Is ISB Living Islam or Reforming Islam?

livingIslamReformationIt is interesting to note that those who compromise normative Islam or demonstrate a modernist tendency suddenly become “leading Sunni” Imams. The epithet was applied by the Times to former ISB President Ahtsham Ali who spoke at ISB’s Living Islam event, presumably because his statements fit in with neocon policy of attacking normative Islamic stances.

Claiming that the separation of the sexes is absent in the Quran, he iterated a statement which I would expect to see from modernist reformationists of the Usama Hasan variety,

“Stay in your houses and do not display yourselves like [women used to] in the time of ignorance [before Islam],” was intended specifically to the prophet’s wives, Ali said.

Aside from the obvious irrationality of ignoring principles of exegesis, like where a command is addressed to the wives it is for all women unless specifically stated otherwise, the validity of this statement can be determined by a perusal of a multitude of exegeses written on this verse which clearly indicate that the application of this verse is ‘aam (generic, to all Muslim women) as opposed to khass (specific).  The preceding verse which states that the mothers of the believers are “unlike other women” indicates to their special, raised status over other women by virtue of being the blessed wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), not towards the specificity of the command (as claimed by proponents of Ali’s position).  (Tafsir Ibn Kathir – specifically states that these verses are an example for other women, Tafsir Alusi – also quoted supporting this view is Zamakhshari, Tafsir BaydawiTafsir Ma’ariful Qur’an).

There are more problems with Ali’s words.  By focussing solely on the Qur’an to unsuccessfully refute a mainstream understanding in Islam, he side-steps an entire corpus of hadith and usul al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) which is also used, in addition to the Qur’an, to extrapolate rulings.  It smacks of a Taj Hargey statement who uses similar reductionist diatribe to give justification to strange, un-Islamic views. One wonders how Ali would reconcile is position with the following hadith:

 Aisha (RadiyAllahu ‘anha) says that a woman from behind a curtain gestured a letter to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) withheld his hand. The woman said, “O Prophet of Allah, I extended my hand to you with a letter and you did not take it?” He said, “I could not know if this is a man’s hand or a woman’s”. She said, “It is a woman’s hand.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If you were a woman you ought to have changed your fingernails with henna.” (Sunan An-Nasa’i)

The attack however continues with the emulation of the Prophet with his incredibly misleading statement:

“You don’t emulate except what [the Prophet] asked us to emulate. Wasn’t he allowed to have the culture of his time in 7th century Arabia?”

This is a grossly incorrect, reductionist statement. Emulation without an express command formed the basis of many rulings. Furthermore, emulation without exhortation was an expectation:

‘Aisha said, “The Messenger of Allah did something as an example in order to make things easier for people but some people still refrained from doing it. When the Prophet heard about that, he praised Allah and said, ‘what do you think of people who refrain from anything that I myself do? By Allah I am the greatest of them in knowledge of Allah and the strongest of them in fear of Allah”. (Bukhari wa Muslim)

From an Usul al-Fiqh point of view, custom is to be taken into account only if it does not conflict with other deductive principles such as Qiyas (legal analogy) and istihsaan (legal discretion used to restrain Qiyas) in the Hanafi madhab for instance, or in the Maliki madhab, the Sunnah itself.

Emulation and its Link to Iman

Had Ali delved into the technicalities of the types of emulation of a particular act of the Messenger (peace be upon), whether it was a’adah (habitual) or not, and clarifying that the culture of the locality is merely mubah (permissible), as opposed to emulation of actions of the Prophet (peace be upon), which are desirable and rewardable, then the statement could have had some credibility. As it is, his statement, which is essentially to eschew the Sunnah, unless it is a command, is blatantly wrong, tantamount to a trivialisation of the actions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon) and a removal of a barrier which protects the distinctive character of Islam. In an age where excuses are many and the aspiration to adhere to Sunnah lessening in the face of increased hostilities towards Muslims, such a statement is nothing short of irresponsible. The desire to emulate those actions purely for the sake of Iman (faith) and admiration, was a quality of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) once saw the Prophet following the pumpkin around the plate. He said, “l have loved pumpkin from that day.” Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn Ja’far (may Allah be pleased with them) came to Salma (may Allah be pleased with her) and asked her to prepare some food for them which the Messenger of Allah liked. Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) would wear tanned sandals dyed yellow after he saw the Messenger wearing the same. (Qadhi Iyadh, Ash-Shifa, [Section on the Sign of the love of the Prophet sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam], p.228).

