THE CONFUSION OF THE MUFTI SAHIB

The theme of the Mufti Sahib’s booklet is confusion. This confusion may be intentional or unintentional. Since the Mufti Sahib’s actual aim is to strike a Shar’i basis for the collective loud Thikr performances conducted in the Musaajid, the first step in this process was to prove the permissibility of loud Thikr. Then on this basis he believed that the bid’ah Thikr programmes in the Musaajid could be passed off as valid Shar’i practices of ibaadat. With this end in view, the Mufti Sahib set out from the beginning of his discussion to the end, providing copious references to ‘prove’ the jawaaz (permissibility) of loud Thikr.

JAHR-E-MUFRIT (excessive loudness – shouting)

We have no problem with the permissibility of moderate audibility since we too believe in its permissibility. We are averse to predicate permissibility to ‘loud’ Thikr. By ‘loud’ is generally meant jahr-e-mufrit (excessive loudness) which is the inevitable and ultimate result of all unsubstantiated, non-Masnoon forms of collective Thikr practices. Testifying to the excessive loudness of such programmes, even the Mufti sahib states:

“The practice of loud zikr in the Khanqa of the city of Gangoh. Hazrat Qaari Muhammad Tayyib Sahib (Rahmatullah alaih) has stated that on one side of this Khanqa was a huge pond. On the other side of this pond was a Masjid in which Hazrat Moulana Yahya Khandlawi (Rahmatullah alaih) together with his students and associates stayed. After half the night passed, both in the Khanqa as well as in the Masjid loud zikr was practiced. The effects of their zikr caused the entire place to vibrate and echo with the words Laa-ilaaha illallah, illallahu and Allahu Allah. Even the people washing their clothes in the pond were affected by this Thikr so much so that they developed the habit of chanting the slogan Allahu Allah whilst washing their clothes.”

They chanted in response to the melodious rhythmic tune of the chorus. The chanting of the khaanqah people is no ‘daleel’ for permissibility. Leave alone the washer men and their raucous chanting, let us examine the other ingredients and effects of this jahr-e-mufrit Thikr of the khaanqah. Irrespective of the repositories of this collective Thikr being our Akaabireen, their action has to be scaled on the Standard of the Shariah.

To produce the effect of even the walls vibrating and echoing, the Thikr must indeed have been executed in screaming tones. It could not have been less than jahr-e-mufrit. Only jahr-e-mufrit can cause the walls of the khaanqah and the Musjid to vibrate and echo. Now what has happened to Rasulullah’s command:

Have mercy on your souls!”

At different junctures in his discussion, the Mufti Sahib had laboriously struggled to reconcile Rasulullah’s prohibition of loud Thikr, as well as the unequivocal rulings of the Fuqaha pertaining to prohibition of loud Thikr. The Mufti Sahib has all along contended that the prohibition announced by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as well as the Fuqaha pertains to jahr-e-mufrit (excessive loudness), and this is in fact the contention of all the authorities of the Shariah. Jahr-e-Mufrit is unanimously haraam. There is no difference of opinion on this issue. Even our honourable Mufti Sahib who so dishonourably embarked on his treatise of confusion, concedes that jahr-e-mufrit is not permissible.

We implore the Mufti Sahib to view the khaanqah Thikr objectively with a clear mind, denuded of the cobwebs of bias and vindictiveness. What type of jahr produces vibration of even the walls of the Musjid and khaanqah? What type of jahr leads to the walls echoing? Permissible Audible Thikr (Thikr bil Jahr) aside, is it permissible to scream, shout and constrain the walls to vibrate and echo with Thikr? Is this not the jahr-e-mufrit which Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) forbade the Sahaabah from when they were loudly reciting Takbeer and Tahleel while ascending and descending a mountain? Is this not the type of Thikr which all authorities without a single exception – including the Khaanqah Mashaaikh – say is haraam and bid’ah?

If the venerable Mufti Sahib is able to convince himself of the virtues of fairness and justice, and if he is able to release himself from the reins of bigotry which have constrained him to fling fallacious ‘dalaa-il’ blindly in confusion, then he will have no option other than to concede that the type of Thikr he has attributed to the khaanqah – the Thikr which caused the walls to vibrate and echo – is undoubtedly haraam, bid’ah jahr-e-mufrit – the hurmat of which is Ijmaai’ (unanimous).

Throughout his booklet, the venerable Mufti Sahib has emphasized that Thikr-bil jahr is permissible only if it does not disturb anyone who is engaged in Salaat, Tilaawat or sleep. If the audible Thikr disturbs any person in his sleep or ibaadat, it will not be permissible. This is the unanimous ruling of all those authorities who aver the permissibility of Thikr bil jahr. There is 100% certitude that a jahr which has the ‘power’ to cause even walls to vibrate and echo, will assuredly not allow any person to sleep nor to engage in individual ibaadat – Nafl Salaat, Tilaawat, Dua, Thikr, etc.

If the venerable Mufti Sahib responds that no one was disturbed by this jahr-e-mufrit since the khaanqah and the Musjid were private venues, not public places of a cosmopolitan character, then it will be a concession of what we are saying, namely, the khaanqah Thikr programmes are strictly speaking private affairs and practices intended for the spiritual patients in the spiritual hospital (the khaanqah). Spiritual remedies, even haraam jahr-e-mufrit is sometimes administered to patients in an advanced stage of disease. If no halaal remedy is available for such patients, then Tadaawee bil haraam (medical treatment with haraam) is a well established and known principle in Fiqh. It could, in fact is, also applied in the spiritual realm for mureedeen suffering from spiritual ailments.

