Consideration for the Community


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The great 11th century scholar, Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni, author of the seminal work al-Waraqat in usul al-fiqh, held the opinion that performing a communal obligation (fard kifaya) was actually superior to performing an individualized one (fard ‘ayn).1

Most scholars hold the opposite opinion—that a personal obligation, such as the five daily prayers, fasting, etc. would be better, since such matters are what one will be personally accountable for on the Day of Judgment.

His reasoning for this unconventional opinion was that unlike a personal obligation, the benefit of a communally obligatory act would be far-reaching and extend beyond one’s self.  Performing it would also be a means of relieving the community from accountability, since if no one in the community has stepped up to perform a communal obligation the entire community would be considered sinful.

There are two lessons we can learn from the imam’s opinion on this matter:

  1. We should not only be interested in bringing benefit to our own selves or our close circle or group, but maximizing and extending benefit and khayr (goodness) to everyone.
  2. We should not be deluded into thinking that if our own affairs are in order, we will not be asked about the jama’ah, or the community that we live in and are part of.  It is for this reason we should be seriously concerned about our collective accountability before God and interested in where we as a community as a whole are headed.
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  1. Imam al-Haramayn’s al-Ghiyathi, p.448 []

5 Comments

  1. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for this very interesting and thought provoking post!

  2. Mohsin Vora says:

    JazakAllah khair! If you have more interesting knowledge to share on this topic please write follow up articles.

  3. sakeenah siegler says:

    Bism’Allah al Rahman al Rahim

    The reflections that follow below, were inspired by Muslims of all nationalities, all ages, some not yet married, some with young children, some with grown children, some recently converted, some from century old Muslim lineage, all of whom came together as a result of their love of Allah (SWT) and the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and the miracles of the Quran. May any errors in this piece evaporate like foam on the surface of the ocean, and may only the words which help to spread al Khayr remain, by the grace of Allah (SWT).

    The notion that “(…) we should be seriously concerned about our collective accountability before Allah and interested in where we as a community as a whole are headed” is an invitation for Muslim brothers and sisters to define our priorities as a community.

    Question: How about coming together as a community to sponsor the Quran studies of all the children attending our local Masjids?

    Educating the next generation of Muslims should not be solely the financial and moral responsibility of the parents raising their children. It is our collective responsibility to help strengthen young people’s Iman, Islam and Ihsan, after all, they are the future leaders of our Masjid communities.

    Acts speak more clearly than words. Think of the far reaching message the local Masjid communities would be sending young Muslim children if we come together to finance and support each child’s Quran studies: “The whole community cares about your future, you are not alone, and inch’Allah, we all believe you have an important role to fulfill in our community.” It also sends the clear message that the well being of the community depends upon our ability as a group to care for each member.

    Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. By making sure all children can study the Quran, and inch’Allah, become Hafiz, the community is investing in the future of Islam. On an individual level, studying and learning the Quran will provide Muslim youth with the essential guidelines that will help them to carry al Haq in their hearts, and inch’Allah, stay on the straight and narrow path. On a collective level, becoming Hafiz will give them as adults the knowledge, confidence, and ability to spread al Haq and inch’Allah serve as leaders in the Muslim community, and in society at large…

    The financial strain currently experienced by families who need to pay for the Quran studies of three or four children (or the feelings of shame parents struggle with if they are unable to provide their children with this opportunity), can easily be alleviated if the community as a whole considers teaching all the children of the Masjid to be a priority of our community. If each brother and sister attending Jum’ua prayers were to give even as little as $5 per month towards the Quran studies of the next generation of Muslims, the funds required to implement this project could easily be raised without placing an unnecessary burden on any one individual.

    Sobhan Allah, Shazia Ahmad’s “Community Considerations” are a reminder that our future, here and in the after life, is directly connected to our ability to provide the knowledge that will allow the next generation to be strong in their faith (Iman), and help Islam to grow.

    May our Niyya be pure and may Allah guide us all to support our community as best we can.

    Jazekoum Allah Khairan ya ochti Shazia, for your article,
    Wa Alleikoum Salaam,
    ochtouki sakeenah

    • Shazia Ahmad says:

      as salaamu alaykum,

      A great practical suggestion Sr. Sakeenah, Jazaki Allahu khayran!

      • sakeenah siegler says:

        A Salaam Alleikoum ya ochti Shazia,

        Jazaki Allahu Khayran for your encouragement.

        Any suggestions about how to get brothers and sisters to actively support this kind of project (including the board of trustees of Masjids) and, inch’Allah, actually provide this kind of service for the children in our Masjid communities?

        A Salaam alleikoum wa barak Allah fiki ya ochti,
        ochtaki Sakeenah

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