Muslim Scholar At The River Styx: The Truth About Women’s Rights In Islam


I assume she is a modern day Jester. I still think my outfit was better though

By The Sultan’s Jester

My tragic and still unexplained suspended animation while in the Sultan’s service during the Ottoman Empire’s slow decline has been made all the more unbearable by the lack of any recognisable form of Islam upon my even more inexplicable rousing – Kharijites masquerading as ambassadors for an ‘Islamic State’, anthropomorphists claiming to be following the Salaf and a million other calumnies upon what used to be the religion of God – the pure Hanafism of my beloved Ottomans seems to be nowhere to be found. Of course, all of the so-called champions of the Muslims are happy to bask in the glories and diversity of this empire – yet they regard the very same empires’ dealings with non-Muslims, hadith and the Q’uran as heresy. I was informed by the bedevilled alchemy of this thing you call ‘the Internet’ that the descendants of the Wahhabi rebels we put down – this so-called ‘ISIS’ – have been in power for a mere three months and already stoned a woman to death for adultery. Yet we Ottomans failed to stone a single person in nearly eight hundred years of rule! So imagine imagine my surprise, as I prepared to slumber with the shaggy dog of anomie, at coming across this sole proud Hanafi! Could it be that he too is an unlikely relic of the Islam that once was? In that case let him know that the way of the truth is terribly harsh. As a wise man once said; the truth has many enemies and the lie many friends...

An honest, forthright talk about practically all of the controversies surrounding Islam and women: Asking questions others won’t, answering questions others don’t.

– Why is polygamy allowed in Islam? Is it really allowed?

– Do Muslims have sex with slaves?

– Just how important is Hijaab? Is it a sin to omit it?

– Is there such a thing as gender segregation in traditional Islam

– How much of this is from culture and how much is from the Q’uran?

Addressed from a traditional Hanafi Muslim perspective and virtually guaranteed to upset both modernists and puritans as well as most of those claiming to speak for Islam on any side of the discussion, this is probably one of the most shocking presentations on religion, let alone Islam that you will see in a very long time…

Sheikh Atabek Shukrov Nasafi is a noted scholar and specialist in Islamic aqeeda and theological sciences. Undertaking his religious studies at first in secret in Uzbekistan while it was part of the USSR, he has gone on to have an eclectic and comprehensive Islamic education all over the Muslim world.

Already a scholar when he arrived in the Middle East, he studied in Damascus under such luminaries as Mhmd Adnan Darwish, graduating finally from Al Azhar but only after having studied both in Medina and the wider region, for example under Sh. Uthaymeen (and numerous others).

He is currently based in the Northwest of England where he is the founder of the Avicenna Academy.


20 thoughts on “Muslim Scholar At The River Styx: The Truth About Women’s Rights In Islam

    • Thanks, good question and sincere apologies for the delay in replying.

      So in Hanafi usool, primary evidence is the Q’uran and rational intellect and secondary evidence, including ahad hadith, cannot be allowed to clash with that.

      As you know, people often say that the Quran never clearly encourages but nor totally proscribes slavery but where it is present it is regulated by the well known rules. Hanafis have the principle of ‘respect the customs’ which comes from the ayat of the Quran saying the same. So uniquely in Hanafi madhab, custom or culture is a source of Islamic Law/Shariah. This could have some bearing on the issue of slavery.

      So I would hazard to say, where slavery was present and people could recruit large numbers of workers and soldiers by it, the Muslims of the past would often go along with it with their caveats and the Q’urans’ alleged aim of manumission (see below). Where it does not exist, it would certainly not be allowed to (re)introduce it, thus respecting the custom. The view of Islam seems to be abolitionist. Thus whether it is ‘allowed’ depends upon what the wider society is doing and thus it cannot be labelled allowed or not allowed but dependant on the laws with the overall aim of manumission: if people buy and sell humans, maybe Muslims would not stay out of that as that would confer an unacceptable advantage onto those who did allow this system (and all slaves would end up in the hands of non-Muslims or non-Hanafis, which would also perhaps not be good for the meritorious aim of freeing slaves). Likewise, if this system no longer existed, it would not be allowed to bring it back (according to us).

