: Aug 21, 2012

Is Dr.Buti a mujtahid in supporting the Syrian regime?…

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Is Dr.Buti a mujtahid in supporting the Syrian regime?

By His Eminence Sh. Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi

Question:
Dear Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi,
To which of the following two categories does Dr. Bouti belong, on account of his stand concerning the regime:

a) Scholar who has exercised ijtihad and formed an opinion, which in his view is in the best interest of Muslims; but he has erred in this opinion and still merits reward. However, it is necessary for other scholars to promulgate the truth and the right view; and at the same time, those who disparage him are sinning against him.

b) Or is he a scholar who has reneged – may it never happen and may Allah Almighty vouchsafe him – who has become an agent of the Nusayris and an enemy of Islam and its adherents? And therefore is it necessary for every scholar to expose him and warn against him in unequivocal words and put an end to the conflict between those who support him and those who oppose him?

Or if it is a dilemma between these two positions, then is it not better to keep silent [concerning Dr. Buti] and have a good opinion of a Muslim? And is it not a sin to disparage him in this case?

We request you to give a comprehensive answer – may you be rewarded for it until Judgement day; as people are anxious for a cogent answer from a righteous scholar like yourself. May Allāh Almighty vouchsafe you and elevate the ranks of your forebears in the highest paradise.
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Answer:

Praise be to Allāh Almighty and salutations and blessings be upon the Best of Creation, our Master Muhammad and upon his Family and Companions.

There are conditions, rules and regulations governing ijtihad and there is huge difference between what is considered as admissible ijtihad and patent antithesis; a difference between acceptable ijtihad and an eccentric opinion. Ijtihad of those people who are capable of it is accepted and they shall be rewarded even if they have erred in their judgement, but only on the condition that their errors fall within the acceptable rules of interpretation.

Therefor, not everyone who exercises ijtihad will be rewarded for his action. In fact,some may become sinners for doing so. For example, in the case of an illiterate or a commoner who does not have the required tools, skills and knowledge for ijtihad, and does ijtihad in religious matters, he shall be censured and disciplined. Similarly, a mufti who gives fatwa based on abberrant or unreliable opinions will be rebuked and reprimanded; if he does not desist, he shall be proscribed from issuing fatwas. Scholars say,

Not every difference is worthy of consideration,
Except such a difference which merits examination.

As for the hadith, which speaks about judges, has to be specified; so that unqualified mujtahids are not included. As it speaks only about a mujtahid who has the tools and is qualified for deriving a ruling in the issue at hand. In our times, we speak of limited ijtihad, not general ijtihad. Here, ‘limited’ means exercising ijtihad in a specific issue which is not mentioned in an earlier texts; by “limited” here we mean limited to an specific issue not to certain school of law.

To derive a ruling for a specific question, the mujtahid must acquire the conditions of ijtihād, such as the sources of legislation, being acquanted with the various opinions and competence in examination and analysis of principles and rules. We do not dispute that Dr.Buti has these qualities – if he did not have them, no one else would have.

However, this is not all of what is required for fatwa; the science of fatwa is required here, which includes knowledge of the time, place and the surroundings of the questioner. Because, “one who does not understand the age he lives in is not a scholar” and it is not permissible for him to issue a fatwa. Warzāzātī [d.1166 AH] said in his commentary on the Lāmiyah [didactic poem on court procedures] of Zaqqāq: “Judgement and fatwa each is a craft that needs to be learned. Mere knowledge of jurisprudence is not sufficient, because, understanding them, e.i. qađā and fatwa, is a apecialty that goes beyond mere knowledge of juridical opinions, because it requires a characteristic ability to investigate and inquire. Ibn ‘Arafah said that “it is an ability to minutely examine the constituents and thouroughly understand all its attributes, which their presence or absence have a may change the legal ruling”.