If this is not the case, then the only conclusion is that the khaanqah jahr-e-mufrit even if no one was disturbed by the excessive loudness, shouting and screaming, is bid’ah and haraam. Jahr-e-Mufrit is unanimously not permissible for even individuals in the privacy of their homes. We hold extremely high opinions of our Mashaaikh since we too are of the Chishti stock. While we have never experienced our Akaabireen engaging in jahr-e-mufrit even in the Khaanqah, and while Thikr bil jahr is totally overshadowed, in fact almost discarded, in the branch of the Chishti Silsilah which we follow, we nevertheless do not accuse the Mufti Sahib of stating a blatant lie in his attribution of jahr-e-mufrit to the khaanqah Thikr programme he has described. We attribute such Thikr-e-mufrit as practised in the khaanqah in terms of the description of the venerable Mufti Sahib to Tadaawi bil haraam necessitated by peculiar circumstances.

From the aforementioned explanation it should be quite evident that it is highly improper to proffer the jahr-e-mufrit, which is unanimously haraam, as a daleel for the permissibility of the collective loud Thikr performances conducted in the public Musaajid which are not khaanqah Musjids nor khaanqahs nor the preserves of any particular buzroog whose Silsilah holds sway.

The khaanqah practices do not feature anywhere in the process of formulation of Ahkaam. It does not behove a Mufti to present khaanqah practices as Mustadallaat (basis of deduction) for issuing Fataawa on Shar’i issues. The venerable Mufti Sahib has laboured arduously and abortively in his attempt to convince the unwary ones that the illustrious Fuqaha had erred in using the Hadith of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) as a Mustadal (basis for their ruling of prohibition). But, without hesitation he tenders the peculiar practices of the khaanqah as his ‘mustadal’ for legitimizing the bid’ah collective loud Thikr performances. The emphatic views of Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) have already been mentioned earlier.

MAULANA ABDUL HAYY

The venerable Mufti Sahib has also endeavoured to compound the confusion, intentionally or unintentionally, by selective citation or citing statements out of context. Consider his statement: “Hazrat Moulana Abdul Hay Lakhnowi (Rahmatullah alaih) has explained this verse in detail in his kitab Sabaahatul Fikr Fil Jahri Biz Zikr. A summary of his discussion is given hereunder….” In the summary is mentioned the prohibition of excessive loudness and screaming when making Thikr.

Besides the fact of Maulana Abdul Hayy’s explanation re-enforcing the prohibition of the jahr-e-mufrit which constrained the walls of the khaanqah and its Musjid to vibrate and echo, the venerable Mufti Sahib, conveniently ignores the following clear-cut rulings which Maulana Abdul Hayy (rahmatullah alayh) states in his treatise, Sabaahatul Fikr Fil Jahri Bith-Thikr:

(1) “The meaning of the word ‘khair’ in Rasulullah’s statement: ‘Khairuth Thikr al-khafi’ (The best Thikr is silent Thikr)’, is that in Thikr-e-Khafi there is greater goodness, and in jahr, there is less goodness.”

Yet, throughout his discussion, the Mufti Sahib has been abortively at pains to ‘prove’ the superiority of Thikr-e-jahr.

(2) “In this Hadith is a daleel for the permissibility of Thikr bil jahr. Undoubtedly, it is established in the Shariah. But, Khafi Thikr is afdhal (superior).”

This too, debunks the Mufti Sahib’s claim of the afdhaliyyat of Thikr bil jahr.’

(3) Further explaining the rulings pertaining to Thikr, Maulana Abdul Hayy (rahmatullah alayh) says: “Verily, there is no doubt in that Sirr (silent Thikr) is superior to jahr (audible Thikr) because of the humility and concealment. Similarly, there is no doubt in the fact that jahr-e-mufrit is prohibited by virtue of the Hadith: ‘Have mercy on yourselves…” Citing from An-Nihaayah, he states: “According to us (Ahnaaf) Silence in Athkaar is Mustahab except in special cases of announcement, e.g. Athaan, Talbiyah, Khutbah as mentioned in Al-Mabsoot.”

Continuing his exposition, Maulana Abdul Hayy says: “It is obvious that the meaning of those who say “Jahr is haraam”, is jahr-e-mufrit……..and those who say that it (jahr) is bid’ah, mean thereby a special form of execution and to make incumbent what the Shariah has not made incumbent…….”

The collective loud Thikr form which the Mufti Sahib advocates, comes within the scope of this prohibition. It is both haraam and bid’ah.

(4) “Yes, Al-Jahrul Mufrit is prohibited by the Shariah. Similarly (is prohibited) such jahr which is not mufrit when it distresses anyone who is asleep or who performs Salaat or is accompanied by a vestige of riya, or is accompanied by factors which are in conflict with the Shariah or is regarded as being incumbent. Many are the permissible things which became Makrooh because of iltizaam (making incumbent), as Ali Qaari has explicitly mentioned in Sharhul Mishkaat, and Al-Haskafi in Ad-Durrul Mukhtaar.”

