Archive for April, 2007

What Does Iraq’s New Hydrocarbon Law say About the War?

April 19, 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

What Does Iraq’s New Hydrocarbon Law say About the War?


On May 28th, Amman Jordan is set to play host to a 3 day economic trade show, a corporate meet and greet between powerful, well moneyed investors and those who the guard the gates of vital decision making government ministries in the perilous but oil rich place called Iraq.

On its website, ‘The Iraq Development Program’, loosely defined organizers, call the
Jordan gathering “historic” and “landmark”. Officially titled an Oil, Gas, Petrochemical & Electricity Summit, the three days of face to face meetings could impact Iraq’s economic future for years to come.

Efforts to contact IDP directly and understand the origin of their funding and purpose were not successful, but the group’s stated mission is to “aid Iraq as an economic force.”

The Iraq Development Program’s web page says ‘following declaration of new foreign investment laws for the extractive industries, noting that the government is now finalizing its new hydrocarbon laws’ to which promoters of the event say “the timing of this summit could not be better.

Iraq’s new oil- hydrocarbon law, and the push to see it quickly passed, has begun to raise serious questions among observers and critics.

The Iraqi cabinet approved the hydrocarbon law on February 26th and sent it on to Parliament where it now sits. If fully approved, Iraq’s oil reserves would be opened to investment from foreign multinational oil companies. The current legislation would also provide oil companies the option for long term contracts of up to 30 years. The laws would set up a Profit Sharing Agreements or PSA’s arrangement, where revenue is based on the profit after oil companies’ deduct their production costs. Reportedly, remaining profits would then be divided among the Iraqi provinces.

Critics charge the law offers excessive and unfair profits to the oil companies. Others worry that since Iraq is now a country experiencing horrific turmoil, the time is not right to debate such important economic legislation..

Supporters of the oil law disagree. They say the regulatory, legal and tax structure the oil law sets up, will invite the necessary outside investment the country needs to jump start its economy. They see the law as an enabler of market based economic infrastructure that will produce streams of revenue, helping restore stability and prosperity for the Iraqi people.

In the background, outspoken opponents of the war, say the push for such a law is evidence that that the war had more to do with gaining access to oil than what the public was told.

“This story raises so many more questions than it answer” said Dr. Louay Bahry, Adjunct scholar of Public Policy at the non partisan Middle East Institute in Washington D.C.“As I read it, these foreign companies are fighting to get to Iraqi oil” said Dr. Bahry noting such practices would be new.

On Background, oil company representatives were clear about hopes to enter Iraq but stressed security, democracy and an oil law that included investment incentives are necessary.

PSA’s are a primary incentive of the oil laws.. According to the International Energy Agency, 12 percent of the world’s oil reserves are subject to Profit Sharing Agreements.
“This would completely break from normal practice in the region where all the major oil producing industries are in the public sector” said Greg Mutitt, co director of the British research and watchdog organization, Platform London. Mutitt said
Iraq would be the only major Middle Eastern oil producing nation where production is controlled by foreign companies.
Platform London’s “Unraveling the Carbon Web” project states that it seeks to reduce the environmental and social impact of oil corporations and help citizens gain a say in decisions that affect them.

According to Muttit, oil companies have been lobbying hard to get what they want in Iraq by working with both the
US and UK governments, and through the International Tax and Investment Center.

Mutitt, who authored a chapter in a new book called “A Game as Old as the Empire” says that ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and ENI funded ITIC’s efforts at influencing the oil legislation in

Founded in 1993, after the fall of the former
Soviet Union, The International Tax and Investment Center is a Washington D.C non profit research and education foundation with some of the world’s largest corporations as sponsors. Co chair’s of the organization are former Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering and The Rt. Hon Lord Walker, MBE, PC, former UK Secretary of Trade and Industry.

“Our purpose is to improve tax and investment regimes” said Daniel Witt, President of the ITIC in Washington DC. The organization works with economies in transition and according to
Witt, Iraq fit that profile perfectly.

Witt says the challenge in Iraq was, how to attract investment where there is no stable economic infrastructure? In
Iraq, ITIC commissioned a number of experts and looked at contract and fiscal options in the petroleum sector.

“Make no mistake, donor money is important in transition periods” said Witt.