Such emulation of acts which are extraneous and a habitual Sunnah are regarded as the first sign of the love of the Prophet (Ibid, p.226).

The element of love is directly linked to Iman, as the famous hadith of Umar (may Allah be please with him) shows, in which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said “O Umar, your faith will never be complete until you love me more than yourself”.

Ali’s statement, in this way, is encouraging the weakening of Iman.

ISB’s Affinity with Reformationists

His statements however should not come as a surprise. Dodging scholarship and making misleading, modernist statements seems to be becoming an ISB staple trait.   Living Islam’s event itself had a list of speakers which brought me into dismay.

Sara Khan’s PREVENT propounding capabilities are evident from her rhetoric on her feminist website. She assumes the role of countering extremism through “Jihad against violence” which includes “violent extremism”.  It claims to be a human rights organisation, and criticises everything but the human rights violating PREVENT policy. Listed amongst the UK ambassadors for this Jihad against violence is the notorious, Islam-twisting, neocon-serving Usama Hasan of Quilliam who shares liaisons with the bigoted neocon Henry Jackson Society.

Khan’s work has an endorsement from another Islam-twisting organisation: British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD), an organisation which propagates anything but Islam.   Tehmina Kazi, who is also listed on the Living Islam website, is the director of BMSD.  The organisation previously had a plethora of anti-Islam luminaries such as, Taj Hargey, Hijab-hater Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who was the director of BMSD and who is now currently vice chair, and Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, another reformationist who believes Islamic laws are outdated.

The links of ISB to reformationists do not end here however.  Their “Plain Islam” website, which supposed to be a means for Da’wah contains some perturbing individuals.  Once again reformationist Usama Hasan rears his devolved head with his rather disparaging insinuation against Allah that He Almighty did not complete the process of achieving complete gender equality, ignoring of course that equality in the Islamic paradigm entails the material world as well as the hereafter, whereas the secular paradigm is wholly materialistic in its endeavour:

“Thus, Islam’s giving women full rights of property and even some inheritance and recognition as a qualified witness, albeit not equal to men initially, has to be seen as revolutionary and the beginning of a process of the liberation of women, not as a fixed end-point that cannot be changed

He also completely misrepresents the Hanafi position on divorce (see here).

Ziauddin Sardar is also listed on the site.  His views are just as jarring as Usama Hasan’s. He has described the emulation of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a “fetish”, and believes that Muslims should,

“question what now goes under the general rubric of shari’ah and to declare that much of Islamic jurisprudence is now dangerously obsolete… Serious rethinking within Islam is long overdue.” (New Internationalist, May 2002)

And within which paradigm should that rethink occur?

“Unlike the ‘Ulama, modernist scholars do not shun the West. In fact they embrace the West in its totality, warts and all. While the traditional scholars sit on the crest of contemporary times perpetually looking back into history, modernist intellectuals place no real value on Muslim tradition and history.” (Ziauddin Sardar, Islamic Futures (1985) p.352)

There are other serious issues with the individuals mentioned on the Plain Islam website however, for the sake of brevity, this will suffice for now. The tokenistic statement at the bottom which disclaims synonymy of views with ISB is pathetic considering the fact that the “in-depth” section of a Da’wa website contains reformationists and haters of Ulama.

