“Difficulty Causes Ease” and the case of the Coronavirus

“Difficulty Causes Ease” and the case of the Coronavirus

One of the five major maxims of Fiqh is “المشقة تجلب التيسير” which is usually translated as “Difficulty causes ease”. I prefer to translate it as “Extreme difficulty causes relaxation of the law” as that is more clear and precise. This maxim means that the laws of Islam are flexible enough to cater for difficult situations. The maxim is extracted from several rulings found in the Quran and Sunnah.

These include the permission to make Tayammum when water is not available or useable, the permission to consume Haram when there is a risk of life, and the permissibility to shorten and combine prayers when traveling. All of these rulings share one common theme; they are all examples of the law beings relaxed because of difficulty. This maxim is agreed upon by all four madhhabs, although they may differ in how to implement it.

Types of difficulty that cause the law to change

The scholars of Fiqh list seven types of difficulty (المشقة) that can cause the law to change. These causes are coercion, sickness, travel, forgetfulness, ignorance, lack of legal competence, and public affliction. There are examples of each of these in the Shariah. An example of coercion is that it is permissible to say words of Kufr to save one’s life. The examples of sickness are plenty which includes the allowance of Tayammum when using water is harmful and the permissibility to delay fasting when ill in Ramadan. Likewise, the examples of travel are clear i.e. delaying fasting or shortening prayers while traveling.

Ignorance and forgetfulness are a bit different. This simply means that Allah forgives anything that is done out of forgetfulness or genuine ignorance. Similarly, we should go easy on people who are genuinely ignorant or made a mistake. Lack of legal competence falls into the same category. For example, children are not responsible to obey the laws of the Shariah until they hit puberty, so we should go easy on them and be gentle with their mistakes.

It is the final type of difficulty, public/common affliction that concerns us here. The Shariah allows for the relaxation of several laws when the health, lives, wealth or general well-being of the community is at risk. There are two examples of this from the reign of Umar bin al-Khattab. During the plague that afflicted al-Shaam, the Muslims isolated themselves in the mountains to prevent it from spreading. Then when a drought hit Arabia, Umar suspended the law of amputating the hands of thieves due to mass starvation. In both cases, the well-being of the community was given preference over individual laws of the Shariah.

The types of Ease

As the scholars divided difficulty into seven categories, they did the same for the types of changes that can occur to the laws. The first type of change is that the laws can be omitted, like when Umar suspended the amputation of the hands of thieves. A change could also mean a decrease is what is expected like the reduction of the number of Rakah to pray when traveling. Or it could refer to delaying an act of worship or doing it earlier than usually allowed, like combining Dhuhr with Asr in one time when traveling.

Laws can also be replaced or substituted with others, like replacing Wudhu with Tayammum when water is not available, or replacing fasting in Ramadan with Fidya for the chronically ill. Laws can also be changed to accommodate the hardship like praying Salah al-Khawf during times of civil unrest or war. Finally, the haram can become permissible at times of necessity, depending on the level of prohibition and the level of necessity. Each of these seven types of changes can be found in the Shariah and in practice throughout our history.

The Coronavirus and the application of this maxim

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe, we are entering perhaps for the first time in decades, a situation of public affliction on a global scale. This means that scholars around the world need to consider what kind of Taysir (Relaxation) can be done to the laws of Islam in order to stop the spread of this virus and to save the lives of the believers.

It is my opinion that the following changes take place in the law during this time of crisis. Note that these changes apply only to countries that are afflicted, and the changes will be rolled back when the crisis is over.

