Shaykh Bin Baz was asked regarding the ruling on those who study or teach positive (man-made) law, as to whether they have committed Kufr (disbelief) or Fisq (flagrant violation of Islamic Laws) by doing so and whether it is valid to perform Salah (Prayer) behind them. He answered by saying:
The answer is that there is no doubt that Allah (Glorified be He) obligated His Servants to rule and judge according to His Shari‘ah (Islamic law). He warned them against resorting to other than it, and declared this as characteristic of the hypocrites. He also said that ruling by other than His Laws is the ruling of Jahiliyyah (time of ignorance) and He (Glorified and Exalted be He) clarified that there are no laws better than His. Almighty Allah swore that the Servants will not be Mu’minin (believers) until they make His Messenger (peace be upon him) the judge in all disputes between them and find in themselves no resistance against his decisions and accept them with full submission. He (Glorified be He) also mentions in Surah Al-Ma’idah that judging by other than what He has revealed is Kufr, injustice, and Fisq. Allah clarifies all the proofs of what we have mentioned in His Book. As for those who study and teach such laws, they are divided into different categories:
First category: those who study or teach them to learn their reality, realize the superiority of the Shari‘ah laws over them, or to benefit from them in a way that does not contradict with the Shari‘ah, or to benefit others in these regards. As far as I can see, there is no sin in this, as evident to me from the Shari‘ah; in fact, they will be rewarded and praised if they want to show the defects of these laws and the superiority of the Shari‘ah over them. Performing Salah behind anyone from this group is undoubtedly valid. The ruling on them is the same as for those who study or teach the rulings on Riba (usury/interest) or the types of Khamr (intoxicants) and gambling, and corrupt beliefs, to know what they are, clarify Allah’s Ruling on them, and benefit others by this. This is as long as they believe in their prohibition in the same way as the previous group should believe that ruling according to positive laws is inconsistent with Allah’s Shari‘ah. The ruling on them is not that of those who learn Sihr (sorcery) or teach it to others, as Sihr is forbidden in itself, as it includes Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) and worshipping Jinn (creatures created from fire) instead of Allah. Consequently, learning or teaching it to others is not achieved except through Shirk. This differs from those who study and teach positive laws, not to rule in accordance with them or out of belief in their validity, but for a permissible or a Shar‘y (Islamically lawful) purpose as previously mentioned.
Second category: those who learn or teach positive law to judge by it or assist others to do so, believing in the prohibition of ruling by other than what Allah has revealed, but being motivated by a desire or love of money to do so. Those people are undoubtedly Fasiqs (flagrant violators of Islamic Law) who are committing Kufr, injustice, and Fisq, however, it is minor Kufr, injustice, and Fisq that does not take them out of Islam. This is the known opinion of the scholars and it is also the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas, Tawus, ‘Ata’, Mujahid, and a group of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) and Khalaf (successors), as was mentioned by Al-Hafizh Ibn Kathir, Al-Baghawy, Al-Qurtuby, and others. It was also mentioned by the scholar Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah be merciful to him) in his book: “Al-Salah”. Shaykh `Abdul-Latif ibn `Abdul-Rahman ibn Hasan (may Allah be merciful to him) also wrote a good treatise on this issue, which was published in the third volume of”Al-Rasa’il Al-Ula (The First Collection of Messages)”.