Concluding Remarks

Ahtsham Ali then, is merely the tip of a ship-crippling iceberg.  ISB was at one point in time, a highly respected organisation with classical Islam as its beating heart.  Over the years, ISB has taken some disconcerting decisions.  Platforming such dangerous individuals is not a presentation of living Islam but an attempt at killing Islam.  The staging of such rhetoric from modernists is reminiscent of the RAND Corporation document which advises giving platform to modernists to force a reformation of Islam. The statements of Ali, in effect, tears down the established principles which protect Islam from malicious incursions of the reformationist kind.

Islam is not in need of a reformation, rather it is the hearts and minds of Muslims which need a reformation. A reformation which reinforces the Sunnah and avoids the doubtful in an age of strife. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“Whoever brings to life any of my Sunnah which has died after me will have the reward of all those who act by it without decreasing their reward in any way. Whoever introduces a misguiding innovation which does not please Allah and His Messenger will have the like of all those who act by it without that decreasing their burden.” (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

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14 thoughts on “Is ISB Living Islam or Reforming Islam?

  1. Dear coolness of hind

    Interesting article not going to make a comment on the blog , but you have picked up on a concern I have had for a little while about ISB and the direction it going in.

    Normative Islam and the emergence of self discovery in muslim is important -my worry is that the re-enlightment of Islam is being overshadowed by a desire to make it sterile and acceptable to those do not wish to see it emerge from the cloud of ignorance that has enveloped it over the decades.

    S

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Thank you for your comment.

      The gist of your concern is what prompted me to write this. The trend is shifting towards an Islam which is devoid of its unique character. There are many factors for its suppression but it is the psyche of the Muslim which needs to reform in conformance with Islam. Success and development is tied to a need adopt modernity achieved through reformation, thus giving way to these post-modernist, deconstructionist urges. The reality is that the pinnacle of achievement and progress amongst the Muslims was reached (ironically by Ulama) when they were strongest upon their practices.

      May Allah strengthen us in our adherence to Islam. Ameen.

  2. AA. Some brothers told me I was being commented on within some online forums. I do not often go onto the internet, so had no idea. I have formulated this general comment. Please take this genuinely as a naseeha (reminder) from your brother. I wish nothing but the best for you. Please do not lose your own hard-gotten good deeds by passing swift judgements on people and abusing their reputation based only on what you have read in a media report. This is not our Islam. Our beloved Prophet (saw) said in a hadith reported in Sahih Muslim: It is enough of a lie for a man that he narrates everything he hears. In our faith we know Allah will forgive us by His Grace and Mercy, if we turn to Him and make amends. WS. Ahtsham Ali

    • Walaykumsalam brother Ahtsham Ali and welcome to the blog.

      Al-Hamdulillah you have raised a pertinent point and indeed, I should have verified the report, clearly it seems quoting even a Muslim news source is not sufficient. For not seeking a verification from you I seek your forgiveness. As you have honoured me by commenting directly on the blog with your naseehah, I would be most grateful if you can clarify whether,

      a) you made the statements at Living Islam quoted in the media report, as your comment neither confirms or denies this,
      b) if the statements have been misrepresented, you could please provide the complete statement, or at least your fully represented views surrounding the contended statements.
      c) if the statements have been misrepresented, you have complained to the PCC for the misrepresentation, or will seek to obtain a rectification of the misleading views in the reports?

      In light of the clarifications, the blog will be amended and the comments will remain to fully document the actuality of the matter. I hope you understand that it is important to clarify the comments as you are a public figure representing Islam and where comments are of a questionable nature, need to be criticised in public also, as per the practice of our righteous scholars.

      CoolnessofHind

  3. AA. Alhamdulillah. May Allah bless you in taking naseehah in the correct manner. Please find attached the audio file of my exact talk from start to finish.

