Sacred Texts  Islam  Index  Previous  Next 

1. ‘Ibādāt

The first section of the fiqh books is always concerned with the laws governing man's conduct toward God: the necessary acts of worship or obedience demanded of a Muslim, such as prayer, fasting, almsgiving and pilgrimage, which together with the profession of faith, the shahāda, make up the so-called "five pillars" of Islam. Highly important is the question of ritual purity, since without it, the prayers of the worshiper are rendered invalid, and he may not touch the Qur’ān. The following sections on ritual purity are taken from the Kitāb al-‘Umda of the Syrian Ḥanbalī legist Ibn Qudāma (born A.H. 541/A.D. 1146, died A.H. 620/A. D. 1223).

Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal of Baghdad, whom the Ḥanbalīs claim for their founder, spearheaded the fundamentalist opposition to the early rationalist school, the Mu‘tazila, in Islam, whose rationalism led them to the unacceptable assertion that the Qur’ān had been created.

The Ḥanbalī school has since been characterized by a fundamentalist rejection of any statement which cannot be firmly based on the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, has tended to preserve its suspicion of the use of reason in religious matters, and is usually considered the strictest and most uncompromising of the legal schools. Today it is chiefly found in the Arabian Peninsula, where it is the official school of Sa‘udi Arabia. The Ḥanbalī doctors, almost alone, still recommend the full punishments of the Law (e.g., cutting off the hands of thieves).

p. 96

Ritual Purity: Water: Water was created pure; it purifies the breach of ritual purity (ḥadath), and impure matter (najāsa). It is impossible to purify oneself with any other liquid.

Water to the quantity of two large jars (qulla) and running water becomes impure only after an alteration of color, taste, or odor. Aside from this any water mixed with impure matter becomes impure.

Two large jars represents about 108 Damascus raṭls of water. (About 266 liters.)

When one has doubts about the purity of water or some other liquid, or as to whether impure matter is present, he should take steps to find out with certainty (before using it).

When one is not certain which part of a garment or other object has been rendered impure, he must wash the garment or object in such a manner as to be certain he has dispelled the impurity.

A true believer who cannot tell whether the water in question is pure or impure and who has access to no other water must perform his ablution with dust or sand (tayammum); he may not use water about which there is a doubt. . .


Vessels: It is forbidden to use vessels of gold or silver for ablutions or any other thing. . . . The same is true of plated articles, unless it be a silver plating of low value.

It is permissible to use all other vessels, provided they are pure. It is also permitted to use the utensils of the People of the Book; garments of the People of the Book are also pure, insofar as they are not known to be otherwise. [Not all lawyers agree on this.]

The wool or hair of an animal which has not been ritually slaughtered is pure; its skin and bones are impure.

Any animal which has died without ritual slaughter is impure, except: (1) Man. (2) Animals which live constantly in water. The Prophet has said: "Sea water is pure, and the bodies of creatures which live in it are permissible food." (3) Animals who do not have blood, providing they are not generated in filth.

p. 97

The Lesser Ablutions (Wuḍū): Wuḍū, like all other ritual acts, is only made valid when accompanied by intent (nīya). The Prophet said: "Acts are only worth the intention which accompanies them. To every man according to his intentions."

The believer must first say "In the name of God!" He then washes his hands three times; three times he rinses out his mouth and snuffs water back into the nostrils, pouring water into his hand for both these acts.

He then washes his face, from the hairline to the neck, the chin, and the openings of the nostrils. He combs out his beard with wet fingers if it is thick, and washes it if it is sparse. He then washes his hands up to and including the wrists, three times.

He should then proceed to the rubbing of his head, including the ears; this rubbing he does with both hands, going from the forehead to the nape of the neck, and back.

He then washes three times his feet, including the ankles, taking care to pass his fingers between the toes.

Finally he raises his face toward heaven and says: "I witness that there is no god but God, the Unique, who has no partner. I witness that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger."

. . . It is sunna (praiseworthy but not necessary) to repeat each washing three times; but it is blameworthy to repeat the washing more than three times and to waste water.

It is sunna to cleanse the teeth with a siwāk (chewed stick), when the taste alters, when one rises, or when one prepares for prayer. The Prophet said: "If I did not fear to overburden my community, I should order the believers to cleanse their teeth before each prayer." It is recommended to clean the teeth at any time except when the sun is setting in the month of fasting.


The Causes Which Annul the Ablution: These are seven:

1. Anything which comes out of the two natural orifices (urethra, anus).

p. 98

2. Anything which comes out of the other body openings if it has a repugnant aspect.

3. Loss of consciousness, except in a light sleep, whether one is standing or seated.

4. Touching the male organ.

5. Touching a woman, if it is accompanied by desire.

6. Apostacy.

7. Eating camel's flesh. [Most lawyers do not include this.]

The Prophet said, when asked if one should make ablutions after eating camel's meat: "Yes, make them." When asked if one should also perform ablution after eating mutton, he said: "If you want to, do it; if not, you may dispense with it." . . .


