The purpose of the following is twofold:


Assisting potential students to decide whether Dārul Iftā Mahmīdiyya, Durban, is a right choice for them or not.

Depicting a glimpse of my experiences, observations and feelings during my stay at the Dārul Iftā and with Mufti Ebrāhim Desai Saheb (hafiżahullāh)

 

 

I can never do justice to this institution or the teachers in words. I hope to present to you a drop from the ocean of what happens at the institution.

Admissions Policy

Dār al-Iftā has an exclusive and vigorous process in assessing admissions for the Iftā course which is of two years. Only those students who have been recommended (in writing) by their previous principals and teachers and who have excelled greatly in both, academia (husn al-isti`dād) and personal development (husn al-akhlāq), are admitted at the Dār al-Iftā with a very strict code of conduct which is closely monitored by Mufti Ebrahim Desai saheb. Since the entry requirements are at a great standard and Mufti saheb tries to allocate all his time and resources and energy upon the students, so are the expectations for the students to perform at the best level. Students will be required to work diligently and achieve targets rendered by Mufti Saheb. Unfortunately, Mufti Saheb has had to reject many students on the grounds of limited spaces available. Currently, there are maximum number of students: eighteen in number. Mufti Saheb would like to confine the number to that which would allow him to maintain fully focus on them, give due and equal attention to all and ensure effective and smooth management. Furthermore, Mufti saheb may give privilege to students from places where there is more need to revive Islam and he tries to ensure he admits students who are really interested in fiqh and who will go back home and actively work in the field of fiqh and fatwā.

Fatāwā

There is more emphasis at dārul Iftaa on fatāwā writing than browsing books. Mufti Saheb tries to develop within the students the zeal and passion to reach out to people and serve the global ummah in whatever way possible, in particular, through fatāwā online.

Mufti Ebrahīm receives various questions via texts, letters, people coming in person, and online. He distributes a question or two (and even three at times) daily to each student. The genre of the questions vary and in this way Mufti Ebrahim may provide students with questions on diverse topics. The question must be answered within 24 hours of receiving the question. The response must be substantiated by references from at least five Arabic classical works and two contemporary Urdu fatāwā publication.

All the answers require hours of reflection and deliberation on how to address the question. An answerer must consider all possible implications of the answer he writes, and, in the words of Mufti Ebrahim Desai saheb, “we would rather err [in giving a fatwa] on the side of ihtiyāt and caution” than err in allowing actions which may open doors to sins and immodesty.

Honourable Mufti Saheb adopts the following procedures before approving any answer:

  • He critically analyses each statement including its language, style, structure, lexical devices, presentation and references;
  • He may thereafter guide the student to a particular book or area of consideration;
  • Alternatively, Mufti Saheb may simply send the student away to apply his own discretion in analysing and correcting his response;
  • The students are required to present their references for every detail mentioned. Failure to present any reference would result in the response being rejected;
  • Mufti Ebrahim may change the answer and assess each answer with the same critical eye as done upon being presented in the first response. 
  • Sometimes, Mufti saheb may find it suitable and wiser to seek clarification before delving into juristic intricacies or irrelevant peripheries;
  • Mufti Saheb always advises his students to adopt a practical and moderate approach within the limits of Sharia. He also advises his students not to be harsh or rude to people. He advises that fatāwā is an ideal and great form of da`wah;
  • In response to a contemporary or controversial issue, Mufti Ebrahim Saheb also instructs the answerer to consult with other fellow colleagues or relevant professionals. Following appraisals from peers and professionals, Mufti Saheb instructs the student to work on the advices rendered. This procedure may take days and weeks and thus this may construe our delay in some responses.
  • Mufti Saheb also advises students to make lots of du`ā to Allah Ta`ālā for guidance in issuing the most suitable and appropriate ruling. Research alone is not sufficient. The guidance of Allah Ta`ālā is the ultimate guidance.
  • After approval from Muftī Saheb, the fatwa is forwarded by email to all the members of the Dār al-Iftā. Each student is required to daily read the fatāwā of the students approved by Muftī Saheb. In this way, all the students will be exposed to hundreds of contemporary rulings. Furthermore, it allows scope for assessment and feedback from other peers.  They may also at time introduce another dimension, provide with possible points to improve the answer or even identify any mistakes. The answer is once again reviewed, perhaps amended with relevant material, and assessed and approved in the same procedure as mentioned above
  • Mufti Saheb only approves an answer and allows it to be posted online subsequent to his scrutiny and complete satisfactory. Hence, each of our response is sealed with “Checked and Approved by Mufti Ebrahim Desai“(may Allah preserve him).

WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS REQUIRED TO DO?

The students are obliged to complete the following tasks:

  • 300 fatāwā (answers to questions) throughout the span of two years;
  • 2 thesis (a twenty-page research to be written in the first year and a fifty-page research in the second year). The topic of the thesis will be ascertained by Mufti Ebrahim and it should discuss contemporary rulings pertaining to different aspects of Sharia;
  • Daily reading of approved fatāwā. All the students must forward by email their approved fatwā to all the other students. Hence, each student would have in this way completed reading through approximately 5,000 contemporary fatāwā (from eighteen students) throughout the two years.
  • Comprehend and read entirely through Ahsan al-Fatāwā in the first year and Fatāwā Mahmūdiyyah in the second year.
  • Write articles pertaining to various topics
  • Write the minutes for the meetings, arbitrations and judicial sittings when attended
  • Pass by at least 75% in written exams on Usūl al-Iftā, Rasm al-Muftī, Islamic Finance, al-Hīlah al-Nājizah, al-Ash`bāh wa al-Nazā`ir, Sirājiyyah, Muwāfāqāt, al-Madkhal fī `ulūm al-hadīth al-sharīf, al-Ajwibah al-Fādhilah and others (some of the books are taught in the first year and some in the second)
  • Assess and engineer relevant contracts and investment schemes to suit sharia compliancy. The students are tasked with assessing the sharia compliancy of financial contracts and investment schemes and thereafter with engineering them to fulfil the principles of Sharia. This task is either assigned to one individual, or a group of students who will collaborate with each other. Sometimes, Mufti Saheb may cover a whole contract with all the students discussing clause by clause.

ACTIVITIES AT DARUL IFTAA?

Dārul Iftā Mahmūdiyah is not a normal Iftā institution which only focuses on juristic verdicts. It provides various other services in which students actively participate including

  • Providing assistance to businessmen
  • Engineering sharia compliant products and investment schemes
  • Offering commercial and marital related arbitrations and mediations with assistance from attorneys

خدمات: دار الإفتاء سے جو فتاوی طلب کۓ جاتے ہیں ان میں روز مرہ کے معمولی مسائل کے علاوہ اہم پیچیدہ اور غور طلب مسائل، پنچایتوں کے فیصلے، شریعت کے موافق فیصلے کی اپیلیں وغیرہ وغیرہ کثرت سے ہوتے ہے، مثلا اس سال ہم نے دو نئ اسکیمیں کو مشارکہ واجارہ کے  مطابق پاس فرمائ

حکومتی سطح تک  دار الإفتاء اسلامی فائننس پرتجارتی کمپنیاں بینکوں اور حکومتی اداروں کی رہنمائ فرماتا ہے، کافی ملکوں کے حکومتی منستروں نے خود دار الإفتاء سے رابطہ کیا ہیں اور اپنے ممالک میں مسلمانوں کے لۓ حلال انورسمنت اور فائننس کے اسباب ایجاد کرنے کی کوشش میں ہیں

طلباء کو خاص ٹریننگ بھی دی جاتی ہے بیوع، فسخ نکاح وغیرہ کے مسائل میں، یہ خصومات اکثر آتے ہیں اور طلباء ان میں شرکت کرتے ہیں اور بعد میں اس پر علمی وفقھی مباحثات ہوتے ہیں

  • Educational campaigns and programmes on business and commerce
  • Certificate Programme in Islamic Banking
  • Websites:
  • علمی ودینی خدمات: دار الإفتاء کے تحت فی الحال چار وب سایت چل رہے ہیں اور تصنیفی وتالیفی خدمات کا سلسلہ شروع بہی ہوا ہے

www.askimam.org

www.daralmahmood.org  

www.daruliftaa.net

www.idealwoman.org .

  • Training students on fiqhī issues and, in particular on, financial, social, and marital issues.

Students have the opportunity to attend judicial sittings for marital disputes and annulment of marriage. The students have first-hand experience in witnessing and being trained in the Islamic relating to the annulment and the procedure to proceed with it. These gatherings are held at the Jamiatul Ulāma office in Durban.