    You will note that I have never allowed myself to be addressed in the manner the article referred. I have spent 18 years studying under Sheikh Abdullah Judai (9 of them on usul ul fiqh – because it is such an important topic), and therefore I know what a ‘Sheikh’ is and there is no way I can achieve the depth he has, I am forever a student.

    06. Gender Segregation in Islam. Ahtsham Ali https://db.tt/O0FAFY5o

    Please do let me know what you think and any bits you don’t agree with – and I will try and clarify. I have also a question for you, but will wait until you’ve come back to me iA.

    I have written a book on the subject which is being laid out. There are quite a few bits that are covered in my book that I did not have the time to mention. One issue is the whole reward one gets for the love of the Prophet (saw) when emulating a Sunnah Aada.

    WS
    Ahtsham

    • Walaykumsalam wa rahmatullah brother Ahtsham,

      May Allah reward you for issuing your clarification, which seems to reinforce the report – it seems you did atually say what Times reported to have said, albeit with further justifications and elucidations supporting your view, which is unfortunate considering you came on a blog admonishing me of passing swift judgements on you.

      I will raise some issues in further detail in a follow-up piece. At this point I all I will say is that the lecture content is fraught with issues and has more than a hint of deconstructionism. There are sweeping statements regarding scholars of today in general, and disturbing sentiment with regards to classical scholars such as Ibn Kathir and al-Qurtubi (may Allah’s mercy be upon them). With the greatest of respects the most dangerous aspect is that confusion is being encouraged amongst the masses. Relaying selective Usul to the public without mentioning which madhab is being spoken about is misleading, as you must be fully aware, given the length of time you have studied, various madhaahib give legal precedence to differing usuls.

      How can the laity possibly discern the intricacies of fiqh? Do they have knowledge of lugha, balagha, Qur’an, sha’an al-nuzul, Hadith, the hadith, the views of the scholars amongst the salaf and khalaf and the basic usul al-fiqh of all the madhaahib etc? Are they fully aware of Usul al-fiqh and the various usuls which interplay within one another rather than simplistically applying only a few to support a view?

      Despite this the public is being asked to challenge the view of a scholar for evidences? Granting the uninformed masses the mantle of discernment and preference (ilm al-tarjih – a sciences which takes decades to master)? Its worse than asking a member of public to perform heart surgery, as the Iman of people is at stake here.

      If this is not opening the door to reformation where uninformed personal opinions determine a ruling which may act upon desires rather than relying upon scholarly tradition and positions of i’timaad within the madhaahib which have come down to us through those far more adept at the sciences, then what is brother? This is propagation of confusion.

      This comment was a lot longer and far more detailed, however I have edited it to save my comments for a further blog, which will also deal other disconcerting issues with regards to ISB in general.

      I look forward to reading your book.

      Wasalam
      CoolnessofHind

  4. Assalaamu ‘Alaikum wa rahmatullah

    What I wanted to remind you and many others about was that as Muslims we should not rush into a judgement based on a media piece. I believe that this etiquette is so crucial in this modern era of forums. I have been disgusted by the comments of others, not so much of yours, where they have lampooned and questioned my intentions. I was heartened to see that you were one of the few that accepted that principle earlier on.

    Now that you have heard the full talk you may disagree and criticise as you please. Since you believe a public lecture is no platform to discuss issues of fiqhi details, then I take it by the same token you also don’t believe this forum to be conducive to detailed nuanced debate. I certainly find it difficult – but then again I am a dinosaur when it comes to this blog business. I wonder if it is possible to meet up and discuss this in a way you deem suitable, I am intrigued I have to say by your stance on the usul and I would gladly take whatever you can offer me by way of elucidation on the subject.

    wasalaam

    Ahtsham

    • Walaykum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      Your reminder is here and present for everyone to read and take lesson from as is your beautiful demonstration of sincerity. May Allah reward you. Ameen

      I would have loved to keep this confusion away from the public domain but sadly as a result of your statements (in public), many are now confused, delineating your train of thought and rationale. Private conversations between me and you, as you are now requesting, will not help those who are confused by it, so I am sorry but I cannot accept your offer to remove the ensuing discussions now from the public sphere. Lets not forget it was not me who chose to place these confusing statements into the public arena in the first place. All I did thus far was seek answers and clarifications, after your initial message. I think ISB members/potential members and Muslims at large in the UK deserve at least the courtesy of clear and satisfactory answers.

