for them to have colluded upon a lie.

[The reason for the impossibility] is due to sheer number, differed places and character. An exact number (minimum threshold) is not specified as [opposed to what] some have inferred such as seven, forty and seventy. Rather, so long as necessary knowledge is attained, it will signify tawatur.

This criterion extends [to every point in the chain]. Hence, its end will be like its start, its start like its end and middle like it two sides.

In other words, [the volume] will remain the same in every era from the start when the message arose to the end when it reached the reporter. The start is the era when the message occurred. The end is the era of every reporter as they would have perceived it as the end. If it was not like that at the start, it will be ahad al-asl and called ‘mashhur’ so long as it spreads in the middle and the end [with the second or third generation]. If it did not spread like that in the middle or end [despite the fact that it had tawatur at the start], it is [considered] munqati’.

For example, the reporting of the Quran and the five salahs.

The examples are of mutawatir in general and not mutawatir [as found in the] sunnah. The reason being there is a dispute as to [whether] mutawatir in the sunnah exists. It is said, no [example] of it is found. Some said, ‘innamal a’malu bi al-niyyat’ and others said, ‘al-bayyinatu ala al-mudda’i wa al-yaminu ala man ankar’ [are examples of mutawatir].

[Mutawatir] results in knowing with certainty (yaqin) like seeing which gives necessary knowledge.

This is in contrast to what the mu’tazila say, ‘it provides convincing knowledge such that it gives weight to the truth but does not deliver certainty’. This is also in contrast to another group who say, ‘it provides evidentiary knowledge which arises from considering factors; [it does not deliver] necessary knowledge’. [Mutawatir leads to knowledge necessarily] because the existence of Makkah and Baghdad is clear and apparent [through mutawatir reports]; [it is free] from the need to prove it with evidence to remove doubt of its existence or the need to defend it through hypothetical constructs.

Notes

  • There is no specific threshold for tawatur. The numbers stated such as 5, 7, 10, 12, 40, 70 etcetera should be perceived more as a marker. It is a rule of thumb that a hadith which contain 10 or more separate sahabah is indicative of that hadith being mutawatir although not necessarily so.
  • The impossibility of collusion refers to the fact that it should be practically or generally (adatan) impossible. It does not refer to that which is theoretically (aqlan) impossible (cf Yawaqit al-Ghaliyah v. 1. p. 41).
  • The message must have been mutawatir in every era including the time of the sahabah (See Yawaqit al-Ghaliyah v. 1 p. 40).
  • The example of mutawatir in the sunan is من كذب علي متعمدا فليتبوأ مقعده من النار. The point mentioned by Mulla Jiwan addresses mutawatir in both text and sanad. If one considers mutawatir to have other forms such as through practice or amalgamation, there will many examples within the sunnah (cf types of mutawatir).
  • Necessary knowledge (ilm daruri or ilm yaqini) is knowledge which is self evident (requires no evidence) and understandable to any average person who hears. This is in contrast to evidentiary or convincing knowledge (ilm iktisabi or ilm nazari) which requires evidence to know and a level of expertise to understand (cf Nuzhat al-Nazar lil Asqalani).

————

Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
8 Rabi II 1437
18 January 2016

The principle of blocking the means

Blocking the means (sadd al-zara’i) or closing the ‘floodgate’ is a legal principle used as a device to stop the future occurrence of sin.

By Allamah Zafar Ahmad Uthamani
Ahkam al-Qur’an v.1 pp.54-46 – Hakim al-Ummat Ml. Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Editor)
Translated by Ml. Zameelur Rahman in Deoband – 18 December 2011

The ummah have agreed that when an abomination is attached to a permissible or desirable action and it becomes a means to disobedience or innovation, even though that is not the intention and objective of the doer, it is obligatory to remove this disobedience whatever it may be. Thereafter, they differed:

Some of them said: This desirable act should be totally abandoned in order to block the means to disobedience and to sever the substance of innovation in the religion.

And some of them said: This abomination is removed, and a recognised desirable act is not abandoned for its sake.

The Hanafis, Malikis and Hanbalis have inclined to the first [view]. Their proof is in His (Exalted is He) statement: “O you who believe, do not say ra‘ina, but say unzurna,” (Qur’an 2:104), as Ibn Kathir said in his Tafsir:

Allah Almighty forbade His servants from resembling the disbelievers in word and deed, and that is because the Jews would keep in mind the allusion in the speech with the objective of degrading [the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace)] – may the curses of Allah be upon them. Thus, when they intended to say: “Listen to us,” they would say: “Ra‘ina” (observe us) with the hidden meaning of “stupidity” (ru‘unah). [This is] as He (Exalted is He) said: “Among the Jews there are some who distort the words against their contexts, and say, ‘We hear and disobey,’ and, ‘Hear. May you not be made to hear,’ and, ‘Ra‘ina,’ twisting their tongues and maligning the religion.” (Qur’an 4:46)

Al-Baydawi said:

“Twisting their tongues,” twisting and turning with [their tongues] the speech into what resembles an insult, since they used ra‘ina, which resembles what they would use to insult one another, in place of unzurna.

It is not hidden that the sanctity of the Sahabah (Allah Almighty’s pleasure be on them all) is far removed from them [ever] alluding as the Jews would allude, or twisting their tongues as they would twist [them], yet despite this, you see they were forbidden from this word. This is not but from the door of blocking the means to abomination, and severing resemblance with the disbelievers. This is an elementary principle, from which uncountable branches derive.

