Articles of Faith New Muslims

Shari`ah (Islamic Law): The Whole Picture of Islam

By Abul A`la Mawdudi

Shari`ah Law

God has provided man with all the means and resources to make his natural faculties function and to achieve the fulfillment of his needs.

Our discussion of the fundamentals of Islam will remain incomplete if we do not cast a glance over the law of Islam, study its basic principles, and try to visualize the type of man and society which Islam wants to produce. Here we undertake a study of the principles of the Shari`ah (Islamic Law) so that our picture of Islam may become complete and we may be able to appreciate the superiority of the Islamic way of life.

Shari`ah… Its Nature and Purport

Man has been endowed with countless powers and faculties and providence has been very bountiful to him in this respect. He possesses intellect and wisdom, will and volition, faculties of sight, speech, taste, touch and hearing, powers of hand and feet, passions of love, fear, anger and so on. These faculties have been bestowed on him because they are indispensable to him.

His very life and success depend on the proper use of these powers for the fulfillment of his needs and requirements. These God-given powers are meant for his service and unless they are used in full measure life cannot become worth living.

God has also provided man with all those means and resources to make his natural faculties function and to achieve the fulfillment of his needs. The human body has been so made that it has become man’s greatest instrument in his struggle for the fulfillment of his life’s goal.

Then there is the world in which man lives. His environment and surroundings contain resources of every description: resources which he uses as a means for the achievement of his ends. Nature and all that belongs to it have been harnessed for him and he can make every conceivable use of them.

And there are other men of his own kind, so that they may co-operate with each other in the construction of a better and prosperous life.

These powers and resources have been conferred so that they may be used for the good of others. They have been created for your good and are not meant to harm and destroy you.

The proper use of these powers is that which makes them beneficial to you; and even if there be some harm, it must not exceed the unavoidable minimum. That alone is the proper utilization of these powers. Every other use which results in waste or destruction is wrong, unreasonable and unjustified.

For instance, if you do something that causes you harm or injury, that would be a mistake, pure and simple. If your actions harm others and make you a nuisance to them, that would be sheer folly and an utter misuse of God-given powers. If you waste resources, spoil them for nothing or destroy them that too is a gross mistake.

Such activities are flagrantly unreasonable, for it is human reason which suggests that destruction and injury must be avoided and the path of gain and profit be pursued. And if any harm be countenanced, it must be only in such cases where it is unavoidable and where it is bound to yield a greater benefit.

Any deviation from this is self-evidently wrong. Keeping this basic consideration in view, when we look at human beings, we find that there are two kinds of people: first, those who knowingly misuse their powers and resources and through this misuse waste the resources, injure their own vital interests, and cause harm to other people; and, second, those who are sincere and earnest but err because of ignorance.

Those who intentionally misuse their powers are wicked and evil and deserve to feel the full weight of the law. Those who err because of ignorance, need proper knowledge and guidance so that they see the Right Path and make the best use of their powers and resources. And the code of behavior, the Shari`ah – which God has revealed to man – meets this very need.

The Ultimate Goal

The Shari`ah stipulates the law of God and provides guidance for the regulation of life in the best interests of man. Its objective is to show the best way to man and provide him with the ways and means to fulfill his needs in the most successful and most beneficial way.

The law of God is out and out for your benefit. There is nothing in it which tends to waste your powers, or to suppress your natural needs and desires, or to kill your moral urges and emotions. It does not plead for asceticism. It does not say: abandon the world, give up all ease and comfort of life, leave your homes and wander about on plains and mountains and in jungles without bread or cloth, putting yourself to inconvenience and self-annihilation.

This viewpoint has no relevance to the law of Islam, a law that has been formulated by God Who has created this world for the benefit of mankind.

The Shari`ah has been revealed by that very God Who has harnessed everything for man. He would hardly want to ruin His creation. He has not given man any power that is useless or unnecessary, nor has He created anything in the heavens and the earth which may not be of service to man.

It is His explicit will that the universe – this grand workshop with its multifarious activities – should go on functioning smoothly and graciously so that man – the prize of creation – should make the best and most productive use of all his powers and resources, of everything that has been harnessed for him on earth and in the high heavens. He should use them in such a way that he and his fellow human beings may reap handsome prizes from them and should never, intentionally or unintentionally, be of any harm to God’s creation.

The Shari`ah is meant to guide the steps of man in this respect. It forbids all that is harmful to man, and allows or ordains all that is useful and beneficial to him.

The fundamental principle of the Law is that man has the right, and in some cases the bounden duty, to fulfill all his genuine needs and desires and make every conceivable effort to promote his interests and achieve success and happiness – but (and it is an important ‘but’) he should do all this in such a way that not only are the interests of other people not jeopardized and no harm is caused to their strivings towards the fulfillment of their rights and duties, but there should be all possible social cohesion, mutual assistance and co-operation among human beings in the achievement of their objectives.

In respect of those things in which good and evil, gain and loss are inextricably mixed up, the tenet of this law is to choose a little harm for the sake of greater benefit and sacrifice a little benefit, so avoiding a greater harm. This is the basic approach of the Shari`ah.


The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.


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Fatwa: Its Meaning and Characteristics

books of fiqh

Fatwa must be formulated in the light of the context of life, the environment, and the specific situation that justifies its being made.

To understand what a fatwa is, we should keep in mind that a fatwa is a part, an element, and, more precisely, a legal instrument, which must be understood in the light of the corpus of Islamic law and jurisprudence.

Fatwa (plural fatawa) means, literally, “legal decision,” “verdict,” or, following the definition of Ash-Shatibi, “A reply to a legal question given by an expert (mufti) in the form of words, action, or approval.”

Authenticity of Fatwa

A fatwa has two essential aspects: it must, first and above all, be founded on the sources and on the juridical inferences and extractions arrived at by the mujtahidin who practice ijtihad (personal reasoning) when the sources are not clear or explicit (that is, when they are zanni, the one who committed illegitimate sexual intercourse) or when there is no relevant text. It must also be formulated in the light of the context of life, the environment, and the specific situation that justifies its being made – and which is in fact its cause.

