Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ustadh Abu al-Hussein (may Allah reward him) posted Imam al-Nawawi's Adab al-Mufti wa l-Mustafti ("Etiquettes of Muftis and Those who Seek Responses to Ethical-Legal Questions"). Imam al-Nawawi placed this work at the beginning of his K. al-Majmu Sharh al-Muhadhdhab. In sha' Allah, I will translate and explicate portions of it in the future. For now, I include below a translation that I completed hurriedly 9 years ago of a section of Imam Ibn Salah's (d. early 7th century) own Adab al-Mufti wa l-Mustafti, a work of the same title on which Imam al-Nawawi bases his own work in part, as Imam al-Nawawi states himself. As I said then in introduction to the translation: "The section deals with the issue of responding to requests for fataawaa [legal position statements] on matters pertaining to belief [al-masaa'il al-kalaamiyyah]. The section, although originally intended for muftees in the 7th centry AH...contains important advice for today's students of knowledge....Allah is the Grantor of Success." As you may notice from this quote and the following translation, I use a tranliteration system that differs from the modified system that use throughout the other posts:

[Ibn SalaH said:] A muftee should not, when asked for a fatwaa on a creedal issue [fi-shay' min al-masaa'il al-kalaamiyyah], issue a detailed fatwaa. Rather he
should forbid the one requesting the fatwaa, and all other members of the
non-expert, Muslim populace [saa'ir al-`aammah], from discussing such a
matter; and order them to restrict themselves to belief in a general and
total fashion, without detailed exposition. He should (further) order them
to hold the position that--on this issue and the potentially confusing (mutashaabihaat) Qur'aanic aayaat and Prophetic transmissions--the correct position is that which is consistent with the Majesty of Allah and His Absolute Perfection and
Holiness; that such a position is our belief; and that we are not required
to examine such matters in detail and with precision; nor is such a course
of study appropriate for us. Rather we entrust the detailed knowledge of
such things to Allah [Sanctified and Exalted is He!] and divert our hearts
and tongues from delving into such matters.

This, and its like, that [have been transmitted] from the pre-eminent
muftees, is the correct stance on this issue; and it is the methodology of
the Early Muslims [wa-huwa sabeel as-salaf], the Imaams of the madhaahib
of note and the greatest of the fuqahaa' and righteous; and it is the most
correct and safest for the non-expert general populace and their
like--whose hearts will be corrupted by delving into such matters. Those
who hold a false belief because of such a detailed exposition are in
this way diverted therefrom--which is easier, simpler and safer.

If the authorities were to punish one who goes to extremes in deviating
from such a methodolgy, they would be emulating `Umar b. al-KhaTTaab (may
Allah be pleased with him) in his punishment of Dubay` b. `Isl, who used
to ask about the mutashaabihaat. (Even) the speculative theologians
[al-mutakallimeen] in our madhhab confess that this is the proper
methodology, in that it is safer for the one that it protects.

Al-Ghazaalee, who was one of these (mutakallimeen who held such a
position) towards the end of his life, was intense in his propagation of
this methodology and and in providing proof for its correctness. His
teacher, Abu l-Ma`aalee mentioned in his book <> that the
Imaam was as anxious as can be imagined to unify the populace in assuming
the methodology of the Salaf in this matter. Al-Ghazaalee was asked about
Kalaam Allaah (Sanctified and Exalted is He!) and he said, in part: As for
discussion about Kalaam Allaah, whether it is with voice and utterance
[Sawt wa-Harf] or not, this is bid`ah. Any one who invites the non-expert
populace to partake in discussion about it is not an Imaam of the Deen,
rather he is one who leads others astray...

<<Fatawaa wa-Masaa'il Ibn al-SalaaH fi l-Tafseer wa l-Hadeeth wa l-Usul
wa l-Fiqh: Accompanied by Adab al-Muftee wa l-Mustaftee
.>> Edited and
commented on by Dr. `Abd al-Mu`tee Ameen Qal`ajee. Bayrut, 1:84.

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