Tag Archives: comparative fiqh

Ikhtilaf – I

In the previous post, we introduced the topic of Differences of Opinions. We listed the four ways of categorizing these differences. In this post, we will look at the first category: Differences due to interpretation of word meanings and grammatical constructions.

Within this category, we have several sub categories:

Shared literal meanings/Equivocality/Homonym (Ishtirak):

An example of this would be the word “qur” which means menses as well as the time of purity between menses. This word occurs in 2:228. The scholars thus arrived at two different rulings for the waiting period of divorce. According to those who considered  Qur’ to be the period of purity, the divorce becomes finalized as soon as her third menses have started, while according to those who viewed Qur’ as the actual menses, it is not finalized until her third menses have ended. You can read the details here.

Another example, would be the use of word “nakaha” in surah al-Nisa, verse 4:22, which reads “and marry not women whom your fathers have married”.  Can you find how the word “nakaha” is interpreted differently and the different rulings from it. Post in comments!

Literal and figurative meanings:

An example of this would be the word “lams” that occurs in 4:43. The word is literally used to indicate touching by the hand or the coming in contact of two objects, and figuratively to indicate intimate relation. Hence scholars differed in their interpertation of what does it mean that ablution is nullified on “touching” women as per the verse. Some scholars took the literal meaning while others took figurative meaning. Read the details of the issue here.

Sometimes, the switch between literal and figurative meaning results  from an implied omission or addition (example) of words.

Grammatical meanings:

Certain grammatical constructions may have more than one possible meaning. An example of this would be the verse of whudoo in Surah Maida, where Allah describes washing of hands as “wash your faces and your forearms to( illa ) the elbows”. The word illa in this context, could mean upto and not including elbows or it could include the elbows.  See the details here

These then are the different examples for this category. In the upcoming post, we will Inshallah look at the differences occurring due to hadith narrations.

Action Item:

Find more examples for each category listed above. Post in the comments


May Allah make this series beneficial for us.


Mcdonald, KFC, Moon Sighting…

Muslims, living in the Muslim Countries, generally tend to have limited exposure to Fiqh and its rulings. There is usually one dominant madhab and that’s all people know about. Rarely, if ever, people are exposed to other madahibs. However, the situation for many of us living in west, like Canada, is quite different.

Because of the diversity of muslims, from various countries, cultures and backgrounds, we are exposed to many madhabs. We find many different opinions on a given issue. We see people praying little differently in mosque. When Ramadhan comes, the whole moon sighting debate starts and not to mention the zabiha meat issues.

The question then arises, why do scholars differ? This then would be the topic of these series of posts Inshallah. So let’s get started.  To make it easy for us to understand these difference, scholars usually divide the reasons of differences into various categories and aspects. Here is one such categorization. The differences exists, due to:

  1. Interpretation of word meanings and grammatical constructions
  2. Hadith narrations
  3. Admissibility  of  certain principles
  4. Methods of Qiyas

In the next few posts, we will look at each category one by one.

Action Item:

  1. To get the feeling of some of these difference, skim though some of the fiqh issues in the following books:
  2. Post in the comments, evidences that show that the differences of opinions existed in the time of the Messenger (SAW) and that the differences are inherently bad or evil. (Hint: there is a post on this website, that talks about this)


  • The Evolution of Fiqh by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips

May Allah make this series beneficial for us.


Down Deposits: Halal or Haram?



One of the types of transactions that’s very common today is a down-deposit transaction. This happens all the time with somewhat large purchases, like wedding cakes, or cars.

Say your sister is getting married. You go to the bakery to locate a nice cake; passing by towers of icing, you locate one that doesn’t seem too unhealthy.

“That one?” the shopkeeper says. “That one is $200. There’s a non-refundable deposit of $50 on it.” Non-refundable–if you pay for it, walk out, change your mind, and cancel, then that money is lost.

Is this allowed or not?

Scholars have differed over this. The majority of scholars hold that it is not permissible to do this.

Why? Because it’s a debt-for-debt transaction! You owe the guy $200 – $50 (so $150), and he owes you a cake! That’s a debt-for-debt transaction! Ahhhhhhh!! (Wait, wait!! Don’t throw up that cake yet ….)

The Hanbali scholars disagree with this; they hold that this is a permissible type of transaction. And their opinion is insha’Allah the stronger and the correct one.

Why did they say this? Two of their proofs are:

  1. No Prohibition: There is no specific prohibition against a down-deposit transaction. The asl (root) is that all transactions are halal until proven haram. Since there’s no specific prohibition, we’re somewhat good to go.
  2. The Narration of Nafis lbn al-Harith. Nafis (radiallahu ‘anhu) built a prison for ‘Umar (radiallahu ‘anhu) and sold it to him on the condition that if he liked it, he would pay the full amount; and if he didn’t like it, then his deposit would be forefit! [Recorded in the Musnad of Imam Ahmed] Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing here?

So insha’Allah it’s halal. So go ahead! Enjoy that cake!

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alam.

Action Steps:

  • Grab the nearest person and explain to them why down payments are permissible, and what the proofs are for both sides of scholars. (Grab your friend, email your family member, blog it, podcast it, whatever you like!)
  • Use down payments in your transactions as a seller. If you’re selling something and stand to lose a lot and need collateral, use a down deposit! It’s halal!

Shaykh Tawfique Chaudhry. The Real Deal. University of Toronto, Toronto. 08 Jan. 2009.