We’ve heard our scholars say it, but is Islam really practical for all times and generations? If the Quran was revealed 1400 years ago, how can it possibly answer questions about the permissibility of modern technology? Organ donations? Anniversaries? Doritos? The answer, my friends, lies in Fiqh.

But what is Fiqh? First, we have to define the source of fiqh, Shariah.


Shariah is a group of all the laws given to us by Allah, by way of Quran or Sunnah.

The Shariah can be broken down into 3 categories:

  1.  Aqeedah or beliefs, like belief in one God, the Day of Judgment, the angels

  2.  Aakhlaq or morals, like justice, honesty, helping the oppressed

  3.  Fiqh, all other practical legal actions

    As for the first 2 categories, beliefs and morals, they were essentially the same for all prophets and messengers since Adam (AS), they haven’t changed since the establishment of mankind.

However, the last category, all other practical laws that govern day to day life (including ritual worship and interaction between people), this has changed from Prophet to Prophet based on their time, place, and circumstance. This category is what we know today as “fiqh”. A prophet’s “fiqh” was unique to him and his people, hence Jews, Christians and Muslims have different dietary laws, for example, and different ways of worshiping.


Now, Islamic Fiqh, being the last set of laws that will remain until the Last Day, is quite unique in that it is the MOST flexible of all laws. Rulings can change based on the time, place, situation and need. And as our scholars have claimed, it HAS the ability to work cohesively with every generation and time that’s to come. That’s the beauty of this religion! This can be evidenced by when the Prophet (S) sent Muaadh ibn Jabal to govern Yemen. The prophet asked Muaadh, if you do not find an answer to people’s questions from the Quran and Sunnah, how will you judge? Muaadh answered “أجتهد رأيي” meaning “I will do ijtihaad” – I will strive to form my own judgment. The Prophet (S) approved this methodology. “Ijtihaad”  is when qualified scholars put in much effort to derive rulings from the sources of Shariah for issues that are not explicitly mentioned in the Quran or Sunnah.

But does that mean everything is subject to change at our whim? No, there are boundaries set forth within which scholars can work.


Islamic Fiqh can be further separated into 2 subcategories:

  1. Fiqh of Ibaadah (worship)

  2. Fiqh of muamalaat (worldly matters and interactions)

As for worship (like prayer, fasting, zakaah, actions to get closer to Allah), this category of fiqh remains pretty much unchanged since the advent of Islam. The Quran and Sunnah has very specifically outlined actions of worship through definitive and clear wording, and actions mentioned clearly and definitely, we can’t deviate from. The legal maxim established by Islamic jurists is “Al Aslu fil ibaadaat at-tawaquf” meaning the default ruling in matters of worship is to STOP. That means Stop, don’t do anything more or less – unless you have clear precedence from the Quran or Sunnah.

For example, you can’t add a rakah to Fajr, you can’t make zakah just 1%, you have to follow the precedence. Scholars say that the wisdom behind acts of worship is generally with Allah, we may be able to see the practical benefits of it or we may not. Either way, we follow it as a matter of faith.

As for muamalaat or worldly interactions – that’s basically all other actions between man and creation. For example, business transactions, marriage laws, international relations, criminal law, what you can or cannot eat, or wear –  and everything in between.

This category is the GAME CHANGER. THIS is where all that flexibility and ijtihaad can occur. The legal maxim established by Islamic jurists is “Al Aslu fil muamalaat al Ibaahah” meaning the default ruling in matters of muamalaat is ALLOWANCE. Green light! Go! That means all general actions, non-ibaadah, are allowed! Even if the Prophet (S) didn’t do it – until and unless there is an evidence brought forth that FORBIDS it either directly, through analogy or through other sources.

For example, all foods and drinks are allowed – EXCEPT what’s been forbidden like pig, alcohol, road kill, filth, etc. Through ijtihaad, scholars have deemed things permissible that the Quran and Sunnah never mentioned – like TV, the internet, playing basketball, drinking Dr. Pepper (as long as we don’t utilize them for Haram). So we can’t call something completely Haraam just because it didn’t exist in the past – by default it’s allowed – unless we bring forth evidences contrary to that.