      But of course, people will want to know ‘why doesn’t the Q’uran just say slavery is haraam/forbidden’? It does definitely say ‘free slaves’, but does it allow you to not free them too and is it a sin to not do so?

      We did do a talk on the issue of sex with captives/slaves but it is the opinion of no less than Ibn Abbas that sex with slaves (the famous what your right hands possess statement in the Q’uran) is not allowed without freeing and marrying them (i.e no concubinage) [Muhammad Asad gives a reference in his commentary of Q’uran under this ayat if I remember correctly].

      Also, there is no Q’uranic basis for enslaving prisoners of war as the Q’uran only gives two options in their case: ransom or release, and we Hanafis follow that.

      So I guess you can fashion an abolitionist argument from these bits: how exactly would you generate new slaves? There would still be the problems of the children of slaves – what if they were regarded by society or Muslims as slaves?

      But people who argue that the Q’uran and Islam are not abolitionist have to explain why the Q’uran repeatedly demands manumission of slaves and puts this as one of the most praiseworthy deeds – so then isn’t the manumission of all slaves (abolition) for all time a more praiseworthy deed by analogy or ‘Qiyas'(another Hanafi concept)? It is also problematic for people who say that Islam allows or encourages slavery to explain why Islam gives so many reasons to free slaves and none to make them, which is also odd if it is an institution worth ‘preserving’ as some Muslims think. But it is a big topic.

      Asad also has this to say in comment on this ayat:

      IT DOES NOT behove a prophet to keep captives unless he has battled strenuously on earth.72
      You may desire the fleeting gains of this world – but God desires [for you the good of] the life
      to come: and God is almighty, wise. (8:68) Had it not been for a decree from God that had
      already gone forth, there would indeed have befallen you a tremendous chastisement on
      account of all [the captives] that you took.73

      72 I.e., as an aftermath of a war in a just cause. As almost always in the Qur’an, an injunction
      addressed to the Prophet is, by implication, binding on his followers as well. Consequently, the
      above verse lays down that no person may be taken, or for any time retained, in captivity unless
      he was taken prisoner in a jihad – that is, a holy war in defence of the Faith or of freedom
      (regarding which see surah 2, note 167) – and that, therefore, the acquisition of a slave by
      “peaceful” means, and the keeping of a slave thus acquired, is entirely prohibited: which, to
      all practical purposes, amounts to a prohibition of slavery as a “social institution”. But even
      with regard to captives taken in war, the Qur’an ordains (in 47:4) that they should be freed
      after the war is over.

      Surah 25:

      ”And if any of those whom you rightfully possess45 desire [to obtain] a deed of freedom, write it
      out for them if you are aware of any good in them:46 and give them [their share] of the wealth
      of God which He has given you.” 47

