The Difference Between Splitting And Differing in Religious Matters

Distinguishing between splitting (iftiraaq) and differing (ikhtilaaf) is an extremely important matter. It is essential that such an issue be referred back to the people of knowledge, since most people – especially some of the callers to Islam (du’aat) and some of the students of knowledge who have not fully matured in their understanding of the Religion – do not make a distinction between issues of differing and issues of splitting. Because of this, some of them apply the ruling of splitting to issues of differing; and this is a dreadful mistake! The root cause of this is ignorance of the fundamental principles governing matters of splitting; when and how it occurs, and who decides if and when it is allowed to split away from a particular individual or group.

It is essential, therefore, to mention the distinctions between splitting and differing. Five such distinctions shall be mentioned by way of example, not that they are the only points of distinction:

The First Distinction: That splitting (iftiraaq) is a severer form of differing (ikhtilaaf), rather it is the consequence of differing because differences of opinion may or may not lead to the bounds of splitting. However, splitting is actually differing plus more, though not every differing is splitting – a point which forms the basis for the second distinction.

The Second Distinction: Not every issue of differing is an issue of splitting, though every splitting is differing. Indeed, many of the issues about which the Muslims dispute are actually issues of differing, Therefore it is not permitted to apply the ruling of disbelief upon those who differ, nor the ruling of splitting from them, nor the ruling of expelling them from the fold of the Sunnah.

The Third Distinction: That splitting (iftiraaq) only occurs in the great fundamentals (usool kubraa); those fundamentals of the Religion in which there is no scope for differing; those issues that have been established by a definite (qat’ee) text, or by a scholarly consensus (Umaal, or for which the scholars of AhlusSunnah wal Jamaa’ah have undertaken a thorough evaluation and do not differ about its conclusion. So whatever is like this is considered to be a fundamental precept (asl) and the one who opposes it is considered to have split away. Whatever else is besides this, then it enters into matters of differences. Thus differing (ikhtilaaf) occurs in issues other than the fundamentals; issues which are open to a number of opinions, open to ijtihaad, open to the possibility of being applied to any of the opinions; for which the one holding a view has some justification to do so, or due to the possibility of a lack of knowledge, coercion or mistaken interpretation. So all of this is in matters of ijtihaad and subsidiary issues (furoo). Differing can also occur in certain subsidiary matters that are connected to the actual fundamentals themselves, for which the holder of such a view can be excused due to a justified excuse, as determined by the reliable scholars of the Religion. These subsidiary issues may even be in matters of beliefs (‘aqeedah), about which there is an agreement upon its fundamentals, but in which there is a difference of opinion in some of its details; such as the consensus of the scholars concerning the occurrence of the Night Journey and Ascension (al-israa wal-miraaj), but their differing about whether the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam saw His Lord with his eyes or his heart.

The Fourth Distinction: That differences may at times be the result of ijtihaad and good intentions – and providing he is endeavouring to seek the truth, such a person is rewarded even if he is mistaken. Although the one who is correct receives a greater reward, but the one who errs is still commended for his ijtihaad. However, if the issue reaches the level of splitting, then it becomes totally blameworthy. Splitting is never due to ijtihaad and good intentions and its proponent is never rewarded, rather he is censured and sinful in all cases. Therefore, splitting does not occur except due to innovations, or following whims and desires, or due to the blameworthy type of imitation (taqleed madhmoom).

The Fifth Distinction: That splitting is connected with a Divine threat (wa’eed) and all its forms lead to deviation and destruction. But this is not the case for differing, no matter how intense the differing may become between Muslims – as long as it is an issue in which ijtihaad is allowed. As for the one who holds a differing view, then it may be that he has some justification for his stance; it may be due to him being unaware of the proofs, or because of being compelled and no one else knows about this compulsion, or due to a mistaken interpretation which does not become evident to him until after the proofs have been established to him.

