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The Dangers of Science: Imam Ghazzali’s Advice on Philosophy

By: Mustafa Umar

About a thousand years ago, Imam Ghazzali wrote in his autobiography, ‘Deliverance from Error’: “a clumsy and stupid person must be kept away from the seashore, not the proficient swimmer; and a child must be prevented from handling a snake, not the skilled snake-charmer.”

This was his advice to students who studied philosophy, particularly the Greek philosophy of Plato and Aristotle which many Muslims took pride in at that time. The Imam was warning them of the dangers that could result from this type of study. But he didn’t stop at philosophy. He even warned people about studying mathematics and other natural sciences. Why?

So You Thought You Were Safe

What’s wrong with an innocent subject like math, you might ask? That has nothing to do with religion. Well, here is what the Imam had to say:

“The mathematical sciences…nothing in them entails denial or affirmation of religious matters…from them, however, two evils have been caused…”

He readily admits that there is nothing intrinsically harmful in such a science, which is generally disconnected from Islamic beliefs. Nonetheless, the study of this science resulted in two dangers which greatly affected the beliefs of many students.

The First Danger: Blind Conformity

The Imam continued: “One of these is that whoever takes up these mathematical sciences marvels at the fine precision of their details and the clarity of their proofs. Because of that, he forms a high opinion of the philosophers [who were the mathematicians at that time] and assumes that all their sciences have the same lucidity and rational solidarity as this science of mathematics. Moreover, he will have heard the talk of the town about their unbelief and their negative attitude… [they say]: ‘If religion were true, this would not have been unknown to these philosophers…’” What Imam Ghazzali was trying to point out is that students who read the mathematical works of Pythagoras, Ptolemy or Aristotle became so impressed by those authors that they followed them blindly even in their non-mathematical ideas on metaphysics and religion.

The Imam then expresses his deep regret over this sad state of affairs: “How many a man have I seen who strayed from the path of truth on this pretext and for no other reason!” He criticizes these students for blindly following these mathematicians even in their religious ideas under the false assumption that all of their ideas, from their belief/disbelief in God to their views on the purpose of life, must be based on the same strong proofs as their mathematical principles.

Not much has changed since then. How many times have I heard a Muslim doubting something about his own religion while saying: “but scientists say…”? One thousand years have passed and this danger persists. How many Muslims have doubted their belief in Allah simply because of the naturalist Charles Darwin, the psychologist Sigmund Freud or the economist Karl Marx propagated their atheistic/agnostic ideas? Even today, the popular writings of the zoologist Richard Dawkins and the physicist Stephen Hawking influence millions of people about what to believe concerning the purpose of life. Hundreds of intellectuals anxiously wait for Hawking to make up, or change, his mind whether or not he believes in God, as if he was the pope about to issue a decree or retraction.

Imam Ghazzali advised people to remember that a man skilled in one field is not necessarily skilled in every field. He also noted that the internal consistency in one field of study does not necessarily imply the same in another field. People must realize that just because someone may have the ability to process mathematical equations quickly in their mind or to figure out how certain chemicals work with one another doesn’t mean that they have all the answers to life.

The Second Danger: Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater

The Imam points to another problem, which arises as a reaction to the first danger. When some well-meaning believers realized the danger resulting from studying these sciences, they began to form a hatred for the subjects themselves rather than differentiating between the science itself and its adherents. The Imam said, “The second evil likely to follow from the study of the mathematical sciences derives from the case of an ignorant friend of Islam who supposed that our religion must be championed by the rejection of every science ascribed to the philosophers…”

Imam Ghazzali noticed the excessive precautionary measures that some Muslim scholars advocated in his time and exposed the danger of such a view. If mathematics, philosophy, biology, physics, etc. are leading people away from Islam, should they be abandoned completely? Several Muslim scholars did incline towards such a view on the basis that it is not worth putting someone’s Islam in danger for a few worldly benefits that these sciences might bring. Imam Ghazzali, on the other hand, favored a more practical approach where those who are ready to master the subject and see it for what it is need not be afraid of falling into the pool.

The Solution

So what should Muslims do in such circumstances? Most high schools and universities require a student to study several subjects at the same time, even if they are not specializing in that field. It is unrealistic to assume that every student would have to master every subject that might put their Islamic beliefs in danger. Rather, a more practical alternative is to push for the development of an Islamic Studies curriculum that equips the student with answers to the most common attacks against Islam. Without such preventive measures, some Muslim students will continue to suffer from the venomous snake-bites while others will drown in the ocean of deviant ideas.

