The Islamic Movement In The Field Of
Intellect And Knowledge
The first and foremost field, in my opinion, is
the intellectual field, for it is the basis for the enhancement of the call and Islamic
It appears to me that our dilemma is an intellectual one in the first place. There is a
clear deficiency in the understanding of Islam among many people, and an obvious lack of
knowledge of Islam's teachings and their relevant hierarchy of importance, which is higher
and most important, which is just important, which is not important at all. There is a
lack of knowledge of the present time in which we live; of the reality that surrounds us.
There is an ignorance of others, in which we fall
prey to either overestimation or underestimation, while others know everything about us
and have laid us bare up to the very marrow!
There is even an ignorance of ourselves. Up to this day, we have not put our finger on our
points of strength or weakness, often making a mountain out of a molehill, or seeing a
blizzard as a sheer storm in a teacup. It is the same whether we are looking at our
capabilities or at our shortcomings.
This ignorance is not restricted to Muslim masses, but it does also include the vanguard
on which the hope for helping the cause of Islam now rests, and which represents the
groundwork on which the aspired Islamic work will be built.
In fact, we need a new fiqh, so that we may
deserve to belong to those described by Allah as "people who understand" . By
'fiqh" here I do not mean fiqh as it is used in Islamic terminology, i.e. the science
of jurisprudence that determines the particular terms and judgments of Shari'ah
detailed evidence, such as the terms and conditions of ablution, impurity worship,
transaction, marriage, divorce, baby - nursing etc. Important as it may be, this is not
what we mean here. Neither do we mean the sense in which the word "fiqh" is used
in he Quran and hadith, since it was among those words and concepts that have changed
overtime, as Imam Al-Ghazali said in the Chapter on "knowledge" in his
well-known encyclopedia called. Ihya ulum al-Din "Revival of the Sciences of
The Quran had mentioned the root "F. Q. H. " (to understand) in its Meccan
surats before the detailed rules of what is allowed and what is forbidden under the
Shari'ah were sent down, and also before the faridas, hudud (punishment) and judgment were ordained.
Read What Allah the Almighty says in Surat al An'am (65) , which was sent down in Mecca,
"say": has power to send
calamities on you, from above and below, or to cover you with confusion in factional
strife, giving you taste of mutual vengeance- each from the other.
See how we explain the Signs by various
(symbols); that they may understand" (65) See how we explain the Signs by various
(symbols); that they may understand" (65)
Also read in the same Surat, (It is He Who has produced you from a single
person: Here is a place of sojourn and a place of departure. We detail Our signs for
people who understand) (98)
The word "fiqh " in the two verses means: an in-depth
understanding of the unchanging practices of Allah in souls, minds and horizons, and His
creation and of the punishments He has in store for those who stray from the right path
preordained by Him.
Read in Surat Al Araf (7), which is also Meccan, what Allah the Almighty says about the
people He has ordained for Hell. He describes them saying, "They have hearts
wherewith they do not understand" and then says that they are (like cattle -nay, more misguided: for they are
heedless [of warning]) (179)
Also read in many surats the description of the attitude of polytheists towards the
Quran, which Allah the Almighty described by saying, (We have thrown
veils on their hearts, so that they may not understand
it, and deafness in their ears) [Al An'am: 25, Al-lsra: 46, Al-Kahf: 57]. in their ears) [Al An'am: 25, Al-lsra: 46, Al-Kahf: 57].
In Medinan Quran, the word "fiqh" was used in several surats to deny the
presence of the quality of "fiqh" in polytheists and hypocrites.
In Surat Al Anfal (8), Allah the Almighty addresses His Messenger and the believers,
saying (If there are twenty amongst
you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will
vanquish a thousand of the unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding) (65)
The denial of possession of fiqh by warning unbelievers here means that they lack the
understanding of the unchanging practices of Allah and how He gives days [of varying
fortune] to all people by turn.
