Today, I am fifteen years old. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that my day will be full of surprises, anticipation, and pride that was associated with joy, love, and enjoyment of discovery, a day marking the end of one chapter of my life and the beginning of another.
I woke up early as I do everyday. As I finished my regular tasks and joined the breakfast table I saw a peculiar expression on my father’s face. Something told me that I was the matter concerned him.
His eyes were wide open more than usual as if they were gazing in a vacuum. His tight lips were ready to say something of great excitement. His fingers were tapping constantly on a rhythm on the breakfast table which predicted that his heart was filled with the essence of an important matter in such a way that it could overflow.
As I sat on the opposite side of the table, with a glow of hiding joy in his eyes he took the initiative by saying:
Oh my son! Today, you have left a phase of your life and are expecting a new one. In the eye of Islamic lawmaker, you have become a fully capable man to be obligated to observe the teachings of religion. Today, Allah, almighty, has favored you with his obligations as he blesses you with his orders and prohibits.
Until yesterday you were considered in the eye of Islamic law a child. The Islamic lawmaker did not find you suitable to his charges and forbids so He left you alone. But as of today, everything has changed. You are a man like any other man. You manhood along with the capability to be addressed are well recognized. As you reached this stage of maturity, Allah almighty has favored you with his address to obey and to forbid..
- Sorry, I do not seem to understand how Allah favors me by ordering me? Is command a sort of favor? How can this be?
Let me explain to you with an example to demonstrate that. You are now a student. You stand among your classmates; among them bright, persistent, committed, hard working, aware students and others. You stand preparing yourselves to a new surprising matter when the principle surveys you when he passes you and as he makes an eye contact he slows down and look at you with a satisfying look first and he tells you with smile on his face that you have passed to a new stage that you dreamed of reaching at the same time He recognize your ability to this new stage when he chose you among your mates to a certain task.
Do you not feel a special kind of pride for this order along with self confidence for the address of your school principle to you and not to other associates? Would not this be filled with great effort to carry out the task? What would your feeling be if the one who addressed you with the order was the general manger in the borough of education or even the chief inspector or even the..
As my father was giving me examples of people in higher positions of responsibility, what was unclear started to be more and more obvious as if I just woke up from a long lethargy. The moment he mentioned Allah’s address and obligation to me to observe His commands and avoid what He forbade, this is when I was shucked.
- God addresses me! And commands me!
Yes, my son. Allah addresses you, the fifteen years old chap. He charges you with obligations and forbids you from committing certain acts.
- Do I deserve this entire honor? The Creator of all creations, the Omnipotent of heavens and the earth bless me and address me with His obligations. What a sweet day! What a pleasant year! What a charming manhood!.
Oh my son! You have to obey what your Creator has honored you in commanding you.
- I will try with eagerness to carry out His obligations and loving commands, but...
- But what are these obligations that He charged me with? And what are His commands that He addressed me with?
Religious orders are of five kinds. Wajibat (compulsory acts), Muharramat (forbidden acts), Mustahabbat (recommended acts of worship), Makrouhat (odious acts), and Mubahat (permissible acts).
- What are these Wajibat, Muharramat, mustahabat, Makrouhat, and Mubahat?
Everything that you are obliged to do is part of the Wajibat, such as prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, Zakat, khums, enjoining good and forbidding evil, etc.
Whatever acts you are forbidden from doing are of the Muharramat, such as drinking wine, adultery, theft, profligacy, lying, etc.
Any act that is good to do without obligation is among the mustahabat, such as alms giving, cleanliness, good manners, fulfilling the need of a devotee , attending congregational prayer, wearing perfume, etc.
Any act that is good to avoid and stay away from but without obligation is part of the Makrouhat, such as greed, delaying the time of getting married - for both man and woman, asking for costly dowries, and refusing to lend money to a needy devote person when you can afford, etc.
The acts that you have the choice of doing or leaving them are among the Mubahat, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, traveling, and tourism, etc.
- How can I differentiate between Wajibat and mustahabat, and between Muharramat and Makrouhat? How would I know what wajib (compulsory) is so that I can do it and obligate myself in performing it and what is haraam (forbidden act) so that I avoid doing it and stay away from? How would I know…
My father interrupted me with a smile; He then looked at me with a glance of mercy and pity. He was about to say something, but tarried for a short while and then went for a deep thinking. During this silence I could not guess what was going in my father's mind. I could, however, see a dark cloud pass over his forehead that divided to cover the rest of his face till it reached the lips that were opened with a tiny voice with lots of graciousness and sympathy.
You should be able to differentiate between the Wajibat and Muharramat and between the mustahabat and Makrouhat when you read the books of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). You shall find out that some have core acts, parts, and conditions; some have certain moves that have to be performed with, and some have certain specification that you can not deviate from, and so on.
