Fatawa >Preamble to the Science of Jurisprudence
Preamble to the Science
of Jurisprudence --- Obligation
and its Requirements
and its Requirements
(obligation to observe the precepts of religion) is a bestowal of
grace by Allah, the Most High, on man, in that He has distinguished
man from the rest of His creation by giving him the power of reasoning
to control his needs and shoulder responsibility. If man appreciates
this honor by obeying Allah, he will be rewarded. Should he fall foul
of the rules and demonstrate disobedience, he will earn the wrath of
Allah and His punishment, for he did not do himself any good, by
encroaching upon Allah’s right, and not safeguarding the trust put
We offered the trust to the heavens, the earth and the mountains,
but they refused to be unfaithful to it and feared from it, and man
has turned unfaithful to it; surely he is unjust,
it is obligatory, both by
virtue of the shari’a law and logic, on the disobedient to
repent for his transgression and turn to his Creator. If he does not
take to penance, this will count as another act of disobedience.
Repentance can be achieved by showing remorse for one’s trespasses,
thus taking a decision to abstain from committing what is sinful in
The following are the
general requirements of obligation:
2. Adulthood (Buloogh):
no one shall be obligated to observe the precepts of religion before
he or she attains adulthood. Adulthood is determined by a legal
criterion, the details of which will follow. A non-adult shall not be
held accountable in the Hereafter. For example, if he or she were to
lie or not hold prayer, they should not expect to be punished.
However, one should take
note of the following:
3. a. This should not mean that the guardian abdicates his
responsibility in shaping the behavior of the minor. It should be his
duty to steer him in the right direction and punish him, if need be,
when he deviates. He must guard against his falling victim to
Allah’s wrath, when the time for obligating him with observing the
precepts of religion comes. The more time and effort he puts in
preparing him, using all means at his disposal, the better results he
yields in making him closer to Allah, who said, "O you who
believe! save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is
men and stones; over it are angels stern and strong, they do not
disobey Allah in what He commands them, and do as they are
Should the guardian do
what is required of him to make his offspring follow the right path,
he cannot be culpable.
4. b. Relieving the minor
from the responsibility in the other world should not mean that one
should not appreciate his obedience, and subsequently the correctness
of any acts of worship performed by him. It is mustahab for him
to do what is expected of an adult, be they obligatory or voluntary
acts of worship, provided that they do not adversely affect his well
being. A seven-year old boy, for example, should become familiar with
saying prayer. When he completes his ninth birthday, he should get to
terms with observing fast, even if during part of the day, should he
not be able to carry on because of thirst or hunger.
5. c. Although the
guardian is not legally duty-bound, yet he is by no means completely
exempt from some of the consequences of the minor’s actions, such as
compensating other parties for the damage to their property. However,
it is obligatory on him to come up with the compensation when the
minor attains adulthood; this will further be discussed under the
appropriate heading in this book.
6. Reason (Aql),
in the sense that the mukallaf can use his reasoning capacity
in such a way as to recognize the responsibility he is being charged
Thus, neither the mentally-retarded (majnoon), nor the
feeble-minded (ablah), can be charged with Takleef.
7. If the mental
situation of any person fluctuates between insanity and sanity, Takleef
shall be remitted in the first situation; it is applicable in the
A person could be so
mentally handicapped or feeble-minded that he may not be capable of
discerning certain obligations. Yet, he may be able to discern others.
For example, a person with a mental age of a child may not be able to
understand the rituals of hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) and thus he
cannot perform them. But, he could be fully aware of the fact that man
cannot kill his fellow being. Imposition of obligations on such a
person may be upheld in situations where he can comprehend the
consequences of his actions; the opposite is true.
8. Ability (qudrah).
Allah, the Most High said,
"Allah does not
impose upon any soul a duty, but to the extent of its
If it is not within anyone’s ability to fulfill the
responsibility he is charged with, no recriminations shall ensue. That
is, irrespective of the nature of the obligation, be it a command -
such as in the case of an ill person who cannot offer prayer - or the
inability of another person to steer clear from what Allah has
ordained unlawful, such as a drowning person, who cannot extricate
himself from the danger.
9. The worshipper may not
be completely unable to carry out the obligation, but doing so may
cost him his life. In this case, the obligation ceases to operate with
a view to preserving one’s life, except in two instances:
a. When the conditions are right, there may be a case for jihad (lit.
an effort or striving - a religious duty enjoined specially for
fighting the infidels and repelling evil from Muslims); in this case
it becomes obligatory.
b. When person is threatened with death, if they were not to kill
another Muslim without lawful reason. In this case, they have to
manifest obedience to Allah by not complying with the order, even if
this leads to exposing their own life to the peril of death.
10. There may arise a
situation where it is difficult for the mukallaf to make up his
mind as to which of two concurrent obligations he should carry out
first. As a result, he may fail to carry out either.
For example, a person may have to perform an obligatory prayer in the
remaining short time, lest its prescribed time should elapse. It is
within their ability and choice to do either at the expense of the
other. Here, the obligation of the lesser importance should be
abandoned. Very often, the mukallaf cannot determine the
matter, only by having recourse to the marji’ to show him
which course of action to adopt.
11. When an obligation
becomes enforceable, there is no difference whether the mukallaf
abdicate his responsibility towards obeying what Allah has ordained,
or by embarking on an action he fully knows will contribute to
For example, a person may postpone saying prayer, preferring to travel
by rail. Here, he may know very well that this journey is going to
diminish his ability to perform prayer. This too is a type of
rebellion against Allah’s ordinance. It is therefore not permissible
to embark on such ventures, unless in an emergency.
12. Being Muslim is one
of the general conditions for Takleef to become operative. An
unbeliever is therefore not expected to be charged with any type of
religious duty. Should the unbeliever embrace Islam, he can start
afresh with carrying out religious obligations, i.e. he need not
perform, say, past prayers or fast by way of qadha’.
and its Signs
13. As has already been
discussed, adulthood is one of the requirements of Takleef.
Adulthood can be realized when any of the following features becomes
a. Secretion of semen, whether in one’s sleep or while awake, as a
result of a sexual intercourse, or otherwise.
b. The appearance of pubic hair, of the rough type, not down.
c. completing fifteen lunar years of age for a male, and nine for a
female as a matter of ihtiyat wujubi. It is preferable
though that on his thirteenth birthday, a boy should be ready for Takleef;
thus he should not take lightly any obligation imposed on an adult.
14. If in doubt as to
whether or not they have attained adulthood, boys and girls should
assume that they have not until they are satisfied that it is the
15. Doubt may creep into
the mind of a person that they are not capable of obeying Allah, the
Exalted. They should not assume that they are incapable; they must
spare no effort to observe religious dictates until proven incapable.