Source: General Precepts of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal Jamaa’ah by Naasir Bin Abdulkarim al-Aql, P. 27-28

Weakness of Faith Due to Scandalous Conduct of Some Religious Scholars – Imam Al-Ghazali

There are three remedies for this sickness:

One of them is for you to say: “The learned man who, you allege, devours what is illicit, knows that such illicit things are forbidden just as well as you know that wine and pork and usury–to say nothing of backbiting, lying, and slander–are forbidden.  Now you know that, yet you do such things, not because of the lack of your belief that it is disobedience, but rather because of your desire which gets the better of you.  Well his desire is like yours, and it has indeed got the better of him.  So his technical knowledge of subtle questions beyond this prohibition, by which he is distinguished from you, does not necessarily involve a more severe warning against this or that specific illicit action.  How many a man who believes in medicine cannot abstain from fruit and cold water, even though he has been warned against them by his physician!  But that does not prove that they are not injurious, or that faith in medicine is unsound.  This, therefore, is the way to construe the faults of the learned.”

The second remedy is that the man in the street be told: “You ought to be believe that the learned man has acquired his learning as a provision for himself in the afterlife and supposes that his learning will save him and will be an intercessor for him.  So in view of that he may be negligent in his actions because of the merit of his learning.  And though it be possible that his  learning will be additional evidence against him, yet he thinks it possible that it will procure him a higher rank in heaven.  This may be the case for, even though he has given up good works, he can adduce his learning in his favor.  But you, common man that you are, if you pattern yourself on him and give up good works without having any learning, you will perish because of your evildoing, and there will be no intercessor for you!”

The third remedy, and this is the real one, is that the true man of learning commits a sin only by way of a slip, but will in no way stubbornly persist in his sins.  For true learning is that which leads to the knowledge that sin is a deadly poison and that the afterlife is better than this  life.  And anyone who knows that will not barter the better for something inferior.  This knowledge is not the fruit of the various types of knowledge with which most men busy themselves.  Hence the knowledge they acquire only makes them bolder in disobeying God Most High.  True knowledge, on the other hand, increases its possessor’s reverence, fear, and hope, and this stands between him and the commission of sins, save for those slips from which, in moments of weakness, no man is free.  But this is not a sign of weak faith, for the believer is tried but continually repentant, and he is far from stubborn impenitence.

Source: Deliverance from Error (al-Munqidh min al-Dalal) by Al-Ghazali (translated by R.J. Mccarthy, S.J.), pp. 79-80. Please note that the title given is of my own and not included in the actual work.

Origin of the Idea of Rejecting the Islamic Veil As a Religious Obligation

Following is an excerpt from our much larger essay entitled: Evidences for the Obligation of a Muslim Woman’s Headscarf (Khimar) & Outer Garment (Jilbaab).

If there has always been a consensus over the obligation of a Muslim woman’s headscarf (khimar) and outer garment (jilbaab), then where does the idea of rejecting the Islamic veil as a religious obligation come from among some Muslims? It seems to have two root causes for its existence. First, during the reign of Western imperialism in Muslim lands, they used to look down on the practice of veiling for Muslim women and thought it should be abolished (Campo 2009, 297). Second, some Muslims, who had developed a sort of inferiority complex towards the West, thought it would be wise to adopt Western ideals in order to achieve the same success as their colonial rulers (Ahmed 1992, 148). Thus, it was an imported idea brought in Muslim lands from the outside in the 19th and 20th centuries.

During colonialism, in order to justify the practice of conquering other lands, they would dehumanize the inhabitants of those lands and would argue that their inferior practices demand control of their lands. Juan E. Campo, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara, writes, “Non-Muslim imperialists often used hijab as an example of the “inferiority” of nations they wished to conquer, claiming it was a discriminatory practice that should be abolished” (Campo 2009, 297). The colonial powers felt that such practices were one of the main reasons that Muslims were so backwards and that if only such customs “were cast off could Muslim societies begin to move forward on the path of civilization” (Ahmed 1992, 152). Thus, they began to view themselves as the liberators of these degraded women. Even Christian missionaries opined that “Muslim women needed to be rescued by their Christian sisters from the “ignorance and degradation” in which they existed, and converted to Christianity” (Ahmed 1992, 154).

