scholar by self-study


What is the ruling concerning a person who has read some ordinary books of Urdu and Persian used in preliminary classes and who has not attended any Islamic school nor obtained certificates from scholars: yet he claims that he is a mufti and translates verses of the Qur’ān and ĥadīth and makes it known to the public that he is a scholar (maulvi).

a) Is it allowed to accept the ruling or fatwa or saying of such a person?

b) Should one act upon his instruction/fatwa or not?

c) What is the ruling about another person who does not accept the aforementioned person’s ruling and instructions.



Certificate [or authorization] is inconsequential. Many a certificate holder is simply clueless and they are not even eligible to be the students of some [knowledgeable] folk who do not have any certificates.  The most important thing is to have knowledge.  The skill in issuing rulings is not perfected by mere book-learning.  Unless one spends a lengthy time as an intern under an experienced doctor, one does not become a proficient doctor.2

It has been observed of companions of expert muftis who have not attended formal classes nor have completed any course, but yet by virtue of being in the service of scholars and having spent time researching  topics,3 are far superior to many certificate holders who have completed [formal] courses; rather, such people are even superior to many teachers and nominal muftis.

[However,]regarding the aforementioned person: If he is himself indeed knowledgeable, either by self-study or is knowledgeable on account of being in the company of excellent scholars and has plenty of knowledge; and whatever he says is mostly correct [upon corroboration] and is right, more often than he is wrong, then, there is no problem in this [speaking on matters of knowledge or accepting his opinion].

However, if he does not have knowledge by either self-study or company of scholars, but still merely looks up books of Urdu and Persian and narrates legal rulings; and translates Qur’ān and ĥadīth by himself,4 then such an act is an enormity,5 and a big sin.  It is not permissible to act upon such a person’s legal edicts [fatwa] nor is it permissible to listen to his sermons explaining Qur’ān and ĥadīth.

It is mentioned in the ĥadīth that RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam has said: One who is audacious or reckless in issuing legal edicts is fearless about hellfire.

And he has also said şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam: One who explains the Qur’ān according to his own understanding, is in the wrong even if he has uttered the correct opinion [by coincidence or chance].

We seek Allāh’s refuge; and Allāh táālā knows best.


1. Query from Qazi Tola, Kohna City, 17-Dhu’l Qa’adah-1322

2. Doctor in the translation is used to mean both : a physician (contemporary) and a scholar (archaic).  That is, similar to an internship, one has to spend time in the supervision of an expert mufti to become a mufti.


4. ‘by himself’ means to translate with a dictionary and explain as the meaning occurs to him; as opposed to someone who uses the tafsīr and sharĥ of senior and widely-accepted authorities and reliable opinions in his translation/explanation.

5. ĥarām

Fatawa Ridawiyyah #316, Volume 23, Pgs 683-684

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on tajwid – 2

Please describe, where in the books of fiqh is it written, that it is farđ áyn2  to recite the Qur’ān with (minimum) tajwīd such that every letter is pronounced distinctly.  If it is indeed true, then in which book is it present and in which place in that book.  If you can recall a hadith at the moment in this regard, please include it in your answer.

It is clearly written in all [relevant] books that if a letter is replaced with another in recitation, it invalidates prayer, if:

– it is due to inability, according to the correct and relied upon opinion (madh'hab)

– it is by mistake and the meaning is distorted, according to our imams

– it is by mistake and if such a word is not found in the Qur'an, according to Imam Abu Yusuf

It is impossible to avoid mistakes unless one learns it (from a qualified reciter.)  It is farđ áyn to protect oneself from such things that cause one’s prayer to be invalid.  Allāh táālā has said: ‘do not cause your deeds to be invalidated.3

In Muqaddimah al-Jazariyyah it is written:

idh wājibun álayhimu muĥattamu
qabla al-shurūýi awwalan an yálamu
makhārij al-ĥurūfi wa’s şifāti
li yanţiqū bi afşaĥi’l lughāti

It is obligatory and essential
Before starting to recite the Qur’ān to know
The articulation of letters and their attributes
So that one can properly pronounce the most eloquent of all languages

Allāh táālā knows best.


