March 2014

Dr Mu’taz: I want to ask regarding a fatwa (religious edict) that was issued by a scholar in which he rejected the idea that there be a minimum legal age for marriage.

Habib Ali: First, I want to state that someone invested with the authority to create law in a land, and that may be the ruler or a legislature or legislative assembly or of the like, is given the right by sacred law (sharia) to make laws that permit (and prohibit) something which the sharia has not made obligatory nor prohibitory as long as it is verified that doing so will serve the best interests of the citizenry.

For example, sharia does not state that it is forbidden to disregard traffic lights. In fact, the sharia considers the act of travelling as merely ‘allowed’ (mubah). However, a head of state has the right to issue a law that makes it an offence to disregard the instructions of traffic lights because there is a benefit in doing that. Likewise, there may be some people who think that it is ‘mubah’ for a female to be married off at a young age even if it the law of the land stipulates a minimum age. Why do they accept the head of state to pass a law which forbids disregard of traffic lights but reject him from passing a law on a minimum marriageable age?

We have crises on our hands with what is happening to our young daughters. Young girls are being enslaved. Young girls are being sold as though they are objects. In Yemen a man who was over 80 years old married a girl who was 8 years old. She died on the first night. Examples like these are replete.

This is why I have called upon all Muslim countries to make laws which determine a minimum marriageable age for females. This is no longer an secondary issue. In the sharia we have a principle known as “Blocking of the Means to Harm” (Sadd al-Dhara’i) which has been used by certain jurists and scholars to prohibit an exaggerated number of things. This principle was used to prohibit women from driving and used to prohibit many other things – except the marriage of young girls. Do they not see that this is a harm that must be blocked as well? People in states of extreme poverty are selling their daughters to relieve their conditions but what we hear from some representatives of the religious discourse is that the reasons for their poverty must be addressed and rectified first! Yes, it must, but the issue of young girls being married off is a reality occurring before our very eyes and it must be treated.

(From the show “Bil-Ikhtisar” on Egyptian Channel Al-Mihwar, 25 March 2014)

Dr. Mu’taz: Did the Arab world’s ‘Democratic Spring’ quickly become an ‘Autumn of Impropriety’?

Habib Ali: As events in the region transpire, their continuity has become a divulger of the flaws as well as the good qualities which exist within us. I don’t believe that the recent past is the reason for the ethical and moral problems we face today, but I do believe they have shown us our inner shortcomings.

What we are witnessing in the region is an ordeal but it is also an opportunity. Perhaps God has decreed this as an opportunity for us to take a break from the hastiness of life and have a holy moment with ourselves in which we take ourselves to account. As long as we are alive we have the opportunity to introspect about the inner problems which have come to light in the aftermath of the region’s events. This is an opportunity for us to revive a practice (sunna) which we have direly neglected, and that is the practice of engaging in constructive self-criticism.

(From the show “Bil-Ikhtisar” on Egyptian Channel Al-Mihwar, 25 March 2014)

A man came to Hasan al-Basri and said: “I disobey God and I sin, yet I see that God continues to give me and provide me with worldly opportunity. I don’t find that I am prevented from anything”
Hasan asked him: “Do you get up at night for prayer? (qiyam al-layl)”
The main said, “No”
Hasan said, “It is enough that God has prevented you from having close and intimate conversation with Him”.

أصْبَحَنَا وَأصْبَحَ الْمُلْكُ لِلَّه
“Morning has risen on us and sovereignty is all God’s”

The chosen one taught us to say this every morning so our hearts may comprehend its meanings and suspend their hopes and raise their grievances only unto He and no other.

Mother’s Day: the issue of accepting it or rejecting it is open to legal interpretation (ijtihad). Whatever one chooses they can not be condemned for it. The concept of celebrating Mother’s Day is a good worldly custom. It is not to be considered a religious occasion though it is linked to filial piety which God loves.

I am amazed by people who commemorate the fall of Andalus, Salahuddin’s entry into Egypt and “Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahab Week” in the Al-Imam University in Riyadh, then attack and condemn a person who wishes to make his/her mother happy through a good word or meaningful gift or a kiss on her forehead and hand!

(Note: Mother’s Day falls on 21 March in the Arab World)


“We made everything on earth an ornament for it, that We might test which of them are best in conduct” (Kahf: 7)

Behind every ornament that enchants the soul lies a test in good conduct

May you have a blessed Friday, with pondering on surat al-kahf and plentiful salutations upon the prophet of mercy, peace be upon him and his family.

A practical example of human fraternity for those people who have not understood their religion except through the prism of conflict and hatred and take the idea of human fraternity lightly:

11 years ago, on 16 March 2003, a young Jewish American girl, Rachel Corrie, was killed in the Gaza Strip when she was crushed to death by an armoured bulldozer belong to the occupying IDF army. She was defending a Palestinian home that was due to be demolished.

Rachel Corrie was not an Arab nor a Muslim. She was just an honest and sincere human being.

The Prophet Muhammad said, “Do not get angry.”

Commenting on this, one of the scholars said it is to mean do not let your anger burst out – rather, hold yourself together and do not base an action on anger.

A more rarefied and subtle meaning of the hadith is “Do not let your anger lead you.” If you can harness your anger properly, you can use it as a means to elevate yourself.

“Wives have what is similar to their [obligations], according to what is recognised to be fair, and husbands have a degree over them”

Abdullah Ibn Abbas explained that the ‘degree’ mentioned here by God means: (1) the husband excuses his wife from some of her duties and is undemanding with regards to his rights; (2) he fulfils all his duties towards her.

(From the Tafsir of Tabari)

Maimuna asked, “Messenger of Allah, tell us about Jerusalem?” The Prophet said, “It is the land of the Gathering and the Resurrection. Come to it and pray there for a prayer in Jerusalem [Al-Aqsa] is like a thousand prayers elsewhere.” She then asked, “and what if we are not able to go there?,” to which the Prophet replied, “then gift it oil that can be used to light its lamps. Whomever does that would be as though he/she has visited.”

(Related by Ahmad, Ibn Maja, Abu Ya’ala, Tabrani in al-Kabir, Maqdisi in the Virtues of Jerusalem)

The meaning of this hadith is that anyone unable to go to Jerusalem should send aid to Al-Aqsa, even if it be oil that is used to light the mosque, because by doing so they will attain its reward and be like the one who has been.