as-salamu `alaikum shaykh
apologies for not posting this question on your new site eshaykh.com as I can’t seem to get login access.
Could you kindly comment on some of the ‘retractions’ of the Shafi’is from their opinions on the Hadrah and the position of Imam Shafi’i mentioned here:
Aside from their satanic sarcasm and citations of Sunni scholars from Wahhabi publications that cut, paste, and spin, the critics of the Hadrah that write on the website cited bring up texts the way the uneducated do, i.e. without understanding them in the context of their authors’ intent and language. For example they may quote Ibn `Abd al-Salam’s fatwa against frivolous dancing, but not the rest of what he said and did, which makes you understand that fatwa in a different light. Ibn `Abd al-Salam also says:
Dancing is an innovation which is not countenanced except by one deficient in his mind. It is unfitting for other than women. As for the audition of poetry (sama`) that STIRS one toward states of purity (ahwal saniyya) which remind one of the hereafter: there is nothing wrong with it, nay, it is recommended (yundab ilayh) for lukewarm and dry hearts. However, the one who harbors wrong desires in his heart is not allowed to attend the sama`, for it stirs up whatever desire is already in the heart, both the detestable and the desirable. Fatawa Misriyya p. 158.
Now put the text above with the following text: “He [Ibn `Abd al-Salam] would attend the sama` and dance in states of ecstasy” (kana yahduru al-sama` wa-yarqusu wa-yatawajad). Al-Dhahabi, Siyar (17:33); Ibn al-Subki, Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra; Ibn al-`Imad, Shadharat al-Dhahab (5:302); Ibn Shakir al-Kutabi, Fawat al-Wafayat (1:595).
So you see that these two texts counterbalance the third text which begins “Dancing and clapping are frivolous displays…” etc.
As for what those people quote out of context about Suyuti, Haytami, al-Subki etc. it is all read in the light of the writings on sama` by more authoritative Shafiis such as Sulami, Ghazali and Suhrawardi, whose conclusion is permission of musical sama` and movement in Hadrah as long as there is no excess. This is also the conclusion of Suyuti in his book in defense of the Shadhili Tariqah entitled Tashyid al-Tariqat al-`Aliyyah. What the critics are mixing into this is the prohibition of tavern music and other aspects such as licentiousness (ibaha, ibahiyya) and the inveterate lover of what we could translate as “dance halls and concerts” (mughanni, raqqas…) which are not the issue; or true anti-Sufi literature which carries no weight, such as for example Shaykh Ibrahim al-Halabi the Hanafi Faqih and his book against dancing. Either they know this and they are hypocritical about it, or they do not know this and they are ignoramuses to bring it up. Why else would they bring up al-Subki’s criticism of Sufis when he evidently means corrupt types in his time, such as professional beggars, just as Ghazali criticized corrupt types in his? Does that make Ghazali a critic of tasawwuf? Never. Besides, Subki also has lavish praise of the Sufis, why do they not quote it?
If one brings together all the old texts on sama` and wajd they will understand that the Shafi`i position is very precise and scrupulous about this, and draws distinction between the act of corrupt/ignorant people on the one hand, and the act of spiritual people who practice an accepted type of sama` which is what the Hadrah is. Even if it were considered purely as recreation, it still has an asl which is what Abu al-Darda’ said: “I do revigorate myself with a bit of nonsense to strengthen myself for worship.” Al-Mawardi cited it in his encyclopedia of Shafi`i Fiqh entitled al-Hawi al-Kabir (17:393). Some muftis in Saudi Arabia use this report to permit playing dominos; but mentioning Allah and singing His Prophet’s praise is better and yes, it is worship; but the accompanying movements caused by elation or mustering energy are not. Like the celebration of Mawlid, the entirety of the act does not constitute a new form of worship but is only made of several constituents, some of which qualify as worship and make that legally-indifferent (mubah) activity blessed and beneficial for the believer. The least benefit that the Hadrah would do is at least to stem that mortal pride that has all but wreaked havoc on those critics’ religion, and Allah knows best.
Hajj Gibril Haddad