Previously Asked Questions
Learning Questions:

This page contains some tips and directions for those interested in learning more about the din.

> Because as a convert I have seen fatwas saying one should follow the
> rightly guided scholars -

Yes.  This is the majority view.  However, we do not say that people
who do not follow one of the schools are disbelievers, but rather say
that those that follow formal schools of knowledge are more likely
to be rightly-guided while those who do not are more likely to make
mistakes in their `aqidah and `ibadah.

> Are there any manuals for converts on how to follow Maliki fiqh?

The Guiding Helper is a Maliki Fiqh manual written for people who
have zero experience with Islamic Beliefs/Law/Spirituality. 

The only book that you need is the second one listed on the download page,
"Explanatory Notes of Guiding Helper".  We recommend that you download
it and then print it out on paper.  Then at your own pace, go through the
parts that interest you.

Additionally, we are here for the time being to answer any questions
about the material that you may have and to guide you through this
initial process.

> Is the Maliki School easy to learn and practice?

Generally speaking, the Maliki School is easier to learn
and practice than the other schools of Jurisprudence which
are available.

  See for yourself

> Do you have any information about the curriculum of
> Al-Qarawiyyin University. Not the curriculum of the
> Traditional Studies taught in the Mosque, but the ones
> taught in the modern University.
> I mean by curriculum, subjects and books studied.

The basic curriculum of the modern Qarawayeen not
the mosque is:

The students basically go through the following years:
   7 years primary education equivalent
   3 years middle preparation
   3 years secondary school
   4 years graduate study (university level study)

In order to begin study at Qarawayeen, the student
must know basic Arabic and have memorized 30 hizb
(half) of the Qur'an and intend to memorize the entire
Qur'an.  Additionally, he must have memorized Ibn Malik's
Alfiyyah Arabic grammar text.

They study:


These three form the basic core of the religious study.
Many books are used by the teachers among which are:

   al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah (Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi)
   al-Khulasah al-Fiqhiyyah (Muhammad al-`arabi al-Qarawi)
   al-Khurashi and other shuruh of Mukhtasar Khalil
   al-Kafi's explanation of Tuhfah al Hukkam
   al-Risalah and its shuruh
   al-Mudawwanah al-Kubrah
   Muqaddimat ibn Rushd
   al-Murshid al-Mu`in
   Basic hadith terminology texts such as the Bayquniyyah
   And the famous hadith books with commentary
   Tafsir Ibn Kathir
   Tafsir al-Kasshaaf li al-Zamakhshari (for its literary value)
   Tafsir Jami` li Ahkam al-Qur'an  li l-Qurtubi
   Many other tafsir such as the one written by Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi

Another book that is very central to study at Qarawayeen is
majmu` muhimmat al-mutun (containing 66 texts).
Many teachers however (astonishingly) rely purely on their
memory only giving verbal references to written material.
For example, when Sheikh `Ali Filali was teaching me
(one-to-one (Abuqanit was his only student for a period of time
studying)), he would teach complex subjects
of fiqh and tafsir straight off the top of his head from
his memory.  That is very common among the teachers there
that they do not emphasize reading of books as much as
taking `ilm from the mouths of the scholars and memorizing

The other subjects studied are:

   a) Adab (literature) [e.g., Ta Ha Yasin, etc.]
   b) Balaghah (al-Jawhar al-Maknun)
   c) `Urud (mizan al-dhahab fi sh`iri l-`arab and diwan al-Shafi`i)
   d) al-Nahwu (Aajrumiyyah and Alfiyyah ibn Malik)
   e) al-Falsafah (Ibn Rusdh, Ibn Sina, Sullam al-Munawraq, etc.)
   f) al-Ta'rikh (Ibn Kathir's bidayah wa nihayah, Maghribi history
      such as Nashr al-Mathani by Muhammad ibn Tayyib al-Qadiri.
   g) Geography (contemporary)
   h) al-tarbiyyah al-islamiyyah
   i) at least one foreign language (e.g., French)
   j) sports activities
   k) Science (e.g., physics, chemistry,

> I will appreciate also if you have the same information about
> Dar al-Hadith al-Hassaniyya.

Sorry.  We have no detailed information on this.