The Greater Ablution (Ghuṡl): Things which oblige one to make the greater ablution are:

1. Any seminal emission.

2. Contact with sexual organs.

The greater ablution involves, as a strict duty, the intention and the washing of the entire body; this washing should include rinsing of the mouth and the nostrils.

It is sunna to say: "In the name of God!" and to rub the body with the hands. . . .

It is not obligatory in the greater ablution to cut off the body hair, if one washes the parts with plenty of water.

One may accomplish the lesser and the greater ablution, providing one formulates the intention of doing so. . . .


Ablution with Dust or Sand (Tayammum): The tayammum consists of placing the hands once on the soil, rubbing the face with the hands, and rubbing the hands together . . . it is permissible to touch the soil more than once. Four conditions are necessary for validly performing the tayammum:

1. The impossibility of using water . . .

2. The time. One may not perform it except in the limits of the time assigned for one obligatory prayer . . . (for the next prayer, it must be repeated).

p. 99

3. The intention.

4. The soil. One must not make the tayammum except with pure soil containing dust.


Menstruation: The monthly courses of women involve ten prohibitions: (1 and 2) Performance of prayer and the obligation to perform it; (3 and 4) Fasting and Circumambulation of Holy Places (ṭawāf); (5) Reading the Qur’ān; (6) Touching a copy of the Qur’ān; (7) Remaining in a mosque; (8) Sexual contacts; (9) Formal repudiation of a wife; (10) Being counted in a period of voluntary continence. 2


Ritual Prayer (Ṡalāt): Ubāda b. al-Ṡāmit reports: "I heard the Prophet say: 'There are five prayers which God has prescribed for His servants in the space of a day and a night. He who observes the prayers has the promise of God that He will cause him to enter Paradise. He who does not perform them has no promise from God: If God wills, He will punish him, and if He wills, He will pardon him.'"

The five prayers are obligatory for every Muslim who has reached puberty and has the use of reason, except women who are in their courses or recovering from childbirth.

If a Muslim denies the necessity of prayer by ignorance, one should instruct him; if he does it wilfully, he should be treated as an infidel (kāfir).

It is only permissible to perform the prayers in the assigned times, unless one has pronounced the intention of saying them all at once, or has not fulfilled the conditions (of preparation).

When a Muslim abstains from saying his prayers from negligence, one should ask him three times to repent; if he repents, all is well; if he refuses it is lawful to put him to death. 3


Times: The time of the noon-prayer (ẓuhr) falls from the time when the sun begins to decline until the shadow of an object is equal in length to the object itself.

The time of the prayer of the afternoon (‘ashr), which is the central prayer (al-wusṭā), falls from the end of the time

p. 100

of the noon-prayer until the time when the sun turns yellow; this is when the "delay by choice" ends and the "delay of necessity" begins (when it is not lawful to pray until the next time of prayer).

The time of the evening-prayer (maghrib) falls from the setting of the sun until the red has disappeared from the sky.

The time of the night-prayer (‘ishā’) falls from that time until mid-night. Then begins the "delay of necessity" which persists until the true dawn.

The time of the dawn-prayer falls from the true dawn until the sun has risen. 4

[It is characteristic of the type of differences between the law-schools that the exact times of prayer vary from school to school.]


The Performance of the Ṡalāt: The following instructions for performing the ritual prayers are taken from the Risāla of Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī (born in Nafza, Spain A.H. 310/A.D. 922, died A.H. 386/A.D. 996, in Qayrawān, Tunisia). He is one of the leading doctors of the Mālikī school, the old school of Medina, which prevailed in North Africa including Upper Egypt, where it is still the chief school, and in Muslim Spain. From North Africa it spread to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sudan. The "founder" of the Mālikī school, Mālik b. Anas, died A.H. 179/A.D. 795. Historically the school has been distinguished by rigid traditionalism and taqlīld (uncritical acceptance of authority).


The consecrating act (ihrām) in prayer is that you should say: "Allahu Akbar (God is most great!)." No other word is permissible. You should raise your hands as high as your shoulders or less, and then recite from the Qur’ān. If you are in the morning-prayer, recite the opening sūra of the Qur’ān. Do not begin with the formula "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate," either in this sūra or the

p. 101

one which you recite after it. When you have said "not of those who go astray," say "Amen" whether you are alone or praying behind a leader (imām), in a low voice. The imām should not say it loudly (like the rest of the prayer) but also in a low voice, though there are differences of opinion about this.

Then recite a sūra from the last part of the Qur’ān (in which the shorter sūras are found); if it is longer than that, well and good, but the recitation should not exceed the space of time allotted for that prayer, and recite it in an audible voice.

When this sūra is finished, repeat "God is most great!" while leaning forward to begin the inclination (rukū). Place your hands upon your knees, and keep your back straight, not arching it, neither lifting up your head nor ducking it. Keep your arms free of your body. Be sure to preserve sincere humility in both the inclination and the prostration which follows. Do not pray while making the inclination: if you wish, say "Praise unto my Lord, the Great! Glorified be He!" For that, there is no fixed time, nor for the length of the inclination.

