What is a Madhhab?

The word madhhab is derived from an Arabic word meaning “to go” or “to take as a way”, and refers to a mujtahid’s choice in regard to a number of interpretive possibilities in deriving the rule of Allah from the primary texts of the Quran and hadeeth on a particular question. In a larger sense, a madhhab represents the entire school of thought of a particular mujtahid imam, such as Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi, or Ahmad-together with many first-rank scholars that came after each of these in their respective schools, who checked their evidences and refined and upgraded their work. The mujtahid imams were thus explainers, who operationalized the Quran and sunnah in the specific sharia rulings in our lives that are collectively known as fiqh or “jurisprudence”. In relation to our Deen or “religion” this fiqh is only part of it, for the religious knowledge each of us possesses is of three types. The first type is the general knowledge of the tenets of Islamic belief in the oneness of Allah,in his angels,books,messengers,the prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ and so on. All of us may derive this knowledge directly from the Quran and hadith as is also the case with a second type of knowledge, that of general islamic ethical principies to do good, avoid evil,good works, and so forth. Every Muslim can take these general principles, which form the largest and utmost part of his religion from the Quran and hadith.

The third type of knowledge is that of the specific understanding of particular divine commands and prohibitions that make up the shari’a.Here, because of both the nature and the sheer number of the Qur’an and hadith texts involved people differ in the scholarly capacity to understand and deduce rulings from them. But all of us have been commanded to live them in our lives, in obedience to Allah, and so Muslims are of two types, those who can do this by themselves, and they are the mujtahid imams; and those who must do so by means of another, that is, by following a mujtahid Imam, in accordance with Allah’s word in Surat al-Nahl,
*Ask those who recall, if you know not” (Quran 16:43), and in Surat al-Nisa,
“If they had referred it to the Messenger and to those of authority among them, then those of them whose task it is to find it out would have known the matter (Qur’an 4:83),
in which the phrase those of them whose task it is to find it out, expresses the words “alladhina yastanbitunahu minhum”, referring to those possessing the capacity to draw inferences directly from the evidence, which is called in Arabic istinbat.
These and other verses and hadiths oblige the believer who is not at the level of istinbat or directly deriving rulings from the Qur’an and hadith to ask and follow someone in such rulings who is at this level. It is not difficult to see why Allah has obliged us to ask experts, for if each of us were personally responsible for evaluating all the primary texts relating to each question, a lifetime of study would hardly be enough for it, and one would either have to give up earning a living or give up ones deen, which is why Allah says in surat al-Tawba, in the context of jihad:
“Not all of the believers should go to fight. Of every section of them, why does not one part alone go forth, that the rest may gain knowledge of the religion and admonish their people when they return, that perhaps they may take warning”(Qur’an 9:122).
The slogans we hear today about “following the Qur’an and sunna instead of following the madhhabs” are wide of the mark, for everyone agrees that we must follow the Qur’an and the sunna of Nabi ﷺ. The point is that Nabi ﷺ is no longer alive to personally teach us, and everything we have from him, whether the hadith or the Qur’an, has been conveyed to us through islamic scholars.

So it is not a question of whether or not to take our deen from scholars, but rather, from which scholars. And this is the reason we have madhhabs in islam: because the excellence and superiority of the scholarship of the mujtahid Imams–together with the traditional scholars who followed in each of their schools and evaluated and upgraded their work after them–have met the test of scholarly investigation and won the confidence of thinking and practicing Muslims for all the centuries of Islamic greatness. The reason why madhhabs exist, the benefit of them, past,present, and future, is that they furnish thousands of sound, knowledge-based answers to Muslims questions on how to obey Allah.
Muslims have realized that to follow a madhhab means to follow a super scholar who not only had a comprehensive knowledge of the Qur’an and hadith texts relating to each issue he gave judgements on, but also lived in an age a millennium closer to Nabi ﷺ and his Companions, when taqwa or “godfearingness” was the norm-both of which conditions are in striking contrast to the scholarship available today.
While the call for a return to the Qur’an and sunna is an attractive slogan, in reality it is a great leap backward, a call to abandon centuries of detailed, case-by-case islamic scholarship in finding and spelling out the commands of the Quran and sunna, a highly sophisticated, interdisciplinary effort by mujtahids, hadith specialists,Qur’anic exegetes, lexicographers, and other masters of the Islamic legal sciences. To abandon the fruits of this research the Islamic Sharia or the following of contemporary sheikhs who, despite the claims, are not at the level of their predecessors is a replacement of something tried and proven for something at best tentative.

