Islamic Fatawa (11-18)

(11) Inheritance Doubted to Be Unlawful

I am a married woman with two daughters and my husband’s financial situation is moderate, all thanks to Allah. My mother died and left a sum of money, jewels and a house in her country. All her property was a gift from my father to her. There was some doubt that my father’s wealth came from unlawful activities; however, he denied this. My mother did not accept these gifts until my father assured her that his money is lawful, and she did not spend this money in an unlawful way; as she used it in helping us and giving in charity. However, the only flaw was that she deposited the money in a usury-based bank. She did this due to her ignorance of what is lawful and unlawful in this matter.

Hence, is it permissible to take this inheritance and give some of it in charity to make amends for its being unlawful (according to our doubts); or is it impermissible to take it, in spite of our need of it? In addition, we are seven daughters – all of us are married except one –; do our maternal uncles share in this inheritance with us or not?

Answer by Sheikh Faisal Mawlawi:

Praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, his household, Companions and those who follow him until the Day of Judgment.

It is lawful to take the inheritance, Allah willing; as your father denied that his money is unlawful and you have no evidence to prove that it came from unlawful activities. The sum of money that your mother received as a gift from your father and deposited in a bank is lawful even if she deposited it in a usury-based bank; as the sin of depositing money in a usury-based bank does not make the money unlawful. However, the interest of this sum of money is considered unlawful, and should be spent on the poor and needy. Thus, the inherited money (after excluding the interest) is lawful and you should pay Zakah for it when you receive it.

Concerning the distribution of the inheritance, the share of the seven daughters is two-thirds of the inheritance, and the rest (one-third) is distributed among the maternal uncles; the male has a share double that of the female. If they are all of the same gender, the one-third share should be distributed equally among them.

(12) Ruling on a man kissing or hugging a woman on the grounds of friendship

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid


Is it allowed for a muslim kiss (friendly) a non-mahrum muslim of the opposite sex on the cheek? How about friendly hugging?

Is the sin of the same magnitude if done when in need of friendly company which only the other person can provide?

Praise be to Allaah.

It is haraam for a man to take women as friends. See question no. 1114.

A person should be wise, because whoever says that a man may kiss his female friend on the face in a friendly manner and hug her in a friendly manner is saying something that is regarded as foolish and stupid. It is obvious to any wise person than this kind of behaviour provokes desire, and this is the path that leads to zina (fornication, adultery). It cannot be said that his intention is pure, because Allaah has created men with an inclination to be attracted towards women. Hence Allaah has forbidden men to look at women and has commanded them to lower their gaze. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

âTell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts)â al-Noor 24:30

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: âThe eye may commit zina, and its zina is looking.â (Narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Nikaah, 1840; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, no. 1884).

Hence it is haraam to mix with women or to be alone with a woman, even if she is wearing hijaab, so how about if the woman is making a wanton display of herself? There are very many aayahs and ahaadeeth which forbid that. It is also forbidden to shake hands with women; see question no. 2459. A person who allows himself to do these things may start to commit zina zina with her on the grounds of friendship. It cannot be said that this is because of difficult circumstances where he needs a person to stand by him and be his friend. All of that is haraam and is not allowed. Whoever falls into such things must hasten to repent sincerely from this sin, and turn back to Allaah and regret what he has done. The Muslim must realize that if he turns to Allaah for help with the calamities and problems that befall him in this world, Allaah will relieve him of his trouble and grant him relief and a way out, so he should fear Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

âAnd whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty)âal-Talaaq 65:2-3

âand whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for himâal-Talaaq 65:4

And Allaah knows best.

(13) The Greeting of Islam

Is it possible for a non-Muslim to use the greeting of Islam: “As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatu-llahi wa Barakatuh (Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you)”? At the same time, is it permissible for a Muslim to use the same salutation to greet or answer the greeting of a non-Muslim? I know people who believe that this is permissible, and others who believe otherwise.  

Answer provided by Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi:

All praise is due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger, his household, Companions, and whoever follows his way.

1. It is possible for a non-Muslim to use the greeting “As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatu-llahi wa Barakatuh,” but he would not receive a reward for it as a Muslim would. This is because this greeting is part of the Prophet’s Sunnah in which non-Muslims do not believe.

2. It is permissible for a Muslim to greet a non-Muslim using the word “salam” (peace). This view has been attributed to Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn Muhayriz, `Umar Ibn `Abd Al-`Aziz, Sufyan Ibn `Uyaynah, Ash-Shu`abi, Al-Awza`i, and At-Tabari. Moreover, this opinion was chosen by Rashid Rida in his “Tafsir Al-Manar” and Ash-Shanqiti in his “Adwa’ Al-Bayan”.   

– We also support this view, on the basis of the following Qur’anic verses which adopt and recommend “salam (peace)” without restriction:

* “O ye who believe! Enter not houses other than your own without first announcing your presence and invoking peace upon the folk thereof…” (An-Nur 24: 27)

* “And when they hear vanity they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you! We desire not the ignorant.” (Al-Qasas 28: 55)

* “… and when the foolish ones address them, they answer: Peace.” (Al-Furqan 25: 63

* “And he saith: O my Lord! Lo! those are a folk who believe not. Then bear with them (O Muhammad) and say: Peace. But they will come to know.” (Az-Zukhruf 43: 88-89)

* “He said: Peace be unto you! I shall ask forgiveness of my Lord for you. Lo! He was ever gracious unto me.” (Maryam 19: 47)

Furthermore, there are a number of authentic hadiths that also recommend peace without restriction; that is to say: they recommend it toward all people. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

*  “… and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)  

* “… When Allah created Adam, He said (to him), ‘Go and greet that group of angels sitting there, and listen what they will say in reply to you, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your offspring.’ Adam (went and) said, ‘As-Salamu `Alaykum (Peace be upon you).’ They replied, ‘As-Salamu `Alayka wa Rahmatu-llah (Peace and Allah’s mercy be on you).’…” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

* “Spread peace…” (Narrated by At-Tirmidhi, who said it is hasan sahih (agreeable and authentic), and by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih)

– There is another authentic hadith on which the majority of scholars depend in supporting the view that it is legally detestable (makruh) – or even prohibited (haram) – for a Muslim to greet a non-Muslim with “salam”. In this hadith the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do not initiate (greeting) Jews and Christians with salam.” (Narrated by Muslim) This hadith was connected to an existing state of war at the time. This can be supported by other versions of the hadith, which are also authentic, such as the version according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “We are going early (in the morning) to (fight) Jews, so do not start (greeting) them with salam.” (Narrated by Ahmad and At-Tabarani with a trustworthy chain of transmitters) That was on the occasion when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) invaded Banu Qurayzah (who were Jews). According to another version narrated by Ahmad, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily, I shall leave tomorrow to (fight) Jews, so do not start (greeting) them with salam.” This version is authentic, as mentioned in “Al-Fath Ar-Rabbani”. Moreover, in “Fath Al-Bari,” Al-`Asqalani quoted a narration of Al-Bukhari – recorded in Al-Bukhari’s “Al-Adab Al-Mufrad” – and which was also narrated by An-Nasa’i; it reads that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily, I shall leave tomorrow to (fight) the Jews, so do not start (greeting) them with salam.” (The difference between the two versions is “the” before “Jews” in the second one.) 

This opinion – which is adopted by a large  number of scholars and which says that it is permissible to greet a non-Muslim using the word “salam” (or its translation) – is  confirmed for those who live outside Islamic lands but in countries which are in a state of peace (with Muslims). It can be regarded as a form of covenant with the people with whom a Muslim lives whether he is a citizen or only a resident. This is because he – in this case – is supposed to practice Da`wah with them (as every Muslim should do), and initiating a greeting is one of the morals of preachers.    