I do not consider the opinions of Dr Buti, may Allāh Almighty protect him, as an error of judgement that merits a reward. Because, he is not qualified for ijtihad in this matter [of the Syrian regime,]. He has fallen short in the past to demonstrate an understanding of the time and the circumstances in which we live. He fell in such mistakes in the past and it is not a new thing. A most recent example is the fatwa he issued ten years ago, which appeared in the medical magazine, Your Doctor [tabībak] wherein he permitted viewing pornographic videos for husbands with the intention to improve conjugal relations with their wives. This fatwa received a lot of flak and it shows the shaykh’s lack of knowledge of current affairs and his obliviousness of legal regulations and etiquette required of a mufti.

There are a number of reasons for the shaykh’s stand and probably the following two are the most disastrous.

The first is not having information of the situation except from one side, the regime so he believes what he hears first; as if, he is the person described by Ibn Tathriyah:

My love for her stroke me before I experienced lov,
It chanced upon a vacant heart and dwelled in it.

Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawānī says in his Epistle, and it was originally said by our Master Ali, may Allāh Almighty ennoble his blessed face, “the heart that readily accepts virtue and goodness is that, upon which evil has not crossed before”.

This is why Dr. Bouti does not accept any reports about the Revolution from other sources after he has accepted the propaganda of the regime. This is due to his close ties with a number of senior officials of the regime to the extent that this proximity has influenced his decisions and thus, he views everything from the prism of the regime and repeats their propaganda innocently. Sometimes, a truthful person thinks that everybody is as truthful as himself. This is the result of years of friendship and cordial relations with the pillars of the regime.

The second is his animosity with the Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood to the point that he has chosen to side with the enemies of Allāh to uprrot them! He believes the propaganda of the regime that all these rebels are Wahabis, who will burn and demolish mausoleums of the Muslim saints, as they did in Libya. Indeed, the Salafis and Brotherhood were the amongst the first to join the uprising; it is due to the revolutionary ideology which is widespread and common in their discourse; while it is as popular amongst seekers of knowledge. Yet, this revolution is a revolution of a religious Sunni Muslim people, who were subject to a brutal dictatorship, and tyrannical repression and torture.

Although we differ with the Salafis on several issues; and we differ with the Brotherhood in some of their political views, but Islam unites us and now Jihad against the regime unite us. We cannot imagine ourselves siding with the enemies of Allah against them. The revolution is not THEIR revolution, even if they were amongst the first to join it. We joined the revolution from the beginning, many scholars, imams, sufis, and commons joined the revolution because of our stance and statements.

Sufi Brigades have been formed to fight the regime. And alongside a brigade that bears the name of Taqiyuddin Ibn Taymiyyah, there is a brigade in the name of Muhiyuddin Ibn Arabi. This is the diversity of the revolution which is a fact we have to accept, whether we like it or not.

Dr. Bouti must understand this and should not limit the revolution to a group or a brigade. In fact, there is not a city or a village in Syria, which has not sent its brave men and heroic soldiers to fight this criminal, tyrannical and ruthless regime. No city or village has been spared the merciless killing and destruction of this regime or escaped the flames of oppression.

We are criticising the shaykh’ dissociation from the revolution. Had he chose so and opted for silence we would have accepted this from him and we would have accepted it as an error of judgement and would have ruled that he shall merit a reward, because it is an accepted ijtihad, though it is wrong; but he went beyond this and actively abetted and aided monsters, murderers and criminals by praising them and speaking in their favour. By doing so, he has breached the boundaries of acceptable ijtihad which is accepted and rewarded.

Similarly, we do not question his intention or his disposition; as we have no doubt that he is a man of good intention. We know the shaykh and his worship and austerity, abstenance from the world’s desires and his efforts to seek the Pleasure of Allāh Almighty; his love for righteous people and his sincerity to serve Islam. Nevertheless, this only some of what is required in ascholar for fatwa, as we explained earlier. One of the most important qualities a mujtahid must have is incisive intelligence and wisdom..

It is because of our knowledge of the shaykh’s good intention and sincerity in to Islam, that we only fault him, not castigate him as an apostate. It is also because of this, we have presented our views mindful of his respect and do not condone those who disparage him, nor promote such insults. However, being mindful of respect does not mean that we should keep quiet about his blunders. Knowledge is a common property among scholars and nobody can monopoly of it.

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