Ramadan Resources – 2020/1441

Ramadan Resources – 2020/1441

Ramadan Mubarak!

I pray that you all have a spiritually uplifting Ramadan.

To help you along your spiritual journey, I have put together a list of Ramadan Resources that we have to offer at Islamic Self Help.


I am excited to announce a new series of daily blog posts from Islamic Self Help for Ramadan 1441 AH. Starting tonight, every day I will be posting one new blog post explaining the Tafsir of one of the last thirty Surahs of the Quran.

As many people will be praying Taraweh at home for the first time, a lot of us will be relying on these short Surahs to recite in our Tawareh. To make this recitation for spiritual and beneficial, I will be sharing the Tafsir of one of these Surahs each night for the month of Ramadan in shaa Allah. You can read part one of this new series here.

I hope you find this beneficial.
May Allah accept our deeds and forgive our sins.


Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 1 comment
Fiqh of Fasting Summarized – Ramadan 2020

Fiqh of Fasting Summarized – Ramadan 2020

In this article, I have summarized the basic Fiqh of Fasting in an easy-to-read list. I have split the list into two parts. The first list features issues that are agreed upon between the madh’habs. the second list features issues of difference of opinion in which I just listed my opinion without going in detail.

Regarding the issues of difference of opinion, please follow your local scholars, and if you require detailed discussion, please post your questions in the comment section below.

The Agreed Upon Fiqh of Fasting

  1. Fasting means to avoid food, drink, and sexual intercourse from the beginning of the time of Fajr until the beginning of the time of Maghrib).
  2. Having the correct intention is crucial. Intention means that in your heart you recognize that you are fasting today for the sake of Allah. The intention should precede the fast and doesn’t need to be verbalized.
  3. The early morning meal before dawn is called Suhoor and it is Sunnah (recommended) to eat a light Suhoor.
  4. The meal for breaking the fast is called Iftaar and should be eaten as soon as the sun sets before praying Maghrib. It is also Sunnah.
  5. It is important to avoid all sins and bad manners while fasting. These things decrease the reward of fasting.
  6. If someone eats or drinks forgetfully while fasting, then the fast is still valid.
  7. But if someone has sexual intercourse forgetfully, the fast is broken.
  8. Eating, drinking, or having sexual intercourse purposely while fasting invalidates the fast. Speak to your local scholar about how to make up for them. (There is a difference of opinion on how to make up for it)
  9. Praying Taraweh is a Sunnah (recommended). Tarawih means to pray extra Salah in sets of two after Esha. Tarawih can be prayed any time between Esha and Fajr.
  10. It is Sunnah to eat dates and drink water for Suhoor and Iftaar.
  11. Overeating at Suhoor and Iftaar is Makruh (disliked).
  12. It is recommended to spend as much time as possible reciting Quran and praying at night during Ramadan.
  13. Women can’t fast during menstruation or post-natal periods and need to make up their fasts after Ramadan.
  14. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding also have concessions. Speak to your local scholar for details about this.
  15. Elderly and chronically ill people who can’t fast for health reasons need to pay Fidyah instead. Fidyah means to feed one poor person per fast.
  16. People who are sick or traveling are also excused from fasting and may make it up after Ramadan.

Some issues of difference of opinion

  1. There is no set number of Rakah for Taraweh. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray 11, and the Sahabah used to pray 23. (This number includes the Witr)
  2. It is best to pray Taraweh late at night during the last one-third of the night.
  3. It is better to pray Taraweh individually as this leads to better concentration and private conversation with Allah.
  4. If someone missed Suhoor, their fast is still valid because they went to sleep with the intention to fast the next day.
  5. Fidyah is only allowed in cases where there is no chance of making up the missed fast, eg: old age or chronic illness.
  6. There is more reward in delaying the fast when traveling or sick, than in fasting during these conditions.
  7. Completing the entire Quran in Taraweh is not Sunnah but it is a good deed.
  8. Dua can be made in any language during the Sajdah of Taraweh or the Qunoot. It does not need to be in Arabic.
  9. It is permissible to eat Suhoor until Fajr time begins. It is not Sunnah to stop eating five minutes before Fajr time sets in.
  10. It is not a sin to leave out the Taraweh. However, doing so robs one’s Ramadan of great rewards and benefits.
  11. It is permissible to hold the Mushaf (or mobile device) in the hand and read from it when praying Taraweh.
  12. A male child (seven or older) may lead adults in Taraweh Salah if the child meets the requirements for Imamat.
  13. Zakah al-Fitr is an obligation that must be paid before Eid Salah. It is, however, permissible to pay it in money. It is not necessary to pay it in food portions.

