What is the “manhajification” of fiqh?
This is a term I’ve personally have invented derived from the proper Arabic term “المنهج” al-manhaj, i.e. the way.
Like all terms, there is the linguistic (lughawi) meaning as well as the technical (istilahi) meaning.
The linguistic meaning of al-manhaj is “a way of doing or following something” or more properly “a method” to follow. Hence the common term used in English to relay this term is “methodology”.
The technical meaning of al-manhaj” is to follow a method established by predecessors. Typically it is used in the context of proponents using the term to validate their practice/understanding by grounding it in orthodoxy against an opposing view/group/individual or it is used to establish a precedent in orthodoxy.
A common example is the title of a book authored by Shaykhul-Islam Taqi’u-Deen named “Manhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiya”. The target group aimed of this work was against the Shi’a mainly and other heterodox groups, and the aim was to establish the orthodox practise of the Messenger of Allah in core matters of faith and worship. Another example is a book authored by Shaykh Abu Bakr al-Jaza’iri titled “Manhaj al-Muslim” where its a book outlining the way of a proper Muslim in thought, belief, worship, and relationship with God. In this connotation, the book is more of a reference to the mindset of an ideal Muslim, the Muslim psyche if you will.
From this, i have already created the term “manhajification” as has been relayed in my previoua articles like
The last link was mistakenly labeled as “fiqh 2” instead of the the 4th in the series. This article will constitute the 5th in the series
Is this term real?
Ibn Al-Qayyim writes:
وَالِاصْطِلَاحَاتُ لَا مُشَاحَّةَ فِيهَا إِذَا لَمْ تَتَضَمَّنْ مَفْسَدَةًThere is nothing wrong with new terminology as long as it does not include corruption.Source: Madārij al-Sālikīn 3/286
I would also add to Hafidh ibnul-Qayyim’s discerning characterization here that as long as it doesnt include tahrif (distortion/obfuscation).
The Threshold Between Taffaquh and Asabiya
Taffaquh is to have discernment of fiqh in the sense of wholistically viewing a mas’ala (issue) in the manner of entering and exiting that issue with a wholesome behavior. Opposite of this is asabiya, which is to have or add the element of a toxic, damaging, and often times demonization of the opposing view/group/individual
There is a thin line between conviction of one’s own arrival towards a legal judgment/stance/view of a mas’ala and fanatic demonization of that conviction in the realm of fiqh. Since there is no English term that best relays this phenomenon, Im simply making this term and incorporating it into the vernacular of Islamic-English discourse. That word is thus “manhajification”.
Manhajification is thus, the threshold that one passes between leaving the realm of having or adopting taffaquh in any fiqh issue and entertaining, defending, advocating, siding, or supporting a conception of a fiqh matter that enables asabiya, ta’assub.
The identifiable marker that highlights how the manhajification of fiqh occurs is usually identified by toxic, demonization language typically in the form of declaring ibtida (innovation) on the opposing view. In order to extract a living and practical application of this manhajification, I will use one issue used by two opposing methodological camps to express the lack of taffaquh used by both proponents and the extreme absurd and nonsensical language of these fanatics.
On the issue of the number of raka’at for the qiyamul-layl in the time of the sahaba which became formalized as salatu-tarawih” later on in the age of the tabi’in, we will use two camps
Antisalafis: this group consists mostly of followers of the later madhab developers not in the area of tarjih (revision) but of the adoption of unprecedented practices unestablished by the salaf by authentic means, usualy through dubious means or of reasoning. Consider this as a religious malpractice of what true madhab following was suppose to be by the classical scholars.
Salafis: particularly the anti madhabis and madkhalis among the main body of salafis and I don’t mean atharis who do follow a madhab.
An example of antisalafi rhetoric that displays this manhajification of fiqh is through titles posted on various platforms like
“The Bidah of 8 rakats of taraweeh”
What is wrong with the title? Everything. Where has the manhajification been performed? Manhajification’s result is looking at a fiqh issue that classically had diverging views all within acceptable legal parameters and adopting a single source and monopolizing that single view as thee standard orthodox position while erasing diverging views from that realm of acceptability. This, in effect, renders this person to “bid’atize” or hereticate the opposing view by illegal means.
The first problem with this title is there can be no bid’a (deviation/innovation) on what was never established by the Messenger ﷺ. There is ABSOLUTE ijma, not even theoretical, that all legal jurists of all schools agreed that there was no defining number to how many raka’at was performed in tarawih by the Messenger during his lifetime. This is thee primary reason why there is disagreement by the jurists regarding the number of raka’at in the first place.
Hence, if no one in the history of Islam hereticated others over the quantity of raka’at performed for salawatu-tarawih for Ramadhan nights, then no one has the legal right to claim a bid’a on the number of raka’at.
An example of the opposing salafi side may be laid at the laity as typically, salafi authorities never “bid’atized” and performed this corruption of fiqh known as “manhajification”. Nevertheless, common salafis may be subject to this fiqh malpractice of manhajification. An example here is posited by such type of salafis that say
“Performing 20 raka’at for tarawih is a bid’a”
This claim against antisalafis is equally blunderoua and all the criticism and analysis applied above also applies to this. Granted, the reports of 20 raka’at are weak and the only authentic ones include 8
As stated by the hufadh of the religion across madhab sectors and creedal affiliations. Nevertheless 20 raka’at has become a staple implementation by the khalifa Umar ibnul-Khattab رضي الله عنه and the fact none of the sahaba rejected, or opted to perform differently, and the fact that the succeeding khulafa after Umar continued in that tradition tells us that this is not something which negates one’s orthodoxy and classifies them as following a bid’a.
In short, manhajification as a concept, is the threshold one enters when abandoning the comportment of taffaquh in any fiqh mas’ala and adopting ta’assub, toxic demonizing of the other over a matter that intrinsically had open room of diverging opinions as nothing was set in stone on the matter.
Manhajification in practice is the hereticating of “others” usually through making declaratory statements that the opposing view is bid’a when it actually is not. Or that the view of the ideologue is “the sunnah” which gives off the connotation that the opposing view is based on misguided innovation even if they dont verbally state this.
Since manhajfication is applicable to all areas of extracted law, it is not just quarantined to just this issue of tarawih alone. I merely used it as a quick convenience to relay the point as well as it is Ramadhan as I author this short synopsis of the matter. However, manhajification applies all all areas of fiqh and people perform this on many matters ranging from taqlid and or even on the difference between relying on scientific calculations for the estbalishing of the month of Ramadhan and finally its commencement with Eid versus the r’uya (sighting) of the moon juxtaposed to calculations. Which ever fiqh topic two demonizing groups like to argue over, there is usually this element of “manhajfication” including even the issue of music.