> I have a general question regarding studying traditional islamic knowledge,
> especially while living in the western world. I'm very curious as to how
> one can achieve a high level of knowledge and in particular, what
> curriculum/books to use.
> Could you please provide a sample syllabus for a western student of 'ilm to
> follow? Could you also provide a practical day to day schedule that allows the
> student time for the din, and the dunya? I find that I have a very difficult time
> balancing my schedule with work, family, chores, etc.

First of all realize that although having a lot of knowledge may
seem very desirable to the beginner student especially if it is
sensationalized (e.g., one has seen famous scholars giving
electrifying speeches in public and being extolled in public),
it may be that the student is happier in this world and the
next if he only concerns himself with knowledge that he is
directly responsible for.

For example, it is a well-known fact that many high-level scholars
will enter the Hellfire in the next life due to their being
held responsible more than the common man.  Thus, the scholars
in the Hellfire (and there will be quite a few of them) would have
been better off not knowing so much. [As a side note, the only
reliable way to avoid the Hellfire for the highly-qualified scholar
is:  (1) continuous and perpetual tawbah.  Otherwise, he/she will
never be able to fulfill the rights of his/her knowledge and if he/she
is asked on yam al-qiyamah about his/her knowledge and what he/she did
with it, he/she is as good as dead (meaning he/she is very likely
to burn in painful torment in the Hellfire for an extended period
of time).]

Additionally, please note that most of the honest high-level
scholars that have lived never intended to become scholars
in the first place.  Rather, they just began learning the din
in earnestness in an attempt to come closer to Allah and follow
the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace).  Then when
Allah saw their honesty and sincerity, He gave them tremendous
tawfiq in learning and practicing the din.

Nevertheless, here are some general guidelines for people like you
who are interested in becoming highly qualified in the issues of din:

a) Purify your intention.

 The Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Whoever
 seeks knowledge in order to compete/debate with the `ulama', argue with
 the ignorant/foolish, or so that people's faces turn towards him, Allah
 will make him enter Hell."

 [{Tirmidhi, Seeking Knowledge, What has come about him who seeks
   knowledge for purposes of dunya, hadith #2578}]

Connected with the above, it is also not a pure intention
(according to the advanced scholars) to learn so that other people
may benefit from one.  Rather, one's primary intention should
be to benefit oneself - now if Allah wills that other people
benefit from you also, then that is what He decreed; but, your
intending that at the outset is a hidden trick of Shaytan who
will later try to make you learn and teach for people and not
for Allah (in effect leading you to committing riya', nullifying
all of your hard work in learning/teaching).

   Ibn `Ajibah's Sharh of al-Mabahith al-Asliyyah, explanation
   of statement of Ibn Banna al-Sarqusti "falzam huda nafsika"

b) Set and prioritize your goals

At the end, you will need the following basics to become
extremely learned in the din.  You must decide which ones
you will tackle first:

  a) Mastery of the Arabic language in grammar,
     lexicography, and rhetoric.
  b) Memorization of the entire Qur'an in Arabic
     along with tafsir
  c) Memorization of a great bulk of hadith in
     Arabic (e.g., the hadith in Bukhari, Muslim,
     Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi, Nisa'i, Abu Dawud, Ahmad,
     and Malik along with tafsir.  You will also need
     familiarity with hadith in other less popular
     collections (e.g., Darami, Hakim, Suyuti, Ibn Habban,
     Zayla`i, Tabarani, etc.))
  d) Extensive knowledge of at least one school of
     `aqidah on all major issues.  You will also need
     to know the points of agreement and disagreement
     on the points of `aqidah.
  e) Extensive knowledge of at least one school of
     fiqh on all major issues.  You will also need
     to know the points of agreement and disagreement
     on the points of fiqh within the school and outside
     of the school.
  f) Extensive knowledge of our way of studying the
     heart of the human (external tasawwuf) and first-hand
     experience of the praiseworthy states that the
     Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace)
     taught (e.g., ma`rifah, wusul, fana', baqa', tawakkul,
     tafwid, tawhid, shukr, rida', qana`ah, zuhd, and
     others that are mentioned in the Risalah al-Qushayriyyah.
     You will also need to know the different methods
     (turuq) that the previous scholars have enacted
     to achieve the end result of tasawwuf.

