Category Archives: Basic Islamic Laws

Sanctity Of The Human Body in Islam

Some concerned Muslim medical students studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland have posed the question of experimentation and mutilation of dead human bodies. The article appearing hereunder is pre­sented for better understanding and greater clarification of this question.

By Mujlisul Ulama

INSAAN or man is the highest and the noblest of Allah Ta’ala’s creation. His importance and rank is such that Allah Ta’ala has created the entire universe. for his sake and made subservient to man all forces of nature. The Quraan Shareef is very explicit in making this claim. The elevated rank of man has been emphasised by Allah Ta’ala command­ing the Malaa-ikah to pro­strate in the presence of Adam (alayhis salaam), pro­genitor of the human race. And, what more can illu­strate the reverence of man than the following verse of the Quraan Shareef:

“And, remember when Allah said to the Malaa-­ikah: Verily, I shall be creating a Representative on earth…”

The entity of “INSAAN” consists of physical body and celestial soul (Rooh). Both these constitute inte­gral, and essential parts of this being known as man. The physical body minus the soul, by virtue of it be­ing a fundamental consti­tuent of Insaan deserves all the respect, dignity and re­verence Islam commands for the total “Insaan”, i.e. man-body and soul. Allah Ta’ala has commanded that we show respect and reverence to not only the dead body of man; but to even the nails’ and the hairs which are removed. These too can­not be discarded in dis­respect. The nails and hair even have to be buried. Be­cause of the great respect Islam orders for man, all forms of uses and benefits from the human body (dead body) or from any part of the human body are for­bidden. The Shariah de­crees:

“It is Haraam to derive any benefit fuse) from the hair of man, and from all his parts be­cause of the reverence (or respect) of man. But, his hair, his nails and all parts of him shall be bu­ried.”   [SHARHUL MUSLIM-NAWAWI]

So great is the respect Is­lam orders us to show man that long after his death when he has disintegrated and transformed into soil, the Shariah commands that when we pass by his grave we should not trample or to “mutilate” this man’s grave then the degree of unlaw­fulness for “mutilating” his body is emphasised to a far greater extent. The elabo­rate measures  – rituals, and practices — designed and or­dered by Islam to be ob­served in the burial of dead human bodies all impress the great reverence and sanctity of the human body – that the body of man is an object of respect; that it should not be disrespected in any way, leave alone mu­tilation suffered at the hands of experimentation. The following extracts from the Islamic Law Books illu­strate the great treatment of respect and reverence meted out by Islam to the human body.

“And, when the person dies, his jaws are to be tied and his eyes to be closed… In this (ac­tion) is the maintenance of man’s beauty,-eit is recomended (Mustahsan, i.e. meritorious) to do so.” [HIDAAYAH]

Immediately upon death the jaws are to be tied with a ribbon and the eye-lids to be closed to prevent the un­seemly sight of a gaping and gazing dead body.

“(While giving the dead body a bath) they should cover the body’s privacy with a cloth, so as to fulfil the compulsory duty of concealing the `satr’ (private parts).” [HIDAAYAH].

The dead body is an ob­ject of high reverence, hence Islam commands it be treat­ed with respect by bathing it ceremoniously and even concealing the private parts of the dead body from the sight of the living.

“The table (on which the body shall be laid) is to be perfumed… be­cause this is part of the respect (and reverence) which is to be shown to the dead body.” [HIDAAYAH]

itr – perfume for the dead. The senses – physical senses – ­are dead as well. Of what use then is the act of per­fuming the dead? Allah Ta’ala desires us to respect that vehicle — the human physical body — which was the receptacle of the cele­stial soul for which Allah Ta’ala ‘created the entire universe.

“Hunoot (a kind of per­fume) shall be rubbed onto his (the dead body’s) head and in his beard, and camphor shall be rubbed on those parts of the -body which touched the ground in Sajdah because this is deserving of greater re­spect.”   [HIDAAYAH]

In explaining the reason for the unlawfulness of uti­lizing the skin of man for any purpose, the authorita­tive Law Book of Islam SHARHUN NIQAAYAH, states:

“… so that mankind do not become audacious in disrespecting that object (human body) which Al­lah Ta’ala has revered, by using its parts (organs, hair, nails, etc.) And, be­cause it is not permissi­ble to derive benefit from it (human body) because of his reveren­ce.”

The above are merely a few examples of respect for the dead body. A host of rules; all indicating and em­phasising the great respect and reverence of the dead body, is related to the treat­ment of the dead body from the time man dies un­til after burial.

So high is the regard for the body of man that Is­lam commands that it could not be used for even saving life. The Law Books of Islam state that if two people are lost or stranded in some remote part and one is on the verge of dying due to starvation it is not lawful for the one to dis­member or cut part of his flesh to feed his companion so as to save his life. This is so, despite the fact that Islam makes lawful even the eating of swine flesh when one is reduced to such dire straits of starvation.

No matter how great the advantages to medical science the experimentation and mutilation of human bodies may be, Islam does not condone this sacrilege inflicted upon an object which Allah Ta’ala Himself respects and commanded mankind to revere. The physical body is not the property of “INSAAN”; it does not belong unto him; therefore he has no right to misuse this vehicle assigned to his care for a while. The human body is a sacred trust which Allah Ta’ala has given man, hence he cannot destroy it by suicide, by donating it and by mutilat­ing it.

It has to be conceded that the purpose underlying the “mutilation” of dead bodies by medical science is noble, but Islam does not justify and legalise all means for the attainment of a noble and a laudable pur­pose. All means unlawful in Islam are to be shunned in our endeavours to attain our noble goals. And, expe­rimentation with dead man bodies is a method un­lawful in Islam.

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The Significance and Importance Of A Name in Islam

By Mujlisul Ulama

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) emphasised the importance of beautiful names for children. The importance which the Shariah attaches to beautiful and pious names is of such a degree that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would change the bad name of even an old man.
A beautiful name exercises a spiritual influence and impression on the character of the person concerned. Similarly, an evil name has its evil influence on a person.

A beautiful name is among the Huqooq (Rights) which the child has over his/her parents. When parents fail to uphold this right, the child has a claim against them for this failure.

A ‘beautiful’ name in Islam does not refer to names which sound fanciful to the modern ear nor does a beautiful name mean a modern name or a name which is new to the ear. A beautiful name is the name of Islam’s pious and saintly personalities, i.e. the names of the Ambiya, Sahaabah and Auliya. Newly fabricated names can never be the same nor exercise the same beneficial spiritual effects as the old names of the Ambiya, Sahaabah and Auliya even if such new names have good meanings.

Food for the thought of the Mu’min is: Why would a Muslim desire a new name in preference to the names of the Ambiya, Auliya and Sahaabah? If a Mu’min is true in his claim of love for the Ambiya and their close followers, then why will he/she search for the names of non-entities, the names of Fire-Worshippers, the names of fussaaq, fujjaar and the non-sensical names of just any Tom, Dick, Harry and Jane simply because the names appear to be nice-sounding to the modern ear? Remember that even if a name of a pious Muslim is kept with a wrong or un-Islamic niyyat, then that name too will be a bad name, e.g. naming one’s son after some sportsman or sportswoman. Even if the name by itself is good, the impure niyyat destroys the barkat of the good name. The fisq and fujoor of that faasiq/faajir person will rub off to a degree on the akhlaaq (moral character) of the one bearing the name.

Thus, it is haraam to keep names such as Parvez, Imtiaz (after the cricketer), Mehboob (after the film-producer), Zareena, Zaranov, Farah, Parveen, etc. 

While it is only right and respectable to ask the senior in the family to choose a name, the first right of choosing a name for the child belongs to the mother. It is she who has borne the baby in travail upon travail. Her wish and desire in choosing her baby’s name should be respected if she observes the limits of the Shariah in choosing a name.

THE NEED FOR A MUSLIM NAME

Islam emphasises the adoption of an Islamic identity. It is imperative in terms of the Shariah that a Muslim be identified and recognized from his external appearance as well as from his name.

It was the practise of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) – the Holy Prophet of Islam – to change the name of any Muslim if he considered such name to be unbecoming of a Muslim. A name which creates the impression that its bearer is a non-Muslim is not permissible.

According to Islamic teaching, a name, i.e. an Islamic name, has spiritual effects which exercise good moral influence on the person bearing the name. Such significance Islam accords to only Muslim names – the names which were borne by the Messengers of Allah, by the Sahaabah and the great Auliya (Saints of Islam). Since the names of these august personalities are blessed, they bring along with them blessings for the person who is thus named.

Islam proscribes the keeping of meaningless names and names having bad connotations.

The name which a Muslim keeps indicates the religion he is aligned to. If he has a name which non-Muslims keep, other Muslims cannot identify him from such un-Islamic name. If a Muslim with an un-Islamic name dies in a strange place where he has neither friends nor relatives, he will be deprived of the last Islamic burial rites and prayers which are compulsorily discharged when a Muslim is laid to rest. But, if his identity document reflects an Islamic name, the Muslim community is under Islamic religious obligation to attend to the funeral and burial rites of the stranger. The keeping of an Islamic name, is, therefore, an utmost necessity.

The Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever emulates a nation becomes of them.” Muslims are not permitted to adopt the ways, styles, customs and appearances of non-Muslims. It is a religious requirement for followers of Islam to adopt a separate identity. Adoption of an Islamic name is one way of identifying with Islam. It is part of Islamic culture to adopt an Islamic name. No American or English non-Muslim will be pleased to adopt the name Abdullah or Muhammad, for example. Similarly, it should be understood that a non-Muslim name is not preferred nor permissible for Muslims.

Reading Newspapers – The Shariah’s Stance

By Mujlisul Ulama

Every Muslim who is still conscious of the Deen and the goals of the Aakhirah will have no alternative other than to concede that almost every newspaper in the country is pornographic. What then is the Shariah’s reaction to reading such evil, satanic slut papers? The practice of Hakimul Ummah Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) will throw some light on this question and offer guidance for us.

During the 1930’s newspapers, even kuffaar ones, were exceptionally conservative and dignified. Even kuffaar governments censored and excised moral filth from the papers. A Muslim paper in the Urdu language used to be delivered to Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh). It was an Urdu paper devoid of pictures and the filthy gossip and slander stories which adorn the slut papers of this era.

Since there is always a need for the Ulama, especially those to whom the community refers for Deeni guidance and Fatwa, to stay abreast with developments, Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) permitted the Urdu paper to be delivered to his Khaanqah. However, Hadhrat Thaanvi would not read the paper nor look at it. Hadhrat’s method was to ask one of his mureeds to read out only the headlines of the articles and reports. The mureed would read the headlines and Hakimul Ummat would listen. If any article attracted his attention, he would ask the mureed to read it for him.

After the paper was completed in this manner, Hadhrat Thaanvi would take it away to prevent others in the Khaanqah from reading it. This was the caution which Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) had adopted with regard to newspapers which were completely bereft of the filth, muck, slut and pornography in which almost every newspaper excels today.

Undoubtedly, it is haraam to allow children to read these pornographic papers. Also for adults it is not permissible to relish and derive pleasure from the haraam pictures, and from the gossip and slander stories. In fact, it is not permissible to introduce these papers into the home. A man should feel ashamed of bringing home a paper in whose pages pornographic pictures are splashed. He has a wife, daughters and sons at home. Only a dishonourable husband/father is able to allow his family to daily indulge in zina of the eyes and mind thereby corrupting their spirituality and Imaan. Wives too have become utterly shameless. Like their western kuffaar immoral counterparts, they are able to tolerate their husbands savouring their nafs and contaminating their Imaan with the almost nude pictures of immoral women. They should then not become surprised and despondent when the attention of their husbands is diverted from them to the filthy Aids-Carriers they see in the streets.

These immoral papers should never be left lying around the home. The Malaaikah of Rahmat most certainly do not grace such houses with their auspicious presence. The home then becomes an abode for the shayaateen.  

The Permissibility of Attaching [Qur’anic] Amulets [Ta’widh]

The Fifth Issue: The Permissibility of Attaching [Qur’anic] Amulets[1]

By Imām Abu Abdillāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Anṣārī al-Qurtubi (rahimahullah) [d. 671 AH]

Translated by Abu Humayd

Translator’s Preface  

The following is a translation of an excerpt from Imām al-Qurṭubī’s  [d. 671 AH] Tafsīr[2] of the Qur’ān relating to the permissibility of wearing Qur’ānic Ta’wīdh. Imām al-Qurṭubī sets out to answer some of the claims of those who unconditionally deem the usage of Ta’wīdh to be impermissible. In all, he deduces seven Masā’il (issues) regarding the following verse: 

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“We send down (stage by stage) in the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe: to the unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss.”   [Sūrat ‘l-Isrā’, 82]

Under the fifth Mas’alah al-Qurṭubī indicates – whilst utilising the above verse – towards the permissibility of Ta’wīdh, drawing upon evidences from the Qur’ān, Sunnah, Āthār (narrations), sayings of the Scholars and logic.