      46 The noun kitab is, in this context, an equivalent of kitabah or mukatabah (lit., “mutual
      agreement in writing”), a juridical term signifying a “deed of freedom” or “of manumission executed on the
      basis of an agreement between a slave and his or her owner, to the effect that the slave
      undertakes to purchase his or her freedom for an equitable sum of money payable in instalments before or
      after the manumission, or, alternatively, by rendering a clearly specified service or services
      to his or her owner. With this end in view, the slave is legally entitled to engage in any
      legitimate, gainful work or to obtain the necessary sum of money by any other lawful means
      (e.g., through a loan or a gift from a third person). In view of the imperative form of the verb
      katibuhum (“write it out for them”), the deed of manumission cannot be refused by the owner, the only
      pre-condition being an evidence to be established, if necessary, by an unbiassed arbiter or
      arbiters – of the slave’s good character and ability to fulfil his or her contractual obligations. The
      stipulation that such a deed of manumission may not be refused, and the establishment of precise
      juridical directives to this end, clearly indicates that Islamic Law has from its very beginning
      aimed at an abolition of slavery as a social institution, and that its prohibition in modern times
      constitutes no more than a final implementation of that aim. (See also next note, as well as note
      146 on 2: 177.) 47 According to all the authorities, this relates (a) to a moral obligation on the part of the owner
      to promote the slave’s efforts to obtain the necessary revenues by helping him or her to achieve
      an independent economic status and/or by remitting part of the agreed-upon compensation, and
      (b) to the obligation of the state treasury (bayt al-mal) to finance the freeing of slaves in accordance
      with the Qur’anic principle – enunciated in 9:60 – that the revenues obtained through the
      obligatory tax called zakah are to be utilized, among other purposes, “for the freeing of human beings from
      bondage” (fi ‘r-riqab, an expression explained in surah 2, note 146). Hence, Zamakhshari holds
      that the above clause is addressed not merely to persons owning slaves but to the community as
      whole. – The expression “the wealth of God” contains an allusion to the principle that “God has
      bought of the believers their lives and their possessions, promising them paradise in return”
      (9:111) – implying that all of man’s possessions are vested in God, and that man is entitled to
      no more than their usufruct.

      Hope that helps, but perhaps the issue is to do with the custom: in states where slavery is present, like modern day wage and sexual slavery,it is not immediate and easy to eradicate (as Muslims and others in the West are failing to do). Perhaps Islam is acknowledging this reality – that if entrenched in the custom, you can’t get rid of it entirely with any great ease and we see that nor have those who would like a different line from the Q’uran on this managed to though they have re-labelled it.

      Some talks from the site on this:

      • When I have been a muslim I was always confident to hear things like that. It showed me that all these bad things told about Islam are in fact misunderstood. But when I started to read by myself I saw that many muslims nowadays just make things up in order to negate facts about Islam they do not like. I did this myself. I did this by saying it are the extremists who have no knowledge and the real scholars of Islam have nothing to do with this. I started reading fatwas by modern scholars and I felt so good. It was like a drug which helped me to overcome my doubts. Whatever problem about Islam I had I could solve it by blindly following some talk by a modern scholar or shaykh.

        And I remember loving this commentary of the Qur’an by Muhammad Assad. Every single ayah there was explained in a way that all problems disappear. However Assad was not the first person to write a tafsir! There are hundreds of tafsirs written throughout the history. But muslims always fail to use them to prove their points. The reason for this is simply they do not tell you what you would like to hear. As for me I am out of this game. I will not let someone fool me!

        But I have to say this is a very interesting page. It are not the standard apologies repeated over and over again. Maybe I would have followed you if I had stayed a muslim:)

      • Yes of course…this is really strange. I remember reading your excellent comments a few days ago and approving them but then it has somehow disappeared. I checked on the ‘wordpress’ site to see if you had commented before and it showed up nothing so I thought your comment must have been from someone else but it has disappeared anyway.

        So really sorry about that: good thing you posted it again so that the readers can benefit!

        Let them have a read and I will give you my thoughts: you raised some sadly true points…

      • So first of all apologies that your comment did not get posted and sorry for the delay in replying.

        I agree with you – essentially, Muslims are totally confused: what is the proof that Islam is true, is intellect first or revaluation, what is the status of hadith, can we reject sahih hadith etc.

        That is what I am trying to clear up on these pages, but frankly, I am surprised that more people do not leave Islam. When people come into Islam, it is usually due to reading the Quran. But they are immediately blackmailed into accepting hadith from here there and everywhere: Most Muslims consider Bukhari to be essentially the same as the Quran and on top of that, we have the explanations of the scholars for these hadith. So the Hadith are untouchable, if you question it you are kaafir according to the stupid idea that Muslims nowadays have, then the explanations of the scholars are untouchable and so on. So it is basically counter intellectual and argument from authority and thus practically the same as what Christianity became and the same thing will happen: people will leave, especially if ‘fashion’ goes against religion/Islam, which it is now.

