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2017-08-01
August 1, 2017

 

RAMADĀN SPECIALS: New stock

 

Dopo tanta Nebbia a una a una si svelano le stelle

 

It is again that time of the year where price lists for modern consumerist Muslims blend alluring discounts and ascetic withdrawal, as dining tables devoid of daytime nourishment teem with delicacies at night.

 

Since our previous offering in 2013, the chef has left, the body has ached, but we have not sacrificed on quality yet.

 

 

HORS D’OEUVRE

 

We begin our selection with the Ghazali of the West, al-Hasan al-Yusi (d. 1102 AH), and his wonderful mélange “Al-Muhādarāt fī al-Adab wa al-Lughah”, more specifically the section thereof titled:

 

The bread loaf and the gold

 

It has been narrated that Allah’s Prophet ‘Īsā (Jesus), may Allah’s prayer of blessing and greeting of peace be upon our Prophet and upon him, went out along with one of his companions on a spiritual outing, during which hunger struck them. In the course of that roaming, they passed by a village, so Jesus said to his companion, ‘Go out in search of some food for both of us in this village.’ After saying that, Jesus stood up in prayer.

The man left and brought three loaves of bread. As he found Jesus busy, he ate one loaf. When Jesus, peace upon him, was through with his prayer, he asked the man, ‘Where is the third loaf?’, whereupon the man replied, ‘There were only two loaves.’

They departed from that village and eventually passed by some gazelles, so Jesus, peace upon him, called one gazelle among them, slaughtered it and ate from it. He then said to the gazelle, ‘Get up by the permission of Allah Who revives the dead.’ The gazelle came back to life forcefully, and the man exclaimed, ‘Glory to Allah!’. Jesus said: ‘By the One Who showed you this sign, who is the owner of the third loaf?’. ‘There were but two of them,’ the man said in reply.

They left the place and passed by a huge river. Jesus took his companion by the hand and walked with him over the water until they crossed onto the other shore. ‘Glory to Allah!’, the man said, so Jesus asked him, ‘By the One Who showed you this sign, who is the owner of the third loaf?’. ‘There were only two of them,’ the man replied.

They moved on, until they arrived at a village in ruins. Lo! There were three bricks of gold. ‘This is wealth,’ the man commented, so Jesus said, ‘One for me, one for you, and one for the owner of the third loaf.’ ‘I am the owner thereof,’ the man intervened, so Jesus said, ‘They are all yours,’ and he parted with him.

The man stayed where the gold was located, without anyone capable of transporting it for him. A group of three people passed by the spot, killed him, and took the golden bricks. Two of them said to the third one, ‘Go to the village and bring us some food.’ The two who lingered behind agreed on a plan to kill him upon his return. He came back with the food, which he had stuffed with poison, so that the other two could die and he could appropriate the whole wealth for himself. As he returned, they killed him, ate the food, and died in turn.

 

Jesus, peace upon him, passed by them as they were all lying lifeless around the wealth, and said, ‘Thus does this world act with its devotees,’ and left them behind.

 

 

 

PRIMO PIATTO

 

In his masterwork “Al-Muwatta’”, Imām Mālik makes use of a consistent lexicon specific to his person. One of the technical terms we encounter therein is “arā”, lit. “I see”, i.e. “I deem proper”, “I am of the view that”, “according to me”.

Linguistically, the word ra’y means inner belief.

Technically, when asked about the vocabulary employed in his book, he said: “What I deem proper (arā) is the opinion of a group of Imams before me”. In other words, when resorting to that term, he is taking by the view of learned Companions and Followers.

Other times, he builds on their roots to favour a certain view.

Generally, therefore, it is a term for lending preference to a position in a mas’alah over another (mustalah tarjīhī), whether there is a conflicting view or otherwise.