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The Power of the Tongue

By: Mustafa Umar

Introduction

Imam An-Nawawī said regarding the tongue: “Whoever wishes to speak should reflect before saying anything. If any benefit is found, then let him speak. Otherwise, let him remain silent.”[1]

In a world where politicians, talk show hosts, entertainers, and gossipers never seem to stop talking, Islam reminds us that the tongue is like a loaded weapon: the safety should always be on. Muslim scholars throughout time have warned us about the dangers of misfiring the tongue, something which almost every human has been guilty of at some point in time. The advice originates in the Prophet’s concise statement: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say something good or keep quiet.”[2] Speech has been tied to belief in this Prophetic statement in order to drive home the idea that what we say is almost as important as what we believe.

A Double Edged Sword

With advancements in technology, weapons are able to inflict much more harm than anyone previously ever dreamt of. Whether it’s a nuke or a cluster bomb, the effects of modern warfare are a phenomenon that every person of conscience looks at with regret. The tongue is no different. Through means of mass media and satellite, the power of speech has the ability to wreak havoc upon entire communities through deception, propaganda, and instigation.

However, just as nuclear technology can be harnessed for immense good, the power of the tongue can also be amplified for positive things. The Prophet said: “The greatest struggle [jihād] is a word of truth[3] in the presence of a tyrant ruler.”[4] This oral activism is not only praiseworthy because of the danger that the brave speaker places himself in. Rather, it may serve as an effective means for enacting positive change. Such usage of the tongue may even become a requirement when unable to physically correct an injustice, as the Prophet again indicated: “Whoever perceives something wrong must correct with their hand. If unable to do so, then with their tongue. If still unable, then with their heart, and that is the weakest level of faith.”[5]

Reading between the Lines

A detailed analysis of this command reveals a number of lessons. First, the perception that something is wrong must be factually correct and based upon knowledge rather than suspicion or false accusation. Had the command been limited to what every ignorant person perceives to be wrong, correcting it would lead to chaos. Next, rectifying something with the heart means to dislike it. You can only dislike what you are aware of. Therefore, the Prophetic wisdom is commanding people to know what evil is happening around them. Those people who live in an environment surrounded by injustice and oppression but purposely remain ignorant of what is taking place are just as guilty as those who know about it but don’t hate it. Lastly, the sequence that was mentioned by the Prophet deserves special attention. The first step is to acquire the knowledge of what is defined as ‘wrong’. Islam rejects the idea of moral relativism, in its absolute sense. What is right and wrong has been defined by our Creator, not by the creation. The second step is to have the knowledge of what is taking place around you. If you do not know what is taking place, you cannot even attempt to hate it. However, dislike and aversion is not the end goal. It is a means to an end, the way that knowledge is a means towards action, rather than a goal in itself. The awareness and disapproval of ‘wrong’ will manifest itself on the tongue when a person is in a position to do so. In turn, that oral struggle will manifest into action when the opportunity presents itself.

Conclusion

The tongue has so much power because of its ability to lead to action, whether it is the individual speaking, or others who are listening. It is because of this power that the safety on this weapon should remain on, but it is also because of this power that those who are in a position to do so should aim and shoot.



[1] al-Zarqānī, Muḥammad, Sharḥ al-Zarqānī ʿalā Muwaṭṭa’ al-Imām Mālik, 4:517.

[2] Reported by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim

[3] Or in some narrations: “a word of justice”.

[4] Reported by al-Nasā’ī. al-Mundhirī classified it’s chain as authentic in al-Targhīb.

[5] Reported by Muslim.

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A Lesson in Fiqh: Wiping Over Socks

By: Mustafa Umar

Introduction

A common misconception among many people is that they believe the texts of the Qur’an and Hadith are intended for all of mankind and are so clear that anyone fairly literate should be able to read them and understand what they mean. The first part of this idea is correct, the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet are intended for everyone. However, the idea that anyone reading the texts irrespective of their background knowledge will be able to fully understand each and every intended meaning is very wrong.

