Monday, 11 September 2017

Non-Muslims are Unclean

نحمده ونصلى ونسلم على رسوله الكريم
والعاقبة للمتقين

Allah Most High says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْمُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ فَلَا يَقْرَبُوا الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ بَعْدَ عَامِهِمْ هَـٰذَا

O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean, so let them not approach al-Masjid al-Haram after this, their [final] year
(Sura 9: 28)

The word Najas from the Arabic consonantal root نجس connotes: “filth, defilement, desecration, profanity, to soil”. The word itself means: “defilement, profanity, desecration”, which is why perhaps a more accurate translation of the Ayah is: “…the polytheists are a defilement – do not let them come near the Sacred Mosque after this year of theirs” (Arabic-English Dictionary of Qur’anic Usage p. 918)

Keeping this more nuanced meaning of the word ‘Najas’ in mind, the reader should dismiss the notion that what is being referred to here is bodily hygiene. Rather, the polytheist non-Muslims being ‘Najas’ signifies the fact that they are ritually impure, a defilement, and that their presence in the Sacred Mosque would be a sort of desecration. As for bodily hygiene, there can be no question that there may be many non-Muslim polytheists who try their best to keep physically clean, but of course that isn’t the point of them being described as ‘Najas’. Nevertheless, the fact that the non-Muslim polytheists tend not to bathe as a religious act in order to remove the ‘impurity’ known as Janaba that occurs after sexual emission or intercourse has been referred to by Imam Qatada b. Di’ama (d. 118 H) as a reason for them being described as ‘Najas’ in his interpretation of this Verse of the Holy Qur’an, hence forbidden from approaching the Sacred Mosque:

حدثنا محمد بن عبد الأعلى، قال: ثنا محمد بن ثور، عن معمر، في قوله: { إنَّمَا المُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ }: لا أعلم قتادة إلا قال: النجَس: الجنابة

حدثنا بشر، قال: ثنا يزيد، قال: ثنا سعيد، عن قتادة، في قوله: { يا أيُّها الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إنَّمَا المُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ }: أي أجناب

(Tafsir Ibn Jarir)

Now does the Qur’anic promulgation banning the non-Muslim polytheists from being in the proximity of the Sacred Mosque in Mecca apply to other, ordinary mosques also? Imam Abdur Rahman al-Awza’i (707 – 774 CE), a great jurist and founder of the Awza’i madhhab (school of jurisprudence) named after him, wrote a letter to the pious Umayyad caliph Umar b. Abdul Aziz (682 – 720 CE) instructing him to forbid the Jews and Christians from entering the mosques of the Muslims in accordance with the Verse “…verily, the polytheists are unclean…”:

حدثنا عبد الكريم بن أبي عمير، قال: ثني الوليد بن مسلم، قال: ثنا أبو عمرو: أن عمر بن عبد العزيز كتب: أن امنعوا اليهود والنصارى من دخول مساجد المسلمين وأتبع في نهيه قول الله: { إنَّمَا المُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ }

(Ibid)

وأخرج أبو الشيخ عن الأوزاعي رضي الله عنه قال: كتب عمر بن عبد العزيز رضي الله عنه أن يمنع أن يدخل اليهود والنصارى المساجد، وأتبع نهيه { إنما المشركون نجس }

(Durr al-Manthur)

According to the Shari’a, if a Muslim is in a state of janaba or ritual impurity caused by sexual emission or intercourse, they are forbidden from entering the Mosque until they have performed ghusl (a full ritual bath). So then how can a non-Muslim be allowed to enter a mosque since they tend not to perform a full bath with the intention of removing the impurity known as the state of ‘janaba’? This is why Imam Qatada connected the Najasa ‘impurity’ of the non-Muslim to ‘Janaba’ and why Imam al-Awza’i wrote to the caliph Umar b. Abdul Aziz instructing him to forbid Jews and Christians from entering a mosque.

Now most learned authorities, especially among the Sunnis, interpret the ‘Najasa’ of the polytheists as mentioned in this Verse as referring to an inner or spiritual impurity, and not the kind of physical impurity such as that associated with unclean animals like the pig or dog. Nevertheless, Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 310 H) wrote in his monumental Tafsir:

وقال آخرون : معنى ذلك : ما المشركون إلا رجس خنزير أو كلب .
وهذا قول روي عن ابن عباس من وجه غير حميد ، فكرهنا ذكره

Others said: That means the polytheists are naught but unclean [as] a swine or dog. And this saying has been narrated from Ibn Abbas from a dispraised source, so we dislike mentioning it (Tafsir Ibn Jarir)

It was narrated from the great Imam al-Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullah) (d. 110 H) that he instructed Muslims not to shake hands with the non-Muslim polytheists, but if a Muslim happened to have done so, they should perform Wudu’:

حدثنا ابن وكيع قال : حدثنا ابن فضيل ، عن أشعث ، عن الحسن : ( إنما المشركون نجس ) ، قال : لا تصافحوهم ، فمن صافحهم فليتوضأ