When there are a number of conditions regulating even the permissibility of Thikr ghair mufrit, how does the venerable Mufti Sahib reconcile with all this, the jahr-e-mufrit which causes khaanqah and Musjid walls to vibrate and echo throughout the greater part of the night enchanting even the washermen?

(5) “This (Hadith, viz. the best Thikr is the silent Thikr) does not indicate that audible Thikr is prohibited. On the contrary, it indicates the afdhaliyyat of silent Thikr. And, there is no dispute in this.”

While asserting the permissibility of audible Thikr, Maulana Abdul Hayy unambiguously affirms the superiority of silent Thikr. He further adds that there is no contention – no dispute – in this fact, viz., that silent Thikr is superior. But, the venerable Mufti Sahib has ploughed all his academic energy into the indefensible task of ‘proving’ that audible Thikr is superior.

IMAAM ABU HANIFAH (RAHMATULLAH ALAYH)

Commenting on the imagined view of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), the venerable Mufti Sahib, avers: “In Ruhul Ma’ani Allamah Aloosi (Rahmatullah alaih) has said: “Imaam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullah alaih) has given preference to loud zikr.”

Even if this averment does appear in Ruhul Ma’aani, we must unequivocally say that it is a blatant falsity attributed to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh). If Allaamah Aloosi (rahmatullah alayh) has indeed made this erroneous attribution, it should be set aside and some suitable interpretation accorded to it.

Ruhul Ma’aani cannot be presented in opposition to and in refutation of the Works of Fiqah such as Al-Mabsoot of Imaam Sarakhsi and Badaaius Sanaa’ of Allaamah Kaasaani. Ruhul Ma’aani has no status in relation to the kutub of the illustrious Fuqaha who are the chief exponents of the Shariah. Allaamah Kaasaani (rahmatullah alayh) says in Badaaius Sanaa’: “According to Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), raising the voice with Takbeer is actually bid’ah because it is Thikr, and the Sunnah in Athkaar is silence by virtue of the statement (aayat) of Allah Ta’ala: ‘Call unto your Rabb in humility and silence.’, and by virtue of Rasulullah’s statement, ‘The best dua is the silent (dua).’And also because it (silent Thikr) is closer to humility and respect, and furthest from riya. Thus, this original principle will not be abandoned except when there is a determinant.”

Besides Badaaius Sanaai’ all the kutub of Fiqah uniformly state Imaam Abu Hanifah’s view of prohibition. Now whether the prohibition stated by Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) applies to jahr-e-mufrit or even jahr ghair mufrit, the conclusion that he “gave preference to loud Thikr” is manifestly baseless and has been wrongly attributed to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh).

Dismissing the false attribution to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahmatullah alayh), says in Aujazul Masaalik:

“Some people have said that there is no karaahat in it (i.e. in raising the voice in the Musjid). They say that Abu Hanifah is among them. Al-Qaari (Mullah Ali Qaari) said that the attribution of the negation of mutlaq karaahah to Imaam A’zam is a blatantly false attribution to him because his Math-hab is the prohibition of raising the voice in the Musjid even with Thikr.”

FATHUL QADEER

The Mufti Sahib states: “In Fathul Qadeer under the commentary of this Hadith it is stated: ‘From the above Hadith and similar others it becomes clear that there is absolutely no aversion in the methods adopted by the Soofis in hosting gatherings of loud zikr in the Masaajid in which the kalima Laa-ilaaha illalla is recited aloud.”

The Mufti Sahib has omitted to apprize readers of the principle pertaining to Thikr which the author of Fathul Qadeer, Allaamah Ibnul Humaam (rahmatullah alayh) stated with emphasis in the same kitaab. Explaining the principle, he says in Fathul Qadeer:

The principle in athkaar is Ikhfa’, and jahr with it is bid’ah.”

Now when this is the primary principle regulating Thikr, which Allaamah Ibn Humaam (rahmatullah alayh) emphatically states, the aforementioned claim attributed to him appears preposterous. The claim of loud Thikr in the Musaajid by ‘soofis’ is an erroneous attribution to Allaamah Humaam (rahmatullah alayh). The Mufti Sahib appears to have erred somewhere along the trajectory. There is no such statement in Fathul Qadeer.

RUHUL MA’AANI

The Mufti Sahib also cites Allaamah Aalusi (rahmatullah alayh) as a daleel for his case. At most, the Mufti Sahib is able to extract the permissibility of audible Thikr from the views of Allaamah Aalusi (rahmatullah alayh). As far as the collective loud Thikr displays in the Musaajid are concerned, the Mufti sahib has conveniently overlooked the following comment of Allaamah Aalusi (rahmatullah alayh), also in Ruhul Ma’aani:

You will observe numerous people of your time shouting in dua especially in the Jaami’ Musaajid so much so that the noise becomes great and the ears are deafened while they do not know that they have gathered two acts of bid’ah: raising the voice in dua and doing that in the Musjid.”

All public Thikr performances ultimately lead to such excesses as pointed out by Allaamah Aalusi (rahmatullah alayh). Even the halqah Thikr and dua practices of the Bareilwis began with sincerity and good intentions. With the progress of time, these acts were transformed into entrenched bid’ah sayyiah. This will be the inevitable and ultimate position of the current collective loud Thikr performances which the Mufti Sahib is promoting.

