Letters to the Editor
Judging by Laws other than Allah’s
Q: Allah says:
1. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers. (Al Qur’an 5:44)
2. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers. (Al Quran 5:45)
3. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed; such are evil-livers. (Al Quran 5:47)
In this backdrop if a person acts as a judge or a staff member in a court in a country in which Man-made law is applied, what would be its impact upon the person who decides a case in accordance with the law of that country?
Ibn Taymiyyah has written a short book on Usul al-Tafsir (Qur’anic Commentary Rules). He writes therein that whoever interpreted the Qur’an in the light of his own reason, and arrived at a correct opinion, he still committed a wrong. That is because he broke a rule, viz.the Qur’an cannot be interpreted with the help of one’s own reason. He went on to offer many examples, (starting with Abu Bakr, and ending with Tabe`iyyun), of those who refused to say anything about a Qur’anic verse, following an opinion of their own.
But, Tafsir, i.e. interpretation of the Qur’an, has been taken up, in our times, by those who were inspired by political, social or other ideas, and who, in the strict sense, were not qualified to bring out a work of Tafsir, without warning their readers that they could, if they so wished, read their work, and, perhaps draw some benefits, but should not rely on it for accurate meaning, for which, they must refer to the Qur’an alone in Arabic, helped on by a front-lineTafaseerwork – again in Arabic. Without that note of warning, right from the author himself, his followers, obedient servants, lovers and worshippers, fell into the error (some of them– poor souls – judged by the number of reprints!), that their master wrote the last word in Tafsir, some extending it to the entire body of Islamic religion.
In some instances, these commentators, having not been trained properly in a religious seminary, claimed that they understood the Qur’an better than ancient commentators. They missed to note that the classical commentators simply reported the statements of renowned earliest scholars of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This kind of claim, overtly or covertly made, should have made the religiously trained scholars flee the stadium. That happened, but even after their exit, the stadium remained, to this day, houseful.
Since a minuteadulteration renders a pot of milk impure, the scholars who said that the lorry-filled milk, seemed to be of an unhappy tinge, were accused as prejudiced, ignorant of the demands of modern times, and, in some cases, outright aligned with Batil.
A Muslim, he who has truly surrendered himself, including his intellect, sees with Allah’s Noor, but those who hide a little self-conceit in their hearts, look at the affairs by their intellect alone. The two derive different meanings. Such aberrants have been there in the Ummah, right from the start. The first party that arose in Islam, consisting of this nature of men, were the Khawarij. They argued with the help of the verses of your quote, to declare believers as unbelievers, sticking the labels of Kufr, Zulm and Fisq on little pretext, to Muslims innocent of such crimes. Basing their argument on these three verses, the Khawarij argued that, by implication, someone who commits a major sin (in other words, afasiq) is an unbeliever.They also claimed that nobody understood the Qur’an better than they. In fact, they understood the Qur’an, they claimed, better than `Ali ibn abiTalib, and were so sure of themselves that they merrily fought him!
In today’s society, you will discover people carrying flags, somewhat of the same color, although they keep them – when in public – unfurled.
Whenever the `Ulama see these tendencies, they immediately warn the public, both inside and outside the stadium, for, they fear that if they do not do that, they will be held by their forelocks on the Day when neither wealth nor offspring would be of any avail.
This is the background reason why incorrect interpretations of the three verses of your quote have been floating around.
To quote one of the modern commentators with reference to verses of your mention: “Here three judgements are issued against those who do not judge in accordance with the Law revealed by God. The first is that they are kafir (unbelievers); the second, that they are zalim (wrong-doers); and the third, that they are fasiq (transgressors).”
There are several problems with the above statement; but we shall ignore them for the moment.
To proceed further on the line, the said commentator further writes, “Some commentators have attempted to restrict the application of these verses to the People of the Book alone. The verses, however, hardly lend themselves to such a restrictive application.”
Note the use of words, “attempted.” This is an incorrect word to use, in fact, a calumny. Commentators of the past,Ibn Jarir, Qurtubi, Suyuti, Ibn Kathir, Alusi, etc.did not “attempt” this or that. They had no agenda. They merely brought to light facts as they came from the Salaf, who took them from the Prophet. It is the commentator in question who “attempted”(in this and in many other issues), to give a new meaning.He achieved the following: Established his own superiority; belittled authorities; and cut his followers from the heritage of past renowned scholars.