For instance, in the miscellaneous section on times of prayer, we come across the following:

“It has been related from Nāfi` that ‘Abdullāh b. ‘Umar felt into a swoon and lost consciousness, but did not make up the prayer thereafter. Mālik commented: ‘According to what we believe (fīmā narā), and Allah knows best, it was because the time for the prayer had elapsed. If, instead, someone comes back to his senses when there is still time for it, he should perform the prayer’.”

Note the Imām’s humility in adding, “Allahu A`lam”.

In this mas’alah, Mālik lent preference (rajjaha) to the stance of Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, regarding the person who loses consciousness, namely, that he does not make up any prayer missed when he was not conscious if the time for it has elapsed. In that respect, Ibn ‘Umar opposed ‘Ammār and ‘Imrān b. al-Husayn, whose counter-ruling was instead shared by Ibrāhīm an-Nakha`ī, Qatādah, al-Hakam, Hammād and Ishāq b. Rāhawayh, all of whom were contemporaries of his.

His phrase “[a]ccording to what we believe (fīmā narā)” denotes therefore a preferential choice between two conflicting views in a context calling for ijtihad.

Plentiful such examples of its use are scattered across the Muwatta’.

If a man finds that the people are leaving the musallā after performing the ‘Īd prayer, Mālik is of the view that he is not obliged to make up the prayer (lā yarā ‘alayhi salātan), whether in the musallā or at home, and that, if he prays it either in the musallā or at home, there is for him no harm in it (lam ara bi-dhālika ba’san); in other words, as stressed by az-Zurqānī in his Commentary on the Muwatta’, it is permissible, contrary to a group of savants who stated that it could not be prayed if missed.

Similarly, as for the report from ‘Abdullāh b. al-‘Abbās that the Messenger of Allah, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, joined zuhr and ‘asr, maghrib and ‘ishā’, other than on account of fear or on a journey. Mālik said: ‘I believe (arā) that it was on a rainy night.’

In this case, Mālik uses the expression to interpret and orientate the proof, given the existence of conflicting evidences on the issue, lending preference to the view that the joining was due to compelling rain.

 

Other times, the verbal forms of ra’y are employed as a means of elucidating the textual authority reported by Mālik.

 

 

A special branch of history deals with the “firsts” in many things. Great savants, such as as-Suyūtī and at-Tabarānī, have devoted books to this fascinating subject.

One of them is the brave Hanafi scholar from Damascus Muhammad b. ‘Abdillāh ash-Shiblī, who authored Mahāsin al-Wasā’il fī Ma`rifah al-Awā’il.

In it, he mentions that the first town built after the Flood was Thamānīn (“Eighty”). There were in fact eighty men, with their families, alongside Nūh in the Ark, according to Ibn ‘Abbās, and when he descended to the bottom of al-Jūdī he built a village, close to Mosul, and named it thus [Yāqūt al-Hamawī added that a plague later struck the locality, and all the eighty men died with the exception of Nūh and his offspring].

The first tree that was planted after the Flood was the olive tree, about which Allah said: «[A]nd a tree springing forth from Mount Sinai yielding oil and a seasoning to those who eat» (Sūrah al-Mu’minūn: 23).

h was the first Messenger sent to the people of the earth, as explicitly mentioned in the hadīth on intercession (“Go to Nūh, for he is the first Messenger Allah sent to the inhabitants of the earth”), although some sources have ascribed the first Messengership to Ādam or to Idrīs (Was the latter, said to be Nūh’s grandfather, a Messenger? Is he Ilyās?).

h was also the first to fast ‘Āshurā’ and to use the services of a hireling.

 

As for the first person to plant palm trees, he was Anūsh, son of Shīth and thus grandson of Ādam. The name Anūsh means the truthful one, and in Arabic it turns into Anas. He was the first to put doors on the Ka`bah, and the first one to sow seeds.

 

 

 

SECONDO PIATTO

 

No school of jurisprudence is a monolith where there is only one view on a mas’alah, not even the view selected by the Imām.

