Is it haram to insist on committing makruh tanzihi?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

One does not commit a haram when he insists on committing makruh tanzihi.

Makruh Tanzihi:

If a prohibition imposed by Allah and His Messenger is not definite and binding, this deed is called "makruh tanzihi (close to halal)" like a person who goes to mosque after eating raw onion and garlic that will disturb people with the smell. The Prophet (pbuh) said,

"He who has eaten onion and garlic should stay at home; he should not come to the mosque." (Bukhari, Adhan, 160; Abu Dawud, At'ima, 41)

The decree on performing nafilah prayers after the afternoon prayer and just before the sunset is makruh tanzihi.

Committing a makruh tanzihi deed does not necessitate punishment and condemnation. However, a person who abandons two types of makruh is praised. The madhhab imams except Hanafis regard the deeds that are accepted as "makruh tahrimi" by Hanafis as haram. They find it enough to use only the term "makruh" for the deeds about which there are signs showing that they are not prohibited in the sense of haram. The following verse

"O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble..." (al-Maida, 5/101)

and the following hadith

"Allah does not like it when you gossip, ask a lot of questions and waste your property." (Bukhari, İstikrâz. 19)

can be shown as examples regarding the issue. (see M. Abu Zahra, Usulul-Fiqh, y.y., 1377/1958, p. 45, 46; Zakiyuddin Sha'ban, Usulul-Fiqh, Translated by İbrahim Kafi Dönmez, Ankara 1990, p. 217 ff; Şamil İslam Ansiklopedisi, Mekruh item)

MAKRUH

It is an attribute Islam gives to some deeds of responsible believers. It is a passive noun and adjective derived from the root karahah. Karahah means not to want, not to like and to regard something ugly. Makruh means what is not wanted or liked, or an ugly deed. As a fiqh term, makruh means a deed that Allah and His Messenger does not want to be done, in a way that is not binding. 

The deeds of a responsible person are included in one of the following categories: Fard, wajib, sunnah, mustahab, mubah, haram, makruh and mufsid. According to the majority of fiqh scholars except Hanafis, there are five deeds: wajib, mandub, haram, makruh and mubah.

There are some close aspects between haram and makruh. Both of them express the deeds that are prohibited or that are not regarded as good. However, haram includes the deeds that Allah and His Messenger prohibits definitely and bindingly. The following nass can be given as examples: "Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters…" (an-Nisa, 4/23) "It is not halal to take what belongs to a Muslim without his consent." (Ahmad b. Hanbal, V, 72); "…Kill not your children on a plea of want…" (al-An'am, 6/151)

The prohibition in makruh is not as definite and binding as in haram. That a deed is prohibited in the degree of karahah is understood from some expressions used in verses and hadiths and some concepts that are meant. The use of the word karahah or use of a negative command including an indication that it does not express definite prohibition, or the existence of expressions that advise people not to do a deed in nass are main properties that discriminate makruh from haram.

It is possible to see haram and makruh deeds together in the following hadith:

"Allah has forbidden for you disobedience to mothers, burying daughters alive, withholding the right of others in spite of having the power to return that to them and demanding what is not one's legitimate right. And He has disapproved gossiping, asking too many questions and wasting of wealth." (Bukhari, Riqaq, 22, Zakah, 53; Muslim, Aqdiya, 10, 13, 14; Malik, Muwatta', Kalam, 20; Darimi, Riqaq, 38)

The following verse can be given as an example for negative command in the sense of makruh: " O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave off business (and traffic)…"(al-Jumu'a, 62/9). The phrase "leave off business" in the verse is a negative command in the sense of "do not do business", expressing prohibition. However, the prohibition here is not related to business directly; it originates from something that is outside business. It is the fact that doing business at the time of Friday prayer will prevent people from going to mosque for Friday prayer. Therefore, it is regarded permissible for women, children or non-Muslims, who do not have to perform Friday prayer, to do business/shopping at that time. 

Hanafis call such business "makruh tahrimi" since the prohibition is based on an external reason and regard such a transaction (shopping) valid. According to the majority of the scholars, the decree on such shopping is haram. (see Ibn Rushd, Bidayatul-Mujtahid, Cairo 1952, II, 167-168; az-Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami wa Adillatuh, Damascus 1985, II, 263-264, IV, 240)

Sometimes, an expression that encourages people not to do a deed may have been used. For instance, the Prophet (pbuh) said, "The best mahr is the one that is the easiest." (Abu Dawud, Nikah). This hadith encourages people not to go too far in mahr.

In Hanafis, the concepts of haram and makruh are somewhat different from the other madhhabs. According to Hanafis, haram is a deed that is wanted not to be done by a definite evidence like the Quran, mutawatir or mashhur sunnah in a definite and binding way like fornication, interest, drinking wine, blood and eating the flesh of an animal that died as murdar (in a way that makes the flesh dirty). The decree on haram is punishing the one who commits it and regarding a person who denies its being haram as an unbeliever and apostate.

Makruh is divided into two as tahrimi and tanzihi.

a) Makruh tahrimi:

If Allah and His Messenger wants a deed not to be done in a definite and binding way but if it has become certain through an evidence based on something like khabar wahid, it is called "makruh tahrimi (close to haram)". A person should not enter into a transaction when his brother is already making a transaction and he should not make a proposal of marriage when his brother has already made a proposal except when he gives permission." (see Bukhari, Nikah, 45; Muslim, Buyu', 8, Nikah, 38, 49, 52, 54, 56). It is definitely and bindingly stated that a Muslim must avoid buying something that a person is about to sell to another person and must avoid asking the hand of a girl who has already been asked by another person in marriage. The decree about it should be haram but since that hadith is khabar wahid, it is regarded as   "makruh tahrimi".

Committing a makruh tahrimi deed necessitates punishment but a person who denies it does not exit the religion.

b) Makruh tanzihi:

If the prohibition imposed by Allah and His Messenger is not definite and binding, this deed is called "makruh tanzihi (close to halal)" like a person who goes to mosque after eating raw onion and garlic that will disturb people with the smell. The Prophet (pbuh) said, "He who has eaten onion and garlic should stay at home; he should not come to the mosque." (Bukhari, Adhan, 160; Abu Dawud, At'ima, 41) The decree on performing nafilah prayers after the afternoon prayer and just before the sunset is makruh tanzihi.

Committing a makruh tanzihi deed does not necessitate punishment and condemnation. However, a person who abandons two types of makruh is praised. The madhhab imams except Hanafis regard the deeds that are accepted as "makruh tahrimi" by Hanafis as haram. They find it enough to use only the term "makruh" for the deeds about which there are signs showing that they are not prohibited in the sense of haram. The following verse " O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble..." (al-Maida, 5/101) and the following hadith "Allah, has disapproved gossiping, asking too many questions and wasting of wealth" (Bukhari, Istiqrad 19) can be shown as examples regarding the issue (see M. Abu Zahra, Usulul-Fiqh, y.y., 1377/1958, p. 45, 46; Zakiyuddin Sha'ban, Usulul-Fiqh, Translated by İbrahim Kafi Dönmez, Ankara 1990, p. 217 ff.; "Haram", "Karahah" items)

İA

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