Then raise your head, saying: "God hears those who praise Him." Then say: "My God, Our Lord, to Thee be praise!" if you are alone. An imām does not repeat these formulas. Those who pray behind an imām also do not say "God hears those who praise Him," but do say "My God, Our Lord, to Thee be praise!"

You should then stand erect serenely and quietly. Then begin the prostration, not sitting back on the heels but going directly into a prostration. Say "God is most great!" while leaning forward in the prostration, and touch your forehead and nose to the ground, placing your palms spread flat on the ground, pointing toward the qibla (the direction of Mecca), placing them near the ears, or somewhat to the rear of them. All of this is prescribed generally, not strictly. Do not spread the forearms on the ground, or clasp the upper arms to your sides, but hold them slightly away. Your feet should be perpendicular to the ground in the prostration, with the ends of the big toes touching it.

p. 102

You may, in your prostration, say "Glory unto Thee, my Lord! I have wronged myself and done evil. Forgive me!" or something similar. You may utter a private prayer in the prostration, if you wish, and there is no set time for this, but at the least your members should remain still in a fixed position.

Then you should raise your head, saying "God is most great!" and sit back, folding back the left foot in the time between the two prostrations, and putting the right foot vertical to the ground with the bottoms of your toes touching the ground. Lift your hands from the earth and place them on your knees, and then make a second prostration as you did the first. Then rise from the ground as you are, supporting yourself on both hands, not returning to the sitting position before rising, but directly, as I have mentioned. While rising, say "God is most great!"

Then recite a part of the Qur’ān as you did at first, or a little less, doing it just as you did before, but add the invocation (qunūt) after the inclination or if you prefer before performing it, after the end of your recitation. The invocation is as follows: "O God! I ask Thy aid and pardon. We believe truly in Thee, we put our trust in Thee, we submit humbly to Thee, we confide in Thee; and we forsake those who repudiate Thee. O God! Thee only we serve, to Thee we pray and prostrate ourselves, to Thee we strive. We put our hope in Thy mercy, and fear Thy grave chastisements. Surely Thy chastisement shall attain those who repudiate Thee."

Then make the prostration and sit back as has been described before. If you sit back after the two prostrations, place the right foot vertical to the soil with the bottom of your toes touching the ground, and place the left foot flat letting your posterior come in contact with the ground. Do not sit on your left foot, and if you wish let the right foot incline from its vertical position until the side of the big toe touches the ground; this permits of latitude.

After this, you recite the tashahhud, as follows: "Unto God be all salutations, all things good, all things pleasing, all benedictions. Peace be upon thee, O Prophet, and the mercy of God and His blessings! Peace be upon us all, and all righteous

p. 103

servants of God. I witness that there is no god but God, the Unique, without partner. I witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger." If after this you utter the final salutation, it is fitting and permissible, or you may add other formulas. . . .

Then say "Peace be upon thee" one time only, looking straight ahead, toward the qibla, and turning the head slightly to the right. It is thus that an imām or man alone does; as for one praying behind an imām, he utters the salutation once, turning slightly to the right at the same time; he utters it again in response to the imām in front of him, looking directly at him; and again in response to the salutation of the man on his left. If there is no-one there, he does not say anything to his left.

While reciting the tashahhud he also puts his hands in his lap and closes the fingers of the right hand, pointing with his index finger the side of which faces his face. Opinions differ as to whether it should move. It is held that the believer with this gesture indicates his belief that God is One God; those who move it explain it as subduing Satan. As for myself, I believe one must explain it as a way of warning oneself in this way--if God so wills--of the things which in the matter of prayer could importune (the attention) and distract it. The left hand should be left open, on the right thigh, and one should not move it or point with it. . . .

It is advisable to make two inclinations at the dawn, before the dawn-prayer which follows the dawn. At each of these inclinations, one should recite the opening chapter (fattiḥa) of the Qur’ān, in a low voice.

The recitation at the noon-prayer should be as long as that at the dawn-prayer or a little shorter, and nothing should be recited loudly. One should recite the fattiḥa in both the first and second inclination, as well as one other sūra, in a low voice. In the two last inclinations of the noon-prayer, he should recite the fattiḥa alone, and in a low voice. . . .

After this, one should perform supererogatory prayers. It is recommended to add four inclinations, saying the final salutation after each group of two. The same supererogatory prayers are recommended before afternoon prayers.

p. 104

At the afternoon prayer one does what we have prescribed for the noon prayer. . . .

For the evening prayer, he should recite audibly in the first two inclinations, and recite the fattiḥa with each inclination as well as one of the shorter sūras. In the third he should recite the fattiḥa only, and the tashahhud and the salutation . . . it is reprovable to sleep before the evening prayer or to converse after it, except for good reason. . . .

"Reciting softly" in the ritual prayer is moving the tongue to form the words in the recitation. As for "reciting loudly," it is for one to hear himself and be heard by a man near him, if he is not acting as an imām. A woman should speak more softly than a man. 5

[Friday is the Muslim day of Congregational Prayer, though it does not have to be kept as a day of rest. The noon-prayers are recited by the congregation, and a khuṭba or public address given.]


