On Hunger Strikes and Holding a Vigil and Having an Independent Islamic Personality and the Fact that Muslims are Ignorant of the Dīn’s Rulings and Someone who Doesn’t have Something Can’t Give It
Questioner: May Allaah bless you! Is it allowed for people or some people to go on a hunger strike in front of the rulers’ palaces so that they will respond to some of their requests?
Al-Albaani: Refrain from eating?
Questioner: Fast and condemn them, yaʿnī, stand in front of the palaces and in front of … so that they can ask for …
Al-Albaani: No this is a foreign, kāfir practice which the Muslims are not allowed to employ as a means to express their dissatisfaction with something that the state stipulates.
We must call to mind the Prophet’s ﷺ well-known ḥadīth related to this, “And whoever imitates a people is from them,” numerous, untold ḥadīths have been reported as more detailed clarification of this general, “and whoever imitates a people is from them,” one. One of those ḥadīths which can be regarded as a more detailed clarification of it is his saying ﷺ, “Pray in your sandals and your shoes and act differently from the Jews.”
Even more surprising is that once the Prophet ﷺ was coming back from a battle and they passed by a sidr tree which the polytheists used to hang their weapons on. So some of the Companions said, “O Messenger of Allaah! Make a Dhāt Anwāṭ [the name of that tree which the polytheists used to hang their weapons on and seek blessings from] for us just like they have a Dhāt Anwāṭ,” a statement they made, “Make a Dhāt Anwāṭ for us just like they have a Dhāt Anwāṭ.”
So the Prophet ﷺ disapprovingly said, “Allāhu Akbar! These are the ways [of those who came before you]! You have said the same thing that Mūsā’s people said to him, “Make a god for us like their gods.” [7:138]
Look at the difference between the two statements! They said, “Make another god for us instead of Allaah that we can worship,” as for the Prophet’s Companions [they said], “Make a tree for us, a Dhāt Anwāṭ, just like they have a Dhāt Anwāṭ,”—how different they both are, that one being connected to ʿaqīdah, indeed to worship, to tawḥīd and to major shirk which negates tawḥīd, “Make a god for us like their gods,”—and the statement of some of the Companions, “Make a tree for us, a Dhāt Anwāṭ just like they have a Dhāt Anwāṭ,” which was not [apparently] connected to ʿaqīdah or fiqh but which we could possibly say was related to some social norms. But the Prophet ﷺ was not happy with this imitation—the two situations are completely separate, and so he ﷺ disapproved that they said, “… just like they have a Dhāt Anwāṭ.”
This ḥadīth confirms that the Muslims must have a personality totally independent of the disbelievers, not only inwardly but outwardly too, [they must have] their own specific personalities that are distinct from the disbelieving nations and peoples.
So a Muslim going on hunger strike is totally like [that] shaving of the head [that I will now refer to] … in some Sūfī paths when a Muslim affiliates himself to a Shaikh who has his own [Sūfī] path he has to show his total submission to him as is represented in their, i.e., the Sūfīs saying, “The murīd [the Sūfī Shaikh’s follower] should be like a corpse before an undertaker.” So as part of this blind surrender which opposes the Most High’s Saying, “Say, ˹O Prophet, “This is my way. I invite to Allah with insight—I and those who follow me,” [12:108] they make a proclamation of this principle which goes against [true] insight by ordering those who affiliate themselves to this [Sūfī] path to shave their heads.
We know that shaving one’s head is a form of worship and obedience to Allaah in certain places and is something permitted at other times too as he ﷺ said, “Shave it all or leave it all,” and in Ḥajj, “… ˹some with˺ heads shaved and ˹others with˺ hair shortened,” [48:27]. And in the two Ṣaḥīḥs the Prophet ﷺ said, “O Allaah! Forgive those who get their heads shaved.” The people asked, “Also those who get their hair cut short?” The Prophet ﷺ said, “O Allaah! Forgive those who have their heads shaved.” The people said, “Also those who get their hair cut short?” The Prophet ﷺ (invoked Allaah for those who have their heads shaved and) at the third time said, “… also (forgive) those who get their hair cut short.” So since shaving one’s head is a form of worship and one of the rites of Ḥajj it is not then allowed according to the Sharīʿah to transfer it to another occasion as the Sūfīs or some of the Sūfī Shaikhs have done, taking it as a path and manhaj for themselves as I have explained just now.
The same goes with fasting, fasting is an act of obedience to Allaah which has its [own] regulations, conditions and pillars. If a Muslim wanted to fast al-Wiṣāl (i.e, fasting continuously without breaking one’s fast in the evening or eating before the following dawn) he would have disobeyed Allaah, because the Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not practice al-Wiṣāl. And if you must, then continue from suḥūr to suḥūr.”
So fasting perpetually—and [remember fasting] is an act of obedience to Allaah—is not allowed, then how can it be permitted in Allaah’s sharīʿah for one to withhold eating day and night in accordance with the way of the disbelievers?
There are two violations in doing so: the first is what we were speaking about earlier which is the imitation of the disbelievers. The second is that we would have made perpetual fasting a sunnah for ourselves whereas it is not allowed [as a normal act of worship] in Islaam let alone not being allowed in acts that are not worship.
Questioner: Shaikh, this question reminds me of something I read yesterday or the day before in a newspaper where some Islamic jamāʿahs were asking people living in some city in this country to fast on a certain day and for them to carry torches and climb up on to the rooftops with the intention of this inspiring them to victory or something of the sort, yes …
Questioner: Yes, carrying torches to the …
Al-Albaani: I have heard of this so called fasting [that we just spoke about] but torches what?
Questioner: A newspaper yesterday, Shaikh, said take some torches and stand on the rooftops and ask Allaah for help, that kind of thing …
Interjection: Sorry was it an Islamic group asking them to do that?
Questioner: Yes an Islamic group.
Interjection: That’s an imitation of the Christians.
Al-Albaani: Yes it is.
Questioner: Holding torches …
Al-Albaani: Wallāhī strange. I had heard about the fasting and had seen it [being done] in some mosques but [now] in this form too, Allāhu Akbar!
My brothers, this is a proof of what I said and what I always say: that the Muslims today do things based on ignorance not on the religion’s rulings, because they are ignorant of the rulings of the religion—and someone who doesn’t have something can’t give it.
That is why I say there has to be purification and nurturing on this correct knowledge otherwise the Muslims will have nothing to stand on.
Al-Hudā wan-Nūr, 465.