But what are the legal grounds on which the jurists of a madhhab differ inter se?

They might differ in their interpretation of textual authorities, on what is denoted by a command or a prohibition, on whether a generic wording has been specified, on the critical evaluation of a hadīth (its qualitative status), on the use of analogical reasoning, the presumption of continuity, or the blocking of probable means to evil, on whether consideration is paid to form on substance, to the immediate scenario or to the ultimate consequences, on what comparative weight should be accorded to conflicting evidence, etc.

Authors like ar-Rajrājī, in his work on the Mudawwanah, Manāhij at-Tahsīl, have given ample space to that aspect.

 

An example is the disagreement, internal to the madhhab, as to the ruling on recitation in the prayer of a sūrah that contains a prostration (sajdah at-tilāwah).

Ar-Rajrājī wrote:

“If that occurs during an obligatory prayer, does he recite that sūrah or not? What does he do if he is praying alone?

It varies depending on the states of the musalli. If he is part of a large congregation or in a prayer where recitation is done audibly, or is part of a small congregation in a prayer where recitation is done inaudibly, it is disliked for the imām to recite a sūrah containing a prostration. If he does recite the sūrah, he is recommended not to recite the āyah of prostration in it; if he nevertheless recites it, he goes into prostration and, if he is in a prayer where recitation is done inaudibly, he announces his recitation of an āyah of prostration, so that those who prayed behind him might know that he prostrated for that. Thus it has been mentioned by Abu’l-Hasan al-Lakhmī. In the Sahīhayn, we find on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that: “the Messenger of Allah, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, used to lead us in the zuhr prayer and make us hear sometimes the āyah he was reciting”.

If the congregation is small, and the prayer one where recitation is done audibly, or if an individual is praying alone, two different views have been propounded in the school:

·        The imām does not recite a sūrah containing a prostration, lest the persons behind him are confused about their prayer. That was Mālik’s position. The same is true of an individual praying on his own. He does not recite it. That is his statement in the Mudawwanah.  

·        It is permissible for a person to recite it, whether he is alone or an imām in a congregation. That is Mālik’s statement in the ‘Utbiyyah. It is also the view of ‘Abdu’l-Malik b. al-Mājishūn in Al-Wādihah.

 

What is the cause of the disagreement? The opposition of analogy to his, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, action.

It is in fact established from him, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, on the authority of Abū Hurayrah, that he said: “In «Iqra’ bismi Rabbika» (Sūrah al-‘Alaq: 1) there is a prostration I prostrated for behind Abu’l-Qāsim [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam]”; and that is something that can only occur during prayer, as elucidated by his other statement: “He [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam] used to recite in the Jum`ah prayer «Alif Lām Mīm – Tanzīl» (Sūrah as-Sajdah: 1) and «Hal atā ‘ala’l-insān» (Sūrah al-Insān: 1) in the Subh prayer”. There are also narrations from him, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, to the effect that he recited Sūrah al-Furqān in the Subh prayer, then dropped an āyah and asked, “Is Ubayy b. Ka`b in the mosque?”. Sūrah al-Furqān does include a prostration.

 

On the other hand, analogical reasoning dictates that he should not recite it, because, as an imām, he would throw the people behind him into confusion, whether in an audible or an inaudible prayer; and, as an individual performer, he would make himself confused, for that is a door opened to whispering if he has doubt about his prostration: was it done as part of a unit of prayer, because of the recitation of the āyah of prostration, or for forgetfulness in prayer?”. 

 

 

CONTORNO

 

There are exegeses of the Qur’ān – such as those of Ibn ‘Arafah or the Andalusian Ibn al-Faras – that are a treasure trove of application and orientation of root-principles (usūl al-fiqh).

By diving into them, our knowledge of both the Book and the bases of jurisprudence is enhanced.