The place of the mujtahid and the mufti is of prime importance. As Ash-Shatibi said: “The mufti, within the community, plays the part of the prophet. Numerous evidences support his assertion. First there is the proof of hadith: ”Truly the scholars are the heirs of the prophets, and what one inherits from prophets is not money, but knowledge (`ilm).’ Second, he (the mufti) is the source of transmitting rulings (ahkam) in conformity with the words of the Prophet: ”Let the one among you who is witness transmit (that to which he is witness) to those who are absent” and ”Transmit from me, even if it is only one verse.“ If this is the case, it means that he (the mufti) stands in for the Prophet.

In fact, the mufti is a kind of legislator, for the Shari`ah that he conveys is either taken [insofar as it has already been stipulated] from the Lawgiver (by way of the Revelation and the Sunnah) or inferred or extracted from the sources. In the first case, he is simply a transmitter, while in the second he stands in for the Prophet in that he stipulates rulings.

To formulate judgments is the function of the legislator. So, if the function of the mujtahid is to formulate judgments on the basis of his opinion and efforts, it is possible to say that he is therefore a legislator who should be respected and followed: we should act according to the rulings he formulates and this is vicegerency (Khilafah) in its genuine implementation.”

Ash-Shatibi underlines the importance of the mujtahid who stands in for the Prophet in the Muslim community after the death of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Sources of Fatwa

In this way, the mujtahid or the mufti represents the continuity of knowledge (`ilm) guided by the two sources, so that it may be rightly applied throughout history. Ash-Shatibi made a distinction between clear and explicit evidence (that stipulated in the sources) and that which requires the exercise of deduction and inference and puts the mujtahid in the position of legislator (even though he must seek the guidance of God, the Supreme Legislator, and follow the example of the Prophet).

The distinction drawn by Ash-Shatibi has the great advantage of setting out the two different levels of fatwa: when questioned on legal issues, the mujtahid will sometimes find a clear answer in the Qur’an and the Sunnah because there is an explicit text. Then the fatwa consists of a quotation and a restatement of the authoritative proof.

If there is a text that is open to interpretation, or if there is no relevant text, the mufti must give a specific response in the light of both the objectives of the Shari`ah and the situation of the questioner. Ash-Shatibi underlines that the mufti really does play the role of vicegerent who must come up with a legal judgment for the one who calls on him.

The more the issue is related to an individual or a particular case, the more precise, clear, and specific it must be. Consequently, a fatwa is rarely transferable, because it is a legal judgment pronounced (in the light of the sources, of the maslaha (good/interest), and of the context) in response to a clear question arising from a precise context. In the field of law, this is in fact the exact meaning of “jurisprudence.”

Many questions have been raised in the course of history about the diversity of fatawa. If Islam is one, how could there be differing legal judgments on the same legal question? The ulama have unanimously affirmed that if geographical or historical contexts differ, it is no longer the same question, for it must be considered in the light of a new environment.

Thus, properly considered responses should naturally differ, as is shown by the example of Ash-Shafi`i, who modified some of his legal judgments after traveling from Baghdad to Cairo. So, even though Islam is one, the fatawa, with all their diversity, and sometimes contradiction, still remain Islamic and authoritative.

This kind of diversity was understood, accepted, and respected, while the problem of disagreement between scholars faced with an identical legal question has given rise to endless debates. Is this possible in the area of religious affairs, and if so, how can Islam be a unifying force for Muslims?

To be continued…


 The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s book “Western Muslims and

the Future of Islam” Oxford University Press (2004).

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Fatwa… Different Opinions and Authentic Sources (2/2)

Part 1

fiqh books

Guided by the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the Muslim scholars should do their best to discover the truth when the texts are not clear or simply do not exist.

Concerning the issue of authenticity of fatwa there are two essential points have been emphasized by the vast majority of scholars:

1- There is no divergence of opinion on the principles, the fundamentals (usul) of Islamic law. There is a consensus among the jurists on the fact that these principles constitute the essence, the frame of reference, and the benchmark of the juridical corpus of Islamic Law and fiqh (jurisprudence).

However, it is impossible to avoid differences of opinion on points related to secondary issues (furu`), for a legal judgment on these points is dependent on and influenced by many factors, such as the knowledge and understanding of the scholars and their ability to deduce and extrapolate judgments.

The natural diversity in their levels of competence inevitably gives rise to divergent interpretations and opinions. This even happened among the Companions at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and, according to the scholars, such divergences should be recognized and respected, within their limits, as based upon the fundamentals of Islam.

Fatwa Validity

2- A question naturally arises from this consensus: even if there are various “acceptable” legal opinions on one and the same problem (even a secondary problem), does this mean that all the fatawa have the same value; in other words, are they all correct?

If that were the case, it would lead to the conclusion that two divergent opinions could both be true at the same time, in the same place, and in respect of the same person, which is rationally unacceptable.

The majority of scholars, including the four principal imams of the Sunni schools of law, are of the view that only one of the divergent opinions pronounced on a precise question can be considered correct. This is indicated in the passage in the Qur’an that relates the story of Prophets David and Solomon, where it is clear that, although they had made judgments on the same case and although both of them had received the gift of judgment and knowledge, only Solomon’s opinion was correct:

We made it understood to Solomon. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:79)

This position is also confirmed by the hadith about the mujtahid’s (the one who formulates judgments on the basis of his opinion and efforts) reward – ”Truly the scholars are the heirs of the prophets, and what one inherits from prophets is not money, but knowledge (`ilm).’ – he will receive two rewards if he is right but only one if he is wrong, because his effort and sincere research will be taken into account by God.

One Truth

So, to accept that there may be a diversity of legal opinions on precise questions (formulated in the same context, at the same time, and for the same community or individual) does not in the least lead to the assumption that there are several “truths” and that all these opinions have the same value and correctness.

There is only ’one truth,’ which all the scholars should try to discover, and they will be rewarded for the effort they make toward this. As long as there is no indisputable proof applicable to the problem in question, each Muslim should, after consideration and analysis, follow the opinion whose evidence and worth seem to him the clearest and most convincing.

Two Sources

Guided by the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet, which are for Muslims the sources of truth, the Muslim scholars should do their best to discover the truth when the texts are not clear or simply do not exist.

In fact, the meaning and content of the delegation granted by God to humankind reaches its peak and is fulfilled when the scholars struggle constantly and tirelessly to arrive at the most correct judgment, or that which is closest to what is correct and true.