        So all I can say is that the hadith are ‘Ilm Ul Zann’ – uncertain knowledge and the opinions of the scholars are fallible and if either do not make sense to you you don’t have to follow it. Al Ghazzali said that the one who follows even Muhammad (pbuh) blindly is the same as a disbeliever as he is not using his intellect so how does he know he is right

        Salafis and Hanbalis and to a lesser extent Shafis have caused a problem where people are afraid to approach the Quran directly and in fact they think they are not qualified or that it is dangerous to do this. Thus people take the uncertain (ahad hadith and opinions of scholars and tafseers) over the certain (Quran). Also, most of the tafseers in English are those people chose to translate (like Ibn Kathir), the hadith based ones. So Muslims are claiming that you cannot understand a mass narrated certain text (Quran) without a single chain uncertain text (ahad hadith), which is manifestly unacceptable. Also, tafseers are spread due to who wrote them (Ibn Kathir is a student of Ibn Taymiyyah, cryopto – prophet of Salafis) etc.

        A good example is the wife beating ayat: Zamakhshiri says it means ‘to have sex with after an argument’ but he is out of favour since he is Hanafi, so all of the Salafi and even Shafis etc will say yes it does mean to beat but try and specify it with hadith (‘a light beating’) and fail and create even more doubts.

        Also, it is a bit dumb to think that while reading a book of some 650 pages (The QWuran), it is necessary to have dozens of volumes of hadith and tafseer or you wont ‘get it’. Really? What about before printing? It’s again, absurd.

        So people who leave Islam because they cannot get a straight answer despite looking have a good point; as you said, you are tied of being fooled, lied to and don’t want to go through that anymore. Salafis have perpetuated a form of Islam, and Sunnis have let them and even joined in, that no sane person would follow. ISIS is just the latest expression of this vulgarity these people call ‘religion’. Shia and others are immersed in their own vulgarities.

        In Maturuidi/Hanafi aqeeda we say that the Muslim is the person who is sincerely looking for the truth, even if in belief he is atheist and dies as an atheist or polytheist or whatever: as long as he is trying to find the truth to the best of the resources and facts allocated to him, he has done the right thing. So Maturidis say that the reward by God is for trying ones best to be honest and get to the truth, not for the actual answer you came to because that is dependant on your conditions, the information you have and your lifespan, none of which is in your control, so people are to try their best, that’s all. Also, we say man is accountable only when he has enough information to make a decision, not at puberty like others say.

        Asharis like Al Ghazzali and Imam Razi say that whoever is not presented with correct Islam (essentially everyone today) will go to paradise.

        I think the best thing people can do today is to stick to the Quran and well known sunnah (Muttawatir and the ahad the fulfils the Hanafi conditions – not just ‘sahih’ in isnad) and apply their intellect to anything they hear and read: if it makes sense then take it and if not then don’t. Then we have a good excuse to God, since if believing in things which don’t make sense is allowed then on what basis is God condemning idol worship etc? So I think people can read the Quran, I agree most of the tafseers are problematic, the English ones especially, but you mentioned Asas, and that is good.

        But it is difficult today: people will see the mess caused by Muslims and the scholars of past and present and just turn away from religion. As Tim Winter said, Salafis are turning the whole world, not just Muslims away from religion. However, I hope that they will use their intellect and realise the Quran makes sense and then take it from there.

        I wish you have an easy journey to the truth but as the Quran says ‘Verily we created mankind in strife’, so being human and suffering are perhaps inseparable.

      • Thank you for your reply. I really hope I can benefit from your thoughts.

        I have been informing myself about the topics you mentioned. I know about asharis vs salafis, not authentic hadeeth, literal interpretation etc.. But my concrete doubt at the end was not from things like killing, harams and whatsoever but the question of hellfire. I mean a punishment like stoning for adultery might be harsh but it is somehow bearable. However an eternal punishment in hell is something far too much for me to accept.
        And of course I made some research about the different positions among muslims in this issue. The Qur’an is very clear here and basically all groups agree. They say that a person who is not presented Islam in the right manner or in any way will not be punished. But a person that is will go to hell forever. There is just a slight difference regarding what “presented in a right manner” means.