Allah says in Sūrah al-Anbiyā’: 78-79: «And Dāwud and Sulaymān when they gave judgement about the field, when the people’s sheep strayed into it at night. We were Witness to their judgement. We gave Sulaymān understanding of it».

Ibn al-Faras commented on it in his Ahkām al-Qur’ān:

“A matter associated with the āyah is that of a judge switching – after his judicial pronouncement – to a different ijtihād of greater cogency than the original one. Dāwud, peace upon him, had in fact done exactly that in this novel case.

A juristic disagreement has emerged on this issue: Mutarrif and Ibn al-Mājishūn said that a judge was entitled to do that, so long as his term of office had not elapsed. That is the ostensible import of Mālik’s statement. Sahnūn and Ibn ‘Abdi’l-Hakam, instead, maintained that he was prohibited from doing that, so long as his initial decision coincided with a (valid) view in the school.

Ashhab said: If it is a case dealing with some monetary matter, he can reverse his earlier decision, not so if it deals with marriage, divorce or setting a slave free.

The proof in favour the first view is the āyah, and the reversal of the decision that issued forth from Dāwud.”

Ibn al-Faras, therefore, favoured the view that a judge could move from an ijtihād he initially ruled by to another, more cogent ijtihad, based on the āyah and the actoon of Dāwud, peace upon him.

 

***

 

Whereas neophytes know the fiqh through the specific derivative rulings, insiders are particularly concerned with mastering the arch-rules (qawā`id), which like common threads join the various stitches into a coherent and harmonious whole.

Like all the other primal works on jurisprudence, the Mudwwanah, being the record of Imām Mālik’s ijtihād, encompasses many recurring arch-rules.

One of them is:

What is legally non-existent: is it equated to what is actually non-existent? (Al-ma`dūm shar`an, hal huwa ka’l-ma`dūm haqīqatan?)”.

No legal effect flows from the thing that the Law has disallowed, if it is come across: it is like the thing that does not exist at all in the sensory world (e.g. a contract never concluded, a marriage never entered into, an ablution never performed, a murder never committed, a zakāt never discharged), and to which no legal consequences attach.

1.

We find in the Mudawwanah: I (= Sahnūn) asked: What do you say about the one who steals wine or pork from the people of the covenant (ahl adh-dhimmah) or from other than them?

He (= Ibn al-Qāsim) replied: Mālik said: The hand of a thief of wine or pork is not cut. He is ordered to pay back the value thereof if he stole it from a man covered by the covenant of protection (dhimmī) or by a pledge of non-belligerence.

 I (= Sahnūn) asked: What do you say if he steals an intoxicating drink made from fruits (nabīdh)? He (= Ibn al-Qāsim) replied: This is wine (khamr) according to Mālik”.

 

As it is (tantamount to) khamr, the hand of its thief is not amputated, exactly like the thief of wine as such and pork, since ownership thereof is legally non-existent; accordingly, it is as if the person it was “stolen” from never owned it, given that what is legally non-existent is equated to what is actually non-existent, hence no misappropriation could take place.

 

2.

We find in the Mudawwanah: Mālik said: If a man marries a woman who had been divorced thrice by her former husband, and has intercourse with her whilst she is menstruating, then separates from her (by divorce), she would not be lawful to her former husband.

Ibn al-Qāsim commented: She would not be fortified by the like of that. Likewise with a man who marries a woman in Ramadan and cohabits with her sexually in the daytime, or who marries her while he or she is in a state of ihrām and has intercourse with her then: in all those scenarios, she is not lawful to the former husband who had given her a triple divorce, and they are not mutually fortified by that. It is the same with every intercourse Allah has prohibited, such as, for instance, the intercourse of a man in i`tikāf.

 

From the text of the Mudawwanah, we notice that intercourse with the woman such a man marries whilst she is menstruating, or during daytime in Ramadan, or while he or she is in a state of ihram, all types of intercourse the Lawgiver, Mighty and Majestic is He, has forbidden and vetoed, is as if legally non-existent. As it does not render her lawful to the former husband who has given her a triple divorce, we infer that it is like what is actually non-existent, i.e. it is as if at source it never was.