Funeral Rites: This section is taken from one of the earliest extant law-books, the Muwaṭṭa’, compiled by Mālik ibn Anas (died A.H. 179/A.D. 795), whom the Mālikīs regard as the founder of their school. The Muwaṭṭa’ has been so admired that al-Shāfi‘ī once remarked that it ranked second in value only to the Qur’ān. Mālik was known to his contemporaries more as a collector of Ḥadīth than as a legist; and this early law-book is simply a great collection of ḥadīths approved by Mālik and arranged for use under the headings of various aspects of the Law. Mālik did not so much write the Muwaṭṭa’ as teach it, and some fifteen early recensions, made from the lecture notes of his students, are known to have survived. He is thus always quoted as the transmitter of each ḥadīth.


Washing the Dead: It was told me by Yaḥya on Mālik's authority from Ja‘far ibn Muhammad from his father, that

p. 105

the Messenger of God--God's benediction and peace be on him--was in his shirt when he was washed.

It was told me by Mālik, from Ayyūb ibn Tamīma al-Sakhtiyānī from Muhammad ibn Skin, on the authority of Umm ‘Aṭīya of the Anṡār. She said: "The Messenger of God--God's benediction and peace be upon him!--came in where we women were, when his daughter passed away, and said: 'Be certain to wash her three times, or five or even more than that if it seems proper to you, with water and lote-tree leaves. At the last, use camphor or something camphor-scented. Then, when you are finished, call me.'" She added, "And when we were finished, we called him and he gave us a wrapper of his, and said: 'Wrap her in this'--that is, with his waist-wrapper.'"

It was told me by Mālik from ‘Abdallah ibn Abī Bakr that Asmā’ bint ‘Umīs washed Abū Bakr al-Ṡiddīq when he died. Then she went out and asked those who were present from the Muhājirīn, and said, "I am fasting, and this is a very cold day. Must I wash him completely?" They answered, "No."

It was told me by Mālik that he heard the people of authority say: "If a woman dies, and there is no woman present to wash her, or any man from her near kinsmen who should do it, or her husband who would be next in line, the tayammum should be performed for her. Her face and hands should be lightly rubbed with dust" (rather than uncovering the body).

Mālik also said, "When a man dies and there is no-one present except a woman, she should also perform the tayammum for him."

Mālik said, "Washing the dead is not prescribed us so as to consist of an exact procedure, but they should (only) be washed and purified."


Shrouding the Dead: It was told me by Mālik from Hishām ibn ‘Urwa, from his father, from ‘A’isha wife of the Prophet, God's benediction and peace be on him, that the Messenger of God was shrouded in three white Yamanī garments, with no shirt or turban.

p. 106

It was told me by Mālik, that Yaḥya ibn Sa‘īd said: "It has reached me that Abū Bakr al-Ṡiddīq said to ‘A’isha when he was ill: 'In how many shrouds was wrapped the Messenger of God--God's blessing and peace be on him?' She answered, 'In three white garments of Yamanī stuff.' Then Abū Bakr said, 'Take this garment'--indicating a robe of his which had been stained by musk or saffron--'and wash it. Then use it as my shroud, along with two other white garments.' ‘A’isha asked, 'What about this one here instead?' And Abū Bakr said, 'No, the living have more need of new garments than the dead, and this is only for corpse-ichor.'"


Funeral Processions: It was told me by Yaḥya on Mālik's authority, from Ibn Shihāb, that the Messenger of God--God's benediction and peace be upon him--and Abū Bakr and ‘Umar used to walk before the bier, as well as the other early Caliphs and ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Umar.

It was told me on Mālik's authority from Ibn Shihāb that he said, "Walking behind the bier is a transgression (khaṭā) against the sunna."


On Saying "God is Most Great" over the Dead: Yaḥya told me on Mālik's authority from Ibn Shihāb from Sa‘īd ibn Musayyib from Abū Hurayra that the Messenger of God--God's benediction and peace be on him--announced the death of the Negus of Abyssinia to the people of Medina, on the day the Negus died, and went out of the town with them to the mosque of the Muṡalla, and stood them in the ranks of prayer. Then he cried "God is most great!" four times.

It was told me by Mālik from Ibn Shihāb from Abū Umāma ibn Sahl ibn Ḥunayf, that a poor woman of Medina fell ill, and the Messenger of God was told about it, for (the benediction of God and peace be upon him!) he used to visit the poor people and ask about them. So he said, "If she should die, be sure to call me."

The burial took place at night [Washing and burial customarily follow promptly at death.--ED.], so they disliked to awaken the Messenger of God, God's blessing and peace be on him. When he awakened next morning he was told

p. 107

about her, and said, "Did I not order you to call me for her?" They answered, "Messenger of God! We hated to get you out at night, and to waken you."

Then the Messenger of God went out with the people and put them in ranks at her grave, and cried four times, "God is most great!"