In Surat Al-Tauba (9), Allah
dispraises the hypocrites by saying, (They
prefer to be with the women who remain behind [at home]: their hearts are sealed, and so
they do not understand) (87)
The understanding meant here is the understanding of the necessity of jihad and
contribution to protection of the religion, life, honor and property and the community as
a whole - an objective that precedes any individual interest, however urgent. In the same
surat, Allah the Almighty describes this sort I of people [who lack this understanding] by
saying, Whenever a surat is sent down, they look at each other [saying] (Does anyone see
you?" Then they turn aside: Allah has turned their hearts [from the light] for they
are a people who do not understand) oes anyone see
you?" Then they turn aside: Allah has turned their hearts [from the light] for they
are a people who do not understand) (127)
These muddle - headed people forget that Allah sees them before humans do, but they really
have lost their fiqh: their understanding.
In Surat Al-Hashr (59), Allah speaks to the believers about hypocrites, saying,
(Truly, you are stronger [than they are] because
of the terror [thrown] in their hearts by Allah. This is because they are a people who do
not understand) ( 13)
In Surat Al-Munafiqun (63), Allah says, (That
is because they believed, then they rejected faith: so a seal was set on their hearts:
therefore they do not understand) (3)
Also in he same surat, Allah says, (They
are the ones who say, "Do not spend anything on those who are with Allah's Messenger
so that they may disperse. "But to Allah belong the treasures of the heavens and the
earth, but the hypocrites do not understand) (7)
This shows that the hypocrites have the lion's share of the Quranic description of
"people who do not understand". It is because the hypocrites imagine that they
are intelligent, that - they managed to sit on the fence, live with double faces and try
to deceive Allah and those who believe, and when they meet those who believe they say,
"we believe", but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, "We
are with you".
But Allah the Almighty uncovered their secret,
unveiled their hesitation and disclosed their deception in many verses. See for instance:
(They try to deceive Allah and those who believe,
but they only deceive themselves and do not realize [i]) [Surat
In short, they have been scandalized before Allah and people, lost earthly life and the
Hereafter, and they will certain!, be thrown into the Lowe depths of Hell. What
stupidity could be more abysmal?
No doubt that anyone meeting this description enjoys no even a grain of understanding!
In Quranic parlance, the word "fiqh: does not have the terminological, meaning it has
in today's language, i.e. jurisprudence, but refers to understanding [and learning] of
Allah's words and His practices in the universe, life and society.
Even the fiqh of religion referred to by the
phrase "devote themselves to studies in religion mentioned in Surat
al-Tawba (9): (If a contingent from every expedition remained
behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion and admonish their people when
they return to them, so that they [may learn] to guard themselves) (122) does not refer to the traditional meaning of the word, as such
reference to jurisprudence] would not result in a warning that could make the recipient
vary or be on his guard, and is far as can be from performing this function - a function
of the Call primarily.
There is a similarity between the usage of the word "fiqh" in this sense
[understanding in these verses of the Holy Quran, and its use in the following hadith of
the . (If Allah wants to do good to a person, He makes him well-versed in the religion) It
means that Allah will enlighten his vision so that he may delve deep into the truths,
secrets and aims of religion to understand them better instead of contenting himself with
mere words and superficial meanings.
I have dealt with the types of fiqh
we need, or at least with some of them, on various occasions.
A part of my argument is included in my book "The Islamic Awakening Between
Ingratitude And Extremism", dealing with the fiqh of practices and the fiqh of ranks
Another part of the argument is included in my book entitled "The Islamic Awakening
Between Permitted Difference And Undesirable Disunity", dealing with one of the main
types of fiqh we need: the fiqh of difference. In that book, I argue that there are five
types of fiqh that we need. However, I will focus here on only two of these five. These
The Fiqh of balances.