As for a syllabus, you can start with the books we have
mentioned in the Table of References of the Notes of
Sources of the Guiding Helper.

c) Divide up your day into distinct segments

You will need to manage your time with strict discipline.
If you cannot do this, then your desire is just a vain
hope.  For example, if you oversleep often or engage
in much useless entertainment (e.g., spectator sports,
tv, chatting on the internet, etc.), it is very unlikely
(although possible) that you will succeed.

If you are not a full-time student of the din but have
other tasks to tend to (e.g., work/school, family, chores,
errands, etc.), then this is the schedule you should
stick to until you are highly qualified in all three
aspects of the din:

   i) 8 hours sleep (maximum; if you can survive on less, all
      the better, but you should not feel tired and fatigued
      during the day; but, again eight is the maximum allowed)
   ii) 10 hours work/school/family/chores/eating/bathing/etc.
   iii) 2 hours wakeful rest/entertainment
   iv) 4 hours study of the din

If you do not have two hours to spare for wakeful rest
since you are too busy, then you will just have to skip
the rest/entertainment part.  But, you must devote
*at least* about four hours every day (seven days a week,
except when you are sick or have some unusual circumstances
(e.g., final exams or deadline for some work-related
project)) to study of the din.

Now if you are studying the din full-time and have no
other major work, then you should switch the number of
hours for items (ii) and (iv) above.  Thus, you should
study for about ten hours (perhaps six hours in classes
with your teacher and four hours outside of class) every
day and may tend to your daily activities (e.g., eating,
bathing, shopping, etc.) for four hours.

Now in all of the above, it is assumed the person is
young and single.  If the person is married (or has
children to take care of) or is old (e.g., past thirty-three
years of age when starting on this endeavor), then the
chances of success are greatly reduced (they are reduced
more for tasawwuf than for fiqh and `aqidah; almost all
great tasawwuf teachers learned either in childhood or
adolescence (15-33)).  Related to this, `Umar ibn
al-Khattab is recorded to have said:

   "Become learned in din (tafaqqahu) before you are
    given responsibilities (qabla an tur'as).  Because
    when you have already been given many responsibilities
    (e.g., work, children, spouse, community service, etc.)
    then there is no way you can become learned (tafaqquh)"

Now of course there are many examples of people who have
beat the odds and come out ahead even after starting after
age thirty-three or being very busy, but they have a much
harder time than the young and single person (like most
previous scholars were when learning about the din).

f) Understand the importance of building off the work of previous
    and contemporary scholars.

Please give yourself a break and don't try to re-invent
the wheel with your study of din - trying to come up with
yet another school of knowledge which has your name on it.

Rather, you will get further if you have respect for
the current and past honest scholars of the din and
use their work as a base to build off of.  Many current
and past scholars are/were much more qualified then
their written works hint at.  This is because they have
written the books not as a show-ful boast of their
knowledge (which only Allah knows the extent of) but to
address the needs of a certain audience.  For example,
the Ihya' al-Ulum al-Din when viewed as a Tasawwuf text
is rather low and base, but that does not mean that
Imam al-Ghazali did not understand the higher principles
that the teachers of Tasawwuf narrate (such as non-egocentrism,
thought control, and applied ma`rifah as a means to avoid
kibr, hasad, shahwah, tama` (desire) fi d-dunya, etc.) instead of
the extensive tricks he narrates in that book (such as
not eating flavored bread as a means to get rid of
desire in the world) and instead of the low and base
targhib (giving hope by mentioning rewards) and tarhib
(instilling fear by mentioning punishments) that are used
to drive the common man away from Hell and towards Paradise.

g) Learn core material in all three aspects of din first before wading
    through extensive elaborations on any particular subject

Learn the core matn and matn sharh methods for learning
the din.  This will ensure you learn the greatest amount
of material in the shortest amount of time while still
maintaining reliability in your knowledge.

For example, you can memorize an Arabic matn (e.g., al-sullam
al-munawraqi) and then study the explanation of this
matn (e.g., sulam's sharh by al-mulawwa).  But, if the
explanation goes into many unnecessary side points,
skip those side points and keep proceeding.  You can come
back later to these extensive elaborations after mastering
the major subjects of `aqidah, fiqh, and tasawwuf.