Please remember that these thirteen points are matters of difference of opinion. So please maintain the proper Islamic manners when dealing with these matters of difference of opinion. and Allah knows best what is the correct opinion.

I hope you found these lists beneficial. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 4 comments

The Themes of Surah al-Baqarah

This article is a compilation of various chapters from my book Themes of the Quran as well as some original content. The ebook is currently on sale here.

Introduction to Surah al-Baqarah

Surah al-Baqarah (Chapter of the cow) is the second Surah in the Quran, and the longest Surah in the Quran. It is also the most comprehensive Surah in the Quran. It covers almost every aspect of Islam, ranging from theology to stories of the prophets to nearly every chapter of Islamic Law. In many ways, it is a summary of the rest of the Quran. Nearly every topic touched upon in this Surah is explained in more detail in later Surahs and in various Hadiths.

Surah al-Baqarah also has a lot of virtues that have been authentically narrated in various hadiths. It contains the greatest verse in the Quran which is Ayat al-Kursi, (Sahih Muslim 810) and there are many virtues attached to the last two verses of this Surah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever recites the last two verses of Surat al-Baqarah in the night, it is enough for him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 4723, Sahih Muslim 807)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Satan flees from a home in which Surah al-Baqarah is recited.” (Sahih Muslim 780) So it also works as a form of protection against Jinn and devils. There are many other virtues narrated about this Surah and its various verses.

The First Theme: Importance of Obeying The Law

The bulk of the first Juz of the Quran is comprised of the first half of Surah Al-Baqarah. Surah Al-Baqarah is the longest Surah in the Qur’an. The core theme of this Surah are the Laws of Islam and the importance of obeying them.

This Surah was revealed in Madinah when the Islamic State was being formulated and the importance of the laws was crucial for the successful foundation of the state. If we wish to revive Islam today, the first step is to go back to treating the law of Allah as the priority in our lives.

Note that while most of the laws in this Surah are addressed to the believers, the very first commandment in the Qur’an is addressed to all of mankind, “Oh Mankind, worship your Lord,” (2:21) Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism) is the first and most emphasized command in the Qur’an. Every human needs to acknowledge Tawheed before anything else.

In order to emphasize the importance of obeying the laws, the first Juz of the Qur’an is full of stories of those who disobeyed the laws of Allah. The first story mentioned in the Qur’an is that of Adam and Shaytaan, and Shaytaan’s refusal to bow to Adam, which was the first act of disobedience against Allah.

The story of Adam and Shaytaan is repeated throughout the Qur’an due to its historical and moral significance. This story teaches us about the origins of mankind, the beginning of evil, the dangers of arrogance and the purpose of life. This story should be studied carefully and reflected upon to discover its many lessons.

The bulk of this Juz comprises of the stories of Bani Israel and how time after time in a variety of different ways, they violated the laws of Allah, as well as the consequences of them doing so. These stories are remarkably similar to the different ways in which many Muslims today violate the laws of Allah.

One story which stands out is the story that this Surah is named after. A murder had occurred among the Israelites and they asked Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) to assist them in identifying the murderer. Allah revealed that they should sacrifice a cow and Allah will reveal who the murderer is.

The people did not take this seriously and began to ask a multitude of questions, each of which restricted the type of cow they needed to slaughter. Eventually, after they had made the law too difficult upon themselves, they had to search for a very specific type of cow and only after slaughtering it, was the murderer made clear to them.

