Don’t Take Your Worship from the Fiqh

Shaykh Zubair Bouchiki gave some valuable advice to students of knowledge, the type of advice that can only come from people of knowledge with a deep attachment to Allah. It is the type of advice you cannot find in books nor emails, but requires meeting and interacting with individuals. And that is why we are here, of course.


While teaching us Maliki fiqh, with all its technical rules of water, purification, and the pillars of ablution, he paused to give us some special advice. The advice is counter-intuitive but insightful and profound: Don’t take your ‘ibādah from the fiqh, but rather, take your personal worship from the lofty standards of wara’ (piety) and ihsan (excellence).


If you live by the legal rules alone, sticking to the categories of what is obligatory and sunnah and haram, etc., sometimes you lose touch with the spirit of the law. Sometimes you have to do more for your own self, and push yourself harder.


One child memorized the Qur’an in 3 months, and his mother was questioned as to how their family was able to achieve such a unique blessing. She couldn’t find anything extraordinary, but eventually remembered only one thing: She said that she and her husband never touched each other without wudu’, and that she never even breast-fed this child except with wudu’. Now, although, that isn’t found in the works of fiqh, but imagine such a person as she, with such an attachment to purity- what would you expect from such a person but goodness?


Raise your standards brothers and sisters! Don’t make wiping the socks, though allowed, a permanent habit. Today’s youth come to the bathrooms dragging and sagging their pants, cleaning the floors with them, and then they wipe their socks in ablution. If that is the case with them, now, just think what would happen with the next generation? They will probably not even make wudu!


Lawful is the marriage to the women of ahl al-kitab, from a textual legal perspective, but the Companion Ibn Umar forbade it as Muslims were spreading out to foreign lands. I share his opinion here in the US. Many of us imams gave fatawa decades ago allowing Muslims to marry Jews and Christians, but now many of those same imams are regretting their decisions as they are seeing the long-term results of those decisions.


Allah says, Marry not the mushrik women until they believe. [2:221]  Note he doesn’t say until they convert or become Muslim. Until they become believers and grounded in the deen, as long as it takes,.


The law of the land works against you as Muslims trying to raise your children Islamically. The children of even practicing parents are getting lost, can you imagine happens if one of the parents is not even Muslim?


So it is time for students of knowledge to raise their standards. Take your worship from the station of wara’ and not the fiqh.


Abu Zayd,


Live from Houston, Ilm Summit 2008, Day 6

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