 

WHAT ELSE DOES DARUL IFTA PROVIDE?

  • Safe, secure and friendly environment.

The institute takes care of the spiritual as well as the physical wellbeing of the students. Honourable Mufti Ebrahim (may Allah lengthen his shadow upon us) is very sensitive to safety and security. The building is surrounded with a fully integrated security system as well as gates and intercom system for those entering and leaving. Similarly, Mufti Ebrahim and his family ensure the students are fit and healthy and are always there to assist if a student requires are help or is not well. An example is, although the climate in Durban is the most appropriate for foreign students, compared to other parts to South Africa where it may reach extreme temperatures, Mufti Ebrahim ensures we wear our jumpers (oh, sorry, “jerseys”) when leaving for the Masjid to observe the Fajr prayer.

 

Another example is, how Mufti Ebrahim was swift in bringing a cough medicine and preparing some soup once he witnessed a student coughing and appearing not well. Although some things may appear very trivial to us, these life lessons leave an imprint in the hearts of the students and teaches them a lot on how to develop the inner self and conduct ourselves with others.

 

 

The warm and friendly ethos and atmosphere is amazing and inspiring. There are currently eighteen students from diverse countries including America, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Russia, South Africa, Trinidad, United Kingdom and Zambia. It is amazing to see so many nationalities studying, assisting each other and living together. The institute is a pool of competent and diligent students from different backgrounds having expertise in specific fields. It allows students to learn about other cultures, learn how to interact with others, to widen their thinking-cap and global understanding and, most importantly, to share knowledge and learn from each other. We were fortunate to have certain students who were competent and had amazing ability in fields such as inheritance, Islamic finance, and Islamic theology and thus we were able to benefit from them and even undertake independent lessons in a free time.

 

  • Spirituality

That brings us to the issue of safety and security in relation to the inner-self. The students are required to engage in the gathering of zikr daily after Fajr. Similarly there is a special reformation gathering on Thursday nights. Every student has a ma`mūlāt book which has to presented before Mufti Ebrahim daily. The book should record daily Qur`an recitation (half a juz for a non-hāfiz and a full juz for a hafiz), Tahajjud salāh, Ishrāq salāh, Chasht salāh, Awwābīn salāh, zikr, fatāwā answered (all students are required to complete three hundred throughout the span of two years) and daily reading from Urdu fatāwā (the students are obliged to complete the whole of Ahsan al-Fatāwā in the first year and Fatāwā Mahmūdiyyah in the second year).

 

 

طلباء کی اصلاح پر کافی زور دیا جاتا ہے، محلّے کی مسجد میں روزانہ بعد صلاة الفجر و تفسیر القرآن ذکر کی مجلس منعقد ہوتی ہے جس میں طلباء کے لۓ حاضری لازمی ہے، اسی طرح کسے اللہ والے سے تعلق، نوافل اور تلاوت قرآ ن کی پاپندی واہتمام پر توجّہ دی جاتی ہے، نیز ہر طالب علم کے پاس اپنی معمولات کی کاپی ہے جس کا مفتی اراھیم صاحب روزانہ جائزہ لیتے ہیں اور ضرورت کے مطابق طلباء کی تنبیہ فرماتے ہے

Mufti Ebrahim emphasises on purifying our souls and lives from all evil traits and vices and on instilling the fear and love of Allah in our hearts. The fear of Allah is the attire for a Mufti. In the words of Mufti Ebrahim, “if you want a mu`tadil and balanced approach, you must have good analysis on all four: Qur`an, Hadīth, Fiqh and Tasawwuf (inner spirituality). Furthermore, he teaches us how to be respectful in our speech and writing and how to conduct ourselves with elders, such as begin with “muhtaram (respected) Mufti/ Maulana …. “.

 

  • Academic excellence

Mufti Ebrahim saheb encourages critical thinking and allows the students to identify their strengths and develop their academic ability. I will always remember his favourite words, “apply your mind!” An amazing trait of Mufti Ebrahim is that he always encourages his students and gives them hope. He will instruct us to consult and make mashwera with different seniors, local ulamā (if the issue is a communal issue, scholars and professionals to widen our thinking and benefit from their research and experience. In his words, “Be academically tolerant and honest.”

