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April 21, 2004
Islamic vs. Islam-first

by Gillette aka Hassan[uddin] Khaja

In Islamic discourse, the word "liberal" is thrown around frequently to describe the inclinations of a particular scholar. It helps to analyze their rulings and even predict what they are going to say for future inquiries. But few, if asked, can actually provide a real definition for what "liberal" means when they pertain to scholars.

Merriam-Webster defines "liberal" as, among others things, "loose."

A liberal scholar is someone who is loose with the rulings of Allah (SWT). Obviously, however, they are not loose with no reason. This is when the magic words and catchphrases start to creep in. The most popular principle that a scholar alludes to that alerts to us that he is "liberal" is when he tells us that "in this day and age..." or something similar to that principle. This might be a perfectly valid opinion, considering that we live in a different time than that of our predecessors, but it is essentially flawed.

These scholars tell us to change the way we practice Islam so that it fits in - not wholly, of course - to society. This, however, makes no sense when we hear about people coming to Islam because it is a completely different way of life. Realistically, no one wants to leave kaafir materialism for Muslim materialism. We are ordered to be different from the kuffaar for a reason.

For someone to become liberal starts rather slow, first by slicing out of Islam what is easiest to cut out: the rulings that fall under the category of "not haraam, but..." For instance, a group of people can debate for hours as to whether or not a $50,000 car is israf. Israf, because of its debatability, and the lack of the word haraam, comes under the not-haraam-but category. The debate on this website is ongoing on the topic of israf.

However, the nature of this category is similar to the nature of the nawaafil. Both the nawaafil and the not-haraam-but are used to protect or augment the fardh or to keep us farther away from haraam.

Technically, keeping away from haraam and sticking to the waajib and fardh - as far as I know - is perfectly Islamic per se, in the fact that leaving everything else technically isn't punishable. But, is being Islamic the goal?

Perhaps the best kind of decision-making is of the Islam-first variety, that takes care of the extra as a means to protect what's more important. In addition, the assumption in Islam-first thinking - conservative - is that society needs to change, not the way we practice Islam. This may seem unrealistic and unreasonable, but consider this: the police department of any given township or city won't change their beard policies until someone says that it needs to be changed. Now, if every Muslim in the given precinct were of the Islamic mindset, everyone would keep shaving and committing sin, until it isn't a sin anymore.

Obviously, we can't abandon compromise, because Islam is not that harsh. But, compromises should be few and far between, and compromise should be avoided even in the realm of not-haraam-but. The fact that people actually want Islam negates the line of thinking that practicing might be bad for da'wah.

of and relating to...
Saima said

Br, you make a very good point. In the last article by Br Faisal, there was great information posted showing viewpoints by different madhabs, etc. Sometimes however, when one hears a lecture, the information presented is not differentiated as being opinion or fact. Those who don't know the difference beforehand take the opinion as fact. Very few lecturers that I've seen differentiate their statements.

on April 21, 2004 1:31 PM
Justoju said

Some gems:

* "O Muslims, they do not like you for what is best in you, they like you for what is worst in you.
They do not hate you for what is worst in you, they hate you for what is best in you."
-- Ali Muhammad

* “We (Arabs) were the most despised people. But Allah gave us respect through Islam. So if we seek respect through ways other than how Allah granted us respect, then Allah will surely humiliate us!"
-- Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu)

* "Even the Devil can cite scripture for his purpose"
-- Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice"

on April 21, 2004 1:48 PM
Justoju said

ok, final gem :)

* The following is from http://www.sunnipath.com/resources/Questions/qa00002019.aspx:

Some Muslims are of the opinion that as long as they do the bare minimum (integrals, conditions, and the essential and obligatory actions) they have done enough. For them everything else is merely recommended or merely offensive, and so they see no problem in neglecting the sunna, give no second thought in performing offensive actions, and see precaution as a prison cell. This is the same as someone eating just enough to just sustain life expecting to win the Iron man competition.