In this mas’alah, as in the first one, what is legally non-existent is equal to what is actually non-existent.

 

3.

We find in the Mudawwanah: We asked Mālik about a man who marries a woman and stipulates to her that he is going to give preference to another wife of his, saying to her, ‘On this basis I marry you, and you have no right against me not sleeping with you.’

Mālik replied: There is no good in this marriage.

This condition might at most be introduced after a marriage has taken place upon fulfilment of its obligations: if he gives preference to other than her, he gives her the choice to stay with him or be divorced, in which case it would be permissible.

As for the one who stipulates such a condition in the marriage contract itself, there is no good in it.

I (= Sahnūn) asked: What if a marriage is concluded on that basis?

He (= Ibn al-Qāsim) said in reply: I would rescind it prior to intercourse; and if he has already consummated it, I would allow the marriage, strike out the condition as void, and grant her the right to spend her alternate night with him.

 

From the text of the Mudawwanah, we notice that, in spite of this condition being void and discarded in the eyes of the Law, i.e. legally non-existent, it nevertheless has a far-reaching effect on the contract that, devoid of any good, is rescinded prior to intercourse and upheld thereafter. It is not the same, therefore, as an actually non-existent condition.

Given such a legal effect, in this mas’alah, unlike the other two, what is legally non-existent is not equated to what is actually non-existent.

 

The Mālikiyyah, therefore, give different answers to our original question (What is legally non-existent: is it equated to what is actually non-existent?) in different contexts.

 

***

 

Another unifying tool of the fiqh consists in the kulliyyāt.

In Taqrīb al-Wusūl ilā ‘Ilm al-Usūl, Ibn Juzayy defined a kulliyyah as:

“What necessitates passing the same judgment on the specific units of its reality, as in Allah’s statement, may He be Exalted: «Everyone on it will pass away (Kullu man ‘alayhā fān» (Sūrah ar-Rahmān: 26); whereas al-Qarāfī described it thus in Al-‘Iqd al-Manzūm fī al-Khusūs wa al-‘Umūm: “Kulliyyah is an expression for ruling on each and every unit of that type until not a single unit is left”.

Here are some kulliyyāt deducible from Ibn Juzayy’s text Al-Qawānīn al-Fiqhiyyah:

-         Prayer is permissible in every ritually pure place;

-         All the actions of the prayer are obligations except for three: a) raising the hands; b) the middle sitting; c) turning to the right for the final greeting;

-         All the utterances of the prayer are other than obligations except for three: a) takbīrah al-ihrām; b) recitation of the Mother of the Book; c) the final greeting;

-         Everything that intentionally reaches the throat from the mouth is a fast-breaker that necessitates expiation (kaffārah);

-         Every marriage unanimously deemed prohibited is rescinded without (a need for) divorce;

-         Every marriage the prohibition of which is a bone of contention is rescinded by divorce;

 

-         Quantitative disparity is prohibited when exchanging every storable nourishment. 

 

 

 

DESSERT

 

Muhammad Sukhāl al-Majjājī is one of those appreciable Mohicans who graft their realistic look at contemporary issues onto the juristic structure of the classical madhāhib, the Mālikī school in his case.

In his Fatāwā collection, he deals with a miscellany of topics.

We selected three of them:

  • A Muslim’s performance of personal services to a kāfir (a sadly pervasive reality in the West);
  • The eviction of a tenant prior to the lapse of an annual lease [These two issues are structured as scholarly rebuttals of views expressed by Mufti Sādiq al-Gharyānī from Libya in his work Fatāwā al-Mu`āmalāt ash-Shā’i`ah];
  • The ruling on employment with a bank.