Funeral Prayers: Yaḥya told me on Mālik's authority, from Sa‘īd ibn Abī Sa‘īd al-Maqbūrī from his father, that he once asked Abū Hurayra (Companion of the Prophet), "How do you pray at a funeral?" Abū Hurayra said, "I shall tell you, in God's name, exactly. First there is the procession with the family following the bier, then when it is placed on the ground, I say 'God is most great,' and praise Him and bless His prophet. Then I say, 'Lord, it is Thy servant, and the son of Thy servant, the child of Thy Community. He used to testify that there is no god but Thee, and that Muhammad is Thy servant and Thy messenger, and Thou knowest him best of all. O God, if he did well, then increase him in good deeds, and if he did wrong, then let his offense pass without punishment. O God! Deprive us not of his reward, and try us not after his death.'"


Funeral Prayers in the Mosque: Yaḥya told me on Mālik's authority from Abū Nadr, the freeman of ‘Umar ibn ‘Ubaydallah, from ‘A’isha the wife of the Prophet, God's benediction and peace be on him. She ordered that the people pass at her house with the bier of Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqās (her house was inside the walls of the Prophet's mosque) so she might pray for him. People found fault with her for this. Then ‘A’isha said, "How hasty people are! It was nowhere but in this mosque that the Prophet, God's blessing and peace be on him, prayed over Suhayl ibn Bayḍā’."


Burial of the Dead: It was told me by Yaḥya on Mālik's authority that the Prophet, God's benediction and peace be upon him, died on a Monday and was buried on Tuesday, and the people prayed over him one by one; not one of them prayed behind an imām. Some said, "He should be buried

p. 108

under his pulpit," and others said, "Bury him at the cemetery of al-Baqī‘." Then Abū Bakr came forward and said, "I once heard him say, 'There is no prophet at all who is not buried at the place where he died.'" So they dug his grave in (‘A’isha's room). And when they were washing him, they wished to remove his shirt, when they heard a voice say, "Do not remove his shirt!" So they did not, but washed him with it on.

It was told me by Mālik from Hishām ibn ‘Urwa that his father said, "There were two men in Medina (who dug graves); one of them used to (put a niche in the grave for the body) and the other did not. So they said, "Whoever comes first shall perform his office." And the man who (made niches at the bottom of the grave) came first, so he dug a niche for the Messenger of God--God's blessing and peace be on him!" 6 [Virtually all Muslim graves have this recess at the sides.]


Zakāt: These regulations for the payment of the obligatory religious tax of zakāt are taken from the Kitāb al-Tanbīh of Abū Isḥāq Ibrahīm ibn ‘Alī al-Shīrāzī al-Fīrūzābādī, a Persian doctor of the Shāfi‘ī school (died A.H. 476/A.D. 1083).

The Shāfi'ī school traces its founding to Abū ‘Abdallah Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfi‘ī, a Meccan of the Quraysh, who taught in Egypt in Fusṭāt (now part of Cairo). He died there A.H. 204/A.D. 920. He represents a medial position between the use of reason and personal interpretation found in the Iraqī school of his day, and the rigid traditionalism preferred by the Medinan school of Mālik.

The school has produced many distinguished legists and theologians, and became especially important in promoting the official neo-orthodoxy of the fifth A.H./eleventh A.D. century Saljūq restoration. It is found today chiefly in Lower Egypt, parts of South Arabia and Central

p. 109

[paragraph continues] Asia, and it spread from the Red Sea area across the Indian Ocean to Malaya and Indonesia, where it is the only law-school of any importance.

Clearly much of this section is chiefly of antiquarian interest: few Muslims today have occasion to figure the zakāt they owe on camels. In the early Islamic state, the zakāt was the only tax paid by Muslims, was used for community purposes and together with the taxes levied on non-Muslims made up the revenue of the state. While a few of the ultra-orthodox still regard these taxes and land tax as the only taxes a Muslim government can legally levy, zakāt is usually treated today as an obligation to spend money for charitable purposes and is hardly distinguished from almsgiving.


Who is affected: The obligation only applies to a free Muslim who has complete ownership of the property on which it is due. Therefore a contractual freedman (whose slavery has not been officially and legally terminated) does not owe zakāt, nor an infidel who has always been so. As to whether he owes it if he was a Muslim and apostacized, there are three opinions:

1. He must pay it.
2. He must not.
3. He must only pay it if he returns to Islam.

Zakāt is due only for animals, agricultural products, precious metals, objects intended for sale, the product of mines and treasure trove. . . .

The zakāt on animals is due only for camels, cattle, sheep and goats. If one possesses the minimum number on which the zakāt is due and has been the owner for the term of a full year, it is obligatory to pay, according to the soundest opinion; according to another it is not, if one is unable.

The increase of the flock born during the year is considered

p. 110

with the rest of the flock even though this increase may not have been possessed for a full year. . . .

The taxable minimum of camels is five; on each group of five a goat is due; for a herd of twenty-five camels a she-camel between one and two years' age is due; for thirty-six, one two-year old female. . . .

The taxable minimum of cattle is thirty head, on these a one-year-old calf is due; for forty, a two-year-old heifer.

The taxable minimum of sheep and goats is forty head; on these one goat is due; on 121 two goats; on 201 three goats, and after that another goat for every additional fifty. . . .