From this the meaning of “relative innovation” (al-bid‘ah al-idafiyya) which ‘Allamah al-Shatibi discussed in his book al-I‘tisam is understood, and we will quote here a beautiful passage from it. He said:

Often an original practice is lawful but it falls onto the pattern of an innovation through the door of means…The reason for the inclusion of innovation here is that all that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) performed continuously of optional prayers and which he displayed openly in congregations, they are Sunnah, so acting on optional activities which are not Sunnah in the way a Sunnah is practiced equates to removing the optional act from its place stipulated in the Shari‘ah. Then a consequence of this is the laypeople and the ignorant believe that it is a Sunnah. This is a great evil! Because believing what is not a Sunnah [to be a Sunnah], and acting upon it within the remit in which a Sunnah is practiced equates to changing the Shari‘ah, just as if it were believed that an obligation is not an obligation or that that which is not an obligation is an obligation, and then practice in accordance with this belief – For, this is ruinous! So, granted, the action is originally valid, but its extraction from its remits [stipulated in the Shari‘ah] in belief or practice equates to ruining the laws of the Shari‘ah.

From this the justification of the righteous Salaf in their intentional avoidance of Sunnahs becomes manifest – so that the ignorant person doesn’t believe that it is from the obligations, like the sacrifice (udhiyah) and other than that, as has preceded. This is why most of them also forbade tracing the relics [of pious people], as al-Tahawi, Ibn Waddah and others transmitted from Ma‘rur ibn Suwayd al-Asadi, he said: “I attended the [Hajj] season with the commander of the believers, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him). When we turned back to Medina, I went back with him. When he had prayed with us the Morning Prayer and recited therein alam tara kayfa fa‘ala (Sura 105) and li’ilafi Quraysh (Sura 106), he then saw people taking a path, so he said: ‘Where are these people going?’ They said: ‘They are going to a mosque here wherein the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed.’ He said: ‘Those before you were destroyed because of this! They traced the relics of their Prophets and adopted them as churches and monasteries. Whoever [unintentionally] catches the prayer in any of these mosques in which the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed, then he should pray in them, otherwise he should not intentionally proceed to them.’”

Ibn Waddah said: I heard ‘Isa ibn Yunus – the Mufti of the people of Tartus – say:

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab ordered the cutting of the tree under which the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was pledged allegiance. He cut it because the people would go and pray under it, so he feared temptation for them.

Ibn Waddah said:

Malik ibn Anas and other jurists would dislike going to those relics of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with the exception of Quba’ alone.

Malik would dislike all innovations even if it was [done] in goodness. All of this is a means to not take as a Sunnah what is not a Sunnah, or to consider as part of the Shari‘ah what is not recognised. Malik would dislike going to the Bayt al-Maqdis for fear that that would be taken as a Sunnah, and he would dislike going to the graves of the martyrs and he disliked going to Quba’ for that very fear – despite the reports that have come on encouragement towards this, but since the ‘ulama feared the consequence of that, they avoided it.

Ibn Kinanah and Ashhab said: We heard Malik say when he came to [the grave of] Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas: “I wish my legs were paralysed and I did not do this!”

Sa‘id ibn Hassan said: I used to read [hadiths] to Ibn Nafi‘, and when I read the hadith of spending generously [on one’s family] on the night of ‘Ashura’, he said to me: “Burn it!” I said: “Why is that O Abu Sa‘d?” He said: “For fear that it will be taken as a Sunnah.”

Hence, these are permissible or desirable activities, but they disliked their performance for fear of innovation, because taking them as Sunnah by continuously practicing upon them with open display of them – which is the nature of Sunnah – and when it falls on the pattern of Sunnahs, they turn into innovations without doubt. (End of abbreviated quote from al-Shatibi)

I say: This is the position of our Hanafi Imams (Allah Almighty have mercy on him). It is according to this [principle,] al-Halabi said in Sharh al-Munyah under “The Prostration of Gratitude and what is Done after the Prayer”: “It is disliked because the ignorant believe it is Sunnah or obligatory, and every permissible act leading to this is disliked.” Al-Shami said in the “Undesirable Acts of Prayer” of Radd al-Muhtar (1:43): “When a ruling wavers between Sunnah and innovation, avoidance of Sunnah is given priority.” The same [passage] is found in the Funerals [section] of Fatawa ‘Alamgiriyya and in it there is the addition: “That which wavers between obligatory and innovation, it should be practiced with caution.” Al-Tibi and al-Sayrafi said in their marginalia to Mishkat al-Masabih under the hadith of Ibn Mas‘ud, “None of you should make any part of his prayer for the devil by believing that it is duty-bound on him to turn to his right, for indeed I have seen the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) many times having turned to his left,”: “[The principle] behind this is that one who persists on a recommended act and has resolve on it, and does not act on a concession, then the devil has afflicted him, so what about the one who persists on innovations or abominations?” These [quotations] are found in Majmu‘at al-Fatawa al-Laknawiyyah (2:295).

In brief, blocking the means and cutting off resemblance with the disbelievers is a wide door in the religion on which is premised uncountable branches and rulings; and the basis of all of this is what is contained in this noble verse of a clear indication to this.