Wednesday, March 2


The most famous son of Margilan is Burhanuddin al-Margilani (alternatively, al-Marghinani), who lived between 1152 and 1197, and wrote one of the most authoritative guides to personal law in Islam.

The term mazhab in Urdu refers to a Muslim school of religious law, or fiqh. In the first 150 years of Islam, there were many such schools, and the sahabah or companions of the Prophet more often than not came up with their own schools in matters of interpretation. Practices coalesced over time; the early jurisprudential schools of Damascus, Kufa, Basra, and Medina combined into the Maliki mazhab (today followed in N Africa); other Iraqi schools were consolidated into the Hanafi mazhab (this became the dominant school in the Indian subcontinent as well as in Central Asia.) The Shafi'i (Egypt, E Africa, SE Asia), Hanbali (Arabia), Zahiri and Jariri schools were established later, though the latter two eventually died out. The mazhab are not different enough to be called sects (they have lived in harmony for the most part), so the term religious-school must suffice. Sufis usually do not submit to mazhab but follow the legal directives of their tariqas or orders.

Al-Margilani wrote perhaps the most authoritative guide to Hanafi law. The work is titled Al-Hidaya (the Gift), referring to guidance from Allah (as in the Quran), and is the basis for Anglo-Islamic personal law in India and Pakistan.

To use female nakedness in illustrating the Hidaya, a hadith says "Allah does not accept the salah (prayer) of an adult woman except with a scarf."

Elaborating on female attire during prayer, Umm Salamah, one of the wives of Muhammad, had said "A woman should pray in a shift that reaches down and covers the top of her feet.”

But what about the feet themselves? Islamic scholars have differed regarding the permissibility of women's naked feet: are they allowed in prayer, not allowed during prayer, or neither, or both? The major opinions have been:

1. That the feet are nakedness
This is based on implication from the hadith,
"When a girl reaches puberty, it is not appropriate that any of her should be seen, excepting her face, and her hands upto the wrists."
When Muhammad was asked what women should do with the ends of their garments (which then were apparently about calf-high) he said, 'They should extend them a span.' Umm Salamah said, 'Then, their feet will be uncovered!' He said, 'Then, they should extend them a cubit, not exceeding that.'
This opinion was presented as the mazhab of Abu Hanifah by the early scholar al-Quduri. Feet are also considered nakedness by the Maliki and Shafi'i Imams.

2. That they are not nakedness
This is al-Margilani's argument, and it is based on two points:
i. If the establishment of the nakedness is by the saying of Allah, in the Quran "And let them not show their beauty, except that of it which is apparent," then the foot is not customarily a location of beauty (it may be for a minority, but regulations are set according to the general rule.) Also Allah has said "And let them not strike their feet in order to make known that adornment which they are hiding," i.e. the ringing of anklets, and this conveys that the feet themselves are of the beauty which is apparent. Commenting on this verse, Ayisha, another of Muhammad's wives and perhaps his favorite, said, "And let them not show their beauty except that of it which is apparent, the toe-ring, a silver ring which is placed on the toes."

ii. If the establishment is by the Prophet's saying, "The woman is to be covered," along with it being established that some of her body is excluded due to hardship of avoiding exposure, then, by analogy, it should necessitate that the feet also be excluded, due to the corroboration of hardship. This is because she would be put to hardship by her foot showing when she walked barefoot, or with shoes, for she may not always find socks with which to cover them. Along with this, al-Marghilani felt desire is not aroused by looking at the foot such as is aroused by looking at the face, and so if the face is not considered naked for purposes of prayer, in spite of the plentiful arousal of desire, then the foot is more appropriate to remain uncovered in view of the hardship associated with covering it.

3. That they are nakedness outside prayer, but not in prayer.
Ibn Taymiyyah, the Hanbali, favored this opinion. He says:
Umm Salamah said, 'A woman should pray in an ample garment which covers the tops of her feet,' and so when she makes sajdah, the bottoms of her feet may show." The feet are not nakedness in prayer, and she is not required to cover them, but they are nakedness for the purposes of looking and touching, so it is not permissible for strange men to look at or touch her feet.

Due to al-Margilani's interpretation, women in the Indian subcontinent and in Central Asia are exempted from wearing socks while praying.

More finer points of interpretive differences can be seen here. Below: lives in Andijon and Margilan.


Post a Comment

<< Home