The changes are:
1. The suspension of congregational prayer until it is over, with the exception of small congregations in the home.
2. The obligation to pray Jum’ah falls away, and it becomes permissible to pray Dhuhr at home.
3. Masjids and other places of mass gatherings should be closed if possible. If not possible, then measures should be taken to prevent the spread of the virus in our places of gathering.
4. Weddings should be delayed, a small nikah will suffice to avoid large gatherings.
5. If someone passes away from the virus, then Ghusl may not be possible, Janazahs may be limited to ten people, the family will not get to attend the funeral and people will not be allowed to visit the family.
6. Taraweh should be prayed at home with one’s family. Likewise, Iftar should take place at home with the family.
7. If necessary, Eid prayer should be canceled completely.
8. Avoid leaving the home except for necessities. The best usage of our time now is to be at home worshipping Allah and asking for His Divine Assistance.

None of these changes should be a source of happiness for the believer. It should hurt our hearts that we are unable to pray in congregation, attend Islamic gatherings, or enjoy the atmosphere of the Masjid. This is a test from Allah, and these changes to the law are for the protection of human life, which is one of the fundamental goals of the Shariah.

Remember; to stay home is Fiqh and to feel bad about it is Imaan.

May Allah protect us all and help us through this difficult trial.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 0 comments
Webinar: Lessons from the life of ʿUmar II

Webinar: Lessons from the life of ʿUmar II

In this webinar, I discuss the life of one of my favorite heroes, ʿUmar II aka ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA). We do a deep dive into his life covering various accomplishments of his and extracting a lot of important lessons from his life.

To continue learning lessons from the life of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, get the eBook that this webinar is based on here:

The eBook is also available at Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback format.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, Leadership, 0 comments
4 Fiqh Maxims for General Life Guidance

4 Fiqh Maxims for General Life Guidance

The Maxims of Fiqh (al-Qawāʿid al-Fiqhiyya) refer to simple formulas of Fiqh principles that scholars use in their Ijtihād. These maxims were developed in the second half of Islamic history to make Ijtihād and fatwa-making easier. They are taught in Islamic universities across the globe and memorized by students, in order to facilitate Ijtihād.

In this brief article, however, I want to show a different usage of these same maxims. I believe that these maxims can be used by the general public, not to make fatwas, but rather to guide their lifestyle choices and to keep their lives within an Islamic framework. To show, I have chosen for this article five basic maxims of practical value that all four madhhabs agree upon.

1. Actions are judged by their intentions

This is the first of the five major maxims of Fiqh. Some scholars state that as much as one-third of Fiqh is based on this maxim. In Fiqh, this maxim has multiple usages, which include deciding the ruling on something and whether it is rewarding or not.

In terms of practical everyday usage, we can use this maxim to guide our daily life choices. In everything that we do, we should ask ourselves first, “What is my intention in doing this?” The application of this maxim to our daily lives will ensure sincerity and ward off hypocrisy. It will keep us focused on pleasing Allah, and prevent us from straying in our intentions.

2. Harm must be eliminated

This is also one of the five major maxims of Fiqh. The Fiqh of ḥarām is generally based on this maxim i.e. anything whose harms outweigh its benefits is usually categorized as ḥarām. When judging the value of a thing, scholars weigh the benefits and harms and lean towards prohibition when the thing in question is harmful.

We can apply this maxim to our general lives by living our lives in a manner in which we do not harm anybody, including our own selves, with our actions. By consciously choosing to avoid self-harm and harming others, we can live a life of happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction. Before doing anything, ask yourself, “Will this action be harmful to me or anyone else?” If the answer is yes, then avoid that action unless it is necessary.

3. The original state of people is innocent

This maxim also translates as ‘The original state of people is freedom from liability’. Not only is this an accepted maxim in all the schools of Fiqh, but it has also been adopted by the West under the maxim ‘innocent until proven guilty’. The application of this maxim in Fiqh is that people are innocent of any crimes they are accused of until sufficient evidence is produced to prove their guilt.

We can apply this maxim to our daily lives by avoiding rumors, gossip, and slander. Currently, there is a trend to believe any accusations made about people online. This is unislamic behavior and can lead to great harm in society. Whenever we hear an accusation, we should assume the individual to be innocent until there is clear evidence of guilt.