Agricultural Products: This zakāt is only obligatory on cereals eaten for food and cultivated by men, such as wheat, barley, millet, sorghum, rice and the like; then it applies to legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, vetches, beans and peas. Fruits are not subject, except for dates and grapes, to which al-Shāfi’i used to add olives, turmeric, and saffron. The payment does not become due . . . except when the grain or fruit of the owner has begun . . . to show the marks of maturity.

The taxable minimum for each sort, when the grain has been threshed and the fruit dried, is five camel-packs, for 1600 Baghdad raṭls, but for rice and ‘alas, a grain which is left in the husk, the minimum is ten camel-packs. . . .


Precious Metal: Whoever has a taxable minimum of gold or silver for a full year and is otherwise subject to the zakāt, must pay zakāt on this. The minimum for gold is 20 mithqals [a mithqal is 1½ drachms] and zakāt for gold is half a mithqal for every twenty mithqals. For silver the minimum is 100 drachms and one pays five drachms. For every like quantity the zakāt is the same. Any adornment one may have for lawful use is exempted, according to one of two opinions, but if it is for an unlawful or reprovable use or in order for evading the tax, one must pay zakāt for it. . . .


Zakāt of Fast-Breaking: This is obligatory for every free Muslim who has something to spare apart from his own provisions and those of his dependents, which will allow him

p. 111

to pay this fitra. Whoever owes it, owes it for all his dependents who are Muslims, if he can afford it. . . .

This alms at breaking the fast is due at the end of Ramadān . . . before the prayers of the Feast of Fast-breaking. It is lawful to make it all during Ramadan, but not to delay until the day after the Feast. If one does that, he has committed a fault which he must expiate.

It is necessary to give one measure of the quantity of the Prophet, on whom be God's benediction and peace; that is 5 Baghdad raṭls, composed of foods which are subject to the zakāt; such as dates, raisins, wheat, barley and similar things. . . .


On Payment: Whoever has the obligation to pay zakāt and is able to, may not lawfully delay; if he does, he commits a fault for which he must answer. Whoever refuses to pay it and denies its obligatory character has apostacized, and the amount may be taken from him and he may be put to death. Whoever refuses to pay it from motives of avarice shall have the amount taken from him and be given a sentence at the discretion of the judge; it is the same for one who behaves fraudulently. . . .

It is reprehensible to transport the zakāt out of the region where it was paid. If this is done, there are two opinions:

1. It shall be considered permissible.
2. It shall not. . . .

If the zakāt is paid on wealth found in a desert, the money shall be distributed among the poor of the nearest inhabited areas.


Distribution: The zakāt must be distributed among the following eight classes:

1. The collectors, who must be free, versed in the law, and trustworthy. They should not be of the (clan of the Prophet, because they are already entitled to funds). They may receive up to an eighth (for their trouble).

2. The poor: those who cannot pay for their needs. They

p. 112

are given what is needful to help them, such as tools or capital for a business.

3. The needy: those who are unable entirely to support themselves; they are given a supplement. . . .

4. Those whose hearts it is necessary to conciliate. These are of two categories:

a. Infidels, of two sorts: those whose conversion is hoped for, and those from whom some evil is feared; to these last, part of the 25th of the booty of war.

b. Muslims; also of two sorts: important people of whom it is hoped they will convert their followers, and tribes whose faith, it is hoped, will improve. The Prophet (on whom be God's blessing and peace), gave such tribes a share; in later times opinions are three:

1. One should give them nothing.
2. One should give them part of the zakāt.
3. One should give them from the 25th (of the spoils of war, set aside for such purposes). . . .

5. Slaves, who are under legal contract to pay a certain amount for their freedom. They may be given what they are bound to pay, if they have no means to get it, but not more than that. . . .

6. Debtors. . . .

7. Those who fight in "The Way of God," that is, who are not entitled to an allotment, because they are volunteers, not written in the regular army registers. They are given a sum calculated to outfit them (for the jihād).

8. Travellers, if their travel is for lawful purposes (such as seeking religious knowledge or going on a pilgrimage).

Zakāt may not be distributed to an infidel, or to a member of the Prophet's clan (who is entitled to a regular allotment). 7


Fasting: These regulations are taken from perhaps the leading Shāfi‘ī legal work, the Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn of the Syrian Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Nawawī (died A.H. 676/A.D.

p. 113

[paragraph continues] 1277) . It has tended to replace the earlier work of al-Shīrāzī, and other doctors of the school.


Obligation to Fast: The Fast of Ramadān becomes obligatory when thirty days of the preceding month, Sha‘bān, are past, or with the seeing of the new moon of Ramadan. This seeing is established with the testimony of one trustworthy witness, or as some say, two. If one witness is accepted, it is a condition that he must have the quality of veracity, and thus be neither a slave nor a woman. If we should fast because of such testimony and did not see the moon after thirty days, we might still end the fast even if the sky was cloudy. . . .

