The Ruling in the Hanafi Madhhab of Persistence on a Mustahabb Practice in a Specific Form

December 18, 2013


Always Shaking Hands after the Congregational Fard Prayers

Ibn ‘Ābidīn al-Shāmī (d. 1252 H) writes in his Radd al-Muhtār:

وقد صرح بعض علمائنا وغيرهم بكراهة المصافحة المعتادة عقب الصلوات مع أن المصافحة سنة، وما ذاك إلا لكونها لم تؤثر في خصوص هذا الموضع فالمواظبة عليها فيه توهم العوام بأنها سنة فيه

“Some of our [Hanafī] scholars and others have stated explicitly the detestability of the customary handshake following the salawāt, although shaking hands is sunnah. And that is only because it has not been transmitted [from the early generations] in this specific place [i.e. after the salawāt] – thus, continuity on it in this [specific place] gives the false impression that it is sunnah therein.” (Radd al-Muhtār, Dār ‘Ālam al-Kutub, 3:141)

Salāt al-Raghā’ib

He continues:

ولذا منعوا عن الاجتماع لصلاة الرغائب التي أحدثها بعض المتعبدين لأنها لم تؤثر على هذه الكيفية في تلك الليالي المخصوصة، وإن كانت الصلاة خير موضوع

“This is why they forbade gathering for Salāt al-Raghā’ib which some worshippers invented because it has not been transmitted in this form in those specific nights, even though Salāh is the best institution.” (ibid.)

Sajdat al-Shukr on a Particular Occasion

Al-Haskafī (d. 1088 H) writes in al-Durr al-Mukhtār:

لكنها تكره بعد الصلاة لأن الجهلة يعتقدونها سنة أو واجبة وكل مباح يؤدي إليه فمكروه

“But it (sajdat al-shukr) is detestable after Salāh because the ignorant believe it is sunnah or wājib (i.e. after Salāh), and every permissible action leading to it is makrūh.” (Al-Durr al-Mukhtar/ Radd al-Muhtār, Dār ‘Ālam al-Kutub, 2:598)

Ibn ‘Ābidīn explains that this statement was transmitted from al-Zāhidī (d. 658 H) in his commentary on Qudūrī.

The karāhah (detestability) mentioned here refers to makrūh tahrīmī (prohibitively disliked) for which a person is sinful, as mentioned by Ibn ‘Ābidīn, quoting Tahtāwī:

 فمكروه الظاهر أنها تحريمية لأنه يدخل فى الدين ما ليس منه ط

“It is apparent that it is makrūh tahrīmī because he inserts into religion what is not from it.”

Imām Burhān al-Dīn al-Hanafī (d. 616 H) writes:

وجه الكراهة على قول النخعي وأبي حنيفة رضي الله عنهما على ما ذكره القدوري أنه لو فعلها من كان منظورا إليه وظن ظان أنه واجب أو سنة متبعة عند حدوث نعمة فقد أدخل فى الدين ما ليس منه وقد قال عليه السلام: من أدخل فى الدين ما ليس منه فهو مكروه

“The reason for the karāhah based on the view of al-Nakha‘ī and Abū Hanīfah (may Allah be pleased with them), according to what al-Qudūrī mentioned, is that if one who was observed (by people) was to practise upon it, and a supposer wrongly imagined that it is sunnah or wājib adhered to at the instance of blessing, then indeed he has inserted into religion what is not from it, and he (upon him peace) said: Whoever inserts into religion what is not from it, it is detestable.” (al-Muhīt al-Burhānī, Dār al-Kutb al-‘Ilmiyah, 5:323)

Fixing a Sūrah to a Rak‘ah

Abū Bakr al-Jassās (d. 370 H) writes in explaining another Hanafī ruling:

قال أبو جعفر: ويكره أن يتخذ شيء من القرآن لشيء من الصلوات

وذلك لأنه لو أبيح ذلك لم يؤمن على مرور الأوقات أن يظنه الناس مسنونا أو واجبا كما قد سبق الآن إلى ظن كثير من الجهال في مثله

“Abu Ja‘far [al-Tahawi] said (quoting the imāms of the Hanafī madhhab): It is makrūh (prohibitively disliked) to adopt a part of the Qur’ān for a specific part of the prayers.

“And that is because if that was to be permitted, it would not be assured that with the passage of time people will believe it is sunnah or wajib; as has occurred today in the understanding of many of the ignorant people in the like of it.” (Sharh Mukhtasar al-Tahawi, Dār al-Sirāj, 8:525)

Note: This was in the 4th Islamic century! How then can we claim our ignorant and common people are immune from this misunderstanding?