The lesson of this story is to avoid asking unnecessary questions that will make this religion stricter than it needs to be. Allah has purposely left certain things general, and kept silent on other things, as a Mercy to us.

Too many questions about minute issues lead to the establishment of laws that are too strict and not in keeping with the goal of the Shariah i.e. the removal of hardship. Nowadays, it is quite common to find Muslim communities stressing over such minute issues, making the laws of Islam unnecessarily stricter upon themselves than it needs to be. It will serve us well to reflect on the lesson from this story.

The Juz ends with a reminder to follow the example of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his descendants who were amazing examples of submission and obedience to the laws of Allah. Prophet Ibrahim, Hajar, Ismail and the rest (peace be upon them all) obeyed Allah even in things which average people can’t understand. Whether it was the command to sacrifice his firstborn son, or the command to leave his wife and son in the desert of Makkah, Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) is one of the best examples of true submission (Islam) to the will of Allah.

The Second Theme – The Laws of Islam

The second Juz of the Qur’an continues with Surah Al-Baqarah and as a result, the theme is closely linked to the theme of the first Juz. While the first Juz focused primarily on stories reminding us about the importance of obeying the laws of Allah, the second Juz details the laws of Islam.

This is perhaps the most Fiqh-laden Juz in the entire Qur’an and in it are verses related to all the key topics of Islamic Law starting with the importance of Salah and Patience (2:153) and includes discussion on:

  1. Instruction to eat only that which is Halal (2:168)
  2. Discussions surrounding the Qibla for Salah (2:142-145)
  3. Islamic Criminal Law and its importance (2:178-179)
  4. Laws related to fasting and the month of Ramadan (2:183-186)
  5. Laws of Jihad and warfare (2:190-195, 216-218)
  6. Laws related to Hajj and Umrah (2:196-200)
  7. People who we should spend charity on (2:215)
  8. Laws related to marriage, intimacy, breastfeeding, divorce and
    widowhood (2:221-242)

Each of these passages are worth of a detailed study. The section on patience is a very powerful one. Allah reminds us that He will definitely test us in this world with every possible type of test including fear, hunger, and loss of life and wealth. We need to be ready to face such tests, as they shape us into better people and force us to grow.

Allah reminds us as well that He is with those who are patient through these trials and such people will have a great reward in the Afterlife. This is the reward for patience (Sabr) which in Islam is not a passive quality. Sabr does not mean we sit back and absorb abuse. It means we patiently and constantly work towards solutions and higher goals, in spite of any setbacks and problems that come our way. This is how we obey the laws of Allah, with patience and consistency.

After listing all of the above laws which include all five pillars of Islam as well as most major areas of Fiqh, the Juz ends with yet another reminder of the importance of obeying the law.

When King Taloot (Saul) was appointed over Bani Israel, he faced a lot of rebelliousness from them and was left with a small group to fight the army of Goliath, but this army included Prophet David (peace be upon him) and were victorious despite their small numbers.

The lesson for us in this is that even if we are in the minority for obeying the Law of Allah, Allah can still grant us victory over His enemies, and we should never lose our steadfastness upon the truth, no matter how few in number we are.

“How often has a small group defeated a large army with the permission of Allah, and Allah is with those who are patient,” (2:249)

To continue learning the themes of the rest of the Quran, get the full ebook here. The ebook is currently on sale at half price for Ramadan, and comes with a bonus ebook. Access this full deal here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 1 comment
The Nature of This Worldly Life

The Nature of This Worldly Life

This article is an extract from my 2015 book on Self-Confidence. The book has been published under three different names over the past six years including Best Of Creation, Self-Confidence, and Self-Confidence: The Islamic Way. In light of current world events, I wanted to share this chapter for free due to its relevance to our times.