The Fiqh of priorities.
|The Need for Two Levels of
|The Fiqh of Priorities in the Prophet's |
|Integration of the Two Types of|
Fiqh in Examining Interests and Evils
|The Interrelationship Between the
of Priorities and the Fiqh of Balances
|The Difficulty of Practice in Real
|The Necessity of Observing Proportions |
Among Shari'ah Taklifs [Legal Commands or Mandates]
|Proof of the Fiqh of glances
from the Holy Quran||
|The Neglect of the Fiqh of
|The Opinion of Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymia||
|Imam Al-Ghazali and the Fiqh of
|When the Fiqh of Balances is Absent||
|Imam Ibn Al-Qayyom's Judgment on
that a stop at each of them is in order.
By the fiqh of balances we mean several matters, as follows:
- Balancing interests against each other, in
terms of size and capacity; value and effect; as well as, endurance, so as to determine
which should be given precedence and which should be discarded.
- Balancing evils against each other in the
same way of balancing interests, so as to determine which could be accepted and which has
to be avoided.
- Balancing interests against evils if they
contradict, so as to determine when to give the avoidance of evil a precedence over the
gaining of interests, and when to forgive evil for the sake of interests.
In this respect, we need two levels of Fiqh as follows:
The Need for
the fiqh of Shari'ah:
The first of these levels is a Shari'ah Fiqh based on a
profound understanding of the letter and spirit of Shari'ah, so as to establish the
soundness of the said "principle of balances" and determine its evidence, which
should be clear to those who endeavor to understand the judgments and texts of
delve deep in its secrets.
Shari'ah was sent down only for achieving benefits for humans in earthly life and in the
Hereafter, in the known ranks of these interests: Al-Daruriyyah (the indispensable)
Al-Hajiyyah (the needful) and Al-Tahsiniyyah (the dignifying).
The Need for
the fiqh of Factual Experience:
The second level is a rather positivistic fiqh based on
the study of contemporary reality - a study that is careful comprehensive and dependent on
the most accurate information and statistics. However, we have to warn here against
misleading and unrealistic figures based on propaganda leaflets, inadequate information
and questionnaires aimed at serving a specific objective, not at serving Truth as a whole.
Both the Fiqh of Shari'ah and Fiqh of
factual experience should be integrated so that we may reach the proper academic balancing
process that is free from both extremism and neglect.
The Shari'ah aspect here is clear in principle It was discussed in the books of
Usul Al-Fiqh (principles of Jurisprudence), starting with "Al-Mustasfa" and up to
"Al Muwafaqat"", as well as the books on rules, similarities and
differences. When interests conflict, lower interest is sacrificed for the sake of higher
interest, and private interest is sacrificed for the sake of common interest, and the
owner of private interest is to be compensated for his loss. Also in cases of conflicting
interests, temporary interest is forsaken in favor of long-term or permanent interest;
superficial interest is neglected for the sake of real interest, and sure interest is
given precedence over uncertain interest.
In the Treaty of Hudaibia, we saw the Prophet
(peace be upon him) give prominence to real, basic and future interests over some
considerations that others would never have relinquished. He agreed to such conditions
that at first glance seemed unfair or humiliating to Muslims; he agreed to the removal of
the phrase, "In the name of
Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate", in whose place was written "In They
name O God": He also agreed not to be
mentioned as the Messenger of Allah in the pact, and to write his name only as Mohammad
Ibn Abdullah. The examples are many. If evils conflict, and some of them are
indispensable, then one should chouse the lesser of two evils and the lower of two degrees
of harm prescribed.
Muslim Scholars have prescribed that harm should be eliminated as much as possible and
that a lesser harm should not be eliminated with a greater harm. A minor harm should be
tolerated if such tolerance would make it possible to avoid a major harm, and private harm
should be accepted for the sake of avoiding common harm.
Many examples of this are mentioned in books on
the "rules of Fiqh" or "similarities and analogies".
If interests and evils conflict, they should be examined carefully in terms of their size,
effect and duration.
A slight evil should be forgiven for the sake of realizing a major interest.
A temporary evil should be forgiven for the sake of realizing a long - term or permanent
Even a great evil should be accepted if its elimination would lead to a greater evil.
In normal conditions, the avoidance of evil should come before the realization of
It is not enough that we should accept this concept in theory, but rather we have to apply
it in practice, for many of the differences among the active Islamist groups are related
to these balances.
Is alliance with now - Muslim
|Is reconciliation or pacification with governments that
do not adhere to Islam acceptable?|
|Is it allowed to participate in a ruling regime that is
not purely Islamic and operates under a constitution that has loopholes or does not have
our full approval?|
|Should we join an opposition front that comprises
political parties for toppling an infidel backshading regime?|
|Should we establish Islamic economic institutions in an
environment dominated by a usury-based, man-made economic system?|
|Should we allow Muslim elements to work for usury based
banks and establishments, or should we keep all the religious elements that adhere to the
teachings of Islam away from such establishments?|
It is easy to lay down a principle,
but difficult to put it to practice. The Fiqh of balances is not easy to grasp by
the layman and by others who can raise a hue and cry for the slightest cause.
The erudite scholar, Mawdudi, and his followers met much resistance and embarrassment when
he, in the light of the fiqh of balances, was of the opinion that electing "Fatima
Jinnoh" was less harmful than electing "Ayyub Khan". They became a target
of a ferocious campaign invoking the hadith (A people who appoint a woman to lead them will
never thrive). So how about a people who appoint as their leader a tyrant,
would they do any better? Never!
The fiqh (of balance) here examines the two evils
to choose the lesser one and avoid the greater of them.
Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi and his brothers in Sudan were attacked by some Islamists because
they had decided to join the Socialist Union and had accepted some government appointments
under Ja'far Nimeiri s regime, even before he announced the application of Islamic
Shari'ah in Sudan.
Our brothers in Syria fared the same (opposition) when they decided to ally themselves
with some non-Islamic forces to resist the regime that was seeking to annihilate them,
although Prophet Mohammad allied himself with the tribe of Khuza'a who were polytheists,
and he sought the support of one polytheist group against the other at times, too.
However, I am not taking sides here. I am only
advocating a principle: the fiqh of balances, on which the structure of Shari'ah
politics" should be built.
In positions taken by the Prophet and his Companions, and in the provisions of our
comprehensive Shari'ah is much evidence supporting this argument: that it is permissible to
participate in a non-Islamic rule or ally with non-Muslim forces.
If we carefully examine the Holy
Quran, with its Meccan and Medinan revelations we will find much proof of the
balances and how to weigh things against one another.
A balancing of interests is present in Aaron's reply to Moses (may Allah have peace on
both of them) "O son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard nor by (the hair of)
m! head. Truly I feared that you should say, (You have caused a division among the Children of Israel and did not
respect my word) (Surat Taha: 94).
A balancing of evils is found in the explanation given b) Al-Khidr when he scuttled the
boat, (As for the boat, it belonged
to poor people who plied on the water, and I wanted to render it unserviceable, for there
was after them a king who took every boat by force) [Surat Al-Kahf: 79].
If the boat would be kept by its owners because it was scuttled, then the situation would
be less damaging than it would be when the boat was to be lost completely. Saving some is
certainly better than losing all.
Quite in point on the fiqh of balances is
Allah's saying ("They ask you
about fighting in the Prohibited Month Say", "Fighting therein is a grave.
[offence], but graver it is, in the sight of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the
Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members". Tumult and oppression are worse than
slaughter) [Surat Al-Baqara: 217].
Allah the Almighty is telling us that fighting in
the Prohibited Month does constitute a grave offence, but may be undertaken for resisting
For a comparison between abstract and concrete interests, let us read the Almighty's
admonishment of Muslims after the Ghazwah of Badr. (It is not fitting for an apostle to have
prisoners of war until he has thoroughly conquered the land. You look for the temporal
goods of this world, but Allah looks to the Hereafter, and Allah is Exalted in might,
Wise) [Surat Al-Anfal: 67].
For a balancing of interest and evil, let us read the Almighty's saying, (They ask you about wine and gambling. Say,
"In them, there is great sin, and some profit, for men, but the sin is greater than
the profit) [Surat Al-Bakara: 219].
In comparing non-Muslim groups and forces one to
another, let us read the opening verses of Surat Al-Rum (the Romans) which predict the
Romans' victory over the Persians. On that (though both parties are non-Muslims [the surat
says,day the believers shall rejoice) though both parties are non-Muslims [the surat
says, day the believers shall rejoice) (4) because
the Romans were people of the Book, which made them closer to Muslims than the Persians
who worshipped fire.
Sheikh Al-lslam Ibn Taymia gave a
very strong opinion on the permissibility of assuming some public offices in
an unjust state, if the occupant of such office would seek to alleviate some
of the injustice or curb evil and corruption (see Annex.
He also wrote a comprehensive
chapter on the conflict of good things or bad things, or their combination
if they came together and could not be separated but were to be taken as a
whole or left as a whole (see Annex. 2).
A Muslim symposium devoted to Islamic economics
and comprising some jurisprudents and some economists opined that it was
legal [from the Shari'ah point of view] to subscribe to the shares put up
for public sale by companies and enterprises which are established in Muslim
countries to operate in authorized fields but could have a tinge of
suspicion of riba [usury] in their transactions. The symposium, examining
that issue in the light of the fiqh of balances, saw that such vital and
effective concerns should not be left to non-Muslims or unreligious Muslims,
as such action would entail a grave danger, particularly in certain
countries. Shareholders can donate a proportionate part of their profits as
a sadaqat [charity] for that part of the profit he may deem as resultant
from riba - related transactions.
According to this fiqh, conscientious Muslim
youth were given the religious opinion that they should not leave their jobs
in banks and insurance companies and their likes, albeit their stay would
entail some sin, because their stay would make them gain experience that
they might use to serve Islamic economy. They would be rejecting the evil,
even if only in their hearts, while they joined efforts with those who seek
to change the whole order into an Islamic one.
If we do not apply the fiqh of
balances, we will be closing many doors of good and blessing in our own faces, making the
philosophy of rejection a way of dealing with everything, and taking self - isolation as a
pretext for avoiding problems and shirking a confrontation with the adversary on his home
It would be so easy for us then to say "No"! or "This is haram [prohibited
by Shari'ah]!" to every proposal that requires thought or ijtihad [passing a legal
opinion on some issue that is not specifically dealt with by Shari'ah].
But if we apply the fiqh of balances, we will find a way to compare one situation to
another and weigh profits against losses in the short and long runs and at individual and
collective levels, and then choose what we judge as leading to the realization of interest
and the avoidance of evil in the best way possible.
Over ten years ago, I was invited to write for the "Doha" magazine that was
published in Qatar. It was a general publication of literary and cultural pursuits, and
most of its editorial staff were secularists, while its predominant line, though not
against Islam, was not pro-Islamic or defending Islam either.
I hesitated for a long time, but, thinking of the
proposal in a balancing manner, I judged that to write for the magazine would be better
and more useful than boycotting it, because its readers represented a broad base of the
cultured masses, most of whom do not usually read Islamic magazines. The readers of that
magazine are unlike those who read the "Al-Umma" magazine and the like, so we
have to make our word reach them whenever we have a chance. It is our divine duty to the
Call to do so.
This is what makes us agree to be interviewed by reporters of newspapers and
magazines whose line may not gain our approval. Some of our brothers still blame those who
write in the daily newspapers which do not follow an explicit Islamic line. Some even
blamed me for serializing my book, "The Islamic Awakening Between Allowed Difference
And Rejected Dispersal" in the Saudi Asharq Al Awsat newspaper because that newspaper
had adopted certain attitudes they did not approve of, but I had realized the benefit of
publishing the book in such a widely-read newspaper.
There are even those who believe in boycotting
mass media in all their forms - the printed, the audio and the visual, c account of their
deviated thoughts and practices. They forget that; leaving the mass media will only make
them worse and will give a chance to the secularists and dirty - minded to infiltrate
deeper into them and sabotage them, while it will deny us chances c which we do not find
equivalents. If we examine this issue in the light of the fiqh of balances, we will find
that entering these important and vita fields is not only legal but desirable, even
imperative, as well because it represents a means for discharging the duty of the Call and
fighting evil as best we can. If something is required b' duty, then it is a duty in
itself, as it is already known and established.
Fiqh of Priorities
By fiqh of priorities", we mean putting
everything in true perspective; no prominent issue should be postponed, and no minor issue
should be given prominence; no big matter should be underestimated, and no small matter
should be exaggerated.
This is what the laws of nature and the rules of Shari'ah dictate.
I mean that Allah's creation and commands (Verily His is the Creation, His the Command) [Surat Al-A'raf: 54] make it imperative to observe true perspective.
During the Meccan phase of the Message, the
Prophet's mission was confined to calling the people to the Cause of Allah and bringing up
the faithful generation that would carry the Call later to the Arabs and then take it to
the four corners of the world. At that time, the Prophet focused on establishing the
creed, cultivating monotheism, eliminating polytheism and idol-worship and nurturing
values and virtues.
The Holy Quran supported this trend during that phase, so it did not distract Muslims with
particulars or secondary provisions, but urged them to concentrate their efforts on
building the Muslim image mentioned in Surat Al-Asr, (Those who have faith and do righteous deeds and
[join together] in the mutual teaching of Truth and of Patience and Constancy) (3).
During the Meccan phase of the Message, the
Prophet did not allow Muslims to take their axes and destroy the idols they saw around the
Ka'ba everyday, or brandish their swords to defend themselves or fight their and Allah's
enemies who were meting out torture to them. He only told them what the Quran said, (Hold back your
hands and establish regular prayers)Hold back your
hands and establish regular prayers) [Surat Al-Nisa: 77] at the time when they came to him beaten and wounded. There is a proper time
for everything. If something is sought before the time is ripe for it, it will most likely
be harmful, not useful.
The fiqh of priorities is related to the fiqh of
balances, and in the certain domains the two of them overlap or run parallel to each
other, as a balancing process may lead to a certain priority, and thus fall under the fiqh
The fiqh of priorities embraces the observance of
proportions among actions and Shari'ah taklifs.
Upsetting the proportions set by Islam among Shari'ah taklifs would badly damage both
religion and worldly life.
In Islam, belief comes before work, as belief is the foundation and work is the building.
No building can stand without a foundation.
Belief precedes actions, which are very diversified. The Prophet said in a sound hadith
(Belief is divided into seventy-seven levels: the highest is "There is no God but
Allah" the lowest is removing harm from the road [of people]).
The Holy Quran tells us that deeds are divided into higher lower orders before Allah, not
one order only. Allah the Almighty says (Do
you make the giving of drink to pilgrims or the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque equal to
[the pious service of1 those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive in the
Cause of Allah? They are not comparable in the sight of Allah, And Allah does not guide
those who do wrong. Those who believe and suffer exile and strive in the Cause of Allah
with their property and their persons have the highest rank in the sight of Allah. They
are the people who will achieve [salvation]) [Surat Al-Tawba: 19-20].
This is why Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymia said that
the acts of jihad were better than the acts of hajj [pilgrimage]. The Hanbale jurists and
other faqihs even classify jihad as the best physical activity to be volunteered.
Many traditions praise jihad. Those include Abu-Hurayra narrated. He said, (One of the
Companions passed a ravine where a sweet-water spring r Liked the ravine and said,
"How I would like to isolate from other people [to worship Allah]! I will not do it I
asking the permission of the Messenger of Allah (may have peace on him)". The man
told the Prophet of his wish. the Prophet said, "Do not do it. Your striving for the Cause Allah is better than
praying in your house for seventy years" [A/-Tirmidhi & Al-Hakim].
The hadith narrated by Salman (and traceable to the Prophet) tells us of the merits of
ribat (guarding Muslims infidels): "A r ibat for one day and one night is better
fasting and night-praying for a month. and if one dies while state of ribat, he will have
his good deeds kept counted h favor (as if he were alive), and (if alive) he will be safe
the Tempter (the Devil)." [Muslim].
This is what made an imam like
Abdullah Ibn Al-Mubarak who was in an encampment during jihad, write to his friend
Al-Fudayl Ibn-lyad, a hermit worshipper who was always traveling between the two holy
shrines in Mecca and Medina, saying, in verse: "O worshipper of the Two Shrines, if you could see us, You will
learn that your worship is mere play. Some may wet their cheeks with their tears, wet our
chests with our own blood. to the end 0 the poem.
According to the fiqh [in the sense of
jurisprudence], a nafila [optional practice of worship in contrast to
farida, which means
a compulsory worship] should not be given precedence over afarida; an individual
obligation has the precedence over a collective obligation; the collective obligation
undertaken by an inadequate number of people or by nobody at all has the precedence (as a
duty) over that which found people enough to fulfill its undertaking; an individual
obligation related to the group or the Nation comes before that related to rights of
individuals; and a duty whose time is limited and has already come has precedence over a
duty whose time is ample. Fiqh also prescribes that the interests stated by Shari'ah
importance, from the indispensable through the needful to the dignifying in this same
order of priority. Also, when the interests of the Nation conflict with those of
individuals, the former should be given precedence. So, that's a point on which the fiqh
of balances and the fiqh of priorities converge.
The problem with many groups of the Islamic
Awakening advocates is that the fiqh of priorities is nonexistent to them, as they often
seek the secondary before paying attention to the principal, try to examine the
particulars before grasping the generalities, and hold to the controversial before
familiarizing themselves with the established. It is a pity that we ask for instance about
the blood of a gnat, and do not care about the shedding of Al-Hussein's blood, or fight
for nafila, while the. people have wasted the faridas, or quarrel over a form, regardless
of the content.
This is the situation today for Muslims in
general. I see millions making the umra [minor pilgrimage] every year in Ramadan and other
months and others making hajj for the tenth or even the twentieth time: if they saved the
money they spent on these nafilas, they would accumulate thousands of millions of dollars.
We have been running around for years trying to collect one thousand million dollars for
the Islamic Philanthropic Institution, but have not collected a tenth, or even
one-twentieth or one-thirtieth, of that amount. If you ask those performers of
supererogatory umra and hajj to give you what they would spend on their voluntary journeys
so that you may direct it to resisting Christianization or communism in Asia and Africa,
or to combating famine here or there, they will not give you anything. This is a long-time
ailment that no heart doctor has ever been able to cure.
The fiqh of priorities requires that we know
which issue is more worthy of attention, so that we may give it more effort and time than
we give others. The fiqh of priorities also requires us to know which enemy is more
deserving of directing our forces and concentrating our attack against him, and which
battle is more worthy of waging, for people are divided into several kinds in Islam's eye,
There are the Muslims, the
unbelievers and the hypocrites.
Unbelievers have in their ranks the pacifists and the militant. They also include those
who only did not believe, and those who did not believe and also blocked the path to Allah
[before those who believed].
Hypocrites include those of the lesser hypocrisy and those of the greater hypocrisy.
With whom do we start, then? Which area is more worthy of work? Which issue is more
deserving of attention?
The fiqh of priorities requires that we know the time-limited duty so that we may treat it
properly and not delay it and thus waste a chance that may not present itself again until
after a long time, if it ever does.
