English translation of Maktubat Imam Rabbani (selective 100) | Mujaddid Alf sani | Sheikh Ahmad sirhindi

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This letter, written to answer the questions asked by Mir Muhammad Numan 'quddisa sirruh', informs that it is not good to raise one's finger when sitting in namaz:

Thanks be to Allahu ta'ala, who creates all classes of beings, all creatures, Who keeps them in existence, and Who sends them what they need! Salat, salam and benedictions be over the highest of Prophets, Muhammad Mustafa 'alaihissalatu wassalam', to his brother Prophets, to angels and to those who are honored with following him! The valuable letter which you sent through Molla Mahmud has arrived and made us happy. You ask:

Question 1 - Savants say that the place called Rawda-i mubaraka is more valuable than Mecca city. However, Hadrat Muhammad's figure and essence prostrate themselves before the shape and essence of Kaba al-muazzama. How could the Rawda-i mubaraka ever be higher?

[In the mosque of Medina, the twenty-six-meter - long place between Rasulullah's 'sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam' blessed grave and the minbar, which the mosque at that time had is called Rawda-i mutahhara. Rawda means garden. The blessed minbar at that time had three steps and was one meter high. It was burned completely in the fire of 654. Various minbars were made at various times, and today's minbar which has twelve steps was sent by (the Ottoman) Sultan Murad Khan III from Istanbul in 998 Hijri.]

Answer 1 - My Dear Sir! According to this faqir (Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani means himself), the most valuable place on the earth is Kaba al-muazzama [together with the mosque around it which is called Masjid al-haram]. Next comes the Rawda-i muqaddasa, which is in Medina. Thirdly comes the blessed city of Mecca. This means to say that it will be correct to say that the Rawda-i Mutahhara is higher than Mecca.

Question 2 - Does a Muslim in the Hanafi Madhhab raise his index finger while sitting in namaz? Mawlana 'Alimullah wrote a booklet on this subject. I send it to you. What do you say on this matter?

Answer 2 - My Dear Sir! There are many hadiths saying that it is permissible to make a sign with one's index finger. Some of the savants of the Hanafi Madhhab have said so, too. Mawlana 'Alimullah states so, too. If the books in the Hanafi Madhhab are read with attention, it will be seen that the pieces of knowledge communicating that it is permissible to raise one's finger are not from the knowledge of usul. They are not the madhhab's zahir khabars. Imam-i Muhammad Shaibani said, "Our Prophet 'sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam' used to make a sign with his blessed finger. Like him, we, too, raise and lower our finger. Imam-i azam Abu Hanifa said so, too." But it has been communicated through nawadir information, not through usul information, that Imam-i Muhammad said so.

[Ibni Abidin writes on the forty-seventh page of his first volume, "Information of the Hanafi Madhhab reached the later savants through three different ways:

1 - Those pieces of information which are usul are also called zahir khabars. These are the pieces of information coming from Imam-i azam Abu Hanifa and his disciples. These pieces of information are communicated in Imam-i Muhammad's six books. These six books are Al-Mabsut, Az-Ziyadat, Al-Jami'ussaghir, As-Siyarus saghir, Al-Jami'ulkabir and As-Siyarulkabir. Because these books were brought from Imam-i Muhammad by trustworthy people, they are called zahir khabars. Who gathered the pieces of usul information together first is Hakim Shahid [Muhammad]. His book Kafi is well-known. There are many books explaining Kafi.

2 - Those pieces of information that are nawadir, also come from these same savants. But these pieces of information do not exist in those six books, but they exist in Imam-i Muhammad's other books titled Al-Qisaniyyat, Al-Haruniyyat, Al-Jurjaniyyat and Ar- Ruqiyyat. Because these four books were not brought clearly and dependably as the former six books were, these pieces of information are called 'information which is not zahir.' Or they are reported in others' books. For example, they are reported in the book Muharrar by Hasan bin Ziyad, one of Imam-i azam's disciples, or in Imam-i Abu Yusuf's Amali.