Some parts of muamalaat are mentioned clearly and definitively, like rules of inheritance. In that case, we can’t deviate from that. But oftentimes, the texts in Quran and Sunnah related to actions of muamalaat (worldly interactions) are purposefully NOT clear nor definitive, Allah and his messenger have left them open, with only general rules and guidelines, but no specifications on how to follow through. THIS is where Fiqh can be adaptable to all generations. THIS is how Islam can come up with new rulings for phenomena that have no precedence – just as long as the ruling falls in line with the objectives of the Shariah.


So now that you know the breakdown, let’s take a look at a few examples: Driving cars. So the Prophet (S) rode camels, does that mean we can’t drive cars? No.. we look first, is this a matter of Fiqh Ibadah or Muamalaat? Since it’s got no relationship to worship, then it’s automatically under the category of muamalaat (worldly interactions). So yes, we can use cars because the default for cars is it’s allowed, because there’s no evidence that forbids it.

Another example – what to wear? the Quran and Sunnah explains WHAT to cover of our bodies, for women for example, it’s everything but the face and hands (and the feet according to Hanafis). Also, the clothing shouldn’t be really tight or transparent. This is an example of where a general outline is given, but no specifications of how that plays out. So that means, as scholars have determined – it’s left open ended. The color, the style, the way you wear it – it’s all allowed – as long as it fits within the guidelines that were outlined in the Quran and Sunnah. So your shalwar kameez, your skirt and pants, your kimono, your baju Malayu, your maxi dress – those are all essentially Islamically Shariah compliant clothing as long as they follow the guidelines! It’s not just an abaya that means “Islamic” – the default in this matter is everything’s allowed except what’s been made forbidden.

How about celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving? The internet? How about organ donation? Invetro fertilization? None of these topics existed at the time of R(S), nor were specified in the Quran or Sunnah.  But Alhumdulillah, the flexibility of  fiqh and the process of ijtihaad are the tools that have allowed our scholars to derive rulings for these issues and many other issues throughout the different generations. What do the scholars say on those issues above? And what are all the sources for ijtihaad? And how is it actually carried out? That’s another discussion for another article, inshaAllah. 🙂



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The scholars’ 2 OPINIONS:

-The junub (sexually impure person after intercourse) is told explicitly in the Quran (Nisa: 43) not to stay in the masjid. And the junub, by analogy, is similar to the menstruating women because they both have an impurity that requires ghusl.
– Rasulullah (S) said to tell all women (menstruating and not) to come to the Eid prayer, but he said “let the menstruating women avoid the prayer place.”
-Rasulullah (S) in said, “The mosque is not permitted for menstruating women or anyone who is in a state of janabah (sexual impurity).”

(minority opinion held by Ibn Hazm, Al-Muzani a scholar of the Shafi’I madhab, Dawud Ad Dhaahiri, and modern day scholars such as Shaykh Yusuf al Qardawi and others)

-The hadeeth mentioned above (“The mosque is not permitted for menstruating women or anyone who is in a state of janabah (sexual impurity).”) was classed as da’eef (weak) by Shaykh al-Albaani as well as other scholars, so it is not permissible to make a ruling of fiqh based on a weak hadth.
– The ayah talking about the junub cannot be applied to the menstruating women because they are not analogous.
When Aisha is on her period during Hajj, Rasulullah (S) told her “do everything but don’t do tawaf of the kabah” which indicates she could stay at the Kabah and do worship, dua, etc.
-A slave woman who was freed set up a tent and lived in the masjid. And Umm Mihjaan (the caretaker of the masjid) would regularly take care of the masjid, and was not told to avoid it during menses.
-Therefore, these scholars are of the opinion that if it were really impermissible for a woman to not stay in the masjid, there would be an authentic direct hadith or ayah about it, as women around the messenger regularly had their period. The evidences brought by the majority are not strong enough to make it haram upon her to stay in the masjid.


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Did you know that the wives of the Prophet (S) traveled together WITHOUT a Mahram from Madinah to Makkah to make Hajj?

In short – there are two opinions on the matter. 1) No, she has to have a Mahram. 2) Yes, she can, as long as her safety can be ensured, and that she uses safe public transportation where others are around.