        And I remember when reading about the differences between asharis and maturidis in a list that one point is about whether one is punished for not believing in Allah without being informed by a prophet. And as far as I have understood maturidis say one has to believe in Allah anyway and will be punished with eternal hellfire otherwise in any case. So I do not understand your position from the maturidi way.

        Another interesting position I have heard of is that of Ibn Taymiyyah who was a salafi scholar. He said that hellfire is not eternal. And there have been ashari scholars making takfir on him for this which I find somehow funny!

        Anyway, I have a problem with this concept. I cannot live with it. Other doubts are rather minor issues for me.

        And allow me maybe to say some words about this article. There have been between 100 and 200 stonings for adultery in Iran since 1979. The executions for apostasy are really far more higher. There is also an offense called Moharebeh which is handled like apostasy but usually involves some torture. On twitter the jihadis from ISIS when they show pictures of crucifixion say this is for Hirabah which comes from the same root like Moharebeh. Of course the iranian shia are more civilized than IS but I think it is not fair to blame everything on salafis. Shia do quite similar things and I believe sunnis from the past did at least some of them.

      • Thanks again! Good points, I want to mention some stuff around them so it may come across as defensive or on a tangent, so it is not all directed at you so don’t be offended.

        So the Maturidi position is in the tafseer and books of Imam Maturidi or Qadhi Khan etc – did you check it? I don’t think so because they are next to impossible to get a hold of and because then you would see that the difference between A’sharis and Maturidis is actually about what ‘Islam’ is and who is ‘Muslim’. We say that the person who is honest about the evidence in front of them and comes to a reasonable conclusion based on it is ‘Muslim’ and ‘Islam’ is not what people commonly think it to be but rather the process of trying to use the intellect and evidence you are given to truthfully try and answer the questions of is there a God, where do we come from etc if he has come to the wrong conclusion but was honest in his attempt then he is considered ‘Muslim’. So I sympathise that it is very heard to find the truth and Muslims do lie about stuff like this or don’t know themselves, especially the so – called Maturidis but you are wrong about the Maturidi position and in any case, what the Q’uran or the scholars say first of all depends on their definition of who is and is not Muslim: if someone like Imam Maturidi has a definition of ‘Islam’ wide enough to include atheists then that’s how it is. Kufaar are then those dishonest people who do not follow their own humanity and intellect deliberately, and they do indeed go to Hell according to us as well.

        Qadhi Khan (who is another Mujtahid in MAturidi aqeeda) has an even more lenient position than Imam Maturidi and says that as well as Imam Maturidi’s conditions, the person has to have received revelation, if not, he is exempt from going to Hell. Again, I sympathise that it is hard to find out about Maturidi positions and the books are not translated, ignored etc but you are wrong about our position.

        As for people going to Hell forever for limited crimes (as people cannot commit infinite sins), it may be a problem for some people. However, this is no more incoherent than people going to Paradise forever for limited good deeds, but strangely people never seem to have a problem with the latter. Strangely, Salafi doyens like Ibn Taymiyyah believe that Hell is temporary. If you truly think the Islamic position is unfair (even though it is the same as every other religion including Buddhism, which believes that you will never escape ‘Hell’, namely the continuous cycle of birth and rebirth, or this world, until you basically live as a good Buddhist or achieve enlightenment by some other means [if they allow that], achieve enlightenment/Nirvana and escape the loop – what this means is that unless you live your life as [some] Buddhists say is the ‘good life’ then you are damned) then there is no reason to believe in it. As long as that is your honest conclusion. Rationally honest, not just emotionally honest.

