Editor's Note

This book is the second in its league. It is yet another contribution of the author, as-Sayyid Abdul Hadi al-Hakim, after the publication of the translation of his book alfatawal muyessarah - Jurisprudence Made Easy, to the effort of making the body of fiqh (jurisprudence) easier for the layman to come to grips with.

Translating such work is a challenging task. Yet the translator, as-Sayyid Mohammad Rizvi, has done a great job. However, where I saw the reader's interest is better served, I have made some changes. The title of the book now reads, A Code of Practice for Muslims in the West. To avoid repetition, I decided to collate the translator's footnotes, dealing with clarifying the meanings of the Arabic terms, as well as some other “Frequently Used Terms” under one title, i.e. “Glossary”.

I must stress, though, that throughout the process of making these changes, and others for that matter, I was in close consultation with both the author and the publishers, Imam Ali Foundation, UK, London.

I pray to Allah, the Exalted to forgive any inadvertent mistake or error of judgement I may have made in the course of editing the book. I also implore Him to make this work of mine a step towards attaining His approval, that He accepts it favourably and make it of use.

Najim al-Khafaji, BA

Translator's Preface

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

May Allah send His blessings upon Muhammad and his progeny.

Writing the manuals of Islamic laws for use by Muslims is an evolutionary process, reflecting the change in lifestyles and the relevance (or the lack of it) of certain problems and issues that vary from time to time and place to place. The spirit and the purpose remain constant but the style and the format change.

In the present century we first saw the widely used Tawdihu 'l-Masa'il in Persian (also known as risala-e 'amaliyya), and then came the Minhaju 's-Salihiyn in Arabic by the late Ayatullah al-Hakim (which was later expanded by the late Ayatullah al-Khû'i and even further improved by Ayatullah as-Sistani). In mid seventies, the late Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr brought about a completely new style in his al-Fatawa al-Wadiha.

The present book, al-Fiqh lil Mughtaribin by Hujjatul Islam Sayyid 'Abdul Hadi al-Hakim, is a further development in the same line of change and continuity. Sayyid 'Abdul Hadi's distinction is that he has focused on the problems and issues faced by the Muslims in the West, formulated those questions, and compiled their answers without going into details that can be easily obtained from other commonly used sources of Islamic laws. And so it was indeed a great pleasure when I was asked to undertake the translation of this book into English.

A Note on Translation: I have been quite liberal while translating the author's Introduction but had to strictly abide by the wording and expressions as they appeared in the original in the latter and the major part of the book. This was done to ensure the accuracy in conveying the views of the Grand Ayatullah as-Sistani.

This translation is based on the first Arabic edition of 1998 but with quite a few changes and amendments done by the Fatwa Committee of the Office of Ayatullah as-Sistani in Qum. And so those who would compare this translation with the first Arabic edition should keep this fact in mind. The changes were of various length and nature: in some instances, words, phrases and sentences were changed or added to further explain the problem; [1] in some cases, the rulings have changed; [2] and in three cases, the items were deleted completely. [3]

Moreover, in some instances I had asked for further elaboration that was kindly provided by the Committee. [4] I have also taken the liberty of changing the placement of certain rulings so that similar issues are found in the same section. For the same reason, in Part Two, I have switched the sequence of two chapters: Chapter 8 (“Youths' Issues”) and Chapter 9 (“Women's Issues) since women's issues are much closer to issues of Chapter 7 on “Marriage”. Interestingly this is the order that the author himself has listed pages 31 and 136 of the Arabic but has somehow changed it in the final printing. I have written some footnotes to clarify the meaning and have also added a short list of “Frequently Used Terms” at the beginning of each chapter.

I pray to Almight Allah to accept this work as a humble attempt in simplifying His laws for the Muslims in non-Muslim societies, and may He reward the author and grant long life to the Ayatullah as-Sistani on whose expert opinion this book is based.

Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
Shawwal 1419 / February 1999


[1] See for example items 16m 20, 23, 29-30 on p. 37-39; item 11, p. 56; item 96, p. 100; item 178, p. 149; item 301, p. 203; item 383, p. 251. All page numbers in this note refer to the first Arabic edition.