But, he says both the oil companies and the people of
Iraq, stand to benefit from ITIC’s recommendations.

In 2004 ITIC published its Petroleum and Iraq’s Future: Fiscal Options and Challenges report that said every $1 increase in oil sales may translate into an extra $2 for the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The report said the Iraqi government should write legislation that will create a framework where resources, rent and risk are shared between the investor, consistent with underlying economic potential and drawing on current industry norms and best practice.

The study says that profits based systems tend to align parties toward common objectives.

Beyond rebuilding the country, oil company representatives say Iraqi oil plays another necessary role, meeting the world’s energy demands.

“Given the scale of Iraq’s resources and ambitions, we find it hard to see a future in which production of these resources will not play a significant role in meeting the global energy challenge” said a representative from Shell International in London this past March 29th.

But a number of critics worry the Iraqi people will be short changed. Some Iraqis see the oil companies as trying to gain partial ownership of the country’s primary source of revenue.

“These laws give these foreign oil companies the right to actually have shared ownership of the oil” said Raed
Jarrar, Iraq Project Consultant with The American Friends Committee.

Jarrar says that since the laws do not set any limits of the percentage shared, over the next 30 years or so, the PSAs could cost Iraq billions of dollars.

Privatization proponents disagree, arguing that Iraqis will maintain ultimate control over their reserves of oil while benefiting from world market trends.

According to Daniel Witt at International Tax and Investment Center, “as oil prices go up or down, you have these dynamics in the contracts but Iraq is not surrendering sovereign rights” over the oil he said.

In 1972, Iraq nationalized all assets of the country’s private oil consortium, the Iraq Petroleum Company, or IPC, after years of disagreements over revenue. In the past, Iraq relied on oil for up to 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings. According to a CIA memo that same year, Iraq’s move to nationalize was the result of 11 years of tensions that resulted from the IPC’s refusal to satisfy Iraq’s demands for back payments it claimed the consortium owed. The Iraq Petroleum Company, or IPC, included French, Dutch, British and United States oil firms including British Petroleum, Shell, Mobil, Standard and Compagnie Francaise des Petroles. Nationalization meant that one hundred percent of oil revenues went directly to the central government, a move that many in the Middle East saw as a move towards greater economic self determination, a step that stood to benefit the Iraqi people directly through social programs, healthcare an education. Nationalization set’s up a system whereby foreign oil companies buy oil from the state, under the state’s terms.The move set the stage whereby Western oil companies, and the powerful economies they supply, found themselves in even more vulnerable positions, subject to the whims of oil rich countries.

The Central Intelligence Agency 1972 memo expressed its displeasure calling the move “sudden and dramatic.”

Some say that multi national oil interests have been anxious to get back to Iraq ever since.

Public debate over the law, both in Iraq and the
United States, has remained hidden beneath front pages filled with daily death and destruction.

According to Greg Muttit at Platform London the majority of
Iraq’s citizens have no idea that this important law is being discussed.

“Most Iraqi’s would be extremely angry about this if anyone had bothered to tell them this was being done” he said.

He says that those who are, MPs, trade unions and oil experts, are actively organizing against it.

“The oil companies and governments are planning to take advantage of the occupation and the general weak position of Iraqi state institutions to push through deals on highly profitable terms, at the expense of the Iraqi people” said Muttit.

A few Iraqi political leaders have raised opposition.

A March 13th, “Voices of Iraq” report said Iraqi National Slate Party member Hussein al-Fallui was arguing that it was not the right time to be dealing with the issue.

“Socio-political and security circumstances do not allow such a step now, as the draft would allow investment companies to re-wield power over Iraqi oil” Falluji told Parliament according to the “VOI” report.

ITIC’S Daniel Witt disagrees, saying the time is right to invite new investment that will re start the stalled economy.

“Given the lack of infrastructure needed to jump start the economy, and get investment in now, verses waiting 10 or 15 years so they (the Iraqis) can debate these laws til kingdom come” he said.

But some have questioned whether the law takes into account
Iraq’s reality on the ground.. They worry about tensions that might arise between the various, deeply divided provinces once the market system is in place.