Another example is memorizing the Qur'an and then studying
the sharh via tafsir.  [As a side note this matn-sharh
method is derived directly from how the early scholars
learned Qur'anic tafsir.]

One of the greatest mistakes that enthusiastic
students of the din make is getting locked down
in extensive details in the first few subjects
of `aqidah, fiqh, and tasawwuf.  Thus, they spend
two years learning the correct way of performing
purification and two years in learning how to perform
the formal prayer.  This extended time on these
subjects leads them later-on to be very closed minded
as they now believe (incorrectly) that anything
new which they hadn't learned during their detailed
study is absolutely incorrect.  This serves as
a great hindrance to their progress later in the
advanced levels of `aqidah, fiqh, and tasawwuf.
And this is the reason why most people who study
the din never become highly qualified scholars -
since they either become tired after extensively
studying the first few subjects or fail to grasp the
entire din in totality and the underlying strings
that tie the subjects together (since they got bogged
down in details and elaborations of a particular

Rather the correct way to do this is to spend no
more than two years (using the four hour schedule
mentioned above) in learning the summary of the major
subjects of fiqh, one year for `aqidah, and two years
for tasawwuf.  One can do this in the Maliki School
by completely finishing the two books al-Qawanin
al-Fiqhiyyah and al-Khulasah al-Fiqhiyyah which
are designed for this exact purpose.  One can do this
in `aqidah by studying the various available Shuruh
of Umm al-Barahin by Sunusi.  One can do this in
Tasawwuf by becoming well acquainted (almost memorizing)
the Risalah al-Qushayriyyah.

Then after this initial five year course, the person
may go back and learn elaborations and extensive details on the
subjects mentioned by the scholars of `aqidah, fiqh, and
tasawwuf.  If the person learns this way, it is far less
likely that he will become closed minded hindering his
progress later in the advanced levels of `aqidah, fiqh,
and tasawwuf - as he has been assuming for five years
that there is more to the subject matter than he knows -
unlike the first person who will most likely feel that
he is now qualified and knows it all concerning purification
and prayer after completing his four-year initial course.
Also, this "know-it-all" attitude will most likely be carried
to the other subjects he studies in detail.

Connected with this, the person should not waste his time by
trying to learn the din through "fatwas" with long fatwa
books (like the ones produced by the previous scholars of
Jurisprudence) as the answers given therein are directed
to the common uneducated man and in effect make him
dependent on the mufti and confused in the end unable to
handle new situations he faces.  Rather, try to learn
general principles which you can apply to specific
situations and issues of `aqidah, fiqh, and tasawwuf.

h) Learn how to kill two birds with one stone

Don't waste your time learning two different subjects
separately when both can be learned simultaneously.

For example, gaining fluency in Arabic by reading and
translating a tafsir of the Qur'an or by writing one's
own notes to an Arabic matn.  This is better than
reading the short stories in the modern Arabic text books
(you know the ones with the cartoon-type pictures) in such an

Now of course, one must realize when using this simultaneous
learning method that one will make mistakes during
one's first pass through the material.  Thus, one's
notes and initial impressions of the material should
be viewed with speculation and not taken as the ultimate
understanding of the material contained therein.

j) Realize the importance of face-to-face teaching and learning.
   And understand what you can learn from books and what you

There are 2 things which are very difficult to learn from
books alone:  (a) proper manners in learning, teaching,
and practicing the din and (b) the spirit of the din
not just its form.   You must sit with the traditional scholars
to learn these two even if only for short intervals.

Now people vary in the amount of material they can
accurately learn from books.  Thus, you have to
be objective in deciding when a face-to-face teacher
learning session is called for and when research
can be done via books.

Now if you are planning to learn a subject from
*Arabic* books, then you must refer to multiple
(e.g., five) different books about the exact same
subject of the same school (e.g., Maliki Fiqh or
`Ash`ari `aqidah) before accepting what you have
read is actually true; if you cannot do this, then
be speculative/doubtful of the knowledge you have
gained from books.  As you may make a mistake
understanding the statement written or worse yet
the statement written is wrong (either due to
ignorance of the author or a typographical error;
typographical errors are *very* common in
Arabic books unfortunately; and Arabic books cannot
be read with the trust one has become accustomed to
when reading well-written and published English Books
(in that one is accurately understanding what
the author is trying to convey).