The Mufti Sahib’s penchant for selective and misleading citation from the kutub of the Mufassireen and Fuqaha is a travesty of justice to say the least.

HAASHIYAH TAHTAAWI

The Mufti Sahib, citing this kitaab states: “According to Haashiyatut Tahtaawi Alaa Maraaqil Al-Falaah it is not a prohibition to make loud zikr in the Masaajid as Allah Ta’ala says: “And who can be more oppressive than him who prevents the name of Allah Ta’ala from being mentioned in the Houses of Allah Ta’ala.” The Ulama have unanimously agreed that it is preferable to host gatherings of zikr in the Masaajid as well as out of the Masaajid, except in the case when making loud zikr would disturb a person who is sleeping, or performing Salaah or reciting the Holy Qur’an.”

Our response to these comments is as follows:

(1) The claim of unanimity of the Ulama of the Salaf and Khalaf on the Istihbaab (preferability) of loud Thikr gatherings is misleading and baseless. There is no such unanimity. If there had existed this alleged unanimity, there would not have been this severe difference prevailing in our ranks in this age as well as in previous ages.

(2) The only ‘proof’ which the thirteenth century Allaamah Tahtaawi adduces is the unsubstantiated arbitrary claim of the 10th century Allaamah Sha’raani (rahmatullah alayh). Since Allaamah Sha’raani (rahmatullah alayh) was a follower of the Shaafi’ Math-hab, he must have been referring to Shaafi’ Ulama. However, the Ahnaaf are not subordinate to the rulings of the Shaafi’ Ulama.

(3) The very principle of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), viz., the “Asal in Athkaar is Ikhfa’ and raising the voice with Thikr is bid’ah”, refutes the alleged unanimity on the permissibility, in fact Istihbaab, of collective loud Thikr in the Musaajid. The action of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu), expelling the group who had engaged in this form of Thikr in the Musjid, also debunks the claim of unanimity postulated by Allaamah Sha’raani (rahmatullah alayh).

The Qur’aanic command to engage silently in Thikr and dua, is in diametric contradiction of the claim of Allaamah Sha’raani (rahmatullah alayh). Imaam Maalik’s outright denunciation of such gatherings in the Musaajid rebuts the claim of unanimity. It is a fanciful imagination that has presented the figment of unanimity of the Ulama of all times on the preferability of collective loud Thikr gatherings in the Musaajid. There is absolutely no basis for this claim. All the Ulama who have made an in-depth study of this issue, are constrained to concede the existence of severe difference of opinion even on the plain question of the permissibility of loud Thikr, not collective loud Thikr in the Musaajid.

(4) The views stated in Haashiyah Tahtaawi cannot override the verdicts of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu), Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), Imaam Maalik (rahmatullah alayh) and innumerable other Fuqaha.

(5) If there appears to be a conflict of the views of comparatively junior Ulama with the verdicts of the Sahaabah and Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen, the views of the junior Ulama will be appropriately reconciled and interpreted. If such reconciliation cannot be achieved, the views of the juniors will be set aside without condemning them if they are among the Ulama-e-Haqq. Note: ‘Junior’ in this context is in comparison with the likes of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu), Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), Imaam Maalik (rahmatullah alayh) and the Fuqaha-e-Mutaqaddimeen in general.

(6) How is it conceivable for the existence of consensus of the Ulama of all times on such a severely contentious issue fraught with the perils of bid’ah, as the collective Thikr performances in the Musaajid, when even Allaamah Tahtaawi himself registers difference of opinion of the Ulama on even the question of the afdhaliyyat of Thikr – whether Thikr-e-khafi or Thikr-e-jahr is superior? It is a sweeping, unsubstantiated claim which is palpably inaccurate.

(7) The implication that prevention of such Thikr gatherings in the Musaajid comes within the purview of the Qur’aanic aayat: “And who can be more oppressive than him who prevents (others) from remembering the Name of Allah in the Musaajid?”, is absurd. Bid’ah is prevented in the way in which Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) prevented the perpetration of the bid’ah form of Thikr in the Musjid. Prevention of such unsubstantiated forms of Thikr which are fraught with the perils of bid’ah is not prevention from Thikrullaah in the Musaajid.

(8) If a man without wudhu sits reciting the Qur’aan Shareef in the Musjid, and the Qur’aan Majeed is snatched from him while he is expelled and ordered to take wudhu, it will be ignorance to aver that the man is being prevented from taking the Name of Allah Ta’ala in the Musjid.

The views expressed in Haashiyah Tahtaawi cannot be presented as daleel for the claim of legitimacy of the collective loud Thikr programmes conducted in the Musaajid for the public gallery.

QAADHI KHAAN AND BAZZAAZIYYAH

Regarding the conflicting versions narrated in these Fataawa kitaabs, the Mufti Sahib writes: “However, a question arises here that Qadhi Khan who is highly regarded by the Fuqahaa has stated that it is undesirable to raise one’s voice when making zikr. Similarly Bazzaaziyyah has quoted from the kitab Khaaniyyah that it is prohibited to raise the voice when making zikr. How then can it be permissible to raise one’s voice when making zikr? The answer to this is that Qadhi Khan has himself in another place given the permissibility of raising one’s voice when making zikr in the following words: ‘There is nothing wrong to raise one’s voice when reciting Subhaanalla and Laa-ilaaha illallahu, etc.’ Thus we can balance the two statements of Qadhi Khan in this way that where reference to raising the voice was prohibited, it is referring to Jahr Mufrit (to scream when making Thikr), not just to merely making loud zikr. This is also supported by a statement in Fataawaa Khairiyyah………. Or it could mean that loud zikr is prohibited at such times where zikr is established from the Ahaadeeth but it is not appropriate to raise one’s voice. For example, to recite the Thanaa or similar duas aloud in Salaah which ought to be recited softly.”