So these scholars, both mujtahids and muftis, must be determined, demanding, and confident in their own judgments, while remaining humble and calm to face and accept the fact that there will necessarily and inevitably be a plurality of opinions.

Imam Ash-Shafi`i aptly said, concerning the state of mind that should characterize the attitude of the scholars: “(As we see it) our opinion is right though it may turn out to be wrong, while we consider the opinion of our opponents to be wrong though it may turn out to be right.”


 The article is an excerpt from the author’s “Western Muslims and the Future of Islam” Oxford University Press (2004).

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Good and Evil in Islam: From Moral to Legal

dark sunset

It has been enjoined on Muslims by clear mandatory injunctions to refrain totally from everything that has been declared haram.

The Shari`ah shapes Islamic society in a way conducive to the unfettered growth of good, righteousness and truth in every sphere of human activity. At the same time it removes all the impediments along the path to goodness. And it attempts to eradicate corruption from its social scheme by prohibiting evil, by removing the causes of its appearance and growth, by closing the inlets through which it creeps into a society and by adopting deterrent measures to check its occurrence.

Ma`ruf (Good)

The Shari`ah classifies ma`ruf into three categories: the Mandatory (fard and wajib), the Recommendatory (matlub) and the Permissible (mubah).

The observance of the mandatory (ma`ruf) is obligatory on a Muslim society and the Shari`ah has given clear and binding directions about them. The recommendatory ma`ruf are those which the Shari`ah wants a Muslim society to observe and practice. Some of them have been very clearly demanded of us, while others have been recommended by implication and inference from the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Besides this, special arrangements have been made for the growth and encouragement of some of them in the plan of life enunciated by the Shari`ah. Others still have simply been recommended by the Shari`ah leaving it to the society or to its more virtuous elements to look to their promotion.

This leaves us with the permissible ma`ruf. Strictly speaking, according to the Shari`ah everything which has not been expressly prohibited by it is a Permissible ma`ruf (i.e., mubah). It is not at all necessary that an express permission should exist about it or that it should have been expressly left to our choice.

Consequently, the sphere of permissible ma’ruf is very wide so much so that except for the things specifically prohibited by the Shari`ah, everything is permissible for a Muslim. And this is exactly the sphere where we have been given freedom and where we can legislate according to our own discretion to suit the requirements of our age and conditions, of course in keeping with the general spirit of the Shari`ah.


The munkar (or the things prohibited in Islam) have been grouped into two categories: haram, i.e., those things which have been prohibited absolutely and kakruh, i.e., those things which have been disliked and discouraged. It has been enjoined on Muslims by clear mandatory injunctions to refrain totally from everything that has been declared haram.

As for the makruh (disliked) acts the Shari’ah signifies its dislike in some way or another, i.e., either expressly or by implication, giving an indication also as to the degree of such dislike. For example, there are some makruh bordering on haram, while others bear affinity with the acts which are permissible. Of course, their number is very large ranging between the two extremes of prohibitory and permissible actions. Moreover, in some cases, explicit measures have been prescribed by the Shari`ah for the prevention of makruh, while in others such arrangements have been left to the discretion of the society or of the individual.

The Shari`ah, thus, prescribes directives for the regulation of our individual as well as collective life. These directives touch such varied subjects as religious rituals, personal character, morals, habits, family relationships, social and economic affairs, administration, rights and duties of citizens, judicial system, laws of war and peace and international relations.

In short, it embraces all the various departments of human life. These directives reveal what is good and bad, what is beneficial and useful and what is injurious and harmful. What are the virtues and which are the evils for which we have to suppress and guard against.


The Shari`ah prescribes directives for the regulation of our individual as well as collective life.

All-embracing Way of Life

What is the sphere of our voluntary, untrammeled, personal and social action and what are its limits. And finally, what ways and means we can adopt in establishing such a dynamic order of society and what methods we should avoid.

The Shari`ah is a complete plan of life and an all-embracing social order; nothing superfluous, nothing lacking.

Another remarkable feature of the Shari`ah is that it is an organic whole. The entire plan of life propounded by Islam is animated by the same spirit. Hence, any arbitrary division of its plan is bound to harm the spirit as well as the structure of the Islamic order. In this respect, it might be compared to the human body which is an organic whole.

A leg pulled out of the body cannot be called one-eight or one-sixth man, because after its separation from the living body, the leg can no longer perform its human function. Nor can it be placed in the body of some other animal with any hope of making it human to the extent of that limb.

Likewise, we cannot form a correct opinion about the utility, efficiency and beauty of the hand, the eyes or the nose of a human being separately, without judging its place and function within the living body.

The same can be said in regard to the scheme of life envisaged by the Shari`ah. Islam signifies the entire scheme of life and not any isolated part or parts thereof. Consequently neither can it be appropriate to view the different part of the Shari`ah in isolation from one another and without regard to the whole, nor will it be of any use to take any part and bracket it with any other ”ism”.

The Shari’ah can function smoothly and can demonstrate its efficacy only if the entire system of life is practiced in accordance with it and not otherwise.


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “The Islamic Way of Life”. 

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Shura: The Meaning of Democracy in Islam

By Lamya Hamad 

Is Shura something known to Islam? Is it compatible with Islamic principles? What style of leadership does Islam encourage?

The onset of 2011 witnessed an unexpected wave of protests that swept through the Middle East. Citizens struggled to topple authoritarian and tyrannical governments that had trampled on their rights for decades.

The domino effect that ensued after the first protests in Tunis caught the world by surprise. The desire for democracy and justice were undoubtedly the driving forces behind this movement. Some countries in the region have already begun shaping their legislation in a way that reflects democratic values.

Although the process will take time, the expected outcome is a system that allows all citizens to actively participate in the development of their country’s legislation and government.

Islam & Democracy

There is no universally accepted and defining model for democracy, which leaves room for nations to mold and customize their governments in a way that mirrors democratic concepts in each nation’s cultural and religious contexts.

Democratic values have been present for thousands of years, embedded in cultural and religious practices that might have been lost to history. In Islam, there are many documented instances of active participation of the people with the leaders of their time. This began with the Prophet Muhhammad (peace be upon him) as he was directed by God to seek consultation from his followers and companions while making important decisions.

Consultation is an integral concept in Islamic leadership and is known as shura.