3 - Those pieces of information which are waqi'at. These pieces of information were not communicated by the three imams, but are those matters on which their disciples or the disciples of their disciples performed ijtihad. Abullays-i Samarqandi who gathered these pieces of information first, wrote the book Nawazil."

Ibni Abidin, again, writes on the thirty-fifth page of his first volume, "The knowledge of fiqh is as indispensable for everybody as food is. Abdullah ibni Masud 'radiAllahu anh', who sowed the seeds of this knowledge, was one of the greatest and best learned ones of the Sahaba. Alqama, his disciple, watered these seeds and turned them into crops, and Ibrahim Nahai, his disciple, reaped the harvest, that is, gathered the pieces of this knowledge together. Hammad-i Kufi threshed it, and his disciple, Imam-i azam Abu Hanifa, ground it, that is, he classified the knowledge into sections; Abu Yusuf made dough from it, and Imam-i Muhammad baked it. Muslims have been eating the morsels prepared in this procedure. In other words, learning this knowledge they have been attaining happiness in this world and the next. Imam-i Muhammad communicated these morsels which he baked in nine hundred and ninety-nine branches of knowledge to his disciples. Of his six books, in the ones which he called saghir (little), he communicated what he learned through Imam-i Abu Yusuf, and, in those which he called kabir, he communicated only what he heard from Imam-i azam." It is for this reason that the book Siyar-i kabir, which is a work of Imam-i Muhammad's, does not contain Imam-i Abu Yusuf's name. Today, some ignorant people who do not know of this subtle information impute this to his antipathy against Imam-i Abu Yusuf. However, these two imams were in the highest grade of hubb-i fillah. Even those who follow in their footsteps get rid of the desires of their nafs owing to them.]

The book Fatawa-i gharaib informs that it is written in the book Muhit: "Imam-i Muhammad did not communicate in his books of usul that one must make a sign with the pointing finger of one's right hand. Also, those savants who succeeded him said differently on the subject. There were those who said that one should not as well as those who said that one should. Imam-i Muhammad, in his books other than books of usul, writes that the Prophet 'sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam' used to make a sign with his finger and communicates that Imam-i azam also informed of this fact. As it is said that it is sunnat to make a sign, there are those who say that it is mustahab." The book Fatawa-i gharaib then adds: "In actual fact, it is haram to do so."

It is written in Fatawa-i sirajiyya, "It is makruh to raise the finger when saying 'ash hadu an la...' in namaz. The book Kubra affirms this. Savants agree about this. The fatwa has been given in agreement with this, too. For, it is necessary to sit calmly, without moving in namaz."

It is written in the book of fatwa titled Ghiyasiyya [as well as in the book Bazaziyya], "One should not make a sign with one's pointing finger during the sitting posture. This is what the fatwa says. And this is what has been preferred, liked."

It is written in the book Jami'ur-rumuz. "One should not make a sign or bend one's finger. This is so according to the teachings of usul of the Madhhab. It is written so in Zahidi's book, too. The fatwa also has been given in agreement with this. Also, it is written so in the books Mudmarat, Walwaljiyya, Khulasa and others. Some of our superiors, on the other hand, state that it is sunnat to make a sign with the finger."

[The book Jami'ur-rumuz is an explanation of the book Nikaya, which, in its turn, is an abridged edition of the book Wikaya. The book Mudmarat is an explanation of the book Quduri.]

The book Hazinaturriwayat, citing from the book Tatarhaniyya, says, "While sitting for the tashahhud and saying 'la ilaha il-lal-lah,' will the pointing finger of the right hand make a sign? Imam-i Muhammad did not mention this in the information of usul. Those who came after him said differently on this matter. Some savants said that one should not make a sign. So does the book Kubra write. The fatwa agrees with this, too. Yet some others said that one should make a sign."