The colonials saw their own ways of life as superior to their conquered subjects. In their minds, the “Victorian womanhood and mores with respect to women, along with other aspects of society at the colonial center, were regarded as the ideal and measure of civilization” (Ahmed 1992, 151). Missionary school teachers would encourage their Muslim female students to defy their parents and abandon the veil. One of these missionaries “openly advocated targeting women” because they mold future generations (Ahmed 1992, 154). Since that time [and even before that during the crusades], the idea of Muslims, as a civilization, oppressing and degrading women have carried on until today even though it was originally developed to justify Western colonization and to eradicate cultures of the conquered in favor of the conqueror’s.

Perhaps all this is what led to Turkey and Iran in early 20th century, as supporters of Westernization, to ban the hijab “as a symbolic way of demonstrating that their nations were modern and progressive” (Campo 2009, 297-98). This is because the Muslim political leaders of these nations “had accepted and internalized the Western discourse” (Ahmed 1992, 168). However, these “reforms” did not last very long especially for Iran. As Leila Ahmed, an Egyptian American writer on Islam and Islamic feminism, argues, “reforms pursued in a native idiom and not in terms of the appropriation of the ways of other cultures would have been more intelligible and persuasive” (Ahmed 1992, 168).

Qasim Amin (1863-1908)

The very first documented Muslim that this author could find who openly rejected the Islamic veil as a religious obligation for Muslim women was the Egyptian French-educated lawyer Qasim Amin. He was not a religiously trained scholar but a Western educated judge. He is often considered the first Arab feminist (Boles & Hoeveler 2004, 38). In 1899, he published his highly controversial book Tahrir al-Mar’a (The Liberation of Women) in which he argued that “Islam did not require women to veil and that veiling and seclusion had kept women from enjoying the rights Islam granted them” (Shaarawi & Badran 2015, 15). He also advocated in the book education for girls and reform in polygamy and divorce laws. More than thirty books were written in response to his book criticizing his arguments (Shaarawi & Badran 2015, 15). This may be because he attacks in it many aspects of Egyptian life and culture, but his “demand that was most vehemently and widely denounced was his call for an end to segregation and veiling” (Ahmed 1992, 160). His praise in it is only for the Europeans. This work of his is widely regarded as the beginning of feminism in Arab culture (Ahmed 1992, 145).

The question is where did Amin get this anti-veiling idea? There seem to be two factors which may have influenced his conclusion. Firstly, it is well accepted that Amin had a Eurocentric bias and supported the British occupation. Many of his arguments in his controversial book were the exact same used by European settlers and missionaries leading to a rumor at the time that he had written it due to the urging of Lord Cromer, British administrator and diplomat who ruled Egypt for 24 years as an agent and consul general (Ahmed 1992, 159). Perhaps after years of enduring colonial propaganda on the oppression of women in Islam especially with regards to veiling and segregation, he may have internalized these arguments and accepted them to be true due to his own inferiority complex. In fact, academic scholars today “criticize Amin’s Eurocentric bias in that he accepted the superiority of Western civilization and expressed contempt for Muslim society and Egyptian women in particular” (Boles & Hoeveler 2004, 38).

Princess Nazli Fazl (1853-1913)

Secondly, an Egyptian princess by the name of Nazli Fazl may have influenced his thinking as well. She also had a Western education, which she completed in Great Britain and France (Talhami 2013, 117). She is accredited with reviving the tradition of the literary salon in the Arab world. She hosted them from the 1880s until her death in 1913-14. She used to host them in her palace in Cairo. In these salons, the attendees “debated Egypt’s social and political crisis, as well as holding discussions on leading Arabic and European books of the day” (Talhami 2013, 117). Her salons were attended by some of the leading personalities of her day, such as, Muhammad Abuh, Jamal al-Din Afghani, and of course Qasim Amin. However, these were not attended by Egyptian women, rather, it was just “statesmen, politicians, writers, journalists, and intellectuals, both Egyptian and European” (Shaarawi & Badran 2015, 143). It is said that “her input into these conversations influenced Amin’s seminal work, The Liberation of Women” (Talhami 2013, 117). It is highly likely that it was a combination of both of the above mentioned factors.