Modern Middle Eastern countries have been blind to this key concept in Islam, which ultimately protects governments from regressing into corruptive and totalitarian regimes because of the continuous and direct involvement of the people.

As Michael Hamilton Morgan writes in Lost History, “Shura was the tradition Muhammad valued, according to which decisions that affect the community are to be made in consultation with members of the community.

In fact, one chapter of the Qur’an is named Ash-Shura, referring to a verse that states that those close to God should conduct their affairs by due consultation with others: “and those who conduct their affairs with consultation among themselves.” (Ash-Shura 42:38)

Now, the Middle East has a chance to form new governments and modify constitutions. It is the perfect time to re-establish shura, a cornerstone teaching of Islam that was once inherently implemented in governance from the time of the Prophet (pbuh), and his close companions.

Shura in the Political Sphere

Shura is a crucial part of the Islamic political system. It allows common people to participate in the decision-making process. It helps create a society that engages actively with leaders.

Consultation is important in building a solid relationship between the leader and the people ensuring that the leader does not go astray or regress into an authoritarian government. God encouraged the Prophet to use shura:

Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for sustenance. (Ash_Shura 42:38)

There are several examples of the Prophet taking counsel from his companions and following their opinions.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) held many councils of war before going into battle. At one point, he believed that they should fight only if the enemy entered Madinah. However, his companions opined that they should go out and meet the army. He accepted the latter opinion even though they lost. Despite this, God revealed shortly afterwards a verse which stressed the importance of shura:

It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when you has taken a decision put your trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Aal `Imran 3:159)

In the next battle, the Muslims decided to stay put in Madinah. The Prophet again consulted his people regarding the best way to protect themselves against the enemy. Many suggestions came, including one which required the building of an extensive trench. The Prophet agreed to this option and actively participated in its construction. This time, they won.

The Prophet used both consultation as well as consensus when making decisions. However, the opinion of the majority was not always taken if it conflicted with the tenets of the faith or went against the overall benefit of the people.

At the same time, when the Prophet acted according to the commands of God, he did not heed to opposing viewpoints. For instance, when a seemingly disadvantageous treaty was signed with the Makkans, his people vehemently opposed it. However, the Prophet stuck to the decision and eventually his companions realized that the treaty worked in their favor.

This indicates a key principle in shura: it must not contradict or override the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, known as Sunnah.

The Qur’an and Sunnah combined represent a binding constitution for Muslims, much like the constitution of countries. Just as governments adhere to the constitution when passing new laws, the constitution being the superior document, a similar process is at work here.

The basic tenets of this divine constitution cannot be violated by anyone, not even leaders or popular movements. This means that the powerful cannot manipulate the system to their own advantage. Certain rules and principles must be upheld and cannot be overruled, such as, basic human rights like equality.

The Ethics of Leadership

The Prophet and his close companions all maintained strong moral ethics while in positions of authority. `Umar, the second Caliph, has particularly left a legacy of leadership which modern leaders can learn much from.

Upon assuming the role of Caliph, he said: “In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Book (the Qur’an), and will follow the examples set by the Prophet and Abu Bakr (the first Caliph). In this task, I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.”

Addressing the needs and concerns of the people was no doubt paramount in his reign and under the rule of other close companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In fact, `Umar was even keen on safeguarding the well-being of animals, he would say, “If a mule stumbled in Iraq, I would be afraid that Allah (God) would ask me, why did you not pave the road for it `Umar?”

As illustrated in “A History of Muslim Civilization” by Abiva and Durkee, `Umar “expected his leaders to live up to ethical standards.” The list below shows some of the criteria a leader should have according to `Umar:

1- No nepotism or hereditary succession.

2- The people should be able to reach the leader easily to voice any of their concerns or suggestions.

3- The ruler should seek counsel, accept criticism, and be willing to rectify his mistakes.

4- The army exists to protect the people of the nation, not protect the leader from the people.

The above examples of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and `Umar give us priceless models in governance. Not only was shura and consultation key in their rule, they also upheld high morals and ethics.

Every living entity was given importance, be it animal or human, which created an empowered society where the rights of its subjects were paramount and people were given the opportunity to thrive. These standards are especially relevant for our world today in our quest for democracy.



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Prophetic Traditions: Types & Authenticity


authentic hadith

The Islamic definition of infallibility does not necessarily include technical worldly matters that are not part of conveying the message.

Scholars of Islamic Law differentiate between two types of Prophetic actions and sayings: actions and sayings that are meant to be part of the Shari`ah (Islamic way and rules for life) and others that are only part of the Prophet’s life as a human, which are not always meant to be a law for every Muslim to follow. They call these two kinds of Prophetic tradition as-sunnah at-tashri`yyah (legislative tradition) and as-sunnah ghair at-tashri`yyah (non-legislative tradition). For example, Talha narrated the following:

“I was walking with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when he passed by some people at the tops of their palm trees. He asked, “What are they doing?” They answered, “Pollinating the male into the female.” He replied, “I do not think that this will be of benefit.” When they were told about what the Prophet said, they stopped what they were doing. Later, when the trees shed their fruits prematurely, the Prophet was told about that. He said, “If it is good for them they should do it. I was just speculating. So pardon me. But if I tell you something about God, then take it because I would never lie about God.” Another narrator said that the Prophet added, “You know your worldly affairs better than I.” (Muslim)

This hadith shows one such non-legislative judgment given by the Prophet, which he made to the best of his knowledge. The hadith even shows an error in this technical advice, which the Prophet and his Companions discovered later via human experience, rather than via divine revelation. I believe that the rationale behind this hadith is to show that it is not part of the Prophet’s mission to contribute to technology and other similar worldly affairs through the revelation. Rather, human empirical experience is meant to be the only means for these developments.

Regarding the error that happened concerning the palm trees, the word `ismah (protection) is mentioned in the Qur’an in the context of the Prophet being protected from people’s whims and Satan’s delusions. The protection of all prophets in the above sense is an Islamic belief, which is a precondition to trusting the prophets’ message and following their example. However, the Islamic definition of infallibility does not necessarily include technical worldly matters that are not part of conveying the message, as the above example shows.

