1. Tomorrow’s Fiqh Today

This is one of a series of articles which were either written in collaboration with Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison or were carefully edited by him, in which it is no longer possible to see who wrote what

A body of fiqh scholarship has grown up called the Fiqh of Minorities (fiqh al-aqalliyat) professing to redefine fiqh for people living in the West. Its most substantial basis on which it draws is what is called the Fiqh of Momentous Events (fiqh an-nawazil) which is a chapter of Maliki fiqh that draws on the experience gained in Sicily and Andalus where the Muslims were defeated and remained behind in these two lands living under non-Muslim governance.

There are very real differences between living in lands in which the majority are Muslims and in which Islam has been established for some generations, and living in Europe or the US, for example, as Muslim minorities under non-Muslim governance. Fatally, contemporary scholars who aspire to address this matter have founded their endeavours on the fiqh of defeat, something which would be entirely appropriate for Palestinians to draw upon, but which is not applicable by analogy to the brand new appearance of Islam in Europe and the Americas, which often includes a significant presence of new Muslims who are indigenous to the West and who have embraced the Deen with a view to living not only by its basic tenets, but within the complete range of its social and economic modalities WHERE THEY ARE.

What these modernist scholars have rightly intuited is the need for a different approach in the West, but what they have not thought through is the substantial difference there is between an existing Muslim community that is overwhelmed and defeated by non-Muslims, and the situation in which Muslims have immigrated to non-Muslim lands (usually for economic reasons) where there is also a parallel spread of Islam as a result of the indigenous people embracing Islam in ever increasing numbers.

This task remains for the Muftis of today to address properly, so that the Muftis of tomorrow will inherit and add to the accumulating body of fatwas that arise from their responding to everyday problems confronting the Muslims in these settings. For these times and these places, we suggest that the Maliki madhhab, whilst sharing with other schools the transmission of strong opinions, also provides a range of the most flexible and effective tools, which, in the hands of the most dynamic fuqaha, would allow for the application of an ijtihad in these situations based on public welfare (maslahah mursalah), existing custom (‘urf) and blocking the means of access (sadd adh-dhara‘i) to things that are harmful or haram.

It is impossible to predict what the results of such ijtihad will give rise to in terms of the kinds of Muslim communities that will arise and the nature of the dynamic between them and the surrounding non-Muslim society; this can only be discovered by setting out on the journey of implementation itself. However, what is clear is that it represents the prospect of a positive, self-determined transcendence of the discourse founded upon the rights of beleaguered minorities or the closed dialectic of extremism versus moderation.

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Abdassamad Clarke is from Ulster and was formally educated at Edinburgh University in Mathematics and Physics, and in Cairo in Arabic and tajwid and other Islamic sciences. He accepted Islam at the hands of Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi in 1973. In the 80s he was secretary to the imam of the Dublin Mosque, and in the early 90s imam khatib of the Norwich Mosque, where he is currently an imam and teacher. He has translated the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani (jointly with Muhammad Abdarrahman), which was published by Turath Publishing at the end of July 2004 and a number of other works from Arabic: al-Qawl al-mu'tamad fi mashru'iyyat adh-dhikr bi'l-ism al-mufrad by Shaykh al-Alawi on the standing in Shari’ah of using the divine name in dhikr, which was published by Diwan Press as first part of The Two Invocations and since republished by Madinah Press, The History of the Khalifahs (the chapters on the Khulafa ar-Rashidun from as-Suyuti’s Tarikh al-Khulafa), the Complete Forty Hadith (translation of Imam an-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith along with the Imam’s explanation of their fiqh and linquistic usages) and Kitab al-Jami’ by Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (published as A Madinan View), Rijal – narrators of the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad, all published by Ta-Ha Publishers of London, Kitab al-athar by Imam Abu Hanifah and transmitted by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani (Turath Publishing 2006), The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom (a translation of Jami' al-'ulum wa'l-hikam by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, published by Turath Publishing 2007). In addition he has edited Aisha Bewley's translation of Ibn Hajar's abridgement of at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib, Ibn Taymiyyah's al-Kalim at-Tayyib both published by the UK Islamic Academy, Dr Asadullah Yate's translation of al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah, published by Ta-Ha Publishing and a number of other works. He is currently engaged with Suád Østergaard on a translation of the Qur’an into Danish, the first volume of which translated in collaboration with Jakob Werdelin, comprising Surat al-Fatihah, Surat al-Baqarah and Surah Ali ‘Imran, was recently published as Den gavmilde Qur’an: en fremlægning of de tre første suraer by Havens Forlag of Copenhagen. Translations yet to be published include Traditions of the Sunnah (Athar as-sunan) by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Ali an-Nimawi (jointly with Mawlana In'amuddin), to be published by Turath Publishing Ltd. Among his unpublished translations are the Sciences of Tafsir comprising portions of Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi’s Qur’anic commentary at-Tashil li ‘ulum at-tanzil, in particular his introductory sections on the essential elements of the sciences necessary for tafsir. He is author of a number of children’s books, The Year of the Elephant, The Great Victory and The Last Battle all of which are on the sirah of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as well as The Story of Stories about the Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him, in which he drew a great deal on the commentary of Ibn Juzayy, may Allah be merciful to him. He has also a poem God is Dead published in the Minaret journal of Stockholm, Sweden, and an as-yet unpublished collection of short stories called Tales Are Like That, and a novel called The Wings of the Butterfly. Abdassamad is a teacher of both adults and children in Qur’an recitation (tajwid) and meanings, Arabic language and the deen in general, most recently having organised and taken part in a conference under the auspices of Islamic Events of London on the History of the Islamic Khalifate, and having given discourses in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Jena, Weimar, Copenhagen and the Midlands. 18 April, 2007 0:03

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