Ruling on looking for one's roots
Fatwa No: 220963

  • Fatwa Date:23-9-2013 - Thul-Qi'dah 19, 1434
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Question

Is it not permissible for a Muslim to look for his roots? Some family members in India wants to know about their ancesters history in order to form a book. So is it permissible from the view of Quran & Hadith to do so?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is nothing wrong if a man searches for information about his ancestors and their memorable deeds and write books about this. This  may even be useful in urging the descendants to follow their grandparents in the good that they did, and it may be a reason to know some of their cousins and relatives and this leads to keeping ties with kinship. Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Learn your lineages so that you can maintain ties of kinship, for maintaining the ties of kinship increases the love amongst families, increases one's wealth and extends one’s age.” [At-Tirmithi and others - Al-Albaani classified it as Saheeh (sound)]

On the other hand, the search for lineages in order to show off and be boastful of one's lineage is a characteristic of the Jaahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic Era of Ignorance) and it is dispraised. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “There are four matters of the Jaahiliyyah in my nation that they will not give up: pride in one’s forefathers, slandering lineages, seeking rain by the stars and wailing.” [Muslim]

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) also said: “Allaah, The Most High, has removed from you the pride of Jaahiliyyah and its boasting about ancestors. One is either a God-fearing believer or a wicked sinner. People are sons of Aadam (Adam), and Aadam is from dust. People should cease to boast about their ancestors or they will certainly be of less account in the sight of Allaah than the beetle which rolls dung with its nose.” [Abu Daawood and At-Tirmithi - Al-Albaani classified it as Saheeh]

Al-Mubaarakfoori said in Mir’aat Al-Mafaateeh: “The meaning of being proud of one’s lineage is being arrogant by stating the noble qualities of one’s fathers; this implies a man considering himself better than others so that he would degrade and despise them, which is not permissible. The Hadeeth reads: “The honor of a man is in his religion, and his lineage is  in his moral conduct.” This denies what the people of Jaahiliyyah used to do, and it is an indication that lineage for which a person may be praised is the good qualities that he has and not the mention of pride of his fathers and defaming people which involves despising other people’s fathers and considering his fathers better than other people’s fathers, and this is forbidden.

Allaah Knows best.

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