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AL-AZIMAH WA’L RUKHSAH (الرخصة و العزيمة- ( UNDERSTANDING SHARIAH DURING THE CORONA-VIRUS OUTBREAK )

Introduction
Owing to the current Coronavirus outbreak, it is worth looking at a Sharī’ah teaching that
helps us to deal with these difficult times. In particular, this paper will focus on two terms; Al-Azīmah and Al-Rukhsah. It is hoped that the reader will appreciate how wonderful our religion
really is, and how it allows scope and Flexibility in times of need.
Al-Azīmah
When our religion makes a ruling, then this can be divided into two types; Al-Azīmah and Al-Rukhsah. Al-Azīmah is basically when a Muslim does exactly what Allāh instructs him to.
According to the Ahnāf, there are four types, based on the strength of evidence behind it (i)
Fard (ii) Wājib (iii) Sunna (iv) Na9l.
Al-Rukhsah
The second type is al-Rukhsah, which is basically a concession. This is when Allāh allows His
rulings to be applied, but with ease in mind. It is changing a ruling from the relatively-dif<icult
to the easy, because of a factor found in the Mukallaf (the one who is required to act upon
Sharī’ah).
What this shows is that Islam is <lexible. It is not ‘my way or the highway’. Rulings in Islam
changes according to circumstances and climate. In the Usūl al-Shāshī, it states:

و أما الرخصة فعبارة عن اليسر و السهولة و في الشرع صرف المر عن عسر الي يسر بواسطة عذر في الكلف

As for al-Rukhsah, this is an expression to denote ease and comfort. In Sharī’ah, it is the
changing of a ruling from unease to ease, owing to a factor found in the practising Muslim.
Types of al-Rukhsah
Because there are so many reasons why a Muslim may be allowed concessions, there are many
types of al-Rukhsah, However, they can be summarised into two, simple types:
Type one
The first type is where the Muslim is allowed to act upon the concession, though the act itself
still remains forbidden. For example:
i. When a person kills someone, but the victim’s party chooses to forgive the criminal. The
crime still remains a crime, but al-Rukhsah has come about because the victims’ party has
chosen not to take the case any further.
ii. Expressing the Kalima Kufr (words of disbelief) when captured by non-Muslims. Normally
such an act is Harām. If a person expresses something contrary to the teaching of the Kalima
Sharīf, then he has committed a very severe sin . However, in the Qur’ān, Allāh Almighty

explains that if a person is forced to commit blasphemy, and he does so only in order to save
his life, then this is al-Rukhsah and he will not be punished for it (16: 106). Note that the ruling
has not changed (Kalima Kufr is still forbidden).
iii. Forced to insult the Messenger (peace be upon him). The Companion Ammār ibn Yāsir
(may Allāh be pleased with him) was forced to insult the Messenger (peace be upon him) and
praise the idols when he was captured by the non-Muslims. When he was released and he
returned to the Messenger (peace be upon him), he asked ‘how was your heart?’ He replied
that it was still peaceful with Faith. The Messenger (peace be upon him) agreed with his
course of actions.
The principle of this type is that a Muslim is allowed to act upon al-Rukhsah. However, if a
Muslim adopts patience in maintaining al-Azīmah (to the extent that he is martyred), then he
will be duly rewarded by Allāh Almighty. This is because he refused the forbidden act, out of
respect of Shari’ah.
Khubayb (may Allāh be pleased with him) faced a similar situation to that of Ammār ibn Yāsir
(may Allāh be pleased with him). Rather than acting upon al-Rukhsah, Khubayb refused to
insult the Messenger (peace be upon him) and was killed by his captives. Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him) also praised him and called him the ‘sovereign of martyrs.’
Type two
This is where the actual description of the act changes now so that it actually becomes halal
for the Muslim. In the <irst type, it was still haram. In the second one, the ruling has changed
altogether. In the Qur’ān, Allāh states:
انما َحرم عليكم اليتتة و الدم و لحم الخنزير و ما أهل به لغير ال فمن اضطر غير باغ و ل عاد فل اثم عليه
He has forbidden you only carrion and blood and the <lesh of swine and that over which the
name of other than Allāh has been invoked. But whoever is compelled by necessity, neither
desiring nor transgressing, no sin shall be upon him. And Allāh is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful
(2: 173).
Dead meat, blood and swine is haram. However, the Qur’an says that if a person is suffering
from imminent death and has no other food, then he can eat it to save his life. It is no longer
haram for him.
The principle of this type is different to that of the <irst. If he refrains from consuming the
haram, for example, when he is dying of hunger, and then subsequently dies as a result of
hunger, then he will be sinful for refraining from something that was permissible for him. It is
as if he has killed himself.
Coronavirus
Owing to unique circumstances surrounding Coronavirus, numerous rulings in Sharī’ah have
already or will go into al-Rukhsah mode:
*Jum’a prayers
*Handshakes
*Religious programmes like Layla al-Isrā wa’l Mirāj and Layla al-Barā’at
*Salāh al-Tarāwīh
*Ramadān and possibly much more.

Our beautiful religion can accommodate the changes. Rather than al-Azīmah, Muslims may
have to act upon al-Rukhsah for the near future. Moreover, Muslims should know that this does
not mean that they will be deprived of their reward. Allāh knows our circumstances, He will
reward us accordingly. In a hadīth of Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon
him) explained that when a person falls ill and does less worship as a result, then Allāh will
not reward him according to his current circumstances, but in accordance with his level of
worship he did when he was well. Our Beloved (peace be upon him) said:

إذا مرض العبد أو سافر كتب له مثل ما كان يعمل مقيما صحيحا‘

When a servant becomes ill or travels, his reward will be written according to what he used to
do when he was well and not travelling.’
On a <inal note, during the Coronavirus, Muslims may observe one mosque adopting a certain
course of action and another doing the complete opposite. This does not necessarily mean one
is correct and one is wrong. The difference is simply because some are acting upon al-Azīmah
whereas others are acting upon al-Rukhsah. Both are correct.
May Allāh give us good health, physical and spiritual, Amīn.

Dr. Ha/iz Ather Hussain al-Azhari
@ha/iz_ather
BA Principles of Theology, al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.
MA Arabic and Islamic Studies, Dar al-Ulum Muhammadia Ghawsia, Bhera, Pakistan.
BA Political Science, MPhil Theology & PhD Theology, University of Birmingham.

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