Amin’s book and the controversy that followed it led to some women, who were frustrated with certain aspects of Egyptian society towards women, to hold their own salons. One of the first of these women were Eugénie Le Brun, who was a French convert married to an Egyptian landowner and future politician Hussein Rushdi Pasha. Le Brun had been conducting her salons even before Amin’s book but its publication “further stimulated their efforts” (Shaarawi & Badran 2015, 19). Moreover, her salon was open to regular Egyptian women in Cairo (Shaarawi & Badran 2015, 143). Having grown up abroad as a feminist, she carried the European understanding of the veil into her conversion. For example, she “earnestly inducted young Muslim women into the European understanding of the meaning of the veil and the need to cast it off as the essential first step in the struggle for female liberation” (Ahmed 1992, 154).

Huda Sha’arawi (1879-1947)

Le Brun’s gatherings were highly influential and one of her regular attendees and a close friend was Huda Sha’arawi. She had an immense influence on Sha’arawi, who many years later after Le Brun’s death would publicly take off the veil in Egypt at a train station in 1923 after returning from an international feminist meeting in Rome (Shaarawi & Badran 2015, 5). This one act from Sha’arawi “began a radical activist phase of the movement” (Boles & Hoeveler 2004, 295) and “within a decade of Huda’s act of defiance, few women still chose to wear the veil” (Engel 2012). Sha’arawi also mentored Aminah Said, who was much more radically opposed to the veil (Talhami 2013, 286). When we reflect over all of the above, then perhaps Aduwig Adamec in his Historical Dictionary of Islam put it best:

“As a result of Westernization, women began to appear on the streets without a veil, and modernizing [Muslim] reformers tried with varying success to abolish the veil. The Islam revival, beginning in the 1970s led to the adoption of the ‘Islamic’ dress as a political statement in many parts of the Islamic world and even among Muslims in the West” (Adamec 2001, 115).

In conclusion, the concept of rejection of the obligation of the Islamic veil for Muslim women was imported from the imperialists reigning over the Muslim world. Some of the Muslims in Egypt, who were influenced by Western education, achievements and lifestyles, began to accept criticisms against the veil from their European rulers. This eventually led to a debate over the issue within Muslim society, especially after Qasim Amin’s book. The result was that the idea of it not being a religious obligation became well accepted among certain crowds until today. The idea began in Egypt but eventually spread throughout the Muslim world. What is interesting to note is that many of the arguments used against the Islamic veil have not changed since the colonial times. This author has heard some of them verbatim from Muslim liberals and non-Muslims.


Adamec, L.W., 2001. Historical Dictionary of Islam, Lanham  Md.: Scarecrow Press.

Ahmed, L., 1992. Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Boles, J.K. & Hoeveler, D.L., 2004. Historical Dictionary of Feminism 2. ed., Lanham Md.: Scarecrow Press.

Campo, J.E., 2009. Encyclopedia of Islam. New York: Checkmark Book.

Engel, K., 2012. Huda Shaarawi, Egyptian feminist & activist. Amazing Women in History. Available at: [Accessed May 26, 2016].

Sha’arawi, H. & Badran, M., 2015. Harem Years the Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist, 1879-1924, New York : The Feminist Press at CUNY.

Talhami, G.H., 2013. Historical Dictionary of Women in the Middle East and North Africa, Lanham Md.: Scarecrow Press.

Religious Knowledge Should Increase Your Righteous Actions

“No person to whom God had given the Scripture, wisdom, and prophethood would ever say to people, ‘Be my servants, not God’s.’ [He would say], ‘You should be devoted to God because you have taught the Scripture and studied it closely’” [Quran 3:79].

There is no point in seeking religious knowledge if it does not increase your taqwa (mindfulness of God). One of the fundamental points of seeking this sacred knowledge is to increase your level of righteousness.

In a verse in the Qur’an, Allah directly draws a connection between acts of devotion to to Him and knowledge: “What about someone who worships devoutly during the night, bowing down, standing in prayer, ever mindful of the life to come, hoping for his Lord’s mercy? Say, ‘How can those who know be equal to those who do not know? Only those who have understanding will take heed” [Qur’an 39:9].