 

 

  • Love, Concern and Attention

Mufti Ebrahim values each and every student and shows them ultimate love, attention and care. He is humble, honest and an approachable and easy-go person. Mufti Ebrahim frequently tells his students and his associates, “I have lot of love for you”. This is in fact the hadith of the Honourable Prophet (peace and salutations be upon him), “When a man has love for his brother he should tell him”. His humility is his shining armour. Each time Muftī Ebrahim sends an email, he will request forgiveness and supplications from all his students. In this was he also wins the hearts of people, brings a smile on the face and confidence in the heart of his addressees.

 

 

  • Moderateness in Approach

I was greatly inspired by Mufti Ebrahim by his fair, moderate and practical approach to understanding sharia and presenting the authentic teachings in the form of fatāwā and when providing solutions to people who come to him with their disputes. The concern and values instilled in the hearts of his students can be realised by his words, “It is an era of targhīb (encouragement) and not tarhīb (instilling fear in people) … Present dīn in an appealing manner to them but without compromising … Do not be harsh in fatāwā and in words ... Be understanding... Always adopt the cautious view but see what is more practical and easy for the people … Do not create despondency but provide an alternative ... Correct them when they err but with compassion and without compromising sharia … Have pain for the ummah … Avoid fitnah (falling into controversial issues) … Protect the faith of people and protect the hope people have come to you with”

 

  • Professionalism

Mufti Ebrahim is very particular about time, discipline and the work being completed. The students are fortunate to witness the way in which he interacts and communicates with senior ulamā, guests, professional delegates and people who have come for mediation and arbitration. He demonstrates exemplary love, concern, attention to all his guests as well dealing with them in a friendly manner while maintaining his integrity.

Mufti Ebrahim`s residence is adjacent to the Dār al-Iftā and thus he stays at Dārul Iftā all the way from 9:45 in the morning (after conducting his classes at Dar-`Ulūm Nu`maniyah Chatsworth) till 9:00 at night with the exception of going home to eat. In this way, he is able to constantly monitor all the students.

 

 

  • Knowledge and Experience

Mufti Ebrahīm has been actively in the field of fatāwā and teaching in various notable institutions since the last approximately twenty-five years. He has been teaching Sahīh al-Bukhārī since the last fifteen years. Currently, as well as being occupied at Dār al-Iftā, he teaches Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Sunan al-Tirmidhī and the translation of The Glorious Qur`an at Dar-`Ulūm Nu`maniyah Chatsworth. Also, Mufti saheb has been blessed with the company of Mufti Mahmūd al-Hasan Gangohi saheb. Mufti saheb has taught us that true knowledge of fiqh and Iftā is not attained by simply browsing fiqh books and by learning how to give fatwa but by clinging on to the rope of akābir, ulamā, shuyūkh and benefit from them by staying in their company, rendering services and khidmat for them and “straightening their shoes”. À person who stays with Mufti saheb can easily see the effects of suhbat on him, his heart and his actions. May Allah empower all the students with his faydh. Amīn

 

The majority of disputes brought to Dār al-Iftā are in relation to transactions and joint-enterprise not being written and agreed upon and built upon principles contrary to sharia.

These are some of the some life lessons I learnt from observing mufti Saheb at the meetings:

Be fair, just and professional … Be generous and hospitable to your guests ... Be welcoming and generous … Be humble and affectionate... Be approachable ... Be tolerant and overlook their shortcomings... However, you must maintain honour, dignity and respect before the `awām  ... Learn to assume different roles and responsibilities depending on the circumstance and state  - be as friendly when outside and as professional as ever when in meeting/ arbitration/ judiciary sitting ... Do not drive the public away from Allah by your strictness and hardness but bring them closer to Him by generosity, ease and tolerance. These people could have easily gone to a judicial court to resolve their disputes. What drives the people to come to Dārul Iftā and Mufti Saheb and then lay down their cases before Mufti saheb with a complete mandate to arbitrate … Be as friendly but do not compromise your principles and Sharia … Your seating, attire and verbal and non-verbal expressions have a clear impact on your audience and their willingness to submit to you.”

  • Effective Teaching

Mufti Ebrahim saheb is vibrant, vigorous and exuberant in the delivery of his teaching. He will first pose thought-provoking question at the outset of the lesson and throws a curve ball and then captivate our minds and hearts, drive us into a journey of multiple checkpoints and ignites the spark of eagerness to learn more and carry on diving into the ocean of knowledge.