Dr. Louay Bahry says there is a great deal of opposition from both the sunnis and shite regarding the law. He says the Kurds, who apparently offer the most support, would prefer total freedom, and see revenue from their region go directly to them.

“When it comes to revenue sharing, the law is not clear how exactly that is going to happen” said Dr. Louday Bahryl.

He says that 80 percent of the country’s oil specialists have fled the country.

“We have so many oil specialists from Iraq, but they are no longer there” he said.

Raed Jarrar goes further, saying the law will exacerbate those divisions. He calls the law a marriage of convenience between the Bush Administration and Iraqi separatists who are monopolizing power within the Iraqi government.

“The oil law threatens the concept of a unified Iraq’s existence” because the law “decentralizes” most of the important authority of signing oil contracts he said.

The recent surge by American troops h as raised eyebrows as some ask whether the increase is an attempt to buy time so outside oil interests can have a chance to gain a greater foothold over the direction of the fragile economy.

An April 5th analysis report in “Iraq Updates” by UPI’s Pamela Hess, said US officials are planning “a range of options to maintain the troop increase, from late summer through early spring 2008” whereby the hope is to quell the violence long enough in Iraq for the nascent government to address some of the ‘underlying causes of the conflict, including the oil wealth sharing law.

Supporters of Iraq’s current hydrocarbon law cross both sides of the American political spectrum. They see the law as not only as business friendly, but a chance to bring Iraq into the world marketplace which they believe will foster democracy.

“The only way to fuel economic growth is through an engine of private sector investment” and “the sad part is, advocating state run equals slower economic growth which also equals slower improvement in quality of life” said Daniel Witt.

Recommendations 62 and 63 of Baker/Hamilton Iraqi Study Group recommends that the United States assist the Iraqi in drafting an oil law that helps privatize the industry and encourages investment.

One of the Study Group’s members, Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta plugged the law in an April 4th “New York Times” op-ed.

In the article, Panetta listed the eventual approval of Iraq’s oil law as one of a number of steps the Iraqis could take to encourage democracy and achieve national reconciliation.

In his April 3rd Rose Garden Press conference, President Bush told reporters he had spoken to Iraq’s Prime Minister about the ‘oil law’ earlier.

In a March 27th speech to the Washington Institute’s Public Policy forum, David Satterfield, a Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, called the national hydrocarbon law part of the Bush Administration’s “New Way Forward” in Iraq.  On March 3, 2007, US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad wrote in the “Washington Post” that the national hydrocarbon law “is a significant achievement for Iraqi’s national reconciliation.”The Bush Administration appears to have been interested in an oil law friendly to foreign investment since the invasion began in 2003. But, some have pointed to clues that a push to gain easy access to Iraq’s oil has been underway for years.In 1999, Vice President Dick Cheney, while still CEO of Halliburton, said in a speech to the Institute of Petroleum that the “Middle East, with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies.”In 2003, four months after the March invasion had begun, The US Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded Mc Lean Virginia consulting firm Bearing Point, a nine million dollar contract to support activities and policies undertaken by the Coalition Provisional Authority, designed to create a competitive private sector.Platform London’s Carbon Web wrote in July 2006, that the US government had hired advisers from Bearing Point to help in drafting the oil law. Bearing Point spokesperson Steve Lunceford said the firm was doing what it has done in the past in places like Kosovo and Poland, providing assistance in the review of a number of economic policy efforts.

“This included providing a single expert that consulted to the government on its oil industry” said Lunceford this past week.

“Note, this does not equal ‘drafting’ the proposed hydrocarbon law” he wrote in an email message.

Some Invasion opponents see Bearing Point’s role in helping draft the law, as part of a bridge of suggestive evidence that crosses over to the controversial period before the war, when talk of how to gain control over Iraq’s oil was quietly bubbling in pockets around the world, primarily the United States and Britain In his 2002 “American Prospect” profile of Ahmed Chalabi, America’s original choice for a high leadership position in a new Iraq, Robert Dreyfus offers a snapshot of alleged oil ambition playing a role in an eventual invasion.Dreyfus’ story quotes former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James E. Akins as saying conservative think tanks and multinationals have denationalization in mind, and the parceling of “Iraqi oil out to American oil companies.”

Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi National Congress, had allegedly met with US oil company officials and guaranteed lucrative contracts if the US overthrew Saddam Hussein.