3. If, however, a non-Muslim greets a Muslim with the word “salam” [or its translation], it becomes necessary to answer him, because Almighty Allah says, “When ye are greeted with a greeting, greet ye with a better than it or return it…” (An-Nisa’ 4: 86) It is “recommended” (in this verse) to answer the greeting with a “better” one, yet it is “obligatory” to “return” it. Returning a greeting requires an equal greeting, as maintained by Ibn Al-Qayyim in “Ahkam Ahl Adh-Dhimmah”.

You may read more about this subject in the books of Tafsir (exegesis of the Qur’an) where you can find elaborated explanations and commentaries on the verses mentioned above, especially Al-Qurtubi’s “Tafsir” and Rashid Rida’s “Al-Manar”. You may also refer to books containing commentaries on hadiths, especially: “Fath Al-Bari,” which explains Sahih Al-Bukhari, An-Nawawi’s Commentaries on Sahih Muslim, “Al-Fath Ar-Rabbani” which explains Imam Ahmad’s Musnad, and Ibn Al-Qayyim’s “Ahkam Ahl Adh-Dhimmah”.  

May Allah bless you, and peace be upon you.

(14) Al-Qaradawi Permits Organ Transplants between Muslims and non-Muslims

 By: Mustafa Abdul-Jawwad

Prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), stated that it is religiously permissible to remove resuscitation equipment applied to a patient who is not expected to survive, and who will die as soon as the equipment is removed. His Eminence considered this action as a means of both comfort and relief to the patient and his family. However, he stressed the prohibition of using what is called mercy killing [euthanasia], by giving the patient deadly medication.

His Eminence, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, indicated that organ donation is permissible but with some restrictions, while selling is totally prohibited. He pointed out that these restrictions include the following: 1) the donated organ should not be the only one that the donator has, and its removal should not cause deformity, such as an eye; 2) the organ should not be among the organs that carry genetic features such testicles and ovaries; and 3) the donation should not affect the life of the donor.

In addition, Dr. Al-Qaradawi stated that it is permissible to transplant organs from a non-Muslim to a Muslim, and that a Muslim can donate one of his organs to a non-Muslim, indicating that the body organs, whether from Muslims or non-Muslims, are originally Muslims and praise Almighty Allah.

The dialogue of His Eminence, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi – which was broadcasted yesterday, August 29, 2009 within a program called Fiqh Al-Hayah [lit. Jurisprudence of Life] that is televised daily on Ana Channel [Frequency: 12226 horizontal, Nile Sat] and is presented by Akram Kassab – examined the issue of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis. His Eminence, Al-Qradawi, asserted that the husband is not permitted to resort to such analysis to deny a child born on the marital bed; but, the wife is permitted to resort to it to exonerate herself from any accusations made against her by her husband.

Hereinafter is the dialogue:

• First, would you explain what is meant by planting or transplanting organs before we deal with its religious ruling?

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon our master, imam, example, beloved and teacher – the Messenger of Allah – his Companions, family, and true followers.

Almighty Allah created and honored people and made them qualified to gain knowledge; as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah).” Thus, man, throughout time, has learned many moral and material facts that cannot be counted, and every age adds a great amount of information and knowledge to the age that preceded it. Hence, the cumulative experience in the final outcome becomes voluminous. Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says about man, “Who has taught man that which he knew not.” And, “And He creates (other) things of which you have no knowledge.”

All the fields of science, most of all medicine, have developed greatly. What is called by some people ‘planting organs’ or by others as ‘transplanting organs’ has witnessed great progress. Transplanting organs means transferring an organ from one person to another person who needs it because his organ is damaged or no longer functions. Thus, this person needs an alternative organ from another living person by way of donation, or from a dead person by way of donation before death, donation of his family, law, or by any other way. This is applied to some organs and not to others.

Ruling on Organ Donation

• We are going to talk about this later. Now, we would like to know whether organ transplant has a particular ruling or if the five religious rulings may be applied?

First, there are organs that are impermissible to be transferred, such as the single organs of the human being, like the heart and the liver; as taking them leads to the death of the human being. Also, it is impermissible to transfer the organs that cause deformity to a person if they are taken from him, such as eyes and legs. It is not permitted to take an eye from a person, turning him to a one-eyed person, or to cut off his leg to be given to another person. Hence, organ transplant is only permitted regarding dual organs, as one organ is taken and the other is left without endangering the life of the donor. Accordingly, the two organs of the donor should be totally sound, as the remaining organ can function well, according to Allah’s Laws. For example, physicians assert that a person can live with one-sixth of one kidney; hence, there is nothing wrong in taking one kidney. In addition, Muslim scholars stated that there are organs that are prohibited to be transferred from a person, whether living or dead, to another, such as the genital organs, especially the private parts, which have special rulings. Also, it is impermissible to transfer organs that carry genes, i.e. chromosomes, such as testicles and ovaries, as these organs carry the genetic features of the family.

The other organs can be transferred from one living person to another, provided that this is done by way of donation, and not by way of sale and purchase. This is because there are markets, in some countries, that resemble the markets of slave trading, in which humans are sold cheaply. Moreover, many children are kidnapped in order to take their organs.

• Are they like drug mafia?

Yes. Hence, there is emphasis that these organs should not be taken from a person by way of sale in any case; as a sale, as defined by scholars, is to exchange a property with a property by mutual consent, and the human is not property to be sold. Almighty Allah honored people, as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “And indeed We have honored the Children of Adam.” Also, He (Exalted and Glorified be He) sent down His Books to them, sent His Prophets to them and charged them with some duties and obligations; hence, it is impermissible to treat them like commodities.

Refuting the Opposition

• Some scholars are of the view that organ transplant is not permissible at all. They prohibit it, whether by way of sale or donation.

Yes, some scholars hold this opinion. Our Sheikh Muhammad Mitwalli Al-Sha`rawi (may Allah have mercy upon him) was against organ transplant, even by way of donation. He stated that man and his body belongs to Allah; thus, he is not permitted to donate it. Some people attacked Sheikh Al-Sha`rawi during his lifetime for this opinion, and claimed that he was against benefitting people. I rejected this in my book Fatawa Mu`asirah [Contemporary Fatwas] and said that it is impermissible to prevent any scholar from expressing his opinion, whether we agree or disagree with him. I disagree with Sheikh Al-Sha`rawi regarding this issue; but, he has the right to express his opinion.

I refuted his opinion, saying that the human body belongs to Allah, as we say that people’s money originally belongs to Allah, but Allah favored His servants by making them heirs thereof. Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “And spend of that whereof He has made you trustees.” And, “And give them something yourselves out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you.” Moreover, the whole universe belongs to Allah; as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth.” And, “And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth.” Hence, everything belongs to Allah; however, He, the Absolute Owner of everything, granted us the right to dispose of our money and our bodies, but with restrictions and conditions. For example, women can donate their milk and people can donate their blood. All contemporary scholars have approved of blood donation and considered it as one of the best forms of charity, and even it is better than money; as it results in saving the lives of many people who need blood transfusions when subjected to surgery.

Accordingly, there is no objection that a person donates a part of his body, if this will not cause harm to himself or to those who concern him. Once, a woman asked me, “My sister needs a kidney. I want to donate one to her, but my husband refused this, and said, ‘I married her while she has two kidneys, and I do not want her to donate one. How can I guarantee that the other kidney will not become dysfunctional?'” I told her that he has the right to refuse. In a word, all restrictions should be observed.

Brain Death

• Is it permissible for a person, before his death, to make a will that his organs are to be given to someone, or to an institution?