      Wasalam
      CoolnessofHind

  5. Assalaamu ‘Alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu

    Actually I think this precisely demonstrates my point. I wanted to discuss this in person where one can more easily see what the other means and can easily interject to clarify. And there is an end date in sight because of the detail of the issues. I did not at all intend that the public should not be made aware of our discussion. And I can actually see how you took that from what I wrote. Indeed I have no problem at all if our discussion is witnessed by anyone else you wish to bring or better still that it is recorded. I would still prefer face to face, but somehow my gut feel says you will not agree. However, if you do agree then ignore the rest and we’ll take it off-line until you post the recordings, but if you do not agree, then let us discuss the issues this way.

    I have identified 11 areas where I perceive there to be error in your analysis of my talk. I am hopeful that you will clarify these as we discuss through them iA. Let us start on the first.

    Point One: All of the fatawa that I analysed for my book used as their first evidence the verse quoted:

    O you wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft of speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease aspire (to you), but utter customary speech. And stay in your houses. Bedizen not yourselves with the bedizenment of the Time of Ignorance. Be regular in prayer, and pay the poor-due, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah’s wish is but to remove uncleanness far from you, O Folk of the Household, and cleanse you with a thorough cleansing. (al-Ahzab 33:32-33)

    The point I made was that this verse addresses specifically the wives of the Prophet (saw). In other verses Allah addresses believing women, such as:

    And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms … (An-Nur 24:31)

    And in others still, Allah addresses both the household of the Prophet (saw) and the rest of the believing women:

    O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. (al-Ahzab 33:59)

    Therefore, in line with the rules of usul ul fiqh, and hence in the absence of any other evidence from the Quran and Sunnah, and since every word of Allah is specially chosen, we say that this verse (33:32-33) is precisely for who it says it is for, namely the wives of the Prophet (saw). That is the natural way of addressing. When you call me, you do not mean others, you mean me. When Allah chose to address the wives of the Prophet (saw), and we know He could have addressed all believing women, and chose in this verse not to do so, then He is addressing the wives of the Prophet (saw) since there is no evidence saying otherwise.

    However, you mention the various great commentators of the Quran who stated that ‘where a command is addressed to the wives it is for all women unless specifically stated otherwise’ and that I had ignored this. Actually I did not ignore it – I touched on this in my talk and also go through this concept in my book together with the various commentators who agreed with this and those who did not. But you are right in that I do not give it weight when it comes to the usul. Why? And herein is the first point. I perceive there is a difference in methodology here and please correct me if I am wrong.

    I was taught usul ul fiqh by two scholars, one in detail over 9 years, and the other on Hanafi usul in a short course. Both of these said the same thing: that the sources for deriving a ruling are Qur’anic verses, authentic ahadith, Qiyas, Ijmah etc. And that nowhere in this usul is contained the personal opinions of any scholar no matter how great he or she is. That is why we have the great Hanafi jurists and direct students not taking on many of the verdicts of their teacher, the brilliant founder of their school, Imam Abu Hanifah (rh).

    It seems to me that your methodology differs from this. That you believe that the views of scholars are sources for Islamic ruling in the usul. Hence you have taken the mufassir opinions. Can I ask: is this the case? If it is, then which book is that contained in?

    Point 2 is linked to this, but I’d rather not go into it until this one is cleared up. My apologies for the length of the above, but this is inevitable unless we sit together and discuss as mentioned.

    Wasalaam

    Ahtsham

    • Walaykumsalam wa rahmatullahi wa baraktuh brother

      JazakAllah khayr for posting once again.