According to the “American Prospect” 2002 story, when asked about such meetings one US oil executive said “I can’t discuss that, even on background.”Later, in a July 2003 interview with PBS television program FRONTLINE, Chalabi admitted being “close” to Bush Administration members Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith confirming he’d had easy access to Vice President Cheney’s office. When confronted by FRONTLINE with a direct quote from the “London Observer” where he assured US oil companies lucrative contracts for removing Saddam, Chalabi said “no, that’s not true” arguing he’d said Iraq’s oil needed investment to increase production.

Leading back to present day, where a number of observers and invasion opponents allege that the hydrocarbon law, and the contracts it encourages, lend evidence to the “blood for oil” charge as Green Party Chairman Jim Coplen did in a March 5th press release.

The hydrocarbon law’s supporters caution against making such allegations.

Of those who attempt to draw correlations between the new hydrocarbon law and the motive for the invasion, Daniel Witt at ITIC says “they are trying to connect dots that aren’t there” arguing such controversial theory provides a platform to advance their long stated objectives.

“They have a fundamentally different view of the world than me” but “history has proven that people are better off with economic growth.”




Nawawi’s collection of 40 AHadeeth on video

April 19, 2007

The Mansion the War Bought

April 5, 2007

By: JOSHUA FRANK on: 03.04.2007

Article image


It happens all the time. If the antiwar movement takes on the Democrats for their bitter shortcomings a few liberals are bound to criticize us for not hounding Bush instead. It doesn’t even have to be an election year to get the progressives fired up. They just don’t seem to get it. “How can you attack the Democrats when we have such a bullet-proof administration ruling the roost in Washington,” somebody recently emailed me, “Don’t you have something better to do than write this trash?!”

Well, not really. It’s too cold in upstate New York right now to do anything other than fume over the liberal villains in Washington. “Why do I write about the putrid Democratic Party?” I responded, “I’ll tell you, there’s a reason this Republican administration is so damn bullet proof — nobody from the opposition party is taking aim and pulling the trigger.”

And that’s why the Dems are just as culpable in all that has transpired since Bush took office in 2000. They aren’t just a part of the problem — the Democrats are the problem.

Richard Blum and Dianne Feinstein’s new house. (see photo above)

I mean, who is really all that surprised Bush and his boys wanted to conquer the Middle East, curtail civil liberties and rampage the environment? Not me. That’s just what unreasonable neo-cons do: they stomp out the little guy, kill off the weak and suffocate the voiceless. They only care about the girth of their wallets and the number of scalps they can tack above their mantles.

The Democrats aren’t just letting the Republicans get away with murder, however, some of them are also reaping the benefits of the Bush wars. We constantly hear about Dick Cheney’s ties to Halliburton and how his ex-company is making bundles off US contracts in Iraq. But what we don’t hear about is how Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and her husband are also making tons of money off the “war on terror”.

The wishy-washy senator now claims Bush misled her leading up to the invasion of Iraq. I don’t think she’s being honest with us though, there may have been other reasons she helped sell Bush’s lies. According to The Center for Public Integrity, Senator Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum has racked in millions of dollars from Perini, a civil infrastructure construction company, of which the billionaire investor wheels 75 percent of the voting share.

In April 2003 the US Army Corps of Engineers dived out $500 million to Perini to provide services for Iraq’s central command. A month earlier in March 2003, Perini was awarded $25 million to design and construct a facility to support the Afghan National Army near Kabul. And in March 2004, Perini was awarded a hefty contract worth up to $500 million for “electrical power distribution and transmission” in the southern Iraq.

Senator Feinstein, who sits on the Appropriations Committee as well as the Select Committee on Intelligence, is reaping the benefits of her husband’s investments. The Democratic royal family recently purchased a 16.5 million dollar mansion in the flush Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. It’s a disgusting display of war profiteering and the leading Democrat, just like Cheney, should be called out for her offense.

And that’s exactly why the Bush administration is so darn bullet-proof. The Democratic leadership in Washington is just as crooked and just as callous.

Hadith 12: Being concerned with beneficial matters

April 5, 2007

  [This page was last updated: 5/6/02]

Hadith 12 Arabic text


On the authority of Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu ‘anhu, who said : The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said :

“Part of the perfection of someone’s Islam is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.”