A Practical Challenge

Let’s take a practical example in order to demonstrate the truth of this claim. If someone were to open up Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, which is one of the very famous early collections of narrations [Ahādith], they might come across the following:

حَدَّثَنَا هَنَّادٌ وَمَحْمُودُ بْنُ غَيْلَانَ قَالَا حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ عَنْ سُفْيَانَ عَنْ أَبِي قَيْسٍ عَنْ هُزَيْلِ بْنِ شُرَحْبِيلَ عَنْ الْمُغِيرَةِ بْنِ شُعْبَةَ قَالَ تَوَضَّأَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَمَسَحَ عَلَى الْجَوْرَبَيْنِ وَالنَّعْلَيْنِ

قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ

Hannād and Maḥmūd ibn Ghaylān informed us that Wakī` informed us on the authority of Sufyān on the authority of Abī Qays on the authority of Huzayl ibn Shuraḥbīl on the authority of al-Mughīrah ibn Shu`ba who said: “The Prophet made ablution [wudū`] and wiped over his socks and sandals.”

Abu `Īsā [al-Tirmidhi] said: “This narration is authentic [ḥasan ṣaḥīḥ].”

Whether this was read in Arabic or in English you might conclude from it that you can wipe over your feet when making wuḍū` without having to take off your socks or sandals. You might naturally go even further and consider it ridiculous that anyone could have a doubt about this since it is so clear. The Prophet did it and the narration is authentic so we can do it too.

However, a major problem arises when we look into Islamic history. We realize that virtually none of the scholars of Islamic Law came to the same conclusion based upon this narration. This means two things:

  1. No scholar worthy of the name opened up a book like Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, read this ḥadīth, and then made a conclusion based upon what he read.
  2. No scholar came to the conclusion that anyone can unconditionally wipe over their socks and sandals because the Prophet did it and the narration is authentic.

Methodology is Key

The first point has to do with methodology. The Prophet said, “When someone in authority makes ijtihād [decrees a ruling regarding Islamic Law] and is correct then he receives two rewards. However, if he is wrong he only receives one reward.” In Islam, anyone who makes ijtihād and is qualified to do so will be rewarded even if he is wrong.  The important thing is that he used the correct methodology [and had a sincere intention]. On the other hand, anyone who undertakes ijtihād without being qualified and knowing the correct methodology will get no reward. In fact, it is feared that he may even be held accountable for doing so. This is demonstrated by an incident where a group of people were asked a question and gave the wrong answer which resulted in the death of the questioner. Later, the Prophet was informed about what had happened and he exclaimed in contempt, “They killed him! If they don’t know, why don’t they ask?! Asking is the cure for ignorance.”

The second point has to do with putting history into perspective. If most scholars didn’t come to the same conclusion as the one who read this hadith then it might be concluded that they have never come across this ḥadīth before. Maybe they didn’t have a copy of Sunan Al-Tirmidhi. Maybe they didn’t read the part about it being authentic. This conclusion would result in a very negative view of Islamic history. Now that we use the printing press, books like Imam al-Tirmidhi’s can be printed and distributed for everyone to read in order to supposedly correct the mistakes of all of those scholars of the past.

Let us look at the issue in detail in order to clear up these misconceptions. First, we will look at the authenticity of the narration and then we will take up what it implies.

Authenticating a Narration

After the death of the Prophet, Muslim scholars came up with the most rigorous and ingenious method of authenticating history ever known. This was in order to properly preserve the statements of the Prophet of Islam.

The casual reader might notice that al-Tirmidhi graded the narration in question as authentic. However, we must also see what other scholars had to say about the same narration since al-Tirmidhi is not the only authority in the field of ḥadīth criticism.

Imam Abū Dā’ūd said, “Abdur Raḥman ibn Mahdī used to refrain from narrating this hadith because it is well known that al-Mughīra reported that the Prophet wiped over his leather socks [khuffayn].” One of the most knowledgeable early hadith scholars of his time, Imam ibn Mahdī, was very well aware of this hadith, and had it memorized as well, but refused to narrate it to others because he considered it to be unauthentic. The vast majority of scholars agreed with him, among them: Sufyān al-Thawri, Yaḥyā ibn Ma’īn, `Alī ibn al-Madīnī, al-Bukhārī, Muslim, Abu Dā’ūd, Aḥmad ibn Hanbal, al-Nasā’ī, al-Bayhaqī, al-Nawawī, Ibn Ḥajar, and Ibn al-Qayyim.