4. The lesser of two harms should be chosen

This maxim simply means that when a person is in a situation in which all options cause harm, they should choose the option that causes the least harm. This maxim is used in Fiqh to modify the ruling on prohibited things during times of need. Sometimes we will tolerate minor harm if it prevents greater harm.

We can apply this principle in our daily lives by being practical in our approach to life. It isn’t always possible to be perfect and to have choices that are nice and beneficial. Sometimes we are stuck in situations in which whatever we do, someone gets hurt. In such situations, we should choose the minor harm (usually to ourselves) over major harm. This principle can keep us from causing more harm than necessary in times of difficulty.

I hope you found this article beneficial. In shaa Allah, I will produce another article soon highlighting another four maxims that can be applied to our daily lives in a practical manner.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 1 comment
5 Ḥadīths on the importance of Family

5 Ḥadīths on the importance of Family

In this age of individualism, it is often easy to forget the rights of the family. Many people live self-obsessed lives, oblivious of their duties to their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended families.

To help revive the Sunnah of caring for one’s family, here are 5 Ḥadīth on the importance of family in Islam. Special Thanks to Abu Amina Elias (Justin Parrot) for his amazing website from which I sourced these Ḥadīths. All these Ḥadīth have been graded authentic by scholars of Ḥadīth. More details are available on the source website.

1. Part of his final advice

Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah (s) said in his illness before he passed away, “Your family relations! Your family relations!” (Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 463)

So important are the rights of the family in Islam that the Prophet (s) mentioned it during his final illness. The Prophet (s) only advised regarding the most crucial matters during his final illness. The matters he emphasized during his final illness include monotheism, Salah, hygiene, and family. This raises the rights of family members to be among the most important matters in our religion.

2. Help them financially

A man asked the Prophet (s), “What act of charity is best?” The Prophet (s) said, “One given to an estranged relative.” (Musnad Aḥmad 15022 )

If a distant relative has become estranged or tries to break ties, the Islamic thing to do is to try and reconnect with them. To emphasize this, the Prophet (s) gave preference to charity towards family over others, especially towards estranged family members who may be too proud to ask for help. Charity here does not refer only to wealth but includes all acts of kindness. The Prophet (s) said, “Every act of goodness is charity.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1970)

Often many people overlook their relatives when it comes to charity. They may be very generous to others, while the thought of assisting a struggling relative doesn’t even cross their mind. This is an unislamic mindset. Muslims must care for each other, and Muslim families must be especially caring towards each other.

3. The most beloved and hated of acts

Qatadah reported that a man of Khath’am came to the Prophet (s) and he said, “Are you the one who thinks he is the Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said, “Yes.” The man said, “O Messenger of Allah, which deeds are most beloved to Allah?” The Prophet said, “Faith in Allah.” The man said, “Then what?” The Prophet said, “To maintain family relationships.” The man said, “O Messenger of Allah, which deeds are most hateful to Allah?” The Prophet said, “To associate idols with Allah.” The man said, “Then what?” The Prophet said, “To sever family relationships.” The man said, “Then what?” The Prophet said, “To enjoin evil and forbid good.” (Musnad Abī Ya’lá 6793 )

In this lengthy narration, the Prophet (s) lists some of the greatest good deeds and some of the worst sins. The high status of family relations is clear as he lists it as the second most beloved act to Allah. Likewise, the severing of family ties is listed as a major sin, second only to disbelief/polytheism.

This narration provides a double emphasis on family ties, maintaining it is a high priority for every believer. Severing it is a major sin and a source of Allah’s displeasure.

4. More important than voluntary worship

Abdullah ibn Amr reported the Messenger of Allah (s) said to him, “I am told you fast and never break your fast and you never stop praying at night? Fast and break your fast, pray at night and sleep. Verily, your eyes have a right over you, your own self has a right over you, and your family has a right over you.” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1876)

Sometimes we can become so self-obsessed in our spiritual journies that we neglect those closest to us. This narration is a reminder to find balance. We need to excel in worship, but we also need to make time for our families and to fulfill their rights. True piety is finding a balance between worshipping Allah and fulfilling the rights of His Creation.