The main sources of organ transplant are the wills of the dead and those involved in accidents. Donations are very few; but, most organs are taken from accident victims, provided that this happens after complete brain death, while the heart is still beating. The victim is taken to the hospital and the organs that can be transplanted are taken from him, such as the heart, liver, lungs, cornea, and kidneys.

In this case, the fatwa of organs transplant is based on the advisory opinion of brain death. The Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences (IOMS) in Kuwait was the first organization to discuss this issue. This organization combines the prominent scholars of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and medical scientists onto one table. Medical scientists introduce and explain the issue elaborately to the Fuqaha’ (jurists) and discuss it with them in detail, until the whole matter becomes clear to the Fuqaha’ who can then issue their fatwa. This is an important way to reach the correct fatwa. The IOMS held many symposiums, and I participated in most of them, thanks to Allah. I participated in one of these symposiums entitled “Beginning and end of life, and brain death”, which concluded that Shari`ah (Islamic law) did not define the way to ascertain death. Some people ascertain death, when the heart stops beating; however, sometimes the heart may stop and the person remains alive, as we hear that some people rise from the coffin. Thus, the IOMS made a decision that was presented to the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), which represents all Islamic countries, and they concluded that death is confirmed when one of the two following matters occurs: 1) The heart completely stops, and the specialized physician should report that this is irreversible; or 2) brain death.

• So, you consider the brain death?

Brain death means that the brain is already dead, and has begun to decompose. A specialized physician asserts that this death is irreversible. But, it is obligatory that brain death is determined by trustworthy physicians who are specialized in neurology and intensive care, and not by a physician who performs organ transplant operations, for he may have an interest in this. This was the final resolution of the IIFA, and many countries adopted it. Saudi Arabia adopted this resolution after it was approved by the Council of Senior Scholars, and hundreds or even thousands of organ transplant operations were performed, based on brain death. Also, many countries in the Gulf region, including Qatar, adopted this resolution. The only country that did not accept this resolution was Egypt; as a number of well–known physicians, including my dear friend Dr. Mamdouh Salamah (may Allah keep him safe), were strict regarding this issue. We discussed this issue in the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate. Also, Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Complex discussed this issue elaborately, several months ago, in the presence of many physicians and the parties that opposed this action. Finally, the Islamic Research Complex approved the permissibility of considering brain death and consequently organ transplant operations by an overwhelming majority.

Removing Resuscitation Equipment

• Some patients are admitted to intensive care, and remain alive because of resuscitation equipment. They may stay as such perhaps for many years. This costs a great deal of money. Is it permissible to remove this equipment to let the patient die?

People in the West do not tolerate that, i.e. removing resuscitation equipment; however, many Arab and Muslim scholars and physicians are convinced that it is permissible to do so. We discussed this issue previously in the IOMS, and I told them at that time that resuscitation equipment is regarded as a way of seeking medical treatment, which the Fuqaha’ consider as lawful and not obligatory. Even if we adopt the opinion that obligates seeking medical treatment when it is effective and relieves pain, this does not apply to this case, as medical treatment is useless. Hence, if trustworthy physicians report that the patient is not expected to survive and his remaining alive is a burden on him and his family, and that if the resuscitation equipment is removed, he will die, it is permissible in this case to remove the equipment in order to relieve him and his family.

• Sometimes a person’s emotions do not accept this matter, as someone may say, “How can I do this for my father or my mother?”

The truth is that he would be relieving his loved one and himself. Sometimes the brain may be dead, even if the heart is still beating; hence, the person does not feel anything at all. In Qatar, an old man faced this situation, and his sons asked me about it, and I said to them, “What will happen when you remove this equipment?” They replied, “He will die within minutes.” I told them, “So, why do you torture him?” In fact, they removed the equipment and he died. Then, they came to me after that and said, “May Allah reward you. You relieved him and us.”

Mercy Killing [Euthanasia]

• Is it permissible for a physician to use what is called euthanasia or mercy killing, i.e. giving the patient who is not expected to survive special medication that causes him to die immediately?

There are two matters; one is permissible, while the other is impermissible. The permissible matter is that the physician does not give the patient anything, stops his medication, or removes the resuscitation equipment. However, it is impermissible to give the patient a drug to hasten his death. Hence, what is called mercy killing is impermissible, while ceasing a patient’s medication who has reached a hopeless case is permissible.

• You permit organ transplant from animals to humans; but, if we assume that a person needs an organ from a swine or a dog, is it permissible to transplant it?

I see no objection in this; as these organs are not used outside the human body, but inside the body, which is full of impurities like blood and stool. Hence, there is no harm to transplant it inside the human body, as long as there is no apparent impurity. Furthermore, many scholars say that swine are only prohibited to be eaten, but that they are permissible to be used in any other lawful means. For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) passed by a dead sheep and said to the people, “Would you not benefit by its skin?” The people replied that it was dead. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “But only eating it is prohibited.”‏ It is well- known that the Ever-Glorious Qur’an prohibited eating dead animals and swine in one context; as Almighty Allah says, “He has forbidden you only the Maytatah (dead animals), blood, and the flesh of swine.”

Organs of People Sentenced to Death

If an organ of a person was cut off as a religious punishment for theft, for example; is it permissible to make use of this organ through transplanting it to another person. Also, is it permissible to be replanted to the same person, i.e. the person whose hand was cut off, as a religious punishment?

It is impermissible to be replanted to the same person, as this contradicts the objectives of the Islamic law, which aims at deterrence. However, transplanting this organ to another person is permissible, on the condition that the owner of the organ permits this. If he wants to give it to another person to make use of it, may Allah reward him for this.

Among the issues that were also discussed by Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Complex was the ruling on the organs of the person who is sentenced to death. Is it permissible to take his organ after executing the death penalty and to give that organ to others to make use of it? I said that it is impermissible except with his approval. The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar disagreed with me; but, I stated that we are not allowed to punish him twice by executing the death penalty and by taking his rights. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) clarified in many hadiths that whoever is punished for something such as murder or theft, this punishment is considered as expiation for him. The majority of scholars are of the view that the prescribed punishments are compensation, and are not mere deterrents; as Almighty Allah purifies the sinner by the prescribed punishments.

Muslims and Disbelievers

• If a Muslim needs an organ to be transplanted, and this organ is from a disbeliever; is it permissible to transplant this organ?

Undoubtedly, it is permissible. We find many Muslims go to Europe and America to transplant organs; some of them may ask: What is the destiny of the transplanted organ; will it be taken to paradise or Hell-Fire? We say that when the organ is transplanted to a person, it becomes a part of the whole body. A person is not only organs; but is a soul, while all the organs are just machines.

• Does this also apply to the heart?

Yes, this also applies to the heart, which is a machine that pumps blood, and is found in the living and the dead, and in sheep and donkeys.

All bodily organs, whether of Muslims or non-Muslims, are originally Muslims and praise Almighty Allah; as Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him and there is not a thing but glorifies His Praise. But you understand not their glorification.” Hence, the disbeliever does not glorify Allah, but all his organs, including his heart, glorify and praise Almighty Allah.

• Then, is it permissible to transplant organs from Muslims to non-Muslims?

Of course it is permissible. We should deal with them in the same way. We go to their countries and take their organs; shall we say to them, “No, it is impermissible to give ours to you!” Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “And they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to Miskin (poor), the orphan, and the captive.” The captives at that time were disbelievers. Also, He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, “We feed you seeking Allah’s Countenance only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you.” Hence, the Muslim should do all that is good for all people, and Allah shall not suffer to be lost the reward of anyone who does good deeds in the most perfect manner, even an atom’s weight.

• Does this ruling apply to the disbeliever who fights against Muslims and the disbeliever who does not?