        People worry a lot about the eternal torment of the hereafter. However, it is quite conceivable that there are people who do nothing but suffer in this life. If there is no hereafter this means they endure only suffering and then oblivion. Is this any more palatable? So if we then propose a hereafter to rid us of this, you are questioning the conditions of this hereafter. Like the issue above, this is not a philosophically easy thing – what if God says ‘I could have annihilated you but I allow you an existence in Hell, miserable though it is, you should be grateful for any level of existence’. You would presumably say ‘non-existence and oblivion are preferable to continuous suffering’. To which He and we could ask ‘prove it’, and do you apply the same condition on this world as you do to the hereafter – that those who can have constant misery are better off dead or having never been born. It is not an easy matter – if there is no eternal afterlife then this world is in effect all the ‘eternity’ we have.

        Basically, people (perhaps rightly) assume (and I think it is an assumption), that suffering is the worst punishment. What if non-existence is worse?

        Also, in the Maturidi position, just how many people do you think will end up in Hell?

        Iran being bad, ISIS being bad, Muslims being bad. So what? Muslims are humans. Some or even most humans are bad. We judge the ideas, not some small select group of those who claim to follow them. We don’t dismiss Socialism because Mao and Stalin claimed to follow it and between them killed over a hundred million people and nor do we dismiss free markets and democracy since in their name a million Iraqis have been killed. Buddhist monks are leading mobs raping and murdering in Burma ans Sri Lanka. But when it comes to Islam … If people are going to judge any idea based on it’s adherents then all ideas will be judged as bad. And Islam will be one of last ideas to be judged, after Communism, Laissez Fair Capitalism etc etc. What Iran does to it’s citizens pales in comparison to what others have done to theirs (or what perhaps the Shah was doing with Savak before the Ayatollas’, who knows, I’m not an expert). Yeah, they are dicks, but so are Americans, British, Saudis, Chinese, each in their own way. Iran stones some people to death, China perhaps forces some to have abortions, the US kills civilians by accident or carelessness or design and so on…Iran killed a bunch of their own citizens. Perhaps better than invading other countries and killing a bunch of theirs. I didn’t lose faith in the Constitution after the US bombed the crap out of Iraq or supported Israel or whatever (I did lose faith in it a bit though when I read a black guy is 3/5 of a white man and that torture, according to Alan Dershowitz, is not unconstitutional)

        So some Sunnis in the past and present were bad. What would be surprising is if Muslims were the one group in history who were somehow exempt from acting crappy. It would also be weird if Salafis or ISIS were the only dumb or bad people amongst Muslims. So yeah. I am judging on the basis of ideas that are bad and then who holds these ideas with what frequency. So about 30% of people in Austria or wherever vote for far right neo-Nazi parties. It is important to know this, just as within Muslims, many disturbing ideas have been spread by scholars, which is what the guy in the video was trying to explain, he said ‘scholars’, not just Salafis, so you are right, but bad Muslims (we can also go into why they are bad, inherently, poverty, Iraq War whatever) doesn’t really help us on our quest for truth as there are bad people in every idea. It may make us careful of the idea, but we haver to nonetheless see if it is the idea or the people who are bad.

        So again, good points by yourself, but the Maturidi position is what it is whether other Muslims or you or me like it or not. The thing about Hell, you have to see if it makes sense to you or not, fair enough. Your point about Iran, yeah, the ayatollah’s are bad, it’s true. But this does not help us on our quest for truth. It is just like saying ‘the Republican party is bad’. Granted. But what about the idea of America they claim to represent? Is that bad too?

        Maybe, maybe not.

  1. Wow Masha Allah. I had never actually listened to Sheikh Atabek (I was too lazy to watch the posted videos) but I listened to his whole speech and question answering yesterday and I was amazed. Many of my doubts are cleared. I had always been confused as to why the Just and Merciful God would place women into hell for a fashion choice. It never sounded right to me.

    The Ottomans did officially stone one person though. I remember reading it somewhere. But even that case was biased and apparently the Islamic prerequisites for the punishment weren’t met. Regarding women’s rights though the Ottomans were actually advanced for their time. Turkish women had a lot of power within the household. Around the 16th and 17th centuries, the Islamic Ottoman Caliphate was ruled by women.A lot of Imperial mosques in Istanbul were commissioned by these female rulers. Their impact is visible. I just hope we can continue the tradition of empowering females within our society.