Thus if fast is not yet obligatory in one area and a traveller comes to a locality where the moon has been seen, the most proper thing is for him for conform with the inhabitants in fasting. One who travels to an area where the new moon of the Feast has been seen should feast with its people, and afterwards make up the day of fast he has lost thus.

Intention is a condition of the fast; the intention should be formulated each night . . . the full formulation in Ramadan is: "to fast tomorrow to acquit my duty towards God of fasting Ramadān this year."


The Conditions: To fast, one must rigorously avoid coition, vomiting . . . or introducing any substance to the "interior of the body." Some make it a condition that there be in the body power to absorb the food or the medicine thus introduced. It does not matter if "the interior" is inside the head, or the belly, or the intestines or the bladder; all can break the fast with the introduction of a substance by snuffing or eating or injection, or through incision in the belly or the head, or the like.

According to the soundest opinion, putting drops in the nose or the urethra breaks the fast.

It is necessary for such an introduction to be by an open passage. Thus there is no harm in oil's entering the pores by absorption, or when koḥl (eye cosmetic) is used, and its taste is afterward perceived in the throat.

p. 114

The introduction must be intended, so that if a fly or gnat or dust of the road or flour-dust entered by accident, the fast would not be broken. It also would not be broken if one swallowed saliva carelessly.

But the fast is broken if saliva leaves the mouth and one brings it back into the mouth, or if one moistens a thread in one's mouth and then puts it back in one's mouth still moist, or if one swallows saliva in which a foreign substance or something unclean is mixed.

If one swallows the saliva in his mouth he does not break fast, but if he swallows water from the mouth or nose remaining after the ablutions, if it is in any quantity, he does. If food remaining between his teeth is dislodged by saliva, it does not break the fast. . . .

If one eats something truly forgetting (that he is fasting) he has not broken the fast, unless he repeats this, according to the best opinions. I too say that he has not broken the fast, and God is most knowing.

Coition is like eating, according to our school: (if committed during the time of fast and one has truly forgotten that he is fasting, it does not break the fast). But any seminal emission (otherwise) breaks the fast. . . . [The time of fasting is from that time of the night when a white thread can be distinguished from a black one--e.g. the false dawn--until the sun has fully set below the horizon in the evening.--ED.]

A traveller or sick person who has legally broken the fast must fast the number of days he has missed when he is able. This is true also for menstruating women, for those who broke the fast without a valid excuse, for those who did not formulate the intention before fasting, for one who was un-conscious the entire day, for an apostate but not for the period of infidelity before one was converted to Islam.

A pregnant or nursing woman must fast for lost days when she is able, but if she did not fast for reasons of her own health, she need not pay expiation; while if she broke the fast fearing for the child, she does pay expiation (fidya) as well. . . .

The expiation is a day's food given to the poor and needy,

p. 115

of the same sort given in alms at the Feast of Fast-breaking. . . .

One owes an atonement (kaffāra) for breaking the fast of Ramadan by coition. . . . The atonement consists of freeing a slave. If one cannot do that, he must fast sixty days, or if he cannot do that, give sixty days' provisions to the poor. If he is unable to do all this, the obligation remains, and he must still do it if ever he is able. . . . It is not possible for a poor person to pay his atonement to his own family. 8


Pilgrimage (Ḥajj): No religious rite has done more to unite the Muslims than the pilgrimage, where each year at the same time thousands of pilgrims meet and act together in complete equality; here the fraternalism of Islam is guaranteed and compellingly demonstrated. The pilgrims are incidentally able to exchange ideas and experiences; in the medieval period this made for remarkably rapid dissemination of books, which were carried home by the pilgrims.

The following regulations are taken from the Risāla of Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī.


Obligation: Pilgrimage to the inviolate House of God which is in Bekka [i.e. Mecca] is a religious duty to every one who is able to make his way there, if he is a free mature Muslim, once in his life. "Able" signifies a practical way of access and sufficient means, as well as the physical ability to arrive, whether riding or walking, in health of body.

It is ordained that one take the ritual state of ihrām (consecration for pilgrimage) at the proper post on the routes. The post (mīqāt) of the People of Syria, Egypt, and North Africa is al-Juḥfa. If they pass by Medina, it is better for them to use the post of its people, which is Dhū-al-Ḥulaya. The post of the people of Iraq is Dhāt ‘Irq, that of the Yaman's people is Yalamlam, and that of the people of Najd, or Central Arabia, is Qarn. Whoever is passing to

p. 116

Mecca from Medina is obliged to take the ihrām at Dhū-al-Ḥulaya, unless he should return from there to his proper post.

A pilgrim, or a man who is only making the visitation of the holy places (‘umra) should take the ihrām after either one of the obligatory prayers or a supererogatory prayer, after which he says, "I am here, Lord, I am here. I am here; no partner hast Thou. I am here. Thine is the praise; Thine is the grace; Thine is the kingdom." Then he formulates his intention, in his own words, to make the pilgrimage or the visitation.