Fifth issue: [Imām] Mālik said:

‘There is no harm in attaching texts that contain in them the names of Allāh – the Mighty and Majestic – upon the necks of the ill to attain blessings by it so long as the one who wears it does not intend by that to ward off the evil eye.’

So this [saying of Mālik] means, that before the evil eye occurs [one shouldn’t attach it]. Of this opinion are the majority of the people of knowledge. 

And all which is attached [as ta’widh] after an affliction in terms of Allāh’s – the Mighty and Majestic – names and His book in the hope of [finding] relief and cure by Allāh – The High – is like the permitted form of ruqyah sanctioned by the Sunnah in [dealing with] the evil eye and it’s like. 

‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Amr said: The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said:

‘When one of you becomes frightened during sleep, then let him say: ‘I seek refuge in Allāh’s Perfect Words from His anger, His punishment, the evil of the devils and that they should come’.

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr used to teach this du’a to those of his children who could grasp it. Whereas for those of them that could not grasp it, he would write it and then hang it around their necks.

Hence if it is said, it was narrated from the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ that he said:  

‘Whoever hangs something  has entrusted [his care] to it’

And that Ibn Mas’ūd had seen a tied amulet on his slave girl so he very strongly pulled it off then cut it and said:  

‘Verily the family of Ibn Mas’ūd are free from shirk’.  Thereafter he said: ‘Verily amulets, incantations and ṭi’walah (charms) are shirk.’ It was said: ‘What are ṭiwalah’? He replied: ‘That due to which a woman shows love to her husband.’

It was narrated from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Āmir al-Juhanī that he said, I heard the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ say:  

‘Whoever attaches a tamīmah (amulets), may Allāh not fulfil his need, and whoever wears a sea-shell, may Allāh not give him peace.’ Khalīl ibn Aḥmad said: ‘Tamīmah is a pendant which has in it [verses of] protection, and sea-shell is beads.’

Abū ‘Umar (Ibn ‘Abd ‘l-Barr) said: ‘Tamimah in the speech of the Arabs refers to a pendant, and its meaning according to the people of knowledge is: those pendants worn across necks for fear of the evil eye – or the like – striking, or that it does not occur before it comes to pass, may Allāh not grant him recovery and safety [from illness]. As for one who wears sea shells, which falls under the same meaning [as tamīmah], then meaning he has not entrusted to Allāh [his affairs], so may Allāh not grant him blessings in the state of well-being he finds himself in, and Allāh knows best.

So all of these (narrations mentioned above) was to caution against acts engaged in by the people of Jāhiliyyah (ignorance) like wearing amulets and pendants, and that they would consider these things to protect them and ward off calamity, and this is of course only done by Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic; He is the granter of ease and the one who tests [by inflicting illness], whom has no partner. Therefore, the Messenger of Allāh forbade them from such actions which they would carry out in their [period] of Jāhiliyyah.

It is narrated from ‘Ā’ishah that she said:

‘That which is attached after affliction befalls is not considered to be among the [impermissible] amulets.’

Some of the people of knowledge  disliked hanging amulets in all situations, [whether] before being afflicted with illness or even after it. The first position – permissible to wear – is most correct in light of narrations and speculation, Inshā-Allāh Ta’ālā. As for what has been related from Ibn Mas’ud, then it is plausible he intended (by his dislike for its wearing) non-Quranic things obtained from fortune-tellers and soothsayers since seeking remedy from the quran, whether in attached form (amulet) or otherwise, is not shirk. His saying: ‘Whoever hangs something has entrusted (his care) to it’. So whoever attaches the Qu’rān (as an amulet) ought to be under the care of Allah and not be entrusted to others beside Him; because, it is He, Most High, who is ultimately sought and upon Him reliance is placed when seeking cure through the Quran.

Ibn ‘l-Musayyib was asked regarding ta’wīdh: ‘Can it be attached’? He replied: ‘If it is placed in a tube or garment then there is no harm in it if what was written in it is Qur’ān.’

[It is also narrated] from al-Dhaḥḥāk that he saw no harm in a  man attaching something from the book of Allāh if he removed this at the time of sexual intercourse and during the call of nature. Abū Ja’far Muḥammad ibn  ‘Alī also allowed hanging ta’wīdh on children. Ibn Sīrīn used to see no harm in a person attaching something from the Qur’ān…

References

[1] A suitable title was given by the Translator.

[2] Al-Jāmi’ li-Aḥkām al-Qur’ān [10/288-289]

Islamic View On Musical Instruments – Refutation of the “Permissibility of Music”

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Question

I read articles from SuhaibWebb.com and I am particularly interested in the ones by Imam John Yahya Ederer. I think he writes from a balanced perspective but is also cautious of not giving in to “modernism”.

I do not know his entire background however and sometimes I am scared to accept some things in his articles.

Could you please comment on the following article written by him:

http://www.virtualmosque.com/islam-studies/sciences-of-quran-and-hadith/regarding-the-permissibility-of-music/

Answer

Introduction by Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Desai Daamat Barakaatuhum:

Each one of the four famous jurists, Imām Abū Hanīfah, Imām Mālik, Imām al-Shāfi‘ī and Imām Ahmad Rahimahumullāh were giants in the field of knowledge and absolute mujtahids (مجتهد مطلق) who enjoyed academic independence. Their independent views, in spite of their differences, are greatly appreciated. To have consensus of the four Imāms on any particular issue instils deep confidence on that issue. One such issue is the prohibition of musical instruments. It is very unwise of anyone to be inclined to, or accept, a divergent view from the unanimous verdict of four such luminaries in Islam. In all probability, such a view will be fraught with flaws and discrepancies as aptly pointed out by Mawlana Zameelur Rahman in this response to Imam John Yahya Ederer, who painstakingly defended a view in conflict with the unanimous position of the four Imāms. Place your trust and confidence in the elders (the Fuqahā’) of the ummah. This will save you from confusion, and will help you to attain your objective of the pleasure of Allāh Ta‘ālā.

Mawlana Zameelur Rahman deconstructs Imam John Yahya’s argument which is premised on a wrong analysis of historical facts and hadiths. The deconstruction of the wrong premises on hadiths presented by Mawlana Zameelur Rahman after contextualising them and assessing their academic position makes an interesting read in hadith.

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh.

We are not familiar with Imam John Yahya Ederer or his scholarly credentials. However, we have undertaken a study of the article in reference, “Regarding the Permissibility of Music”[1].

In this article, Yahya Ederer attempts to show that there is legitimate scope for disagreement on the Shar‘ī ruling of musical instruments. In the following, we will present our observations on some of the pertinent points of the article. In the course of our discussion, we hope to shed light on some serious flaws in Yahya Ederer’s methodology and conclusions, on the basis of which we advise caution in reading his articles.

The Views of the Four Madhhabs

Yahya Ederer begins his article by saying:

“It is quite true that-historically-the prevalent (جمهور) opinion in Islamic jurisprudence regarding the use of and listening to musical instruments is that of prohibition (حرام). It is the official opinion of the four schools of thought, although various scholars from different schools held it is only disliked (مكروه) and many others deemed it permissible with the condition that the song is not immoral.”

Unfortunately, he has not presented any evidence for this claim. We will show below that there is absolute consensus that musical instruments are, in general, harām. The only legitimate disagreement is over certain exceptions to this general rule.

Here are some statements declaring consensus from within each of the four madhhabs (schools of jurisprudence):

In the Hanafī madhhab, Ibn Nujaym (d. 970) states:

“It [states] in al-Mi‘rāj: ‘Musical instruments are two types: prohibited (muharram), and that is, affective instruments, [even] without singing, like the flute, whether [made] from timber or reed, like the reed flute, or other than it, like the lute and mandarin…And the second type is permissible, and that is the drum during marriage and included in its import is that which [arises] from an occasion and happiness, and it [i.e. the drum] is makrūh (tahrīmī) in other than it… and it is makrūh (tahrīmī) for men in all situations…Al-Bazāzī has transmitted in al-Manāqib consensus on the prohibition (hurmah) of singing when it is with an instrument like the lute, and when it is without it [i.e. an instrument], then you are aware of the disagreement.”[2]

Note: When makrūh is used without qualification in the books of Hanafī fiqh, it means makrūh tahrīmī.[3]

In the Mālikī madhhab, Abu l-Walīd ibn Rushd al-Qurtubī (d. 520 H) writes:

“As for the flute and trumpet, there is no disagreement that their use is impermissible for weddings and other than it…”[4]

He goes on to mention the disagreement over other instruments, but only in the context of a wedding.

In the Shāfi‘i madhhab, Ibn Hajar al-Haythamī (d. 973 H) said:

“Al-Rāfi‘ī said in al-‘Azīzī and al-Nawawī in al-Rawdah: ‘There is no disagreement over the prohibition of the Iraqi flute and string instruments that are played.’”[5]

In the Hanbalī madhhab, al-Mardāwī (d. 885) said:

“Listening to singing and wailing without musical instruments is makrūh…[It is] stated in al-Mustaw‘ab and al-Targhīb and other [books]: ‘It is harām with a musical instrument, without any disagreement amongst us [Hanbalīs].”[6]

Hence, all jurists belonging to the four madhhabs agree musical instruments are, in general, prohibited. Yahya Ederer, unfortunately, did not cite any evidence for his claim that some scholars of the four madhhabs said that they are only makrūh (tanzīhī) or that they are permissible on condition the songs are not immoral. In fact, the statements quoted above directly refute this claim.

The Consensus of the Jurists

Yahya Ederer then writes:

“It is not true that there is consensus on it or that the opinion of permissibility is a strange opinion, which is a divergence from clear teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. In today’s world there are a growing number of prominent scholars that allow listening to instruments that don’t accompany sinful poetry (song).”

The early scholars have explicitly stated that there is consensus on the general prohibition of musical instruments.

Imām Muhyī al-Sunnah al-Baghawī (436 – 516 H), the great Shāfi‘ī scholar of hadith and fiqh, said in his Sharh al-Sunnah:

“They [i.e. the scholars] have reached consensus on the prohibition of flutes and musical instruments.”[7]

Hāfiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalī (736 – 795 H) mentions:

“Listening to all musical instruments, and each of them separately, is forbidden. Abū Bakr al-Ājurrī (280 – 360 H) and others have related consensus of the scholars on that.”[8]

From amongst the later scholars, the great Shāfi‘ī jurist, Ibn Hajar al-Haythamī, said in a work devoted to this subject:

“As for flutes, string instruments and drums, there is no disagreement over the prohibition of listening to them.”[9]

The only exceptions to this consensus are opinions of individuals whose views are not admissible in Sunnī scholarly consensus, due to their heterodox positions. Examples, famously, include Ibn Hazm and Ibn Tāhir al-Maqdisī[10], who both belonged to the Zāhirī (literalist) school of thought[11]. The scholars have not accepted their marginal opinion as an acceptable ijtihād. For example, the Shāfi‘ī scholar of hadith and fiqh, Hāfiz Ibn al-Salāh, referred to Ibn Hazm’s view as “his corrupt (fāsid) view on musical instruments.”[12] And the Hanbalī scholar, Ibn al-Qayyim, refers to it as “his invalid/rejected (bātil) view on the permissibility of musical instruments.”[13]

Moreover, it is obviously incorrect to claim that research conducted in the fourteenth and fifteenth century of Islām can override the consensus that was established in the early generations.

The Views of Some Scholars

Yahya Ederer further writes:

“There are hundreds, dare I say thousands, of scholars who held the permissibility of listening to music as long as the song is morally upright.”

Unfortunately, as with many of his other claims, he did not substantiate this assertion. Moreover, it is not clear whether this statement is in reference to songs accompanied by musical instruments or songs not accompanies by them.

He then produces a list of the names of scholars who purportedly subscribed to the view of the permissibility of musical instruments. He attempts to demonstrate thereby that there is no consensus that musical instruments are impermissible. These names, however, are either inaccurate and, therefore, do not belong on the list, or are inadmissible when assessing scholarly consensus. We will present our observations on a few of the fifteen names he cited.

