As the day of ‘Īd draws near, the exuberance and joy of Muslims becomes increasingly manifest. After devoting an entire month to fasting, worshiping, and other religious obligations, a believer embraces the joyous occasion of ‘Īd al-Fitr spiritually uplifted and reformed. It is with immense grief, however, that during such blessed days we witness reoccurring episodes of futile quarreling in many Masjids, thus stripping the atmosphere of the unity greatly needed in our times. What makes the matter more disheartening is that these arguments too often ensue regarding issues wherein there exists a legitimate scope for differences in Islāmic jurisprudence. A common example, which by now has become somewhat of a cliché, is the issue of moon-sighting, or more sardonically put, “moon-fighting.”
With the possibility of ‘Īd al-Fitr happening this year on the blessed day of Jumu‘ah, there comes along an important question in respect to Islāmic jurisprudence: will a person be absolved from performing the Jumu‘ah prayer due to performing the ‘Īd prayer? As was witnessed on numerous occasions, issues of such a nature serve as a pretext for the unlearned to quarrel and exhibit their intolerance and ignorance.
The excerpt before you is a section from I‘lā al-Sunan of the great Hadīth scholar Mawlānā Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī pertaining to the issue at hand. The author discusses the various evidences on the subject while cogently substantiating the view of the majority (that is, the view of three of the four schools of Islāmic law and even the view of the Literalist school ) that one is not exempted from performing the Jumu‘ah prayer by virtue of performing the ‘Īd prayer. Nevertheless, according to Imām Ahmad, one will be exempted and therefore the matter will stand as expressed by ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī:
Thus, the follower of evidence is not allowed to depart from restricting the dispensation (of not praying Jumu‘ah due to the ‘Īd prayer) to the people of the village… However, a Hanbalī muqallid is excused for following what is documented in the books of his madhhab, even though the issue may be weak in terms of evidence, as is the ruling for anyone who adheres to the followed Imāms. 
In order to make the article more reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in several places. Select passages from an article on the subject by ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī were added in the footnotes. These passages and the translator’s footnotes were placed in square brackets.
Clarifying the Maxim: Our Madhhab is Correct and Possibly Incorrect While the Madhhab of Others is Incorrect and Possibly Correct.
By Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
Objection: The following maxim is often quoted in the books of Fiqh: Our madhhab is correct and possibly incorrect while the madhhab of others is incorrect and possibly correct. What kind of conduct is this with those who hold a different opinion? How can they say this when they granted permission to make Taqlīd and recommended the observance of differences?
Clarification: It is true that they said this, but it is our responsibility to understand it according to their explanation and not according to hearts that are ill mannered towards them or minds that have failed to understand their intent. The correct method of understanding their statement is by establishing the conflict between the two statements. Thus we say:
Their statement regarding Taqlīd is proof of their approval of the madhhab of the one being followed (the Imām), and their recommendation for observing the opposing view is a clearer proof of their approval and regard for the opinion of the one who differs, so how did they make this statement? Read the rest of this entry »
In accordance with His promise to preserve the true teachings of Islām, Allāh has selected certain individuals or groups throughout Islām’s history to carry out the task of preserving the noble Islāmic legacy. At times of creedal turmoil, the likes of Ahmad ibn Hanbal stood against the Mu’tazilī heresy; at times of political instability, personalities such as Salāh al-Dīn al-Ayyūbī mobilized the Muslim armies for combat; and at times of spiritual degradation, reformers like al-Ghazālī let the ink of their pens flow to revive the true spirit of scholarship and worship. Thus manifested Allāh’s undertaking mentioned in the verse: “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it.” (Qur’ān, 15:9)
The founding of an institution in Deoband, India, in the year 1866, was not the inception of a yet another sect. Rather, it was an extension of this continuous effort to preserve the noble Islāmic legacy. The scholars of Deoband have played a pivotal role in preserving Islām, be it the Qur’ān, the Sunnah and their connected sciences or Islām’s prestigious history. It is sad to witness such a noble legacy and rich heritage go largely unnoticed by many students and scholars of Islām. They have contributed tremendously in various fields of Islām, from Qurā’nic exegesis, to jurisprudence, to Arabic, to political reform. However, their contribution towards the revival and preservation of the blessed Sunnah is most noteworthy.
