Current Events(Fiqh al-Wāq‘i)

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

What is the meaning of Fiqh al-Wāq‘i ? [1]
Fiqh al-Wāq‘i is constructed of two words both of which were used by the Salaf as-Sālih, though they did not mean by al-wāq‘i the current events as implied in this particular construction.

Al-Wāq‘i: it is the events and things that happen concerning the people.

The Salaf did not form this two-word construction in spite of their presence in the language, i.e. they did not add the word fiqh to the word al-wāq‘i to make the construction “Fiqh al-Wāq‘i.” They said: Fiqh al-Kitāb, Fiqh as-Sunna, and along the same lines: al-Fiqh al-Akbar, which means ‘aqīda, but the term Fiqh al-Wāq‘i was not used.

In addition to the fact that they did not call the knowledge of current events Fiqh al-Wāq‘i, the scholars purposefully neglected this knowledge for 14 centuries, which is proof that this term is a newly introduced matter,
…and every newly introduced matter is bid‘a (innovation).

And this is because the term is a religious one used in relation to religious rulings.
So it is clear that the construction of the two words was not present at the time of the Salaf in spite of the presence of each individual word at their time.

What was present at the time of the Salaf?

What was present with the scholars?

What was present at their time was that the mufti and the hākim would neither issue a fatwa (religious verdict) nor make a ruling in a religious matter except after having known the reality of the current events surrounding an issue, as it is not permissible for either of them to issue a fatwa or a ruling without fully understanding it. It is for this reason that we find in parts of Kitāb at-Tawhid that the imam of the d‘awa (Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhāb) said:

And in it is the Sahāba’s understanding of al-wāq‘i.

This means the current events of the people and the issues they ask about, and that the mufti or hākim should not be asked about an issue, the meaning of which as intended by the people, he is unaware of, so as to be caught off guard. Rather, if he is asked about an issue, he should be aware of it. So, for example, if the question is about a fiqh issue he is aware of it from a fiqh standpoint. This is something which is well-known amongst the people of knowledge. In fact, they said: ruling on an issue is secondary to understanding it.

Al-Wāq‘i is two categories:

• one which has an effect on religious rulings

• and another which has no effect on religious rulings

Not everything which happens among people and not everything which Allah causes to happen on His earth has an effect on religious rulings, nor are religious rulings based on such things.

The first category: al-wāq‘i which religious verdicts are based upon. In this category, the question in matter as well as all of its implications must be understood.

The second category: what is related to an issue but has no effect on the religious verdict concerning it, and this category of al-wāq‘i is irrelevant.

For example, when a plaintiff and a defendant come before a judge, one of them may speak for fifteen whole minutes, and the other may speak for fifteen whole minutes as well. What each of them has mentioned is wāq‘i which has taken place. However, what the judge records, and that which a religious verdict is going to be based on, is only going to be three or four sentences because they are what has an effect on the religious verdict.

The scenario is often similar in cases when you go to a scholar seeking a religious verdict. You might tell him a very long story and he might answer you with only two or three statements. Then you might say: “No, Shaykh, it was not like that, it was like this…” He will say, “That doesn’t change the scenario any.” To you, what happened is true and real and it effects the situation, but the scholar knows that these things don’t change the religious verdict.

So not everything that happens amongst the people, and not everything that happens in the world, affects the Islamic rulings on things. Therefore, the scholars are only obliged to know the wāq‘i upon which religious verdicts are based.

What is meant by Fiqh al-Wāq‘i in this day and age is the knowledge of the conditions of people, of the Muslims and their opponents, and what they are preparing for them, their plots and schemes and the like. There is no doubt that this science, if it can even be called a science, is necessary.

