January 29, 2010

"Human-Made" Rules in Islam

Recently, one of my readers has asked me to answer some questions her husband has asked of her. Based on the questions she submitted and several other e-mails she has sent to me, her husband, a European convert to Islam, appears to be a lukewarm Muslim at best. (I do realize that I'm only hearing from one-half of this couple; in fact, this woman has asked me to meet her husband face-to-face, but my schedule in the evenings and on the weekends at this time makes such a meeting very difficult to arrange.) She has asked me, instead, if I would post my answers to her questions on my blog, so I'm going to address each question separately as time permits, insha'allah.

Here is her e-mail:

Here are among the questions my husband always ask me
1) He said some of the rules in Islam are actually human-made. Some are not necessary in this modern world. For instance: the hijab for ladies, abolution before prayers, prayers with the necessary standing rules.. (sometimes I adapt the prayer accordingly like when we were on traveling). Also the importance to eat halal food ( for him only pork is haram, but all others should be halal like chicken, meat eventho it is not slaughtered by muslim)

"He said some of the rules in Islam are actually human-made."

My answer: Of course; so what? My initial thought was, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) created a number of "rules" that we Muslims follow; he was a man, like us. Thus, yes, some of the rules in Islam were created by a man. "But," my wife says, "the Prophet (pbuh) was also guided directly by Allah (swt) and the angel Jibril; in that regard, he wasn't like other men." To which I most wholeheartedly agree. However, even if we set the Prophet (pbuh) aside as a special case (which, obviously, he was), many men - scholars, jurists, imams - over the centuries have defined and refined "the rules in Islam" (regardless of whether one classifies them under fiqh or shari'ah) that Muslims live under.

However, just because these rules are made by men doesn't invalidate them. There are several reasons for this. First, the vast majority of men who have created rules have done so based upon the guidance of the Qur'an and Sunnah. In order for any rule in Islam to be valid, there has to be justification for the rule; that justification almost always comes from the appropriate Qur'anic ayat and/or ahadith from the Prophet's (pbuh) Sunnah. Secondly, even though individual men may have different opinions regarding a specific issue, the rules Muslims follow are based upon a consensus (ijma) of opinions. Extreme opinions are noted but rejected in favor of the majority opinion; likewise, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, "My community will never agree upon an error." So a human-made rule in Islam is not necessarily invalid simply because it came from a man or men.

Two other points I'd like to raise: All these men over the centuries - the scholars, jurists and imams - who created the rules that Muslims follow, the vast majority of them have significant credentials in terms of their ability to render a judgment. To which I would ask you, what are your qualifications? Why should I trust your judgment? What do you bring to the table?

And secondly, don't you see the hypocrisy inherent in your own statement? You apparently think that something is wrong if the rules in Islam are human-made, but then you go ahead and make up your own rules! Ridiculous!

To be continued, insha'allah.

January 08, 2010

The Thorn

Definition of atheism
Photo Source.
Whatever hardship a Muslim faces - even if it as minor as the prick of a thorn - Allah (swt) makes it an atonement for his sins. (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim, and Malik's Muwatta)