Interestingly, while explaining the three verses, the commentator in question completely ignored the statements of Companions like Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Bara’ b. `Aazib, and of the Tabe`iyyun such as: Hasan al-Busri, Abu Salih, `Ikrimah, Dahhak, Qatadah and Abu Mijlaz. But he picked up from the same pages of the Tafsir he might have been referring, a comment of Hudhayfah, which, at best, is vague, as against the clear-cut statements of the above authorities.
Now, when someone ignores to even mention the names of authorities whose opinions are on the same pages, in bold letters, but picks up – selectively – a vague statement of a Companion, to imply that at least one Companion was with him, although, the Companion was not saying any such thing, then, is he being upright? Should the `Ulama flee from the stadium or not?
Anyhow,Qurtubi, who was a thorough-going scholar, Mufassir, Muhaddith, Faqeeh,Arabic language expert, Sufi, and a Supreme Court Judge in Spain, pointed out that a report of Bara’ b. `Aazib (a Companion), as contained in SahihMuslim, leads us to believe that the three verses: 1. ‘And whoso judges not by what Allah has revealed, such, they are the unbelievers;‘ 2. ‘And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such, they are the transgressors;‘ and, 3. ‘And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such, they are the corrupt (ones),’ have unbelievers as their subject.
Qurtubi also notes that a number of earliest scholars such as, Ibn Mas`ud, Hasan al-Busri, Abu Salih, `Ikrimah, Dahhak, Qatadah and Abu Mijlaz have said that whoever did not judge by what Allah has revealed, (in clear-cut terms), believing another set of laws as better, becomes an unbeliever.
Thus, with the condition of “disbelief in Allah’s laws,” the verses have restrictive application. In general terms, they are applicable to unbelievers. The ahl al-Sunnah have maintained that, although verse 44 is general in meaning, it is specifically applicable to the act of the heart, so that whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed “out of disbelief in it,” is an unbeliever.
In fact, when Abu Mijlaz(a Tabe`i) refused to say that those rulers of his times (who did not apply all the Shari`ah laws) were unbelievers, his interlocutors accused him of being fearful of the authorities. But, he remained on his opinion that such rulers were sinning if they did not live by a part of the Islamic Shari`ah, and could not be declared Kafir,but could be declared unbelievers on that account. He told them: “These verses were revealed censuring the Jews and Christians.”
When Ibn `Abbas was asked about the issue, he replied thatif someone does not judge by what Allah has revealed,despite acknowledging its legitimacy, he is a disbeliever “in it,” but not a disbeliever in Allah, His Prophets, in the angels and so on.(That’s a statement as good as pearls). Ibn `Abbas also maintained that whoever argued against what Allah has revealed (Jahada), is a Kafir, while he who admits that it is the commandment of Allah, yet does not judge by it, is a ZalimorFasiq.
Q.And if the Muslims stop working as judges in non-Muslim countries, would not it be detrimental to the interests of the Muslims? So what should Muslims do under such circumstances?
First and foremost, the Shari`ah has to be understood accurately and then applied meticulously. If a particular rule of obligatory nature happens to be detrimental to the interests of the Muslims, either individuals or community, then the Shari`ah itself should be consulted whether it allows for any alternative. If it does not, then, Muslims themselves should change their course. In short, the Shari`ah is supreme, and detrimental consequences are secondary.
At this point, let us understand the Law. Claiming to believe, but refusal (note the word) to apply, Shar`ee Laws, despite knowing what they are, on grounds that another set of laws (no matter of what origin) is better, is Kufr and he who judgedin this manner is aKafir if he did not repent. However, he is not a Kafir in the sense in which a stone-worshiper is aKafir, but commits Kufr of a lower order, in the words of Ibn `Abbas, “Kufr, doona al-Kufr.”That is, the opinion of Ibn `Abbas was that the three words, Kufr, Zulm, and Fisqare not in the literal sense, but rather, in figurative sense. They have been employed, as Rashid Rida explained, to emphasize on the seriousness of the crime.