Likewise, there are some weak and suspect narrations where the Prophet himself has said that after having hand shaked with a non-Muslim polytheist a Muslim should perform ‘Wudu’ or simply wash his palm, and a story that the Angel Gabriel onced refused to touch the hand of the Prophet since he had shaken hands with a Jew, until the Prophet called for water and performed ‘Wudu’. However, if it is so that ‘Najasa’ or impurity of the non-Muslim polytheist is a physical impurity similar to that of unclean animals like a pig or dog, and not merely an inner, spiritual impurity, then it is not necessary that by merely touching or coming into physical contact with a non-Muslim polytheist that a Muslim himself becomes impure. For instance, merely touching a dog, an unclean animal, does not make a person impure, unless a trace of moisture or wetness of the dog, such as its saliva, has gotten onto a person’s body or clothing. In such a case a Muslim is instructed to remove the impurity by washing it off with water. Therefore, merely shaking hands with a non-Muslim polytheist, since no moisture or wetness from the non-Muslim is transferred to the Muslim, does not render the Muslim impure and in need of washing, ‘Wudu’ or ‘Ghusl’. But what if somehow moisture or wetness from a non-Muslim’s body, such as saliva or mucus, was transferred to a Muslim’s body or clothing? In such a scenario, the Muslim would have to wash off the traces of impurity from the non-Muslim from his body or clothing in order to return to a state of purity. A Muslim whose body or clothing has been soiled with any trace of impurity cannot offer the Salat until those traces have been removed through cleansing thoroughly, i.e. washing it off with water. This would be the ruling if indeed the position, held by a minority of learned authorities in the world of Islam, is correct that the impurity of the non-Muslim polytheist is not merely an inner impurity but a physical impurity like that of unclean animals.

Yet, this is not merely a jurisprudential issue, but also a psychological and religious one. In other words, Muslims demonstrate their disdain for the impurity of Shirk (polytheism or idolatry) by disassociating themselves from the pagan polytheists to such an extent that they begin to regard the latter as physically impure, refusing even to touch them unless absolutely necessary, and even then performing a ritual washing as an expression of piety, zeal for the Oneness of God, and disgust with idolatry and those who indulge in it. Hence, such an attitude becomes pleasing to Allah Most High, since the Muslim is demonstrating his strong commitment to Islam and Tawhid (monotheism) in a very zealous manner, one in which the polytheist non-Muslim may be made to feel inferior and humiliated because of his polytheism and idolatry. Likewise, such an attitude obviously reinforces a sense of separation and disassociation that the Muslims should have with regard to the non-Muslim polytheists. Among the probable proofs for this view that the impurity of the non-Muslim is physical is the Hadith:

أَمَّا مَا ذَكَرْتَ أَنَّكَ بِأَرْضِ أَهْلِ كِتَابٍ فَلاَ تَأْكُلُوا فِي آنِيَتِهِمْ، إِلاَّ أَنْ لاَ تَجِدُوا بُدًّا، فَإِنْ لَمْ تَجِدُوا بُدًّا فَاغْسِلُوهَا وَكُلُوا

The Prophet said, “As for your saying that you are in the land of People of the Scripture, you should not eat in their utensils unless you find no alternative, in which case you must wash the utensils and then eat in them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari #5496)

This Hadith is a clear proof that the utensils of the Jews and Christians are not suitable for eating and drinking from since they are ritually unclean people, i.e. ‘Najas’, and that if a Muslim has no other alternative, he must first thoroughly wash and cleanse such utensils before eating or drinking from them. Likewise, this rule applies to all other non-Muslim polytheists apart from Jews and Christians, such as the Magians:

عَنْ أَبِي ثَعْلَبَةَ، قَالَ سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ قُدُورِ الْمَجُوسِ فَقَالَ أَنْقُوهَا غَسْلاً وَاطْبُخُوا فِيهَا ‏
Narrated Abu Tha’labah Al-Khushani: The Messenger of Allah was asked about the pots of Zoroastrians [Magians]. He said: “Clean them by washing them, and then cook in them.” (Jami’ al-Tirmidhi #1796)


And this is similar to how, in the well-known Hadith, the Prophet commanded that the utensil that was used by an unclean animal be washed, in the case of a dog, seven times. He also instructed that the pots in which the meat of donkeys was being cooked on the day of Khaybar be broken since the meat of donkeys was unclean and hence declared forbidden. But when the people asked, the Prophet gave them a concession to wash the pots instead of breaking them. (Sahih al-Bukhari) Therefore, the aforementioned Hadith about washing the utensils of the Jews, Christians and Magians (Zoroastrians) before using them is a proof that these non-Muslim polytheists are to be considered as physically impure as unclean animals. And Allah knows best.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Taliban, Huthis and Near Future Emergence of the Mahdi

  بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الصلاة والسلام على سيد المرسلين وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين The changes to the geopolitical chessboard is acc...