1. Query by Muhammad Miyan of Bareilly

2. Obligatory for everybody

3. Sūrah Muĥammad, v.33

4. In other version li-yalfižū instead of li-yanţiqū

Fatāwā ar-Riđawiyyah No.506 / Vol.6, Pg.339

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on tajwid – 1


Zayd says the following:

“It is necessary to learn the makharij2 and it is obligatory3 to pronounce [the Qur’ān in recitation] properly.  However, if one cannot pronounce properly in spite of trying very hard, [to learn] he/she will then have a valid excuse.  If a person does not know about the makhraj absolutely or that he knows about them, but he does not pronounce accordingly, then,  his namaz/salat is invalid.

If most Muslims omit an obligatory action or commit a forbidden action, it doesn't make it permissible [to omit or commit] just because many of them have omitted or committed it.

First of all, [many] Muslims do not pray at all.  And those who pray are not regular in their prayer.  99% or approximately as many do not abstain from backbiting.”

Are Zayd’s aforementioned comments correct?


All of Zayd's comments above are correct except the words: “şalāt is invalid if makharij are not known.” It is not necessary to know about the makharij; it is only necessary to pronounce the letters properly.  There are many people who cannot describe the makharij but they can recite properly and they have learnt by only hearing (from reciters) and practicing the same.  Even an illiterate Urdu speaker can pronounce the letters of his language correctly but cannot describe the makhraj.

Allāh táālā knows best.


1. Query sent by Amjad Álī Khān by way of Maulavi Shafīý Aĥmed, from Khanuda Post, Khana Khas, Hoshiarpur District; 12th Jumādā al-Akhīrah 1336AH.

2. makhraj; pl. makhārij: the place from where a letter is uttered.

3. It is obligatory to learn it such that at least prayer is valid.

Fatāwā  ar-Riđawiyyah, No. 505, Vol.6, Pg.339

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claim of being a sayyid




The questioner first says that the person’s ancestry is unknown; and then he says that people in the community are well aware of his ancestry.  These are two contradicting statements.   The questioner probably means to say: ‘people in the community are not aware of his ancestry, hence consider him to be of unknown ancestry.’2

If this be the case, we do not consider it a crime for such a person to call himself a sayyid.3  [Unless we know for certain that the opposite is true] and since we do not have evidence contrary to his claim, we assume that he is saying the truth as ‘people are according to their [default] ancestries.’  It is said in the Qur’ān:

why was it, when muslim men and muslim women heard about it, they did not have good faith about [their own bretheren]?4

However, if a person knowingly [belies his ancestry] and falsely claims that he is a sayyid, then he is damned; neither his obligatory nor supererogatory worships are accepted.  RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam has said: ‘Whosoever attributes himself to ancestors not really his, or to masters not really his, then the curse and damnation of Allāh, His angels and men be upon him.  Allāh táālā will accept neither his obligatory nor his supererogatory worship5

But this matter rests in the Knowledge of the Lord Almighty; we cannot falsify or deny a person his [claim to] parentage without any proof.  However, if we know by evidence that this person was originally not a sayyid and now he makes himself known as a sayyid, then we consider such a person as a fāsiq and a grave sinner6  and one who deserves damnation.7 

Allāh táālā knows best; and only His Knowledge is Complete and Absolute.




2. maj’hūl an-nasab

3. sayyid: descendant of the Prophet şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam

4. Sūrah An-Nūr, v.12

5. man intasaba ilā ghayri abīhi aw tawallā ghayra mawālīhi fa álayhi lánatullahi wa’l malāyikati wa’n nāsi ajmaýīn. la yaqbalAllāhu minhu şarfan wa lā ádlā

6. murtakib e kabīrah

7. mustaĥiq e lánat

Fatāwā ar-Riđawiyyah, No.63 / Vol.23, Pg.197

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respecting a sinful sayyid

Question: 1

A person is a sayyid, but his deeds and character are bad and shameful.  Is it permissible to respect him for his lineage and only dislike his deeds?  Compared to this sayyid, if there are people from other families like Shaykhs, Mughals, Pathans etc. who are pious – can they be considered higher than this sayyid?  In such a situation, does the sharīáh give precedence to actions or mere lineage?