Many of us are afraid of this world. We don’t understand it and fear what it might bring tomorrow. This fear cripples us and makes us retreat into our own bubbles. We avoid taking risks, trying new things or going to new places out of fear of what could go wrong, thinking it is safer to stay at home and avoid the world.

But avoiding problems is not possible, even if you enclose yourself in a tiny bubble. Becoming confident enough to chase your goals requires coming to terms with the nature of this world.

There are few things about this world that we all need to embrace and understand in order to move forward.

The first is to understand the purpose of this world. In the previous chapter, we learned that Allah created us to worship Him. Now let us reflect on why He created this world.

This is summarized beautifully in Surah Al-Kahf in which Allah says;

“Definitely, I made whatever is on this earth beautiful to test which of them are best in their deeds, and I will make all of it into dry soil,”

Surah Al-Kahf 18:7-8

This verse summarizes four important qualities about this world all of which are relevant to this topic i.e. that this world is beautiful, a test, changing and temporary.

The Test of the Beauty of this world

There are many places in the Qur’an in which Allah uses the word beauty to describe this world, and it truly is beautiful. There are many types of beauty in this world, including pure beauty, deceptive beauty and tempting beauty.

Pure beauty refers to the Halal and beneficial things of this world like Halal wealth, children, a beautiful spouse, a beautiful home or nature in general. These are things which Allah created and made beautiful for the believers to enjoy. The test in these cases is to thank Allah for these gifts and not allow them to distract us from obeying Him.

Regarding this, Allah warns us:

Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard in His Cause , then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah does not guide a rebellious people.

Surah At-Tawba 10:24

All of the things listed in this verse are Halal and good things. Yet, loving any of them more than Allah and His Messenger is problematic as it corrupts our intentions and goals, and it diverts us from the purpose of life. In this way, the good things in our life are a test.

Deceptive beauty refers to the evils of this world that are disguised as beautiful. The modern marketing industry is famous for this. It packages all forms of sin as good and beautiful and this leads many people down the wrong path towards self-harm and destruction. The test here is to recognize the evil hidden underneath the layers of beautiful wrapping and to avoid it as much as possible. Do not fall for the devil’s deception, as it will lead you down a part to darkness.

Allah warns us about this and says:

And I have appointed for them companions (from among the devils) who made their past and future sins seem attractive.

Surah Al-Fussilat 41:25

The worldly life has been beautified for those who disbelieve, and they mock the believers. But those who believe will rise above them on the Day of Resurrection, and Allah provides for whom He wills without restrictions.

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:212

Tempting beauty are things of this world which are indeed beautiful, but their beauty might be so overpowering that people are willing to violate the laws of Allah to have it. The two most common scenarios are women and wealth. Men are tempted to have beautiful women, and many do not have the confidence to do it the right way by marrying them and treating them equally, so they go down the path of evil to get what they want.

Likewise, people desire wealth and many don’t have the patience and trust in Allah to earn it the Halal way, so they take Haram shortcuts like dealing with Riba (Interest); and they end up with cursed wealth devoid of any blessings.

Yes, this world is beautiful but in this is a test for mankind. We are to enjoy the pure beauty of this world moderately, and to be patient with the prohibited. This patience will lead to even greater and more beautiful things in Paradise.

Allah says about this:

For mankind, (Allah has) beautified a strong love and desire for women, children, heaps of gold and silver, fine branded horses, cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of the worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.

Say: Shall I inform you of something better than that? For those who fear Allah will be gardens in the presence of their Lord, beneath which rivers flow. They will dwell therein forever, and have purified spouses and Allah’s pleasure. And Allah is All-Seeing over His Servants.

Surah Aal-Imraan 3:14-15

The World is a Test

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives and fruits. So give good tidings to the patient.

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:155

It is not only the beauty of this world that tests and tempts us. Everything in this world is a test. Just as good things are a test of gratitude, difficulties too are a test from Allah. In order to build our confidence, we have to accept the world the way it is. The world is not perfect, just like we are not perfect.