 

It was a habit of Muftī Sahib to take several students along with him to be present for the arbitrations and annulments of the marriage, for them to learn how to deal with such cases. Mufti Saheb has been a leading force at the Jamiat since a long time. Thus he can relate literally any ruling with previous experience. The knowledge from the books, the experiences from Mufti Ebrahim and our active witnessing and participating in meeting involving live and real cases allow us to be more practical, deal with situations effectively and see, hear and fell what is written in the books.

 

 

Furthermore, a striking feature of Mufti saheb is his involvement in, and interest and deep knowledge of all different sciences of Islam. On various instances, his proficiency in hadith is demonstrated by how he instantaneously quotes and remembers ahādith to fiqhi rulings. Mufti Saheb is also willing to teach students advanced studies in Tafsīr and Hadīth in his own times. Students who may want to further their studies in Tafsir and Hadīth besides Fiqh, may do so independently.

 

 

Another teacher is Mufti Husain Kadodia saheb. He is a master in manuscripts, a gem in humility and sincerity and an ocean in knowledge. Any individual who attend his lessons will be mesmerised by his knowledge. He is not a master in fiqh only but in hadith, tārikh, tafseer etc. I personally have heard and read from the works of many contemporary scholars that there is no one who is, in day and age, more knowledgeable than him in relation to latest researches, books, publishers and manuscripts. He has travelled several manuscript centres, libraries and publishing houses in various countries. We are fortunate for him sharing with us all his knowledge and experiences without toiling. He instils the passion of researching in his students. Many a times, he presents to us researches and information not generally found in books or known even to senior ulamā. His lessons depict exactly how Imam Abu Hanifah would establish a shurā gathering of 40 great ulāmā wherein they would discuss and debate masa`il. Mufti Husain`s lesson allow us to discuss all types of contemporary ruling and perhaps even counter eh other`s opinions in an academic and friendly manner.

 

 

  • Amnesties

The Dār al-Iftā building has five bedrooms and can house up to 15 residential students. There rooms are spacious and decorated with fully fitted carpets, cupboards, air-condition, fans, beddings, side-desks and blinds. Each room contains at an average three single beds.  The building is very and safe and surrounded with a fully integrated security system.

 

Dār al-Iftā also has fitness facilities accessible to all students at all times. The gym room which contains a soccer table, a badminton table, boxing and fitness equipment including adequate weights, fitness ball, a treadmill, bench press and a punch bag. Mufti saheb has been extremely generous in responding to the requests of the students.

The upper floor consists of the bedrooms, a guest room, rest room and dining hall. All the meals are served hot and twice daily in the dining hall. There is variety of food available at the Dār al-Iftā. Mufti Ebrahim and his family would always ask for our personal preferences and try to suit the needs of all students. The food catered for students includes, mutton, chicken, fish, rice, biryani, steaks, pizzas, burgers, occasional cakes and deserts, drinks and the list goes on.

 

The building in total contains washing areas with wash basins for general use and for ablution, toilets and plenty of cubicles for showering. There is always plenty of supply of hot water.

We are also fortunate to have access to free Wi-Fi connection which would fac us to access emails and conduct research online.

The Kitchen is spacious and accessible to all students. It contains a separate fridge and freezer for each room, a stove and oven, a microwave, toaster, washing machine, kettle and all other cutleries and utensils which are available for the use of students whenever they wish.

 

The institute is in close proximity to the local clinic. Furthermore, the institute has close relations with local medical doctors and thus students are provided with immediate medical help if needed. The students are provided with relevant medicines and special food. May Allah reward Mufti saheb and his family for assisting all the students whether it be with transport, food, cleaning, or any other way.

The Dār al-Iftā also has a worker who comes twice a week and cleans the institute and irons the clothes for the students.

 

The academic year begins from the mid Shawwal to the end of the following Sha`ban. The students are given two week-long holidays throughout the year.

 

In conclusion, I will forever be indebted to and grateful of Mufti Ebrahim Desai, the family, Mufti Husain Kadodia and the institute. May Allah give them barakah in their lives and in their `ulūm. May Allah accept their efforts and grant them the best of rewards in both the worlds. May Allah preserve their īmān and the īman of their progeny yet to come. May Allah make this institute a beacon of knowledge and guidance and accept all those who assisted in any way to establish or maintain this Dār al-Iftā.

 

Hanif Yusuf Patel

U.K 

KHARWASTAN

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