Exceptionally far-fetched and baseless interpretations have been adduced in the endeavour to bolster the bid’ah public Thikr programmes. Firstly, these differences cited by the Mufti Sahib himself, debunks the consensus theory mentioned in Haashiyah Tahtaawi. The severity of the ikhtilaaf (difference) on the issue of just individual Thikr-e-jahr, not the Ijtimaai’ performances of those who incline to collectivism and populism in even such sacred acts which primarily have to be executed in solitude and privacy in view of the fact that ibaadat is communion of the bandah with his Maalik, has constrained the Mufti sahib to produce the far-fetched ta’weel mentioned in Fataawa Khairiyyah, and it has also induced him to fabricate his own fanciful interpretation which he outlines in the penultimate sentence of his comments which have been reproduced above.

Let us examine these legless ta’weelaat (interpretations), step by step.

(a) Allaamah Al-Kurduri (rahmatullah alayh), the author of Fataawa Bazzaaziyyah, was an Aalim of note of the 8th century Hijri. The author of Fataawa Qaadhi Khaan was a notable Aalim of the 7th century.

(b) Any view of these noble Ulama who appeared many centuries after Khairul Quroon, which conflicts with the Usool and Juziyaat of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen, especially Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) and his Ashaab, may not be presented as a basis for abrogating the unambiguous and well-known and well-established Fataawa of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen.

(c) The correct methodology to adopt when tackling such conflicts, is to present an interpretation which reconciles the conflicting views of the later Ulama with the Fataawa of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen. It should not be the other way around which countenances such interpretations which render the verdicts of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen subordinate and subservient to the views and practices of the Khaanqah Sufiya and of such Ulama who are caught up in environments in which such questionable practices predominate.

It is, therefore, highly inappropriate to drag the sacred principle of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) from its lofty pedestal with the jahr-e-mufrit interpretation, or worse, with the Mufti Sahib’s own ‘new’ interpretation, to make it subordinate to the opinion of permissibility expressed in Bazzaaziyyah.

The principle enunciated by Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) is clear and crisp, devoid of ambiguity. Its applicability to jahr mutlaq, without the restriction of jahr mufrit, is affirmed by the Siyaaq and Sabaaq (tenor and context) in which great Fuqaha of far loftier status than Bazzaaziyyah, etc., have applied it. Allaamah Ibnul Humaam, the illustrious Commentator of Hidaayah, states with great clarity in his Fathul Qadeer:

“The qaul of those (Ulama) who have issued the fatwa on the version of Saahibain is in conflict with the demand of (the principle of) Tarjeeh (preferring between conflicting views), for verily, the difference of opinion (of Saahibain with Imaam Abu Hanifah) in this regard (that is regarding Takbeer-e-Tashreeq) pertains to Takbeer with raised voice, not to Thikr per se (Nafs-e-Thikr). And, the Asal in Athkaar is Al-Ikhfa’ and Al-Jahr is bid’ah. Thus, when the two views conflict, then the aqal (lesser number of days) will be preferred.”

At this juncture our concern is not the actual mas’alah of Takbeer-e-Tashreeq. The issue of the topic is the ‘Asal’the Principle which unequivocally declares the superiority of Ikhfa’ and the bid’ah of jahr. It is noteworthy, that while Saahibain (Rahmatullah alayhima) differ with Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) regarding the number of days when reciting the Takbeer audibly is permissible, they do not differ with him on the Principle. While Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) says that reciting the Takbeer bil jahr is not permissible, Saahibain (rahmatullah alayhima) say that it is permissible. The ikhtilaaf is not on the issue of jahr-e-mufrit. The difference pertains to jahr-e-mutlaq. The one view states that normal moderate jahr on the occasion of the days other than the Day of Nahr, is not permissible while the second view claims it to be permissible. Thus the argument of jahr-e-mufrit in this context is baseless. There is unanimity on the principle of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh).

The quagmire of ikhtilaaf and far-fetched untenable interpretations in which the votaries of bid’ah practices are mired is the consequence of side-stepping or wantonly ignoring the Principles and even the Particulars (Usool and Juziyaat) of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen. The later Ulama are therefore plunged into an unenviable dilemma in the arduous task of differentiating between Haqq and Baatil.

This Thikr bil jahr quagmire is so perplexing that Maulana Abdul Hayy (rahmatullah alayh), after recording the array of differences and interpretations on this issue, dejectingly states in his Sabaahatul Fikr: “These are the views of our Ashaab. Just look at the manner in which their opinions clash (and differ). Some among them say that it (mutlaq jahr) is permissible; some say that it is haraam; some say that it is bid’ah; some say that it is Makrooh. The Asah (most authentic) is that it is permissible as long as it does not transgress the limits. This view (of permissibility) has been adopted by Al-Khairul Ramali.”

