If Islam, the Quran, and Sunnah are so easy and simple, why is it that so much of our lives is at odds with it and their contents?

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In Surat al-Nahl, Allah Most High commands us to “ask the people of the message if you do not know” (Q16:43).

It is amazing how many people consider this verse appropriate for matters related to medicine, engineering, and shoe repair, but then reject its application to matters related to Islam and Islamic scholarship. Often they will defend this with claiming that Islam is supposed to be easy and simple.

If Islam, the Quran, and Sunnah are as easy and simple as they claim, why are so much of our lives at odds with it and their contents? And why is it that so many of the folks who claim its ease and simplicity and reject scholarship are also struggling with basic and evident personally-obligatory matters of the religion?

The focus of our struggle should be on removing excuses that prevent us from practice, not searching for excuses to remove us from it altogether.

Ramadan moonfighting & Shāfiʿīc calculations

As Ramaḍān nears, people have started to ask their annual questions about the status of calculations within the Shāfiʿī school. I do not like writing about this issue because the fiqh almost ends up playing second fiddle to the politics. This two parts of this article is based on two older writings.

The first part is from old article published on the defunct Shariʿah Perspectives” blog. I wrote it while I was working at Dār al-Iftā and it is intended for general audiences.

The second part is from an email. It concerns the status of calculations within the Shāfiʿī madhhab. It is intended for students of fiqh who read Arabic and are able to do their own additional research.

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Evident Memorandum: Sales & Other Transactions

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In addition to The Accessible Conspectus, I am also finishing up a commentary for Ibn Mulaqqin’s Shāfiʿī fiqh Memorandum. This commentary is tentatively titled The Evident Memorandum. Since people often find the conditions for sales somewhat perplexing, I figured that I would take the opportunity to show some of the evidence and reasoning behind the rulings given in the previous post. The text below is from The Evidence Memorandum. The book includes documentation for all of the hadiths and passages it cites. I have removed them here.


7 Sales And Other Transactions

A sale, linguistically, is exchanging property for property. Ibn al-Rufʿah defined it as exchanging one property that is subject to disposal for another property that that is subject to disposal, with an offer and an acceptance, in a manner that has been permitted for it to be done.

The foundation is Allah Most High saying, “…But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest [ribā]…,” [Q2:275] and similar verses, as well as the well-known verses coming in this chapter, and the consensus of the Ummah.

[Sales are] valid with an offer and acceptance,…

The requirement for the offer and acceptance are out of analogy to marriage. So it is not valid to exchange by just giving the specific price without a verbal offer and acceptance. This [type of exchange] is said to be acceptable in transactions where that is customary. Many scholars preferred this opinion (including al-Nawawī) since there is no authentic text establishing that a verbal phrase is required, thus making it necessary to go back to custom, just like for other phrases.

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Accessible Conspectus: Selling & Other Transactions

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This post is part of a series of posts aimed at making The Ultimate Conspectus accessible to readers who have never read fiqh before.


7 Selling And Other Transactions

Something to be aware of is that describing a transaction or contract as “permissible” indicates its validity. It does not necessarily indicate that everything related to the contract is lawful. This is in contrast to actions, where “permissible” indicates lawfulness.

7.1 Types of Sales

A sale, linguistically, is exchanging one property for another property. Its technical definition in fiqh is exchanging one property that is subject to disposal for another property that that is subject to disposal, with an offer and an acceptance, in a manner that has been permitted for it to be done. An exchange can involve items or services. For example, someone might sell a stick of gum for ten cents, or do laundry for someone else for a week in exchange for a book. In the first example we exchange a physical item for a physical item; in the second we exchange a service for a physical item.

The textual foundation for sales is from the Quran. Allah Most High says, “…But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest [ribā]…,” [Q2:275].

Throughout the rest of this book, there will be more emphasis on integrals. These integrals are the essential elements that must be present for an action, contract, or transaction to be valid. Each integral has conditions that must be fulfilled for the integral to be considered present. These integrals and their conditions are usually the very first things to look at whenever we have a real-world event and want to identify what it corresponds to in the Sacred Law, and its status. The integrals and conditions also help us focus on what features of a real-world event are legally significant.

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Comment: 13 Ridiculously Bizarre Fatwas Given by Islamic Scholars

Another faux fatwa anthology is making the rounds. This one comes from Parhlo. The article’s analysis and examples are severely flawed. The article’s analysis comes in its introduction.

Well, we can’t really comment on the thought process behind issuing these fatwas, but to a common mind they hardly make any sense. Being a Muslim I know how important Fatwas are in Islam, however in the past few years their importance have decreased, not because of changes in our religion but only because of some scholars have issued some pointless fatwas. This shows that they have very little or no knowledge of Islam or Muslims. Here are some Bizarre Fatwas issued by some Islamic clerics, which are nothing but false and are portraying a wrong image of Muslims…

It is interesting how the article laments the poor state of fatwas and blames Muslim scholars for this state, all while ignoring the role of non-scholars. The article declares that the fatwas were issued by people who lack scholarship and ignores how those fatwas issued by non-scholars ever even came to be known. A fatwa can only be issued by a scholar. Someone who has little or no knowledge of Islam or Muslim cannot be a scholar. So how can it be the fault of scholars when a non-scholar issues a non-fatwa, and people aware of its illegitimacy then spread it through various forms of media as an example of failed Islamic legal scholarship, where it is then spread even wider by the general public – including a large number of Muslims who denounce it as a legitimate example of illegitimate scholarship?

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Accessible Conspectus: Things that Invalidate the Fast

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This post is part of a series of posts aimed at making The Ultimate Conspectus accessible to readers who have never read fiqh before.


5.3 Things that Invalidate the Fast

The fast is invalidated if any of the following ten things occur.

The first three are anything intentionally reaching a body cavity; insertion of something into the anus, urethra or vagina. The fast is invalidated whenever a substance is introduced into the body through one of its openings and then reaches a body cavity. The natural openings are the mouth, the nostrils, the ears, the urethra, the vagina, and the anus. The body cavities are the brain, chest, abdomen, and head.

If something is somehow introduced into the body through another opening, it does not invalidate the fast.

The fast is not broken if the substance is introduced through the eyes or absorbed through the skin. It also is not broken if someone takes an injection or draws blood, and the location of the insertion is in the arm or leg. But it would break the fast if the location of the insertion was the abdomen or chest. (Yes: gynecological exams and pap smears do break the fast.)

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Accessible Conspectus: Fasting Ramadan

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This post is part of a series of posts aimed at making The Ultimate Conspectus accessible to readers who have never read fiqh before.


5 Fasting

Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam mentioned in the well-known hadith narrated by ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb (may Allah be pleased with them): the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Islam is based on five pillars: testifying that there is no deity except for Allah and that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, establishing prayer, offering zakāt, performing Ḥajj, and fasting Ramaḍān.”

The Arabic word for “fasting” is “sawm.” Its basic linguistic meaning is abstention. Its technical meaning in the books of fiqh is to restrain oneself from things that invalidate the fast while having a specific intention for doing so, for the entire duration of the daylight hours of a day that can be fasted, by a Muslim who is of sound mind and free from menstrual and post-natal bleeding. This chapter will go into the details of what was mentioned in this technical definition.

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