TABLES AND CHAIRS
Question: I read your articles against sitting on chairs and eating from tables. What is your response to the attached Fatwa of a senior Mufti?
The answer to your query is as follows:
It is permissible to eat on a table and chair as there is no severity in Shariah regarding such Masaail. But one must remember not to lean on the chair whilst eating; rather he must bend towards the food. However to eat whilst sitting on the floor is from the Sunnats of the Prophet ﷺ. Therefore, one must try and follow the Sunnah and eat whilst sitting on the floor.
There are various narrations from Hadhrat Anas RA which show that Nabi ﷺ used to eat on the floor. However, we didn’t come across any narration where Nabi ﷺ forbid eating on tables and chairs. Therefore, it is permissible to eat on them. Furthermore, Hadhrat Anas RA had a table which he used for this purpose which also shows the permissibility of eating on it. In Ibn Maja it has been narrated:
حدثنا قتادة، قال: كنا نأتي أنس بن مالك - قال إسحاق: وخبازه قائم، وقال الدارمي: وخوانه موضوع - فقال يوما: «كلوا فما أعلم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، رأى رغيفا مرققا، بعينه، حتى لحق بالله ولا شاة سميطا، قط»(ابن ماجة رقم ۳۳۳۹)
Some of our Elderly Ulama forbid eating on a table because of imitation with non-Muslims. Regarding this topic Moulana Thanwi RA mentions that when a thing becomes common amongst the Muslims and it is not done out of pride and arrogance then it is not counted as imitation with non-Muslims. (Imdadul- Fatawa 4/267)
Mufti Mahmood Saheb RA mentions that eating on a table is against the Sunnah. Further on he says that in a place where eating on a table is a distinguishing characteristic of the non-Muslims and the Fussaq it is forbidden to eat on it. But if it becomes so common amongst Muslims that the pious also adopt this way then the ruling will not be so severe. However, it will be against the Sunnah. (Fatawa Mahmoodiya 18/79)
The amazing thing is that people question regarding eating on a table while they do not follow the way of the Sahaba in writing whilst sitting?
When they don’t question this action due to the permissibility of it then why do they question eating on the table when it is also permissible?
(End of fatwa)
The incongruencies of the Mufti’s fatwa are as follows:
(1) He concedes that sitting on the floor is Rasulullah’s Sunnah, yet he states that “there is no severity” in this matter. But the Fuqaha say: “Miswaak is Sunnah. Denying it is kufr.” The lackadaisical attitude of the Mufti to the Sunnah can lead to kufr. Almost all modernists deny and even despise eating on the floor. This is an issue of severity.
(2) Not having come across any narrations is not a daleel. It is a drivel argument. There are no narrations pertaining to wearing bermuda pants or facebook or television or for any of the other multitude acts of haraam. There are Qur’aanic and Hadith principles on which the Fataawa are based. A ‘fatwa’ stemming from personal opinion such as the view of the Mufti Sahib is corrupt and devoid of Shar’i substance. A personal view unsubstantiated by either a direct mas’alah or a valid Shar’i principle, has no validity in terms of the Shatiah. It does not have the weight and force of the Shariah. The Mufti Sahib simply does not know what he is speaking.
If Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not specifically state that eating from tables is not permissible, it is only corrupt logic to aver that this abstention signifies permissibility. The principle is the Uswah Hasanah (Beautiful Pattern of Life) of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In several Aayaat, the Qur’aan Majeed commands adoption of this gracious Uswah. Says Allah Ta’ala:
“Verily, for you in the Rasool of Allah is a beautiful pattern of life for him who has hope in (the meeting of) Allah and the Last Day, and who engages abundantly in the Thikr of Allah.”
This is the general principle. Add to it the principle of Tashabbuh Bil Kuffaar (emulating the kuffaar). Then view it in the light of the permanent 1400 years of the Ummah’s practice, especially of the Sahaabah, Taabieen, Tab-e-Taabieen, Auliya, etc. Then see what all the Akaabireen had to say on this issue, and what was their amal.
Surely the Mufti Sahib is aware or should b aware of the principle that if even a Sunnat act becomes a salient feature of the people of Bid’ah, then such Sunnat act shall be abstained from. Now what does intelligence dictate regarding an act which is glaringly among the ways and styles of the kuffaar?`
A Sahaabi said: “I was walking with a shawl on me. I was dragging it (because it was hanging on the ground). A man from behind) exclaimed: “Raise your garment, for verily it is purer and more lasting.” I looked and saw that it was Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). I said: “O Rasulullah! It is an old shawl.” Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) responded: “What is there in me not (an ample) Uswah (way of life)?” Then I looked, and I saw that his izaar was midway on the calf.”