Sheikh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani clarifies the importance of going beyond the bare minimum in an allegory he mentions in Ghunya li Talibi Tariq al-Haqq. My own sheikh mentioned this allegory in one of our first lessons, and Hanbalis sometimes mention it in their books-but without attribution to Sheikh `Abd al-Qadir. One of these is al-Saffarini's Ghudha al-Albab, a commentary on general refined behavior. The translation appears below, with the original Arabic following.

"The allegory of belief [iman] is that of a land that has five walls. Al-Hajjawi said in its commentary: It is said that the allegory of belief is that of a land that has five walls. The first wall [the innermost wall] made from gold, the second from silver, the third from iron, the forth from cooked clay [aajurr], and the fifth [the outermost wall] from brick. As long as the people of the brick wall are diligent in protecting the brick, the enemy does not aspire [destroying] the second; but if they neglect this [brick wall], they will aspire for the second and then the third, until they demolish all of the walls. And likewise belief [iman] has five walls: certainty, then sincerity, then performing what is obligatory, then the
recommended [sunan], and then refined behavior [aadab]. As long as one holds to and is diligent with having refined behavior, Satan does not scheme [to destroy] him. But if one forsakes refined behavior, Satan aspires to [destroying] the recommended works, then the obligatory, then sincerity, and then certainty."

[Source: Al-Saffarini, "Ghudha al-Albab". 1:27]

on April 21, 2004 2:01 PM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

beautiful post to an excellent article...gillette, let's hope your work tonight is as good :)
but if we all had an Islam-first mentality, then that would solve a lot of problems wouldn't it? which reminds me of something else (man am i bored at work)...umm gillette touched on this but the importance of performing the sunnah and nafl is essential for our benefit in the Hereafter and we shouldn't just ignore them by saying that 'they're only sunnah, and we don't HAVE to do them'...by seeing how lacking our fardh is, we need to do as much sunnah and nafl as possible

wallahu 'alam
'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

on April 21, 2004 2:22 PM
Justoju said

MashaAllah, you all did wonderful tonight...and I recall getting that beard poem in an email a while ago...best part is how it can be used for food storage...

on April 22, 2004 1:37 AM
Justoju said

here is a dumb beard question, but hey, I am curious: can something solid be hidden in a dense beard or would it fall out?

on April 22, 2004 1:56 AM
Rami said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu

Yes, it can.

Wasalaam Warahmatullah Wabarakatu

on April 22, 2004 3:10 AM
Justoju said

Whoa. So like, you could keep pencils, pens, highlighters and erasers in there?

on April 22, 2004 3:06 PM
Saima said

Br. Hassan, can you post the "My Eman" poem ? It was awesome, MashaAllah.

on April 22, 2004 10:14 PM
Gillette aka Hassan Khaja said

I'll provide the beard poem on request, if you don't already have it. Keep checking my column for "My Eman, v 2.0" (the original version - not the one i recited - was on here before http://www.hidayaonline.com/archives/000009.html). "I ran away from my Lord" is in the newest issue of Nasihah.

on April 23, 2004 12:26 AM
Justoju said

Do beards gets brushed the way head hair does? Or does gravity keep them straight?

on April 23, 2004 12:40 AM
Talal said

Hah.. I see a discussion of "The Comb" on the horizon (or "The Brush" as it known to some especially mashaAllah brothers)


on April 23, 2004 12:58 AM
Justoju said

Related to that is another question: I suppose dandruff is impossible, but can men get lice in their beards? I kid you not, tis a serious query.

on April 23, 2004 1:07 AM
Amatullah said

Salaam Justoju,

I wonder what the limit of your imagination is?


on April 23, 2004 1:10 AM
Justoju said

The use of a beard as a shawl. I cant think of anything cooler than that. Thats the limit. If my limits change I will make sure to tell you :)

on April 23, 2004 1:50 AM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

umm where is this conversation going?? please...it's friday...can we take some time out to worship our Lord today? read Surah al-Kahf InshaAllah...

on April 23, 2004 9:25 AM
Jannah said

lol you say that every friday

we all know certain brothers blow dry their beards straight- how quickly you forget the important things in life.

on April 24, 2004 9:57 PM
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