The meaning of Asabiyyah
Fatwa No: 92217

  • Fatwa Date:23-7-2006 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 27, 1427
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Question

Assalamualaikum, What does Asabiyyah means. Is it haram. Please give a detail explanation. Does it mean Nationalism or patriotism? jazakallah Khair.

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 is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

 

The Arabic word, Al-'Asabiyyah, is derived linguistically from the word Al-'Asab, which means holding or encompassing. As for its meaning in Islamic terminology, it was defined by the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) when he was asked: "Is it tribalism for a man to love his people?, and he said: ''No, tribalism is to support your people in an injust cause." [Ahmad] Moreover, Bint Waathilah Ibn Al-Asqa'  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her narrated that she heard her father saying: "I said: 'O Prophet of Allaah, what is tribalism?’ He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) replied: 'It is to help your people in an injust cause.’''

As for its ruling, tribalism, both its words and actions is forbidden and evil. Ash-Shaafi'ee  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: 'Whoever shows tribalism by words and calls to it, his testimony is rejected as he had done something forbidden about which the Muslim scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them did not differ.' He gave evidence from the saying of Allaah (which means): {The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion)}[Quran 49:10], and the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ): "O slaves of Allaah! Be brothers." [Al-Bayhaqi] That is because being prejudice to an ethnic background, race, nation, or anything else is a blame worthy tribalism, and a call to the pre-Islamic era of ignorance. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Whoever calls to a practice of the pre-Islamic era of ignorance (Jaahiliyyah) will be among the denizens of Hellfire. So a man asked: “O Prophet of Allaah, even if he performs the prayer and fasts?’ The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) replied: 'Even if he performs the prayer and fasts, so call to the call of Allaah Who named you 'Muslims, believers' O slaves of Allaah!’'' [At-Tirmithi] Moreover, it is reported that two young men, one from the Muhaajiroon (immigrants) and the other one from the Ansaar (the residents of Al-Madeenah who supported the immigrants) fell into dispute, so the young man from the Muhaajiroon called his fellow Muhaajiroon for help, and other young man from the Ansaar called his fellow Ansaar for help. In the meantime, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) came and said: ''What is the matter with you? Are you calling people to the practices of the Jaahiliyyah?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Though the terms Muhaajiroon and Ansaar are both Islamic terms, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) considered them as a call to the pre-Islamic era [time of ignorance] because it was a call to seek support and help based on belonging to a group rather than establishing what is right and just. Similarly, the same rule applies to nationalism, because it is a call for support based on race regardless of justice and truth. For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 85881.

However, affiliation with a tribe, group, or nation as a way of introducing one another and cooperating in certain matters, and not for the purpose boasting and fighting each other, is something permissible, rather this is part of the nature that Allaah instilled in mankind, and asked them to promote.

Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: 'The caution, here, is for a man to be prejudice toward his sect based on Jaahiliyyah cause only. Nonetheless, supporting one's tribe or sect in a just cause without any transgression is something good, and its ruling could either be an obligation or something recommended according to the situation.'

Allaah Knows best.

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