Self Criticism of Pharisaical Muslims by Shaykh Zahir Mahmood

Pharisaical, from the term Pharisee, refers to someone who engages in practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct, without regard to the spirit of the religion[1]. There are unfortunately many Muslims who follow Islamic teachings and jurisprudence without understanding the scope and purpose of such teachings. This generally means that they adhere to Islamic jurisprudence, henceforth known as fiqh, but that they don’t understand the principles of fiqh, henceforth known as Usool al Fiqh. For a general understanding of what fiqh is and how it functions within the Islamic belief system, Mufti Ebrahim Desai states[2]:

Among the torch bearers of true knowledge and guidance after the illustrious Sahaaba (Radhiallahu Anhum) were the four famous Imaams of Fiqh who possessed deep understanding of the Shari’ah. They extracted the fundamental rules and principles of Shari’ah in the light of the Qur’aan and Hadith and thereby extracted many Shar’ee rulings. The fundamental rules and principles are known as Usool-al-Fiqh and the laws extracted therefrom are known as Fiqh.

In responding to a question on certain fiqhi practises, Mufti Yaseen gives us another angle of understanding what Usool al Fiqh is, he states[3]:

Not every single detail of Shari’ah must be explicitly expressed or declared in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Sometimes, rulings are derived from indications, and implications of verses or ahaadith. For this reason, a whole science, known as Usool al-Fiqh is established in order for a Scholar to recognise and identify the correct sources of Islamic Law and methods to deduce rulings from those sources. Some rulings are deduced from Dalaalat al-Nass, Ibaarat al-Nass, Ishaarat al-Nass, and Iqtidhaa al-Nass.

Therefore, it is inappropriate for the lay Muslim to develop an understanding of the laws in Islam, by merely extracting information from the hadeeth corpus and the Qur’aan. In Islam, the only persons who are qualified to do so are those studied in the science of fiqh, previously mentioned as Usool al Fiqh. Shaykh Zahir Mahmood, a prominent scholar based in the UK, corrects a misconception of one of the laws in Islam as it pertains to women, and demonstrates the great danger that can occur if lay Muslims follow their own eisegtical conclusions and not the valid teachings from the scholars, he states[4]:

Without belittling anyone or anyone’s question, I need to respond to a question which was posted under my previous post. The post was about the Saudi sister who was stabbed and people just walked passed her without helping. I have deleted the persons post so you will not be able to ascertain who it is.

The question was “should a person touch a Non Mahram to save her.” The issue of concern is the lack of basic Islamic knowledge, every Muslim should know the answer to this. Next time you see a non Mahram dying on the street are you going to ring the local Mufti for a fatwa before you help her/he.

The answer it not only permissible it is an obligation.

May Allah guide us all to the straight path.

For those who are critical of Islam and who base their criticism on the perceived laws of Islam, it is my intention to have proven that the practises of some Muslims as it pertains to women, betrays the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, and that the scholars have recognized this problem and are working to guide the misguided lay men. Therefore such criticism is invalid against Islam, but valid against those who misapply Islamic teachings due to their own ignorance.


[1] – “Pharisaical“, Dictionary.Com

[2] – “What is Your Definition of a Qualified Scholar and its Justification?“, AskImam.Org, Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

[3] – “Questions About Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah“, MuftiSays.Com, Mufti Yaseen Shaikh.

[4] – “Shaykh Zahir Mahmood’s Facebook Post“, Facebook.Com, Shaykh Zahir Mahmood.

and Allaah knows best.

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