The rhetoric of following the shari’a without following a particular madhhab is like a person going down to a car dealer to buy a car, but insisting it not be any known make-neither a Volkswagen nor Rolls-Royce nor Chevrolet-but rather “a car, pure and simple”. Such a person does not really know what he wants, the cars on the lot do not come like that but only in kinds. The salesman may be forgiven a slight smile and can only point out that sophisticated products come from sophisticated means of production from factories with a division of labor among those who test, produce, and assemble the many parts of the finished product. It is the nature of such collective human efforts to produce something far better than any of us alone could produce from scratch even if given a forge and tools, and fifty years or even a thousand. And so it is with the shari’a whch is more complex than any car because it deals with the universe of human actions and a wide interpretative range of sacred texts. This is why discarding the monumental scholarship of the madhhabs in operationalizing the Qur’an and sunna in order to adopt the understanding of a contemporary sheikh is not just a mistaken opinion, it is scrapping a Mercedes for a go-cart.

Valentine Day, Birthdays, and Other Daze

What commercial and cultural propaganda presents as beautiful is rooted in ugly paganism but most blind followers do not know.

There is a group of practices that we can consider as the twin sister of bid’ah. Like bid’ah they flourish on the twin foundations of ignorance and outside influence. Like bid’ah they entail rituals. But unlike bid’ah the rituals have not been given an islamic face. They are followed because they are considered an acceptable cultural practice or the hottest imported “in” thing.

Most of those who indulge in them do not know what they are doing. They are just blind followers of their equally blind cultural leaders. Little do they realize that what they consider as innocent fun may in fact be rooted in paganism. That the symbols they embrace may be symbols of unbelief. That the ideas they borrow may be products of superstition. That all of these may be a negation of what Islam stands for.

Christianity tried to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. Its only success was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine’s Day.

Consider Valentine’s Day, a day that after dying out a well deserved death in most of Europe (but surviving in Britain and United States) has suddenly started to emerge across a good swath of Muslim countries. Who was Valentine? Why is this day observed? Legends abound, as they do in all such cases, but this much is clear: Valentine’s Day began as a pagan ritual started by Romans in the 4th century BCE to honor the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this ritual was a lottery held to distribute young women to young men for “entertainment and pleasure”-until the next year’s lottery. Among other equally despicable practices associated with this day was the lashing of young women by two young men, clad only in a bit of goatskin and wielding goatskin thongs, who had been smeared with blood of sacrificial goats and dogs. A lash of the “sacred” thongs by these “holy men” was believed to make them better able to bear children.
As usual, Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It first replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. (The idea that you can preserve the appearance of a popular evil and yet somehow turn it to serve the purpose of virtue, has survived. Look at all those people who are still trying, helplessly, to use the formats of popular television entertainments to promote good. They might learn something from this bit of history. It failed miserably) Christianity ended up doing in Rome, and elsewhere, as the Romans did.

How can anyone in his right mind think that Islam would be indifferent to practices seeped in anti-Islamic ideas and beliefs? The only success it had was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine’s Day. It was done in CE 496 by Pope Gelasius, in honor of some Saint Valentine. There are as many as 50 different Valentines in Christian legends. Two of them are more famous, although their lives and characters are also shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, and the one more in line with the true nature of this celebration, St. Valentine was a “lovers” saint, who had himseif fallen in love with his jailer’s daughter.

Due to serious troubles that accompanied such lottery, French government banned the practice in 1776. In Italy,Austria,Hungry, and Germany also the ritual vanished over the years. Earlier, it had been banned in England during the 17th century when the Puritans were strong. However in 1660 Charles II revived it. From there it also reached the New World, where enterprising Yankees spotted a good means of making money. Esther A. Howland, who produced one of the first commercial American Valentine’s Day cards called—what else-valentines, in the 1840s, sold $5,000 worth—when $5,000 was a lot of money–the first year. The valentine industry has been booming ever since.

It is the same story with Halloween, which has otherwise normal human beings dressing like ghosts and goblins in a reenactment of an ancient pagan ritual of demon worship. Five star hotels in Muslim countries arrange Halloween parties so the rich can celebrate the superstitions of a distant period of ignorance that at one time even included the shameful practice of human sacrifice. The pagan name for that event was Samhain (pronounced sow-en). Just as in case of Valentine’s Day, Christianity changed its name, but not the pagan moorings.