Answer: The criterion is the satisfaction of the individual himself [1] about the actual sighting [of the new moon] or [2] the proof of sighting without any counter claim.

In the case mentioned above, satisfaction is not normally achieved concerning the appearance of the new moon on the horizon in such a way that it could have been sighted by the naked eye. On the contrary, one is satisfied that it was not sighted and that the testimony [of sightings in the Eastern cities] is based on illusion and error in sight. And Alla~h knows the best.

Introduction : Hajj: The Pilgrimage to Mecca

The pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj) is one of the fundmental obligations in Islamic laws. The holy Qur’a~n has clearly mentioned this obligation. Almighty Alla~h says in His holy Book: “And it is for the sake of Alla~h [a duty] upon the people to do the pilgrimage of the House—whosoever has the ability [to travel] to it. And whosoever is ungrateful, then surely Alla~h is free from need of the universe.” (2:196) The Almighty has compared the negligence of hajj to ingratitude because of its importance.

[2] See, for example, item 114 on p. 110 on sighting of the new moon.

[3] See item 218 (p. 168), item 285 (p. 191), and item 269 (p. 187) in the first edition.

[4] See item 115 in this translation on the criterion of following the moon sighted in a city west of your own city.

Author's Preface

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

It is a pleasure for me to present to the respected readers my book, al-Fiqh lil Mughtaribin, according to the views: of his eminence Grand Ayatullah as-Sayyid 'Ali al-Hussaini as-Seestani (May Allah prolong his blessed presence among us).

This book is the first attempt at writing Islamic laws For Muslims who have settled in non-Muslim Countries. Muslims who were compelled to leave their countries, and the places where they grew up, and had to migrate to non-Muslim countries in which they now live under different laws and systems, dissimilar values and rules, and unfamiliar customs and habits.

The modes of conduct and manners of the host societies are greatly at variance with what the guests were used to; there is a wide gulf between their own upbringing and the values of the host countries. Conseqneutly, new problems have emerged and a number of questions arose that called for answers - answers that would clarify the ambigious, enlighten the obscure, guide the stray, and brighten the darkness.

From this came the need for writing a book that would deal with the various practical problems of immigrant Muslims, and provide answers and present solutions for them.

It was against this background that al-Fiqh lil Mughtaribin was written with a detailed introduction, followed by two parts with each part branching out into various chapters which contain new questions, issues that had not been charted before, and problems that have not been discussed in most Manuals of Islamic Laws and other commonly used books of Islamic Jurisprudence. Hopefully these parts and chapters will act as a stimulus for further questions that the learned reader may raise; and I will be greatly pleased to receive those queries so that they may be included with their answers in future editions, insha Allah.

Islamic Laws for Muslims in non-Muslim Countries is the third attempt following two other books “al-Fatawa al-Muyassara” (Jurisprudence Made Easy) and “al-Muntakhab mina 'l-Masa'ili 'l-Muntakhabah” (Current Legal Issues) through which I hope to have contributed to the process of making Islamic laws accessible, and endear them, to lay people. If I have succeeded in my aim, all praise is due to Allah; and if I have not, it is sufficient that I have tried “and my success is not but from Allah, and in Him I place my trust and to Him I turn.”

I had the privilege of reading some chapters of this book to my respected father (may Allah prolong his life) during his stay with me in London when he came for treatment. His guidance has indeed enriched this book.

I pray to the Almighty Allah that He may accept this work with a good acceptance I am grateful to those who helped me in completing this book. I would like to especially thank His Eminence the Grand Ayatullah as-Sayyid 'Ali al-Hussaini as-Seestani (may Allah prolong his blessed presence) who took upon himself the trouble to provide the answers to the questions. I am also grateful to the offices of the Grand Ayatullah in Najaf [Iraq], Qum [Iran], and London for helping me in ensuring the accuracy of what I have written and in ensuring that it is in accordance with the views of the Ayatullah.

“Our Lord! Do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake. Our Lord! Do not lay on us a burden as Thou did lay on those before us. Our Lord! Do not impose upon us that which we have not the strength to bear; and pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us. Thou are our Master, so help us against the unbelieving people.”

'Abdul Hadi as-Sayyid Muhammad Taqi al-Hakim
27 Ramadhan 1418 / 26 January 1998