There is no doubt that the people of this category are in great danger, as it is feared that they may fall into Riddah (apostasy). As to the validity of performing Salah behind them and their likes of Fasiqs, this is a well-known controversial subject. However, the more obvious from the Shar‘y (Islamic legal) evidence indicates that it is valid to perform Salah behind all the Fasiqs whose Fisq does not reach to the level of major Kufr. This is the opinion of a multitude of scholars and the view of Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, who wrote some valuable words in this regard, which we will literally quote here for their great benefit. In “Majmu‘ Al-Fatawa”, vol. 23, p. 351, he said: “It is permissible for a man to perform the Five Daily Prayers, Jumu‘ah (Friday) Prayer, and others, behind a person who is not known to commit Bid‘ah (innovation in religion) or Fisq, by the consensus of the Four Imams (Abu Hanifah, Malik, Al-Shafi‘y, and Ahmad) and other Muslim scholars. It is not one of the conditions for following an Imam in Salah that the Ma’mum (a person being led by an Imam in Prayer) should know what the beliefs of the Imam (the one who leads congregational Prayer) are. They should not also examine them by asking, “What do you believe?” Instead they should pray behind those whose reality is hidden. On the other hand, if they perform Salah behind someone they know to be a Fasiq or a Mubtadi‘ (one who introduces innovations in religion), there are two well-known scholarly opinions concerning the validity of the Salah according to the Madh-habs (Schools of Jurisprudence) of Ahmad and Malik, whereas the Madh-habs of Al-Shafi‘y and Abu Hanifah say that it is valid.
As for those who say: “I only give my money to those I know,” meaning that they do not perform Salah behind those they do not know, in the same way as they do not give their money to those they do not know, this is an ignorant saying that was not stated by any of the Imams of the Muslims. If someone gives money to someone unknown, they may deceive them over it or waste it, but if an Imam makes a mistake or forgets, the Ma’mum will not be blamed for this, as mentioned in the Hadith reported by Al-Bukhari and others in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “They (your Imams) lead you in Salah; if they do it correct, it (the reward for Salah) is for you and for them, and if they mistake, it (the reward) is for you and (the sin) upon them.” He (peace be upon him) thereby makes it clear that the Imam bears the responsibility of the mistake and not the Ma’mums. `Umar and other Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet – may Allah be pleased with them) forgetfully led people in Salah while they were Junub (in a state of major ritual impurity), so they repeated it but did not order the Ma’mums to do so. This is the Madh-hab of the Jumhur (dominant majority of scholars), including Malik, Al-Shafi‘y, and Ahmad, according to the well-known opinion reported from him.
The same ruling applies if an Imam does something he deems it excusable, whereas in the opinion of the Ma’mum it invalidates Salah, such as bleeding, performing Salah without Wudu’ (ablution), touching his penis, not saying Basmalah (saying, “Bismillah Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim [In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful]”), where the Imam believes that his Salah is valid in spite of that, while the Ma’mum believes it to be invalid because of that. The Jumhur agrees on the validity of the Salah of the Ma’mum in this case, according to the Madh-habs of Malik and Ahmad, based on the most authentic of the two narrations reported from him, and it is also one of the two opinions narrated from the Madh-hab of Al-Shafi‘y, and the one adopted by Al-Qaffal and others.
If, for example, an Imam intentionally performed Salah without Wudu’ and the Ma’mums never knew this until they died, Muslims unanimously agree that Allah will not hold them to account for this and they will not bear any sin for it, unless they learn that the Imam is performing Salah without Wudu’, in which case they must not perform Salah behind him, because he is not a worshipper offering Salah, but a jester! If after finishing the Salah, it is learned that the Imam performed Salah without Wudu’, there is a difference of opinion among the scholars as to whether it should be repeated. If a Ma’mum knows that the Imam is a Mubtadi‘ (one who introduces innovations in religion) who calls others to follow his Bid‘ah or a Fasiq (someone flagrantly violating Islamic law) whose Fisq (flagrant violation of Islamic law) is apparent, if he is the regular Imam of a Masjid (mosque) and the Ma’mum has no choice but to perform Salah behind him, such as when he is the Imam for the Jumu‘ah (Friday) or ‘Eid (Festival) Prayers, or the Imam for the Hajj Prayers at ‘Arafah, and so on, they should perform Salah behind him, according to the majority of the Salaf and the Khalaf. This is the Madh-hab of Ahmad, Al-Shafi‘y, Abu Hanifah, and others. Therefore, the scholarly opinion concerning ‘Aqidah (creed) is that Ma’mums should perform Jumu‘ah and ‘Eid Prayers behind any Imam, whether he is righteous or wicked. Similarly, if there is only one Imam in a village, congregational Salah should be offered behind him, because performing Salah in congregation is better than performing Salah alone, even if the Imam is a Fasiq, and this is the Madh-hab of the Jumhur, including that of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Al-Shafi‘y, and others. In fact, Salah in congregation is Wajib (obligatory) on each individual man, according to the Madh-hab of Ahmad. Anyone who abstains from offering Jumu‘ah and congregational Prayers behind a wicked Imam is a Mubtadi‘, according to Imam Ahmad and other Imams of Ahl-ul-Sunnah (Adherents to the Sunnah), as he mentioned in the treatise, “Risalah `Abdus Ibn Malik Al-‘Attar”.