***

 

The Shaykh (al-Gharyānī) wrote:

“If a contract is concluded whereby a Muslim renders personal services to a kāfir, it is rescinded by operation of the law. After it has been in existence and given effect to, the hireling who has provided the services is entitled to the average fee paid to his like, since the contract is void (til).”

I (= al-Majjājī) commented:

“There is no point in reverting him to the average fee in this case. This lease of human services (ijārah), in fact, is vetoed neither due to a defect in the stipulated fee (ujrah) nor in the benefit extended to the lessee (manfa`ah) as such. It is in fact only vetoed because of a meaning extrinsic to the pillars of the contract, namely, the humiliation the kāfir inflicts on the Muslim by the latter serving him, together with the foreseeable risk that he will harm the Muslim, feed him prohibited substances, and prevent him from some obligations, such as the fast and the prayer.

The like of this is prohibited at source, i.e. to start with, and if it nevertheless occurs, the Muslim involved is sinful yet entitled to receive the agreed upon fee, inasmuch as it is a quid pro quo for a benefit essentially permissible, the provision of which is forbidden due to the contingent element of kufr.

Ibn Rushd (in Al-Bayān wa at-Tahsīl) divided the lease of a Muslim’s services to a kāfir into four categories in terms of the applicable ruling, listing the category we examined here as part of the forbidden variety, and adding: “This type of lease is rescinded if discovered; otherwise, if time elapses over it, it is given effect to and the lessor is entitled to his fee”.”

 

***

 

Concerning the person who rents a house for a full year, pays two months’ rental and then the landlord deems it fit to evict him therefrom before one year is completed, the Shaykh (al-Gharyānī) wrote:

“It is not permissible for him, since the Muslims are bound by their conditions. The lessee, if he leaves the house, is entitled to sue him for compensation for the usufruct (manfa`ah) he missed out on.”

I (= al-Majjājī) commented:

“This reply includes aspects in need of elucidation. Lease of property, as with the other varieties of lease, is in fact one of the binding contracts, in the sense that the parties are bound to comply with its contents, unless the stipulated benefit is prevented by a supervening impossibility of performance, in which event the contract is rescinded on that ground, e.g. the collapse of a building, the death of a riding animal, or a rented car turning into scrap.

As for the Shaykh’s statement “since the Muslims are bound by their conditions”, it lacks precision from a juristic viewpoint, since that is something we say about contractual clauses parties consensually agree upon, not about legally imported clauses necessitated by the contract. Unless the meaning of “conditions” in the sentence is the contents of the contract, i.e. the stipulation that the period of lease should be one year and the rental such-and-such.

Turning now to the quid pro quo the Shaykh made the lessee entitled to sue the landlord for, what is meant by it, I wonder? If he means returning to the lessee the rentals he paid for those months of tenancy he was prevented from enjoying by his early eviction, that is something obvious: once he has been deprived of the usufruct agreed upon, he is obligatorily entitled to be refunded any rental he might have paid in return for it. If, instead [and in our view that is the probable interpretation], he meant some other compensation for the detriment he suffered by being deprived of his right of occupancy, even though the lessor never received from him any rental beyond the first two months, that is something prescribed by secular systems of law yet impermissible in the Revealed Law. There is no doubt that the Shaykh does not mean this, but I wished to shed light on his intended import lest it be understood in this unsound manner; and Allah knows best.”

A healthy example of excellent good manners in refuting an error.

 

***

 

A certain person named Nabīl asked:

Q – “What is the judgment on employment at a usurious bank? I have yet to come across a satisfactorily realistic answer grounded on persuasive legal proof.

Please enlighten us, may Allah reward you abundantly”.

A – “The judgment on employment with a usurious bank is founded on the lawfulness or otherwise of the general activity carried out by the bank itself. In other words, if we conclude that the activity of banks is altogether lawful and permitted, there is no doubt that working for them follows incidentally on such lawfulness and permissibility; and if we reach the opposite conclusion, namely, that such an activity is generally prohibited, how could work in it be other than forbidden?