[Hadith hasan – Recorded by Tirmidhi]


Ibn Rajab, one of the commentators of Imam Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, mentioned that this hadith is a foundation of manners, behaviour and etiquette in Islam.

Ibn Rajab also quotes Imam Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qairawani, one of the Maliki Imams, as saying that the following four hadiths set the main concept for good manners and behaviour:

  • The hadith mentioned above.
  • “Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent, ..”
    [Bukhari and Muslim. Refer to Hadeeth 15 of this collection]
  • A man said to the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam: “Counsel me”. He said : ” Do not become angry”. The man repeated [his request] several times, and he said: “Do not become angry.”
    [Al-Bukhari. Refer to Hadith 16 of this collection]
  • “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
    [Al-Bukhari. Refer to Hadith 13 of this collection]


This hadith states that a believer should avoid things that are of no concern to him. They are of no benefit to this life nor to the hereafter, in terms of belief, speech or actions. In justifying this point, the Maliki jurist Imam Ibn Al-Arabi said that a person is not able to take care of all the necessary matters, why would he then get involved in the unnecessary matters that are of no real concern.

Jamaluddin Zarabozo, one of the contemporary commentators of Imam Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, emphasises that Islam protects society as a whole from any kind of harm. Much of the harm inflicted on the society are due to people indulging in the unnecessary matters like meddling into the affairs of others when one has no right or responsibility over the particular issue. These types of practices normally lead to great evil in the society. The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, recommended a way to avoid societal problems.

He also commented that a believer should train him/herself to concentrate to be involved in the beneficial matters so that this in itself will be the person’s attitude. Do not waste time, money and effort in things that are of no benefit in this life and the hereafter.

Putting the hadith in a different way, part of the perfection of faith (iman) of a believer is to be concerned with matters that are beneficial in this life and the hereafter. This is emphasised by another hadith:

“Be keen with what is beneficial to you, and seek help from Allah – do not be reckless.”

Muslims have enough matters of concern to the extent one may not have enough time to deal with all of them. This is related to the issue of time management, whereby we need to be involved with matters that are of concern to us.

An important question related to this hadith is what are the things to be of concern to a true believer? Answering this question will enable us to practice this hadith in the right manner.

  • One of the things that are of concern is to fulfill the obligations (wajib), to perform as much as we can of the recommended or preferable acts (mandub), to avoid the forbidden (haram) and to avoid as much as we can of the makruh (those that are disliked).
  • Fard-a’yn, an individual obligation, are matters of concern to every one of us. Examples are matters like worship and supplication.

  • Fard-kifayah, community-wide collective obligations, must not be neglected and should also be matters of concern to us. An example is to work for the betterment of the community. Everyone with their own profession and expertise has a role to contribute towards the community.

  • Other matters of concern to Muslims are enjoining good and discouraging evil, self-accountability and to practice Ihsan in all that we do. In the Quran:

(Allah) Who created death and life that He may try you, which of you is best in deeds; and He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.
[Surah Al-Mulk (67): ayat 2]

As related in Hadith 17 in this collection:

“Verily, Allah has prescribed excellence (Ihsan) in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.”
[Recorded by Imam Muslim]

  • Another matter of concern to all Muslims, but is currently lacking among us, is to think about the affairs of oneself, the community and the whole Muslim community (ummah). We need to think of how to further improve our (the Muslims) situation and not just be content with the current situation. This applies in whatever we do, whether we are worshippers, teachers, professionals or preachers. We should only be slaves of Allah and not others. Hence, we should not be enslaved by current methods or routines of doing things. We need to think creatively to improve the situation, in ways not contradicting the sharia’h. In this context, modern tools like ‘idea generation’ and ‘problem solving’ can be of great benefit.

We also need to be concerned about the greater challenges facing our community. In this era of technology and communication revolution, many of us are being enslaved intellectually. We need to think about our future generation because we will be responsible before Allah. We need to apply and disseminate our knowledge and not just building ‘reservoirs’ of knowledge. We need to design our future and not just stand passively and let others design and impose upon us their preconceived scenarios.