The correct view is that it should be performed and not repeated. The Sahabah used to perform Jumu‘ah and congregational Prayers behind wicked Imams and they did not repeat them. For example, Ibn ‘Umar used to perform Salah behind Al-Hajjaj, and Ibn Mas`ud and others used to perform Salah behind Al-Walid ibn ‘Uqbah. He used to drink Khamr to the extent that he once performed four Rak‘ahs (units of Prayer) when leading them in the Subh (Dawn) Prayer and then asked, “Should I do more?” Ibn Mas‘ud said, “What we have already done with you today is in excess.” And this was why they referred the matter to `Uthman.
It is also mentioned in: “Sahih Al-Bukhari”, that when `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) was besieged, someone else led the people in Salah. So someone said to ‘Uthman, “You are the Imam of the people, and the person who is leading the Salah is an Imam of Fitnah (sedition).” ‘Uthman replied saying: “O my kin! Salah is the best deed that people perform, so if they do it well follow them and if they do it badly, avoid their errors.” There are many other similar examples.
The Salah of a Fasiq or a Mubtadi‘ is valid in itself, so if someone is led in Salah by one of them, their Salah will not be invalid, but it will be Makruh (disliked), due to the reprehensibility of performing Salah behind them, as enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil are Wajib (obligatory). Therefore, anyone who openly commits Bid‘ah or immorality should not be appointed as a regular Imam for Muslims, as they deserve Ta‘zir (discretionary punishment) until they make Tawbah (repentance to Allah). If it is possible to shun him until he makes Tawbah, this will be good. Also, if some people stop performing Salah behind him and perform it behind someone else, in the hope that this may affect him and induce him to perform Tawbah, withdraw, or shun other people away from committing sins like his, not performing Salah behind such a man will be in the public interest, as long as the people do not miss performing the Jumu‘ah or congregational Prayers. However, if not performing Salah behind him will lead people to miss the Jumu‘ah or congregational Prayers, anyone who abstains from performing Salah behind him will be a Mubtadi‘, acting in opposition to the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). Similarly, if the regular Imam is appointed by rulers it will not be in the public interest to stop performing Salah behind him, in this case people should not stop performing Salah behind him; it will be preferable to perform it behind the best Imam.This ruling applies to anyone who openly commits Bid‘ah or Fisq that patently contradict the Qur’an or Sunnah, such as the Bid‘ah of Al-Rafidah (a Shiitic group), Al-Jahmiyyah (a deviant Islamic sect denying some Attributes of Allah, claiming they are ascribed to people and cannot be ascribed to Allah), and their likes.”
It is, therefore, clear that anyone who declares that it is invalid to perform Salah behind a Fasiq does not have any reliable proof, as far as I know. However, those who teach and practice positive law resemble those who study the different types of Riba, Khamr, or gambling, or teach them to others for their own desires or their greed for money, even though they do not regard that as permissible and know that all Riba-based transactions are Haram (prohibited), as they know that drinking Khamr and gambling are also Haram. However, due to their weak Iman and their being overwhelmed by their desires or greed for money, their belief that these things are Haram does not stop them from being involved with these forbidden matters. According to Ahl-ul-Sunnah, they are not Kafirs (disbelievers), as long as they do not believe that this is permissible as previously clarified.
