What is foul in disbelievers is their creed



This letter, written to Molla Maqsûd Alî Tabrîzî, explains that the uncleanliness of the disbelievers refers to the unclean moral state of their souls, of their creed. Their bodies, their limbs may not be unclean: 

 Every kind of gratitude belongs to Allâhu ta’âlâ by right. I send my salâms to the pure people whom He has chosen. My merciful Sir! We can not understand why you sent us Tafsîr-i-Husainî. This tafsîr, in explaining the twenty-ninth âyat of Sûrat-ut-Tawba, says: “Since disbelievers’ souls and beliefs are filthy, they are certainly filthy.” Also, savants of the Hanafî Madhhab explained it likewise. That is, they said that the reason why Allâhu ta’âlâ declared “Disbelievers are filthy” is because their hearts, their creeds are filthy. It is written in Tafsîr-i Husainî that some savants said: “Since disbelievers do not perform a ghusl (ritual washing) or abstain from najâsat[1], they are foul.” Yet it is not suitable to interpret it in this manner, for the majority of the Muslims in India today do not avoid najâsat. Some ignorant Muslims, too, like disbelievers, ignore cleanliness. If not avoiding najâsat caused one to be foul, life would become very difficult for Muslims. In fact, it was declared: “There is no hardship in Islam.”

Though it is written in Tafsîr-i Husainî: “’Abdullah Ibni ’Abbâs ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anhumâ’ said that disbelievers’ bodies are foul like dogs”, narrations of this sort, which are contrary to general information and which are contrary to what all others state, although they are transmitted on the authority of great Islamic celebrities, are of a great number. Such expressions should be somehow adapted to what is generally accepted. How can the skin and the bodies of disbelievers be foul in light of the fact that our Prophet ate a meal in a Jew’s home? He cleaned himself with a disbeliever’s water container. Also, Hadrat ’Umar ‘radiy-Allâhu ’anh’ cleaned himself with a Christian woman’s container. If one claims that these might have been done before the âyat was revealed, one will have based this statement on sheer supposition; it should be proven that the âyat came afterwards. If it can be proven, it still does not prove that they are foul, dirty, or that the things which they touch will be foul and harâm. At most, it shows that their creed is foul.

A  Prophet never does something that was harâm or that would be harâm in his own religion or in other religions. That is, he does not use something that will be harâm later though it is currently halâl (permitted). For example, formerly it had been halâl to drink wine. Later it became harâm. No Prophet drank wine at any time. If it were to be declared afterwards that disbelievers’ bodies were foul like dogs, Hadrat Muhammad, who is the darling of Allâhu ta’âlâ, would have never touched their containers. If it had been the case, would it ever have been possible for him to drink their water or eat their food? Moreover, when something is foul, it is always foul. It cannot be thought of as foul one time and clean at some other time. If disbelievers’ bodies were foul, they would always be foul, and Hadrat Muhammad would have never touched them. Nonetheless for drinking their water and eating their food. Moreover, when something itself is foul, it will always be foul. It will never be permissible, neither beforehand, nor afterwards.

If disbelievers themselves were foul, they would have been so formerly, too, and Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ would have acted upon that principle. Since this major premise does not exist, how can the minor premise exist? Furthermore, it imposes great difficulty on Muslims to think of disbelievers’ bodies as foul. May Allâhu ta’âlâ give infinite goodness to the savants of Hanafî Madhhab because they made the life of a Muslim easier. They rescued them from committing the harâm. How could it ever be a righteous act to speak ill of these great savants and to censure the accurate explanations they wrote, instead of thanking them? Can anything be said against the mujtahids? They will be given rewards also for their wrong deductions. Muslims who act according to the wrong findings [of a mujtahid] will be rescued from torment. If disbelievers are foul, the things which they touch and do will be foul and harâm. Those who describe disbelievers as foul will have said harâm about the meals and sherbets which they make. In such a case, people cannot protect themselves againts this harâm. It is next to impossible, especially for Muslims in India, to protect themselves. Because Muslims are in contact with disbelievers everywhere, it is better to give the fatwâ[2] which is the easiest to apply. Even if it is not compatible with one’s own Madhhab, the easy fatwâ in another Madhhab should be given to him. The hundred and eighty-sixth âyat of Sûrat-ul-Baqara declares: “Allâhu ta’âlâ wants to have you do things that are easy. He does not want what is difficult.” It is purported in the twenty-eighth âyat of Sûrat-un-Nisâ: “Allâhu ta’âlâ wants your worships to be light, easy. Man was created weak, frail.”

It is harâm to hurt Muslims or to present difficulties for them; it is something which Allâhu ta’âlâ dislikes. Shâfi’î savants submitted a fatwâ that gave permission for the things that were difficult in their Madhhab to be done according to Hanafî Madhhab. Thus, they facilitated the life of a Muslim. For example, according to Shâfi’î Madhhab, zakât[3] should be paid to each of the eight classes of people listed in the sixtieth âyat of Sûrat-ut-tawba. Out of these eight classes, the classes of disbelievers whom one must please [and the class of officials who collect the zakât and the class of debtors that must be rescued from slavery] do not exist today. Since it has become impossible to find them, Shafi’î savants ‘rahmatullâhi ta’âlâ ’alaihim ajma’în’ issued a fatwâ that sanctioned the payment of zakât in accordance with Hanafî Madhhab; in Hanafî Madhhab it is permissible to pay it to any one of these classes. [Likewise, in performing a ghusl[4], it is fard in the Hanafî Madhhab to rinse the mouth, to wash between the teeth and the tooth sockets. Since water cannot penetrate into crownings and fillings, the ghusl of those who have them is not accepted, and they remain in a state of impurity (janâbat or junûb).