The question might arise then, on what basis did scholars like al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Ḥibbān as well as contemporary scholars like al-Albānī authenticate this hadith? In order to understand this phenomenon we must first understand that there are five tests that a hadith must go through before being declared authentic:

  1. Ittiṣāl – The chain of narration must be uninterrupted. For example, assume Imam al-Bukhārī is relating a statement of the Prophet and there are three people between him and the Prophet (i.e. I heard from X who heard from Y who heard from Z who heard the Prophet say…). If Imam Bukhari happened to mention in his book person Y by his nickname which was unknown to other people then this hadith would automatically be deemed unauthentic because person Y would be considered as missing from the chain of narrators since we are unable to find out anything about him.
  2. Adl – All of the narrators must be upright. This means that they must be good Muslims, honest, have good behavior [akhlaq], etc.
  3. Dabt – All of the narrators must be precise. This means that they only narrate after knowing the general context and implication of the narration and are familiar with the various wording that was used.
  4. Shudhudh – The narration should not contradict another narration about the same incident which is established. The narration in Sunan Al-Tirmidhi about wiping over socks suffers from this defect as will be shown.
  5. Illa – The narration should be free from any other major defect that is usually found after researching all the narrations on the same topic.

Once we understand these principles we begin to understand why ibn Mahdi refused to narrate this hadith. He realized that Al-Mughira ibn Shu’ba saw the Prophet wiping over his leather socks [khuffayn] and that this is established by several authentic narrations. However, the narrators Abu Qays and Huzayl made a mistake by narrating that Al-Mughira said “socks” [jawrabayn] instead of “leather socks” [khuffayn]. Since the difference between the two words makes a very significant difference, the narration of Abu Qays and Huzayl have been declared unacceptable.

The Implication of a Statement

Let us assume that the hadith in question is indeed authentic. Is the assumption that “anyone can wipe over their socks and sandals because the Prophet did it” correct?

If we look at what the scholars had to say on the subject we will not find even one that unconditionally allowed wiping over the unqualified term “socks”. Rather, they stipulated certain conditions which must be met and defined what types of socks are allowed to be wiped over.

Every scholar began by looking at the Qur’an, since that is the undisputed word of God. What does it have to say about this subject? “O you who believe, when you stand for prayer wash your faces, your arms up to the elbows, wipe a part of your heads, and wash your feet up to the ankles. (Al-Maida 5:6)” This verse clearly states that you mush wash your feet up to the ankles when performing ablution. However, the Qur’an also says, “Take whatever the Messenger gives you and refrain from whatever he forbids you. (Al-Hashr 59:7)” Therefore, if it can be established that the Messenger taught his followers any exception to the rule then it may be taken as a concession.

The scholar then looked at all of the narrations on the same topic. Imam Abu Hanifa’s statement clarifies this important principle, “I did not pass a judgment about wiping over socks until the overwhelming narrations proving its validity became manifest to me like daylight.” What he meant was that he did not consider wiping to be an established exception to the rule until he collected several authentic reports. His reasoning was this:

  • the Qur’an is the word of God and its authenticity is undisputed
  • any single narration, even after passing the five tests of authentication, still has a possibility of being wrong due to the human element of the narration
  • no report should be allowed to be used as an exception to the rule until its authenticity is such that it leaves no room for any reasonable doubt

After it became clear to him that several of the Companions of the Prophet had narrated regarding wiping over socks he went further and said, “I fear that whoever denies wiping over socks has almost left Islam because the narrations regarding it have almost reached the level of tawatur.” Ibn Hajar verifies this by saying, “The experts of hadith have confirmed that the narrations which establish the permissibility of wiping over socks have reached the status of tawatur.”

After checking all of the narrations on the topic the scholar noticed the following:

  • The Prophet was not only seen wiping over his socks but he also instructed some of his companions to do so as well
  • He set a time limit as to how long anyone may wipe over their socks before having to take them off
  • He set a prerequisite that they must be worn in a state of purity before they may be wiped over
  • He wiped over the top of the sock rather than the bottom

None of the preceding points apply to the narration of Abu Qays and Huzayl mentioned by Al-Tirmidhi and all of the narrations are unanimous that the socks mentioned were khuffayn and not jawrabayn.