This is something that should be taken as an unarguable given. If, on the other hand, we reach the conclusion that its activity is a mixture of the lawful and the unlawful, work for an establishment of that kind is reprehensible (makrūh), and its reprehensibility is exacerbated by the proportion of unlawfulness in it; income generated from such a source would then be tainted accordingly.

I do not think that any trustworthy savant asserts that the activities of banks are generally lawful, unless we pay regard to the statements of those alleging that interest is lawful because the attribute of usury is negated in its respect. It is, however, an anomalous view that deviates from the established Prophetic practices, the supporting evidences of which are transparently flimsy.

Once the first possibility (the general lawfulness of a bank’s activities) is discarded the judgment can only move between the other two possibilities.

The one I support is the first one (the general unlawfulness of a bank’s activities), even though we might conclusively state that some of the transactions or undertakings a bank carries out are not prohibited in themselves. They are, however, a paltry portion compared to the essential transactions performed by it, namely, trading in debts. That being the case, the general judgment is ancillary to the judgment of the primary essence, and the incidental aspects (albeit not prohibited in themselves) are given the same judgment as the essence and the judgment specific to them, which would have been different had they been separated from the rest, is shelved aside.

Accordingly, it cannot be cogently affirmed about the like of transactions undertaken by usurious banks that they are a blend of the lawful and the prohibited, so that the judgment cannot be tilted towards either extreme and takes from both of them. This kind of judgment can only validly apply to a composite mixture of realities where the constituent elements of each of them stands independently. As for a mixture where the minority aspect is subordinate to the predominant one, the judgment attaches to the latter.

If the question was posed as to what clarifies that the essential transactions engaged in by the banks consist in trading with debts, we would reply that the matter is clarified by the banks’ self-definition itself. In the dictionary Al-Mu`jam al-Wasīt we read: “A bank is an institution resting on credit transactions of lending and borrowing”. As for Al-Mawsū`ah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Muyassarah, we find under the entry masraf or bank: “This word is generally used for institutions that specialize in lending and borrowing money”. Dr. Muhammad Zakī Shāfi`ī said in his book Muqaddimah fī an-Nuqūd wa al-Bunūk: “We may safely summarize the work of commercial banks in one phrase: Engagement in credit transactions or trading with debts”.

If the bulk of a bank’s work consists in lending and borrowing, or debt and credit, there is no doubt that it trades in debt. It in fact never lends money without charging interest, and never borrows money without paying interest. That is so in respect of term deposits. As for demand deposits, the client is not charged interest, because interest is inescapably linked to time, yet the bank benefits from such deposits in an unlawful manner, by relying upon them in order to find transactions involving interest-bearing loans [Besides levying a lot of ancillary charges].

Once we concede that, we can only conclude that the transactions of a usurious bank represent a prohibited activity altogether, since the permissible transactional units comprised by it are absorbed by the predominantly unlawful transactions, to which the judgment attaches.

Based on the foregoing, the worker in any department thereof, whether he drafts the contracts, receives and hands the financial instruments, is part of the accounting or administrative work, or acts as security guard, etc., is sinfully rebellious against Allah, inasmuch as by his work he assists in the unlawful payment or receipt of usury. The prohibition against his work is generally laid out in His statement, Mighty and Majestic is He: «Do not help each other to wrongdoing and enmity» (Sūrah al-Mā’idah: 2), as well as in the hadīth to the effect that the Messenger of Allah, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, cursed the devourer of usury, its payer, its scribe and its witnesses, saying: “They are the same.