He mentions:

“The following are some of the prominent scholars (mujtahideen) in our history who, not only deemed it permissible, but in some cases wrote a whole research to prove it!

“Abdullah bin Ja’far bin Abi Talib (al-Aqd al-Fareed 6/12)”

‘Abdullāh ibn Ja‘far was a young Sahābī, the son of the cousin of Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), Ja‘far ibn Abī Tālib (radiyAllāhu ‘anhu).

The book in reference, al-‘Iqd al-Farīd, was authored by Abū ‘Umar Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Rabbih (246 – 328 H), on the topic of Arabic literature and history. The report in question commences as follows:

“Sa‘īd ibn Muhammad al-‘Ijlī narrated in Oman: Nasr ibn ‘Alī narrated to me from al-Asma‘ī, he said: Mu‘āwiyah would criticise ‘Abdullāh ibn Ja‘far for listening to songs. Mu‘āwiyah came one year (because) of that as a pilgrim, and he lodged at Madīnah. One night, he passed by the house of ‘Abdullāh ibn Ja‘far and he heard music on string instruments near him. He stopped a while, listening, and then he passed by, saying, ‘I seek forgiveness from Allah! I seek forgiveness from Allah…’”[14]

This is an extremely defective narration. Firstly, the author does not mention that he heard this narration from Sa‘īd ibn Muhammad al-‘Ijli. Secondly, there is no biographical information available with regards to Sa‘īd ibn Muhammad al-‘Ijli, so he is unknown. And thirdly, the transmitter of this report, al-Asma‘ī, was born at around the year 130 H, many decades after the deaths of Mu‘āwiyah (d. 60) and ‘Abdullāh ibn Ja‘far (d. 80). Hence, there is long gap between him and the incidents he describes. The report is, therefore, completely unreliable. All other reports of this nature from ‘Abdullāh ibn Jafar are even more spurious than this one.[15]

Next on the list, Yahya Ederer mentions:

“Sh. Abu Hamed al-Ghazali (vol. 6 pg. 1150 al-Ihyaa’)”

Imām al-Ghazālī stated clearly in his Ihyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn that string instruments and flutes are, in general, prohibited in the Sharī‘ah.[16] He also said: “The Iraqi flute, all string instruments, like the lute, cymbal, rebab, the Persian lute and [other instruments] besides them are harām.”[17] He further said: “Listening to string instruments from the one who plays them [even] without a concordant, pleasant rhythm is harām.”[18] Hence, it is clear Imām al-Ghazālī, in line with the consensus of the scholars, agreed on the prohibition of musical instruments.

The only unconventional view found in al-Ghazālī’s writings is that he allowed a certain type of flute, known as the “reed flute”. However, this was regarded as a shādhdh (marginal, rejected) position by the scholars of his madhhab.

The great Shāfi‘ī jurist, al-Adhra‘ī, said:

“That which al-Ghazālī opined, in terms of the permissibility [of the reed flute]…is anomalous (shādhdh), and I have not seen any predecessor to al-Ghazālī for his preference.”[19]

Another name Yahya Ederer mentions in his list of scholars is:

“Imam al-Shawkani (Ibtal da’wa al-Ijmaa ala mutlaq al-Sama’)”

Al-Shawkānī does not take the position that musical instruments are permissible in the book in reference. Rather, his aim was to refute the claim that there is consensus on the impermissibility of listening to songs. Although he produces valid evidences for his claim with regards to songs that are not accompanied by musical instruments, the evidences he cites to substantiate this claim for musical instruments are invalid for a number of reasons, which we cannot enumerate in this short answer.

Yahya Ederer also mentions on the list:

“Imam Abdul-Ghani al-Nablusi (Idaahat al-Dalalaat fee sama’ al-alaat)”

‘Abdul Ghanī al-Nāblusi (d. 1143 H) was a late Hanafī scholar. He belonged to a group of Sūfīs that deemed musical instruments permissible. The Sūfīs who subscribed to this view were condemned by the early scholars. Hence, along with the Zāhrīs, the Sūfīs who upheld this view are also inadmissible in the scholarly consensus on this subject. Hāfiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalī quotes al-Qādī Abu l-Tayyib al-Tabarī (348 – 450 H): “The belief of this group [of Sūfīs] is opposed to consensus…The position of this group is opposed to what the scholars have agreed on, and we seek protection in Allāh from bad fortune.”[20]

Yahya Ederer also mentions in the list of scholars:

“Sultan al-Ulema al-Iz ibn Abdul-Salam (Rislat al-Sama’)”

This is a misattribution to Imām al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salām. Ibn ‘Abd al-Salām has clearly stated that musical instruments are prohibited in his well-known work, Qawā‘id al-Ahkām.[21] Ibn Hajar al-Haythami has also rejected this attribution to Imām al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salām.[22]

Proofs from the Qur’ān

Yahya Ederer then discusses some of the proofs for the prohibition of musical instruments. He says:

“From the Qur’an: There are two verses which are interpreted as justifying prohibition supporting the clear hadith (narration on the subject.”

There are, in fact, at least four verses of the Qur’ān, in the commentary of which, some exegetes referred to the prohibition of music. These are: 31:6, 17:64, 53:61 and 25:72.[23]

Regarding verse 31:6 (“among men are those who purchase idle talk, without knowledge, to mislead [men] from the path of Allāh”), Yahya Ederer says:

“Only a couple out of the dozens of exegetes thought this had anything to do with musical instruments.”

In fact, the predominant interpretation of this verse is that it refers to singing. In Imām al-Tabarī’s Tafsīr, the following exegetes are quoted, stating the verse refers to ghinā’ (singing): ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd, ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās, Jābir ibn ‘Abdillāh, Mujāhid ibn Jabr and ‘Ikrimah[24].
Similarly, Ibn Abī Shaybah narrates this interpretation in his Musannaf from Ibn Mas‘ūd, Ibn ‘Abbās, Mujāhid, ‘Ikrimah and Habīb ibn Abī Thābit.[25] It should be noted Ibn Mas‘ūd and Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyAllāhu ‘anhum) are the greatest of the exegetes from the noble Sahābah, as Ibn Kathīr notes in the introduction to his Tafsīr.[26] It is, therefore, incorrect to downplay the significance of this interpretation.

Yahya Ederer goes on to state:

“The vast majority of exegetes said it is talking about the singing of jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic days). Imam al-Qurtubi said that this and the other verse are those that the scholars use as evidence for the disliked (مكروه) nature of singing. Imam al-Qurtubi also narrates that this verse was revealed in the life of the Prophet ﷺ when a man bought a slave known for singing unIslamic songs of jahiliyyah (ignorance).”

Unfortunately, he did not cite any source to prove that the majority of exegetes said this verse refers to the singing “of Jahiliyya.” Al-Qurtubī only cited exegetes who said the verse refers to “singing” (ghinā) in general, and he later differentiates, in his explanation, between immoral singing and singing that is devoid of immorality. Regarding Imām al-Qurtubī’s comment on “the disliked nature of singing”, this is in reference to singing alone that is not accompanied by musical instruments. Moreover, “disliked” is often used in the meaning of harām.[27]

As for the reason for the revelation of the verse, even assuming the report Yahya Ederer refers to is sound, it would not detract from the general interpretation recorded from the Sahābah and Tābi‘īn. The established principle of exegesis is: “Consideration is given to the general wording [of a verse] and not the specific cause [of its revelation].”

Furthermore, regarding the interpretation of “singing”, al-Qurtubī said, “This is the loftiest (a‘lā) of what was said about this verse.”[28] Meaning, the imāms from the Sahābah and Tābi‘īn who mentioned this interpretation were amongst the greatest and most authoritative exegetes. Al-Qurtubī also says “singing” is the most preferred (awlā) interpretation because of these authoritative statements from the early exegetes[29].

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The Proofs from Hadith

Yahya Ederer writes:

“The evidence for prohibition of Islamic Music in this verse is very weak. Any true scholar will surely admit that the verse is not evidence in and of itself; rather it is supportive to a couple of hadiths and the position of many Companions.”

The assertion that there are only a “couple” of hadīths showing the prohibition of musical instruments is incorrect. We will mention four authentic hadiths here:

First, Imām al-Bukhārī narrated in his Sahīh that Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“There will certainly be from my ummah groups [of people] who will regard illicit sexual intercourse, silk, wine and musical instruments (ma‘āzif) as halāl.” (Sahīh al-Bukhārī)[30]

The hadīth is authentic according to Imāms al-Bukhārī, al-Ismā‘īlī, Ibn Hibbān, Ibn al-Salāh, Ibn Jamā‘ah, Ibn Kathīr, Ibn al-Mulaqqin, al-Irāqī, Ibn Rajab, al-‘Aynī, al-Asqalānī, al-Sakhāwī and others.[31]

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

“The manner of its indication [towards the illicitness of musical instruments] is that ma‘āzif are all musical instruments – there is no disagreement amongst the linguists over that –, and if they were halāl, he would not have condemned them for regarding/treating them as halāl, and he would not have put regarding them as halāl together with regarding wine as halāl.”[32]

Second, Imām Ahmad narrated with his chain to Ibn ‘Abbās (radiyAllāhu ‘anhumā) that Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“Verily, Allah has forbidden wine, gambling and the drum.” (Musnad Ahmad)[33]

The editors of Musnad Ahmad, led by Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Arnā’ūt, concluded: “Its isnād (chain of transmission) is sahīh (rigorously authentic).” The hadīth was also collected by Imāms Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Hibbān, al-Tahāwī, Abū Ya‘lā, al-Bayhaqī and al-Tabrānī.

Third, Imām Abū Bakr ibn Abī Shaybah narrated from Qays ibn Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubādah (radiyAllāhu anh) that Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“Verily, my Lord forbade me from wine, the drum and the lute.”[34]

Its editor, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah, has explained that its isnād is hasan (authentic).

Fourth, Diyā al-Maqdisī (567 – 643 H) narrates in his al-Ahādīth al-Mukhtārah that Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

 “Two sounds are accursed: the sound of a flute at the time of fortune and the sound of waling at the time of misfortune.”[35]

The editor, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Duhaysh, mentions that its isnād is hasan.[36] Al-Bazzār (d. 292) also narrated it in his Musnad.[37] Hāfiz Nūr al-Dīn al-Haythami (d. 807 H) said: “Al-Bazzār narrated it and its men are trustworthy.”[38]

There are many more hadīths on the topic. Muftī Muhammad Shafī‘ has enumerated 32 hadiths in his Ahkām al-Qur’ān on the prohibition of singing and musical instruments.[39]

Answering Objections to the Hadīth of Sahīh al-Bukhārī

Yahya Ederer proceeds to criticise the hadīth of Sahīh al-Bukhārī:

“Let’s see what evidence we can find from the Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet ﷺ): There is a hadith mentioned as an attachment (معلق) to a section in the authentic collection of Bukhari under the chapter of drinks #5590 titled those who seek permission of drinking alcohol by calling it another name. Imam al-Bukhari did not put the Hadith as an official Hadith in his authentic collection. According to Imam al-Muhallab the reason was because Hisham was not sure of the name of the companion (Al-Ibtal Al-Shawkani pg. 9).”

With regards to the claim that the hadīth of Sahīh al-Bukhārī is mu‘allaq (meaning, there is a gap between al-Bukhārī and the first narrator of the chain), and is, therefore, not an official hadīth of his collection, the scholars of the sciences of hadīth (‘Ulūm al-Hadīth) have not accepted this claim. The reason for this is that Hishām ibn ‘Ammār, who al-Bukhārī narrates this report from, is amongst his teachers. Al-Zarkashī said:

“The statement of al-Bukhārī about the one he met from his teachers, ‘So-and-so said,’ its ruling is not the ruling of ta‘līq. Rather, it is from the unbroken/connected [chains]…”[40]

Furthermore, regarding this very hadīth, Hāfiz Ibn al-Salāh, says:

“There is no discontinuity in this at all, from the perspective that al-Bukhārī met Hishām and heard from him, and we have explained in the book Ma‘rifat ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth that when meeting and hearing is found, along with the absence of tadlīs (a narrator’s omission of intermediaries between himself and his teacher), what he narrates from him will be treated as [actual] audition in whatever wording it is, just as the statement of a Sahābī: ‘The Messenger of Allāh said’ is treated as having heard him.”[41]

Furthermore, regarding the second point in Yahya Ederer’s comment, that there was uncertainty over the name of the Sahābī, this does not affect the authenticity of a hadīth, as all Sahābah are reliable. In refuting Ibn Hazm’s claim that the uncertainty over the name of the Sahābi affects the authenticity of the hadīth, Hāfiz Ibn Hajar said in Taghlīq al-Ta‘līq:

“As for the disagreement over the agnomen of the Sahābī, then all Sahābah are reliable.” [42]

He also mentioned in Fath al-Bārī:

“Uncertainty over the name of a Sahābī does not harm [the authenticity of a hadīth] as is established in the sciences of hadith, so no attention is given to the one who faulted the hadith due to uncertainty.”[43]

Furthermore, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī says:

“This is a sahīh hadith. It has no defect and no scope for criticism.”[44]

Unfortunately, however, Yahya Ederer attempts to find weaknesses in the chain of this hadīth, in direct opposition to the imāms of the science.