No, of course; as there is another ruling to be applied to the one who fights against Muslims.

Organ Transplant from Embryos

• Sometimes organs are transplanted from embryos, and some physicians do business in this; what is the ruling on this matter?

This matter is impermissible. Moreover, it is impermissible to keep embryos that are likely to survive to take their organs. However, this can be done regarding the embryos that will not survive, on the condition that they are incomplete. Left-over survivable pre-embryos from In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) projects and similar operations must be left to die spontaneously, in order not to be used illegally, by giving them to another couple.

The issue of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis recently witnessed much controversy; hence, what is its ruling?

DNA is a nucleic acid that carries the genetic information in the cell. Hence, everybody carries the genetic information that denotes that he is the son of so-and-so and belongs to the family of so-and-so. These genes are passed on through reproductive cells (eggs and sperm) genetic data to the coming generation; thus, children inherit the features of their parents. DNA analysis is based on real science and experiments.

• Then, if a man and woman are married, is it permissible for the husband to use this analysis to deny a child?

No, it is impermissible.

• Even if there is a doubt?

It is impermissible, even if there is a doubt. If he wants to deny the child, he can do so through invoking mutual curses (Li`an). However, I believe – even if the Islamic Fiqh Academy disagrees with me – that the wife can resort to this analysis to prove the paternity of the child, if her husband doubts the child’s paternity.

• Is it considered invoking mutual curses (Li`an) or accusation of fornication (Qadhf)?

Yes, it can be considered like that. Hence, DNA will benefit in many ways; as it will exonerate the wife from the accusations of her husband, prove the child’s parentage, and resolve the concern of the husband. However, it is not allowed for a man to resort to DNA; as it is impermissible to expose the woman. Islamic law permits invoking mutual curses to protect a woman from being exposed. Hence, as long as the child was born on the marital bed, it is impermissible to resort to DNA analysis, and that child should be attributed to the husband.

• Even if there are suspicions?

Yes, even if there are suspicions. This is to keep the marital life unbroken and not to turn it into mutual scandals. Hence, the child is for the owner of the bed and the stone is for the person who commits illegal sexual intercourse.

(15) Fiqh and Rules of Enjoining Ma`ruf and Forbidding Munkar

Changing Munkar and Its Stages

Conditions of Changing Munkar

When the Government Commits Munkar

Changing any Partial Munkar Is Not a Treatment

Leniency When Changing Munkar

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, received a question from a reader on the issue of changing Munkar (wrong). The question reads:

The issue of changing Munkar by force is controversial. Who is entitled to carry out the change and when is it permissible? Some scholars say that the right to change can only be authorized by the ruler; meaning, it is the right of the government and not the individual in order to protect the state from destructive chaos and sedition. Some others say that every Muslim is entitled to this right; rather, it is an obligatory act, according to the hadith that reads, “He who amongst you sees a Munkar should change it with his hand; and if he has not enough strength to do so, then he should change it with his tongue; and if he has not enough strength to do so, (even) then he should change it with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.‏” (Reported by Muslim on the authority of Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri) This honorable hadith obliged any Muslim who sees a Munkar to change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then he should change it with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then he should change it with his heart, and that is the weakest degree of faith. Hence, any Muslim who is able to carry out the highest degree of faith should not resort to the weakest one.

Thus, some enthusiastic youths rushed into changing Munkar with their hands regardless of the consequences. Sometimes the ruler or the government itself may carry out or defend Munkar; for example by prohibiting what is lawful, failing to enforce obligatory actions, stopping penalties, antagonizing the right or spreading injustice. In this case, the individuals should leave no stone unturned to rectify such evils; if they are harmed, it is for the sake of Allah the Almighty, and if they are killed, they will be martyrs for His Sake and will be with Hamzah ibn `Abd Al-Muttalib, the Master of Martyrs.

Many people, especially devout, enthusiastic youths are confused; as those who adopt the first opinion are the scholars who are now called “the scholars of the authority” and “the agents of the police”. Hence, Muslims no longer trust them. The other opinion is adopted by some young scholars, who may be accused of rashness, boldness, extremism and forming opinions without linking texts together.

I hope that you give some time to this issue to clarify it. May Allah protect you and help you show us the right way.

The prominent scholar, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, answered the questioner by saying:

In the name of Allah, praise be to Allah and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah

The obligation of enjoining Ma`ruf and forbidding Munkar is one of the basic obligations of Islam; moreover, Allah the Almighty made it one of the two main elements that indicate the beneficence and superiority of this nation. “Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah.” (Aal `Imran 3: 110)

The Qur’an mentions some of the main characteristics of the believers: “(Triumphant) are those who turn repentant (to Allah), those who serve (Him), those who praise (Him), those who fast, these who bow down, those who fall prostrate (in worship), those who enjoin the right and who forbid the wrong and those who keep the limits (ordained) of Allah…” (At-Tawbah 9: 112)

Just as the Ever-Glorious Qur’an praised those who enjoin Ma`ruf and forbid Munkar, it also dispraised those who fail to do so. Almighty Allah says, “Those of the children of Israel who went astray were cursed by the tongue of David, and of Jesus, son of Mary. That was because they rebelled and used to transgress. They restrained not one another from the wickedness they did. Verily evil was that they used to do!” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 78-79)

The Muslim is not merely a righteous human being who does good actions and forsakes wrong ones, while living in his own circle, paying no attention to the decrease of good actions in his world and the sharp increase of evil actions around him; the real Muslim is the righteous human being who is keen to rectify others and help them to be righteous. He is the one depicted in the following Surah of the Qur’an: “By the declining day, Lo! man is in a state of loss, Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.” (Al-`Asr 103)

Therefore, the Muslim who lost this worldly life and the Hereafter will not be saved unless he enjoins good and forbids evil. Thus, a Muslim is considered a guardian of right and good in the Nation.

Munkar is only committed in the Muslim society when it suffers from weakness or negligence; thus, Munkar will not continue, exist in safety, or enjoy legitimacy by any means. Hence, all that is wrong should be pursued in the Muslim community so that it does not become settled in our lands.

Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “He who amongst you sees a Munkar should change it with his hand; and if he has not enough strength to do so, then he should change it with his tongue; and if he has not enough strength to do so, (even) then he should change it with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.‏” (Reported by Muslim) This honorable hadith clearly indicates that changing Munkar is obligatory on every Muslim who sees it. The Prophet’s statement “He who amongst you sees …” includes all Muslims (the rulers and the ruled); as he (peace and blessings be upon him) did not exclude anyone; starting from his Companions until the last generation of his nation.

Conditions of Changing Munkar

The Muslim individual or group that wants to change any Munkar should abide by the conditions of doing so. These conditions are indicated in the abovementioned hadith.

The first condition: The Munkar should be unanimously prohibited

The Munkar that should be changed with the hand first, then with the tongue and then with the heart in case of inability must be something that is prohibited. Thus, the word Munkar means doing the haram (prohibited deeds) that Allah the Almighty ordered us not to do, or not carrying out the actions (obligations) that Allah the Almighty ordered us to do. The haram includes major and minor sins even if the minor sins may be easily overlooked especially if one does not persist on doing them. Almighty Allah Says, “If ye avoid the great (things) which ye are forbidden, We will remit from you your evil deeds and make you enter at a noble gate.” (An-Nisaa’ 4: 31) What’s more, Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Five (daily) Prayers and from one Friday Prayer to the (next) Friday Prayer, and from Ramadan to Ramadan are expiations for the (sins) committed in between (their intervals) provided one shuns the major sins.” (Reported by Muslim)

Thus, the word Munkar does not include that which is disliked, leaving the sunnah or commendable (mustahabb) actions. It is reported that a Bedouin came to the Prophet and said, “Tell me of such a deed as will make me enter Paradise, if I do it.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Worship Allah, and worship none along with Him, offer the (five) prescribed compulsory Prayers perfectly, pay the compulsory Zakat, and fast the month of Ramadan.” The Bedouin said, “By Him, in Whose Hands my life is, I will not do more than this.” When he (the Bedouin) left, the Prophet said, “Whoever likes to see a man of Paradise, he may look at this man.”

