– يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا ۗ وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلِ الْعَفْوَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّـهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ –
“They ask you [Prophet] about intoxicants and gambling. Say, “There is great sin in both, although they have some benefit for people: but their harm is greater than their benefit.”
AA, On the question of alcohol and swine (as a food category in the Islamic Laws). The prohibition in Islamic Law covers their drinking and eating as well as their production or farming for these purposes: i.e: human consumption. Apart from their eating and drinking, for example, the appearance of forms of alcohol in perfume or skin products or the skin of pigs in footwear there is obvious benefits in their use and thus do not fall under the prohibition. This is what is meant by their harm in the Quranic verse for instance: “They ask you [Prophet] about intoxicants and gambling. Say, “There is great sin in both, although they have some benefit for people: but their harm is greater than their benefit.” How one understands the latter part of the verse will either be used as evidence to extend or limit the prohibition of products containing alcohol or pork extracts. In the final analysis, one has to know that the Shari’ah of Allah is characterised by ease and leniency in the first instance and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) would chose the easier of two choices once neither or them contravened Allah’s laws. Those who extend the prohibition of using products containing alcohol or pork beyond the eating and drinking of them have understood that their harm in the wider social and spiritual contexts are greater than their benefits and would thus recommend abstaining from their use altogether. I hope I have given you the core of the matter. And Allah knows best.
(Break for prayer)
AA, I would have liked to expand upon the reply to this question, but I had to rush off to obtain the blessings of praying in Jamaa’ah. If there are practical issues still unclear relating to my previous response please do ask; providing they are issues of practice. Two important things I try to keep in mind when approaching issues of fiqh: (1) To keep it simple so that everyone can gets the idea of how to consult the sources for themselves, because the Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were sent for the intellectual and the common man. (2) That one must be aware that the Allah’s laws are often stated in a manner, which leaves room for conscience and the development of the human soul and Taqwa or personal piety. In the above issue, for instance, there are Muslims who will have no problem wearing a perfume which contains alcohol, while a Mu’min will make a choice to abstain from it altogether. And it may be that the Mu’min is the one who choses to wear it and the Muslim does not. It is not I who determines who is the believer and who is not, but it is Allah (swt) based upon one’s intention and conscience in the practice of his or her faith who will determine the faithfulness of His servant. While at the same time both are working within the boundaries set by Allah (swt) and His Prophet (pbuh). I hope that the wisdom pointed out here helps you to determine (for your personal faith) whether the benefits of using products containing alcohol or pork ingredients which you do not intend to eat (through the channel of your mouth and not through the pores of your skin) have some benefit which you can use despite having much harm; or that the benefits have been wiped out by the greatness of the harm involved in using those products. WS and Allah knows the secrets of the hearts.
How can you justify suggesting that the common man consulting the sources for themselves ????
(AA) Because the Holy Quran in chapter 21, verse 7: “… ask the people of knowledge (اهل الذكر) if you do not know.” A close reading of this means, if it is clear one would not ask, if it is unclear one should ask. Yet again, the wisdom of the Shaari’ (Allah) is to give His servants the space to wilfully submit to Him; everyone has to consult their heart and their faith, especially in matters of belief. For no one bears the burden of another on the Day of Judgement. In matters of daily practice if one does not know it is usually the case that one asks (and we are encouraged to think positively of others حسن الظن. Should they refuse to ask, knowing that they do not know, then they will have to bear the consequences of their choices on the Day of Judgement. Imaan and faithfulness to Allah (from one’s heart – an not the heart of anyone elses) demands enquiry and the urge to worship Allah with conviction. Allah knows better.
I think you misunderstood my question akhi. If the scholars differ so and they are considered to be learned enough to consult the sources and produce an accurate conclusion, then how can the common man be trusted if he has less knowledge ???
Also how would know who “knows” if we havent got enough knowledge to determine whether what they tell us is factual or not ????
AA. Dear questioner May have have grant us patience. (1) All of humanity ignorant in the face of Allah. So I guess none of us have a right to speak. And this may explain why the scholars (May Allah be please with them) differ on so many opinions. (2) Our Holy Prophet (pbuh) trusted the opinion of his companions, both in matters of Deen and Dunya. And this is when he was alive with them and revelation had not been yet completed, and they did not have the knowledge of those that came after them. He asked Mu’aadh what will you teach the people when you go to the Yemen? He took the point of view of his companions in battle strategy in the Battle of Badr on the best positions to face the enemy and Salmaan The Persian, on the digging of the Trench, and the opinion of his wives on many matters of practice and their knowledge of the human condition as we saw when after the negotiations of the Treaty of Hudhaybiyyah, many were angry with some of the clauses of that treaty and refused to shave their heads when commanded to and it was the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) wife Ummu Salamah (ra) who advised him (pbuh) to go out and shave his head first and they would follow him. You have Umar (ra) advising him (pbuh) to separate between the men and the wives in dining spaces for instance and the list is endless. All of these examples imply that the Holy Prophet nurtured in his companions the habit of questioning and thinking for themselves with the guidance send down. If the erred he (pbuh) corrected them and at the same time commended them for thinking critically in search for the truth. He once told them of the illusiveness of truth, but of the importance of exerting one’s intellectual capacity, ‘when a learned person arrives at the truth in a matter he is granted two rewards by Allah (swt) and when he errs he is only granted one.” (3) The common man is pragmatic and does not over intellectualise his religion. He is only interested in the rights and wrongs, the do’s and don’ts of his practising of faith. It is the intellectual or those who profess to have attained knowledge that delve into the complex matters of religion and life. And the most intelligent of them both is the one who avoids useless talk and a lot questioning regards the practice of Deen. What concerns such a person are the deeds and creed that will help them to obtain paradise. Therefore, make sure that your questions are seeking those answers that you only need for your journey onwards to Paradise. The Holy Prophet warned that the nations before us hastened the destruction of themselves by asking too many questions. Revisit Surah al-Bayynah (chapter 98) and the destructiveness of knowledge is highlighted. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) use to seek refuge against the seeking of knowledge which is of no use. So stick with pragmatism and be like the common man. (4) Islam came to set the human spirit free from the servitude of man to the worship of Allah. Hence, empower Allah’s servants to think – but to think firstly with their hearts – to develop their personal accountability to Allah first. That they follow the opinions of the learned not because of who they are but because they connect their hearts, minds and soul to Allah and the practice of His beloved Messenger (pbuh). So after the Aalim (the learned) has spoken know that it is you and only you that will be held accountable for what happens next. Allah states quite clearly: ‘No one bears the burden of another’ (Chapter: 6, verse 164) This means that YOUR OPINION MATTERS as it is you who will make that final decision of action or inaction. (5) Therefore, do the right thing for yourself. Save yourself and your family from the fire of Hell. Ask only those questions that will light your path to Paradise. The rest which you will not encounter in your life or which are mere mental gymnastics avoid and watch the madness from a distance. May Allah help us to find our Soul’s way home. Ameen
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