To clarify further, laws– roughly, and ignoring state-functioning laws – are of two kinds: personal and penal. Most non-Muslim countries recognize Muslim Personal Laws as valid; so there should be no problem in pronouncing judgments according to them, even in non-Muslim states. If a state fiddles with these laws, a Muslim should not work inits judiciary. If the state disallows Muslims to follow their Personal law, they should quit the land: it has become Dar al-Harb. If they cannot quit the land, they should press on the government and get its laws altered. This is the opinion of Rashid Rida.
As for penal law, from Islamic point of view they can be – once again, roughly –divided into two kinds: Hudud and Ta`zeeraat (capital and non-capital punishments). Most non-Muslim states do not accept these laws. So, what should be the attitude of a Muslim who works in the judiciary? Rashid Rida took up the issue and wrote that,as far as Hudud laws are concerned (theft, robbery, adultery), there is no difference in opinion among the Muslim jurists that they cannot be enforced in Dar al-Kufr. Back at the time of the great scholars such as `Umar, Abu Darda’, Hudhayfah, Imam Abu Hanifah etc., this was the opinion that prevailed. He quotes Ibn al-Qayyim as having stated, in his A`lam al-Mawqi`in, that such was also the opinion of Imam Ahmad, Ishaq b. Rahwayh, Awza`i and others. So, even if a Muslim – working as a Judge – wished to enforce the Hudud, on none but the Muslims, the Shari`ah disallows him to do so. So, the question of working or not in the judiciary in a non-Muslim country does not arise at all.
As for Ta`zirat punishments, well, Islam has left their extent and kind, to the ruling authorities. For example, the punishment for drinking wine is 80 lashes. But, if the ruling authorities decide that, in some cases, the number can be decreased or increased, they could. Thus, Rashid Rida states, there should be no harm in accepting judicial posts, so long as a Muslim does not enforce a law which is harmful to the Muslims of the state. Otherwise, he might. Rashid Rida’s personal adviceis that, in Muslim-minority countries, avoidance of involvement in state machinery is not the best course for Muslims. (Tafsir Al-Manar, al-Ma’idah,ayah 47)
Nevertheless, according to this writer, it is suggestible that this last piece of Rashid Rida’s opinion be further explored by the Fuqaha’for fuller details.
Every Pharaoh has a Moses
Q: I am an ardent reader of your magazine and have benefitted from it immensely. I have to admit that this magazine has played a very vital role in shaping up my personality and how I dealt with, and viewed, the Qur’an, Hadith, deen and duniya. I pray earnestly that Allah (swt) protect you from all kinds of evil. Ameen!
I need your opinion and guidance on the following matter. What I do after that, is my own responsibility and you are absolved of error if any (Insha Allah, there will not be any)
I work for an outsourced facility in India, of an American multi-billion dollar company, that is not engaged in arms, banking, entertainment, gambling sectors. It is one of leading companies in the US today and has a fantastic Global presence, Masha Allah. I am truly impressed by the code of conduct it enforces on its employees and is very strict around the dress code, harassment-related issues, work ethics, safeguarding of personal interests, discrimination based on race, religion and ethnicity etc.
I have full flexibility to practice my religion without any restrictions and that is what I love most about it. The company also doesn’t declare any political affiliations publicly and I have not known on my own if they have any undeclared political associations in US.
However, it has a program that it supports US war veterans with some sort of concessions/additional benefits and allows work flexibility to employees who are qualified and want to serve the US Army, which is a kind of employee-retention policy.
I hold a good position and earn handsome salary, Alhamdulillah. When I look around, I am the only Muslim holding such a position, at least in my department. And I thank Allah for letting me reach the status where I am. However, I have always had a question within me that bothered me…That I am working for an American firm, i.e., a company from a country that is actively engaged in looting and destroying Muslim countries on false pretexts.
A country that is supporting the apartheid in Palestine, supports all clandestine Zionist activities and does everything that harms the Muslims and benefits the Israelis. A country that has killed non-combatants, innocent citizens and still continues to do so where, in the first place, it should not be combating anyone. And I have always justified and answered myself, “Hey, my company isn’t doing all this; it is the country, the regime, that’s evil.”
