Who is right after all?
Why should we
act upon the
Mufti Muhammad Qasim Attari
Shari’ah allows for many dispensations in matters that are difficult for people to avoid. In fact, in certain circumstances, ease has been created by making halal that which was haram and making pure that was which impure. This is done on the basis of it being very difficult for the common people to avoid such things. Here are some examples. Cats are considered as predatory animals, and therefore, according to the general principle, their leftover should be deemed impure. However, as cats enter the home a lot and place their mouth in water and milk, deeming their leftover as impure would result in difficulty. Therefore, in a Hadith, an exception has been made by deeming the leftover of a cat as pure.
Likewise, there is another principle which states: ‘الضرورات تبیح المحظورات’, which means that necessities make the impermissible, permissible. So, anyone who the shari’ah considers as compelled will not be deemed sinful. For example, it is prohibited in Islam to eat carrion or swine, but if someone genuinely fears that they will lose their life due to hunger and there is nothing to eat besides carrion, swine or something else that is haram, one is permitted to consume carrion or swine in an amount that is necessary.
Similarly, if a woman falls ill and no female doctor is present, it is permissible for her to uncover her body as required to be treated by a male doctor. Likewise, wudu is obligatory (fard) for salah, but if a sick person will face harm in using water, or one’s illness will worsen or the recovery will be prolonged, it is permitted to perform dry ablution (tayammum). Regarding the sick, it is stated in the Holy Quran:
وَّ لَا عَلَى الْمَرِیْضِ حَرَجٌؕ-
‘nor any reprimand upon the sick.’
In the commentary of this verse, it is stated in Tafseer al-Qurtubi:
’ان الله رفع الحرج۔۔۔ عن المريض فيما يؤثر المرض فی اسقاطه، كالصوم وشروط الصلاة واركانها، والجهاد ونحو ذلك۔۔۔ فظاهر الآية وامر الشريعة يدل على ان الحرج عنهم مرفوع فی كل ما يضطرهم اليه العذر۔۔۔ فالحرج مرفوع عنهم فی هذا ‘
Translation: ‘Allah Almighty has lifted the difficulty (the struggle to follow shari’ah’s rulings) from the sick person in all religious matters in which his illness is an obstacle, such as fasting, the conditions and integrals of salah, jihad, etc. Therefore, the outward meaning of this verse and the rulings of the shari’ah denote that difficulty has been lifted in those matters in which their illness becomes an obstacle.’
It is clear from this discussion that the rulings of shari’ah have specific causes, contexts and conditions; if they are found, it is necessary to act upon that particular ruling. And if a ruling applies to a person but something makes it extremely difficult to act upon that ruling, there is a dispensation in such matters. Likewise, natural obstacles are also a significant factor leading to dispensations.
A major factor in creating dispensation is the lack of sanity or understanding. It is through the faculty of the intellect that a person distinguishes between good and evil, and it is in the presence of intellect and volition that the rulings of Islam are binding upon an individual. Therefore, it is an established principle of Islam that a person whose intellectual impairment renders him incapable of differentiating between right and wrong is not brought to account by the shari’ah. Also, such a person will not be instructed to perform acts of worship, such as to do wudu, pray salah, fast and perform Hajj. In fact, the ruling of committing a sin is not applicable at all to a person lacking sanity.
The same applies if people are deficient in their understanding due to some other reason, just as a child (non-baaligh) who has not intellectually matured. It is for this reason that salah, fasting and other matters are not obligatory upon children either. In fact, if a person is sleeping, there is no sin upon him for doing a certain action. For example, if a sleeping person misses salah or harms another with his hands or feet, it is not a sin. This is despite sleep being within a person’s control, for people go to sleep by their own choice. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم mentioned this principle in the following way:
رفع القلم عن ثلاث عن المبتلى او قال المجنون حتى يبرأ، وعن الصبي حتى يبلغ او يعقل وعن النائم حتى يستيقظ
Translation: ‘The pen (law) of the shari’ah has been lifted from three types of people: an insane person until he becomes sane, a child till he becomes baaligh, and a sleeping person until he awakens.’
In light of these principles, it becomes very clear that the branch of genetic engineering known as CRISPR technology could be somewhat detrimental for humans in the future. It is currently being used for preliminary beneficial works. To cure various human diseases, a person’s DNA and RNA are edited. This renders the genes inactive that cause disease. Now, in the next stage, work is being carried out to alter genes so that disease can be mitigated and bring about good health. One such trial has been carried out on a female suffering from heart disease, the results of which are pending.