Additionally, even after referring to multiple
books on a particular subject, don't jump to
the conclusion that what you have read is the
only correct position (even though it is stated
exactly the same way in multiple sources).

l) In the end know that all success is with Allah.

> I am having a tough time trying to reconcile the fact that
> our din is one and Allah is one with all of the disagreement
> issued by the scholars.  Can you help me?

Issues of din can be divided on the top-level into two categories
(we are talking on a simple level and not on a detailed level):

         (I) Issues that only have one correct answer for all members of
              the din.
         (II) Issues that have multiple (two or more) valid answers
              which do not take a person outside the pale/sphere of Islam.

   Disagreements about issues in category (II) can be further
   divided into two sub-categories:

       (a) Issues which in Allah's sight actually have only one
            true answer.  And other differing answers are in reality
            a mistake committed by a mujtahid imam.  (this is proven
            by the hadith "idha hakama l-hakimu fa j-tahada thumma
            asaba, falahu ajrani wa idha hakama fa j-tahada thumma
            akhta'a, falahu ajrun [{Bukhari, i`tisam bi l-kitab qa s-unnah,
            ajru l-hakimi idha j-tahada, hadith #6805}). Allah will not
            punish any person for following such incorrect views issued from
            a qualified mujtahid scholar (e.g., Imam Malik, Imam al-Shafi`i,
            Imam Abu Hanifah, etc.).  This is the meaning of the hadith:
            "ikhtilafu l-`ulama' rahmatun li ummati."  The meaning is:
            "Disagreement of the scholars of din [in this world] is [reason for]
             a mercy for the members of my ummah [in the next world].
       (b) Issues which in Allah's sight have multiple (two or more) correct
             answers.  This is proven by the Prophet (May Allah bless him and
             him peace) allowing his companions  to perform the same act
             in multiple different ways without finding fault with them. 
             Such as the event in which he stated "la yusalliyanna ahadukum
            al-asra illa fi bani quraydhah..." [Bukhari, Jumu`ah, salah al-talib
            wa l-matlub, hadith #894}]  And many similar events.
            The later scholars of `aqidah, fiqh, and tasawwuf tried to formulize a
             standard system that the common man could apply in his life and with
             which the governors of Islam could use to rule their territory
             consistently.  For this reason, they chose one of these multiple
             correct ways as the one taught to people and regarded by people
             as the "right" opinion.  [As a final note, only a very small number
             of detailed issues in `aqidah may fall in category (II.b); Most
             issues in `aqidah are in category (I); and some detailed issues
             are in category (II.a).]
If a person wants to know what issues fall in which category, we would recommend
the book al-Mughni by Ibn Qudama al-Maqdasi and also Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi's
al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah.

   [UF: volume 2: page(s) 1091-1109: {fasl 2, chapter 7 - ijtihad,
    mabhath 8 - al-isabah wa l-khata'u fi l-ijtihad, }]

> Can people utilise these 'weaker' (but reliable) positions
> simply on the basis that their nafs desires the easier option?

The answer to the question is that it depends on whether you are
travelling the Path to Allah or not.

The Guiding Helper has been specifically made difficult enough
to allow those travelling the Path to overcome thier nafs and
their desires. These type of people should just stick to the
Explanatory Notes (which is still easier than following all
Maliki popular opinions in 100% of the subject matter).

As for the common man not interested in seeing or reaching Allah
(but just interested in entering Paradise in the next world and being
saved from the Hellfire), he may take dispensations (either from
within the madh-hab (or from another madh-hab (with the condition
that he does not engage in talfiq (mixing madh-habs in a way that
renders the act unacceptable in each school))) - he may do this
whenever he faces an issue that significantly intrudes on his
daily routine or is too difficult for him. He is the person who
will decide if the act significantly intrudes on his daily routine
or if the act is too difficult for him.

[UF: volume 2: page 1137: line(s) 13-15: {following an imam
in fiqh, sticking to one madhab. is it required to follow
only one imam of fiqh in all of one's life}]
End of footnote 441 of the Explanatory Notes of the Guiding Helper.

