Chapter and Verse

Koran, 9th century AD

In last night’s post about honor killing, I quoted authoritative Islamic law to demonstrate that killing one’s children is not punishable under sharia.

The source I cited was ’Umdat al-salik wa ’uddat al-nasik, or The reliance of the traveller and tools of the worshipper. It is usually referred to as Reliance of the Traveller when quoted in English. My references were from the Revised Edition (published 1991, revised 1994), which is billed as “The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law ’Umdat al-Salik by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 769/1368) in Arabic with Facing English Text, Commentary, and Appendices”, edited and translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller. The publisher is listed as amana publications in Beltsville, Maryland.

The book is considered an authoritative source on Sunni Islamic law because it is certified as such by Al-Azhar University in Cairo. There is no higher authority on Sunni Islamic doctrine than Al-Azhar. To give the book additional gravitas, it has also been certified as an authoritative source of Islamic law by the governments of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

Reliance of the Traveller is thus a useful tool for us “Islamophobes”, since no Muslim can credibly assert that it does not represent the “true Islam”.

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I mention all this because a reader emailed us this morning with some pertinent questions about Reliance, and the Koranic justification for its reading of Islamic law. His questions and my responses are below.

Do you have a copy of “Umdat al-Salik”?

Reliance of the TravellerYes, a big thick hardback with a green and gold cover.

I imagine that it is expensive, …

Not terribly. I can’t remember the exact cost, but it was normal for a hardback book of that size.

…and that its text is not available online.

It is available online, actually. I picked up a text document version (.txt, no formatting), and I also have a huge Word document of it. But I acquired those several years ago, and no longer have the URLs for the sites where I found them.

According to this famous citation from it, a Muslim who kills a non-Muslim and a person (even a non-Muslim!) who kills his/her own child or grandchild must not be punished for the killing. I have never been able to find the Quran passage or hadith on which this impunity is based. Does this “Umdat” citation have a footnote pointing to the relevant ayat/hadith? How do the ulema scripturally justify this ruling?

Reliance sometimes cites the Koran and/or the hadith to justify its prescriptions and proscriptions, but not always. In this particular case, no scripture is cited.

The relevant section (O, “Justice”, o1.0, “Who is subject to retaliation for injurious crimes”) begins with several citations from the Koran and the hadith about how much Allah abhors “killing without right”, which he considers an “enormity”.

If Allah (through Mohammed) does not forbid an activity, it is by definition lawful. The killing of one’s children is not mentioned as “killing without right” in the Koran or the hadith. One assumes that “honor killings” were a common practice in 7th-century Arabia, as they are today. Thus al-Misri considered it necessary to list them as “not subject to retaliation” so that the fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) would be clear on the topic.

That’s my best guess, but it would take an actual scholar to confirm or refute my suppositions.

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Some further thoughts on the same topic:

All possible human activities are regulated by Islamic law. If an action is not specifically mentioned in the Koran or the Sunna, its status under sharia is determined by scholarly examination of relevant references that may be extended to cover the activity in question.

Islamic scholars undertook such interpretations in the early days of Islam, and eventually settled on conclusions that were described as having “the consensus of the scholars”. The groundwork for the fiqh was thus laid down more than a thousand years ago, and is now considered unquestionable and beyond dispute within all major schools of Islamic law, both Sunni and Shi’ite.

Under sharia, all human actions are either halal (permitted) or haram (forbidden). If the Koran mentions an action as having either status, that codifies it completely. Similarly, if the sayings of Mohammed (in the hadith) mention an action with approval or disapproval, it is codified in the law as halal or haram respectively.

Since Mohammed was the perfect man, whose life serves as an example for all Muslims to emulate, an action becomes automatically halal if Mohammed is known to have engaged in it. This is why beheading Jews or marrying nine-year-old girls is legal under sharia.

The tricky part for medieval Islamic scholars concerned actions that were not mentioned in the Koran and the Sunna. If no apparent analogy could be found with other explicitly cited actions, the ulema were reduced to finding penumbrae from the law that would help them make their distinctions.

This eventually led to gradations within the halal category. Permitted (halal) actions can thus be “mandatory”, or “recommended”, or “not recommended”, or “discouraged”, or simply “allowed”.

My assumption is that honor killing has been a common practice among the Arab tribes since time out of mind. Mohammed didn’t cover the topic, so it remained halal, and al-Misri regarded it as important enough to list it as “not subject to retaliation”; i.e. the perpetrators of such killings could not be punished.