It is ordered that one perform the greater ablution before taking the ihrām, and that one remove all sewn garments. [The pilgrim's garb is two seamless white garments; a waist-wrapper, from navel to knee, and a shawl covering the left shoulder, and tied under the right. Sandals but not shoes may be worn.--ED.] One is recommended to perform the greater ablution on entering Mecca, and to continue using the formula "I am here" after his prayers, on each elevation along the road, and when encountering fellow pilgrims. Great insistency in this is not incumbent on him.

When he has entered Mecca, he abstains from the formula until he has performed the circumambulation and the course. Then he continues to use it until sunset on the Day of ‘Arafat and his hasting to the Oratory in ‘Arafat.

It is recommended to enter Mecca by Kadā’, the way above Mecca, and when leaving to leave by Kudā, though if one does neither it is no sin.

Mālik says that on entering Mecca, one should enter the Inviolate Mosque, and it is best to enter from the Gate of the Banū Shayba. Then one touches the Black Stone at the corner of the Ka‘ba with his lips, if he is able; if not, he puts his hand on it and then lays his hand on his lips, without kissing it. He then circumambulates the Holy House--keeping it on his left--seven times, of which three are quick, and four walking. He touches the corner of the Ka‘ba each time he passes it, in the way we have described, and says "God is most great!" He should not touch the Southern corner with his lips but with his hand and then lay it on his lips without kissing. When he has finished the circumambulation he says

p. 117

a prayer of two prostrations at the "Stance of Abraham" (between Ka‘ba and Gate of Band Shayba) and then touches the Black Stone, if he can reach it. He goes out afterward to Mount Ṡafā and stands on it while he makes an invocation. He then goes to Mount Marwa, taking a brisk pace in the bottom of the valley. When he comes to Marwa, he stands on it, makes his invocation, and hastens to Ṡafā. He does this seven times, making in all four stops on Ṡafā and four on Marwa.

On the 8th of the month of Pilgrimage he goes out to Minā, and there prays the prayers of Midday, Afternoon, Sunset, Night and Dawn. He then goes to Mount ‘Arafat, not ceasing to cry "I am here, Oh Lord!" until the sun sets and until he has arrived at the oratory of Mount ‘Arafat. Before going there he must put himself in a state of ritual purity, and pray the noon-prayer and the afternoon-prayer at one time under the direction of the imām of the pilgrims.

He then goes with the imām to ‘Arafat and they halt there until sunset. He then rushes with the throng and the imām to al-Muzdalifa, and prays there the sunset-prayer, the night-prayer, and the dawn-prayer. They then make the "Station" of the place called Mash ‘ar al-Ḥaram. Then when the sun is near rising, he hastens to Minā, driving his mount on (if he is mounted), in the Valley of Muḥassir. When he has arrived at Minā, he throws seven small stones at the first jamra (stone heap), that called al-‘Aqaba and with each stone he cries "God is most great." [This is an ancient Semitic cursing ceremony, regarded as recalling the stoning of Satan by Abraham.--ED.] He then sacrifices, if he has led his victim with him. (Sheep, goat, or camel. The meat must be given to the poor or left untouched.) Then he shaves his head and goes to the House (of God: the Ka‘ba) with the throng and performs seven circumambulations and the inclinations. He then stays at Minā for three days, and when the sun sets each day he throws at the jamra near Minā with seven pebbles, and cries "God is most great!" with each stone. He throws also at each of the other two jamras in the same fashion, calling "God is most great!" with each stone, and stations himself for invocations after throwing at the first and second jamras, but

p. 118

not at the jamra of al-‘Aqaba. When he has thrown for the third day, which is the Fourth Day from the Sacrifice, he may leave for Mecca; his pilgrimage is completed. If he desires, he may compress the rites of Minā into two days, and leave. When he leaves Mecca, he makes the Circumambulation of Farewell, and performs inclinations.

The Visitation (‘umra) is made as we have described up until the hasting between Ṡafā and Marwa. Then he may shave his head, and the Visitation is finished.

Shaving the head is best, in Pilgrimage and Visitation, but merely cropping it close is permitted. Sunna for a woman is cropping. 9


118:2 Muwaffaq al-Dīn ibn Qudāma, Kitāb al-‘Umda fi Ahkām al-Fiqh, pp. 1-14. Translation of Henri Laoust as: Le Précis de droit d’Ibn Qudama (Beirut, 1950).

118:3 Ibid., p. 17.

118:4 Ibid., pp. 19, 20.

118:5 Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawāni, Al-Risāla (4th Ed.; Algiers, 1952), with French translation by L. Bercher, pp. 56-68.

118:6 Muhammad Fu’ad ‘Abd al-Bāqī, Al-Muwaṭṭa’ (Cairo, 1951), Vol. I, p. 222 ff.

118:7 Abū Ishaq al-Shīrāzi al-Fīrūzābādī, Kitāb al-Tanbīh. Abridged from French translation of G. H. Bousquet (Algiers, 1949).

118:8 Muhyi al-Dīn al-Nawawī, Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn, Vol. I, "Kitāb al-Ṡiyam," abridged from pp. 279-291. With a French translation by L. W. C. Van Den Berg (Batavia, 1882).

118:9 Ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawāni, op. cit., pp. 141-147.

Next: 2. The Regulation of Personal Status