This plethora of Idhtiraab (conflict and confusion) is the effect of non-conformity – not adhering to the Usool of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen and trying to validate practices which cannot be legitimized on the basis of the Usool of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen. While the venerable Mufti Sahib has a penchant for citing from Sabaahul Fikr of Maulana Abdul Hayy (rahmatullah alayh), the scope of his penchant proscribes acknowledging Maulana Abdul Hayy’s conclusion of Idhtiraab. His ‘rationale’ for this convenient expurgation of Maulana Abdul Hayy’s comment is understandable. After all, the Mufti Sahib is in the arduous and unenviable quest of ‘dalaa-il’ to fabricate a non-existent ‘consensus’ on a non-issue for structuring a valid basis for his pet collective loud Thikr programmes offered for the consumption of the public in the Musaajid and perhaps elsewhere.

Obviously it cannot serve the Mufti Sahib’s agenda to cite Maulana Abdul Hayy’s comment of Idhtiraab. Any such ‘error’ by the venerable Mufti Sahib will buffet into oblivion the ‘consensus’ claim and conundrum stated in Haashiyah Tahtaawi.

A claim of consensus made by anyone on this highly tendentious issue is conclusively debunked by the quagmire of differences on the subject of Thikr bil Jahr.

(d) It is most significant and should be salubrious for the venerable Mufti sahib, that the entire discussion in the whole of the treatise, Sabaahatul Fikr fil Jahr bith Thikr, centres around such Thikr jahr which is NOT jahr-e-mufrit. All the differences of opinion are related to jahr-ghair mufrit or jahr mutlaq. The jahr-e-mufrit interpretation fabricated to assign into the shadows or even into oblivion Imaam Abu Hanifah’s Principle is an exceptionally flabby, in fact baseless argument which has spawned the considerable Idhtiraab which has perplexed Maulana Abdul Hayy (rahmatullah alayh) as well as numerous other Ulama.

(e) Neither the interpretation of jahr mufrit tendered in Fataawa Khairiyyah nor the Mufti Sahib’s own fabrication to strike a synthesis between the conflicting versions appearing in the same kitaab which he has mentioned, is a valid reconciliation (Tatbeeq) nor are these centuries later interpretations products of Wahi. They are fundamentally and wholly products of the human mind and severely flawed in view of the diametric clash with the pronouncement of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) and our Fuqaha in general.

Moreover, we are not under any Shar’i obligation to submit to such machinations of the human minds – such opinions which conflict and even ignore or eliminate the Usool of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen who are the ultimate limits of our Ilmi trajectory. No Muqallid possesses a licence to traverse or transgress this sacred Limit.

(f) The endeavour to interpret the self-contradiction in Qaadhi Khaan for the purpose of reconciliation creates a greater conflict. And that is, a conflict with the Mujtahid Imaam to whom Qaadhi Khaan, Bazzaaziyyah and Tahtaawi are subservient. Rather than these unauthorized and irrational interpretations, it will serve the Mufti Sahib magnanimously to emulate Allaamah Ibnul Humaam (rahmatullah alayh) who upholds the Asal of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) in refutation of those Ulama-e-Haqq who had issued a Fatwa on the qaul of Saahibain which in turn conflicts with the verdict of Imaam A’zam (rahmatullah alayh).

If a dispute is argued rationally, without bias, and within the ambit of the principles and particulars of the illustrious Fuqaha-e-Mutaqaddimeen, there will be no resultant quagmires, perplexity and Idhtiraab.

There is also no expediency to justify and defend the Khaanqah practices in a way which produces a clash with the verdicts of the Fuqaha-e-Mutaqaddimeen who were the highest Repositories of the Shariah after the Sahaaba-e-Kiraam (ridhwaanullaahi alayhim) nor is there a need for the proponents on the other side of the divide to criticize such practices. The permissibility of the Khaanqah practices is derived from another source and structured on another basis which is unrelated to Imaam Abu Hanifah’s Asal circumscribing Thikr-e-jahr. By stating the Shariah’s ruling on the acts of jahr and khafi, the intention is not to decry and outlaw the Khaanqah practices of the Auliya and the Mashaaikh whom we all follow and emulate, and of whose Spiritual Tree we all are branches.

(g) The ibaarat (text) in Qaadhi Khaan pertaining to the permissibility of raising the voice with Tasbeeh and Tahleel is stated in the context of an individual who visits a public bathroom. If the place is clean and there is no person displaying any part of his satr, then it is permissible for a man to audibly engage in tasbeeh and tahleel, provided he is not in the state of undress. This permissibility concerns an individual who recites to himself, not to the public gallery. This permissibility is not to be extended to the type of public performances which the venerable Mufti Sahib is so vehemently promoting. As for the public acts of collective loud Thikr in the Musaajid, the following principles are imperative for the obtainal of a Shar’i Ruling:

  • Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Masood’s action

  • Imaam Abu Hanifa’s Principle

  • Imaam Maalik’s categorical claim that the Sahaabah and Taabieen did not adhere to such collectivism and populism

  • The principle of Sadd-e-Baab and Sadd-e-Tharaai’ (Closing the Avenue of corruption and blocking all means which create bid’ah)

  • The explicit statements of our Akaabireen as opposed to their Khaanqah practices.