This means that Munkar is that which is prohibited by perfect authentic Islamic texts or decisive Islamic rules, and not by an opinion or an independent judgment that may be correct or incorrect and may change according to the changes of time, place, customs or circumstances. In addition, it should be unanimously prohibited by Muslim scholars; thus, the matters that scholars have disagreed about are not considered as Munkar.

If some jurists disagreed concerning the rule of having pictures or photographs, singing with or without an instrument, a woman uncovering her face and hands, a woman assuming the position of judge and the like, proving the start of the fast or the end of the fast by sighting the crescent in another country or sighting it by telescopes, or any other controversial issue, it is impermissible for any Muslim individual or group to adopt one of the opinions and to use violence to compel others to follow it.

The opinion of the majority does not annul that of the minority, even if only one scholar has a different point of view, as long as he is a respectable scholar with a great deal of knowledge. Many opinions were considered weak and abandoned, then great scholars came after a time and supported and adopted them; afterwards, these weak opinions became the most prevalent. For example, the opinions of Sheikh Ibn Taymiyah, the Sheikh of Islam, concerning divorce and family matters were greatly rejected during his life and after his death for many centuries, however, after that they were supported and spread by many scholars. Afterwards, his opinions became the main reference of all Fatwas and laws in many Muslim countries.

The Munkar that should be changed by force must be the one about which all scholars agree upon its unlawfulness; otherwise, the doors of evil and sedition will be opened, as some people may attempt to compel others to follow their opinion by force.

There are seversal enthusiastic young men in some Muslim countries who destroyed toy shops; as they thought that children’s toys are kinds of idols and images that are considered major sins. When they were told that the old scholars permitted these toys, as there is a kind of disgrace, humiliation and scorn in such toys, and so on, they said that the old scholars permitted toys other than those of our days, which open and close their eyes, walk here and their and speak to the children. When it was said to them, “But, the child throws the toy here and there, breaks its arms and legs and does not glorify or sanctify it,” they could not find an answer.

Also, various youths in some Muslim countries attempted to close restaurants, coffee shops and the like by force, when some Muslim countries announced the start of the fast of Ramadan, even though their countries did not sight the crescent and, thus, had not declared the beginning of Ramadan. Those youths thought that Ramadan had started; thus, Muslims should not publicly declare that they are breaking their fast. 

Furthermore, when the Egyptian House of Ifta’ announced that it did not sight the crescent of Shawwal and, thus, Ramadan would be thirty days, some Egyptian youths insisted on breaking their fast and setting the rituals of `Idulfitr (Lesser Bairam) alone; as some other Muslim countries announced that they had sighted the crescent of Shawwal, which signifies the end of the fast. As a result, unjustified clashes between them and the security forces took place. I believe that those youths made a mistake for the following reasons:

1.                 Jurists differed concerning the way of proving the crescent; as some of them state the evidence of an eyewitness, others state two eyewitnesses, while some others state the evidence of a crowd of people when the sky is cloudless. Each group of scholars has its own evidence; thus, it is impermissible to compel people to follow a specific opinion.

2.                  Also, they disagreed about the different sighting-zones; according to many schools, every country has its own sighting and does not have to follow the sighting of another country. This is the opinion of Ibn` Abbas and many scholars, according to the hadith that was narrated by Kuraib in Sahih Muslim.

3.                 The judgment of the Imam or the Mufti concerning controversial matters ends any disagreement and obligates the nation to follow it. Thus, if the Mufti adopted the opinion of one of the schools concerning any matter, the Muslims should follow him and preserve their unity.

I said in some Fatwas that if we failed to unify all Muslims regarding the begining and the end of the fast, the people of the same country should be unified in this matter; as we do not accept that the people of the same country are divided into two groups: one that is fasting and one that is not. However, the wrong action of those enthusiastic youths should not have been resisted by bullets; rather, they should have been met with conviction.

The second condition: The Munkar should be apparent

The Munkar should be apparent and visible. If a person commits a Munkar away from the eyes of the people or closes his door on himself, it is impermissible for anyone to spy on him by any means or to storm his home in order to catch him red-handed. The honorable hadith indicates that the one who is entitled to change any Munkar is the one who sees it; the hadith reads, “He who amongst you sees a Munkar …” Thus, it is a condition to see the Munkar, and not to hear about it from someone else.

In point of fact, Islam leaves the punishment of the one who commits the Munkar secretly and does not proclaim it to the Almighty to call him to account on the Day of Judgment. Furthermore, the divine punishment for the one who committed a sin secretly and was covered by Allah the Almighty will be less or removed; as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Everyone of my nation is excused except those that announce themselves (meaning, those who commit a sin openly or disclose their sins to the people).” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

Thus, no one has the power to punish any person for any hidden Munkar – especially the sins of the heart that Islam considers as major sins, such as dissimulation, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness and pride – as long as they are not disclosed. This is because we are ordered to judge according to what is apparent, leaving Allah the Almighty to deal with a person’s innermost self.

In his famous book Al-Ihya’, Sheikh Al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy upon him) narrated the following story, “`Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second Caliph, was one day patrolling when he heard singing and music coming from a house. He jumped over the wall of the house and observed that a man was sitting with a strange woman and had a cup of wine in front of him. He was drinking and singing. `Umar told him, ‘O enemy of Allah, do you presume that Allah the Almighty will not disgrace you?’ The man replied, ‘O Ruler of the Believers, do not pass a judgment in haste. If I have committed one sin, then you have committed three!’ `Umar asked how? The man replied, ‘Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says one should not spy (Al-Hujurat: 12) and you have spied on me. Then, Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says enter houses through the proper doors (Al-Baqarah: 189) and you jumped over the wall. Finally, Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He) says enter houses of others only with the permission of the householders (An-Nur: 27) and you came in without asking permission.’ `Umar said, ‘You have spoken the truth. If I forgive you, will you repent?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ Thus, `Umar forgave him.” (See: Al-Ihya’, vol. 7, p. 1218)

The third condition: The real ability to change

The one who wants to change any Munkar by force should have the ability, whether morally or materially, to change it by himself or with the help of others easily. The honorable hadith reads, ” … if he has not enough strength to do so, then he should change it with his tongue …” This means that if the person is unable to change the Munkar with his hand, he should leave this stage to the one who has enough power and settle for changing it with his tongue.

In most cases, the stage of changing any Munkar by hand, meaning, by force, is entitled to the person within his circle of power; to the husband who has (moral) power over his wife, to the father who has (moral) power over his sons and daughters, to the manager in his institution, to the ruler within the limits of his authority, and so on.

When the Government Commits Munkar

A problem arises here: sometimes the government that has the means and military power commits the Munkar! Thus, what can the individuals and groups do to change this Munkar that was committed or defended by the government?

They, the individuals and groups, should have the power enabling them to change it. In our time, this power takes the form of three elements:

1.               The armed forces, on which many countries – especially in our Third World – depend to establish their rule, implement their policies and silence their opponents. Such governments do not depend on logic and dialogue; rather, they always deal with their opponents with force. Thus, those who control the armed forces can end any public movement that demands change; as we have seen in many countries, such as in China that easily ended the revolution of the students who were demanding freedom.