He writes:

“The hadith goes:

ليكونَنَّ من أمَّتي أقوامٌ ، يستحلُّونَ الحِرَ والحريرَ ، والخمرَ والمعازِفَ

“There will be a group of people from my nation who will deem silk, alcohol and musical instruments as permissible…”

“Some hadith scholars found a connected chain for this type of hadith. The most famous is the book by Ibn Hajr in his book “closing the attachments” (تغليق التعليق). There are scholars who argued against his assertions, but even if we were to accept his findings about a connection between al-Bukhari and Hisham bin Ammar there is still a problem with Hisham as a narrator among some prominent hadith scholars.”

There is no disagreement over the connectedness of the chain through other routes besides al-Bukhārī’s. Hāfiz Ibn al-Salāh said:

“This hadith itself is known to be connected in clear words in [routes] besides the route of al-Bukhārī.”[45]

Hāfiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī mentions 9 reliable transmitters of hadīth besides al-Bukhārī who narrated it from Hishām ibn ‘Ammār, clearly stating they heard it directly from him[46].

Moreover, other collectors of hadīth narrated this hadīth from Hishām ibn ‘Ammār with connected and unbroken chains; for example, Ibn Hibbān[47], al-Bayhaqī[48], al-Tabrānī[49] and others[50].

Yahya Ederer then proceeds to present criticism of the first narrator in the chain, Hishām ibn ‘Ammār:

“There are many concerning issues with this hadith. According to Imam al-Thahabi in his famous 4-volume book Mizan al-I’tidaal which accounts for all the weak narrators he could gather. Imam al-Thahabi mentions that Hisham bin Ammar used to be a veracious narrator, then he changed. He has narrated 400 hadiths that have no basis. He used to not narrate unless someone paid him. He was accused of changing the text. Imam Ahmad said he was reckless. Some narrated that he said the Qur’an has words from Gabriel and Muhammadﷺ and is created speech.”

Hishām ibn ‘Ammār’s memory changed when he became aged and elderly, meaning some years prior to his death in the year 245 H, as stated by Abū Hātim al-Rāzī[51]. However, Imām al-Bukhārī heard from Hishām ibn ‘Ammār some decades before his death.[52]

Moreover, he was not accused of changing the text of hadīth. What, in fact, this is referring to is that in the period of senility, Hishām ibn ‘Ammār became prey to “talaqqun.” Meaning, when informed that a certain wording of a hadīth was narrated by him, he began to accept that it was his narration, despite not having heard it in that way. This, however, as mentioned earlier was only during his old age.

Regarding the claim that Hishām ibn ‘Ammār said, “the Qur’an has words from Gabriel and Muhammad ﷺ and is created speech,” this is a gross misunderstanding of what is mentioned in Mīzān al-I‘tidāl. What is in fact narrated from Hishām ibn ‘Ammār is the statement: “The utterance of Jibrīl and Muhammad of the Qur’ān is created.”[53] Meaning, the act of Jibrīl and Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) of reading the Qur’ān was created by Allah. This is in accordance with the accepted belief of Ahlus Sunnah that Allāh created us and our actions. Hishām ibn ‘Ammār certainly did not say the Qur’ān has words from Jibrīl and Muhammad, or that the Qur’ān itself is created speech.

Nonetheless, Imām Ahmad (rahimahullāh) did not approve of using these types of statements, even if in reality, they are true. Al-Dhahabī said shortly after relating this statement from Hishām ibn ‘Ammār: “There is consideration and scope for the statement of Hishām.”[54] And he said elsewhere:

“He was of great stature, an authority in the Book and Sunnah. As for what Ahmad rahimahullāh rebuked him for, he has scope therein and a sound interpretation.”[55]

Hence, these are not valid criticisms of Hishām, especially after considering the facts that he is a narrator found in Sahīh al-Bukhārī and the four Sunans; he was a khatīb of the central Mosque of Damascus; Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn described him as “trustworthy” (thiqah) and extremely intelligent; al-‘Ijlī described him as “trustworthy”; al-Nasā’ī said: “there is no fault in him”; al-Dāraqutnī said: “reliable, of immense stature”; and Abū Hātim said: “reliable”.[56]

Furthermore, there is another authentic route to the hadith, bypassing Hishām.[57]

Yahya Ederer says:

“Ibn Hajar acknowledges this, but justifies his ruling of the hadith through a different narration that has someone else narrating it other than Hisham.”

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We did not find anywhere that Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī considered Hishām ibn ‘Ammār weak. In fact, his assessment of Hishām in his Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb is: “Reliable (sadūq), a Qur’ān-teacher, he became elderly so became prey to talaqqun. Hence, his earlier hadīths are more authentic.”[58] In this assessment, Ibn Hajar does not even concede that his later hadiths were faulty, but only that his earlier hadīths were “more authentic.” And it has been mentioned above that al-Bukhārī heard hadīth from him some decades before his death.

Yahya Ederer then briefly mentions about the text of the hadith:

“That hadith varies in text but does mention the people deeming musical instruments as permissible (which linguistically and logically doesn’t necessarily mean that it is prohibited).”

We have mentioned earlier, quoting Ibn al-Qayyim, that the narration certainly does prove musical instruments are prohibited. Ibn al-Qayyim said:

“The manner of its indication [towards the illicitness of musical instruments] is that ma‘āzif are all musical instruments – there is no disagreement amongst the linguists over that – and if they were halāl, he would not have condemned them for regarding/treating them as halal, and he would not have put regarding them as halāl together with regarding wine as halāl.”[59]

The Mālikī jurist, Ibn al-‘Arabī, said in commentary of this hadith:

“The meaning may be: ‘They will believe that is halāl,’ and the meaning may be that it is a metaphor for unrestraint, meaning they will be unrestrained in drinking it [i.e. wine] like the unrestraint in [doing] halāl.”[60]

In both meanings, the implication is clear, that all the things mentioned in the hadīth (i.e. illicit intercourse, wine, silk and musical instruments) are harām, but some people will regard them, or will treat them, as halāl.

Yahya Ederer then says:

“The next problem with this hadith, which is not solved by Ibn Hajar’s book, is a narrator named Atiyah bin Qays. Atiyah bin Qays was a righteous man who hadith scholars agreed regarding his character and honesty (عدالة), but there is an issue among some scholars about his precision of memory and narrating (ضبط). Some famous scholars of hadith call him trustworthy (ثقة) just because he is a known pious man while the issue of his precision with hadith is unknown (مجهول). Some of them said although he is acceptable (far from Saheeh ) to be careful in narrating from him. This is mentioned by the hadith scholar Abu Hatem al-Razi in his book al-Jarh wa al-Ta’deel 2/37 and by Abu Bakr al-Bazzaar in his book Kashf al-Astar 1/106.”

Unfortunately, this too is a completely baseless and unsubstantiated claim. We traced both sources Yahya Ederer mentions. In the reference of Kashf al-Astār, far from saying ‘Atiyyah ibn Qays is weak, al-Bazzār says: “There is no fault in him.” (lā ba’sa bihī).[61] In the terminology of narrator-critics, the phrase, “There is no fault in him” is equivalent to the grading, “sadūq” (reliable), which describes reliability in both ‘adālah (integrity) and dabt (precision).[62] And in al-Jarh wa l-Ta‘dīl of Ibn Abī Hātim al-Rāzī he narrates from his father (Abū Hātim al-Rāzī) that ‘Atiyyah ibn Qays is “suitable (sālih) in hadith”[63], which in Abū Hātim’s usage is ambiguous[64].

The narrations of ‘Atiyyah ibn Qays are included in all six famous collections of hadīth. Ibn Hibbān included him in his work on trustworthy narrators, al-Thiqāt, and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī referred to him as “trustworthy” (thiqah)[65]. Moreover, Imām al-Tirmidhī said about a narration transmitted only through ‘Atiyyah ibn Qays: “It is a hasan sahīh hadith.”[66] Hence, the claim that ‘Atiyyah is not reliable due to his memory is an unfounded assertion.

Yahya Ederer says:

“This is the best proof that the proponents of prohibition bring forth according to them. Other hadiths are relying on this one.”

We have mentioned previously that there are many other hadīths on the topic, three of which were quoted earlier.

The Doors of Ijtihād

Yahya Ederer says, lamenting the history of Islamic scholarship:

“Many people feel that even though we see the issues in the proofs used for prohibiting music, still it is the official opinion of the 4 main schools of thought and that shows that it was clear to those scholars who know better than us. The assumption here is that every scholar from the different schools of thought over the centuries was a mujtahid and was willing to challenge the opinion and evidence of his own school. This was simply just not the case as Dr. Mana’ al-Qattan narrates in his book on the history of legislation in Islamic history. He elucidates on the well-known unfortunate part of our history known as the closing of the doors to juristic reasoning (إغلاق باب الاجتهاد). For close to 8 centuries, most of the scholars passed down by memory and book most of the rulings of Islamic Law. For various reasons, they were uncomfortable with people changing or questioning popular rulings. Some of those who didn’t agree with this methodology like Ibn Taymiyyah (ra) or al-Suyooti (ra) were seen as dissidents. There is also some historical evidence that this ruling of prohibition of all music was heavily promoted toward the end of the Abbasi Caliphate because of the widespread immorality with music and drinking as many of the hadiths indicate. In my research, which really requires a whole book, there is more than meets the eye on the prevelance of the opinion prohibiting all instrumental music.”

We do not agree that this is a correct representation of the evolution of Islamic scholarship and jurisprudence. Ijtihād was only closed at the highest level, that is, ijtihād in the meaning of complete command over the sources of Sharī‘ah, freeing the mujtahid of the need to refer to any other authority or school. Ijtihād at lower levels, however, was always in operation. This included ijtihād which reassessed the evidences of the school, sometimes even opposing the opinion of the founders of the school. For example, in the Hanafī madhhab alone, after Imām Abū Hanīfah, Imāms Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybānī, Abū Yūsuf, Hasan ibn Ziyād, Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl, al-Tahāwī, ‘Isām ibn Yūsuf, Ibn Rustam, Muhammad ibn Samā‘ah, Abū Sulaymān al-Jūzjānī, Muhammad ibn Muqātil, Nusayr ibn Yahyā and others were all qualified mujtahids affiliated to the Hanafī school, who independently assessed the evidences, and even reached conclusions contrary to the founder of the madhhab[67]. Jurists of a similar rank are found in all madhhabs.

Moreover, taqlīd (adherence to a school of jurisprudence) does not hamper an honest appraisal of evidences. Muqallids of the madhhabs have always honestly assessed the evidences of their respective schools systematically and in full detail. Examples include Hāfiz al-Zayla‘ī’s Nasb al-Rāyah, Hāfiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī’s Talkhīs al-Habīr and others.

Furthermore, in light of the errors we have highlighted in the article under scrutiny, we are justified in being sceptical of the “research” Yahya Ederer says he has conducted. The implication in the paragraph quoted above is that Islāmic scholarship was stagnated throughout the Muslim world for most of its history, and only now is it seeing some advancement. As humble students of Sharī‘ah, we know this to be incorrect.

A final point is that the two examples he mentions of scholars who did assess the evidences for themselves from the later period, Ibn Taymiyyah and al-Suyūtī, both considered musical instruments harām.[68]

[Also Read: DOES THE SAMA’ (SINGING) OF THE PIOUS SUFIS JUSTIFY AS PROOF FOR SHAITANIC MERRY-MAKING OF THE GRAVE-WORSHIPPERS??]