There must be a group of people in the umma who know these affairs. This is a collective obligation upon the umma just as the various other sciences such as politics, physics, chemistry, algebra, and engineering are. This knowledge must be present in the umma but this knowledge is not fiqh because fiqh is the deep understanding of things, as is related in the Quran:

مَا نَفْقَهُ كَثِيرًا مِمَّا تَقُولُ
We do not understand (have fiqh) much of what you say.[2]

This means that we don’t have a deep understanding of what you are saying. The student of knowledge who keeps up with the current events in the world will not claim to know what is going to take place in the future. Thus, referring to it as fiqh is actually incorrect, because the reality of what they see is merely knowledge of what is said and written and this is a lesser understanding than fiqh.

As we have said, there must be people in the umma who know these things as they are collective obligations, just as Shaykh Nāsir ad-Dīn al-Albāni pointed out when he spoke on the subject.

All the scholars agree to the fact that laymen should not be addressed with the sciences which are collective obligations because they are of no benefit to them in their religion; in fact, they distract them from things that are more important. What would you think if a guest speaker showed up today and we requested him to give the brothers a talk on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? There is nothing wrong with having someone in the umma who specializes in physics and has this knowledge but should they speak to you about it? There is no doubt that this is knowledge you are not in need of and when you become aware of this you will have gained knowledge.

Does this refer to the current events of people?

Talking about enemies and the difficult situation of Muslims benefits us from one angle and harms us from others:

It benefits the Muslims in that it revives their connection to Islam, their rejection of disbelief, and their precaution towards though who are against Islam, and these are praiseworthy outcomes.
On the other hand though, it steers the youth toward an upbringing contradictory to that of the Salaf which was based on the Quran and Sunna. We have found that, when asking those who busied themselves with these issues for months or years, what they gained from doing so, they say: “absolutely nothing!”

Someone I know and trust told me that he used to read all kinds of magazines and newspapers in order to understand the future of politics but he eventually realised that these things do not shed any light on the future at all.

This should give us insight to the fact that busying ourselves with these matters will amount to absolutely nothing; in fact, it will prevent us from cultivating ourselves and our loved ones upon what we should be cultivating ourselves upon.

If you ponder upon this you will find that it represents al-wāq‘i. All people, the youth and the Muslims in general, are given what benefits them in this matter according to Islamic principles.
Knowing about people’s worldly affairs does not decrease ones ignorance in any way. Consider the story of Sulaymān (the Prophet Solomon) and the neighboring kingdom of Sheba, whose queen was Bilqīs. In spite of the fact that she had a great amount of wealth and power, he had no knowledge of her and Allah did not reveal anything to him concerning her because that would not have had any effect on him conveying Allah’s message. It was only the hoopoe [3] that informed him of an issue related to ‘aqīda. The hoopoe said:

أَحَطتُ بِمَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ وَجِئْتُكَ مِنْ سَبَإٍ بِنَبَإٍ يَقِينٍ
I have grasped (the knowledge of a thing) which you have not grasped and I have come to you from Sabā’ (Sheba) with true news.[4]

This information which the hoopoe regarded so highly was that,

إِنِّي وَجَدْتُ امْرَأَةً تَمْلِكُهُمْ وَأُوتِيَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَلَهَا عَرْشٌ عَظِيمٌ
I found a woman ruling over them, she has been given all things that could be possessed by any ruler on the earth, and she has a great throne.[5]

This was an introduction to the more important news he was to bring:

وَجَدْتُهَا وَقَوْمَهَا يَسْجُدُونَ لِلشَّمْسِ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فَصَدَّهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ فَهُمْ لَا يَهْتَدُونَ
I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah, and Shaytān (Satan) has made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and has barred them from (Allah’s) way, so they have no guidance.[6]

May Allah send peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad.

1 This article is taken from the explanation of Masā‘il al-Jāhiliyya by his eminence, Sālih ibn Abdul-Azīz Āl ash-Shaykh, may Allah preserve him.
2 The Quran, Sura Hūd [11]:91.
3 A particular species of bird.
4 The Quran, Sura an-Naml [27]:22.
5 The Quran, Sura an-Naml [27]:23.
6 The Quran, Sura an-Naml [27]:24.