    How does Sheikh Atabek view music? In some of your previous articles you guys stated that music was allowed by the early Hanafis. I’m wondering however, what did they mean by music? What type of music was allowed and what was prohibited?

    Thanks very much for this. You guys are the best!

    • GongSunZan: thanks so much for your comment and forgive me for taking so long to reply. I really am sorry.

      Music is a divisive issue but in Hanafi usool, to declare something haraam is a big deal and you need some serious proof – and this means muttawatir hadith or Quranic ayat. And they don’t have it. We are arranging a talk on music, so I hope you will watch it!

      So we regard music as just like books: some are good, some are bad and can have a bad influence and make you do bad things. So if they want to ban music without Islamic proof, that is secularism anyway and if they claim they want to do it because of bad behaviour of music artists or that music can incite you to do bad things, then they should ban books also [actually, Wahhabis in Saudi and other places ARE dumb enough to have done that].

      In the meantime here is an answer from a reliable Hanafi:

      [the site is down at the moment due but when it is back up, check out the answer on music].

      Thanks again!

  2. As a reply to one of your comments, what do you mean by “to a lesser extent Shafis have caused a problem where people are afraid to approach the Quran directly”? Do Shafis have some Salafi like positions?
    And on an unrelated note what do you think of Nuh Keller’s “Reliance of the traveller”? sorry for all the question just wanted your opinion on the translation, and the work itself.

    • Thanks a lot AMB and sorry for the epic delay in replying!

      Unfortunately today, no-one is what they say they are: Ayatollas’ in Iran say they are Mu’tazzili Shia and then endorse stoning based on ahad narrations, Hanafis say they are Maturidi but are really Salafis, and thus too with Shafis. Since Salafi groups like HT, Ikhwaan and IERA etc never actually admit that they are Salafi for the purposes of gaining access and currying favour, it is very hard for ordinary people – or even students of knowledge and scholars.

      For example, people like Taqi Usmani – he is meant to be a Hanafi Mufti or even Grand Mufti of Pakistan or something: but as far as I can see, he is a naked Salafi, even in aqeeda he approves Ibn Taymiyya, something no Hanafi Maturidi would do. Likewise trojan horse ‘Hanafis’ like Akram Nadwi: another flagrant Salafi/anthropomorphist, but spamming books on Hanafism and the life of Abu Hanifa etc.

      So you have to, sadly, investigate as no-one is who they say they are nowadays: to the extent that many kaafirs are Muslim without knowing it and many Muslims are doing kufr without knowing it.

      Having said that, Imam Shafi and his school are more accepting of hadith that meet fewer and easier conditions than us and essentially they agree with the ‘five conditions’ of Imam Bukhari and Co. They usually, and I’m generalising here, do not reject narrations that clash with the Quran but find outlandish explanations to hold on to them (from our perspective), as do Hanbalis. They DO have rational principles to reject hadith that clash with observed reality (like the sun bowing to the arsh every night) but these are at the ‘back of the book’ and not explicitly stated in their usool, unlike the Hanafi hadith books such as ‘Al Mutassaar’. Thus from our perspective, their usool of hadith is too accommodating of narrations and they will just accept everything in Bukhari (with a sahih chain as not all of Bukhari is ‘sahih’, just one third or so). Hanafis and Malikis are more into Matn (content of hadith) criticism and will reject narrations from Bukhari that clash with adhab of Madinah, logic, empirical reality etc.

      So whereas Hanafis would (traditionally) reject a lot of the hadith that salafis rely on for their anthropomorphism and other issues, Shafis and Hanbalis will accept them but give them an ‘explanation’. This is in general the A’shari way, most of whom are Shafi or Hanbali or Maliki. Hanafis will just reject these hadith (and so will many Shafis like Imam Al Juwayni, teacher of Al Ghazzali, and many Salaf like Ibrahim Nakhai) and find some of the explanations outlandish (see for example here: and judge some of the ‘explanations’ for yourself.