2.               Parliament controls the legislative authority of issuing or changing laws according to the decision of the majority, which is applied in the democratic system. Thus, the group that has the majority – under a real democratic system – can change any Munkar by issuing a binding legislation that cannot be cancelled by any minister, prime minister or president.

3.               The mighty power of the populace that resembles a consensus. If it is used, no one can stand in its way or stop its march. It is like the fierce waves of a flood that cannot be resisted, even by the armed forces; as these forces are a part of the populace and make up their families; fathers, sons and brothers.

If the individuals or the groups do not have one of these three elements, they should endure and continue with patience until they achieve one of them. Also, they should change any Munkar with the tongue, pen, preaching, educating and guiding in order to create a strong public opinion and a bold generation who can make the desired changes.

Abu Umayyah Ash-Sha`bani said, “I asked Abu Tha`labah Al-Khushani: What is your opinion about the verse, ‘O you who believe! Take care of your ownselves. If you follow the right guidance and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong no hurt can come to you from those who are in error. The return of you all is to Allah, then He will inform you about (all) that which you used to do.’ (Al-Ma’idah: 105)” He said, “I swear by Allah, I asked the one who was well-informed about it; I asked the Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) about it. He (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Enjoin one another to do what is good and forbid one another from doing what is evil.  But when you see niggardliness being obeyed, passion being followed, worldly interests being preferred, everyone being charmed with his own opinion, then care for yourself, and leave alone what most people are doing; for ahead of you are days which will require endurance, in which showing endurance will be like grasping hot coals. The one who acts rightly during that period will have the reward of fifty of your men.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and Ibn Jarir)

The fourth condition: not causing a greater Munkar

The one who intends to change any Munkar by force should make sure that his change will not lead to a greater Munkar, meaning, his change should not cause sedition that leads to shedding the blood of some innocent people or violating their rights or property. Thus, the scholars agreed on the permissibility of remaining silent about a Munkar for fear of committing a greater Munkar; choosing the lesser of two evils.

In this regard, we cite the authentic hadith in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to `Aa’ishah, “”But for the fact that your folk have recently given up disbelief, I would have rebuilt the Ka`bah on the foundations of Abraham.”

The Ever-Glorious Qur’an asserts this meaning in the story of Prophet Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) with Banu Israel. When Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) went to fulfill the appointment with his Lord on Mount Sinai, As-Samiri – a man who was inclined towards evil – made a golden calf and managed to make the people worship it instead of Allah the Almighty. Musa’s brother, Harun (peace and blessings be upon him), who acted as their leader in Musa’s absence, was grieved and spoke up, “O my people! You are being tried in this, and verily, your Lord is (Allah) the Most Beneficent, so follow me and obey my order.” (Taha 20: 90) However, they did not accept his advice, and said, “We will not stop worshipping it (the calf), until Musa returns to us.” (Taha 20: 91) On his return, Musa (peace and blessings be upon him) saw his people singing and dancing around the statue of the calf. Furious at their pagan ritual, he flung down the Tablet of the Law he was carrying for them. Then he tugged Harun’s beard and his hair, crying, “O Harun (Aaron)! What stopped you when you saw them going astray; that you followed me not (according to my advice to you)? Have you then disobeyed my order?” (Taha 20: 92-93) Thus, his brother said, “O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard, nor by my head! Verily, I feared lest you should say: You have caused division among the Children of Israel, and you have not respected my word!” (Taha 20: 94)

This means that Harun chose to preserve the unity of his people during the absence of his elder brother and decided to consult him concerning this serious matter that required firmness and wisdom after his return.

Thus, these are the four conditions that should be available to the individual or the group that wants to change any Munkar by force.

Changing any Partial Munkar Is Not a Treatment

Now, I would like to draw the attention of those who bear the responsibility of reforming the status of the Muslims to a very important issue: the degeneration, which affected our societies during the ages of backwardness, Western colonialism and the ages of tyranny and secular rule, is old and deep-rooted. Thus, to change and remove this degeneration, it is not sufficient to change any partial Munkar, such as a music party, a woman displaying her beauty in the streets or selling video or cassette tapes containing what is improper or impermissible. The change should be greater, deeper and more comprehensive than this; it should include ideas, concepts, values, rules, morals, actions, customs, systems and legislations. However, what is more important is that people should be changed through continuous guidance, education and good example; as indeed, Allah the Almighty will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of degeneration in accordance with the constant Sunnah, “Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts…” (Ar-Ra`d 13: 11)

Leniency When Changing Munkar

There is another issue that should not be forgotten here: leniency when changing any Munkar; as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to be lenient. He (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Indeed Allah is Lenient and loves leniency in all affairs.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Furthermore, he (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whenever leniency is added to something, it adorns it; and whenever it is withdrawn from something, it leaves it defective.” (Reported by Muslim)

In his book Al-Ihya’, Sheikh Al-Ghazali related the story of a man who came upon Al-Ma’mun, the prominent `Abbasi Caliph, and started to counsel him about vice and virtue in a rough and crude manner, without consideration for his status. Al-Ma’mun, who had sound knowledge of Fiqh, did not punish him, as many of the kings might have done; rather, he a1ddressed the man saying, “Speak more kindly. Remember that Allah the Almighty sent someone better than you to a ruler worse than me, and commanded the former to spe1ak mildly; He (Exalted and Glorified be He) sent Musa and Harun, who were better than you, to Pharaoh, who was worse than me, and commanded them, ‘Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds, but speak to him mildly. Perchance he may take warning or fear [Allah]’ (Taha 20: 43-44).”

In addition, the abovementioned verse denotes that the one who calls to Allah the Almighty should not lose hope, even if he calls people who transgressed all bounds (like Pharaoh), as long as he calls them mildly and leniently.

Allah Almighty knows best!

(16) Fatwa on Eating Fish in the Tsunami Areas

   It has been brought to the attention of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) that a section of our Muslim brothers and sisters in the South-East Asian areas, which were hit by the Tsunami disaster, have refrained from eating fish from the Indian Ocean and adjacent areas. They fear that such fish might have fed on human bodies that were swept into the ocean. 

Taking the interests of all Muslims into consideration, and in fulfillment of its duty to provide good counsel to the Muslims, pointing out to them that which is acceptable in Islam and that which promotes their welfare, the International Union for Muslim Scholars (I1UMS) issues the following fatwa concerning eating fish in the areas hit by the1111111 Tsunami disaster: 

A1ll praise and thanks are due to Allah, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of Allah, his household, Companions, and those who honorably follow him until the Day of Judgment.

The IUMS Secretariat contacted a number of international organizations concerned with food safety. Prominent among these were the regional offices and headquarters of the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. These contacts have confirmed to the IUMS Secretariat that comprehensive tests have been carried out on fish caught after the Tsunami disaster. All these tests confirm that such fish do not contain any harmful substances that might have been transmitted to them from anything swept into the ocean. This is also true of tuna fish, which feeds on flesh. As such, no particular health hazard results from eating such fish, and therefore eating them is absolutely permissible. Thus, the Prophet’s statement that prohibits the infliction of harm on oneself or others does not apply in this case, as there is no harm involved.