      Thank you, I am tempted with the your offer to allow recording of our conversations to be published on the net I will keep that option open should I decide in favour at a later stage but as your lecture is already recorded and published, I think it is better to continue here in this forum so that we can focus the discussion on your presentation and what appears to be an ISB project to deconstruct Islam.

      I notice you have repeatedly made reference in your posts here to your training in Usul. First you pointed out that your had 9 years of detailed study of Usul with one scholar and then later you pointed out again that “I was taught usul ul fiqh by two scholars, one in detail over 9 years, and the other on Hanafi usul in a short course” I wonder therefore, and please don’t misunderstand me, I genuinely want to know, if you consider yourself an Usuli?

      The reason I am asking this question is because I think your fixation on your usul part-time courses has led you to misunderstand my objections to your lecture which I will repeat with more clarity in another piece shortly. Also could you please tell me what do you think the great Usuli Imams such as al-Juwayni, Al-Shafi’i, al-Dabusi, Al-Ghazali et al, would have made of your lecture and ISB’s current direction, were they to be alive today?

  6. Assalaamu ‘Alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu
    Dear brother I am going to keep this post as short and to the point as possible so as not to distract from the topic in hand. A lesson a Mufti once gave me was that when asking scholars a question, write it down and never take your eye off it.
    Firstly, a gentle reminder again. Do not lose your deeds by casting aspersions on people when you do not know for sure. I have been on the Shura of ISB for a long time and I swear by Allah that there has never ever been a ‘project to deconstruct Islam’. God forbid! ISB has a myriad of people in it with their own set of fiqhi views. With so many people from different backgrounds the most important thing we learn in ISB is respect. What I hold on this issue is NOT an ISB view. It is my personal view. There are ISB members who believe that segregation between the genders is mandated within the Shariah and there are ISB branches that practise that. I am not here to discuss ISB, but to discuss this talk and this topic which you have made points about. Let us keep to that.
    Secondly, we are taught to analyse the argument not the arguer. Am I an usuli? What do I think of the scholars of the past that you have mentioned? I feel that you are moving away from the topic. I am merely a student and I believe I will remain so until I die. In terms of Islamic scholarship think of me as a nobody. But I have been given ijaza by a scholar to teach. I have utilised the little understanding I have in usul to analyse the subject area of the segregation of the genders. We both agree usul ul fiqh is at the core of Islam. So let us help each other not to be distracted from the main topic.
    There were some clear questions in my last post. Please answer them and we’ll move on to the next point insha’Allah.
    Wasalaam
    Ahtsham

    • Walaykumsalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      JazakAllah khayr for your response and your advice once more. Whether I am casting aspersions or not will be determined in the next piece. As it is, for now all I will say is that your disclaimer is emblematic of ISB which, whenever they are questioned on their reformation agenda, they seem to resorts to a common get out clause: those views do not reflect ISB as whole. Perhaps among the grass root membership there is dissent against the reformation agenda but not among the people calling the shots. The ISB leadership seems quite consistent in the direction they are taking the organisation. If you don’t agree then ask yourself this question: why is ISB always promoting reformationists, confusing discourses and individuals who have lost their credibility among the community?

      As for the perceptive lesson of the Mufti, there is no doubt I have my eye on the real trajectory of this conversation, which essentially started with you posting the link and asking me to criticise any part of it which I found problematic, which I did. The reality is that none of my key points about the dangerous statements made by your good self were responded to.

      The subsequent questions from me were in fact tied to my original points in that they attempted to bring the conversation back to my original contentions. I have moved away from the topic? I don’t think so. I do not mean to sound harsh but I suggest you re-read the title of my article “Is ISB living Islam or Reforming Islam?”