If these trials are successful and then progress is made to alter various genes that affect the good attributes of humans, this will be extremely dangerous for humanity. This is because if the faculty of goodness is removed from humans, the ability to do good and accept good will no longer remain in them, and such people will become embodiments of evil.
Now remains the matter of what shari’ah’s ruling is regarding such people. If it is not within someone’s control to accept and act upon good, and the ability to distinguish between good and evil no longer exists, such a person cannot be compelled to do anything. As Islam tests people based on them having intellect, and the primary reason for being bound by sharia’s rulings (intellect) is not found in such case, shari'ah will give such people complete or partial dispensation according to their situation. This is because the matter of difficulty and hardship would clearly exist if such people were made bound by the rulings of shari'ah. Hence, the rulings regarding them will be the same as a person who lacks sanity.
The Quran also provides us with guidance on a different manner regarding such people by stating that Allah Almighty is Just; He does not wrong anyone, and He does not punish anyone until complete proof is given. He only punishes those who are disobedient after providing them the opportunity to pursue guidance. Allah Almighty states:
وَ مَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِیْنَ حَتّٰى نَبْعَثَ رَسُوْلًا(۱۵)
‘and We do not punish until We have sent a Messenger.’
It is stated in Tafseer Ibn Kathir regarding this verse: ‘Allah Almighty has informed of His justice here that He does not punish anyone until the proof has been completed for them and a Messenger is sent.’
All the discussion until this point has revolved around whether one is bound by shari’ah’s rulings in this world. How Allah Almighty decides on the Day of Judgement will be as He wills. However, it is clear from prophetic narrations that many of those who were exempt from shari’ah’s rulings due to necessities will be tested on the Day of Judgement. This test will be conducted by Allah Almighty granting them the ability to obey and disobey on the Day of Judgement and then testing them. An individual who is obedient at that time will enter Paradise, and anyone who is disobedient will enter Hell. This is alluded to in the Hadith below:
Sayyiduna Aswad Bin Saree’ رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ narrates that the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said that on the Day of Judgement, there will be four people (who will mention their reason for not accepting faith): one is a deaf person who was unable to hear anything; the second will be the person who lacked sanity; the third is the senile old man; and the fourth is the one who died in the age of interregnum (fatrah). The deaf individual will say: ‘O Allah! When Islam arrived, I was unable to hear anything.’ The person lacking sanity will say: ‘O Allah! When Islam arrived, [I was without sense] and children would throw dung at me.’ The old person will say: ‘O Allah! When Islam arrived, I did not possess any sense [my ability to understand had ceased].’ The one who passed away in the age of interregnum will say: ‘O Allah! Your Messenger did not come to me.’
At that time, Allah Almighty will take a covenant from them to obey His command. Then, they will be sent a message to enter the Fire. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘By the One in whose power lies Muhammad’s [صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم] life! If they enter it, they will find it to be cool and safe.’
Regarding this Hadith, it is stated in Fath al-Bari:
قد صحت مسألة الامتحان فی حق المجنون ومن مات فی الفترة من طرق صحيحة وحكى البيهقی فی كتاب الاعتقاد انه المذهب الصحيح
Translation: ‘The sound position is that the one who lacks sanity and the one who died in the age of interregnum will be tested [on the Day of Judgement]. And Imam al-Bayhaqi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه has related in Kitab-ul-Itiqaad that this is the correct position.’
After all of this discussion, we say that it is the greatness of Allah Almighty that: فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا یُرِیْدُؕ(۱۶) Translation: (He) always does whatever He wills. لَا یُسْــٴَـلُ عَمَّا یَفْعَلُ وَ هُمْ یُسْــٴَـلُوْنَ(۲۳) Translation: He (Allah) is not to be questioned what He does, and they (the people) will all be questioned.
والله تعالیٰ اعلم بالصواب
 al-Tirmizi, vol. 1, p. 149, Hadith 92
 [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 26, Surah al-Fath, verse 17)
 Tafseer al-Qurtubi, Surah al-Fath, commentary of verse 17, vol. 12, p. 313
 Musnad Abi Dawood al-Tayalisi, p. 15, Hadith 90
 [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 15, Surah Bani Israeel, verse 15)
 Tafseer Ibn Kathir, Surah Bani Israeel, commentary of verse 15, vol. 5, p. 49
 Musnad Ahmed, vol. 5, p. 496, Hadith 16,301
 Fath al-Baari, vol. 4, p. 213