Yet in another verse it says, “It is those of His servants who have knowledge who stand in true awe of God” [Qur’an 35:28]. Commentators of the Qur’an have viewed this verse to mean that religious knowledge leads to obedience of the Creator, the more knowledge one has, the more he/she should be obedient to Him. Al-Hasan Al-Basri, a famous early scholar of Islam, said about this verse, “The one who has knowledge is the one who fears the Most Merciful in private, and seeks that which Allah wants for him and abstains from that which incurs the wrath of Allah.

Al-Sa’di, a well known Muslim scholar who lived in the 20th century, said about verse 35:28, “The more a person knows Allah, the more he will fear Him, and the fear of Allah will make him refrain from sin and prepare to meet the One Whom he fears. This is indicative of the virtue of knowledge, for it calls one to fear Allah. The people who fear Allah are the ones who will be honored by Him, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “God will be pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord” [Qur’an 98:8].

Unfortunately many people are in it just for debates, arguments, and ego. If you don’t see an increase in humility and righteous actions after seeking religious knowledge, then you need to ask yourself are you just wasting your time? What you in it for?

In various places in the Qur’an, Allah criticizes past nations for their scholars’ bickering and arguing over issues after knowledge had come to them. Meaning the very knowledge that was suppose to make them humble and more devoted turned them arrogant and rather than increasing acts of devotion and worship, they wasted time arguing and bickering among themselves mainly due to jealous animosity between them.

“And those who were given the Scripture [before you] did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves” [Qur’an 3:19].

“And We gave them clear proofs of the matter [of religion]. And they did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves. Indeed, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ.” [Qur’an 45:17]

Perhaps this is what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) feared when he warned, “Whoever seeks [religious] knowledge in order to compete with the scholars, to prove himself superior to the ignorant, or to make the people look up to him, he is in the Fire” (al-Albani graded it authentic in ‘Sahih Ibn Majah’ (205)).

In short, if seeking religious knowledge is not making you a better practicing Muslim, then there is a problem.

Towards Sacred Activism: A Religious Guide for the Muslim Activist

Activism has become a huge part of countries around the world but especially in the West. It seems there is a voice for every issue now crying out for equality or justice. There is no doubt that organized activism is one of the best ways to bring about a positive social change in society. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of causes out there that one can choose to represent in society. The problem, however, is that not all of them are compatible with Islam, particularly some of the popular ones. This is where there is a conundrum for the Muslim activist.

One of the most influential and prominent forms of activism in the West is that of LGBTQ. However, this type of lifestyle is explicitly forbidden in the Qur’an and prophetic statements. In addition, there is a consensus on its prohibition among Muslim scholars in mainstream Islam. Therefore, it should be a no-brainer that as Muslims we cannot get behind this issue and pretend it is just like any other social justice issue.

As Muslims, our fundamental understanding of right and wrong comes from the Qur’an and Sunnah (prophetic statements, actions, and tacit approvals). If it is considered wrong/evil by Allah or His Messenger, then we must not get behind anything that will normalize such evil. Rather, we must oppose it even if the whole world thinks it’s good. Similarly, if Allah or His Messenger consider something good, then we must also consider it as such and get behind it even if the whole world thinks it’s wrong. We are told in the Qur’an:

And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah . They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying [Qur’an 6:116].

Allah also tells his Prophet (pbuh) and in extension the believers in the Qur’an:

And follow what is revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and be patient until Allah will judge [Qur’an 10:109].

Activism has definitely become more popular among young Muslims in the West due to Islamophobia. Today, Muslims are more aware and involved in social and political issues. They have quoted verses from the Qur’an and blessed prophetic statements (hadiths) to back up their activism in fighting for justice for the oppressed. For example, Allah tells us in the Qur’an:

You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah [Qur’an 3:110].