In short, we have two rulings from the founders of the Hanafī madhhab, the basis of the prohibition mentioned in them being that it leads the common and ignorant people to believing that a particular form of an originally acceptable practice is sunnah. These two rulings are: performing sajdat al-shukr on a particular occasion; fixing a sūrah to a particular rak‘ah of Salāh. Moreover, we have the verdict of later Hanafī jurists in a couple of other rulings, based on the same principle. These are: shaking hands persistently after the fard prayers; and Salāt al-Raghā’ib in the fixed way and time it is performed.

All of this points to one conclusion:

In the Hanafī madhhab, repeatedly, persistently and continuously performing a religious practice, originally regarded in the Sharī‘ah as permissible or mustahabb, publically, in a specific manner that has not been transmitted from the Prophet (peace be upon him) or Sahābah, such that a false impression is created in the minds of the ignorant that this particular form (e.g. in terms of its date, procedure) is sunnah or wājib, renders that act prohibitively disliked (makrūh tahrīmī) and the act will be considered an insertion into religion or bid‘ah.


We can safely say, looking at the condition of Barelwis and other psuedo-traditionalists of today, the formal/popular (murawwaj) Mawlid of today, falls in this category, and is hence, makrūh tahrīmī in the Hanafī madhhab.

Also see:

Update: Someone raised the objection: does not madaris fall under this prohibition, as within them, the mustahabb practice of teaching and learning are repeatedly done in a fixed and regulated way that was not transmitted from the Sahabah? For the perceptive person, the difference between the above examples, including Mawlid, and madaris is clear. The purpose of the regulated and fixed manner of teaching and learning in madaris is purely based on organisational and pragmatic reasons. Common people are not susceptible to the mistaken belief that the madaris themselves are objectives, or desirable elements, of religion. On the other hand, repeated handshakes after Salah, if done openly, commonly and continuously, does make the common people susceptible to the view that to shake hands at that time is a desired practice of religion. Similarly, the Mawlid of Rabi’ al-Awwal makes the common people susceptible to the belief that making this commemoration at that time of the year is superior. This is not only theory; many people really do believe that to celebrate the birth in the month of Rabi al Awwal is more rewarding and superior than doing so in any other time of the year. It is not regarded merely as something organisational. The same applies to the other examples, of fixing a surah to a particular rak’ah of Salah and doing Sajdat al-Shukr after every Fard prayer.

Consistency of the Deobandi Akaabir’s View on Mawlid

November 8, 2013


The Deobandi view on Mawlid consists of the following ingredients:

1. To discuss, commemorate and mention the birth of Rasulullah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is in itself rewarding and recommended just as commemorating any other aspect of his person (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam).

2. The commemoration that is observed at the time of Rabi’ al-Awwal is customarily attached to, and inseparable from, a number of innovated or unlawful conditions, like specifying it to the date of the 12th and narrating fabricated reports.

3. In principle, it is these conditions, and not the birth-commemoration itself, that make the Mawlid functions impermissible, bid’ah or makruh.

4. As this commemoration-with-unawful+innovated-conditions is the common and widespread (murawwaj) form of Mawlid functions held in Rabi’ al-Awwal, a general fatwa of impermissibility ought to be given, based on the principle of preventing the ‘awamm (common people) from falling into evil. This is known as “Sadd adh-Dharaa’i” (blocking the means), a principle proven from rulings of Hanafi fiqh.

Such a position is self-consistent. There is nothing inherently contradictory in this position. If all these ingredients are kept in mind, then one will be able to make sense of all pronouncements on mawlid made by the Akabir of Deoband.

It is often insinuated by Barelwis that Deobandis are inconsistent, or even coy and deceptive, in their views about Mawlid. For instance, it is claimed that there is a contradiction between what Mawlana Khalil Ahmad as-Saharanpuri wrote on the Mawlid in al-Muhannad (in 1325 H/1907), after the death of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, to the Arabs, and what he wrote in al-Barahin al-Qati’ah (in 1304 H/1887 CE) with the approval of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, to the Indians.

In fact, what was mentioned in Muhannad is almost identical to what is found in al-Barahin al-Qati’ah.

On p. 8 of al-Barahin al-Qati’ah, it clearly states:

نفس ذكر ميلاد فخر عالم عليه السلام كو كوئى منع نہیں كرتا بلکہ ذكر ولادت آپ ص كا مثل ذكر دیگر سير وحالات مندوب ہے چنانچہ يہ امر فتوی مولوی احمد علیصاحب محدث سہارنپوری میں صراحۃ مذکور ہے

We do not consider commemoration of the birth of the Pride of the World, upon him peace, itself, prohibited. Rather, commemorating his birth, just like commemorating his other conditions and states, is praiseworthy. Thus, this matter is mentioned explicitly in the fatwa of Mawlawi Ahmad ‘Ali Sahib Muhaddith Saharanpuri.” (Al-Barahin al-Qati’ah, p. 8)

In Muhannad, he says, reiterating this same message: “Commemorating the states which have the least connection with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is from the most desirable of recommended acts (ahabb al-mandubat) and the greatest of preferable acts (a‘la l-mustahabbat) according to us, whether it is the commemoration of his noble birth or commemoration of his urine, faeces, standing, sitting, sleeping and waking as is stated clearly in our treatise called Al-Barahin al-Qati‘ah at various junctures therein.”