Christmas is another story. Today Muslim shopkeepers sell and shoppers buy Christmas symbols in Islamabad or Dubai or Cairo to engage in a known religious celebration of another religion is bad enough. What is worse is the fact that here
is another pagan celebration (Saturnalia) that has been changed in name –and in little else–by Christianity.
During joys and sorrows, during celebrations and sufferings, we must foilow the one straight path–not many divergent paths.

Even the celebration considered most innocent might have pagan foundations. According to one account, in pagan cultures,
people feared evil spirits – especially on their birthdays. It was a common belief that evil spirits were more dangerous to a person when he or she experienced a change in their daily life, such as turning a year older. So family and friends
surrounded the person with laughter and joy on their birthdays in order to protect them from evil.

How can anyone in his right mind think that Islam would be indifferent to practices seeped in anti-Islamic ideas and beliefs?
Islam came to destroy paganism in all its forms and it cannot tolerate any trace of it in the lives of its followers.
Further, Islam is very sensitive about maintaining its purity and the unique identity of its followers. Islamic laws and teachings go to extra lengths to ensure it. Salat is forbidden at the precise times of sunrise transition, and sunset to eliminate the possibility of confusion with the practice of sun worship. To the voluntary recommended fast on the tenth of Muharram,Muslims are required to add another day (9th or 11th) to differentiate it from the then prevalent Jewish practice. Muslims are forbidden to emulate the appearance of non-Muslims.

A Muslim is a Muslim for life. During joys and sorrows, during celebrations and sufferings, we must follow the one straight
pain — not many divergent paths. It is a great tragedy that under the constant barrage of commercial and cultural propaganda from the forces of globalization and the relentiess media machine, Muslims have begun to embrace the Valentines, the Halloween ghost, and even the Santa Claus. Given our terrible and increasing surrender to paganism the only day we should be observing is a day of mourning. Better yet it should be a day of repentance that could liberate us from all these days. And all this daze.

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Respected and esteemed reader,
We welcome you to our madrasah blog. Jazakumullahu khairan for taking out your precious and valuable time to visit this page.

Alhamdulillah, only and only through the kindness,mercy and generosity of Allah, Madrasah Fadhlul Uloom, situated in Mombasa,Kenya, was established in January of 2014.Over the course of the past 6 years, it has offered various courses, two of which – the ladies online course, and the children’s afternoon madrasah-are still ongoing.

Alhamdulillah starting from January of 2020 we are offering two new courses – The Aalima course and the Tarbiyat course. The Aalima course is a moderately intensive higher Islamic studies course for girls over 12 years which runs from 7.30 a.m to 12.30 p.m Monday to Saturday. The tarbiyat course is a shortened version specially designed for those girls and ladies who cannot commit to the Aalima course. This course runs from 8 a.m to 10 a.m Monday to Friday. The courses cover a wide range of subjects which include – Arabic, Urdu, Tajweed, Hadith, Tafseer and Seerah. The girls are also taught necessary and beneficial skills in a very fun, interesting and interactive manner, and which include cooking, baking, arts and crafts, mendhi application, calligraphy and life-coping skills. This particular blog is dedicated to these 2 courses.

In todays times, a madrasah which is grounded firmly on Haq and which embeds in the hearts of the students the timeless principles of Deen, is like a dazzling jewel of bright light in the middle of an ocean of darkness. This is exactly what we aspire to become, InshaAllah. The fundamental and primary objective is for all of us to establish a firm connection with Allah Ta‘ala, and thereby attain success of this world and the next.
For enrollment and further information, please contact +254731724036.
InshaAllah on this blog we will be posting announcements and pertinent information regarding the madrasah, we will also be regularly posting important and beneficial articles. I humbly request you all to make dua that Allah accepts this humble venture and grant us Ikhlaas.

بسم اللّه الرّحمن الرّيم

The following intentions are supposed to be made before starting any dars:

1- To seek the pleasure of اللّه.

2- To make Nabi -e- Kareem صلّى اللّه عليه وسلّم happy.

3-To acquire the ilm of Deen.

4- To make amal on the ilm.

5-To spread the ilm in the four corners of the world.

6-To fill my heart with the love of اللّه and the love of Nabi-e-Kareem صلّى اللّه عليه وسلّم.

7-So that the ilm can come into MY heart, and it can make it easy to purify MY heart.

InshaAllah let’s all make these intentions before commencing any dars.

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