Traditionally, this verse and others like it with similar wording have been interpreted by Muslim scholars to mean enjoining all that which Allah and His Messenger have commanded and forbidding all that which Allah and His Messenger have prohibited. Even with this interpretation, there are many modern issues which can fall under it, such as, racism, bullying, poverty, exploitation, torture, corruption, etc., because all such things are forbidden in Islam and we should speak out against them and try to eradicate them from our society. The problem arises, however, when a Muslim activist uses such verses to include issues which are clearly contradictory to Islam. For example, LGBTQ normalization, legalization of sex work, abortion rights after the soul has entered into the fetus, etc. would all be considered wrong in Islam and not permissible for Muslims to advocate for them.

In recent times, some Muslim activists in the West have attracted national spotlight for their efforts. Unfortunately, some of them have even advocated for LGBTQ issues like same sex marriage. Those among the mainstream who have advocated for such things use the argument that all minorities must have each others back and that they’re only supporting them so that all minorities, including Muslims, are treated fairly. So in reality, they proclaim, they are advocating for Muslim rights. This has led to lots of debate and confusion among Muslims as to how to go about such issues. Should we support many popular modern movements in the field of “social justice” that clearly contradict our faith principles with the caveat that it will bring us as Muslim minorities benefit as well? What about working with groups who advocate for such forbidden issues but we restrict our work with them on issues we both find problematic (poverty, corruption, racism, islamophobia, etc.)? Can we be partners with such groups?

Imam Dawud Walid, an imam in the Metropolitan Detroit area and Executive Director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), has attempted to answer these questions in his latest book entitled Towards Sacred Activism. It’s a small 75 page booklet that concisely addresses Muslim activists in the West and provides guidance on how to do social justice activism from an Islamic perspective. He provides some excellent advice and I will try to summarize to the best of my ability. I highly recommend purchasing it if you want to get involved in social justice work from an Islamic perspective.

He points out in his book that social justice work, for a Muslim, should be done to enhance the good in our society and interrupt injustice based upon the guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The first and foremost motivation and reason a Muslim should do this work, he says, is for the pleasure of Allah and everything else is secondary. In order to understand the guidance from the Qur’an and Sunnah, and what pleases or displeases Allah, it requires religious literacy, hence, Muslim activists should be learned enough in their faith tradition so that they do not fall into promoting that which the Qur’an and Sunnah have forbidden or preventing that which the Qur’an and Sunnah have commanded. He argues that before taking on any modern issue, the Muslim activist should get in touch with Muslim scholars and educate himself/herself on the issue from an Islamic perspective. He admits that there is some sort of gap between Muslim scholars and Muslim activists and that they both live in their own bubbles not really fully engaging with the other side. He states:

“There should be more religious leaders who are in tune with grassroots, social justice activism, just as there should be more activists who have some background in the traditional Islamic sciences. Yet, the reality on the ground is that these two groups are not in regular conversation with each other” (Pgs. 73-74).

He provides five guidelines to keep in mind before delving into social justice work with other groups:

  1. Be upfront, resolute and kind in telling religious leaders and advocates where you stand on this issue based upon normative Islamic beliefs and that it is acceptable for them to disagree. Just as you are not trying to impose your beliefs upon them, you should respectfully tell them that you have the right to not agree with all of their positions but can work together with them where causes align.
  2. Be involved in coalitions calling for social justice that align with the shari’ah (Islamic law), regardless of LGBTQ groups being part of those coalitions.
  3. Attempt to be clear, within yourself, about phrases and nomenclature, that will not be used in campaigns and public rallies that violate the shari’ah. Not everything has to be verbally recognized in the name of intersectionality.
  4. Do not collaborate or encourage any initiative that advances what is clearly forbidden in Islam, falsely in the name of allyship.
  5. Be prepared to hear Islam itself, not just Muslims, being called homophobic and patriarchal because of issues such as the opinion on homosexuality. Remember that soft anti-Islam sentiments exist within the Left in relation to how it sees traditional Islamic theology and jurisprudence conflicting with Liberalism.