Furthermore, if the tradition or hadith is of a legislative type, it is not always necessarily and literally meant for all Muslims. Some rulings are for rulers only, some are for judges only, and so on. The following is one example:

“Hind Bint `Utbah complained to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about the stinginess of Abu Sufian (her husband) and asked whether she was allowed to take from his money without his knowledge. So the Prophet said, “Take what you and your children normally need (without telling Abu Sufian).” (Al-Bukhari)

Scholars commented on this hadith that the Prophet was acting here as a judge rather than a prophet. In other words, he allowed Hind in her specific case to do that, but the hadith does not give every woman a right to take whatever she wants from her husband’s money without his knowledge, just for her own whim. So scholars maintain that this hadith is for judges to learn from when they make a similar judgment, but not for every Muslim.

Hadith Authenticity

Regarding the question about the possibility of error in the narrators’ accounts, it is true that there is a chance of error. That is why scholars differentiated between different levels of authenticity, concerning the discipline of knowledge of Prophetic Hadith, by setting precise and rigid criteria. The following are two of these levels – among others – that are related to that:

1- Hadith Mutawatir (Recurring, Most Famous)

These are narrations that are conveyed through a ‘large number of people who could not possibly agree to lie.’ The Qur’an and a certain number of Prophetic traditions fall under this category. The Qur’an, for example, was recited by thousands of people, and their recitations are the same. It is a logical conclusion that one can build firm beliefs and true obligations on this level of authenticity.

2-  Hadith Ahad (Individual, Single-chained Narrations)

These are narrations according to one or two narrators, and hence are less ‘confirmed’ than the first kind. Scholars judged that these kinds of narrations could teach us about halal and haram (the lawful and the forbidden), but could not be evidence of faith (`aqeedah) in their own right. This is because of the possibility of error in something that is narrated by only one or two people.

But a possibility of error in Companions’ narrations should not ‘discredit them completely’. There are levels of authenticity and there are many sources of error that do not necessarily ‘discredit’ a person. So if the person is trustworthy, we accept his or her individual account, but do not build matters of faith on it, unless it is confirmed by a number of other narrators or witnesses.

In addition, there are many hadiths that scholars reject because they were not up to the level of authenticity that implies any credibility. One example is when the narrator is known to be forgetful, ill-intentioned, or biased one way or another. That is why it is important to check the authenticity of a hadith before we take it.

In addition, scholars have also set specific criteria for narrators of hadith before they can be accepted as narrators. These criteria are related to the biography of the narrator, including his or her reputation and moral attitude.

Actually, hadith authenticity is an independent discipline of knowledge that has variable areas to discuss and study. This is not the place for that because this discipline is of a legal nature.



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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

How Do We Determine What Is Right and Wrong?

Religious Criterion

Islam came to secure the welfare of people. Therefore, something that brings about the realization of the general welfare and prevents harm is correct.

Do methodologically sound criteria exist for determining what is correct and what is in error? They certainly do. Those criteria are clear and precise, and we shall be discussing some of them.

One: The Religious Criterion

This criterion is established upon three sources:

1- The Qur’an

Allah says:

Lo! those who disbelieve in the Reminder when it comes unto them (are guilty), for lo! it is an unassailable Scripture. Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or from behind it. (It is) a revelation from the Wise, the Owner of Praise. (Fussilat 41:41-42)

The Qur’an is absolutely certain in its authenticity. This is a point upon which all Muslims unanimously agree.

As far as what we derive from it or its meanings, this depends on the specific passage and the manner of interpretation. Some verses convey meanings that are absolutely certain so that no alternative interpretation is tenable. Much of the Qur’an is of this nature, especially the texts that refer to the essentials of faith and the guiding principles upon which the edifice of Islam is built.

Some passages of the Qur’an indicate meanings that are conveyed with less certainty, and scholars differ as to their interpretation. One interpretation is given preference over another by considering the scholarly disagreement, the opinions of Arabic linguists, and commentaries of the Qur’an.

It is possible that some scholars will classify a certain passage as being absolutely certain in its indication of a given meaning while others consider the indication to be uncertain. However, this is rare, and when it occurs, the matter remains open to juristic discretion and opinion.

2- The Sunnah

Whatever is established to be authentically related from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), is clear in meaning, and is not countered by any other evidence, is something that a Muslim has no option but to accept.

The authenticity of some narrations from the Sunnah might be unquestionably certain to those who are specialists in the field of Hadith criticism, though that certainty may not be felt by a non-specialist. Those who are proficient in studying and cross-referencing the lines of transmission will be sure of the Hadith’s authenticity. On the other hand, a jurist or legal theorist – never mind the layman – who is not so skilled in Hadith studies will not be able to regard the narration with the same level of confidence.

Indeed, specialists of Hadith disagree with each other in their assessment of certain hadiths. This leads to disagreements among those who are certain of a hadith and are obliged to act upon the dictates of its textual evidence and those who do not regard the Hadith with such certainty or who do not regard it as authentic or who simply are unaware of it.

3- Consensus of the Muslims

What we are concerned with here is consensus that is well established where we are absolutely certain of unanimity of opinion. Nevertheless, we can see from looking at numerous examples that the opinion held by the majority of the people of knowledge is usually the correct one.

Two: The Criterion of Considering the General Welfare

Islam came to secure the welfare of people. Therefore, something that brings about the realization of the general welfare and prevents harm is correct. By contrast, something that results in harm while failing to further the general welfare is clearly wrong. When something furthers the general interest more than it causes harm, it is preferable. Whatever does more harm than good, by contrast, is generally to be rejected.

Al-Faysal ibn `Iyad, when commenting on Allah’s words “…which of you is best in deeds…” (AL-Mulk 67:2), discusses what it means for something to be described as “good”.

He explains that when the matter relates to acts of pure worship, good is defined as that which fulfills two criteria: It must be carried out sincerely and exclusively for Allah’s sake and it must be in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

When the matter relates to the worldly activities of our daily lives, or in matters wherein the law is silent, that which is good is defined as that which furthers the general welfare.

The scholars of Islamic jurisprudence have set forth principles to govern legal research into these matters. There is the principle of choosing the greater of two benefits and the principle of choosing the lesser of two evils. There is the principle that avoiding harm takes precedence over achieving a benefit when the benefit and harm are equal.

Otherwise, the overwhelming benefit is to be sought, even if achieving it brings about some lesser harm. Likewise, an overwhelming harm is to be avoided, even if it means sacrificing some lesser benefit. Matters need to be weighed justly.