Hazinat-ur-riwayat is a book of fiqh written by the Qadi of Gujarat in India. Kubra, a book of fatwa, was written by Husamaddin 'Umar. It is written in Durr-ul- mukhtar, "One should not make a sign with one's pointing finger when saying the word of shahadat in namaz. The fatwa says so. It is written so in Walwaljiyya, in Tajnis, in UmdatulMufti, and in all the books of fatwa. But those who annotated these books, such as Kamal, Halabi, Baqani, say, 'One will make a sign. As a matter of fact, Imam-i Muhammad informed that Rasulullah 'sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam' used to do so.' Also, it is written in the book Muhit that it is sunnat to make a sign." Ibni Abidin says, "It is understood from Muhit that it is sunnat-i ghayr-i muakkada. As a matter of fact, Ayni and Tuhfa inform that it is mustahab." In the book Nur-ul-izah, Sharnblali says, "What is sahih is to make a sign with one's pointing finger," and Tahtawi objects to this.

As it is seen, there are savants who say that it is haram to make the sign. There are fatwas informing that it is makruh. There are many who say that one does not make the sign; information of usul states so. Then, it is not right for us, the imitators, to attempt to make the sign by saying that there is a hadith confirming it, thus doing something which has been said to be haram or makruh by the fatwas of many mujtahids. If a person in the Hanafi Madhhab makes the sign with his finger despite the fatwas informing that it is prohibited, this denotes one of two opinions: 1 - It may come to mean that he thinks these savants of din who reached the grade of ijtihad did not know of the mashhur hadiths informing that one will make the sign with one's finger. 2 - Or it means that he thinks that they heard of the hadiths but did not follow the hadiths and acted upon their own thoughts and opinions. Both these opinions are quite eccentric. To suppose so, one should be very mean and quite obstinate. Also, the word, "Early savants used to make a sign with their fingers in namaz. Afterwards, Rafidis overflowed the measure in doing this, so the savants of Hanafi prohibited the Ahl as-sunnat from making the sign. Thus, the Sunnis were distinguished from the Rafidis," in the book Targhibussalat, is incompatible with the information in valuable books. For, our savants inform through (the branch of religious knowledge termed) zahir usul not to make the sign or bend the finger. That is, the early savants said not to make the sign. Then, this matter has nothing to do with the Rafidis. Since some of our religious superiors said that one should not make the sign, what devolves on us is to respect them, to mind our manners and say: "If these superiors had not had the documentary evidence showing that it would be haram or makruh to make a sign with the finger, they would not say that it would be haram or makruh. After communicating the reports informing that it is sunnat or mustahab to make the sign, they would not say, 'Though they have said so, the truth of the matter is that the sign is haram.' This means that maybe they inferred that not those pieces of information communicating that the sign was sunnat or mustahab, but those evidences showing that it was prohibited were right." In short, we ignorant people having heard a few hadiths cannot be a witness or a document. It cannot be a reason for our refuting the words of the superiors of the din. One may say, "We now have obtained the information showing that what they inferred was wrong." Yet the information which we ignorant people have cannot be a witness for something to be halal or haram. Something can be halal or haram only after a mujtahid's determining it to be. It would be critically daring to consider mujtahids' words and evidences to be more flimsy than a spider's web. It would be to inflict a deep wound on Islam to hold one's own knowledge superior to the knowledge of the superiors of the din, to say that the usul information of the Hanafi Madhhab is corrupt and unsound, to hold of no account the valuable information which the savants depend upon in giving fatwa and to say that this information is wrong. Islam's great savants, being closer to the brilliant time of Rasulullah 'sallallahu alaihi wa sallam', their knowledge being very much more than that of those who came after them, and because they avoided sins and feared Allahu ta'ala to the greatest extent, would know and understand the hadiths certainly better than we addle- headed and ignorant people do, who know nothing of knowledge of the din and who boast of a few words which we heard in the name of knowledge. They would distinguish the right ones from the wrong ones, the changed ones from the unchanged ones better than we can. Certainly, they must have had some reasons for saying that these hadiths should not be followed, and there must have been some sound witnesses which they depended upon. We, who are so inferior to them in knowledge and in sight, understand to the extent that there are various hadiths explaining how to bend the finger, but they do not agree with one another. This incoherence among the (reported) hadith ash-Sharifs has made it difficult to say something definite on whether or not to make the sign. Some reports say that the sign should be made without bending fingers into the form of a fist, while others say that it should be made by bending them likewise. Some of those who say that fingers should be bent inform that it should be done by representing the figure as fifty-three. And others say that they will be bent in such a manner as to represent the figure twenty-three. [While explaining these, Halabi describes at full length how to show figures with the fingers.] Some other reports say that one should close one's two little fingers on the right, form a circle with one's thumb and middle finger and make the sign with one's pointing finger. Another report says that the sign will be made by putting one's thumb on one's middle finger. Some narration says that the sign should be made by putting one's right hand on one's left thigh and one's left hand on one's right foot. Another report says that the sign will be made by putting the right hand, together with the wrist and the arm, on the left hand, wrist and arm. To some reports, the sign will be made by closing all the fingers, while others inform that it will be made without moving the pointing finger. In addition to these, it is said that the sign will be made during the tahiyyat, but not a certain place is given, and, in some other information, it is said that the sign will be made when saying the word shahadat. And some other reports inform that when sitting to pray one should say, "O My Allah, Thou canst change the hearts as Thou wilt! Keep my heart steady in Thine din!" and make the sign while saying so.