  "And others have said - and they are a section of the Malikis
   like al-Qarafi... that it is permissible for the common man
   to search for and follow easier positions (rukhas) from other

   The reason for this is that there is no clear Divine text which
   prohibits this.  The person has a choice to follow what is easier
   for him...  This is also the way of the Prophet (May Allah bless
   him and give him peace) and his actions and verbal statements
   dictate the permissibility of this.  The Prophet was not given
   a choice between two matters, except he chose the easier one
   [Tirmidhi, Bukhari].  He used to love to make things easy for
   his ummah [Bukhari,  `A'ishah].  He said that he had been sent
   with a pure din which is tolerant (pardons easily) [Ahmad].  He
   also said that this din is easy and no one tries it make it
   hard except that it overcomes him [Bukhari, Nisa'i]...

   Imam al-Qarafi's also said:  It is permissible to follow
   easier positions from other madh-habs as long as the resultant
   act is not invalid in all of the schools chosen.  For example,
   following Imam Malik in wudu' not being broken by touching
   a woman without sensual desire and also following Imam
   Shafi`i in not needing to run one's hand over the washed part

   As for what other scholars have said (i.e. Ibn `Abd al-Barr)
   that it is not permissible for the common man to follow
   easier positions from other madh-habs and that this is agreed
   upon by all major scholars(ijma'), it cannot be verified that
   Ibn `Abd al-Barr actually said this and also it cannot be verified
   that this is actually an ijma` position since Imam Ahmad ibn
   Hanbal has two statements narrated from him on this matter...

   `Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam said, "It is in the common man's right
   that he be able to follow easier positions from the [four]
   madh-habs.  And whoever denies this is simply ignorant..."

   [UF: volume 2: page(s) 1154-1155: {Talfiq, last section in chapter}]

> On choosing a Madhhab: All madhhabs being equal, is
> it permissible to accept the dispensations one prefers from one
> madhhab, leaving behind the ones one dislikes IF another opinion
> more acceptable to one's understanding is offered by another
> of the four (or five, if you count the Shi'a) madhhabs? I am not
> talking about doing this with the intent to justify the desires and
> self-deceptions of one's nafs (as well as can be determined). Or
> must one adhere entirely to the train of thought and judgment
> of one of the four imams? Please be explicit in the reasons for
> your answer, if you choose to answer this question. I am not
> an alim, but I like to know why I should think and believe
> what I am required to think and believe.

It is permissible to mix madhabs such that the final act is
totally aceptable in at least one of the madhabs in its entirety.

For example, it is permissible to pray like Shafi`i and fast
like a Hanafi. Or in the Maliki school, it is permissible
for the person praying to fold his hands like a Hanafi and
not move his finger like a Shafi`i since the correctness of the
prayer is not determined by these fadilah (non-essential
acts) - this is as long as all the wajibs and stressed sunnahs are
done according to the Maliki school.

However, it has been the experience of the masters of the Path
to Allah that such people who mix madhabs will rarely ever reach
the knowledge of Allah.  It is usually only those who follow
one school in all of their lives that become accomplished spirituals.

    [UF: volume 2: page 1137: line(s) 13-15: {following an imam
     in fiqh, sticking to one madhab.  is it required to follow
      only one imam of fiqh in all of one's life}]
    End of footnote 441 of the Explanatory Notes of the Guiding Helper.

> I have been a Hanafi since birth, but after learning more about
> the Maliki school and its roots, I am greatly attracted to
> its coherent and simple model.  I heard that cultural Muslims
> should not change their mazhab, but stick to the mazhab of their
> parents.  My parents are strict Hanafis.  What do you
> recommend I do?

You may choose to follow the Maliki school even if it differs
from the madh-hab you were brought up with.  The proof for this
is the mass madh-hab change in Muslim Spain that took place
when the Muslims there decided to change their madh-hab from
that of Dawud al-Dhahiri to that of Malik ibn Anas.

However to avoid friction with the family, you may choose
to outwardly still pray as a Hanafi and your formal prayer will
still be accepted in the Maliki school.  It is
less likely that any other aspects of your Maliki practice
(outside of the formal prayer) will cause friction with your

   Introduction to al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah by Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi

> So this returns to the fundamental concern that some new muslims have:
> what if everyone's making it easy to pull Muslims
> into the folds, but may then flip and manifest a strict harshness, where
> the strictest of interpretations are imposed on everyone (often by way of
> the  threat of force.)Should I follow, for example, the GH's lenient
> approach to  photography, but then one day, would I be flogged for using
> my camera if the  opinions narrated in Sheikh Nuh's translation of
> Reliance became the 'law of the land.'

