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Declaring something halal or haram: Lessons from Imam Malik

August 7, 8:44 PM · J. Samia Mair - Baltimore Muslim Examiner

Imam Malik ibn Anas is the namesake of the Maliki madhab, one of the four great schools of Islamic fiqh (the science of the application of the Shari’a). He was born in Madinah in 712 CE/ 93 AH and died 795 CE/179 AH. He spent his entire life in Madinah and was raised in a scholarly family and environment.

Imam Malik scrupulously followed the Qur’an and Sunna and tremendously feared giving an incorrect fatwa. He told his student Ibn al-Qasim, “I have been reflecting on one question for some twenty years and even now I do not have an opinion on it.” He became famous for saying, “I don’t know:”

Unlike many today who throw around the words haram and halal easily and issue fatwas without the proper credentials, Imam Malik displayed an immense reservation in this regard:

Nothing is harder for me than when I am asked a question about the halal and the haram because this is absolute in the judgement of Allah. I met the people of knowledge and fiqh in our land and if one of them was asked such a question, it was as if death were dearer to him. But I see the people of this time desiring to discuss it and give fatwa. If they had understood what it is that they are heading for Tomorrow, they would have done little of this…

The people of our time now pride themselves in their fatwas and the knowledge they have. It was not the way of the people nor of those who passed away before us who are followed and whom Islam is based to say, “This is halal and this is haram”: they would say, “I dislike this” and “I think this.” But as for the halal and the haram, that is inventing things against Allah.

I have heard the words of Allah: “Say: ‘Tell me, what do you think about the things Allah has sent down to you as provision and which you have then designated as lawful and unlawful?’” (10:59) because the halal is what Allah and His Messenger have made halal and the haram is what they have made haram.”


Source: The Four Imams: Their Lives, Works and their Schools of thought

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