The question that remains to be answered is: how do we recognize that which is a benefit, that which constitutes part of the general welfare?

When there is no evidence from the sacred texts on a matter, benefits are determined by employing reason, research, and drawing conclusions. A person who enjoys greater intellectual abilities, experience, education, and understanding of the intent of Islamic Law will be better equipped to correctly determine what is of greater benefit.

This question of the general welfare is extremely important, and deserves considerable research and discussion. In all aspects of life – economics, politics, society, Islamic work – we are faced with many problems, contradictions, and disagreements. Each party to these disagreements has its own arguments and evidence. Often none of the evidence related to an issue will be able to stand on its own. Sometimes, a person might rely on textual evidence that brings about confusion in those trying to follow the argument, while the real crux of the matter. This is the greatest aspect of Islamic Law that only the most erudite scholars have a mastery of. Allah says:

And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune. (Fussilat 41:35)

When we talk about the general welfare, we do not mean the interests of any individual, group, or faction, but the interests of everyone in society. Only if the issue at hand is individual in scope do individual interests come into play. Those who are referred to in such matters are “those among them who can search out the knowledge of it.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:83) They are the scholars of Islam and the scholars in the various fields of worldly knowledge, those who have the wisdom, the sagacity, and the intelligence to be qualified to make such determinations.

`Izz Ad-Din ibn `Abd As-Salam writes in his book on the general axioms of Islamic Law entitled ‘Qawa`id Al-Ahkam’:

As for questions of welfare related to matters of the world – what brings about such welfare and what spoils it – these questions are known by means of necessary knowledge, by experience, by way of custom, and by educated assessments. If anything still remains obscure, then evidence is sought out.

Whoever wishes to know what is appropriate, what is beneficial, what is harmful, what takes precedence and what is to be forgone for the sake of something else, he must deliberate on the matter with his mind under the assumption that it has not been addressed by Islamic Law, and then build his rulings upon it. He will find that the rulings he arrives at rarely differ, except in matters of pure worship, an area where we have not been given to discern specific benefits and harms. In his way, you can distinguish the good works from the bad.

When juristic matters are decided by a large number of scholars and experts working together, the results are better, more accurate, and less biased than when such matters are decided by a single individual working on his own. This is especially true in modern times, when the relationships between various interests are quite complex and inter-related, scientific advances have been considerable, and many matters require specialized knowledge. Working together is also more possible now than ever before, because of advances in communications.

We need to organizations devoted to the research of Islamic legal matters that Muslims scholars from all over the world can participate in. To the extent that these organizations operate independently and are free from political influence, they will be effective and balanced in their resolutions. Unfortunately, the prevailing situation in the Muslim world today is that each country has its own organizations that look into matters and study them in light not only their intrinsic natures, but also in how they relate to the interests of the political establishment.

The Personal Criterion

The individual, in numerous instances, is able to distinguish between right and wrong, to determine what is satisfactory and what is censurable. His heart tells him whether what he is doing is right or wrong.

This is what the Prophet meant when he said: “Appeal to your heart, and to your soul, for a verdict. Righteousness is what your soul will be at peace with and sin is what disquiets you and makes you feel hesitant – even if the people repeatedly tell you otherwise.” (Ahmad and Ad-Darimi)

A person sees what he should not be looking at and his own heart gives him a decision about it. This is because his heart can detect the ill-will, the vain desires, or the unfulfilled passions that his gaze incites.

This criterion is, by and large, restricted to purely personal matters involving the individual and his private relationship with his Lord when the question is one of piety and sinfulness. A person might find himself beset by hesitations or misgivings and have to explore his heart to arrive at the truth of the matter, a matter too subtle and intrinsically personal to ask others about.

These are some of the criteria by which we can determine what is right from what is in error.

Allah says most eloquently:

O ye who believe! if you fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), remove from you (all) evil (that may afflict) you, and forgive you: for Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded. (Al-Anfal 8:29)

He also says:

Oh, but the human being is a telling witness against himself, though he puts forth his excuses. (Al-Qiyamah 75:14, 15)

An honest soul is like a mirror that reflects the facts as they are.



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Divine Unity New Muslims

God Is Al-Mu’min: What Does It Mean?


Allah to Whom be ascribed all perfection and majesty knows his self, his name and everything he has got

No king would allow anyone from his pasture to be named after him although he is human, he eats, drinks, and sleeps as we do. He has a body, he gets thirsty, hungry, mad, sick and he dies.

There is no difference between him and any of his followers; nevertheless, his pride and dignity refuse to let anyone to be named after him. But, Allah, the Great and Almighty called us, after we had known Him and obeyed his order, “believers”, (mu’mineen). It is the plural form of the word “believer”, (mu’min), that is by Allah’s saying:

He is Allah, than Whom there is no other god, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be Allah from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him). (Al-Hashr 59:23)

But this name needs a moment of thinking, Allah (the Great and Almighty) is a believer, believer in what? We believe in Allah, his messenger, the Day of Judgment, but what does Allah (the Great and Almighty) believe in?

Provider of Safety

It was said “believer” (al-mu’min) is an agentive derived from the verb “to become safe”. The verb “to become safe” has two meanings; the first one is ‘believing’.

When the imam reads Surat Al-Fatihah (the 1st chapter of the Qur’an) and when he finishes, all the people in the mosque say “Amen” (Ameen), which means God, we believe what this imam said and we are with him, so the verb “to become safe” (amina) means believe on the one hand, and there is a verse which emphasizes this, Allah (the Great and Almighty) said:

They said: “O our father! We went racing with one another, and left Yusuf (Joseph) by our belongings and a wolf devoured him, but you will never believe us even when we speak the truth”. (Yusuf 12:17)

On the other hand it means ‘being safe’, Allah the Great and Almighty said:

(He) Who has fed them against hunger, and has made them safe from fear. (Quraish 106:4)

Allah’s name “the believer” (Al-Mu’min) is taken from believing or being safe! How do you understand this name with the first meaning?

The truth is that man may or may not understand his self. If he didn’t know his self and got involved in something beyond his level, he would have a great loss. We would say: ”If you had known what you have had, you wouldn’t have got involved”. He who does something beyond his level doesn’t know the essence of what he has or what his capabilities are. That person doesn’t know his self.