5. Gentleness with family always benefits

Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet (s) said, “The people of a household are not granted kindness except that it will benefit them.” (al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr 13261)

We end with a beautiful reminder that the reward for goodness is always goodness. When we are kind, gentle and loving to our families, the return from Allah is His Infinite Mercy and Divine Reward. There is always benefit in being gentle with others. Let us make gentleness the foundation of our interactions with our extended family.

I hope you found this article beneficial. I am selling a bundle of 10 of my best eBooks for only $30. All profits from these sales will go towards funding the production costs of my upcoming book. You can purchase the full bundle here.

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Virtues of Surah Fatiha

Virtues of Surah Fatiha

There are many powerful hadiths about Surah Al-Fatiha. I have translated some of them below but haven’t written any explanation for them.

I did this so that you can read them and reflect on them yourself to gain a deeper understanding.

Read and reflect:

Hadith 1 – The Greatest Surah

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded in the Musnad that Abu Sa`id bin Al-Mu`alla said, “I was praying when the Prophet called me, so I did not answer him until I finished the prayer. I then went to him and he said, ‘What prevented you from coming,’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I was praying.’

He said, `Didn’t Allah say, O you who believe! Answer Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life?’ He then said, ‘I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an before you leave the Masjid.’ He held my hand and when he was about to leave the Masjid, I said, `O Messenger of Allah! You said, I will teach you the greatest Surah in the Qur’an.’ He said, ‘Yes. It is Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin. (All praise to due to Allah, Lord of the Universe)It is the seven oft-repeated verses and the Glorious Qur’an that I was given.”

Hadith 2 – Nothing Like It

Imam Ahmad[1] recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Messenger of Allah went out while Ubayy bin Ka`b was praying and said, ‘O Ubayy!’ Ubayy did not answer him. The Prophet said, ‘O Ubayy!’ Ubayy prayed faster then went to the Messenger of Allah saying, `Peace be unto you, O Messenger of Allah!’ He said, ‘Peace be unto you. O Ubayy, what prevented you from answering me when I called you?’ He said, `O Messenger of Allah! I was praying.’ He said, ‘Did you not read among what Allah has sent down to me, Answer Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life?’ He said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah! I will not do it again.’

The Prophet said, ‘Would you like me to teach you a Surah the likes of which nothing has been revealed in the Tawrah, the Injil, the Zabur (Psalms) or the Furqan (the Qur’an)?’ He said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah said, “I hope that I will not leave through this door until you have learned it.”

He (Ka`b) said, `The Messenger of Allah held my hand while speaking to me. Meanwhile, I was slowing down fearing that he might reach the door before he finished his conversation.

When we came close to the door, I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is the Surah that you have promised to teach me?’ He said, ‘What do you read in the prayer?’ Ubayy said, `So I recited Umm Al-Qur’an to him.’ He said, ‘By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalms or the Furqan (Quran) a Surah like it. It is the seven repeated verses that I was given.”

Hadith 3 – A Conversation With Allah

 Abu Hurayrah narrated that the messenger of Allah said that Allah said, “I have divided the prayer (Al-Fatihah) into two halves between Myself and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for.” If he says, “All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence.” Allah says, “My servant has praised Me.”

When the servant says, “The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” Allah says, “My servant has glorified Me.” When he says, “The Master of the Day of Judgment,” Allah says, “My servant has glorified Me,” or “My servant has related all matters to Me.”

When he says, “You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help.” Allah says, “This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for,”

When he says, “Guide us to the straight path. The way of those on whom You have granted Your grace, not the way of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray,” Allah says, “This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.”

Note: All three hadiths are narrated in Tafsir Ibn Kathir. You can find more Hadiths about Surah Al-Fatiha there.

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 0 comments