      Of course, Shafis wil have their own reasons, but my understanding from studying both Hanafi and Shafi Mustalah of hadith is that Shafis and Hanbalis will go to outlandish lengths to ‘save’ the narration as long as the chain is ‘sahih’ or hasan or whatever.

      But I am biased and here is a very good Shafi scholar, G F Haddad, so you can see his view on things:

      Also, I find this ‘Four Schools’ thing to be a bit outlandish and to me it is inconceivable that all of the opinions on a subject of each school are ‘right in their own way’. It is the juristic equivalent of moral relativism. There are things that I think Imam Shafi and Ahmad were blatantly wrong about and Malik and Abu Hanifa were right about. I also think some of this ‘all four schools are correct’ is confusing to the layman, and anyway, Shafi Mustalah of hadith and Hanafi Mustalah of hadith contradict each other and the approach to hadith is the main thing which causes difference in Creed and fiqh, so how can they both be ‘right’?

      Also, Imams like Ahmad Ibn Hanbal insulted some of the others really, really badly, so clearly they don’t agree with this mutual correctness thing…

      ‘The Reliance of the Traveller: I can’t really comment on the translation, I expect it to be very accurate coming from Sheikh Nuh, and in any case, he is far above someone like me in Arabic. This would probably be better addressed to Hafiz Connors – but I can say that this book is a manual of Maliki law and it is good in that it relates the positions of some of the other schools but if you want to study Islam or fiqh it is better to read other books that deal with more modern controversies that can cause problems or to undertake courses (I only recommend Avicenna Academy in the UK or US) where you can critically engage with the teachers and make sure they are not just teaching you rubbish, like literally nearly all Islamic course are.

      The only way to protect yourself today (or ever) is to have an honest heart without bias or egotism and a critical intellect which does not just believe everything it is told: as Imam Al Ghazzali said, even the one who follows Muhammad (PBUH) blindly is like the polytheists who follow their leaders blindly.

      If you want a classical manual of law, you could try Aisha Bewleys translation of the Muwatta of Imam Malik or the Kitab Al Athar, which is the earliest manual of law and is by Hanafis. However, beware of footnotes. Or try the Usool of fiqh course from Avicenna and empower yourself! I have not read ‘Reliance’ from cover to cover so I don’t know, it depends what you want out of it.

      I had a go at putting up a reading list of books that helped me in the comments section here:

      Thanks again for you kind comment and forgive me for taking so long to reply.

  3. Thank you for the response regarding the Hanafi view of slavery. Can you also enlighten me how the Hanafis interpret the hadith in which the Prophet (saw) was asked regarding the killing of polytheist womeb and children during night raids and he replied that they were of them?

    • If you refer to the previous response:

      ‘So in Hanafi usool, primary evidence is the Q’uran and rational intellect and secondary evidence, including ahad hadith, cannot be allowed to clash with that.’

      So if it means genuinely accidental killing (which is how scholars interpreted it), it can possibly be accepted – accidental as in totally unavoidable and not deliberate and not ‘collateral damage’, a genuine accident. But if it means otherwise then it is rejected according to our usool of hadith and fiqh as it clashes with Quran/Islam which says not to kill innocents and to pay compensation for accidental killing. And there is no exception made for war, night raids, Navy SEAL missions, Drone strikes, Nuclear Holocaust or whatever in the Quran.

      There are 2 million hadith, at least 20,000 sahih according to Shafis (but not us) and many of them are problematic. Do you want to go through each hadith individually or do you want sensible principles for dealing with them in general?

      So isn’t it common sense that if an ahad hadith clashes with literal meaning of Quran, it will be rejected according to our and any sensible usool of hadith as certain knowledge trumps probabilistic or historical knowledge? And killing is one of the issues where there is not allowed to be any doubt in Islam and Quran.

      Also, can I ask what are you getting at?

      The full hadith says that the women and children are ‘amongst them’ as in trampled by the horses and thus collateral damage. It is mentioned in my article here:

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