The savants of the Hanafi Madhhab, seeing that the hadiths uttered on the sign were numerous and various, said not to do any action incompatible with the clear and definite commandments about namaz. For, it is essential in namaz to avoid any extra movements and to perform it in a solemn attitude. Furthermore, as it is declared by all the savants unanimously, it is sunnat to do one's best to keep one's fingers pointing towards the qibla all the time. It is ordered openly by the hadith: "During namaz do your best to keep all your limbs pointing towards the Qibla!"

Should it be suggested, "Those hadiths having been uttered differently will make the matter difficult only when they cannot be reconciled with one another. But a common rule can be deduced from these hadiths. For, various hadiths may have been heard and reported at different times," we would say in response that many of these reports contain the word 'kana' (was), which comes to mean 'all,' in the branches of knowledge other than logic. For this reason, these various reports cannot be reconciled.

Imam-i azam Abu Hanifa said, "If you learn a hadith which disagrees with my word, give up my word and follow the hadith;" yet this statement of his was about those hadiths which he had not heard. He meant to say, 'Give up any of my words which disagrees with a hadith that I have not heard.' However, the hadiths about making the sign are not so; they are well- known, they are widespread. It cannot be said that Imam-i azam might have not heard them. [Imam-i azam said so to his own disciples, that is, to mujtahids, not to us ignorant people.]

In case of a question such as, "Among the savants of the Hanafi, there are also those who said that the sign should be made and who gave a fatwa in agreement with this. Isn't it permissible to follow any one of the fatwas disagreeing with one another?"

We would answer that when the disagreement between fatwas is in the manner of 'permissible, not permissible, or halal, haram,' it is essential to follow those fatwas which say 'not permissible or haram.'

Ibni Humam says, "Seeing the variety of hadiths disagreeing with one another on whether or not to raise the finger, we have to follow the hadiths saying that the finger should not be moved, since it is necessary to sit motionless in namaz!" No matter how much, any surprise would be less than Ibni Humam causes. In his book he says, "The majority of savants said that the sign must not be made; this word of theirs is incompatible with hadiths and with the mind!" thus accusing the great Islamic savants of ignorance, who were in the grade of ijtihad and qiyas. As a matter of fact, qiyas is the zahir and usul information in the Hanafi Madhhab and is the fourth of the adilla-i Shariyya. How can one ever speak ill of ijtihad? Seeing the huge amounts of reports disagreeing with one another, the same person says that the hadith about qullatayn in the chapter on kinds of clean water also is daif.

