Medieval Imams and their man made prohibitions
This article is written in response to numerous emails we have received enquiring about many prohibitions which are proclaimed by numerous Imams and which cannot be found in the Quran. The following email is one example:
“Salaam, we have converted to Islam 3 years ago, we have been reading various pages on your site and we are very impressed with the clarity of mind you have and your sincere effort to preach the Quran. Can you please help me on the following issue: my son has been going to a local mosque and lately has been very confused by the way the Imam is forbidding so many normal things in life! He is told he cannot listen to music, he cannot have any pictures or portraits at home, he cannot wear silk or gold, he cannot keep a dog as a pet and so many other things. It sounds like the Imam is virtually saying that we should not have any enjoyment in this world! When my son asked the Imam to show him any Quranic evidence for all these rules, the Imam quoted 11:116 saying that the words in this verse prohibit us from having material luxuries! Could you please give us your valuable opinion because my son is very confused, keep up the good work, wasalam.”
For a start, none of the above items are prohibited in the Quran. The Imam you had the misfortune of encountering referred to 11:116, so let us take a look at this verse:
[11:116] If only some of those among the previous generations possessed enough intelligence to forbid evil! Only a few of them deserved to be saved by us. As for the transgressors, they were preoccupied with their material luxuries; they were guilty.
It is clear that 11:116 does not forbid us from having lawful possessions, hobbies, pleasures or natural God given blessings! All what 11:116 is warning against is to be excessively pre-occupied with the material things in life to the extent of forgetting our prime duty of worshipping God, but as long as we worship God sincerely and observe our religious obligations (Salat, Zakat, etc), then we are entitled to enjoy all the blessings God made available to us. We are also entitled to have all the lawful riches if we remember our duties towards God. The story of Solomon in the Quran tells us that God gave him immense material riches. God places this story in the Quran about Solomon to confirm that it is not unrighteous in any way to have great wealth, as long as it does not distract us from our duty towards God. This is the message of the following verse:
[24:37] People who are not distracted by business or trade from commemorating God; they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and they are conscious of the day when the minds and the eyes will be horrified.
All the various blessings which come our way are God given, and God wants us to enjoy all the good things He gave us. The following Quranic verses confirm this truth:
[7:32] Say, "Who prohibited the nice things God has created for His creatures, and the good provisions?" Say, "Such provisions are to be enjoyed in this life by those who believe. Moreover, the good provisions will be exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection." We thus explain the revelations for people who know.
[28:77] "Use the provisions bestowed upon you by God to seek the abode of the Hereafter, without neglecting your share in this world.”
The words “without neglecting your share in this world” confirm that God wants us to enjoy all the provisions, luxuries and blessings of life.
Now that we have verified what the Quran says about the luxuries of life, it is also necessary to analyse where do these medieval Imams get their fabricated prohibitions from.
Needless to say, the books of hadith will supply a generous richness of prohibitions none of which are found in the Quran, and since the Quran makes it very clear that God is the only Law Giver (6:114) and that the prophet Muhammad (to whom the hadith is attributed) does not have the authority to prohibit anything which is made lawful by God (66:1), then it is our duty to discard all these hadith which are falsely attributed to the Prophet.
There are various hadith which prohibit keeping any dogs for pets, as a matter of fact there are some hadith which advocates the killing of all black dogs!
Other hadith prohibit men from wearing gold and silk!
Other hadith prohibit music, pictures on the walls, perfume for women. The list is endless!
Moreover, and as if the reliance on fabricated hadith is not bad enough, we often find many high profile Imams coming up periodically with personal “fatwa’s” (religious decrees) through which they will prohibit something or another according to their own whims when there does not exist such a prohibition in the Quran. What they are doing is in fact playing the role of Religious Law Makers!
We know from 66:1 that the prophet of God did not have such authority since such role is reserved for God alone, so who exactly do these Imams think they are by claiming such self appointed authority? They will indeed be accountable for their sinful acts, and all those who followed them and upheld their man made laws will also incur great retribution:
“They follow idols who decree for them religious laws never authorised by God. If it were not for the predetermined decision, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed, the transgressors have incurred a painful retribution.” 42:21