Here Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) veered away from logical argument. He only drew attention to his style to impress the incumbency of adopting it. The issue of Sunnat-e-Aaadiyah may not be raised to confuse the issue. This example here emphasizes the incumbency of the Sunnah dress-style pertaining to wearing the trousers above the ankles. Similarly, eating on the floor is not an optional act to be classified as Sunnat-e-Aadiyah which is optional. The weight of the evidence provided by all authorities of the Shariah leave no room for any interpretation to detract from the incumbency of eating on the floor and the prohibition of eating like the kuffaar from tables.
The Mash-hoor Hadith clearly states that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) never ate from a table. The Mufti Sahib attempts to create a concoction with technicalities by saying that the ‘khwaan’ negated in the Hadith has different meanings. The fact remains that in the context of the Mash-hoor Hadith it refers to nothing but a table. Thus Imaam nawawi (Rahmatullah alayh) states:
“The meaning of this khwaan (i.e. the one on which Rasulullah –Salallahu alayhi wasallam)– ate) is not the same as the one which is negated in the Mash-hoor Hadith in which it is said: “Never did Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) on a khwaan”. On the contrary that khwaan (which is negated) is something like a table”
(3) Never once did Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or the Sahaabah or the Ambiya or the Auliya or the Fuqaha or the vast majority of the Ummah ever eat like kuffaar from tables. However, this Mufti Sahib is notorious for mangling narrations, confusing narrations and misinterpreting narrations. He even attempts to conceal narrations. In the past we have pointed out this fact on other masaa-il.
(4) Regarding the citation from Hadhrat Thanvi’s Imdaadul Fataawa, Vol.4, page 267, the Mufti Sahib is guilty of chicanery or gross jahaalat. He has a flair for misinterpretation, and taking issues out of context, and joining a piece of one narration with another piece to fabricate a fatwa to suit his whimsical opinion.
Firstly, the fatwa on page 264 or Volume 4 mentioned by the Mufti Sahib has absolutely no relevance to eating on the floor. It pertains to an entirely different issue. It pertains to dress, and even in his fatwa on this issue of dress style in England, Hadhrat Thanvi expresses doubt, hence he says: “In this matter, I have understood this....” He does not discuss the question of eating on the floor.
However, just two pages before this citation of the Mufti Sahib, Hadhrat Thanvi states on page 265, Volume 4:
“Eating from tables and chairs on account of Tashabbuh is prohibited. Furthermore, there is no pressing need for it.,:
Now please write to the Mufti and point out the above statement of Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Rahmatullah alayh). Also ask him: Why did Mufti Sahib not cite this fatwa of prohibition stated by Hadhrat Thanvi just two pages before the fatwa pertaining to dress on page 287 when it has a direct relevance to the topic under discussion? Why conceal what Hadhrat Thanvi said regarding eating from tables? And why attempt to cloud the issue with a statement unrelated to the topic, but ignore the actual fatwa of prohibition stated by hadhrat Thanvi?
(5) In his Mallfoothaat, Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Rahmatullah alayh) says:
In view of the factors of iftikhaar (pride) and tashabbuh (emulating the kuffaar), eating from tables is prohibited. Irrespective of whatever interpretation or argument is presented to justify eating from tables, the actual reason for this (style of eating) is tashabbuh (i.e. imitating the kuffaar). While the conscience of people (i.e. of those who have not lost their souls to modernity and kufr culture) bothers them, they nevertheless, onerously endeavour to make this practice lawful.
(6) Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan (Rahmatullah alayh) confirms that eating on the floor is Sunnah, and he adds that eating from tables is in opposition to the Sunnah. We therefore differ with the opinion that eating from tables is of “lesser severity”. This opinion being in opposition to the Sunnah is ludicrous and bereft of Shar’i substance.
Regarding the act of the ‘pious’, the honourable Mufti Mahmood Sahib has erred in his judgment because the Saaliheen do not eat from tables and chairs. Those who appear outwardly ‘pious’ such as molvis and tablighis, are not Saaliheen. We do not understand the watered down conception of ‘saaliheen’. The Saaliheen never tolerate conflict with the Sunnah. If these superficial ‘saaliheen’ eat from tables, the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) may not be swept under the carpet, discarded and abrogated for the misdemeanour of the cardboard ‘saaliheen’. If they are genuine Saaliheen, they would be ashamed of themselves for violating the permanent Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) by adopting the system of the kuffaar.