My wise and mature son, Muhammad Said, is now writing a booklet about making the sign with the finger. When it is completed I will, inshallah, send you a copy. I send my salam and prayers to those being with you.

[It is written on the hundred and twenty-sixth page of the explanation of Shir'at-ul-Islam that the book Hidaya says that one must make the sign with one's finger. Imam-i Hulwani 'rahimahullah' says so, too. It is also said that one must not make the sign. The fatwa also agrees with this. For, it is necessary to keep motionless (during the standing positions and sitting postures as well as during and between the sajdas and the ruku') in namaz. Reports called waqi'at state so, too.

In the fatwa of Abussuud, which is in the library of Murad Mulla:

Question - Which is better, to raise one's finger or not to do so during namaz?

Answer - They have said that both are good. Yet, obviously, it is better not to raise the finger.]

The book Al-fiqhu alal-madhahib-il-arba'a says, "In the Maliki Madhhab, during a safar, under heavy rain, in dark and muddy places, on Arafa and Muzdalifa, early afternoon and late afternoon prayers of namaz, as well as evening and night prayers of namaz, are conjoined, that is, those pairs of salats are performed at the same time, respectively. It is permissible for the safar to be of less than three days [80 km.]. Jam', that is, conjoining these pairs of namaz, (that is, performing the early and late afternoon prayers or the evening and night prayers one immediately after the other within the time prescribed for either one of them), is not permissible during journeys made by sea. On days with heavy rain and mud, it is permissible to perform the night salat in the mosque in jamaat (congregation) immediately after the evening salat. But the salat of witr is performed in its original time. In the Shafi'i Madhhab the destination should be at least 80 km. away so that you can conjoin these pairs of salats.

In the Hanbali Madhhab, jam' is permissible in cases such as having set out on a journey and having the excuses written in the fourth fascicle of Endless Bliss. Also, it is permissible to conjoin the night salat with the evening salat at home in winter when the weather is cold, rainy, stormy, and muddy. When performing the two salats jointly, that is, when making jam', the sunnat salats are not performed. The intention for jam' is done at the beginning of the first salat. Those Muslims who are not able to perform their early and late afternoon salats and evening salats in their prescribed times because of the unsuitable working hours or office hours should not quit their jobs, but they should make jam' of the late afternoon salat with the early afternoon salat, and the evening salat with the night salat by imitating the Hanbali Madhhab. Resigning from your position would mean to abet the persecutions and infidelities that might be perpetrated by the person who would take your place. The fards for an ablution in the Hanbali Madhhab are six: washing the face together with the interior of the mouth and the interior of the nose, intention, washing the arms, rubbing the whole head, rubbing the ears including the exterior skin of the ears. (The hair hanging down is not rubbed. In the Maliki Madhhab, the hair hanging down is rubbed, too.) Washing the feet including the bones on the sides, washing the limbs in sequence (tartib), washing them in haste are all fards. Touching a woman lustfully or touching one's own penis breaks one's ablution. If a woman touches a man, the man's ablution will not be broken even if he feels lust. Anything coming out of the skin, if it is in a considerable amount, breaks the ablution. Eating camel meat breaks an ablution. Reasons for excusability ('udhr) are the same as those in the Hanafi Madhhab. In a ghusl, it is fard to wash inside the mouth, inside the nose, the hair, and for men to undo their dressed hair. As for women, it is sunnat to undo their plaited hair for a ghusl which is made for purification from junub (canonical impurity) and it is fard if the ghusl is made for purification when the menstruation is over. Two other practices that are fard are to sit as long as the time of tashahhud in namaz (during the sitting posture) and to make salam to both sides (when the final sitting posture in namaz is over)."