Answering Proofs for the Permissibility of Musical Instruments

Yahya Ederer presents some proofs for the permissibility of musical instruments. We will assess a few of them here. He writes:

“Proofs for the Permission of Good, Morally Upright Music: There is a false claim that the Companions all prohibited it. Abdullah bin al-Zubair used to keep women playing guitars (lutes) and singing in his presence. (Idahaat al-Dalalat al-Nablusi 96)”

This has not been authentically attributed to ‘Abdullāh ibn al-Zubayr (radiyAllāhu ‘anhumā). There is no evidence for this in any of the well-known biographies of ‘Abdullāh ibn al-Zubayr, and there is no chain of transmission for this report.[69] Hence, the attribution is spurious. Yahya Ederer continues:

“There is no disagreement about Ibrahim bin Sa’d bin Abdul Rahman bin Awf listening to songs with guitars (al-Sama’ Ibn Tahir 63)”

This was narrated by Ibn Tāhir, al-Khatīb and Ibn ‘Asākir with their chains. There are a number of issues with the chain of transmission, including weak narrators and discontinuity. Hence, the report is not reliable.[70] As for Ibn Tāhir’s assertion that there is no disagreement over the veracity of the report, it was not accepted by the scholars.[71]

Yahya Ederer says:

“Jews have always attributed music to Prophet David ‘alahi assalatu wassalam (peace and blessings be upon him). It is in the Bible, “The priests stood in waiting at their assigned places, along with the descendants of Levi who carried musical instruments used in service to the LORD that King David had made for giving thanks to the LORD—because his gracious love is eternal…” (2 Chronicles 7:6). So in the following hadith and commentary we have some solid evidence for the praise of good music:

يا أبا موسى ، لقد أوتيتَ مِزمارًا مِن مزاميرِ آلِ داود

“Abu Musa, Surely you have been given a voice like the music of David.” (Bukhari 5048)

“Many scholars want to say that this hadith is simply referring to a beautiful voice. When we look into Ibn Hajar’s explanation of this hadith he comments with another sound hadith, “I entered Abu Musa’s house and I have not heard a cymbal, lute or a flute better than his voice.” (al-Fath)”

“The clear linguistic indication here is that the Prophet ﷺ is talking about musical instruments as though they are beautiful and delightful. That cannot be the case in something prohibited. It would be like him saying to his companion who earned a lot of money, “That’s even better than hijacking a caravan!””

Regarding the last point, Yahya Ederer has misread what Hāfiz Ibn Hajar mentioned in Fath al-Bārī. Ibn Hajar is not citing a hadīth, but is referring to a statement recorded from Abū ‘Uthmān al-Nahdī, one of the senior Tābi‘īn, who lived in the days of Jāhiliyyah and converted to Islām at the hands of the senior Sahābah. It was Abū ‘Uthmān al-Nahdī who said: “I entered the house of Abū Mūsā al-Ash‘arī and I have not heard a cymbal, lute or flute, more beautiful than his voice,”[72] not Rasūlullāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Abū ‘Uthmān is referring to the music he heard in Jāhiliyyah.

Furthermore, the commentators of the hadīth, including Ibn Hajar, have rejected the notion that the hadīth is referring to Dāwūd (‘alayhissalām) playing the flute. “Mizmār” (flute) is used in the hadīth as a metaphor for a nice voice.[73]

Yahya Ederer further writes:

“There are hadiths that led many scholars from the schools of thought to permit listening to drums. Other prominent Malikis and Shafi’ees (two different schools of thought) allowed trumpets, flutes and tambourines. Those are all musical instruments and the Islamic legal practice of analogy (قياس) allows other instruments in the absence of a clear text prohibiting them.”

As we have clarified earlier, all schools are unanimous that musical instruments are, in general, disallowed. There are only a few exceptions, like beating drums on the occasion of a wedding or Eid. Unfortunately, Yahya Ederer did not give any references for his claim that prominent Shāfi‘īs allowed trumpets, flutes and tambourines.

Moreover, it is not permitted to use analogy (qiyās) to deduce rulings on issues that are expressly stipulated in Shar‘ī texts, as stated in the works of Usūl al-Fiqh[74], and as Yahya Ederer himself suggests. The hadīth from Sahīh al-Bukhārī discussed earlier expressly prohibits all musical instruments. Hence, the use of analogy here is invalid.

Condemnation of Marginal Opinions

Concluding his article, Yahya Ederer says:

“Whichever opinion you feel is stronger, you are welcome to follow.”

A person is obligated to follow authentic scholarship. Imām Muhammad ibn Sīrīn (d. 110 H) said:

“Verily this knowledge is religion, so be mindful from whom you take your religion.”[75]

A person seeking Islāmic knowledge and, in particular, the rulings of Sharī‘ah, must consult accepted authorities in jurisprudence. He may not pick and choose at his fancy from any and all opinions.[76]

Yahya Ederer continues:

“Please don’t judge someone else because they follow a different opinion than you. Our scholars teach us the following principle in dealing with law—there shall be no rebuking in matters of legitimate disagreement.

لا إنكار في مسائل الاختلاف

“Islam has a rich tradition of knowledge that by divine decree has differing interpretations as to the details of law. Only God owns the absolute truth.”

This argument is misplaced. It is true that when there is legitimate disagreement, there shall be no rebuking. However, it has not been proven that the disagreement here is legitimate. We have already seen that the scholars have not accepted Ibn Hazm’s view on the permissibility of musical instruments. Ibn al-Salāh and Ibn al-Qayyim have referred to it as a “corrupt” or “invalid/rejected” view. Hāfiz Ibn a-Salāh said in regards to this very subject:

“Not every disagreement is trusted and depended upon. The one who traces what the scholars differed over and adopts the easiest opinions, he becomes a heretic, or almost [becomes a heretic]…As for the permissibility of this audition and its allowance, then it ought to be known that when the drum, reed flute and singing come together, listening to them is harām according to the imāms of the madhhabs, and other than them, from the scholars of the Muslims. And it has not been established from any of those whose views are considered in consensus and disagreement that he permitted this audition [which combines singing, drum and reed flute]…The disagreement of those who disagreed therein from the literalists (Zāhiriyyah) is not considered.”[77]

Following rare and isolated juristic opinions which were rejected by the vast majority of the jurists has been considered a gateway to heresy by the scholars, as alluded to in this statement of Ibn al-Salāh. Imām al-Awzā‘ī said: “The one who takes the odd opinions of the scholars leaves Islām.” Sulaymān al-Taymī said: “If you took the slip of every scholar, all evil would gather in you.”[78]

Concluding Remarks

image

We hope that it is clear from the foregoing discussion that Yahya Ederer’s methodology and conclusions in this article are deeply flawed. There are also a number of obvious blunders in many points of his research. Based on these reasons, we strongly advise caution in reading his articles.

Finally, it should be noted that this is not a personal attack on Yahya Ederer or his scholarly credentials. Rather, the purpose is to draw attention to what we feel are serious misrepresentations of Islāmic scholarship and the dangerous implications of them, so readers may be careful to not take everything that is mentioned on the website referred to in the question at face-value.

And Allah Ta‘ālā Knows Best

Zameelur Rahman
Student Darul Iftaa
UK

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai

www.daruliftaa.net

 

[1] http://www.virtualmosque.com/islam-studies/sciences-of-quran-and-hadith/regarding-the-permissibility-of-music/

[2] فى المعراج: الملاهي نوعان: محرم وهو الآلات المطربة من غير غناء كالمزمار سواء كان من عود أو قصب كالشبابة أو غيره كالعود والطنبور…والنوع الثاني مباح وهو الدف فى النكاح وفي معناه ما كان من حادث وسرور ويكره في غيره…وهو مكروه للرجال على كل حال…ونقل البزازي فى المناقب الإجماع على حرمة الغناء إذا كان على آلة كالعود وأما إذا كان بغيرها فقد علمت الاختلاف (البحر الرائق، ايج ايم سعيد، ج٧ ص٨٨)

[3]  الْمَكْرُوهُ فِي هَذَا الْبَابِ نَوْعَانِ: أَحَدُهُمَا مَا كُرِهَ تَحْرِيمًا، وَهُوَ الْمَحْمَلُ عِنْدَ إطْلَاقِهِمْ الْكَرَاهَةَ كَمَا فِي زَكَاةِ فَتْحِ الْقَدِيرِ (رد المحتار، ايج ايم سعيد، ج١ ص١٣٢)

[4] أما العود والبوق فلا اختلاف في أنه لا يجوز استعمالهما في عرس ولا غيره (البيان والتحصيل، دار الغرب الإسلامي، ج٧ ص٤٧٢)

[5] قال الرافعي فى العزيزي والنووي فى الروضة: المزمار العراقي وما يضرب به من الأوتار حرام بلا خلاف (كف الرعاع من محرمات اللهو والسماع، ص٧٧)

[6] يكره سماع الغناء والنوح بلا آلة لهو…وفى المسوعب والترغيب وغيرهما: يحرم مع آلة لهو، بلا خلاف بيننا (الإنصاف، ج١٢ ص٥١)

[7] واتفقوا على تحريم المزامير والملاهي والمعازف (شرح السنة، المكتب الإسلامي، ١٢:٣٨٣)

[8] سماع آلات الملاهي كلها وكل منها محرم بانفراده، وقد حكى أبو بكر الآجري وغيره إجماع العلماء على ذلك (مجموع رسائل الحافظ ابن رجب الحنبلي، الفاروق الحديثية، ج٢ ص٤٤٤)

[9] أما المزامير والأوتار والكوبة فلا يختلف في تحريم سماعها (كف الرعاع، ص٧٨)

[10] انظر المصدر السابق، ٧٩-٨١

[11] قال الإمام أبو المعالي الجويني: ما ذهب إليه ذوو التحقيق: أنا لا نعد منكرى القياس من علماء الأمة وحملة الشريعة…(انظر: فتاوى ومسائل ابن الصلاح، دار المعرفة، ص٢٠٥-٧)

[12] صيانة صحيح مسلم لابن الصلاح مع صحيح مسلم، بيت الأفكار الدولية، ١٢٢١

[13] إغاثة اللهفان، مطبعة مصطفى البابي الحلبي، ص٢٧٧

[14] حدث سعيد بن محمد العجلي بعمان، حدثني نصر بن علي عن الأصمعي، قال: كان معاوية يعيب على عبد الله بن جعفر سماع الغناء؛ فأقبل معاوية عاما من ذلك حاجا، فنزل المدينة، فمر ليلة بدار عبد الله بن جعفر فسمع عنده غناء على أوتار، فوقف ساعة يستمع، ثم مضى وهو يقول: أستغفر الله! أستغفر الله! (العقد الفريد، دار الكتب العلمية، ج٧ ص١٩)

[15] الرد على القرضاوي والجديع، نشر الأثرية للتراث، ٥٠١-٢٠

[16] الملاهي والأوتار والمزامير التي ورد الشرع بالمنع منها (إحياء علوم الدين، مكتبة كرياتا فوترا، ج.١ ص٢٦٩)

[17] حرم المزمار العراقي والأوتار كلها كالعود والصنج والرباب والبربط وغيرها (المصدر السابق، ص٢٧٠)

[18] سماع الأوتار ممن يضربها على غير وزن متناسب مسلتذ حرام (المصدر السابق)

[19] قال الأذرعي: ما ذهب إليه الغزالي من الحل وتابعه صاحبه ابن يحيى، شاذ، ولم أر للغزالي في ترجيحه سلفا (كف الرعاع، ٧١)

[20] قال القاضي أبو الطيب الطبري رحمه الله في كتابه فى السماع: اعتقاد هذه الطائفة مخالف لإجماع المسلمين…وكان مذهب هذه الطائفة مخالفا لما اجتمعت عليه العلماء (مجموع رسائل الحافظ ابن رجب الحنبلي، الفاروق الحديثية، ج٢ ص٤٦٢)

[21] قواعد الأحكام في إصلاح الأنام، دار القلم، ج٢ ص٣٥٢

[22] كف الرعاع، ص٨٧

[23] أحكام القرآن للتهانوي، إدارة القرآن والعلوم الإسلامية، ج٣ ص٢٠٤-٥؛  مجموع رسائل الحافظ ابن رجب الحنبلي، الفاروق الحديثية، ج٢ ص٤٤٤