      Anyway thank you for providing further information about your credentials in the science of Usul. Now we know that you were not only taught by two scholars but you also have ijazah to teach. BTW it was this drip feed of information about your credentials that got me interested in analysing “the arguer” as well as the argument. I hope you don’t mind, I have become genuinely interested.

      Wasalam

  7. Assalaamu ‘Alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu my dear brother

    You ask me to look at the title of your piece. But the reason I originally responded to your blog, had nothing to do with ISB, but with your critique of my talk. Feel free to give your opinions on ISB in other pieces as you have mentioned, but here let’s stick to the subject matter of my talk.

    In summary (but please re-read my earlier post to get the fuller picture) your first key point was that I ignored the opinions of the classical commentators of the Quran on this verse. You are right in that I did not it weight when it comes to the usul. Why?

    Allow me to answer this your first key point. The usul ul fiqh I was taught stated that the sources for deriving a ruling are Qur’anic verses, authentic ahadith, Qiyas, Ijmah etc. And that NOWHERE in this usul is contained the personal opinions of any scholar no matter how great he or she is. So in answer to your first key point – that is why I did not take on the opinions of some of the commentators on this.

    But YOU have taken on their opinions. You have agreed with them. You have submitted their opinions as evidence against my reading of this verse. In essence you are accusing me of not following correct usul ul fiqh principles. Therefore it seems logical to assume that in your usul you believe that the views of scholars are sources for Islamic ruling. And that is why you have taken the opinions of the commentators.

    So please can I ask you for the third time: Am I right in assuming that the usul you were taught includes scholars’ statements as an additional source for deriving Islamic rulings? If it is so, then from which usul book were you taught where it contains that?

    Please do answer these two questions because it will clarify your first key point. I then have a further 10 points in answer to your other key criticisms. Let us not leave this until we have finished. Let us do this in the correct spirit of Islamic scholarship: which is to genuinely gain reward from learning from each other iA.

    Wasalaam

    Ahtsham

    • Walaykumsalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      Dear Br Ahtishaam. Here we go again. With the greatest of respect, I wanted to avoid showing you how shallow your understanding of usul al-fiqh was but now that you have insisted for the third time, let me explain. Firstly, among the sources of Shariah you listed, was something called ijma’. Do you have any idea what this term means? Just in case you don’t, it means the consensus of OPINIONS of scholars! So when you say “NOWHERE in this usul is contained the personal opinions of any scholar no matter how great he or she is”, you are actually undermining your own list of sources and the whole nature of usul al-fiqh. I think your focus on deconstruction and reformation of Islam has blinded you from the blatant contradiction and confusion in your understanding of usul al-fiqh. Anyone who studies usul al-fiqh properly will know that it is the study of opinions of scholars on the hadith and tafsir literature. If you think it is not the opinions of the great Usuli scholars then you have totally misunderstood the whole science. To develop what seems like a chronic allergy to opinions of scholars while claiming to be a student of usul al-fiqh is very strange indeed. Perhaps you were studying something else and thought it was usul al-fiqh? Could you therefore please post a list of the books in Usul that you actually studied with these two scholars so we can get somewhere in understanding your confusion.

      Secondly, you repeatedly acknowledged that you are not a scholar just a student but you are openly indulging in the production of fatwa in all but name. Let me explain: you wrote “the sources for deriving a ruling are ….” and “…I did not take the opinion of some of the commentators”. Both of these sentences show very clearly that you do not only think you are in the calibre of an Usuli but also a Mufti issuing rulings. Who else has the authority to DERIVE RULINGS and pick and dismiss from the great classical commentators on tafsir without any justifying explanations? Oh, I forget the reformation project requires every Amr and Zaid to perform his or her own heart surgery on their imaan and then formulate their own personal fiqh! So, of course, in the world of ISB reformation, fervour for this kind of freelance fatwa issuing is acceptable but not in mainstream Islam.

      I am sorry if what I wrote above sounds harsh but I didn’t know how else to explain it. I hope you will forgive me.

      Wasalam

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