Walid differentiates between coalitions and alliances. He views coalitions in a way that allows more flexibility with them. He says coalitions differ from alliances in the following ways:

  • Coalition is a collaboration which is usually temporary in nature and is based upon a narrow focus of issue(s)
  • Coalition partners do not have to share the same belief systems and methodologies in order to cooperate upon limited common goals
  • Coalition partners can be in partnership on some issues while simultaneously be in opposition to each other on other matters

To justify working with such groups in a narrow sense, he uses the verse, “And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression” [Qur’an 5:2]. He also uses the incident of Hilf al-Fudul, a pact which took place before Islam which the idolater leaders of Mecca agreed to implement to establish fair commercial dealings in Mecca and which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) supported even well after his prophethood. Walid states, “Hilf al-Fudul, however, in no way meant that he [the prophet] would have sanctioned Muslims to affirm, much less propagate, the heresy of Quraysh’s idolatry, the burying of female babies alive and other un-Islamic aspects of their lifestyle as a condition of being in such a coalition” (pg. 56).

Finally, Walid clarifies that as Muslims we must not get involved or support vigilante violence, mayhem, threatening, bullying, etc. against those from the LGBTQ community. We must and can disagree with their lifestyle but not resort to such behavior. In addition, he supports doing social justice work that brings about Islamic based justice in society irrespective of who benefits from it (poverty, homelessness, healthcare reform, immigration reform, etc.). So if you help a LGBTQ person come out of poverty, get affordable healthcare, etc., this does not oppose Islamic ethics or values argues Walid.

There are a lot more gems that he shares based on his experience and I highly encourage those who are interested in getting involved in social justice from an Islamic perspective to buy and read it.

I would also recommend the talk linked below delivered by Sh. Yasir Qadhi at a CAIR event in which he discusses these issues.


Seeking Religious Knowledge That Actually Benefits

The Prophet ﷺ is reported to have stated in a hadith:

سَلوا اللهَ عِلمًا نافعًا وتعَوَّذوا باللهِ مِن علمٍ لا ينفعُ

“Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge and seek refuge in Him from knowledge that does not benefit.”

[Saheeh Ibn Majah 3114]

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said:

“Beneficial knowledge is that which directly impacts the heart, enhancing within it the recognition and magnification of Allah the Exalted, along with awe, reverence, veneration, and love for Him. When these matters settle within the heart, it becomes humble, and as a result, all limbs humbly submit in accordance with its humility.

In Sahih Muslim, it is narrated from the Prophet ﷺ that he used to say: ‘I seek refuge in You from knowledge that does not benefit and from a heart that does not humble.’

This indicates that knowledge that does not induce humility in the heart is knowledge that is not beneficial.”

Source: كتاب ورثة الأنبياء شرح حديث أبي الدرداء

So those who embark on this journey, must ascertain that the knowledge they are spending so much time collecting is actually having an impact in their relationship with Allah and their actions, otherwise, there is something seriously wrong either in the type of knowledge they are gathering or their intentions.

Beneficial knowledge is that which purifies inner virtues, flows into outward actions, rectifies both the apparent and the hidden aspects. Beneficial knowledge is knowledge of the Sharia, which informs the accountable individual of what is obligatory in terms of their religious matters, worship, transactions, ethics, and conduct.

One of the signs of Allah’s desire for goodness for His servant is granting them success in seeking knowledge and understanding. The Prophet ﷺ said:

مَن يُرِدِ اللهُ به خيرًا يُفقِّهْه في الدِّينِ

“Whomever Allah intends good for, He makes them understand the religion.”

[Bukhari and Muslim]

Also among beneficial knowledge are worldly sciences that hold benefit and advantage for Muslims. When a Muslim learns them, intending them sincerely for the sake of Allah, and uses them for the benefit of Muslims, he/she benefits from them in both this world and the Hereafter.

Then the Prophet ﷺ said, “And seek refuge in Allah from knowledge that does not benefit.” Meaning, invoke Him and ask Him to protect you from being afflicted with knowledge that is not useful, which is knowledge not acted upon, not beneficial, and does not refine one’s morals, speech, or actions. It becomes a proof against its possessor and includes what is not permissible to learn.