You will find what you are looking for when you refer to those books. You shall see that this discipline is an ample huge one. Hundreds of books and volumes have been written. Scholars had elaborated in their searches in such a way that they did not leave any matter without discussion or close examination which you rarely find in any other human science.
- But, do I have to learn about such books to know what I should or should not do?
No, it is sufficient to read the most brief easy to understand. You shall notice that they are divided into two main sections: Ibadaat (acts of worship) and Mu’aamalat (transactions).
- What are Ibadaat and Mu’aamalat?
Wait for a while refer to the books of Islamic jurisprudence. You will find gradually what you are looking for.
I ran a way to the library so I may find the books of Islamic Jurisprudence that my father told me about as I run my need and interest runs with me. As soon as I saw them, a kind of joy overwhelmed me and shocked me completely or I thought it did..
So, these are the books. I finally, found what I am looking for. I will read them and find the sufficient answers and then have peace of mind.
I came back to my room in a hurry and grief with a pride of achievement; I opened the door in a hurry into the room. As I started reading, lines of oddness started to appear in my face at the beginning, soon this was translated into astonishment turning into painful burning exercitation. I found myself reading a lot but not understanding anything. How can I treat my confusion especially when it's unfamiliar like that?
I stickled by saying to myself: “let's continue reading and try to understand and try again maybe I can benefit from this..”. Time passed slowly my chest was under heavy pushing burden that chased me. Yet I am reading and rereading but to no avail. Clouds of disappointments started to gather around me gradually turning into a cloud of sadness that appeared between my eyes.
I read a lot and I had to confess that I did not understand anything worth mentioning. I came across many terms that were not familiar to me. I could still see floating before my eyes phrases and sentences that belong to a certain discipline that I did not come across. Also, I read sentences expressed in special way that I am not used to before, sentences that deal with matters that do not exist in my everyday life, I have no idea why they were mentioned at all, structures that has lots of depth, complexity and subdivisions of strange possibilities that I was unsure about their true meaning.
Say, how would I ever be able to know what Allah had set as halal (permissible), so that I could do it or what He had determined as haraam (prohibited), so that I could stay away from?
I raised my head toward heavens with burned tears in my eyes, and mumbled: O Lord! I know you charged me with obligations. But, I am not sure what are they?
O Lord! How am I going to know what you wanted me to do so I could do it?
O Lord! Help me to understand what I read. O Lord! Make the books of jurisprudence easy to understand so I can act upon what you're telling me.
I waited for my father at the dining table in the evening. First, my eyes looked tired, worried and bewildered. Later, it turned to blink with silvery shine that combined grief with the determination of challenge. As soon as we sat down and my father came, my heart began to beat quickly, my cheeks turned pink, and the temperature of my ear start claiming as if it had a sudden fever. I was overtaken by a feeling of embarrassment, shyness, perplexity, confusion and hesitation as I started saying to myself words and sentences that shows inability to understand written material. I gathered my courage and determined to admit my weakness and told my father:
- I read some of the books of jurisprudence, but found them intractable. When I finished my the last letter from my last word, my father’s eyes went into deep thinking, as if he was trying to retrieve something from the past. Then his eyes turned towards me and in a whisper, he said:
I went through a similar experience just like yours when I was in about your age. I read the books of jurisprudence but did not understand anything important just like you. However, I did not have the courage you have to admit my incapacity to understand them.
My conservative teachings and strong shyness prevented me from asking my father about specific issues that related to the adolescence period. I did not realize that puberty could be identified by other than age, until ...
- And can puberty be known by other phenomena?
Yes, my son. Puberty in males could be confirmed if one of three signs was present.
1. First: Completion of fifteen lunar calendar years of age.
2. Second: seminal discharge through sexual intercourse or wet dreams or any other form.
3. Third: The presence of rough hair on the face or the Pubic area. When I say the rough hair I mean the one that just like the head hair. By saying that, I am excluding the fine hair that covers usually - most of the body.
- What is the Pubic area?
The spot below the belly and immediately above the connection point of the penis with the outer wall of the belly.
- These are the signs of male puberty. What about the female's puberty?
Puberty in a female is when she completes nine lunar calendar years.
- Since I expressed to you my failure in understanding the jurisprudence books, allow me to suggest to you – under the pressure of need – to conduct sessions so that you can clarify to me all what is I need to understand in order to be able to implement the religious teachings that Allah almighty has legislated.
As you wish.
- Can this take the form of dialogue?
As you like again.
- But with what shall we start our first dialogue?
We will start it with Taqleed (imitation), as it is the foundation that will determine the milestones of what we will apply among our jurisprudence.
- It’s a deal.