As a token of acknowledgment and a means of creating awareness, the following article was prepared to highlight their most important contributions in the field of Hadīth. More emphasis has been given to earlier scholars, although contemporary scholars are also occasionally cited. Among other sources, the book Dār al-Ulūm Deoband by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ubayd Allāh al-Qāsīmī and a list published in a monthly newsletter by Dār al-Ulūm Deoband (Rajab, 1432 AH) were consulted. Honorific titles such as Shaykh, Mawlānā, Muftī, etc. were omitted from the lists.
Muntasir Zamān Read the rest of this entry »
The following is a dialogue that took place between ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī (d. 1371) and Shaykh Taqī al-Dīn al-Hilālī (d.1407) regarding the status of lifting ones hands (raf’ al-yadayn) in prayer in light of hadīth. The purpose of translating this dialogue is not to exhaust all the existing evidence of a particular view or to prove the superiority of one practice over the other. Rather, it is to point out the flaw of adopting a superficial approach when dealing with matters of jurisprudence, which at times may appear to contradict authentic hadiths due to shallow knowledge of the dynamics of Islāmic sciences. To make the article more-reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places.
Muntasir Zaman Read the rest of this entry »
“Your handwriting resembles that of the hadith scholars,” said al-Birzālī. These words resonated well with Muhammad ibn Ahmad such that it instilled within him the desire to pursue the science of hadith.  He went on to author countless works, assume lofty academic positions, and was eventually regarded as a leading authority in the field of hadīth. Muhammad ibn Ahmad was none other than the Damascene hadith master and expert historian better known as Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī (d. 748 AH). There are countless examples in the annals of Islāmic history of apparently trivial remarks that changed the lives of laymen, thus, making them the great luminaries whose biographies decorate the pages of our prestigious history.
The following is an excerpt from the inspiring book of Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah entitled, ‘Ma‘ālim Irshādiyyah li Sanā’at Tālib al-‘Ilm (Instructive Signposts for Developing a Seeker of Knowledge)” In this section, the author highlights the influence kind words can have on people. He cites three examples of great luminaries whose turning point in their lives were kind words uttered by those who themselves had not expected such remarkable results.
In order to make the article more reader friendly an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places. May Allāh reward our pious predecessors for the noble example they left for us, and grant us the ability to follow in their footsteps. Āmīn.
Muntasir Zaman Read the rest of this entry »
The Forty-Scholar Council of Imām Abū Hanīfah
By Muntasir Zaman
Among the various specialties of the Hanafī school of thought, one outstanding specialty is the rigorous manner in which it was developed. Imām Abū Hanīfah had a group of prominent scholars with whom he would consult. Often they would only come to a conclusion on a particular issue after debating it for three days.
As such, one can understand the truthfulness of what Imām Wakī‘ ibn al-Jarrāh stated when a person in his gathering claimed that Imām Abū Hanīfah erred. He said:
How can Abū Hanīfah err when with him are the likes of Abū Yūsuf and Zufar in their logic; and the likes of Yahyā ibn Abī Zā’idah, Hafs ibn Ghiyāth, Hibbān, and Mindal in their memorization of hadīth; and the like of al-Qāsim ibn Ma‘n in his knowledge of language and Arabic; and Dāwūd al-Tā’ī and Fudayl ibn ‘Iyād in their asceticism and their scrupulousness? The one whose companions are such, he does not come close to erring, because if he erred they would correct him.
Moreover, there was a council of forty scholars from his companions who documented the legal issues. The following is a report that mentions this council, followed by its grading.
It is reported in Fadā’il Abī Hanīfah of Ibn Abī al-‘Awām:
The belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamā’ah in respect to the noble companions of the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) has been clearly outlined by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (d. 463 AH) as follows:
They are the best of generations, and the best of nations taken out for the benefit of mankind. Their uprightness is established by the praise of Allāh and His Messenger. No one can be more upright than those whom Allāh selected for the companionship and assistance of His Messenger. This is the greatest form of approval and the most complete form of accreditation.
The Sahābah have undoubtedly secured a lofty rank in the court of Allāh, which is described in the following verse:
And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhājirūn and the Ansār and those who followed them with good conduct, Allāh is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment.
Accordingly, to disparage or slander any of the Sahābah, let alone the high ranking among them, is unacceptable and highly detested.
The following is a response by Mufti Taqī ‘Uthmānī to allegations leveled by the Shī’ah against our master ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb (Allāh be pleased with him) regarding the Hadith of the Pen and Paper. To make the article more reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places.
Muntasir Zaman Read the rest of this entry »