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Rasulullah (S) said “Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of Shawwal will be (rewarded) as if he had fasted the entire year.” [Muslim]


2 Opinions of the scholars:

1) NO, FINISH RAMADAN FASTS FIRST: Some scholars, amongst them the Hanbalis, say that one must finish the obligatory fasts of Ramadan first before you do any other voluntary fast, as obligations are more important than voluntary fasts and because the Hadith says “Whoever FASTS Ramadan and follows it up with 6 of shawal…” indicating one must finish all 29/30 of Ramadan first and foremost. Some of this group say, if one cannot do all of Ramadan make up fasts in Shawal, then they can complete their 6 Shawal in the next month (Dhul Qa’dah).

The other opinion of scholars (amongst them the Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki madhhab) is that the obligation of finishing off Ramadan is an obligation that is given an extended amount of time to fulfill. So since it is given a wide time of 11 months to finish the Ramadan fasts, it should NOT be limited to finishing them off in the very next month (shawal). Shawal is a limited amount of time, and Ramadan is given a long time, and therefore it would be permissible to fast 6 shawal first as long as the Ramadan fasts are accomplished throughout the next 11 months. This is from the mercy of Allah in giving us a long time to make up all the Ramadan fasts.

The precedence that we have in the seerah, is that of Aisha (R) who said that she regularly made up her Ramadan fasts in the month of Shaban, which is the month right before Ramadan. But it is also known that she did many voluntary fasts throughout the year. Scholars conclude that she thererfore saw it acceptable to do voluntary fasts, EVEN though the Ramadan make up fasts had not been completed yet.

It is also very difficult for women to make up Ramadan fasts (maybe 7-8 days) & finish shawal (another 6 days) within one month – because obviously her menses will come (maybe 7-8 days). That almost requires her to fast another WHOLE month minus her period just to accomplish Shawal. And that is definitely a great difficulty.

**Majority of scholars say you cannot combine Shawal and Ramadan make up fasts with one intention. They should be separate intentions and separate days.

NOTE: Know yourself! If you find it difficult to make up your fasts, PRIORITIZE Ramadan fasts over Shawal fasts, because an obligation is like a debt!

May Allah allow us all to fast the 6 of Shawal to get the reward of an entire year! Ameen


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RECITING QURAN – there are 2 opinions:
1) She CANNOT read/recite the Quran.
Most scholars prohibit women from touching the Quran based on the hadith “The menstruating woman and the one who is in a state of sexual impurity (janaabah) should not recite anything of the Qur’aan.”

2) She CAN read/recite the Quran.
This is the opinion of Ibn Taymiyyah, ibn Qayyim, Imam Malik, Bukhari, and one opinion of Imam Ash Shafii as well as many other scholars. Their argument is that the hadith mentioned above is Daeef (weak). In fact, the hadith is considered weak by almost all scholars of Hadith and therefore cannot be used in order to make a fiqh ruling. So women may recite or read the Quran, either from memory or from the Quran mushaf (book) itself.


Scholars of fiqh agree that someone who is not purified CANNOT touch the Quran because Allah says in the Quran “None shall touch it except the purified” (Waqiah: 79). This includes the junub (sexually impure), the menstruating woman, as well as someone without wudhu.

So how can she read the Quran?
1) Use a barrier (glove, towel, pen) so that her hand doesn’t directly touch the Quran
2) Read it off of a tablet or phone as these are not considered the Quran, but rather devices that have the Quran in them.
3)Read a book which has Tafseer/translation in it – as that is not considered the Quran mushaf (book) either. Even if it contains the Arabic, if half is tafseer/translation, it is permissible for an impure person to hold.


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Q:If you fast all day, and your period starts a few minutes before Maghrib, do you have to make that day up?
A: Yes.

Q: If I didn’t make up all my fasts before next Ramadan, what do I do?
A: If you had no excuse, you have to pay the penalty, Fidya as well as make them up later. (Fidya: feeding a poor person a full day’s meal per day that you missed).

Q: Do pregnant and breastfeeding women have to fast?
A: They are exempt if they fear for themselves or the baby. However, if they feel well enough, they can fast, after consulting a doctor.

Q: How do pregnant/nursing moms make up those fasting days if they have years of make ups?
A: There are multiple opinions of scholars:
1- make them all up over the years (majority opinion)
2- pay the fidya only (opinion of Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar (R))
3- pay the fidya AND make them up over the years

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