[24] تفسير الطبري، مكتبة هجر، ج١٨ ص٥٣٣-٩

[25] مصنف ابن أبي شيبة، شركة دار القبلة، ج١١ ص ١٠١-٢

[26] تفسير القرآن العظيم، دار ابن حزم، ص١٠

[27] قال الإمام الغزالي: أما المكروه فهو لفظ مشترك في عرف الفقهاء بين معان: أحدها المحظور، فكثيرا ما يقول الشافعي رحمه الله وأكره هذا وهو يريد التحريم…(المستصفى، ج.١ ص٢١٥)

[28] قلت (القائل: الإمام القرطبي): هذا أعلى ما قيل في هذه الآية (الجامع لأحكام القرآن، دار الحديث، ج٧ ص٣٧٤

[29] قلت: القول الأول أولى ما قيل في هذا الباب للحديث المرفوع فيه وقول الصحابة والتابعين فيه (المصدر السابق، ص٣٧٥)

[30] ليكونن من أمتي أقوام يستحلون الحر والحرير والخمر والمعازف (فتح الباري، دار السلام، ج١٠ ص٦٥)

[31] الرد على القرضاوي والجديع، ص٢١٠-١٣

[32]  ووجه الدلالة منه أن المعازف هي آلات اللهو كلها لا خلاف بين أهل اللغة في ذلك ولو كانت حلالا لما ذمهم على استحلالها ولما قرن استحلالها باستحلال الخمر (إغاثة اللهفان، مطبعة مصطفى البابي الحلبي، ٢٧٨)

[33] إن الله حرم الخمر والميسر والكوبة (مسند أحمد، مؤسسة الرسالة، ج٤ ص٢٨٠)

[34] إن ربي حرم علي الخمر والكوبة والقنين يعني العود (مصنف ابن أبي شيبة، دار قرطبة، ج١٢ ص٢٧٠)

[35] صوتان ملوعنان: صوت مزمار عند نعمة وصوت رنة عند مصيبة (الأحاديث المختارة، دار خضر، ج٦ ص١٨٨)

[36] الأحاديث المختارة، دار خضر، ج٦ ص١٨٨

[37] البحر الزخار، مكتبة العلوم والحكم، ج١٤ ص٦٢

[38] هامش كشف الأستار، مؤسسة الرسالة، ج١ ص٣٧٧

[39] أحكام القرآن للتهانوي، إدارة القرآن والعلوم الإسلامية، ج٣ ص٢٠٥-١٣

[40] قول البخاري عمن لقيه من شيوخه: وقال فلان ليس حكمه حكم التعليق، بل هو من قبيل المتصل كما سبق فى الإسناد المعنعن (النكت على مقدمة ابن الصلاح للرزكشي، أضواء السلف، ج٢ ص٥٠)

[41] صيانة صحيح مسلم لابن الصلاح مع صحيح مسلم، بيت الأفكار الدولية، ١٢٢١

[42] وأما الاختلاف في كنية الصحابي، فالصحابة كلهم عدول (تغليق التعليق على صحيح البخاري، المكتب الإسلامي، ج٥ ص٢٢)

[43] التردد فى اسم الصحابي لا يضر كما تقرر في علوم الحديث، فلا التفات إلى من أعل الحديث بسبب التردد (فتح الباري، دار السلام، ج١٠ ص٦٩)

[44] هذا حديث لا علة له ولا مطعن له (تغليق التعليق على صحيح البخاري، المكتب الإسلامي، ج٥ ص٢٢)

[45] إن هذا الحديت بعينه معروف الإتصال بصريح لفظه من غير جهة البخاري (صيانة صحيح مسلم لابن الصلاح مع صحيح مسلم، بيت الأفكار الدولية، ١٢٢١)

[46] تغليق التعليق على صحيح البخاري، المكتب الإسلامي، ج٥ ص١٧-٢١

[47] قال ابن حبان: أخبرنا الحسين بن عبد الله القطان، قال: حدثنا هشام بن عمار، قال حدثنا صدقة بن خالد قال: حدثنا ابن جابر قال: حدثنا عطية بن قيس قال: حدثنا عبد الرحمن بن غنم قال: حدثنا أبو عامر وأبو مالك الأشعريان، سمعا رسول الله صلى لله عليه وسلم يقول: ليكونن في أمتي أقوام يستحلون الحرير والخمر والمعازف (التعليقات الحسان على صحيح ابن حبان، دار باوزير، ج٩ ص٤١١) والحسين بن عبد الله (بن يزيد) القطان قال عنه الحافظ الذهبي: الحافظ المسند الثقة…وثقه الدارقطني، توفي في حدود سنة عشر وثلات مئة (سير أعلام النبلاء، مؤسسة الرسالة، ج١٤ ص٢٨٦-٧)

[48] قال البيهقي: أخبرنا أبو عبد الله الحافظ (أي الإمام الحاكم): أخبرني أبو بكر بن عبد الله: أنبأ الحسن بن سفيان، ثنا هشام بن عمار، ثنا صدقة بن خالد إلخ (سنن البيهقي، دار الكتب العلمية، ج١٠ ص٣٧٣)

[49] قال الطبراني: حدثنا محمد بن يزيد بن عبد الصمد الدمشقي، ثنا هشام بن عمار…سمع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: ليكونن في أمتي أقوام يستحلون الحرير والخمر والمعازف…(مسند الشاميين، مؤسسة الرسالة ج١ ص ٣٣٤) ومحمد بن يزيد بن عبد الصمد الدمشقي قال عنه الذهبي وابن العماد: كان صدوقا (إرشاد القاصي والداني إلى تراجم شيوخ الطبراني، مكتبة ابن تيمية، ص٦٣٤)

[50] انظر للتفصيل: فتح الباري، دار السلام، ج١٠ ص٦٧-٨

[51] تهذيب الكمال، مؤسسة الرسالة، ج٣٠ ص٢٤٩

[52] ودل عليه قول أبي جعفر العقيلي: لما صنف البخاري كتاب الصحيح عرضه على ابن المديني وأحمد بن حبل ويحيى بن معين وغيرهم (مقدمة فتح الباري) وابن معين مات سنة ٢٣٣ه وله قرائن أخرى ذكرها عبد الله رمضان بن موسى فى الرد على القرضاوي والجديع

[53] لفظ جبريل ومحمد بالقرآن مخلوق (ميزان الإعتدال، ج. ٤ ص٣٠٣)

[54] المصدر السابق

[55] قلت (أي الذهبي): كان كبير الشأن، رأسا فى الكتاب والسنة وما أنكر عليه أحمد رحمه الله له فيه مساغ ومحمل حسن (الرد على القرضاوي والجديع ص٢٦٥ نقلا عن تهذيب تهذيب الكمال)

[56] ميزان الإعتدال، مؤسسة الرسالة، ٣٠ ٢٤٧-٥٥

[57] سنن أبي داود (مؤسسة الريان، ج٤ ص٣٩٥-٦) وتغليق التعليق (المكتب الإسلامي، ج٥ ص١٩)

[58] تحرير التقريب، موسسة الرسالة، ج٤ ص٤١

[59]  ووجه الدلالة منه أن المعازف هي آلات اللهو كلها لا خلاف بين أهل اللغة في ذلك ولو كانت حلالا لما ذمهم على استحلالها ولما قرن استحلالها باستحلال الخمر (إغاثة اللهفان، مطبعة مصطفى البابي الحلبي، ٢٧٨)

[60] قال ابن العربي: يحتمل أن يكون المعنى يعتقدون ذلك حلالا ويحتمل أن يكون ذلك مجازا على الاسترسال أي يسترسلون في شربها كالاسترسال فى الحلال (فتح الباري، دار السلام، ج١٠ ص٧٠)

[61] كشف الأستار، مؤسسة الرسالة، ج١ ص١٠٦

[62] ويلي من هذه المرتبة خامسة وهي قولهم ليس به بأس أو لا بأس به أو صدوق…(فتح المغيث، مكتبة دار المنهاج، ج٢ ص٢٨٢)

[63] الجرح والتعديل، الفاروق الحديثية، ج٦ ص٣٨٤

[64] صالح الحديث: وقد استعمله أبو حاتم كثيراً، وهذا اللفظ – وإن كان من أدنى ألفاظ التعديل عنده – إلا أنه استعمله استعمالات متباينة، وهو من الألفاظ المتسعة عنده أيضاً، يظهر ذلك من خلال وصفه رواة متفاوتي المراتب بهذا الوصف (ملامح كلية من منهج الحافظ أبي حاتم الرازي)

[65] تحرير التقريب، مؤسسة الرسالة، ج٣ ص٢١

[66] جامع الترمذي، دار الغرب الإسلامي، ٣:٣٠٨

[67] قال ابن عابدين: فمن أصحاب أبي يوسف ومحمد رحمهما الله مثل عصام بن يوسف وابن رستم ومحمد بن سماعة وأبي سليمان الجوزجاني وأبي حفص البخاري ومن بعدهم مثل محمد بن سلمة ومحمد بن مقاتل ونصير بن يحيى وأبى النصر محمد بن سلام؛ وقد يتفق لهم أن يخالفوا أصحاب المذهب لدلائل وأسباب ظهرت لهم (شرح عقود رسم المفتي، مكتبة البشرى، ص٢٠)

[68] الأمر بالاتباع والنهي عن الإبتداع للسيوطي، دار ابن القيم، ص٩٩ وما بعدها؛ قال ابن تيمية: وقد ثبت في صحيح البخاري وغيره أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ذكر الذين يستحلون الحر والحرير والخمر والمعازف على وجه الذم لهم وأن الله معاقبهم، فدل هذا الحديث على تحريم المعازف، والمعازف هي آلات اللهو عند أهل اللغة وهذا اسم يتباول هذه الآلات كلها (مجموع فتاوى شيج الإسلام أحمد ابن تيمية، مجمع الملك فهد) 

[69] الرد على القرضاوي، ٥٣١-٥

[70] للتفصيل انظر الرد على القرضاوي، ٣٩٧-٩

[71] كف الرعاع، ص٧٩-٨٠

[72] وأخرج ابن أبي داود من طريق أبي عثمان النهدي قال: دخلت دار أبي موسى الأشعري فما سمعت صوت صنج ولا بربط ولا ناي أحسن من صوته، سنده صحيح (فتح الباري، دار السلام، ج٩ ص١١٦-٧)

[73] والمراد بالمزمار الصوت الحسن (المصدر السابق)

[74] قال الشاشي: شرط صحة القياس خمسة: أحدها أن لا يكون في مقابلة النص (أصول الشاشي، كتب خانه إمداديه، ص٨٥)

[75] إن هذا العلم دين فانظروا عمن تأخذون دينكم (صحيح مسليم، قديمي كتب خانه، ص١١)

[76] قال ابن الصلاح: يجب عليه (العامي) قطعا البحث الذي يعرف به صلاحية من يستفتيه للإفتاء…ولا يجوز له استفتاء كل من اعتزى إلى العلم أو انتصب في منصب التدريس أو غيره من مناصب أهل العلم بمجر ذلك (أدب المفتي والمستفتي، دار المعرفة، ص٨٥-٦)

[77] ليس كل خلاف يستروح إليه ويعتمد عليه، ومن يتبع ما ختلف فيه العلماء وأخذ بالرخص من أقاويلهم تزندق أو كاد…وأما إباحة هذا السماع وتحليله فليعلم أن الدف والشبابة والغناء إذا اجتمعت فاستماع ذلك حرام عند أئمة المذاهب وغيرهم من علماء المسلمين ولم يثبت عن أحد ممن يعتد بقوله فى الإجماع والإختلاف أنه أباح السماع (بهذه الصفة)…لا يعتد بخلاف من خالف فيه من الظاهرية…(فتاوى ومسائل ابن الصلاح، دار المعرفة، ص٥٠٠-١)

[78] أصول الإفتاء وآدابه للمفتي تقي العثماني، مكتبة معارف القرآن، ص ٢٠٦

Islamic Prohibition of Gambling

By Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ Uthmani (rahmatullahi alayh)

They ask you about wine and maisir (gambling). Say, “In both there is great sin, and some benefits for people. And their sin is greater than their benefit. [Surah al-Baqarah 2:219]

The word, maisir is an infinitive and lexically means ‘to distribute’. One who distributes is called yasir. During the days of Jahiliyyah, several types of games of chance were common in Arabia. In one of such games, they used to slaughter a camel following which they would gamble while distributing shares from the meat. Some used to get more than one share while others remained deprived of even one. The one who thus remained deprived had to pay for the whole camel. The meat was, of course, distributed among the poor; the gamblers did not use it themselves.