Furthermore, Mufti Mahmood (Rahmatullah alayh) does not say that “it is permissible” if the ‘saaliheen’ have also adopted this kuffaar practice. He says that the ‘severity’ is somewhat watered down. In other words, the severity of the opposition to the Sunnah is watered down. But in this opinion, the honourable Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan (Rahmatullah alayh) has erred. It is not permissible to make Taqleed of the errors of the seniors. There is no scope for permissibility in the somewhat ambiguous fatwa of Mufti Mahmood Sahib.
(7) The irrefutable fact remains that eating from table and chairs is the system of the kuffaar, fussaaq and fujjaar. It is not the system of Islam. The Saaliheen do not adopt kuffaar systems in preference to the Sunnah. Such a misdemeanour is not the amal of genuine Saaliheen. It is vile in the extreme for a Mufti to issue a fatwa which encourages people to gravitate away from the Sunnah. There is no problem for Muslims to abandon the kuffaar system and to adopt the Sunnah system. This is not a practice which Muslims are compelled to abandon due to external circumstances. It is a practice for observance withing the precincts of the home. What problem other than nafsaaniyat and shaitaaniyat is there to debar Muslims from adopting this Sunnah, reviving this Sunnah, and gaining the immense rewards promised for the revival of a forgotten or discarded Sunnah? So why does this Mufti Sahib mangle fatwas and distort narrations, and conceal fatwas to assign permissibility and respectability to a practice of the kuffaar. This is Istikhfaaf which is a dangerous state.
(8) The averment that it is “amazing that people do not question the way of the Sahaba in writing whilst sitting”, is puerile drivel. The Mufti Sahib lacks the ability to constructively apply his mind to distinguish between different acts. If he had devoted a few extra minutes when he extracted an irrelevant from Imdaadul Fataawa of Hadhrat Thanvi, from page 287, Vol.4, and which he despicably misused, he would have obtained the answer to sitting and writing from desks/tables, and he would have understood the difference.
Explaining the difference between eating from tables and writing from tables, Hadhrat Thanvi (Rahmatullah alayh) states on page 286, Vol 4:
“While there is no uthr (excuse) for eating from tables and chairs, (there is uthr) regarding office work...Practically (qaanoon amali) there is a majboori (a valid excuse, i.e. for writing from desks/tables), hence the one may not be analogized on the basis of the other.”
In other words, writing may not be based on eating. The rulings differ.
And, even if we did not have Hadhrat Thanvi’s fatwa, common sense is adequate to highlight the difference. Practically in our environment, sitting on the floor writing, typing, etc. all day long is too tedious a task, even at home for those who have been sitting on chairs and writing from desks since childhood. In the public domain, it is well nigh impossible. The Mufti Sahib has acquitted himself very childishly on this issue. The difference with eating is glaring, and the Mufti Sahib’s abortive analogy is fallacious.
(9) Let us momentarily assume that writing sitting on the floor and not from desks/tables is also necessary in terms of the Sunnah, then at most it could be argued that we are being selective because of the difference in our stance pertaining to the two acts. But, abrogating a Sunnah is not permissible on the basis of laxity on another Sunnah. Thus, if Zaid consumes wine, he may not be faulted for saying drugs are haraam, zina is haraam, carrion is haraam, etc. He may not be criticized for saying that eating on the ground is Sunnah. He may not be taunted: First attend to your wine drinking, then speak about the Sunnah. In effect, this is the stupid taunt of the Mufti Sahib.
(10) His statement: “...why do they question eating on the table when it is also permissible?” is drivel. We state categorically that eating from table is NOT permissible, and writing from tables IS permissible. The Mufti Sahib’s question is devoid of Shar’i substance.
He has failed to present even a weak argument to bolster his permissibility view. It is a great defect in a Mufti to issue fatwas to cover up his own weaknesses. If a Mufti eats from tables, he should still fear Allah Ta’ala when issuing fatwas. He should not compromise the Sunnah to vindicate his own weakness of eating from tables.
May Allah Ta’ala save us from the evil lurking in our nafs and from Talbees-e-Iblees (Deception of Iblees).
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