Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim

Questions For Lesson 01 and 02

Because of the length and number of the questions, the answers will come as comments to the question.

At 05:45 PM 9/27/2002 -0700, you wrote:
Dear Shaykh Musa,

It is reported in a famous story that a man once came to Imam Junayd (may Allah be merciful with him), entered his circle of students, and immediately addressed him saying "Ya munafiq!", "O, you hypocrite!". Upon hearing this Imam Junayd (may Allah be merciful with him) replied back with complete seriousness and sincerity: "Thank you so much for reminding me what I am. All of the people around me tell me great I am, how pious I am, and what a wali I am. So I thank you for telling the truth about me in front of these people".

I am no sheikh, no ustath. At best I am just one of your brothers whose nafs played a bad trick on them into thinking that I could answer questions about the Hanbali mathab or teach it. Yes: Allah has graced me with sitting with a living Hanbali sheikh and benefiting from his instruction and a I make much shukr for this; but I am no sheikh, no ustadh, and I certainly am no faqih. At best all I am is a reporter, telling people what is found in Hanbali books.

Believe me: I benefit more from this list than the recipients. And even if we do not to learn a lot compared to the other groups, in sha Allah is enough that on Yaum Al-Qiyamah that we perhaps think of our brothers and sisters from the various mailing-lists and lessons that we attended and the chain of mashayakh that we receive our religion through, and ask Allah to forgive them, have mercy with them, and put us all in jenna together.

So please, not "Shaykh Musa" or "Ustadh Musa".

   Assalamaualykum wa rahamatullah.

wa `alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

 Here are some questions related to Lesson 01.

1> "Pure. Water is pure when...someone's hand is
dipped in it after they arise from nocturnal sleep
which invalidated their ablution."  You mentioned that
you will talk about it shortly. There is a hadith on
this subject which says, 'When one [of] you awakes from
sleep then let him not enter his hand into the
bowl/vessel until he washes it three times as he does
not know where his hand has spent the night.'
(narrated in Bukhari and Muslim though Bukhari doesn't
report three times) 

My question is why does it make the water not fit for
wudhu?  Where I live, we must use water tanks often
for wudhu as sometimes the tap doesn't work.  If my
body is fully clothed when I sleep and my private
parts are clean, why would my hands make the water not
acceptable for wudhu?  I ask this question
respectfully curious to know the reasoning behind the
ruling?  Does it apply for small children as well who
rise from sleep and then touch the water without
washing first?    I hope that I sound respectful. 

Barak allahu fiki. Yes, the question is respectful.

The text you quoted is from lesson 01, and in lesson 02 the topic came up again when discussing the sunnas of making ablution:
(2)    washing the hands three times, and it is obligatory to do (b: to wash them three times, with intention, and saying “Bismillah”) after rising from nocturnal sleep which invalidates ablution (m: This is considered to be a ta`abudi matter, something that is a matter of pure obedience and not necessarily for a rational goal. Because of this, even if someone were to put their hands in gloves or restrain them it would still be necessary to wash the hands);
The Hanbalis base there position on the hadith that you quoted above. A longer version of the hadith ends with one of the Companion (Allah be well pleased with them one and all) responded saying that he knows where he hand goes, and the next day he woke up his fingers inside of his anus.

The hadith here includes an imperative (wash the hands...) and that imperative is either obligatory or recommended. If we only look at this part of the hadith we would be inclined to say that it is obligatory, since imperatives are understood to be obligatory unless there is something indicating otherwise. When we look at the end of the hadith, "since he does not know where his hand has spent the night", we can interpret this to be an allusion to when the ruling is obligatory, namely: when there is filth on the hand, and that the matter is totally rational; or we can take it to be an illustration of one of the wisdoms behind the ruling, and that the matter is ta`abudi. If we go with the first interpretation, we will conclude that it the imperative to wash the hands has only to do with filth, and that sleep is just an example of when the hands might be exposed to filth (and this is the position of the Shafi`is); and if we go with the second, we will go with the Hanbalis who see that the matter doesn't really have to do with the filth on the hands but rather have to do with getting up after sleeping at night, etc.

This, in sha Allah, serves to explain--and quite simplistically at best--how the hadith can be seen to support the two positions.

Now, if the water tank you use contains more than approximately 212 liters, putting your hands into the tank when you wake up will have no effect on the water. If it's less than 212 liters, you can always used a bucket, cup, ladle, the like to scoop out enough water to wash the hands, or you could just leave something out over night.

As for little children: I have never seen children specifically mentioned for this ruling. Since the matter is ta`abudi, basically being a matter of obedience for those legally responsible, I don't see how a young child or anyone else who is not legally responsible will change the water by dipping his hand into it.

And Allah knows best.

2.  I know that tanning was discussed at length in
this group but what was the final verdict.  The relied
upon position is as you mentioned but I remember that
it was stated that Imam Ahmad (May Allah have mercy on
him) has two opinions reported from him and that Ibn
Taymiyah (May Allah have mercy on him) favored
something similar to the second position.  My
question:  Could we say that this second narrated
opinion is an acceptable alternative position within
the madhab?

I spent a great deal of time talking about this with the sheikh. What he pointed out is that tanned leather should be considered pure unless there is something to indicate with certainty that it is impure. He mentioned the ruling that your feet and clothing remain pure if you walk down a street that you know has filth on it yet you do not know that you actually walked in it. So, even following the mufta bihi position really is not a great hardship because unless you know that the animal was not slaughtered, you should consider the leather to be pure. He ended this with a reminded that we are ordered to employ as much tawqa as possible.

As for the opinion that Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be merciful upon him) preferred: it and all other non-mufta bihi positions can be used when necessary. It is without a doubt an alternative position in the mathab and it is acceptable to follow if you find it necessary; it simply is not the mufta bihi.

And Allah knows best.

Question for Lesson 02
1.  It is sunnah not shave your head (except for Hajj
and Umrah)but to let it grow.  How long can your hair
be?  What is too long for a man?

2.  What about the moustache?  Should we shave it?
What does it mean to closely keep it as opposed to
trimming it? 

3.  It is makruh to remove from the beard less than a
fist.  A fist length beard is the sunnah and cutting
less than that is makruh but not haram.  Is this
correct?  How about the sides of the beard?  Should
they not be trimmed?

It seems more beneficial to just loosely translate the section from Ghayat Al-Muntaha and add in a few things from Kashshaf Al-Qina`.
It is a sunna:
        (m: the following are from Kashshaf Al-Qina`:         )

        It is makruh:         (m: the following are from Kashshaf Al-Qina`:         )

        It is unlawful: