The Rulings Pertaining to Looking at a Woman for a Marriage Proposal

In the Name of Allāh, all praise is due to Allāh and may the praise and security be upon the Messenger of Allāh.

To proceed:

This is a translation of a booklet entitled al-Aḥkām al-Maṭlūbah fī Ru’yat al-Makhṭūbah  by Shaykh Samīr b. Amīn al-Zuhayrī. I came across the title of this work whilst reading the Shaykh’s annotated verification of Ibn Ḥajr’s Bulūgh al-Marām and managed to find it on the web. The topic is obviously a crucial one for those seeking to tread the path of marriage and want to know the relevant rulings associated with different aspects of the whole process. This booklet answers the most critical questions in relation to the actual viewing of the prospective bride and the manner in which the Salaf applied the Sunnic advice in this regard. The author dispels some misconceptions surrounding the topic as well. Critical notes have been added here and there to further supplement the value of the booklet and one hopes the readers will benefit from it as much as I have.

Happy reading:

Looking at a Woman for a Marriage Proposal pdf version

Advertisements

The Virtues of Fasting and Ramadan

In the Name of Allāh, all praise is due to Allāh and may the peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allāh.

To proceed:

What follows is a collection of virtues connected with fasting as reported in numerous authentic aḥādīth from disparate sources contained within the book Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb by Sh. Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī (may Allāh have mercy upon him)[1]. With the month of Ramaḍān rapidly approaching our doorstep, I thought it would be appropriate to bring to the attention of those who intend to fast during the blessed month the tremendous virtues of fasting. The aim, if Allāh wills, is to increase one’s love of the act of fasting, to make one aware of the delights that await the sincere faster which should in turn strengthen our resolve and encourage us to make the best of the aforementioned month. I will add more aḥādīth pertaining to the virtues and rewards of fasting to this post inshā’Allāh over the coming days – I’ve got other projects to attend to before then!

FASTING IS FOR ALLĀḤ AND HE REWARDS IT HIMSELF

The first batch of aḥādīth mentions a number of different virtues of fasting, which seek to stir the soul of the believer with high expectations of immense reward from his Lord. Not only has Allāh, as we shall see from the narrations below, singled out fasting as an act of worship that is done for Him in contrast to other conspicuous acts of worship but also the odour of the fasting person’s mouth is more pleasant to Allāh than even the smell of perfume. Additionally, Allāh does not limit the reward of fasting to the usual multiples between 10 and 700, instead He will reward it as He sees fit. Finally, the fasting person will find that his fast is a shield from the Fire and that he will experience two moments of utter joy; the moment he breaks his fast and the moment he meets his Lord.

Now let us take a look at these wonderful aḥādīth:

[978]    Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) said:

“Allāh the Mighty and Exalted said: Every action of the Son of Ādam is for him, except fasting for it is for Me and I will reward it. Fasting is a shield so when one of you is fasting let him not behave obscenely nor clamor. If someone insults or fights him, let him say: I am fasting, I am fasting. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muḥammad, the smell of the mouth of the faster is more pleasant with Allāh than the smell of musk. The faster has two moments of joy; when he breaks his fast he is happy and when he meets his Lord He is happy with his fast.”

Scholia:

One might ask the question – is not every act of worship performed by a person for him? Why did Allāh specify fasting? The response is that it means the reward for every other act of worship performed by a person is restricted between 10 and 700 multiples. However, the reward for fasting is unrestricted by normal parameters as Allāh will decide the amount by which the faster should be rewarded as we shall come to see, if Allāh wills.

In a narration of Bukhārī:

“He forsakes his food, drink and desires because of Me, fasting is for Me and I will reward it and every good act is ten times its like”.

In a narration of Muslim:

“Every deed of the Son of Ādam is multiplied; good acts are 10 times its like up to 700 times. Allāh the Most High stated: Except for fasting for it is for Me and I will reward it. He leaves his desire and food because of Me. The faster has two moments of joy: a moment of joy when breaking his fast and a moment of joy when meeting his Lord and the smell of the mouth of the faster is more pleasant with Allāh than the scent of musk”.

In another one of his narrations as well as Ibn Khuzaymah:

                “And when he meets Allāh the Mighty and Exalted, He rewards him thus he becomes happy”.

Tirmidhī reports in one narration:

“Indeed your Lord says: Every good deed is ten times its like up to 700, fasting is for me and I will reward it. Fasting is a shield from the Fire and the smell of the fasting person’s mouth is more pleasant to Allāh than the smell of musk. If a person acts ignorantly towards one of you while he is fasting, let him say: I am fasting, I am fasting”.

In one of Ibn Khuzaymah’s narration:

“He said: Every act of the Son of Ādam is for him; a good deed is ten times its like up to seven hundred times. Allāh said: Except for fasting, it is for Me, I will reward it, he leaves his food because of Me, he leaves his drink because of Me, he leaves his pleasure because of Me and he leaves his wife because of Me. The smell of the faster’s mouth is better to Allāh than the scent of musk. The faster has two moments of joy: a moment of joy when breaking the fast and a moment of joy when meeting his Lord”.

THE GATE OF AL-RAYYĀN

The Gate of al-Rayyān is a gate in Paradise which, according to the narrations to be mentioned below, can only be entered by those who performed the act of fasting in this life. Once it is closed none else may enter it. Furthermore, those who enter it will drink and will never become thirsty thereafter:

[979]    Sahl b. Sa῾d (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) who said:

“Indeed in Paradise there is a gate called al-Rayyān. Those who fasted will enter it on the Day of Resurrection, none other than them will enter it, when they have entered it will be closed and none will enter it [thereafter]”.

In an addition by Bukhārī, Muslim, al-Nasā’ī and al-Tirmidhī:

                “And whoever enters it will never experience thirst”.

Ibn Khuzaymah reports:

“When the last of them have entered it will be closed, whoever enters it will drink and whoever drinks will never experience thirst”

A SHIELD

Fasting as an act of worship is an effective shield from the Fire. How? There are a number of explanations for this. Firstly, we have been informed from other authentic sources that the Fire is surrounded by desires and temptations. Fasting weakens the desire thus allowing one to protect oneself from falling into the traps of temptation which would have been kindled by one’s desire. Secondly, fasting is a shield in the sense that Allāh will remove a person far from the Fire by a great distance for every fast that a person undertakes sincerely.

[980]    Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) who said:

                “Fasting is a shield, an impregnable fortress from the fire”.

[981]    Jābir (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) that he said:

                “Fasting is a shield with which the slave conceals himself from the Fire”.

[982]    ῾Uthmān b. Abī al-῾Āṣ (may Allāh be pleased with him) said he heard the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) say:

“Fasting is a shield from the Fire, just like one of your shield in battle and fasting is good three days of every month”.

FASTING INTERCEDES FOR A PERSON ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT

On the Day of Judgement every single soul will face an account of his deeds which will play a part in determining one’s final abode as either in eternal bliss in Paradise or eternal damnation in the Fire. One of the ways in which a person will be able to attain either salvation from the Fire on the Day or an increase in his station in Paradise is through the intercession of various agents such as the Prophets, Angels, martyrs etc. What we learn from the ḥadīth below is that fasting will also intercede to Allāh for the one who used to engage in it.

[984]    From ῾Abd Allāh b. ῾Amr (may Allāh be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) said:

“Fasting and the Qur’ān intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: “O my Lord! I prevented him from food and desires so allow me to intercede for him”. The Qur’ān will say: “I prevented him from sleeping at night so allow me to intercede for him”. Both will then be allowed to intercede””.


[1] It is based on al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb [Encouragement [to perform good deeds] and Discouragement [from perpetrating evil deeds]] of al-Ḥāfiẓ Zakī al-Dīn ῾Abd al-῾Aẓīm b. ῾Abd al-Qawī al-Munẓirī, which according to al-Albānī, is the most comprehensive and beneficial composition on the topic. See al-Albānī, Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn (1421/200) Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb. Riyāḍ: Maktabat al-Ma῾ārif, vol. 1, pp. 35-36. Forthcoming translations on the virtues of fasting are found in vol.1, p. 574ff.

Reward of Knowledge

From Abū Umāmah, from the Prophet (ṣallAllāhu ῾alayhiwasallam) who said:

“Whoever sets out to the mosque not intending anything except to learn something good or to teach it; he will have a similar reward of a hajj pilgrim who perfected his ḥajj”.

Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb, vol. 1, p. 145, no. 86

Lessons Learnt:

  • Virtue of mosques over all other places in which knowledge is taught
  • Virtue of seeking knowledge
  • Virtue of teaching knowledge
  • Significance of a pure and correct intention unadulterated by disparate motives in relation to knowledge
  • The relative ease with which such a mighty reward can be attained
  • ‘Whoever’ is an absolute and non-discriminating word which indicates universal application irregardless of gender, social status, ability etc
  • A hajj pilgrim who completes a perfect hajj is guaranteed remission of all sins and a place in Paradise, accordingly, the reward of the two types of people mentioned in the hadith is of a similar nature
And Allaah knows best.

Clothes

The colour of the clothing affects the interpretation of the dream as to whether there is a positive interpretation or negative one.

Green clothing worn by someone who is still living indicates religiousness and preoccupation with worship. If it is seen on a dead person it indicates the person is in a positive condition with Allāh.

White clothing is an indication of good things and glad tidings.

If one sees himself wearing black clothing to which he is not accustomed to wearing, this indicates he will be afflicted by some things that he may dislike. However, if his habit is to wear black then this indicates honour and authority, wealth and prestige.

Wearing red clothing means one will acquire much wealth from which one is obligated to apportion some for the sake of Allāh in terms of Zakāh. Therefore, one should fear Allāh in terms of paying what is owed to Allāh. Red clothing also indicates reputation and fame.

The state of one’s clothing and garments as seen in a dream is also an indication of the state of one’s imān (faith) i.e. whether strong or weak or pure or corrupted. The finer the clothes the stronger one’s state of faith, conversely, the dirtier and cheaper one’s attire is; the weaker and more defective one’s faith.

Scholar

Seeing a scholar in one’s dream is a glad tiding from Allāh and generally indicates good things for the viewer in terms of increase in religious knowledge, high status and kind praise. It also indicates guidance because the scholars are the advisors of Allāh on His earth.

If the viewer kissed the scholar on the forehead or hand it indicates that he/she has great respect for that particular scholar or scholars in general and for knowledge. It also indicates one will acquire knowledge and respect from those seeking knowledge.

The type of scholar one sees is also an indication of the knowledge the person will acquire. So, if one sees a scholar of ḥadīth then he will acquire knowledge of ḥadīth, if he sees an exegete then he will gain knowledge of tafsīr etc.

If the scholar is seen in the viewer’s house, this indicates a blessed house from which a scholar will be raised or from which knowledge will be spread.

Take Note…

In this section I will post generic interpretations of dreams which the readers may find useful. I have taken these interpretations and translated them primarily, although not exclusively, from the book entitled ‘Qāmūs Tafsīr al-Aḥlām’ by Dr. Khālid b. ῾Alī al-῾Anbarī.

If one wants an accurate and idiosyncratic interpretation, it is advised such dreams are referred to a person of knowledge who has the expertise in interpreting dreams according to Islām. One should avoid disclosing dreams for interpretation to other than an expert for the simple fact that the science of dream interpretation is an actual legal vocation and any resulting interpretations are considered to be legal verdicts.

The Development of the Term ‘Sunnah’: An Essay

Examine critically the usage and development of the term Sunnah in early Islam.

In this essay I will critically examine the term Sunnah by discussing two important aspects; its usage in the early period of Islām and its development on the one hand and the issue of its authoritativeness as theorised by the German Orientalist Joseph Schacht on the other. Accordingly, this essay is divided into two parts although they both compose one organic whole. In the first part I will examine the different definitions of the term Sunnah from a linguistic point of view and trace its mode of use through different Islamic fields of knowledge to which it was exposed including Qur’ānic studies, the Science of Traditions, theology and jurisprudence.  From this it will be shown that the term was quite fluid thus containing different meanings and usages; however by the beginning of the second century it had been standardised and restricted to one particular signification.

The second part of the essay will deal with Schacht’s central contention that the term Sunnah was originally understood by the ancient schools of law to mean ‘the living tradition’ or the ideal practices of the community and not the Sunnah of the Prophet which was a concept first opined by the eponym of the Shāfi῾ī school of law Muḥammad b. Idrīs al- Shāfi῾ī (d.204AH). This essay will argue that although the term Sunnah may have been utilised varyingly the concept of the Sunnah of the Prophet as an authoritative source was in existence from a much earlier stage than Schacht proposed.

Significations of the Term Sunnah 

The famous Arab lexicologist, Ibn Manẓūr defined the word Sunnah in his magnum opus Lisān al-῾Arab as a line of conduct, course or way or mode of life whether it be good or bad[1]. He also states that the term Sunnah itself originally signified a path which was traversed by the early people which subsequently became a path for those after them[2]. The root verb from which the word derives itself means to institute or establish a custom or practice which may be good or bad and to originate such in order to be followed by others after him[3]. The collocation or idiom sanna ṭarīqatan means to pursue a way, course or mode or manner of acting or conducting life. The term Sunnah is synonymous according to Lane with the word ṭarīqah[4]. The seventh century litterateur, Ibn al-Athīr discusses the term by mentioning that it originally signified a path and way of life[5]. However, when utilised religiously it denotes what the Prophet Muḥammad had commanded, forbidden and recommended whether through statements or actions and which is not articulated in the Qur’ān. For this reason he states, when referring to the evidences of the Sharī’ah one says The Book and the Sunnah meaning the Qur’ān and the Ḥadīth[6].

However the signification of a path and way of life was a later linguistic development predating Islām for we find, as Anṣārī posits, that the trilateral verb sanna originally meant ‘to flow’ and it denoted the ‘continuity of a thing with ease and smoothness’[7]. It also later extended to include the face itself following the collocation masnūn al-wajh referring to a person with a smooth and well shaped face[8]. It further evolved to incorporate the meaning of human behaviour and still retaining the sense of ease and smoothness it went on to denote a mode or way that could be adopted without difficulty[9]. Finally, it came to be used to refer to the Sunnah of so and so referring to ‘moral appropriateness and normativeness’[10].

Its use in the Qur’ān is less than conspicuous as it is mentioned 16 times being used in the genitive as Sunnatullāh (Sunnah of Allāh) eight times, Sunnatinā (Our Sunnah) two times Sunnat al-Awwalīn (Sunnah of the Ancients) four times and Sunnata man qad arsalnā qablaka min rusulinā (Sunnah of those who We have sent before you from our Messengers) two times[11]. Each occurrence in the Qur’ān contains a specialised meaning so for example the Sunnah of Allāh refers to His modus operandi[12], path to His obedience or His Sharī῾ah[13]. Sunnat al-Awwalīn refers to the manner in which God dealt with those who disbelieved and rejected His message[14] whilst the last phrase also denotes a similar meaning although referring to those who persecuted the Messenger in Makkah[15].

Despite its obvious absence in the Qur’ān, the usage and concept which has influenced the formation of Muslim thought the most is the term ‘Sunnah of the Prophet’[16]. However, its complete signification and discussion over its authoritativeness will be dilated upon in the second half of this essay. In this section I will discuss the use of the term al-Sunnah as used in Islamic jurisprudence, the science of traditions and works of theology. According to the early jurists (fuqhahā’), the term al-Sunnah has one of four possible meanings[17]; the first being a traversed path in the religion which is not obligatory. Secondly; an action persistently practiced by the Prophet but he did not indicate to it being obligatory. Thirdly; it denotes an action that is sought from the subject of the law strongly despite it not being obligatory. Fourthly; it refers to an action for which one deserves reward for its accomplishment and does not incur a threat of punishment for non-implementation.  In the lexicon of the Uṣūlīs it refers to the consensus that it is a Sharī῾ah evidence by which judicial rulings can be deduced and it includes what is mentioned from the Prophet in terms of his sayings, actions or tacit approvals[18].

This last usage is similar to the definition posited by traditionists in defining adīth (traditions) although the more refined definition is ‘what was attributed to the Prophet in terms of sayings, actions, tacit approvals or descriptions’[19]. Accordingly, it is evident that the Sunnah was equated with traditions due to the fact that ḥadīths were the repositories of the Sunnah[20].

Finally, the term Sunnah came to be used to refer to everything that was the antithesis of innovation (bidah). The expansion of the Islamic empire brought under its control diverse peoples and their cultures some of which was retained by these converts and syncretised with the original Islām. Additionally, access to Hellenistic philosophical works led to the proclamation of ideas, which according to the traditionists who saw themselves as the preservers and defenders of the Sunnah, were heretical. As a result, some authored works which sought to clarify the correct creed which was propagated by the Prophet and his Companions. Such works were typically entitled ‘al-Sunnah’, so we find Uṣūl al-Sunnah of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal (d.241), the eponym of the Ḥanbalī School of law, Shar al-Sunnah of al-Barbahārī (d.329) and al-Sunnah of Ibn Abī ῾Āṣim (d.287) setting out to achieve such an aim[21].

The contents of such works not only included creedal matters but also juristic issues such as wiping of the socks for ritual ablution which was an issue rejected by some sects. With such a variety of issues incorporated in these treatises it is obvious the word al-Sunnah[22] to them denoted more than just creed and more than just what the Prophet proclaimed. In fact, this particular use also included the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. Evidence of this use lies with the eighth century Ḥanbalī jurist and traditionist, Ibn Rajab (d.795) who provided a holistic definition of the term Sunnah which conceptualises this particular feature by stating that the Sunnah is the trodden path which includes strongly adhering to what the Prophet was upon and his Rightly Guided Caliphs in terms of beliefs, actions and statements[23]. This, he says while conceding some later scholars utilised it exclusively to refer to doctrinal matters,  is the complete Sunnah which is why the Ancient Predecessors (Salaf) would not apply the term al-Sunnah to anything except to the totality of what was mentioned[24].

Schacht and the Sunnah

In his seminal work on Islamic law entitled ‘The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence’ Schacht paints a different picture when he examines the historical development of legal theory beginning with Muḥammad b. Idrīs al-Shāfi῾ī back to the earliest stages in the growth of Islamic jurisprudence[25]. One of his central arguments was that the ancient schools of law originally understood by the term Sunnah ‘the living tradition’ or ‘al-amr al-mujtama alayh[26]. Essentially, as Forte notes, the ‘Sunnah of the Prophet’ was used only theologically in the early years and not with a legal meaning and according to Schacht it was not ‘a shorthand version of the positive legal rules of the Prophet’[27]; a view which contradicts al-Shāfi῾ī’s postulation in his al-Risālah. Although he goes on to posit further arguments as a result of this assumption, our primary focus in this section will be on evaluating some of the evidences Schacht produces to substantiate his argument in this regard.

With the ‘Sunnah of the Prophet’ notion acquiring authority much later than believed by Muslim scholars, the early reality of Sunnah, according to Schacht, was composed essentially of three types. During the Caliphate and early Umayyad reign it consisted of long-standing traditional Arab customs and practices which apparently formed the ‘bulk of the legal rules in Arabia’[28]. Secondly, local customs and Umayyad administrative rules applied in newly conquered territories created a ‘parallel sunna’[29]. Finally, doctrines arising from schools of law which further developed these laws and customs called the ‘living tradition’ went on to form the third type of Sunnah[30].

Critics of Schacht’s theory, such as Azami, have argued that the authority of the Prophet is explicitly stated in numerous verses of the Qur’ān which exhorts and orders the believers to render themselves in obedience to the Prophet without question[31]. Importantly, Schacht failed to consult the Qur’ān as part of his study into the authoritativeness of the Prophet as a legal actor. Azami quotes the Qur’ān as describing the Prophet as the expounder of the Qur’ān[32], one endowed with legislative power[33], an excellent model to be emulated[34] and one who should be fully obeyed[35]. The Qur’ān, Azami notes, does not state that the source of law as such is the Sunnah however[36], what it does do is clarify the concept; a concept which predated the definition of the term Sunnah[37].

Schacht’s view that the Iraqians were the first to coin the term ‘sunna of the Prophet’[38] is questionable. Evidence for the concept of the Sunnah of the Prophet carrying primary authoritative status is found in early ḥadīth literature in which the Prophet, according to traditionists, utilised the term himself. The problem with this type of evidence lies in the fact that traditions are viewed with great scepticism in Orientalist discourse, especially since the nineteenth century as is evident in the works of Goldziher et al. Nevertheless, in the Musnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal a tradition is narrated from the Companion al-῾Irbād b. Sāriyah in which he relates the Prophet delivered a stirring sermon ordering them to hear and obey no matter who is put in charge of them and to adhere to his Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs after him[39].

Ansari quotes evidence demonstrating both the wide use and authoritative nature of the term Sunnah of the Prophet in the early first century of Islām. For example, ῾Umar explained the function of his officials as including instructing people ‘in their religion and the Sunnah of their Prophet’[40]. Furthermore, after the death of ῾Umar the two leading candidates for the Caliphal role; ῾Uthmān and ῾Alī, were both questioned as to whether they would work according to not only the Sunnah of the Prophet but also of the two preceding Caliphs[41]. Finally, in a letter from the famous ascetic Successor al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, which he wrote to the Umayyad Caliph ῾Abd al-Mālik defending his doctrinal position regarding the issue of pre-decree he elicits the doctrine of the Salaf in his defence by adding that they followed the Sunnah of the Messenger[42].

One argument Schacht adduces to substantiate his view that the old idea of the Sunnah was not the same one that Shāfi῾ī came to define, is the words of Ibn Muqaffa’; ‘a secretary of state in late Umaiyad and early ῾Abbāsid times’[43]. Ibn Muqaffa’, claims Schacht, came to the conclusion that ‘the Caliph was free to fix and codify the alleged sunna’[44]. In the eyes of Ansari and Azami this is problematic since Ibn Muqaffa’ was not a jurist but a government official and litterateur whose focus was on administrative issues; areas in which ra’y (informed opinion) was utilised in the absence of any textual guidance[45]. In fact, a holistic reading of Ibn Muqaffa’s treatise, according to Azami, provides the exact context and the precise meaning of his words become crystal clear so to speak. He, in fact, believed that the Caliph was bound by the Sunnah of the Prophet and that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs[46]. Accordingly Azami concludes it is difficult to see how this piece of text was used by Schacht to deduce the view ‘that law in the first century was not based on the Qur’ān and Sunnah’[47].

Motzki on the other hand criticises Azami for not understanding Schacht’s reasoning for mentioning Ibn Muqaffa’[48]. He states that Schacht did not wish to draw the conclusion from this particular source that neither the Qur’ān nor the Sunnah formed the basis of law in the first century as Azami appears to understand it, rather he was reporting a descriptive observation from Ibn Muqaffa’[49]. However, it appears to this writer that Azami was responding to the implication of Ibn Muqaffa’s statement as quoted by Schacht which gives the impression that the Sunnah of the Prophet did not hold authoritative status with the early Muslims – a conclusion Schacht seeks to demonstrate throughout the whole of his book.

Nevertheless, in responding to Schacht’s view regarding a particular tradition relating to the legal position of divorcing a woman during her menstrual cycle, Motzki argues that Schacht is wrong in attempting to shift its origin to the middle of the second century when in fact the latest time to which it should be attributed is the first quarter of that century[50]. The reason being, according to Schacht’s own common link theory it appears that Ibn ῾Umar was the ‘original source of the Prophetic tradition’[51].  The point which relates to our discussion however is the fact that the early Meccan jurist ῾Aṭā’ referred to this tradition in responding to legal question which demonstrates that he ‘not only held the legal position but also knew the corresponding tradition of the Prophet’[52].

A final cursory point which should be made with regards to evidences Schacht brings throughout his book which seek to substantiate his theory that the Sunnah of the Prophet was not an authoritative concept in the first century of Islām, is in relation to the utilisation of or disregard for traditions in proving judicial rulings among early jurists.  The prominent medieval scholar and jurist commonly referred to as Shaykh al-Islām ibn Taymiyyah (d.728) authored a small treatise entitled ‘Removing the Blame from the Great Imāms’ in which he posits a number of factors which may have led a jurist to base his ruling on other than textual evidence such as traditions – a stark contrast to Schacht’s cynical view on the integrity of early Muslim jurists. Three main reasons are given; firstly, the jurist may not have believed that the Prophet actually made a statement on the topic in hand due to nescience of all available traditions[53] or the belief that the tradition was unsound. Secondly, even if a tradition did exist it may not have, in the jurist’s view been applicable to that issue at hand[54]. Thirdly, the text may have been considered to be abrogated[55]. Such factors it appears may be applied to majority of the cases Schacht quotes.

In conclusion, I have examined the term Sunnah by tracing its definition through time and its various uses in different areas of Islamic knowledge such as in the science of traditions and jurisprudence. I have attempted to show that the term was used varying and with different meanings and that the genitive use of the word Sunnah as in the ‘Sunnah of so and so’ was not only used for the Prophet’s regulatory practices but also his Companions’ practices and even more broadly the practices and customs of others. However, the term Sunnah came to be restricted to the concept of the Prophet’s authoritative words and practice; a concept which had already existed prior to the restriction of the term to this particular concept. I have also examined some arguments posited by Schacht which sought to substantiate his view that the Sunnah of the Prophet was originally not authoritative and attempted to demonstrate the weaknesses they possess. Finally, I have briefly mentioned some legitimate factors which may have caused an early jurist to discard the use of a tradition in support of his juridical position; factors which are less cynical than those put forth by Schacht.                                                     WORD COUNT: 2859

Bibliography

Anṣārī, Zafar Isḥāq, Islamic Juristic Terminology before al-Shāfi῾ī: A Semantic Analysis with Special Reference to Kūfah, Arabica, T.19, Fasc. 3 (Oct. 1972), pp. 255-300.

Azami, M.M. (1992) Studies in adīth Methodology and Literature. Indianapolis: American Trust Publications.

Azami, M.M. (1996) On Schacht’s Origins of Muammadan Jurisprudence.  Oxford: Islamic Texts Society.

Brown, Jonathan (2009) adīth: Muammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

Dutton, Yassin (1999) The Origins of Islamic Law: The Qur’ān, Muwaṭṭa’ and Madinan Amal. Surrey: Curzon Press.

Forte, David (c.1999) Studies in Islamic Law: Classical and Contemporary Application. Landham: Austin & Winfield.

Al-Ḥanbalī, ῾Abd al-Raḥmān b. Shihāb (1424/2004) Jāmi al-Ulūm wa al-ikam fī Shar Khamsīn adīthan min Jawāmi al-Kalim, eds. Shu῾ayb al-Arnā’ūṭ and Ibrāhīm Bājis, Tenth Edition. Beirut: Mu’assah al-Risālah.

Al-Handāwī, ῾Abd al-Ḥamīd (2007) Mufradāt Alfāẓ al-Qur’ān al-Karīm by al-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī in Jāmi῾ al-Bayān fī Mufradāt al-Qur’ān. Riyāḍ: Maktabah al-Rushd.

Ibn al-Athīr, Abū al-Sa῾ādāt al-Mubārak (1428/2008) al-Nihāyah fī Gharīb al-adīth wa al-Athar, ed. ῾Alī b. Ḥasan al-Ḥalabī. Al-Dammām: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī

Ibn Ḥanbal, Aḥmad (1416/1995) Musnad al-Imām Amad b. anbal, eds. Shu῾ayb al-Arnā’ūt and ῾Ādil Murshid. Beirut: Mu’assah al-Risālah. 50 volumes.

Ibn Manẓūr, (2003) Lisān al-Arab. Cairo: Dār al-Ḥadīth. 9 Volumes.

Ibn Taymiyyah, Aḥmad b. Abd al-Ḥalīm (1413) Raf῾ al-Malām ῾an al-A’immah al-A῾lām. Riyāḍ: Ri’āsah al-῾Āmmah li Idārah al-Buḥūth al-῾Ilmiyyah wa al-Ifṭā’ wa al-Da῾wah wa al-Irshād.

Juynboll, G.H.A.; Brown, D.W. “Sunna.” Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010. Brill Online. School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). 26 January 2010 <http://www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_COM-1123&gt;

Lane, Edward William (1968) An Arabic to English Lexicon. Beirut: Librarie du Liban. 8 volumes.

Motzki, Harald (2002) The Origins of Islamic Jurisprudence: Meccan Fiqh before the Classical Schools, Translator: Marion H. Katz. Leiden: Brill.

Schacht, Joseph (2010) The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. New York: American Council of Learned Societies.

Al-Shāfi῾ī, Muḥammad b. Idrīs (2004) Al-Umm: Al-Risālah, Second Edition, ed. Dr Rif῾at Fawzī ῾Abd al-Muṭṭalib. Al-Manṣūrah: Dār al-Wafā’.

Al-Sibā῾ee, Mustafa (2008) The Sunnah and its Role in Islamic Legislation. Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House.

Al-Sibā῾ī, Muṣṭafā (2000) Al-Sunnah wa Makānatuhā fi al-Tashrī῾ al-Islāmī. (No Place) :Dār al-Warrāq/al-Maktab al-Islāmī.

Al-Ṭaḥḥān, Maḥmūd (2004) Taysīr Muṣṭalaḥ al-Ḥadīth. Riyāḍ: Maktabah al-Ma῾ārif.

Wakin, Jeannette, Remembering Joseph Schacht (1902-1969), Islamic Legal Studies Program: Harvard Law School. Occasional Publications 4; January 2003.


[1] Ibn Manẓūr, (2003) Lisān al-Arab. Cairo: Dār al-Ḥadīth, v.4, p.716

[2] Ibid, v.4, p.717

[3] Lane, Edward William (1968) An Arabic to English Lexicon. Beirut: Librarie du Liban, vol.4, p.1436, column 2

[4] Loc. cit.

[5] Ibn al-Athīr, Abū al-Sa῾ādāt al-Mubārak (1428/2008) al-Nihāyah fī Gharīb al-adīth wa al-Athar, ed. ῾Alī b. Ḥasan al-Ḥalabī. Al-Dammām: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī, p.449

[6] Ibid. p.449. Interestingly Ibn al-Athīr’s definition is mentioned verbatim in Ibn Manẓūr’s Lisān, v.4, p717.

[7] Anṣārī, Zafar Isḥāq, Islamic Juristic Terminology before al-Shāfi῾ī: A Semantic Analysis with Special Reference to Kūfah, Arabica, T.19, Fasc. 3 (Oct. 1972), p.5

[8] Ibid, p.6

[9] Loc. cit.

[10] Ibid, p.7

[11] ῾Abd al-Bāqī, Muḥammad Fu’ād (1417/1996) Mu’jam al-Mufahharas li Alfāẓ al-Qur’ān al-Karīm. Cairo: Dār al-Ḥadīth, p.451

[12] Anṣārī, Zafar Isḥāq, Islamic Juristic Terminology before al-Shāfi῾ī: A Semantic Analysis with Special Reference to Kūfah, Arabica, T.19, Fasc. 3 (Oct. 1972), p.8

[13] Al-Handāwī, ῾Abd al-Ḥamīd (2007) Mufradāt Alfāẓ al-Qur’ān al-Karīm by al-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī in Jāmi῾ al-Bayān fī Mufradāt al-Qur’ān. Riyāḍ: Maktabah al-Rushd, v.1, p.460

[14] Anṣārī, Zafar Isḥāq, Islamic Juristic Terminology before al-Shāfi῾ī: A Semantic Analysis with Special Reference to Kūfah, Arabica, T.19, Fasc. 3 (Oct. 1972), p.8

[15] al-Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr (2001) Jāmi al-Bayān an Ta’wīl Āyā al-Qur’ān, ed. ῾Abd Allāh b. Abd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī. Cairo: Dār Hajr, v.15, p.21

[16] Anṣārī, Zafar Isḥāq, Islamic Juristic Terminology before al-Shāfi῾ī: A Semantic Analysis with Special Reference to Kūfah, Arabica, T.19, Fasc. 3 (Oct. 1972), p.8

[17] Al-Mawsū῾ah al-Fiqhiyyah, (1980) Kuwait: Wizārah al-Awqāf wa al-Shu’ūn al-Islāmiyyah, v.25, pp.264-266

[18] Loc. cit.

[19] Al-Ṭaḥḥān, Maḥmūd (2004) Taysīr Muṣṭalaḥ al-Ḥadīth. Riyāḍ: Maktabah al-Ma῾ārif, p.17

[20] Forte, David (c.1999) Studies in Islamic Law: Classical and Contemporary Application. Landham: Austin & Winfield, p.39

[21] Brown, Jonathan (2009) adīth: Muammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, p.36

[22] By the end of the second century the use of the term Sunnah prefixed with the definite article ‘al’ referred exclusively to the Sunnah of the Prophet as stated in legal books and deductions thereof. See: Azami, M.M. (1992) Studies in adīth Methodology and Literature. Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, p.4

[23] Ibn Rajab, ῾Abd al-Raḥmān b. Shihāb al-Dīn (2004) Jāmi al-Ulūm wa al-ikam eds. Shu῾ayb al-Arnā’ūt & Ibrāhīm Baljis. Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, part 2, p.120

[24] Loc. cit.

[25] Wakin, Jeannette, Remembering Joseph Schacht (1902-1969), Islamic Legal Studies Program: Harvard Law School. Occasional Publications 4; January 2003, p.24

[26] Schacht, Joseph (2010) The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. New York: American Council of Learned Societies, p.58

[27] Forte, David (c.1999) Studies in Islamic Law: Classical and Contemporary Application. Landham: Austin & Winfield, p.45

[28] Ibid, p.43

[29] Loc. cit.

[30] Loc. cit.

[31] Azami, M.M. (1992) Studies in adīth Methodology and Literature. Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, p.5

[32] The Qur’ān, 16:44

[33] Ibid, 7:157

[34] Ibid,  33: 21

[35] Ibid, 4:64

[36] Azami, M.M. (1992) Studies in adīth Methodology and Literature. Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, p.7

[37] Loc. cit.

[38] Schacht, Joseph (2010) The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. New York: American Council of Learned Societies, p.73

[39] Ibn Ḥanbal, Aḥmad (1416/1995) Musnad al-Imām Amad b. anbal, eds. Shu῾ayb al-Arnā’ūt and ῾Ādil Murshid. Beirut: Mu’assah al-Risālah, vol.28, pp. 367-376 (narrations 17142 and 17144-46)

[40] Anṣārī, Zafar Isḥāq, Islamic Juristic Terminology before al-Shāfi῾ī: A Semantic Analysis with Special Reference to Kūfah, Arabica, T.19, Fasc. 3 (Oct. 1972), p.263

[41] Loc. cit.

[42] Loc. cit.

[43] Schacht, Joseph (2010) The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. New York: American Council of Learned Societies, p.58

[44] Ibid, p.59

[45] Anṣārī, Zafar Isḥāq, Islamic Juristic Terminology before al-Shāfi῾ī: A Semantic Analysis with Special Reference to Kūfah, Arabica, T.19, Fasc. 3 (Oct. 1972), p.265

[46] Azami, M.M. (1996) On Schacht’s Origins of Muammadan Jurisprudence.  Oxford: Islamic Texts Society, p.42

[47] Ibid, p.43

[48] Motzki, Harald (2002) The Origins of Islamic Jurisprudence: Meccan Fiqh before the Classical Schools, Translator: Marion H. Katz. Leiden: Brill, p.43

[49] Loc. cit.

[50] Ibid, p.136

[51] Loc. cit

[52] Ibid, p.135

[53] Ibn Taymiyyah, Aḥmad b. Abd al-Ḥalīm (1413) Raf῾ al-Malām ῾an al-A’immah al-A῾lām. Riyāḍ: Ri’āsah al-῾Āmmah li Idārah al-Buḥūth al-῾Ilmiyyah wa al-Ifṭā’ wa al-Da῾wah wa al-Irshād, p.9

[54] Loc. cit.

[55] Loc. cit.