Lately, the Syrian revolution, recent events there and the events in Egypt, I would say, have shaken me very much. I am feeling so ashamed of myself because I am associated with US of A, even if it is indirectly.
So I am reaching out to you as a fellow brother in Islam to help me with an advice/ suggestion because I don’t know if my continuation in the job is like being in complicity of what the crimes US of A is doing. With Allah’s help, I may get an answer, Insha Allah. May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings and show us the light, the true path and the resolve to take that path! Ameen!
First of all, we do not like your usage of the word,“Ma Sha’ Allah,” in reference to a worldly achievement.The Prophet has said, “This world is cursed, and cursed all that it contain, except for Allah’s dhikr, and what He approves of (of the good deeds), and (except for) the man of knowledge, and he seeking knowledge.” (Tirmidhi reported and declared it Hasan Ghareeb, but Munawi added in Fayd al-Qadeer that it has a trustworthy chain).
Wealth and the system that creates it in our times do not deserve to be attributed to Allah’s blessing (swt).
As regards the principles and policies of the company you work for, they are appreciable. But, one may not be carried away by them. They are not there to serve the people. They are in practise because experience teaches that they are extremely useful towards, firstly, attracting the most talented, and, secondly, full exploitation of the employees. Once you are not useful to them, they will check you out without pity and without remorse.
Nonetheless, it is preferable to be working for such an organized company as againstsome of those in India which look first at religion and caste, and cast out Muslims and Harijans, before looking into their CVs. Further, as against such organizations, the kind of organization you work for, appreciates the input of each employee and rewards in equitable terms for their efforts, which many other organizations do imitate.
You ought to be thankful to Allah for giving you the opportunity, and, by adding Islamic humanism to your skills, you should demonstrate that their choice of you is not unjustified and that your moral uprightness will benefit the organization in several ways.
As for you being there occupying a good post, it is not Allah’s reward – as it implies from your statement above. It will be considered Allah’s reward if you used the wealth gained rightfully by systematically and generously spending in charitable causes. That achieved, you might – yes, might –escape questioning in the Hereafter. It is then that you could say, “By Allah’s grace.”
With regard to the organization being American, that should not be of such concern to you to the extent that it affects your performance, or evokes you to resign, although, the regime is beyond any doubt evil, and so is the country, because the regime is elected by the public who have no objections to the crimes of the regime. Both are equal in crime. Yet, your organization belonging to such a country, does not qualify it to be looked at as evil. The two are separate entities, and both will be judged by their merits or demerits. That will remain the case, even if the joint had hired Americans alone, within America; because a set of employees, even if they are governmental employees, are not American public. They are only a part of the public which voted the evil men to power.
Nor should you harbour the idea that since your efforts makes the company wealthier, and wealth makes the country stronger, and the strength is then used against Muslims, you are serving an evil people and an evil cause.
Firstly, the wealth that is created does not belong to USA. It belongs to the owners and share-holders of the company. They might take it to USA, or maybe to some other country. Secondly, wealth does not always make a country more powerful. Reliance on wealth actually weakens a country. Some economists would suggest that such reliance, instead of increasing novelty and productivity of its citizens, is weakening America since a couple of decades. Thirdly, it is not definitely the labour which creates wealth. Labour is only one factor. There are several factors which go to produce profits and wealth. If those other factors come to work against the organization, it will run into losses despite labour’s hard work and efficiency.
Yet, there is some room for emotionalism leading to loss in interest or avoidance to work for such organization. You may note our words “some room” because, there is, after all, some room for your feelings of guilt. Seek Allah’s forgiveness then.
While you engage in charitable works, you may not forget your future savings. That might come handy, if and when the present organization collapses. This is not a distant fear. Every Pharaoh and his folks have Musa’s prayer following them: “(At length) Musa prayed, ‘Our Lord! You have bestowed on Fir`awn and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of this world in order that they may mislead away from Your path. Our Lord! Destroy their wealth and harden their hearts so that they do not believe until they have witnessed a painful chastisement.’”(The Qur’an, 10:88)
Q: Sir, this is Mohammad Hassanuddin and I want to know about your books shop address in New Delhi to purchase book directly.
We are not sure of any bookstore in Delhi that stocks our books. Kindly demand on our head office whose address given within the magazine.