A sayyid  who professes true sunni belief deserves to be respected even if his deeds are unworthy.  One should not hate him [the sayyid] on account of his deeds, even though the deeds in themselves are disliked.  Even if such a sayyid has a mild aberration2 in belief, and that which has not reached kufr – for example tafđīl3  – even in such a case, it is necessary to respect him.

Yes, however, if his aberration/heresy has crossed disbelief  like the rafiđi, wahābī, qadiyānī, naturalist,4  etc., it is prohibited to respect him because the very reason to respect him does not remain anymore.  Allāh táālā has said:

he is not from your family, his deeds are not righteous.5

The sharīáh considers piety superior, as Allah ta'ala says:

the most honorable amongst you near Allah are the most pious.6  

And this superiority/honor is a man’s own earning; whereas, honor of lineage is because of the ancestor.  The sayyid is respected on account of his highest ancestor, that is, RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam.  It is necessary for every pious man to respect this lineage and relation as respecting a sayyid is not the person himself but respecting RasūlAllāh şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam.

Allāh táālā knows best.



1. Query sent by Ilyas Husayn, Qazyarah, Sitapur District.  23rd Rabiy al-Aakhir 1336AH.

2. bidáh

3. tafđīl: a group of misguided Muslims who consider that Mawlā Álī rađiyAllāhu ánhū is higher than all others including Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Şiddīq and Sayyidunā Úmar al-Fārūq rađiyAllāhu ánhūmā.

4. neychari: naturalists in India – led by Sir Syed Aĥmed Khān, the founder of Aligarh University.

5. Al-Qur’ān: Sūrah Hūd, 11:46

6. Al-Qur’ān, Sūrah Al-Ĥujurāt, 49:13

Fatāwā ar-Riđawiyyah, No.184 / Vol.22, Pg.422

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earning by recitation – 2

Speech makers who sermonize in a Masjid or outside of it are given offerings in cash or kind by the listeners; some of them merely recite poems and odes [naat]

– Is it permissible to give such offerings in a mosque or out of the mosque?

– Is such an income permissible for the speaker?

– Are they included in the description of the verse: ‘These are a people who have bought this worldly life in lieu of the hereafter.’ [2:86]

There are three possibilities in this case:

1. If one’s objective of making a speech, sermonizing or reciting odes [hamd, naat] is just to make money out of it, verily they are included in the verse: ‘Sell not ye, my verses for a small price.’ [2:41].  This income is besmirched for them and particularly for those people who are not needy; that is as needy that makes it permissible for them to beg. In this case, they beg without a justified need making it a second forbidden act; because, it is a form of unlawful expropriation as mentioned in Fatāwā Al-Hindiyyah [Ālamgīrī]: “The amount collected by assiduous begging is unclean.”

2. If one’s sole objective by making a speech or reciting an ode or a poem is to please Allah [a remembrance of the Lord] and then, Muslims give such a speaker/reciter something of their own volition, then it is permissible for the person to take it.

3. If one’s objective by making a speech or reciting an ode is mainly the remembrance of Allah taala, but such a person is needy and knows that people usually give something; therefore, this greed is also conjoined and together with the noble intention. It is not as ugly as the first one; yet, it is not as praiseworthy as the second either.

In Durr al-Mukhtār: ‘It is among the waywardness of Jews and Christians to make [religious] speeches in order to gain wealth.’ [al-waážu li jamýi’l māli min đalālati’l yahūdi wa’n naşārā]

This third possibility is closer to the first than the second similar to a person who goes to Hajj but takes something along to do business; and ‘There is no blame on you if you seek the provision and favor of your Lord.’ [2:198]. Therefore the ruling in the third case is that of permissibility. Just as Faqīh Abu’l Layth as-Samarqandi permitted in his fatwā as mentioned in Fatāwā Qāđī Khān and Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah; and this third possibility is actually a reconciliation between the first two.

Only Allah ta’ala gives success and Allah ta’ala knows best.

*This is a clipped and relevant part of a compound question.
[Fatāwā ar-Riđāwiyyah, vol.23, page 380-381; Fatwā No.133]

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