(h) If an appropriate interpretation for reconciling the conflict with the principle of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen is not forthcoming, then the alternative is to set aside the view of Bazzaaziyyah and Qaadhi Khaan so that adherence to the verdict of the Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen is affirmed.

(i) There is a well-known principle in Fiqah: “When the arguments are conflicting, then both fall away.” In the light of this principle, the conflicting statements in Qaadi Khaan fall away, and amal on the verdict of Imaam Abu Hanifah is automatically affirmed.

(j) There is also another well-known principle: “When there develops a probability (of another view), then the istidlaal (deduction) is null and void.” The jahr-e-mufrit interpretation of Fataawa Khairiyyah, and the Mufti Sahib’s own personal opinion which he presented as an addendum to the ta’weel of Fataawa Khairiyyah, are not the effects of Nass. Since these interpretations are not corroborated by Wahi, the probability of error is overwhelming. In fact, these interpretations which compromise the Asal of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) are fallacious. In view of the probability of gross error, the istidlaal of the Mufti Sahib is baatil.

(k) The venerable Mufti Sahib has extracted selectively certain statements from Bazzaaziyyah and Qaadhi Khaan, which he opined served the cause of promoting the collective loud Thikr programmes in the Musaajid. Apart from the fact that the statements cited by the Mufti Sahib have no bearing on the bid’ah Ijtimaai’ Thikr performances since these cited views pertain to only permissibility of audible Thikr for individuals, the Mufti Sahib has perpetrated chicanery in his selective citation. Honour demands that the full text or the other view also expounded by the same authority from which support is drawn, be presented. But the Mufti Sahib’s manner of selectivity is tantamount to Kitmaanul Haqq (Concealment of the Truth).

The Mufti Sahib, drawing from Fataawa Bazzaaziyyah, states: “According to Fataawa Bazzaaziyyah it is permissible to raise one’s voice when making zikr just as it is permissible to raise one’s voice when calling out the Azaan or when delivering a lecture.”

This statement appears at the end of Bazzaaziyyah’s discussion on raising the voice with Thikr. Hence, the Mufti sahib cannot plead unawareness or an oversight in having refrained from presenting the full argument of Bazzaaziyyah. In the interests of objectivity and for those who are desirous of gaining the Haqq, we reproduce the full text of Bazzaaziyyah:

“And it is reported in Fataawa Qaadhi that raising the voice with Thikr is haraam. (Note: it has not been said ‘undesirable’ as the venerable Mufti Sahib alleged. Surely, the Mufti Sahib is aware of the difference between haraam and undesirable!) And, verily, it has been authentically established from Ibn Mas’ood that he heard of a group who had gathered in the Musjid, and they were audibly reciting Laa-ilaha illallaah and Durood on Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). He then went up to them and said: ‘We did not practise this during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). I therefore, do not consider you, except as innovators.’ He persisted in this averment until he expelled them from the Musjid.”

Commenting on this action of the great Sahaabi, the Author says: “If you (O Reader!) say that it is mentioned in Al-Fataawa that Thikr bil jahr even in the Musjid will not be prevented to ensure that one does not come within the scope of the aayat of Allah Ta’ala, viz., ‘Who is more unjust than the one who prevents from the Musaajid that Allah’s Name be recited therein.’, but the action of Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) contradicts your statement, then I say: If expulsion from the Musjid was executed literally, then it is probable on account of their belief that their act was ibaadat, and so that the people be taught that it (their collective Thikr) is bid’ah. A permissible action can become impermissible because of an accretion.”

It is noteworthy that the Mufti Sahib has deemed it appropriate to observe total silence regarding Qaadhi Khaan’s affirmation of the Hadith of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu). While the Mufti Sahib had painfully, but abortively, struggled to invalidate the authenticity of the Hadith, Qaadhi Khaan affirms its authenticity. And, while the Mufti Sahib presents a weak view of permissibility mentioned in Qaadhi Khaan, he dismisses the very strong view of hurmat stated by Qaadhi Khaan, and also supported by the Hadith of Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu).

Furthermore, Bazzaaziyyah does not present the jahr-e-mufrit argument to neutralize the action of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) nor does he deny the authenticity attributed to the Hadith by Qaadhi Khaan. On the contrary, he presents an interpretation to reconcile Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood’s action with the Qur’aanic aayat (mentioned above). The reasons which Bazzaaziyyah attributes for the motivation of Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu), namely, the idea of non-ibaadat being regarded as ibaadat, and the danger of bid’ah in unsubstantiated practices, exist to a far greater degree in the collective public performances of our current age of moral corruption, ignorance and spiritual bankruptcy.

We might just as well add, that there is no need to attempt reconciliation between the action of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) and the Qur’aanic aayat. The exercise of the interpretation is superfluous. This eminent Sahaabi was not acting in any way in conflict with the Qur’aanic aayat. He stated unambiguously that the reason for his action was that this type of collective Thikr performance was not part of Ibaadat during the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), and that their deed was bid’ah.

Preventing the perpetration of haraam and bid’ah in the Musjid cannever be equated to preventing people from Thikrullaah in the Musjid.

The same Qaadhi Khaan from which the venerable Mufti Sahib extracts the statement: “There is nothing wrong to raise one’s voice when reciting Subhaanallaah and Laa-ilaaha illallah”, to bolster the bid’ah collective practices, authenticates the narration of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) which is a bone in the throat of innovators. The question of an individual reciting Subhaanallaah audibly, is a non-issue whereas the expulsion of a group from the Musjid is a major issue. Yet the Mufti Sahib thought it expedient to refrain from commenting on Qaadi Khaan’s accredition of the Hadith which he (the Mufti Sahib) had arduously laboured to invalidate.