On the other side there is another who knows his self quite well, all his deeds are compatible with what he has. That example clarified some facts to you, the first meaning of “the believer” that Allah to Whom be ascribed all perfection and majesty knows his self, his name and everything he has got, that is the first meaning.


The second meaning: Allah the Great and Almighty believes His messengers. He sent Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a messenger, He believed him; that is He made people believe him through a miracle.

He sent Moses as a prophet and believed him; that is He made people believe him through a miracle. He sent Jesus as a messenger and gave him a miracle to make people believe him, so the second meaning is “believing”.

This means that Allah keeps His promises by His deeds, keeping Allah’s promises is a confirmation of His promises. He promised you the good life. If you have the good life, it means that He kept His promise. Keeping the promise is evidence to the truthfulness of His prophets.

That is He gives them the proofs that make people believe them. He gives the believers proofs. Dear brother, you read the Qur’an, what makes you cling to it and be attached to it? Because all the events you are living are confirmation of this Qur’an. If you buy and sell honestly, you will have great comfort and Allah will provide you with good income and draw people to you. If you are honest, Allah will lift your name among people.

So if you apply what you are asked to do, all the events come to confirm this promise or show you that this promise is true. It is one of the meanings of “the believer” that is; making His prophets as believers supported by miracles makes His Qur’an believable, that is if you believe in it and make good deeds, you will be granted a good life. What made you believe His words; this good life or the wretched life?

If you are rightly guided by Allah the Great and Almighty in all your aspects of life, you will see that all the events confirm what came in the Glorious Qur’an.

Therefore, Allah the Great and Almighty is a “believer”, that is He made his servants as believers, since all Allah’s deeds are confirmation of His promises and threats, Allah To Whom all be ascribed all perfection and majesty said:

Truly, Allah defends those who believe. Verily, Allah likes not any treacherous ingrate to Allah (those who disobey Allah but obey Satan). (Al-Hajj 22:38)

You must have felt in many incidents where Allah inspires someone you don’t know to defend you, when Allah (the Great and Almighty) says:

He (Allah) said: “Get you down (from Paradise to the earth, both of you, together, some of you are enemies to some others. Then if there comes to you guidance from Me then whoever follows My guidance he shall neither go astray, nor shall be distressed. (Ta-Ha 20:123)

You feel you are rightly guided, and have right vision, clear insight and your interpretation of events is right because you followed Allah’s order. Eventually, the events came as confirmation to what Allah said.



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New Muslims Worldview

World Water Day: The Islamic Perspective

As water has become a matter of concern for the modern world and its international organizations, such as the UN- officially designating a yearly World Water Day observed on 22 March, Islam was the first to place such importance on the matter.


Water in Islam in terms of importance and necessity is as old and deep-rooted as the religion itself.

Being the most important element of nature, and therefore the very basis for all life on Earth, water in Islam in terms of importance and necessity is as old and deep-rooted as the religion itself.

Islam is a comprehensive way of life based on the guidance of God. That’s why it came for the good of humanity – for man’s well-being and welfare in this life and in the hereafter, calling for every good and prohibiting every evil.

As a comprehensive way of life, Islam cares for environment and calls for protecting all its elements that keeps life’s balance. The following are some aspects of Islam’s concern for water as a critical element in protecting life.

1- Life-giving

There are tens of verses that talk about the importance and necessity of water as life-giving, and how important it is to protect and reserve this source of life on earth:

Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe? (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:30)

Allah has created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goes upon its belly and (a kind) that goes upon two legs and (a kind) that goes upon four. Allah creates what He will. (An-Nur 24:45)

It is He Who has created man from water: then He has established relationships of lineage and marriage. (Al-Furqan 25:54)

In another place in the Qur’an, God speaks of such importance differently:

And we send down from the sky water in measure, and We give it lodging in the earth, and lo! We are Able to withdraw it. (Al-Mu’minun 23:18)

Being sent “in measure” means, as God indicates, that water is a highly valuable and precious resource. So if it is not used efficiently, it is therefore in Allah’s power to “withdraw it”. About the blessings arising from water, God says:

Then We produce for you therewith gardens of date-palms and grapes, wherein is much fruit for you and whereof ye eat (Al-Mu’minun 23:19)

2- Islam Forbids Wastage

Islam is a moderate religion standing firmly against abuse and overuse of anything:

And waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters. (Al-A`raf 7:31)

And squander not in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the evil ones; and the evil one is to his Lord (himself) ungrateful. (Al-Israa’ 17:26-27)

Also, there are many hadiths that forbid the abuse of water as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) urged moderation and thriftiness in the use of water during ablution.

Upon seeing a man making ablution and using too much water, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “What is this waste?” The man said: “Is there waste in ablution also, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Yes, even if you were near a flowing river.” (Ibn Majah)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) manifested these words with action.

“Narrated `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used only one mudd (equals a handful of an average-sized man) of water for ablution and one sa’ (equivalent to 4 mudds) of water for his bath.” (Agreed upon)

3- Islam Prohibits Water Monopoly

Due to the essential role water plays in life, Islam prohibits monopoly or exclusive control of some people over water resources. Being a gift from God needed by people all, water should be freely available to all, and any Muslim who withholds and deprives others of it commits a sin.

Inciting believers to share the earth’s resources, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “All individuals share alike in three things: water, pasture and fire.” (Abu Dawud, Ahmad and Ibn Majah)

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said: “Don’t withhold excess water so as to prevent therewith the (growth of) additional herbage.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)


Being sent “in measure” means, as God indicates, that water is a highly valuable and precious resource.

4- Giving Water in Charity

Supplying water to those who don’t have easy access to it is an appreciated good deed in Islam. As we see in the following hadith, a drink of water is considered a charity by the Prophet.

Reported Ibn `Abbas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

Every kindly word is a charity; help rendered by a man to his brother is charity; a drink of water given to someone is charity; and the removal of harmful objects from the road is charity.” (Al-Bukhari, Ibn Hibban, and Al-Albani)

Thus, the simple deed of giving water to others is a way for a Muslim to get closer to God.

