Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
19 April 2013 / 8 Jamadilakhir 1434
Fiqh Al-Muwazanat – Understanding the Need for a Balanced Approach in Making Judgement
Dear Friday Jemaah,
The Syariah ordained by Allah calls upon us to worship Allah, with the aim of increasing our taqwa towards Him. And we can develop our sense of taqwa by heeding what Allah has commanded upon us and avoiding what He has forbidden upon us. In doing so, there is always a need to make careful considerations. It is this approach that will ensure that we continue to be an ummah that is fair and just in fulfilling our religious life.
My dear brothers,
In line with this issue about making considerations or judgement, let us be reminded of what Allah s.w.t says in surah Al-Kahfi verse 79:
Which means: “As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force.”
This verse tells us of how Prophet Khidir a.s. responded to a cynical question by Prophet Musa a.s.,by explaining that he had purposely caused the ship to leak as a choice between two possibilities that would both have their disadvantages. He thus needed toto make a judgment call between these two options.. In this matter, Prophet Khidir was of the opinion that it was better to ensure cause a minor defect on the boat because the poor can still use it for their daily needs. On the other hand, if he had allowed the boat to be in a good condition, it would thenbe seized by the evil king. This would cause the people to lose their source of income and may lead to greater difficulty.
My brothers, this verse teaches us that when we are caught in a situation whereby we are forced to choose between two disadvantageous or harmful situations, we should make careful considerations and our judgement should help us choose the lesser of the two harms.
This knowledge or approach is known as Fiqh ‘Al-Muwazanat’ which is, understanding in making judgement, and careful analysis in making choices that affect our daily lives based on our beliefs as Muslim.
This concept of careful consideration and judgement was also practiced by Rasulullah s.a.w. in making a choice between two matters which are ruled as permissible (or Mubah). It was reported that when Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. had to choose between two matters that are halal (or lawful) and were not sinful, Rasulullah will choose the one with more benefits or maslahat and the one that is easier over the other. It could either be easier financially other aspects such as the amount of energy and time needed.
Narrated Aisyah r.a. which means: “Whenever the Prophet s.a.w. has a choice between two matters, he would choose the easiest and the most convenient, unless it is sinful (act). But if he is certain that it is sinful, he will be as far as he could from it.” [Bukhari and Muslim].
My brothers blessed by Allah,
Fiqh Al-Muwazanat, or the Fiqh of Judgement and Comparison, is an extremely useful knowledge that is beneficial to all Muslims of every era. More so in today’s world where technology and the rapid pace of development, with Allah’s grace, require us to make various decisions every day. The choices that we make must be based on fair considerations.
This knowledge can be applied to help us in making decisions that affect our daily lives, and help keep our lives grounded to the tenets of Islam. As Muslims, the Syariah is fundamental in and should permeate through every aspect of lives – social, familial, as members of the workforce, students as so on. This is because a Muslim should not lead a life that is not guided by ethical and religious values.
At the same time, understanding Fiqh Al-Muwazanat will help us in understanding preferences and priorities related to making decisions about our religious life.
The questions and issues related to this matter include; what is the attitude one should have toward making such considerations? What needs to be prioritised, especially when we are faced with a situation where there is a conflict between balancing the benefits (maslahah) and harms?
Here, I will share two main examples as to how the principle of Fiqh Al-Muwazanat can be applied in our religious life:
First, consider the benefits and the harm
In today’s globalised world the Muslim community, like other communities, is exposed to all sorts of information through various platforms. And with the advent of new media platforms such as YouTube or social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter or virtual photo sharing applications like Instagram, there are many benefits that can be reaped if these applications are used as tools to spread the message of Islam to wider audience, beyond just leveraging on traditional media such as newspapers, television and so on.
However, at the same time, there are cons to these new media platforms. For example, when they are used to access sites which we should not be visiting or looking at. It would be worse if we then spread those negative elements to other internet users . Some internet sites can also be a platform for people to get to know others, but instead of engaging in meaningful discussions, there are those who use these platforms to interact and discuss about non-beneficial matters. It becomes dangerous if these “relationships” can lead to despicable matters such as zina, infidelity and more.
However, it is also not wise for us to totally reject these new media tools simply because of our fear that it can bring about much harm. In fact, such an attitude will prevent us from learning the issues and challenges of the community, and thus we are unable to respond accordingly. We will also lose a useful platform that can be used to call others to do good and spread kindness.
Thus, there needs to be ethics and adab, or good manners, in leveraging on these new media platforms. If we are guided by ethics and adab, we will be able to reap the benefits of these new media tools yet at the same time prevent any sins and vices. We also need to strengthen the resilience of our faith, and those of our families, to ensure we gain the benefits and prevent the harm.
Second, making considerations between two maslahah.
In today’s rapidly developing world, we are blessed to see many members of the Muslim community who continue to go to the mosques and centres for religious education to attend events that are aimed at increasing our knowledge (or majlis ilmu) and also events where people gather to make zikr, selawat and so on. In fact, these events have increased.
This is a very positive, encouraging and heartening development for the community. However, we should remember that we need to be balanced in developing our knowledge, spirituality and akhlak (morals). All three aspects are important for every pious Muslim.
This means that while we attend gatherings where we make zikr, we must not neglect the importance of filling our souls with knowledge about Islam. And those who attend classes or events aimed at increasing their knowledge must not forget the need to boost their spirituality and souls by making zikr, supplications to Allah and increase their acts of worship. In fact, no matter how deep one’s knowledge or how strong a person’s bond with Allah is, his faith will not be complete if he does not have good akhlak and noble character in dealing with others. This means that the benefit (maslahah) and advantages in this matter move in tandem and complement each other in developing our faith and enhancing our sense of taqwa.
Hopefully the consciousness we gain from continuously seeking Islamic knowledge will better prepare us to make careful considerations and practise good judgement based on the principle of Fiqh Al-Muwazanat. May all our decisions and considerations help us attain Allah’s pleasure. Amin.
Jazakumullah Khayr(May Allah reward all of you) for your du’as(Prayer):)