The action of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) is a major issue of pivotal importance in the discussion of collective loud Thikr programmes in the Musjid. In the attempt to bestow credibility to such bid’ah acts, it devolved as an incumbency on the venerable Mufti Sahib to rationally, with Shar’i dalaa-il, neutralize Qaadhi Khaan’s accredition. Since he has failed in this task, it is not lawful for him to cite Qaadhi Khaan in support of the cause of collective Thikr he (the Mufti Sahib) is advocating and defending.

FATAAWA HINDIYYAH

The venerable Mufti Sahib also tenders Fataawa Hindiyyah in his support. Thus he says:

In Fataawa Hindiyyah it is stated that there is nothing wrong if a group of people have to collectively and loudly recite Subhaanallah and Laa-ilaha illallah etc. in the presence of a judge. From the above statement we gain proof of the permissibility of loud and collective zikr.”

The recitation in front of a judge is indeed an abnormal practice. Ibaadat is not executed in the presence of a judge. There surely must have been some underlying reason for coupling this type of Thikr with the presence of a judge. Anyhow, even if making such Thikr collectively in front of a judge is permissible according to Fataawa Hindiyyah, Imaam Abu Hanifah’s Ruling cancels the permissibility.

The Mufti Sahib has also dishonourably concealed the correct text of Fataawa Hindiyyah. On this issue, the following appears in Fataawa Hindiyyah: “A big concourse has gathered by the Qaadhi. They all together raise their voices with Tasbeeh and Tahleel. There is nothing wrong with this. However, Ikhfa’ is afdhal.”

The crowd which has gathered by the Qaadhi, ostensibly for some mundane need, on seeing the judge, spontaneously exclaims: ‘Subhaanallaah! Laa ilaha illallaah! This is not a gathering of Thikr. The people merely exclaimed their happiness at seeing the Qaadhi. If one sees something beautiful, and one exclaims: ‘Subhaanallaah!’, it will not be a Thikr session. Similarly, when ‘Alhamdulillaah!’ is exclaimed on sneezing, it will not be said that the sneezer is engaging in a Thikr session.

The Mufti Sahib has scraped the bottom of the barrel in his arduous search for ‘proofs’ for the bid’ah collective loud Thikr public performances.

Furthermore, Fataawa Hindiyyah explicitly refutes the Mufti Sahib’s contention of jahri Thikr being superior. “Ikhfa is afdhal” is stated with emphasis in the very same sentence from which the Mufti Sahib has selected the ‘Thikr’ in front of the Qaadhi.

Again, the Mufti Sahib very conveniently casts a blind eye on the very next sentence which belies his claim of the preferability of loud Thikr over silent Thikr. While the statement selectively extracted from Fataawa Hindiyyah by the venerable Mufti Sahib is not related to a Thikr session, the very next statement which he ignores, is the Fatwa which Fataawa Hindiyyah issues on the issue of loud/silent Thikr. Thus, it is said in Fataawa Hindiyyah: “And, if they gather for the Thikr of Allah Ta’ala, Tasbeeh and Tahleel, they should recite silently.”

The Mufti Sahib’s concealment of the Haqq is lamentable. While he abortively attempts to utilize a kitaab for his bid’ah cause, he ignores or conceals all the statements of that kitaab which refute his views.

Another significant fact stemming from the aforegoing fatwa of Fataawa Hindiyyah is that when people gather for Thikrullaah, jahr is not a requisite for the validity of a gathering. It is noteworthy that Fataawa Hindiyyah states that when people gather for Thikrullaah, they should recite silently.

Mullah Ali Qaari

Attempting to infuse life into his dead and fallacious arguments in favour of collective loud Thikr performances in the Musaajid, the Mufti Sahib alleges that although Mulla Ali Qaari has mentioned that ‘according to some Ulama it is Haraam to raise one’s voice when making zikr’, he himself has advocated loud Thikr elsewhere in his kitaab.

Mulla Ali Qaari’s view cannot override the categoric ruling of Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu), nor can it be cited in refutation of the emphatic ruling of Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) who has explicitly stated: “Raising the voice in the Musjid even with Thikr is haraam.”

The benefits of loud Thikr which the Mufti Sahib attributes to Mulla Ali Qaari are not valid for refuting the prohibition of bid’ah. These benefits, imagined or real, cannot be cited in refutation of the official position of the Hanafi Math-hab. The Hanafi view on loud Thikr is presented very strongly in Badaai-us Sanaa’ where it is said that the Asal according to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) is Ikhfa’ while jahr is bid’at except in cases explicitly ordered by the Shariah. Reference to this has already been made earlier on.

The quagmire of conflicts and uncertainty in which Mulla Ali Qaari found himself, constrained him to acquit himself with trepidation. Illustrating the uncertainty of Mulla Ali Qaari on this issue, Maulana Abdul Hayy (rahmatullah alayh) states in his Sabaahatul Fikr: “Some of his statements in Sharhul Hisnil Haseen incline to permissibility (of Thikr-e-jahr) although some of his statements in other places refute it.”

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