In another hadith the Prophet said: “Receiving your friend with a smile is sadaqah (charity), helping people load their animals is charity, and pouring some water in your neighbor’s bucket is also charity.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Not only for humans, even a drink of water given to an animal, a dog, is a charity in Islam:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, ‘This (dog) is suffering from the same problem as that of mine.’ So he (went down the well), filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for his (good) deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving (the) animals?” He replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate being.” (Al-Bukhari)

Abu Hurayrah reported Allah’s Messenger as saying:

“There was a dog moving around a well, which thirst would have killed. Suddenly a prostitute from Bani Isra’il happened to see it and she drew water in her shoe and made it drink, and she was pardoned because of this.” (Muslim)

5- Digging Wells

There are repeated encouragements by the Prophet for his followers to do what is good and helpful to others.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whosoever digs a well will receive reward for that from Allah on the Day of Judgment when anyone amongst jinn, men and birds drinks from it.” (Al- Bukhari and Muslim)

It is thanks to the Prophet’s exhortations that `Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) purchased the well of Rumah and endowed its water for public use:

“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “The one who would dig the well of Rumah will enter Paradise.” So, `Uthman dug it. (Al-Bukhari)

It is also considered a great act of “sadaqah jariyah” (continuous charity) to dig a well; to bring this critical source of life to those who have water supply problems, and don’t have easy access to it, like South Africa.

6- Combating Water Pollution

As it is the Muslim’s duty to protect and conserve Allah’s creation, preserving water and safeguarding its purity is no exception, particularly with the critical role in preserving life on earth in mind.

We must use water wisely and we have to save this resource and keep it clean and pure as much as possible. The Prophet for example warned against water pollution by forbidding urination in stagnant water.

Reported Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Avoid the three actions that bring people’s curses: defecating in water sources, on roads, and in the shade.” (Ibn Majah)

The Prophet even taught us not to leave food or drink exposed overnight, in order to be protected from pollution or harmful creatures:

“Cover the vessels and tie the waterskin, for there is a night in a year when pestilence descends, and it does not pass an uncovered vessel or an untied waterskin without some of that pestilence descending into it..” (Muslim)

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Hadith: The Second Fundamental Source of Guidance

By Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips 

The Prophet’s sayings and actions (the Hadith) were primarily based on revelation from Allah and, as such, must be considered a fundamental source of guidance second only to the Qur’an. Allah in the Qur’an said concerning the Prophet (peace be upon him):

Hadith The Second Fundamental Source of Guidance

It is largely due to the science of Hadith that the final message of Islam has been preserved in it is original purity for all times.

(Muhammad) does not speak from his desires; indeed, what he says is revelation. (An-Najm 53:3-4)

1- Revelation

Therefore, the Hadith represents a personal source of divine guidance which Allah granted His Prophet (peace be upon him) which was similar in its nature to the Qur’an itself. The Prophet reiterated this point in one of his recorded statements,

“Indeed, I was given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it.” (Abu Dawud)

2- Tafseer

The preservation of the Qur’an was not restricted to protecting its wording from change. Were that the case, its meanings could be manipulated according to human desires, while maintaining its wording.

However, Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of Qur’an to the Prophet himself. Allah states the following in the Qur’an regarding its interpretation:

And I revealed to you the Reminder (Qur’an) in order that you explain to the people what was revealed to them. (An-Nahl 16:44)

Therefore, if one is to understand the meanings of Qur’an, he or she must consider what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said or did regarding it. E.g. in the Qur’an, Allah instructs the believers to offer salah (formal prayers) and pay zakah (obligatory charity) in Surat Al-Baqarah:

And establish worship, pay the poor-due, and bow your heads with those who bow (in worship). (Al-Baqarah 2:43)

However, in order to obey these instructions correctly, one must study the methodology of the Prophet in this regard. Among his many clarifications concerning Salah and zakah, he instructed his followers saying “Pray as you saw me pray,” (Al-Bukhari) and he specified that 2.5% of surplus wealth, unused for a year, should be given as zakah.

There are a number of authentic hadiths in which the Prophet gave specific instructions concerning the items and quantities on which zakah was due, as well as the time it is due. Among them is the following narration from `Ali ibn Abi Talib:

`Ali ibn Abi Talib quoted Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying: “Whenever you possess 200 dirhams and a year passes on it, 5 dirhams is to be paid on it. You are not liable to pay anything until you possess 20 dinars and a year passes on it, in which case ½ a dinar is due. Whatever exceeds that will be counted likewise. And no zakah is payable on wealth until a year passes on it.” (Abu Dawud)

3- Laws

One of the primary duties of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to judge between people in their disputes. Since his judgments were all based on revelation, as stated earlier, they must be considered a primary source of principles by which judgments are carried out in an Islamic State. Allah also addressed this responsibility in the Qur’an saying:

O believers obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. If you dispute about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger. (An-Nisaa’ 4:59)

Thus, hadiths are essential for the smooth running of the law courts in an Islamic State.

4- Moral Ideal

Since the Prophet (peace be upon him) was guided by revelation in his personal life, his character and social interactions became prime examples of moral conduct for Muslims until the Last Day. Attention was drawn to this fact in the following Qur’anic verse:

Surely there is for all of you a good example (of conduct) in the way of Allah’s Messenger. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Consequently, the daily life of the Prophet as recorded in Hadith represents an ideal code of good conduct. In fact, when the Prophet’s wife,`A’ishah, was asked about his conduct, she replied, “His character was the Qur’an.” (Ahmad)

5- Preservation of Islam

The science of narration, collection and criticism of Hadith was unknown to the world prior to the era of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

In fact, it was due in part to the absence of such a reliable science that the messages of the former prophets became lost or distorted in the generations that followed them. Therefore, it may be said that it is largely due to the science of Hadith that the final message of Islam has been preserved in it is original purity for all times. This is alluded to in the Qur’anic verse:

Indeed, I have revealed the Reminder, I will, indeed, protect it. (Al-Hijr 15:9)


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Usool Al-Hadith”.

Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips was born in Jamaica, but grew up in Canada, where he accepted Islam in 1972. He completed a diploma in Arabic and a B.A. from the College of Islamic Disciplines (Usool Ad-Deen) at the Islamic University of Madinah in 1979. At the University of Riyadh, College of Education, he completed a M.A. in Islamic Theology in 1985, and in in 1994 at the University of Wales, the department of Islamic Studies he completed a Ph.D. in Islamic Theology.

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