Matters of concern to the Muslims cover the affairs of oneself, the community and the whole Muslim community (ummah). We need to create awareness among each other in facing the issues and challenges of the ummah. For example, this can be done through dialogues and talks. Those in authority have a greater responsibility in carrying out this task.

We should be aware not to waste our time and effort in matters that are of no concern to us. We should keep ourselves busy only with matters of benefit to us and to the ummah.


  home  ::  the hadiths  ::  imam nawawi  ::  glossary   © 2002

Hadith 11: Avoiding doubtful acts

April 5, 2007

  [This page was last updated: 21/05/02]

Hadith 11 Arabic text



عن أبي محمد الحسن بن على بن ابي طالب سبط رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وريحانته رضي الله عـنهـما ، قـال : حـفـظـت مـن رســول الله صلى الله عـليـه وسلم : ( دع ما يـريـبـك إلى ما لا يـريـبـك ).
رواه الترمذي [ رقم : 2520 ] ، والنسائي [ رقم : 5711 ] ، وقال الترمذي : حديث حسن صحيح.

On the authority of Abu Muhammad al-Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Taib, the grandson of the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ëalayhi wasallam, and who is dearest to him, radiyallahu ëanhuma, who said: ìI committed to memory from the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ëalayhi wasallam, (the following words):

Leave that about which you are in doubt for that about which you are in no doubt.

[Al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaíi related it, and al-Tirmidhi said: It is a good and genuine Hadith]


This hadith goes in line with Hadith 6. In this hadith the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, has set a criterion by which Muslims can decide whether something is permissible or not. There is another version of this hadith where the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, elaborated further by saying: “Verily, truth is tranquillity and falsehood is doubt.” This means that the truth will lead to tranquillity and falsehood will lead to doubt.

Thus the criterion set by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, allows us to judge what is false or wrong (i.e. something which causes us to be doubtful) and what is the truth (i.e. something which we are sure of and confident that it is correct because we feel happy and at peace with it). This hadith lays down a principle that can be applied in all aspects of one’s life. It also shows the way to truth and righteousness. Thus, this hadith is of extreme importance.

lessonsThis hadith indicates that one should only perform an act or deed (which is permissible and proper) if he is positive or certain of it. Performing this act will lead to some kind of tranquillity or happiness in this life and in the Hereafter – this is one of the benefits of applying the hadith.


In the other version of this hadith mentioned above, falsehood leads to doubt and never to tranquillity. So if a believer finds his heart being disturbed by something (i.e. he feels uncertain or doubtful), then he should stay away from it. The heart of the true believer is tranquil at the sight of truth and righteousness. And the heart becomes unsure and shaky at the sight of falsehood and wrong.

We can conclude that this criterion applies only to the guided righteous Muslim who is enlightened by wahi, i.e. the Qur’an and Sunnah, and is adhering to this guidance. If a Muslim is indulging in forbidden acts, this criterion will not work for him because his heart will not be sensitive to what it faces.

The criterion of the hadith is activated by certain conditions or pre-requisites: knowledge, iman, adhering to the enlightenment of the wahi, etc. In other words, this criterion can only exist if the person is adhering to the commands of Allah subhana wa ta’ala, the commands of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, following the wahi, etc. Only then can a person reach such a status or level. But for those who indulge in muharramat (prohibitions), do not observe wajibat (obligations) , etc., this criterion will not be activated. Even if it does exist, it will not be reliable.

Sometimes there are people who try to avoid doubtful matters while they are indulging in muharram. For example, the people who killed al-Hussain (the brother of the narrator of this hadith). After having killed him, they start discussing about the ruling on the killing of mosquitoes, whether it is permissible or not.


There are many matters or issues relating to the shariah where the scholars have conflicting views or opinions. For example, some scholars say that it is a wajib to recite Surat al-Fatihah in the congregational prayer while other scholars say it is not. Or the paying of zakat for Muslim women’s jewellery – whether a woman has to pay zakat for jewellery that she wears/uses and not just for those that she keeps for investment – an issue which has never been resolved. In these situations, can the Muslim apply the criterion of this hadith? According to some scholars, it is permissible to do so – this is known as the ‘cautious approach’. This became a very well-known approach for some scholars who used it whenever there were conflicting views.