You can be fined (a small sum) for photography but cannot be flogged for such.
(assuming Shafi`is are ruling, which in our opinion will never happen since the
Shafi`i madh-hab is currently and always has been a strictly "academic"
non-practical and theoretical ivory-tower madh-hab)

> Clearly I like the inter-madhab tolerance approach which my original idea
> leaned towards. But I also fear this sort of 'sneak attack' of harsh fiqh which has
> happened in this past centur (esp. around women's issues.)

Any Islamic government (if it true to its claim of being "Islamic") must
tolerate the rainbow spectrum of our Ummah (both physically and
intellectually) that the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace)
left us.  Thus, as long as the twenty or twenty-one acts that take one
outside the pale of Islam (see question in `aqidah section) or
the thirteen or fourteen acts which have inscribed punishments
associated with them (see question in the inscribed punishments
section) are not committed, it has no authority to restrict the rights
of any person or group that claims to be Muslim.

As for actually ruling the territory and setting up institutions for the
upkeep of the society (e.g., educational, medical, economical, judicial,
etc.), the Islamic government can only practically follow either the Hanafi
or Maliki madh-hab (but not both; it can not follow both since it will lead
to too many self-contradictory laws which will make the laws seem like a
"play-thing" to the common uneducated man and will detract from the law and
order present in society).

These are the only two madh-habs capable of ruling today's complex
world with all of its domestic and international issues.  The other
madh-habs have either not developed enough or do not contain essential
facilities for the upkeep of the society.

As for ruling with no madh-hab at all, it will not work (as we have
explained in the introduction to the Notes of Sources, Notes to Those That
Trust Scholars Less).  And such no-madh-hab ruling will either lead to a
"harsh fiqh" society or a very fragmented society devoid of any core
binding principles [we speak from experience and studies of attempts at
"no-madh-hab" rule previously (e.g., in late colonial-India, Egypt, in
 other parts of the Indian subcontinents, Saudi Arabia, etc.)] .

> I am trying to get together a view of Fiqh, esp. halal and haram issues,
> for new muslims, so that they can see that there is a difference btwn the
> saghira and kabiras, the agreed upon and the areas of ikhtilaf, etc. So
> that they do not either try to take the strictest path and then fall off,
> or reject the whole matter, and become philosophically muslim.

We have already made this list.  It is in footnote 244, section (c) of the
explanatory notes.  As a side note, there is a lot of hidden material in
the Guiding Helper texts that isn't very apparent or noticeable to the
unsuspecting person.

> 2)Is it bad adab to ask a teacher what his qualifications are
> (i.e does he have Ijazas, from whom etc.) if your intention is
> for security in your deen?

No.  It is not bad adab.  But, one should ask such questions
during the beginning of one's study with someone - as asking
such questions in the middle or towards the end can be
considered as a challenge to one's teacher's authority (which
is bad adab).

    [QF: volume 1: page 361: line(s) 13-14: {book 21, chapter 3,
      section 2, student's preconditions, respecting one's teacher}]

> I wasn't able to figure out exactly what the Aqida curriculum should be for someone
> like me who wants to study it in depth. I'm still getting my Arabic together, but I'm trying
> to get copies of the books you've been mentioning. I wasn't able to figure out which were
> the ones where I could learn about the Mutakalim definitions of Time etc. Could you
> recommend a reading list for Kalam?

You can look into the various available explanations of al-Sunusi's book
Umm al-Barahin.

> My suggestion is to write an "islamic" short
> epistimologic principles that suits the topic together
> with a critique of the western research methods. And then
> I may use the concepts that are in accordance with our
> worldview. These concepts will compared with what
> Imam ghazali and Ibn khalduns principles and apporaches
> used in Ihya and the al-muqadima.
> My question is this acceptable from a fiqh perspective
> (using some western concepts that in accordance with our
> belief system)? I can provide further details on that if
> you'd like to know more.

Basically, the study of sociology and group dynamics
is among the mubahaat (neutral and allowed issues).

It is only if you start reaching legal rulings for our
din or tenets of belief with foreign methods that you have
done something wrong. 