As for the remuneration he receives in return for his work, it might be the fruit of undiluted unlawfulness, that being the prevailing scenario, as quid pro quo for a sinful activity, similarly to a man giving a coin to another man for the latter to assist him with theft or the consumption of liquor; or it might be a mixed fruit of the lawful and the unlawful, some of it a consideration for assisting in lawful engagements performed by the bank, similarly to a person who works in a liquor store, and whose salary is neither entirely lawful nor entirely unlawful, the unlawful part being commensurate with his involvement in the sale of liquor itself and the ratio thereof to his involvement in the sale of other than liquor, so that, were he to avoid selling liquor altogether, his salary would be fully lawful. This is, however, a far-fetched scenario in our case, since we clarified that it applies to the context where the lawful portion of the work is neatly distinct from the prohibited part, and it occasionally merges with it without being connected to it.

Allah knows best where correctness lies. To Him is the ultimate destination”.

 

To all of that we should add the creation of money ex nihilo, the lease of a fungible as if a non-fungible, and the monopolistic control that enables such institutions to dictate the socio-political, economic and cultural direction of a nation, nay, the totality of contemporary nations.

 

Elsewhere in the book, Muhammad Sukhāl al-Majjājī was asked by the said Nabīl as to whether the same judgment applied in the event of compelling necessity, and he replied that in reality we cannot imagine the doors of earnings so shut in the face of a Muslim that he cannot work other than in a bank; and that only in such a preposterously extreme scenario would compelling necessity, the real one, not the one abused by some people nowadays, would legally operate. 

 

 

CAFFÈ

 

We would have continued much longer, had the shouts of ‘Iftār’s ready’ not resonated in my study, too. Time for a quick sealing sip, then:

After the Qur’ān, the Moroccans would take an oath, in important matters, on Sahīh al-Bukhārī and the Shifā’ of al-Qādī ‘Iyād.

Concerning the latter, great kings (when rule was still a serious affair) vied with one another in paying homage to it.

The Marinid Sultan Abū ‘Inān (d. 752 AH) established a waqf specifically devoted to it, stipulating in the contract that it should be read every day and that a supplication be made on behalf of both the author and the trustor after completing each reading.

It is related that Sultan Abū ‘Inān (whose fame stretched to the Hijāz and ‘Irāq, due also to his intense love for the Prophet’s descendants, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam), was once seen in a dream. On being asked what Allah had done to him in the Hereafter, he replied, ‘He forgave me because of the Shifā’’, may Allah have mercy on him.

In At-Tuhfah al-Qādiriyyah, we find in the handwriting of Imām ‘Alī b. al-Qāsim al-Batyawī that it was repeatedly reported orally from the savants of Fez that they said: One of the virtuous people of Fez saw in a dream Sultan Abū ‘Inān al-Marīnī in a pleasant state. ‘Why so?, he asked him, and the Sultan replied, ‘Due to my establishing a waqf for reading Ash-Shifā’ of Iyād in the Jum`ah mosques of Fez.’

When the Moroccan Sultan Abur-Rabī` Sulaymān b. Muhammad (1180-1238 AH) passed away, he was buried in the mausoleum of Mawlānā ‘Alī the Sharīf in Marrakesh, opposite the grave of al-Qādī ‘Iyād, because of his deep love for him and for his work he would never abandon day and night.

Again in At-Tuhfah, it is mentioned that the Ayyub Sultan an-Nāsirī, the ruler of Jerusalem, used to spend on himself extravagantly and immoderately. He lamented that fact to one of the virtuous people, who guided him to the Shifā’. Since then, he would copy it down, read it incessantly, and set up in his residence a person reading it out to him for a salary. His state then changed, he triumphed over his enemies and his kingdom expanded.

As for the Ottoman rulers, Ash-Shifā’ was one of the most important works they would donate to their libraries, so much so that throughout the regions they administered, north and south, Hijāz included, the public and private libraries abounded in priceless copies of the book written in the finest paper and stuffed with precious gems.

 

May Allah reward its author, and the authors of Dalā’il al-Khayrāt and Al-Burdah, and may he join us in the Garden with them and with their master and inspirer, Sayyidunā Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam. 



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