So for the issue of reciting Surat al-Fatihah, to those who insist that without reciting it the prayer is invalid, these scholars following the cautious approach say that they should recite it. And in the case of the zakat for jewellery, the cautious approach is that it is better to pay the zakat for all jewellery, whether it is worn/used or not, so that the woman will be ‘saved’ either way.

There is another approach of the scholars which holds that it is not a matter of conflicting views, it is a matter of the authenticity and soundness of the proofs. If there is a sound dalil (evidence), the scholars will follow it. This approach is also practiced by those who strictly follow a madhab because the madhab follows a dalil.

There are also many situations which consist of both good and bad. The cautious approach will suggest that we avoid an act if it involves both good and bad aspects. The approach which follows the dalil applies the concept of weighing between benefits and harms. This involves applying principles derived from the Qur’an and Hadith. These principles state that it is permissible to give up a minor benefit in order to avoid a major harm. Or tolerate a minor harm in order to avoid a major one or to gain a major benefit.

Looking back on Islamic history, we can see that some scholars were for one approach while other scholars were for the other. Thus it is not crucial for us to determine which one is the better approach.


In the situation of conflicting views where something is known for certain and something which is just a mere conjecture, what is known for sure will take precedence, i.e. will be the prevailing view. This is one of the principles of Fiqh. For example, if we know that a piece of clothing has some impurity on it but we are not sure exactly where, it is better that we wash the entire clothing. Another example is if a person is doubtful about how many rakaats he has already prayed, whether it is one or two, he should continue his prayer with what he is certain of – he is sure he has prayed one rakaat so he should continue with the second one.


Another principle is that it is not allowed to make ijtihad if something is clearly and definitively stated in the Qur’an or authentic Hadith. If there is text which clearly states the hukum (ruling), then the ijtihad is not needed.


There is no righteousness or piety in avoiding something that is clearly and unquestionably permissible, i.e. something that is lawful and clearly permitted by shariah. For example, in the area of food, one shouldn’t say he will refrain from eating meat as a matter of righteousness. He will not be rewarded for this.

There is the hadith that tells the story of the three men, where one vowed not to sleep so he can pray all night, one vowed to fast everyday and one vowed not to marry, all for the sake of righteousness. These actions which these men vowed not to do (sleeping, eating and getting married) are lawful things which are not only permitted but also encouraged. (In fact, some scholars even say that there should be a minimum number of hours everyday which we allocate for sleep so that our bodies get enough rest.) When the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, heard of the three men’s vows, he was very disappointed. He, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, called them and told them he was the most righteous and pious amongst them and yet he sleeps, eats and marries. Moreover the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, made a principal concerning this matter by saying: “This is my way, and whoever refrains from it is not part of me.”

Thus, if something is clearly permissible in shariah, there is no point in refraining from doing it with the intention that doing so is an ibadah. If it is for other good reasons, e.g. to avoid meat because of one’s health, then it is okay.


One of the tricks of shaitan is that he will take something which is forbidden and present it in a way to make it look like a permissible act. One should be careful not to be deceived by shaitan. If something is muharram, then no matter what, it is forbidden. We must not allow shaitan to influence us and change our perception into thinking that something which is forbidden may not be all that bad after all – that it is permissible to do it.


Shaykh Jamaluddin Zarabozo says in his commentaries on Imam Nawawi’s Forty Hadith that in these contemporary times there are many matters in business transactions where there might contain some implicit aspects of riba’. Thus there are many new situations or issues where people are confused as to whether something is acceptable or not. He says that it is better to avoid acts which we are not sure of or where there are no clear views from scholars.

Sometimes these issues are discussed by scholars but their views are not being promoted enough to the Muslims in general. Many of the renowned scholars today meet once a year to discuss contemporary issues and these issues are then published in a special magazine. Unfortunately, this magazine is not widely distributed and not many people, including educators, other scholars, etc., are aware of it. We should all try to keep ourselves informed with the latest views or opinions of the scholars, especially on matters related to our lifestyle today, e.g. banking, insurance, etc.


This hadith equips Muslims with a practical criterion by which to judge doubtful acts and situations, and enables them to make the right decision concerning these matters. However, Muslims need to understand how to apply such a criterion correctly and not to be deceived by wrong perceptions or personal interest.


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