Nevertheless some people may still entertain some doubts about the permissibility of eating such fish. They may think that if fish feed on human bodies, they will be in the same position as land animals that feed on impurities, which are known in Islamic law as jallalah. But there is no reason to refrain from eating such fish on this basis. To start with, laboratory tests carried out by reliable sources prove that fish do not feed on dead bodies. Besides, the basic ruling of permissibility cannot be changed on the basis of doubt or assumption. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Lawful to you is all water-game, and whatever food the sea brings forth, as a provision for you and for travelers.” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 96) He also says: “It is He who has made the sea subservient to [His laws], so that you may eat fresh meat from it.” (An-Nahl 16: 14) Speaking of the sea, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Its water is pure, and its dead animals are lawful.” (Reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

On the basis of the foregoing, the International Union for Muslim Scholars issues this fatwa for all people in the areas affected by the Tsunami disaster: it is absolutely permissible from the Islamic point of view to eat sea fish. Indeed it encourages them to do so in order to protect their health and preserve their energy so that they can carry out their duties and functions in obedience to Allah, and guard themselves against any disease that may affect them as a result of malnutrition, should they refrain from eating fish. They should consider sea fish as part of the sustenance Allah has provided for them, as it gives them the proteins and energy they need.

It is to Allah alone that we pray for guidance.

Secretary General

Dr. Mohammad Salim Al-Awa

(17) Hostage Taking – The Islamic View

 Kidnapping and hostage taking are not an invention of our modern times. They go back far in history. But they have become more and more frequent these days because of the grave injustice suffered by weak and oppressed communities at the hands of powerful countries seeking to impose their will on them. Moreover, these oppressed communities seldom have adequate means and weapons to repel aggression. Since some Muslims are resorting to such methods at an increasing rate, thus going beyond the limits of what is lawful, we wish to make the issue surrounding this very clear. This ruling, or fatwa, sums up all the Islamic rules that apply to such acts:  

Kidnapping is a form of aggression against others, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims. It is a type of transgression which Allah has prohibited, as He says in the Qur’an: “Allah enjoins justice, kindness to all, and generosity to one’s kindred; and He forbids all that is shameful, reprehensible conduct and all transgression.” (An-Nahl 16: 90) It is well known that the order to ensure justice extends to kindness and being generous to one’s kindred and it is not limited to Muslims only. Similarly, the prohibition of what is shameful, and reprehensible conduct and transgression applies to all humanity. By nature, man is keen to repel any aggression directed at him, but Allah permits the repelling of aggression by similar means only. This is stated in the Qur’an: “If anyone commits aggression against you, attack him just as he has attacked you. Have fear of Allah, and be sure that Allah is with those who are Allah-fearing.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 194) “Fight for the cause of Allah those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression. Indeed, Allah does not love aggressors.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 190) Allah also makes it clear that religious differences do not justify aggression against anyone, even though they may reach the stage of open conflict: “Do not let your hatred of people who would debar you from the Sacred Mosque lead you into aggression.” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 2)

Kidnapping is an act of war. If it could be exceptionally permissible during war, it is totally forbidden in all other situations:

In his commentary on the Qur’an, At-Tabari quotes the following hadith: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Makkah to perform `Umrah. His Companions arrested some local people taking them unaware. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered them to be released.” We see that the Prophet did this, releasing unbelievers who were taken prisoner, because he did not consider himself in a state of war with the unbelievers, as his purpose was to perform `Umrah.

Similarly the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not sanction what one of his Companions, Salamah ibn Al-Akwa`, did when he kidnapped four unbelievers after the signing of the peace treaty at Al-Hudaybiyah. Salamah did so thinking that the unbelievers had already violated this peace treaty. The Prophet, however, said: “Leave them so that they will be the ones who initiate evil and repeat it.” (Reported by Muslim)

This means that initiating evil is a characteristic of unbelievers. It must never be a characteristic of Muslims. Muslims may repel evil by using a similar measure, but their purpose in doing so is not to retaliate; rather, it is to prevent any repeat of the evil committed against them, and to totally remove it from the domain of human relations. The Qur’an outlines the best method that ensures the prevention of evil, clarifying that forbearance and forgiveness is certain to stop evil actions: “Good and evil cannot be equal. Therefore, repel evil with that which is best, and then, a person between whom and yourself there was enmity may become a close and true friend.” (Fussilat 41: 34) “Repel evil with that which is best.” (Al-Mu’minun 23: 96) Muslims are described in the Qur’an as those who “repel evil with what is good.” (Ar-Ra`d 13: 22) 

On the basis of these points we state that it is forbidden to kidnap any human being in any situation other than open warfare, when the kidnapped person becomes a prisoner of war who must not be killed. Indeed, that person must eventually be released, as the Qur’an states: “Thereafter, set them free, either by an act of grace or against ransom.” (Muhammad 47: 4) Needless to say, it is forbidden to kidnap anyone who is opposed to a war that has been launched against us, or is sympathetic to us, such as the two French journalists. We denounce all cases of kidnapping where the victims have nothing to do with the occupation of Muslim land. They must be released immediately. 

In the case of war, it is not permissible to kidnap innocent or enemy civilians who must not be made a target of any act of war. From the Islamic point of view, civilians are those who are non-combatants, such as women and children, as well as elderly men who have no role in the fighting, and priests. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has given an express order “not to kill women and children.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) He also said: “Do not kill any young person.” (Reported by Abu Dawud) In an order to Khalid ibn Al-Walid, the commander of the army, he said: “Never kill a child or an employee.” (Reported by Ibn Majah) This last order includes anyone who is employed in non-combat capacity, such as factory workers, medical personnel, and the like. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also highlighted the prohibition of killing an elderly man, a priest, or a hermit dedicated to worship. The same prohibition of killing elderly men is confirmed by Abu Bakr. Moreover, Jabir ibn `Abdullah, the Prophet’s Companion, is quoted as saying that Muslims “did not kill business people who were unbelievers.” The majority of scholars in the Hanafi, Maliki, and Hanbali schools of Islamic law extend this prohibition, on the basis of analogy, to include other non-combatants, such as those who are physically or mentally handicapped, and those who lock themselves in a house or a church, labourers, farmers, and tradesmen. Imam Ash-Shawkani has formulated a clear rule of analogy on this particular issue. This rule makes it clear that “it is unlawful from the Islamic point of view to kill anyone who is of no benefit to the enemy and cannot do the Muslims any harm.”

Therefore, we denounce taking school children as hostages as was done in the school in North Ossetia, leading to a horrific massacre, despite the fact that we believe the Chechens have a just cause and that they have the right to self determination. We also denounce the kidnapping of two Italian women working for a humanitarian agency, at the same time that we condemn the Italian government’s policy of alliance with US aggression against Iraq. All such incidents are unlawful from the Islamic point of view. In addition, such incidents do not serve the interests of resisting the occupation of Iraq. In this connection we should remember that when the Jews of Banu Qurayzah committed a horrific act of treachery, violating their peace treaty with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and allying themselves with the aggressors who had declared their aim to annihilate the Muslim community, such treachery did not compel the Muslims to kill Jewish women and children or expose them to any danger.

Should kidnapping take place during times of war, those who are kidnapped become prisoners of war and must be treated according to the relevant Islamic rules, which can be summarized as follows:

Prisoners of war must be handed over to Muslim authorities to determine what is to be done with them. Those who actually take them prisoner do not have any authority over them and cannot determine their fate.

It is an important Islamic duty to treat prisoners of war kindly and gently, be hospitable to them, and provide them with food and clothing. They must never be subjected to ill-treatment or torture. Allah says in the Qur’an: “They [i.e. the believers] give food – however great be their own want of it – to the needy, the orphans and the captives.” (Al-Insan 76: 8) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave this general order: “Be sure to treat captives kindly.” (Reported by At-Tabarani) He is also reported to have said: “Be kind to your prisoners, and let them have their afternoon rest, and provide them with water to drink.” He is also quoted as saying: “Do not compound their suffering of today’s heat with the hardship of your arms.” After the Battle of Badr, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered that those unbelievers who had been taken captive should be treated kindly. Complying with his order, his Companions would give the captives their food before they themselves ate.