The purpose of this discussion was not to deny that wiping is only restricted to leather socks (it is definitely not) but rather to correct the false assumption that reading a single verse or a single narration can qualify as evidence for a ruling on any issue. From this example, we should learn the following lessons:

  • Some texts of the Qur’an and the Prophetic narrations require more than just a casual reading in order to understand their context and true import.
  • No one should assume that they have fully understood any Qur’anic verse or Prophetic statement and then make judgment upon others unless they are familiar with all of the evidence on the topic.
  • To properly understand Islam one should study on an issue by issue basis rather than a text by text basis.
  • Sincerity, without knowledge, does not justify ignorance.

Conclusion

Does this mean that we should not read the Qur’an or hadith? Absolutely not. In fact, this should be an encouragement to read even more. The more knowledge you acquire the more things will begin to fit into place. One of the beautiful things about Islam is that there are no Divinely appointed clergy or priests. Anyone can study, increase in knowledge, and understand the Qur’an and Sunnah for themselves. If you only read this article with the hope of knowing whether or not you can wipe over the socks that you are wearing then go ask your local scholar rather than reading a collection of hadith. If that idea bothers you, then set out on the path of knowledge, the Muslim community is in need of more knowledgeable people.

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Standing and Urinating in Islam

By: Mustafa Umar

Introduction

It has become a common practice in many parts of the world for men to stand and urinate. The presence of urinals in almost every male bathroom has not only taught, but encouraged, people to stand up while relieving themselves. What does Islam say about this behavior?

First of all, we must remember that our ability to digest food and drink is a great blessing from Allah. We would not be able to survive without a digestive system. However, with every blessing comes a responsibility. Since human waste is impure, Islam teaches us a few rules about how to relieve ourselves in the best of ways.

So what’s the Problem

There are many Islamic guidelines about how to use the restroom. We will only focus on those that pertain to standing and urinating. This common practice has led to the following un-Islamic practices:

1. Shamelessness. One of the bad habits that resulted from the use of public urinals is the loss of shame in the restroom. It is very common to see two men using the bathroom and having a conversation with each other. Had they peeked over just a little bit they would have been able to see the private parts of the other man. The Prophet said, “Allah detests it when two people relieve themselves uncovered and have a conversation.”[1] The Prophet would take so much care to seclude himself that Al-Mughīrah ibn Shu’bah said, “I was travelling with the Prophet. When he needed to relieve himself, he went far away from me.”[2]

2. Impurity. How many urinals have you ever seen that have toilet paper next to them? Probably none. This results in people putting their pants back on without cleaning themselves. The Prophet said, “When you go to the restroom, take three stones with you to clean yourself. That will suffice.”[3] Salman al-Fārisī was told, “Your Prophet has taught you everything, even how to use the bathroom.” He responded, “That’s right. He told us not to…use our right hand when cleaning and to not use less than three stones to clean ourselves after we finish.”[4] ‘Ā’ishah, the Prophet’s wife, said to a group of women, “Tell your husbands to clean themselves with water because I am embarrassed to tell them. This is what the Prophet used to do regularly.”[5] Cleaning yourself, with either a solid substance or with water, is so important in Islam that the Prophet passed by a man’s grave and told Ibn ‘Abbās that the dead man is being tortured, but not for a major sin: “He didn’t used to clean himself after urinating.”[6]

3. Disrespect for others. One of the common habits we find among people who regularly use urinals is that they also stand up while using a toilet. This usually results in a seat covered with urine drops. Very few people care to clean the urine off the seat after leaving, so the next person who needs to use it has to deal with that disgusting mess. In this regard, the Prophet said, “Beware of the cursed ones.” Some people asked, “Who are the cursed ones?” He replied, “People who relieve themselves in public pathways or in shaded areas.”[7] These are two areas where people would be harmed because they walk on the pathways and sit in the shade on sunny days. The same curse would apply to those who leave filth behind for the next person. The curse, in this context, has two meanings: they are cursed by the one who has to deal with the mess they left and they are cursed by Allah for their careless and disgusting habits.