The catch in this particular game of chance was that it benefited the poor while, at the same time, it demonstrated the philanthropy of the gamblers. That is why this game was considered a matter of pride by them. Anyone who would not participate in it was chided as miserly and wretched.

It is because of the relevance of distribution that Qimar is given the name of Maisir. All Companions, and Successors to them, hold the unanimous view that the word, Maisir includes all forms of Qimar or gambling and that all of them are haraam or unlawful. Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir and al-Jassas in Ahkam al-Qur’an report that the blessed Companions  ‘Abdullah Ibn  ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, Qatadah, Mu’awiyah ibn Salih, ‘Ata and Ta’wus said: “Qimar (of all kinds) is Maisir – even the games of children with dices and walnuts.

Sayyidina Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) said:  Mukhatarah (to put something  on stake) falls under Qimar (Jassas). Ibn Sirin said: ‘That which involves stakes is included in Maisir’  [Ruh al-Bayan].

Mukhatarah or ‘stake’ is a deal which revolves between profit and loss, that is, there may be a chance that one gets a lot, and also, that one gets nothing. This is very much like what we find in all sorts of modern lotteries. All these types are included under Qimar and Maisir or gambling,  are haraam. Therefore, Maisir or Qimar or gambling has been defined as a deal in which the act of making a person the owner of something of value depends on a contingency the two sides of which are equal, and consequently, there are two equal possibilities of taking total profit or absorbing total loss [Shami, Kitab al-Khatar wa l’lbahah, volume 5, page 355].

For instance, it is quite possible that the penalty falls on A, and it is also possible that it falls on B.

To sum up, the rule is that all kinds and forms in vogue – in the past or current today or likely to emerge in the future – shall all be called Maisir and Qimar and gambling. Prize-awarding cross-word puzzles (in which the participants are charged a fee) and commercial lotteries, the generally known among whatever other forms they may have, are all included under gambling. However, should there be a prize offered by one side only, stipulating that it will be given to one who performs a certain feat, that would not matter subject to the condition that no fee is taken from that person. The reason is that, in this case, the deal does not hang between benefit and harm, but hangs between benefit and no-benefit.

Therefore, in authentic ahadith, chess and backgammon and their likes have been declared unlawful where money or property is staked in a win or lose situation. Should there be money staked in playing cards, that too will be included under Maisir.

In Sahih Muslim, there is a report from the blessed Companion Buraydah (radhiyallahu anhu) which states that the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said that one who plays backgammon is like one who dyes his hands in the flesh and blood of pork. Sayyidina ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) said that chess is included in Maisir, that is, gambling. Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) said that chess is much worse than backgammon. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

During the early days of Islam, gambling was permissible like drinking. When the verses beginning in Surah al-Rum were revealed where the Holy Qur’an foretold that the Byzantines have no doubt lost to their rivals – the Persians, but, after a few years, the Byzantines will prevail once again. When the disbelievers of Makkah denied the prophecy, Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (radhiyallahu anhu) challenged them with a bet, something like Qimar, proposing that should the Byzantines prevail in so many years the disbelievers will have to pay a certain amount. The bet was approved. When this prophecy of the Qur’an actually came to pass, Sayyidina Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) made sure that he got the waged amount from the disbelievers and brought it to the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) who expressed his pleasure with what had happened but asked him to give away the bet-money in charity. This is significant because Allah had kept His Messenger protected from something that was permissible at that time but was going to be made impermissible later on. This is why he always kept aloof from wine and gambling, and there were particular ones among the noble Companions who also remained protected against these. It appears in a narration that the angel Jibrail (alayhissalaam) told the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that Allah Almighty likes four character-traits in Ja’far al-Tayyar (radhiyallahu anhu). He asked Sayyidina Ja’far al-Tayyar as to what these four traits were. He said, ‘Till now, I have never talked about these before anyone. Now that Allah Almighty has told you about them, I submit and relate these four to you. I saw that wine ruins reason, so I never went near it. I saw that idols cause no benefit or harm to anyone, so I never indulged in idol-worship even during the days of Jahiliyyah. Since I have an acute sense of honour concerning my wife and daughters, so I never committed adultery. Then, I realized that lying is unbridled meanness, and a terrible disgrace, so I never told a lie even in Jahiliyyah’. [Ruh al-Bayan]

Social ill-effects of Gambling

The Holy Qur’an has said the same thing about Qimar or gambling as it has said about wine, that is, in it, there are some benefits as well, but the harm it brings is greater than its benefits. Everyone knows this sort of benefit can make a pauper an overnight millionaire, but there are very few people who know how evil the practice is economically, socially and spiritually.

In gambling, speaking briefly, the gain of one person is dependent upon the loss of the other. The total gain of the winner is an outcome of the total loss of the loser because this transaction does not increase the (national) wealth or production. The amount of wealth remains as it was. What happens through this game of chance is that one is sucked dry of his wealth which then reaches the other, therefore, Qimar is a blanket undoing of a people, and the death of human morality. Isn’t it that man, who should be an agent of public good, a model of sympathy and sacrifice, stoops to the level of a beast while gambling, and starts seeing his life in the death of his brother, and finding delight in his distress, and searching for gain in his loss, and goes about harnessing all his abilities to promote his selfishness? Contrary to this are the permissible forms of transactions in trade where parties buy and sell releasing profits for both. Then, wealth circulates and increases through exchange of commercial commodities and the buyer and seller both find it beneficial.

To begin with, gambling is harmful because the addicted gambler comes to be deprived of the very habit of earning his livelihood, because he always keeps dreaming that he will simply sit and grab what belongs to the other person in no time through a bet, specially so as it involves no hard work. Some scholars have said that gambling has been called Maisir (as derived from the word ‘yusr’ meaning ‘easiness’) because one can easily take possession of what belongs to the other through it. Even if gambling deals revolve around a small number of people such as two or four, their harmful effects mentioned above show up very clearly. But, here we are in this modern age, called ‘the age of progress’ by those handicapped by superficial vision and lack of insight into its aftermath, where we see wine of all sorts given new names and labels, where ever-new kinds of interest and ever-innovative corporate methods to promote it have been invented, commandeered and given the safe name of ‘banking’; so it is with gambling where thousands of dubious forms have found currency. Some of these are so highly collective that the amount of contribution from a whole nation keeps adding up bit by bit, and in case there is a loss, that gets spread out over everybody and thus does not become conspicuous. When an amount from this total ‘take’ reaches the hands of one person, his gain appears to be prominent, therefore, people tend to look at his personal gain but pay no heed to the collective loss of their nation or country. Consequently, they are trapped into believing that these new kinds may as well be valld, although present here are all those harmful effects which are found in gambling confined to a small group of two or four people. Looked at from another angle, the harm brought by this large-scale gambling is much worse than that released by the older form of gambling, for its evil effects are far-reaching and spell out the ruin of a whole nation. As evident, the natural result of this practice will be that wealth belonging to the common people of the community will go on decreasing while the capital of some capitalists will go on increasing further. Inevitably then, the entire wealth of the nation will shrink and come to be concentrated into the hands of a limited number of individuals and a limited number of families. This can be witnessed everyday in stock markets and in other forms of Qimar. Now, Islamic economic strategy has an important principle of its own. It declares that every deal which siphons the wealth of a whole community out into the coffers of a few capitalists is haraam, unlawful and forbidden. It means that the principle of distributing spoils ‘of war among different segments of the society given by the Holy Qur’an aims to make sure that wealth does not shrink and concentrate in the hands of a few capitalists.

Gambling, like wine, becomes the cause of mutual disputes reaching the limits of hatred and animosity, so fatal in a civilized society. To quote once again, the Holy Qur’an mentions the evil of gambling in the following words:

The Satan only wants hostility and hatred to come to stay between you through wine and gambling, and to prevent you from remembering Allah and from the Salah. [Qur’an 5:92]

The effect of gambling, like that of wine, is that one gets recklessly involved in it, becoming unable to attend to the remembrance of Allah, and the prayer. Perhaps, this is why the Holy Qur’an has elected to mention wine and gambling side by side in an identical manner since Qimar or gambling has an intoxicating pull of its own which makes one ignore the concern of what is good or bad for him.

As partly mentioned earlier, the basic evil in gambling is that one can falsely devour what belongs to others through this method without any reasonable compensation or brotherly consideration. This is what the Holy Qur’an prohibits in the following words: “And do not eat up each other’s property by false means” [Qur’an 2:188].

The destroyer of many a home, the ill effects of gambling do not remain restricted to the gambler alone. They affect his whole family an become contagious to a much larger social circle because people may have entered into transactions, contracts and ‘loan deals with him which will hurt all concerned in the event of his becoming insolvent.

Finally, in the background of rising social addiction to various Qimar forms, it is useful to keep in view that this evil distorts one’s natural attitude to work and rivets it on imagined gains. Rather than concentrate on his physical or mental skills to increase his earnings steadily, one starts getting fixed on finding ways and means to usurp the earnings of others.

That is why the Holy Qur’an has said that the evils of wine and gambling are greater than their benefits.

Also Read: The Shari’i Prohibition on Playing Chess

Islamic Prohibition of Wine

By Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ Uthmani (rahmatullahi alaih)

They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In both there is great sin, and some benefits for people. And their sin is greater than their benefit. [Surah al-Baqarah 2:219]

This verse forms part of the series of questions asked by the noble Companions. These are as they appear in this Surah along with the answers given. Here, the question is about wine and gambling which has been answered by Allah Almighty by pointing out that the use and practice of these two things breeds major sins while people may also get some benefits from them, but the sin they release is far too grave than the benefit they give, implying that both these are worth abandoning.

Since these two issues are very serious, they need a somewhat detailed inquiry into their nature and the injunctions relating to them.

The prohibition of wine, and related injunctions:

When Islam came, drinking was common practice as part of the general state of Jaahili customs. When the Holy Prophet ﷺ emigrated to Madinah, people of that city were also accustomed to wine and gambling. Common people were infatuated with these in view of their obvious benefits. They had no idea of the evils inherent in these practices. However, it is the usual practice of Allah that there are, in every nation and in every country, sensible people who use reason to control their temperaments. They would not go near an emotional urge if it goes against the dictates of reason. In this regard, the station of the noble Prophet ﷺ was way high, for he had a built-in distaste for things which were going to be declared haraam later on. Even among the blessed Companions there were some who had not touched wine during the days it was an open practice. It was after reaching Madinah al-Tayyibah that some Companions became deeply concerned about the evil effects of these two involvements. It was due to this concern that Sayyidina ‘Umar al-Farooq and Mu’adh ibn Jabal along with some Ansari Companions presented themselves before the Holy Prophet ﷺ and told him how wine and gambling not only spoil man’s reason but also cause financial loss and sought his advice in this connection. It was in answer to their question that the present verse was revealed. This is the first verse in which the elementary step to stop Muslim from wine and gambling was taken.

What the verse says is clear from its translation, and its explanation which follows immediately. It may be added here that the word, ‘Ithm’ or sin includes everything that may become a preliminary to sin. For instance, wine dulls senses and weakens the power of reason, something basic to human excellence. Human reason acts as a brake against human indulgence in evil deeds. Once reason is blocked out, the door is opened for all sorts of evil deeds.