Thus, as long as you are not trying to claim that something
haram is wajib, something wajib is haram, something mubah is haram,
something mubah is wajib, some tenet of belief taught by the Prophet is
fallacious, some tenet of belief not taught by the Prophet is essential
to believe, etc, - as long as you are not trying to do any of these
things with foreign methods, it is permissible.

  Footnote 295 of the Explanatory Notes and associated
  entries in the Notes of Sources.


Now with that said and done, please note that we have our
own unique epistemology (way of teaching and learning) handed
down to us by the pious scholars all the way back to the
Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace).  And this
way of learning and teaching has more barakah than foreign
methods and when practiced properly will produce a graduate
who is far stronger and superior in knowledge (`ilm )and
state (haal) than what any Western or Eastern Foreign University
is currently producing.

For your benefit, we will list some principles of our
epistemology (we have gained these from direct experience
with the traditional scholars of the Eastern and Western
Muslim World):

  a) The teacher must necessarily be qualified in
     `ilm (knowledge), haal (state), adab (manners),
     and have a connected chain of living human teachers
     to the source of the knowledge - or the first person/people
     who formally taught the knowledge.
  b) The student must necessarily respect the teacher.
  c) Memorization is a pre-requisite for understanding.
  d) Understanding with exact memorization is superior to
     understanding with rough memorization.  And understanding
     with rough memorization is superior to rote memorization.
  e) The student must necessarily sit face-to-face with the
     teacher during the beginning part of his study.
  f) The teacher tests the student orally and face to
  g) Writing notes may be resorted to as a memorization tool
     for the student.  Some students skip this since they have
     gained mastery over the ancient Arab art of memorizing
     words of the speaker as they are spoken.
  h) Subject material is divided up into a core matn (which
     contains the summary of the most important points) and
     surrounding explanation.  It is the student's
     responsibility to memorize the core matn and it is the
     teacher's responsibility to explain the memorized matn
     to the student.
  i) The advanced student may at the direction of the teacher
     pursue in-depth study with books (he should still ask
     the teacher to clear up any points he does not understand).
  j) Small class sizes are better than large class sizes.
  k) Only people of the same level of understanding (regardless of
     age) should be taught together.
  l) When working in a group problem with three or more people,
     one person should be assigned as the leader.
  m) It is better for the teacher to sit in front (e.g., on a stool
     or chair) and the students to form a half-circle around him
     facing him sitting on the floor.
  n) The teacher may use a blackboard and other visual tools but the
     main method of instruction should be oral.
  o) The teacher should constantly ask oral questions to
     the students to make sure that they are following and
  p) No one should interrupt the teacher without his permission.
  q) Lessons are begun with bismillah and are ended with
     hamd for Allah and blessings on the Prophet.

> Someone hurt my feelings (not purposely) giving me "nasiha" to stay
> away from getting knowledge from Shaykh XYZ. If you do not
> know him he has the following sites:
> He is a Sunni, I don't know which madhab, but he's a XYZ in
> tassawuf.
> Is he accurate?

Sorry.  It is our general policy here at the Guiding Helper Foundation
not to make comments about any currently living individual or give
advice about who is reliable and who is not.

Rather, we ask people to learn the material in the Explanatory Notes
of the Guiding Helper and then they themselves will be qualified to
distinguish correct beliefs and actions from incorrect ones.

Also, it is not accurate to issue a blanket statement about a
particular individual or group - as most individuals/groups who are
criticized (even rightly so) have some positive points to them.
Similarly, individuals/groups who are praised often have some
negative points to them.

So, the correct thing to do is to learn the general guidelines
(such as those contained in the Explanatory Notes of the Guiding
Helper) and then one will be able to discern which legal category
a particular statement or action of an individual would be
placed in. 

For example, if an individual committed an unlawful action, this does
not necessarily indicate that the individual is totally misguided or
does not have any benefit to offer.

It is the way of the ignorant masses to issue such blanket statements.
It is the way of the erudite scholars to learn and teach general
principles which one can apply to specific beliefs/actions.

Also, since we are teaching a very high level of refined knowledge,
we do not issue censorship statements telling people not to read
this or not to associate with this group; rather, we feel we
have provided enough tools to the sincere individual for him/her
to be able to discern truth from falsehood no matter where he/she

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