The world has beauty but it also has difficulties. Difficulties are a fact of life that every human must face and deal with. Nobody can go through this world without facing some kind of difficulty at one point or another. Running away or hiding in your home will not chase away the tests of life, rather it will bring the tests into your home.

We must understand that this world is a testing ground and we cannot escape that. This means whether we go out and live life, or stay at home afraid, either way tests will come our way. So why stay at home then? There is so much to do in this world. So much good that we can do. So many lives that we can touch. So many ways in which we can make this world a better place.

Yes, there will be trials along the way. This is the nature of the world. Life goes through cycles, we will have good times and we will have bad times. Utilize the good times to maximize your efforts and push on through the bad times too as they too will end sooner or later. Reality is that we can’t change the way the world is, we can just change how we approach and deal with the world. Allah has blessed us all with great skills and talents, use those skills to help His Creation and make this world a better place. That is how we can be among those who are best in their deeds.

The Temporary Nature of this world

And do not call on another god with Allah. There is no god except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgement, and to Him you will be returned.

Surah Al-Qasas 28:88

Everyone upon the earth will perish, and there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honour. So which of the favours of your Lord would you deny?

Surah Ar-Rahman 55:26-28

This world will end, and our time in this world will probably end long before that. This is reality, and we must embrace it in order to stop fearing the unknown. Accepting that this world will end means accepting that it is constantly changing and that nothing we have will last forever.

Many people live frightened lives because they are afraid of change. The idea of anything in their life changing terrifies them and as a result, they are always anxious and disappointed because change is guaranteed to affect each and every one of us.

We change, our spouses change, our children change, our economies change, periods of peace and war interchange, presidents change, technology changes, careers and jobs change, nothing is guaranteed to remain in one constant state forever.

Change doesn’t have to be something bad. Change is what you make of it. In the 13th year of prophethood, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions were forced into exile and had to flee to Madinah, leaving behind their home town, families and possessions. This was a drastic change and one that could have been perceived very negatively.

Yet, the Prophet (peace be upon him) embraced this change as a part of Allah’s place for him, and looked for ways to make it a positive change. He saw it as an opportunity to build a Muslim community and with much effort, Madinah became the first Islamic State and his new home. It remained his home even after Makkah was conquered, and it remains the most beloved place to Muslims in the world, even today 1400 years later.

In this story, the situation of the Muslims changed many times. From being an oppressed minority, to being in exile, to migrating to a new land, to establishing an Islamic State, to going to war against the aggressors, to peace treaties and finally to victory and conquest. In these 10 years, the only thing that was constant was change. Yet each change was embraced as something positive that will lead to a greater good. As a result, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions accomplished more in two decades than many do in a lifetime.

Around a century later, another great figure had to embrace change when Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, the governor of Madinah, was removed from his position and forced to move to Damascus. Umar was very sad to leave the beloved city and move to a more materialistic location but he accepted it as Allah’s destiny for him and embraced the change.

Within a few years of moving the Damascus, the centre of the Caliphate at that time, Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz found himself embracing another change. He was declared the new Caliph on the order of his dying cousin, King Sulaiman Ibn Abdul Malik and became one of the greatest rulers the world has ever seen. Had he not embraced the change of moving to Damascus, he might not have become the Caliph.

History has proven many times that every time someone embraced a change that Allah sent into their lives, it led to amazing things that the person never imagined. This is why change is not something to be feared, it is simply something to be accepted as a part of life that everybody experiences.

For whatever is in your capacity to control, make sure the changes are positive. For whatever is outside your control, accept that Allah knows what is best for you and embrace the changes in your life as new opportunities.

Accepting the temporary nature of this world also makes us work for a higher purpose. We will all leave this world one day, so why do we make it our biggest concern?

What we should really be concerned with is our Afterlife. Yes, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the Halal things of this world but they should not distract us from our purpose.

Compared to Paradise, the things of this world are worthless. Whenever there is a clash between what we want in this world and pleasure of Allah, always choose the latter.