A poet admonishes us about the value of time by saying: "Avail the chance, for a
chance, If unavailable, becomes a grief. Our Arabic adage also says:
"Do not put off today's work till
When Omar Ibn Abdel-Aziz was once advised to
postpone some chore to the next day, he replied, "I am already tasked by a day's
work, how will I feel if I have two days work to do tomorrow? "
A wise saying by Ibn-Ata is "There are certain duties with plenty of time given for
their fulfillment, so they could be cautioned within the time-limit, but there are, besides,
time-limited duties that, if out of time, are irredeemable, for with every new time there
is a new duty and a new task demanded by Allah"!
In his book "Al Ihiya"',
Imam Al-Ghazali criticized those who were content with worship and did not pay attention
to the | ranks of deeds. He said: "Another group is keen on nafilas but not as keen
on faridas. We see some of them very pleased with the duha [forenoon optional] prayer and
tahajjud "nighttime optional prayer] and other nafilas, but they find no pleasure in
the farida's, nor are they as keen on performing the farida prayers early in their time.
They forget what the Prophet narrated from the Qudsi hadith [inspired by Allah the
Almighty to His Messenger]: "Nothing that my slaves shall do to bring themselves
closer to me shall be better than doing what I have ordered them to perform [as
faridas]" (Al-Bukhari). Neglecting the order of prominence in good deeds falls under
evil conduct. An individual may even find himself obliged to do only one of two compulsory
things, or forced to do two things with a very limited time for one and ample time for the
other: if he does not preserve their order, then he is deceived. "The similar
instances are countless, for obedience and disobedience [of the commands of Allah] are
both obvious. What is really ambiguous is giving precedence to some forms of obedience
over others, such as giving prominence to faridas over nafilas; to individual duties over
collective duties to a collective duty with no one to fulfill it over that fulfilled by
other people; to the more important individual duties over those which have a lesser
importance, to what cannot be postponed over what can be postponed; and to the needs of
one's mother over those of one's father. The Prophet was asked, "Who is more entitled
to be treated with the best companionship by me?" He replied, "Your
mother". And the man said, "Who is next?", and the Prophet said, "Your
mother". And the man asked again, "And who is next"? and the Prophet said,
"Your mother". And the man asked for the fourth time, "And who is
next?" and the Prophet said, "Your father". And the man further asked,
"And who is next?" and the Prophet replied, "The closest and then the
closer of your relatives."). A person should devote his companionship by the
closeness of relationship. If two of his kins are of the same degree of relation, then he
should help the one who needs help more, and if they need help equally then he should help
the more pious of them.
"Similarly, if someone cannot
meet the Costs of spending on his parents and making a pilgrimage at the same time, he
should not make the pilgrimage because if he does, he would be acting in ignorance, for he
should give the rights of his parents precedence over pilgrimage. In this case, he will be
giving prominence to a religious duty over another religious duty that is of a lower rank.
Moreover, if someone has an appointment and the time for jumua [Friday congregational
prayer] comes upon him, then he has to go to the prayer. If he goes to his appointment, he
will be committing an act of disobedience [to Allah], even though the fulfillment
appointment is, as such, an act of obedience.
Someone may also find some najasa [impurities] on his garment and speak roughly to his
parents on that account. While najasa is unacceptable, hurting the parents is also
unacceptable, and caring to avoid hurting the parents is more important than caring to
"The examples of the combination of tabooed deeds and of compulsory duties are
countless. He who neglects the order of Priorities in any of them is certainly
Ibn Al-Qayyem examined various opinions on:
which worships are better, are they the hardest to perform, or the more beneficial? "
He judged that there is no such thing as an absolutely preferred worship but there is a
time at which a worship was preferred most.(2)
In times of famine, providing food is the best deed that brings a Muslim closer to Allah.
When infidels invade a Muslim country, jihad is the
best deed, followed by providing mujahids (performers of jihad) with arms and money.
When scholars die and there is nobody to succeed them, I learning religion is the greatest
act for which a Muslim may I seek reward from Allah and have his fellow believers' praise.
his is how deeds should be balanced against one another, according to their competent