Are There Any Exceptions

The Prophet always sat down and urinated. This is proven by ‘Ā’ishah, his wife, who was constantly present with him, when she said, “Don’t believe anyone that tells you the Prophet used to stand while urinating. He always used to sit down.”[8] The only person who ever contradicted her statement was Hudhayfah when he said, “The Prophet [while traveling] approached a garbage dump and stood while urinating. Then, he called me to bring some water for him, so I did, and he performed wuḍū’.”[9] This is clearly an exception to the rule because he was in a very dirty place. Hudhayfa’s description of the place being a garbage dump reveals to us the context and makes it clear that ‘Ā’isha’s challenge was referring to people who claimed the Prophet did it as a habit. Her challenge stills stands today. When someone tries to misquote the statement of Hudhayfah in order to prove that the Prophet used to stand and urinate just like people do now, we should not believe it.

What Should a Muslim Do

Muslims should try to combat this immorality in their community. We live in societies which claim to be clean and hygienic, yet their toilets are among the filthiest in the world unless they are constantly cleaned. Go visit any gas station, high school, theme park, etc. and see what happens to the toilet if there is no full time janitor available. Islam still has a lot to teach the people of the world about cleanliness. It is such an important principle in Islam that the Prophet said, “Cleanliness is half of faith.”[10] The messenger of Allah has taught us certain rules to observe which benefit both ourselves and society.  It is up to us to be proud of this guidance and apply it.


[1] Abū Dāwūd 15, Ahmad 10884.

[2] Tirmidhī 20.

[3] Abū Dāwūd 36.

[4] Tirmidhī 16.

[5] Tirmidhī 19.

[6] Bukhārī 211.

[7] Muslim 269.

[8] Nasā’ī 29, Ibn Mājah 303, Aḥmad 23894.

[9] Bukhārī 217.

[10] Muslim 328.

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Just Say ‘Bismillah’ and Eat!

By: Mustafa Umar

One of the common phrases you hear some Muslims utter nowadays when it comes to the issue of lawful/prohibited meat is: “just say bismillah and eat.” While this statement, on the surface, may seem innocent, it’s usually otherwise.

This statement is a direct quote of Prophet Muhammad who said these exact words to his Companions. However, the problem lies in the fact that it is usually quoted out of context. When an Islamophobe reminds his choir that the Qur’an says “kill them wherever you find them”, he is guilty on two accounts. One, he didn’t identify who ‘them’ refers to. Two, he stripped the verse out of its context which referred to retaliation rather than initiation.

The Muslim who urges his friend to say bismillah and eat is guilty of the exact same two charges. He has not indicated what type of meat the Prophet was referring to and the context of the incident has been stripped away.

To resolve these two issues, we merely need to look at the narration [hadīth]:

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها أن قوما قالوا للنبي صلى الله عليه و سلم إن قوما يأتوننا باللحم لا ندري أذكر اسم الله عليه أم لا ؟ فقال ( سموا عليه أنتم وكلوه ) . قالت وكانوا حديثي عهد بالكفر

“Ā’ishah said that a group of people told the Messenger of Allah: ‘Some people come to us with meat and we don’t know whether they mentioned the name of Allah over it or not.’ He said: ‘You mention the name of Allah over it and eat.’ She [Āishah] said: They had recently become Muslim.”[1]

Two main points are made clear when looking at the text of the narration as a whole:

  1. There is doubt about whether or not this animal met the Islamic guidelines or not. However, there is no certainty that it was slaughtered incorrectly. This means that the Prophet is telling the people to cast aside that doubt and assume that the meat is fine.
  2. The people who brought the meat were Muslim, although recent converts.

However, many Muslims overlook [or ignore] the context and give two meanings to this narration which do not exist:

  1. The belief that saying the name of Allah over the meat, after it had already been slaughtered, somehow has the power to make the meat permissible. This would mean that if someone found a dead animal that fell off of a cliff [which is prohibited for consumption] could say ‘bismillah’ before eating it, and it would be fine. There is no basis for this and it is a common misunderstanding of the Prophet’s statement.
  2. People who quote this narration do so in regard to meat that comes from non-Muslim sources. Many are led to believe the Prophet was telling the people that regardless of where the meat comes from, you can apply the previous principle. This is far from the truth. The only reason the Prophet gave this group of people the benefit of the doubt is because they were Muslim. Had they been fire worshippers, no benefit of the doubt would be given, and he would have told Ā’ishah not to eat it.

As conscious Muslims, we must change our attitude towards quoting our own religious sources out of context to satisfy our own desires. Remember, the next time someone tells you to ‘say bismillah and eat’, remind them of the context before applying that rule to your meal.


[1] Bukhārī.

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