I am, however, a dilettante in these matters. If there are other plausible explanations for al-Misri’s ruling, knowledgeable readers are invited to leave them in the comments.

12 thoughts on “Chapter and Verse

  1. Hello.

    – “The Third CHOICE Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom”, Mark Durie, (C)2010

    On page 63 says:

    “Circumcision is one of the matters dealt with in the Reliance of the Traveller, … … The English translation of the section on circumcision conceals the Arabic instructions for circumcising girls by excising the clitoris.”

    Finnish lurker

  2. Obviously in this case one needs a regular (corespondent) scholar. Maybe try a e- or snail- mail to, perhaps, the legendary Zakaria Botros for a searingly authoritative interpretation?

  3. Does your hardback copy have the parallel English/Arabic translation? I have seen this in PDF, and it is the version that includes the islamic laws on the legality of muslims enslaving non-muslims.

    When I have provided links to the PDF of Reliance of the Traveller for libtards, they have accused me of forging it and putting it online. All 1300 pages of it.

    That is how deeply in denial the libtard enablers of islamic fascism are.

    I am now trying to buy a hardback version of this parallel translation. They are not going to be able to accuse me of forging it when I pull it out of my bag at public meetings, and show them the ISBN number.

    So, anyone who’s got the ISBN for that version, I would be grateful to obtain it. Like having a physical copy of Ibn Ishaq’s biography (also known as The Book of Battles.)

  4. Anonymous #2,

    Yes, my copy has the Arabic in a separate column on each page. In a post a couple of years ago, I scanned the Arabic portions concerning female circumcision and posted the images along with the English text.

  5. Honour killing of children is explicitly in the qur’an – Sarah 18, aya 65-81. In particular S18:74 and S18:80. Then check the related tafsirs for the explanation. From memory, one of them was justifying a particularly brutal slaughter of the child.

    So, just for a suspicion that the child will dishonour the family is enough for a muslim to slaughter their child.

  6. Readers should know that many passages in the English version of Reliance of the Traveler are not translated into English, namely those about slavery, marriage, and divorce. Translator Nuh Ha Mim Keller apparently could not bear to reveal the evilness of those passages for all to see. This proves the New Testament scripture in Romans 2:15 which says regarding even those who do not know the true God (such as Muslims), “Their conduct shows that what the [Mosaic] Law commands is written in their hearts. Their consciences also show that this is true, since their thoughts sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them.” If the ideology of Islam were noble and just, there would be nothing they couldn’t translate for all to see.

  7. “Funny” extract from the Muslim site linked by Proud Muslima :


    al-salam `alaikum,

    According to the Shafi’i school is puberty a pre-requisite to intercourse in marriage and how is puberty defined?

    JazakAllah khayr.


    Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

    In the Shafi’i School, a girl must mature to an age where she is ready for relations, prior to that it is unlawful. One must note that relations may well harm a girl at a young age; thus, waiting until she is physical and mentally ready is necessary. The possibility of inflicting harm on her must not exist. These two considerations, 1) the absence of harm and 2) her readiness, are what have been stressed in the Shafi’i School pertaining to when relations are lawful. (See Rawdat al-Talibin v. 7, p. 261; Mughni al-Muhtaj v. 4, p. 373)

    And Allah knows best.

    Which means : the guy does not answer the question. He leaves open the possibility that sex before puberty might be admissible, provided that it does not harm the girl, and that she is “ready”.

    But who decides about that ?

    Why, Allah, of course. “Allah knows best”. Ha ! How convenient…

    Note the evil character of the question. I mean, what sort of person even wonders whether it might be admissible to have sex with a girl before she has reached puberty ? And then takes pain to ask the question on a “religious help” site ?

    Note also that the questioner asks for a definition of puberty (thus prompting for an answer that it is legitimate to have intercourse with a girl as soon as she has reached puberty), but that the “religious scholar” takes care not to give it to him.

    This cannot be but deliberate, considering how fastidious Islam is about micro-managing such details of people’s lives.

    Of course, the “scholar” cannot state flatly that sex with a little girl is forbidden, since Mohammad did it. So he has to dance around the issue.

    And what’s the result ? Any Muslim reading the answer is entitled to draw the conclusion that yes, sex with a little girl is permissible, sometimes. If he is so inclined.

    All in all, a fine example of Islamic hypocrisy.

  8. Reliance of the Traveller is currently available in a beautiful green and gold hardback version from $25.86 or EUR 24,99

  9. Baron, does your version have an ISBN number? I hate giving over money to islam, but I will make an exception to get the arabic/english version of RoT.

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