He also refers to the fatwa of Mawlana Ahmad Ali Saharanpuri in Muhannad. The fatwa states that if the commemoration of the birth is free of impermissible activities, like narrating fabricated narrations, missing obligatory prayers, introducing polytheistic and innovated practices, giving it greater importance than it has, restricting its timing, then it is a rewardable practice. Mawlana Saharanpuri adds to the impermissible activities: free-mixing, extravagance and the belief in its obligation.

However, in Muhannad, he adds that the mawlid gatherings of India are rarely found to be free of these impermissible practices. Therefore, based on the principle of Sadd adh-Dhara’i, , the fatwa will be of general impermissibility. For details on this, one may refer to the 2nd and 3rd principles discussed here: and this article:

The Hanafis have put a stop to acts which are originally mubah or mustahabb if it is feared they will lead to innovated or impermissible ends. For example, the Hanafis regard specification of a particular Surah to a particular rak’ah impermissible, as it may lead to the ‘awamm believing that that Surah is masnun in that rak’ah. And there are other such examples. Al-Halabi mentioned a general principle in Sharh al-Munyah, based on these rulings, that every mubah that leads to the ignorant people (juhhal) believing it is Sunnah or Wajib, renders that act makruh tahrimi. And it is certainly a reality that many juhhal believe that to commemorate the Prophetic birth on the specific date of the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal is sunnah or even necessary. Hence, the fatwa would be of general impermissibility.

Al-Barahin al-Qati’ah says:

البتہ امور غير مشروعہ جو اس کے ساتھ ضم ہو گئے ہیں اس كي وجه سے حكم مجموعہ پر بدعت ومنكر  ہونے كا يا شرك وحرمت كا لگايا جاتا ہے اور يہ حكم باعتبار ان قيود غير  مشروعہ کے ہے نہ بوجہ  نفس ذكر کے

However,  due to the unlawful things that have become attached to them (the Mawlid functions), a ruling is given to the combination of it being bid’ah and abomination, or of shirk and prohibition. And this ruling is by consideration of those unlawful restrictions, not because of the commemoration itself.” (p. 8)

Keep in mind that these are passages from al-Barahin al-Qati’ah, the book written by Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri and approved by Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi.

It is clear from this passage from al-Barahin and the answer in al-Muhannad, that there is essentially no difference in what they say.

From reading all of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi’s fatwas on this issue, and not looking at only some of them selectively as Barelwis usually do, we get the same message. Thus, in one fatwa, he explicitly says:

نفس ذكر ولادت مندوب ہے اس مين كراهت قيود کے سبب آئي ہے

The birth-commemoration itself is recommended, and its reprehensibility is a result of the [innovated] restrictions [in the general Mawlid functions].” (Fatawa Rashidiyyah, p. 258)

Furthermore, in several places of the Fatawa, Mawlana Gangohi clearly qualifies the prohibition with the “widespread” (murawwajah) Mawlid functions. For example, on p. 174, he says: “The widespread mawlud function is bid’ah, and because of being mixed with reprehensible matters it is prohibitively disliked.” On p. 270, it explicitly states that because most mawlid and ‘urs functions are not free of bid’ah (innovated restrictions) and unlawful practices, all of them should be avoided.

There are other fatwas that give the general ruling of impermissibility. This is not a contradiction as one who understands the above-mentioned principles will appreciate. This ruling reflects the general condition of the Mawlid functions of that time for which the fatwa of impermissibility was given, regardless of whether the unlawful aspects are present in the specific function in reference or not. Those that are free of the impermissible activities are not excused from the fatwa for the principle of blocking the means (sadd adh-dhara’i’); that is, to prevent the public from falling into the impermissible aspects that such functions could could lead to.

Hence, there is no inconsistency between what is found in Fatawa Rashidiyya, al-Barahin al-Qati’ah and al-Muhannad on the issue of the Mawlid, if all are read in context.

In sum, Barahin and Fatawa Rashidiyyah clearly state that the essence of the birth-commemoration is permissible and desirable. Mawlana Gangohi’s fatwas in general opposition are based on the principle that even those gatherings free of the impermissible activities that have become associated with them could eventually lead to them.

There is, therefore, no contradiction in the Deobandi view regarding the Mawlid as expressed by Mawlana Gangohi and Mawlana Saharanpuri.

One may summarise the Deobandi position in one sentence as follows:

The birth-commemoration in its essence is praiseworthy, but because the Mawlid functions held in Rabi’ al-Awwal have become inseparable from impermissible and innovated aspects, the fatwa is given of general impermissibility, to prevent the masses from falling into sin and to block the means to these evils.