Third category: those who study or teach positive law believing that it is lawful to rule by them, whether they believe that the Shari‘ah is superior to them or not. According to the Ijma‘ (consensus) of Muslims, they are Kafirs who are committing major Kufr, because, by believing that it is permissible to rule by positive law in contradiction to the Shari‘ah, they regard as permissible things necessarily known in Islam to be Haram. These people come under the same ruling as those who regard Zina (sexual intercourse outside marriage), Khamr, and the like as permissible, because deeming these to be permissible is belying Allah and His Messenger and opposing the Qur’an and Sunnah. The scholars of Islam unanimously agree that anyone who regards as permissible something that Allah has forbidden or regards as forbidden something that Allah has permitted is a Kafir, when the matter is inevitably well-known and undeniable in Islam. This will be clear to anyone who studies the opinions of scholars from the four Madh-habs on the rulings on apostates.
There is no doubt that the students who study some matters related to positive law or an introduction to it in the legal or management institutes are not intending by this to rule by what contradicts with Allah’s Shari‘ah. They want or it is wanted from them to know about it and compare it to the rulings of the Shari‘ah to recognize its superiority over man-made laws. They may even gain other benefits from this study that will give them a deeper understanding of the Shari‘ah and have more certainty about its uprightness.
Even if we assume that some of them want to learn this subject to rule by it instead of by the Shari‘ah and that they deem this to be permissible, it is not permissible to rule against the others with the same ruling as them, as Allah (Glorified be He) says: …and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also says, “A wrongdoer only wrongs themselves.”
From what we have said, it will be clear to you that casting aspersions over the aforementioned students acting as an Imam for the Salah and ruling that it is not valid to perform Salah behind them is not sanctioned by the Shari‘ah or the people of knowledge, as it has no legal basis. I hope that what I have mentioned has removed any doubt in you about those students described as being in the first category, or regarding them as being Fasiqs or Kafirs. As for the second category, there is no doubt about their Fisq. As for the third category, there is no doubt that they are Kafirs and that it is not valid to perform Salah behind them.
I ask Allah by His Beautiful Names and Lofty Attributes to grant me, you, and all our brothers a good understanding of His Din and to keep us firm on it. I ask Him to protect us all from the evil of our own selves and the wickedness of our deeds, and from misleading temptations, verily He is the Ever-Near, the All-Hearer, As-salamu ‘alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh (May Allah’s Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you!)
AbdulFattaah Bin Uthman
The Lajnah (Permanent Committee For Scholarly Research And Ifta’) were asked:
I am a second year law student, so I have now spent two years studying in the faculty. I would like to know whether I should leave, because it does not resort to the Shari`ah (Islamic law) for rulings, but to positive law? Is it permissible to work as a prosecutor investigating cases on the basis of man-made laws? Is working as a professor in the faculty Haram (prohibited)? Is practicing law for a living Haram?
Firstly: Studying positive law is permissible for someone who is endowed with sufficient intellectual and academic ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and they are not vulnerable, due to their strong Islamic faith, to become deviated from the truth and deceived by falsehood. Also, if the intention of studying such a field is to compare Islamic and positive law to explain the superiority of Islamic law; the comprehensiveness of its laws to meet all human needs in their lives and Din (religion); its sufficiency to enforce the truth, deny falsehood, and refute the claims of the validity, comprehensiveness, and sufficiency claimed of positive laws by those enamored by them; if this is the intention, go ahead and study it, as this is permissible. Otherwise, it is not permitted to study these laws and you should, instead, satisfy yourself with studying Islamic law, as taken from the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet), in the manner it was studied and derived from the sources by the eminent Muslim scholars and Salaf (righteous predecessors).
Secondly: If practicing law leads to the legal enforcement of justice and denial of falsehood, returning rights to those deserving them and supporting those who are wronged, it will be permissible, as it will involve cooperation in righteousness and piety. Otherwise, it will not be permissible, as it will involve cooperation in sin and transgression. Allah (Exalted be He) says: Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwâ (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
AbdulFattaah Bin Uthman