But in the Shâfi’î Madhhab it is not fard to rinse the mouth. If a person in the Hanafî Madhhab has had his teeth crowned or filled for some necessity, he says through his heart when performing a ghusl, “O my Allah! I am performing a ghusl in accordance with the Shâfi’î Madhhab,” then his ghusl will be accepted, and he can perform namâz in a clean state. It is written in the seven hundred and ninth page of the book Hadîqa: “It is permissible to imitate another Madhhab in ’abdast (ritual ablution) or in ghusl. For doing this, the principles of the Madhhab being imitated must be observed. If all its principles are not observed, it will not be permissible to imitate it. It is permissible to imitate another Madhhab even after having done the action that does not conform with one’s own Madhhab.  For instance, Hadrat Abû Yûsuf, after having performed a Friday prayer, was told that a dead mouse was seen in the well where he had performed his ablution.

He said, ‘Our ghusl is acceptable according to the Shâfi’î Madhhab. It was stated in a hadîth that when something foul gets mixed with water that amounts to a qullatayn[5], it is not foul unless one of its three peculiarities is changed.’ (A qullatayn is an amount of water to be contained in two earthenware jugs, i.e. five hundred ritls.) It is equal to two hundred and twenty kilograms of water. The book entitled al- Barîqa, explaining this point, says that it is permissible to imitate another Madhhab when necessity for it arises. The book entitled Durr-ul Mukhtâr says at the end of its chapter on ‘Prayer Times: ‘When there is a darûrat[6] (compulsion, strict necessity), another Madhhab is imitated.’While explaining this, the book Ibni ’Âbidîn says: One of the two inferences (qawl) is written here. According to the second inference (qawl), when there is haraj, hardship, one of the other three Madhhabs is imitated, no matter whether there is a darûrat or not.

This is the preferrable qawl. When there is difficulty in doing something, if your own Madhhab shows a way of making it easy, or if it is excused, there will be no need to imitate any other Madhhab. Quoting from the book Husn-ut-tanabbuh fittashabbuh, it is writen in the two hundred and eleventh page of the book Hadîqa: ‘When someone’s nafs does not want to do what is easy, then it is useful for him to act according to a rukhsat by leaving the azîmats (difficulties). But this should not lead one to search for rukhsats because collecting the easier parts of Madhhabs, which is called Talfiq, is harâm and an act of obeying the nafs and shaytân (satan).”]  If disbelievers themselves were foul, necessarily they wouldn’t be clean after accepting îmân. Then, calling them foul is intended to declare that their hearts are foul. When they accept îmân, this foulness dissappears and they become clean. That their beliefs and their hearts are foul does not mean that their bodies are foul. These âyats declare that disbelievers are foul. These facts do not change. Changes can be made in commands and prohibitions. Changes cannot be made in the fact of how something is. [The book Hadîqa, in explaining the disasters incurred by one’s speech says: “Allâhu ta’âlâ has made alternations, changes in twenty âyats that communicate His commandments and prohibitions.” He has not made any alterations in qisas (facts about ancient people) and facts.] Since facts do not change, disbelievers must be always foul. This is the foulness of disbelief and of creed. Thus, the explanation made will be compatible with the original information. Thus teachings will not contradict each other. It will not be harâm to touch disbelievers and their possessions.

One day, while explaining this, I recited part of the fifth âyat of Sûrat-ul-Mâida: “It is halâl [permitted] for you to eat what the men with heavenly books, i.e. Jews and Christians, cook and slaughter”; and you said that it was wheat, chick-pea and lentil which was permitted. Today, if one of the Muslims under these conditions likes this word of yours, I cannot say anything against it. But, to be reasonable, the right word is obvious. Then, pitying Muslims, we should not look upon disbelievers as foul, nor should we deem dirty the Muslims who have relations and trade with disbelievers. We should not avoid the food and drinks of such Muslims by assuming that they have become dirty; we should not deviate into the way of avoiding Muslims and keeping away from them. This state is not a precaution. It is a precaution to get rid of this state. Let me not cause your head to ache any longer. My salâms be upon you.

A couplet:

Saying little, I paid attention not to break your heart;

Had a lot to tell you but I feared breaking the heart.


[1] Every kind of dirt. In this context, it means the dirt that prevents one from performing namâz. Please see the sixth chapter of the fourth fascicle of Endless Bliss.

[2] A decisive explanation which an authorized Islamic scholar provides in order to rescue Muslims from an enigmatic situation. The sources, proof-texts and documents whereon the fatwâ is based on have to be appended to it.

[3] A certain amount of one’s property given yearly to those whom one prefers of the eight classes of people prescribed in the Qur’ân. Please see the first chapter of the fifth fascicle of Endless Bliss.

[4] For ‘ghusl’, see the fourth chapter of the fourth fascicle of Endless Bliss.

[5] For ‘quallatayn’, see the seventh chapter of the fourth fascicle of Endless Bliss.

[6] A ‘darûrat’ is a situation that one cannot help and which makes it impossible for one to observe one of the commandments and prohibitions of Islam within the principles and rules of one’s own Madhhab. For details, see the fourth chapter of the fourth fascicle of Endless Bliss.


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