Eventually, according to Islam, captives must be released, either by an act of grace that requires nothing in return, or in return for ransom which could be monetary, or through prisoner exchange, or in the form of a service they render to the Muslim community. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked some of those who had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Badr to teach some Muslims to read and write in return for their release. This is clearly stated in the Qur’an: “When you meet unbelievers in war, smite their necks until you overcome them fully, and then tighten their bonds; but thereafter set them free, either by an act of grace or against ransom, so that the burden of war may be lifted.” (Muhammad 47: 4) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) put the instructions contained in this verse in practice till the end of his life. Indeed, many scholars rule that it is forbidden to kill a captive of war. In his priceless book, Bidayat Al-Mujtahid, Ibn Rushd says: “A number of scholars say that it is not permissible to kill a captive. Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad At-Tamimi says that it is the unanimous view of the Prophet’s companions.” In his commentary on the Qur’an, Ibn Kathir states: “Scholars say that the Muslim ruler’s only choice is to set captives free, either as an act of grace or against ransom, but it is prohibited to kill a captive.” Al-Alousi says: “The apparent meaning of the Qur’anic verse is that it is forbidden to kill a person after taking him prisoner. This is the ruling expressed by Al-Hasan.”

On the basis of the previous points, we say that a captive can only be killed in exceptional circumstances, by an order of the head of the Muslim state made on the basis of a court sentence. The groups operating within armed resistance to the occupation of Iraq or elsewhere do not have the right to exercise the power of the head of a Muslim state. Moreover, killing captives is bound to have adverse effects on the resistance to the occupation, and give the cause of the Iraqi people and their struggle a negative image. We, therefore, denounce the killing of the Nepalese and other captives who did not take part in the fighting. If it were true that they provided service to the occupation forces, such service does not justify their death.

It is unlawful from the Islamic point of view to take enemy civilians as hostages and threaten to kill them in retaliation for any action committed or omitted by anyone else, when they are not responsible for such an action and are unable to prevent it. This applies to the case of the school in North Ossetia where school children and teachers were held hostage. This prohibition is based on two factors:

One of the basic principles of justice is that no one should be held accountable for someone else’s action or offence. This is a basic Islamic rule emphasized in several verses of the Qur’an, such as: “Whatever wrong any human being commits rests upon himself alone.” (Al-An`am 6: 164) “No one shall be made to bear the burden of another.” (Al-Israa’ 17: 15) “Whoever does what is just and right does so for his own good; and whoever does evil, does so to his own hurt.” (Fussilat 41: 46) “He who does evil shall be requited for it.” (An-Nisaa’ 4: 123) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has re-emphasized this in several traditions, such as: “Anyone who commits an offence will be the only one to bear its consequences.” (Reported by Ibn Majah) “No one shall bear responsibility for another’s crime.” (Reported by An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah) A number of statements by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) make clear that non-Muslims who have a treaty with Muslims must never be killed. One of these statements says:, “Whoever kills a man bound with a treaty, without a valid cause, shall never be allowed even the smell of heaven.” (Reported by An-Nasa’i)

At times of war, it may happen that some civilians are killed as a result of some operations, as in the case of a raid launched against an enemy concentration resulting in the death of some people nearby. Scholars say that this is acceptable provided that it is unintentional. But to deliberately kill civilians is certainly forbidden. How, then, can the murder of captives in cold blood be justified when enemy civilians are not to be targeted even in times of war?

It is contrary to Islamic ethics to sink to the uncivilized level of the occupation forces in Iraq, which has so far killed thousands of Iraqi civilians, including large numbers of women, children, and elderly people, under the pretext of fighting the resistance to their occupation. 

It is incumbent on all Muslims to observe the Islamic rules summarized above.  

Allah Almighty knows best

(18) Muslim Scholars Call for rejecting Sectarian Disagreement


“The differences between sects never justify dividing the Muslim nation into small nations,” Qaradawi said


Some prominent scholars in the Islamic world proposed to overcome disagreements and enhance the convergence of Islamic sects, especially in the light of current events and the dangers that make it incumbent upon Muslims to achieve unity so as to face these challenges. This was stated in the symposium of ‘The Second Islamic Unity’, which was concluded on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 under the title of ‘The Ways to Islamic Unity and the Methods of Convergence’. The slogan of the symposium that was held in Damascus was, “Truly! This, your nation, is one; and I am your Lord, therefore worship Me (Alone). “

In his speech to the symposium, the prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and the head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, stated, “Muslims should not listen to invitations that separate the Islamic nation through various claims, especially those that emphasize the reality of Sunnah and Shi`ah.” “The difference in sects never justifies dividing the Muslim nation into small nations: the nation of Shi`ah and the nation of Sunnah,” he stressed.

He continued, “All of us believe in the same God; the One, the creed, the obligatory acts, the Books, the Messengers, and the Last Day and utter the same words of testimony: There is no god worthy to be worshiped but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Thus, simple disagreements should not separate the nation that greatly needs unity when adversity prevails and enemies have united against us. We need unity in these dangerous circumstances, as we face a military, political, and cultural battle.”

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi considered, “The unity of the Islamic nation is a necessary act and a religious duty, especially these days.” He quoted the Qur’anic verse that reads, “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves …”

“Worship does not become complete and piety does not enter the hearts except through the unity of the nation that the Almighty named ‘nation’ and not ‘nations’. The Muslim nation is a fact not a figment of imagination; it is a religious, historical, and geographical fact. Moreover, it is a political fact for the benefit of all Muslims,” he confirmed.

One of the speakers who inaugurated the symposium shocked many of the attendants when he opened fire on the trend of innovation and described those who adopt it as “trivial, ignorant, failing, and collaborators with the Americans.” His own point of view caused a great disturbance among the attendants.

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi condemned this attack saying, “Countries usually differ in ordinary situations; but, when the nation faces a great danger, it is required to abandon disagreements and face the enemy that lies in wait for them.”

“The world has converged, the European states have united for different purposes and the Protestants and Catholics agree after their fierce wars; while the Muslims disagree and fight each other even with weapons,” he stated.

Now Is the Time


The Syrian da`iyah, Sheikh Salah Kuftaru, delivers his speech before the symposium


In his speech before the symposium, the Syrian da`iyah, Sheikh Salah Kuftaru, remarked, “All of us are meeting today in spite of the different sects we long to that denote the easiness of our tolerant Shari`ah. Thus, it is obligatory to carefully study the reasons that led to this shameful result, which has caused weakness and humiliation to our Muslim nation.”

“In this age of challenges, the time has come to liberate ourselves from the chains of the past, which restrained thought and caused sedition,” he continued.

The IOL correspondent who covered the actions of the symposium said that the majority of the speeches that were delivered focused on calling for the unity of Muslims, bringing Islamic sects closer, and resolving disagreements in order to deal with the challenges that face our nation.

A host of the most prominent scholars in the Arab world took part in the symposium, such as Sheikh `Abdullah Nizham and Dr. Mohammad Salim Al-Awa, the secretary general of the IUMS.


After detailed and comprehensive discussions, the participants in the symposium approved some recommendations calling for intensifying efforts to converge Islamic sects through institutional action, which is based on studies and symposiums. These studies and symposiums should follow certain methodology and goals through a comprehensive plan implemented by some committees, and call for the unity of the nation.

The recommendations also called for spreading the culture of convergence through curricula and various educational institutions, while eliminating those aspects that contributed to the spread of wrong ideas and concepts.

Concerning the rejection of sectarian fanaticism, the recommendations called for encouraging the Fiqhi researches that unite and support mutual understanding, and to establish a satellite channel to broadcast awareness symposiums that focus on the unity of Muslims.

Source: The International Union for Muslim Scholars



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