It will be noted that drinking has not been clearly identified as something unlawful in this verse, but its evils has certainly been pointed out, which may lead man into many sinful activities. In a way, this takes the form of a good counsel urging man to abandon it. That is why, soon after the revelation of this verse, some noble Companions took this good counsel of the Holy Qur’an so seriously that they stopped drinking then and there. There were some others among them who thought that the verse, in fact, has not declared wine as haraam; it has, instead, identified it as a cause of sin in as much as it does lead to evils religiously undesirable, so, if they can manage to keep themselves immune from such evils, what harm could there be if they continued drinking? Consequently, so they did, until came a day when the blessed Companion, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn  ‘Awf (radhiyallahu anhu) invited some of his friends from among the noble Companions at his home. When dinner was over, everybody started drinking wine as usual. In the meantime, came the time for Maghrib salah. Everybody stood up for salah and selected one of them to lead the prayers. The Imam began his recitation from the Holy Qur’an, but drunk as he was, he recited the Surah al-Kafirun all wrong. Thereupon, the second step against drinking was taken and the following verse was revealed:

O those who believe, do not go near Salah when you are intoxicated. [Qur’an 4:43]

Here, drinking was declared to be absolutely unlawful at the time of the Salah. Other times remained open. Some of the noble Companions had totally stopped drinking following the revelation of the first verse deducing from it that something which stops one from Salah cannot hold any good at all. And now that Salah has been prohibited in a state of intoxication, one should keep his distance from that which deprives one from Salah. However, since wine was not forbidden clearly and explicity during hours other than those of Salah, there were some who continued drinking during other hours until when there occured yet another incident. This time it was the blessed Companion, ‘Itban ibn Malik (radhiyallahu anhu) who invited some Companions, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas being one of them. Once the dinner was over, wine was served in accordance with the custom. Then, turning to another customary Arab practice at that time, the intoxicated party started talking poetry and began reciting their respective accomplishments and excellences. The Companion Sa’d ibn Abi
Waqqas recited poem in which he satirized the Ansar (helpers) of   Madinah and eulogized his own tribal affinities. This made an Ansari young-man angry and he hit Sa’d with a jaw-bone from a camel causing severe injury on his head. Sayyidina Sa’d came to the Holy Prophet ﷺ and complained against that Ansari young-man. At that time, the Holy Prophet ﷺ  raised his hands in prayer and said: “O Allah, give us a clear and conclusive guidance in the matter of wine”. Thereupon, the third verse regarding wine, that of Surah al-Ma’idah, was revealed with details declaring wine to be absolutely unlawful. The verse is as follows:

O you who believe! wine and gambling and stone altars and drawing of lots with arrows are only an abomination, a work of Satan; so shun it, that happily you may prosper. [Qur’an 5:90]

The Gradual Forbiddance of Wine
Being supreme in His authority, Allah alone knows the real wisdom behind all divine imperatives, but a close look into the Islamic legal code reveals that the Shari’ah of Islam has left ample room for human emotions when following its dictates. This is to give man the least possible inconvenience. The Holy Qur’an has itself said:

‘Allah does not obligate anyone beyond his or her capacity’   [Qur’an 2:286]. 

It was the demand of this mercy and wisdom that made Islam go slow on forbidding wine.

The gist of the Qur’anic history of forbidding wine through a gradual process is that it has revealed four verses on the subject. As said earlier, one of these verses belongs to Surah al-Baqarah, the explanation of which you are reading through now. Here, wine has been identified as  sin-prone, a corrupting agent. The mention of wine has been left at that point. It has not been ‘forbidden’. This, in a way, is a manner of saying that the habit of drinking is worth leaving, but the direct command to quit drinking was not given.

The second verse: ‘do not go near  Salah when you are intoxicated’ (4:43) appears in Surah al-Nisa’. Here, wine was declared to be unlawful during salah hours. At other times, the choice remained open.

The third and the fourth verses belong to Surah al-Ma’idah. In these two, as mentioned earlier, wine was declared to be unlawful clearly and absolutely.

The Shari’ah of Islam used the method of gradual prohibition of wine for the simple reason that it would have been much too hard on human temperament to cut away from the habit of a life-time, specially so the habit of addiction to intoxicants. Scholars have said:   it is harder to change an ongoing habit for man than it is for a child used to suckling at his mother’s breast. So, moving wisely, Islam first stressed on its evil, then prohibited it only at the time of salah and finally after the passage of a certain time, it was absolutely forbidden.

However, the wisdom that required a gradual process before the prohibition had equally required that once the prohibition is promulgated, it should be implemented with its full force. That is why the Holy Prophet ﷺ, in the early stages, warned people against the use of wine and told them how it invited divine punishment. He said that wine was the source of evils and indecencies and one who indulges in it can go on to commit even the worst possible sins.

In a hadith, he said  ‘Wine and Faith cannot be combined.’ These narrations appear in al-Nasa’i. In the Jami’ of al-Tirmidhi, there is a narration from the blessed Companion Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) which reports that the Holy Prophet ﷺ has cursed ten people in relation to wine, being the crusher or presser or squeezer, the distiller, the user, the server, the carrier, the receiver (the one for whom it is carried), the seller, the buyer, the giver (as gift), and the one who uses the income arising from it. This verbal teaching and persuasion was not all that he stopped at, he took practical steps and made a legally binding proclamation that whosoever has any wine in possession should deposit it at an appointed place.

The Matchless Obedience of the Blessed Companions

As soon as the first order came to them, the noble Companions, obedient and responsive as they were, lost no time and took out all wine stored in their homes for personal use and poured it out on the streets then and there. Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) has reported that at the time when the proclaimer appointed by the Holy Prophet ﷺ went around the streets of Madinah announcing that wine was forbidden, whoever had a vessel of wine in his hands, threw it away right where he was and whoever had cups or goblets or flasks of wine in the house, brought these out and smashed them off. Sayyidina Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) was happily busy serving wine to a gathering of friends at that time. Present there were great Companions like Abu Talha, Abu ‘Ubaydah ibn Jarrah, Ubai’ ibn Ka’b and Suhayl (rahiyallahu anhum). When the voice of the proclaimer struck their ears, everybody present said, ‘Now, pour all this wine down on the ground and break all cups and goblets and ewers and pitchers.’  In some narrations it is said that it was immediately with the announcement that wine had become unlawful that everyone who had a cup of wine reaching close to his lips was electrified and threw it away right there. That day, wine was flowing down the streets of Madinah like a stream of rainwater, and as a result of that, it remained usual in the streets of Madinah for a long time that rains would reactivate the smell of wine soaked in the ground, as well as its colour, which would show up on the surface.

When people were ordered to deposit whatever wine they had at a given place, not much was left there to deposit except the limited stock of wine casks and bags, available in the market for commercial sales. So obedient were the noble Companions that they deposited those too at the designated place without the least hesitation. The Holy Prophet ﷺ went there personally and slit many leather wine-bags with his own blessed hands and let the rest be slit apart by other Companions.

Another Companion, a businessman who imported wine from Syria happened to be on a business trip in Syria. He had taken his entire capital with him against which he bought a stock of wine for commercial sales. When he returned with his cargo, he came to know that wine had been declared haraam before he could enter the city limits of Madinah. Having heard about the ban on wine, the Companion who was a model of devotion and sacrifice, and who was also returning home after investing all his capital and labour hoping to make a big profit out of it, quietly stacked it on a wayside hillock, came down to see the Holy Prophet ﷺ asking him about this stock of his: ‘What should I do?’ The Holy Prophet ﷺ ordered him, in accordance with the Divine command, that he should tear out all those leather bags and pour the wine in them down on the ground. This wonderful lover of Allah and His Messenger did not hesitate for a moment. Using his own hands, he poured forth all his invested capital on the sands of that hill-slope. This too is a great miracle of Islam, and a demonstration of mind-boggling and virtually unrivalled obedience that came about during this episode. Imagine how difficult it is to shake off the habit of being used to something while these people were chronically habituated to consuming wine and could not stay away from it even for a little while. For them, it was just that command from their Lord proclaimed by His Prophet which brought about such an instant change in their habits that they started hating the same wine and gambling they were so addicted to.

Islamic strategy for a social change

The verses above and the events connected with them present before us a model of active Muslim response to the law making wine unlawful. One may call it a miracle of Islam or a unique outcome of prophetic teaching and training or the inevitable end-product of Islamic methodology of social change, the fact is that its effectiveness was phenomenal. Compared to this was the attempt at prohibition made in the United States with the support of experts, lobbies, law, media and constitutional amendment which failed in the face of much increased use of liquor making the authorities cancel their plans. What is the secret behind this enormous difference?

The secret is that Islam has never depended on law alone as the tool of social reform. Law not being sufficient, it has first prepared and fine-tuned the minds of its people tempering their attitudes with the golden prescription of a deep devotion to and worship of their Creator, moderation in worldly living and a genuine concern for the life to come. The great revolution brought in this manner produced matchless men who would eagerly come forward to sacrifice their life, property, honour, anything and everything at one call from their Prophet. This task of preparing men who would match the mission continued throughout the Makkan period by means of rigorous spiritual training. Once such a devoted group of people was ready, then came the law. No doubt, the Americans too did their best utilizing the vast powers of the media, but they had everything with them except the concern for the life to come while the concern for the Hereafter was the very life-blood of Muslims.

The golden prescription is still there, very much valid, waiting for peaceless people round the world to use it. Let the wise think.

The Evils of Wine

The ‘good’ in wine is popularly known as a certain taste and a feeling of well-being, professed increase of temporary energy, and a given glow on the face. Being transient, these benefits hardly stand against the array of evils it breeds. Take the human body first. Drinking causes mal-function of the stomach, reduces desire to eat, affects facial contours, inflates the waist-line, hurts the liver and the kidneys and becomes a contributor to all sorts of diseases. Reason does not work under the influence of hard drinks which goes beyond the time one claims to have become sober. The hangover turns out to be as bad. Wine, a tempting stimulant and a much romanticized poison works slowly, inspite of the spirited defence put up by its users. The fact is that drinking not only harms them but affects their children as well.

Socially, drinking may become the cause of mutual malice and enmity which is a great evil in the sight of Islamic law. It is for this reason that the Holy Qur’an particularly mentions this evil in Surah al-Ma’idah:

The Satan only wants that hostility and hatred come to stay between you through wine and gambling. [Surah al-Ma’idah 5:91]

One of the most harmful drawbacks of drinking shows up when a person under its influence lets out his guarded secrets. It becomes much more disasterous if the culprit happens to be a state functionary in possession of vital government secrets. Passing these out to an enemy agent can cause great damage to the state through a coup, a political loss or a challenge to national defence. Clever spies are always on the look out for such opportunities.

So, the habit of drinking is not only an evil in itself but a mother of other evils as well making men ready to commit the worst possible crimes against their fellow-beings.

The physical evils of drinking are too well-known to recount here while its spiritual evils are equally obvious. Wine is harmful because the Holy Qur’an says: ‘It prevents you from remembering Allah and from the Salah”. Then, the question asked by the Holy Qur’an is: ‘Would you then desist.?’

The Forbiddance of Wine: A complete view

Upto this point, we have discussed four verses of the Holy Qur’an which deal with the unlawfulness of wine, and its forbiddance. It seems appropriate that yet another mention of intoxicants made by the Holy Qur’an in Surah Al-Nahl in a different context should be brought into focus here so that we have all Qur’anic statements concerning wine and intoxicants in one complete frame of reference. The said verse is as follows:

And of the fruits of the palms and  the  vines, you take therefrom an intoxicant and a good provision. Surely, in that there is a sign for a people who understand. [Qur’an 16:67]

In verses preceding the one above, mention was made of Allah’s blessings which cause production of human food through unique mechanisms. It was said:

And surely in the cattle there is a lesson for you; We give you to drink of what is in their bellies, between filth and blood, pure milk, sweet to drinkers. [Qur’an 16:66]

The text uses the word, ‘nusqihum’ which means ‘We gave you milk to drink’ implying that it needs no further human processing. Following this, it was said that man procures things to eat, as well as, makes things which benefit him. Here, the hint is that human processing plays some part in procuring what he eats and in making what he uses to his advantage. And it is as a result of the entry of the human factor that two types of things were produced. One of these is an intoxicant known as wine while the other is ‘a good provision’, such as the dates and the grapes which can be used fresh off the palms and vines or can be dried and stored for later use. In short, Allah Almighty, in His perfect creativity, gave man fruits such as dates and grapes and gave him the added right to use them as food. Now what he makes out of them is his choice, either make intoxicants out of them and thereby spoil his reason, or use them for food and energy. According to this explanation, this verse cannot be used to argue in support of the lawfulness of intoxicating wine. The reason is simple. Here, the purpose is to describe the gifts of nature and to point out to the different forms in which they could be used which is all part of the same Divine blessing. For instance, consider all that man eats and things man uses to his advantage. There are many who use these in ways that are impermissible but, the incidence of someone using things wrongfully does not preclude a blessing from remaining a blessing. So, the context of the statement needs no details as to which use is permissible or impermissibe, however, there is a subtle indication embedded here too. If we look at how ‘sakar: intoxicant’ has been counter-poised by ‘rizqan hasana’: ‘a good provision’, we would realize that an intoxicant is not a good provision. The majority of commentators take sakar to mean something that intoxicates. [Ruh al-Ma’ani, Qurtubi and Jassas]

There is a consensus of the Ummah that these verses are Makkan while the unlawfulness of wine was revealed later on in Madinah al-Tayyibah. Even though wine was lawful at the time these verses were revealed and Muslims used to indulge in wine generally yet, even at that stage, a hint was made in the verse that indulging in wine is not good. Later on, came the Qur’anic command which clearly and forcefully made wine unlawful.

Related Post: Liquor — The Process of Halaalization