Focusing on the Afterlife also helps us get through difficult times. We understand that nothing in this world lasts forever.  Good times won’t last, enjoy them and be grateful to them. Bad times won’t last, push through them hoping to be rewarded in the Afterlife for your patience.

Focus on the Afterlife and don’t make the problems of this world your main focus. Enjoy the good that Allah sends you, and don’t forget to thank Him for it.

Pursue goals that will make this world a better place and that will count on your scale of good deeds on the Last Day. And take the bad days as they come as simply another test and opportunity for growth. After all, if we don’t have bad days, we wouldn’t appreciate the good days.

You Can Do It

Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, do not burden us with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.”

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:286

This is the promise of Allah and it should keep us strong during difficult times. Understand that if Allah has sent a specific test into your life, it is because you have the capabilities to deal with it and pass it.

Allah would not have given you that specific test unless you were the right person to deal with it and overcome it. Remind yourself of this verse every time you are in a jam. There is no test in your life that you don’t have the ability to pass, and every human has been given the capabilities to be successful in both worlds.

Reflecting on this verse should give you confidence in your ability to overcome your current predicament. Allah chose you for it, because you have what it takes to deal with it, even if you haven’t discovered that yet. This belief should empower us to dig down deep and do our best in every situation.

The Win/Win Formula

The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something good befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something harmful befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him

Saheeh Muslim 2999

This Hadith is very powerful in helping us embrace this world with all its flaws. As believers, we must look at everything that happens to us as something good. When things go our way, it is a gift from Allah and we should be grateful to Him for it, and this is good for us in both worlds.

When things don’t go our way, we must be patient, solution-focused and ready to learn some life lessons through the experience, and that too is good for us in both worlds.

This means whatever happens to us in life is good for us, so why fear living. Go out there and make every day count. Be the best you can be. Accomplish whatever you can and be ready to face any setbacks or trials along the way.

There is no reason to avoid our duties and goals out of fear. Doing so won’t hold back the tests but it will hold you back from accomplishing anything worthwhile.

Allah created this world to test us. We are tested with good and with difficulties too. Things are always changing and nothing in this world is constant or eternal. Embrace the nature of this world and you will live a happier life and be able to accomplish more. Do not fear trials, failure or death. These are all natural parts of our experience in this world and unavoidable. Live each day as if it is your last, but make your plans for doing good deeds being optimistic that you will live a long time. Even if you pass away before accomplishing all your goals, Allah will accept your noble intentions and might even use others to accomplish your goals for you.

A Word about Death

“Remember often the destroyer of pleasures,” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him”

Ibn Majah 4258

Fear of death holds many of us back from doing anything. We fear our own deaths and the deaths of our loved ones. This fear is good if it stops us from doing foolish things that risk our lives like driving recklessly and consuming intoxicants. However, too many of us use it as an excuse to hold ourselves or our families back from doing good deeds.

Death is inevitable. Everybody you know will leave this world one day, as will you. There is nothing we can do to change that. Most likely, everybody you know will not be on this earth in a hundred years’ time and an entirely different generation will populate this earth. Fearing death is not going to change that or stop it from happening. The fact is that every human experiences the death of loved ones multiple times in his/her lifetime, unless that person died at a young age.

As there is no escaping death, we have to embrace it as a part of life. Eventually, we all will leave this world and when our time is up, it doesn’t matter whether we are out trying to make this world a better place, or cowering at home, either way we will have to face reality.

Remember that nobody has control over when they die, but we do choose how we live, so live!

Don’t be dead inside while your body is alive. Live your life and do whatever you can to leave this world a better place than you found it. Live such a life that when death comes, you are pleased to meet your Lord and He is pleased to meet you. You can’t escape death but you can turn it into a beautiful transition from this world into somewhere better.

[To the righteous it will be said], “Oh soul that is at peace, Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], so enter among My [righteous] servants And enter My Paradise.”

Surah Al-Fajr 89:27-30

To read the full ebook, get your copy here or for the best value, grab our Self Help Starter Pack here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Self Confidence, 0 comments
“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