tions of Muslims about Islamic traditions and Islamic history and the marks of Islam and the pillars of Islam, all continuously instil in them the concise meanings of those blessed words. In this country, besides the mosques and the medreses, even the gravestones in the graveyards inculcate those sacred meanings in believers like teachers and recall them to them. If for some worldly advantage, someone who calls himself a Muslim learns fifty words a day from a French dictionary, and then in fifty years does not learn the sacred phrases “Glory be to God,” “All praise be to God,” “There is no god but God,” and “God is Most Great,” which are repeated fifty times daily, does he not fall lower than an animal? These sacred words cannot be translated and corrupted and deported for such beasts! To change and deport them means erasing all the gravestones; it means turning all the dead in the graveyards against them, trembling at such an insult.
In order to deceive the nation, corrupt religious scholars who have been misled by the irreligious, say that contrary to the other Imams, Imam-i A‘zam1 said: “If the need arises in distant countries, it is permissible for those who know no Arabic at all to recite the Fatiha in Persian.”2 We are in need of this, so can we recite it in Turkish?
T h e A n s w e r : The most important of the leading authorities as well as the other twelve leading mujtahids have given fatwas opposing this fatwa of Imam-i A‘zam. The great highway of the World of Islam is their highway; the Muslim community may follow it. Those who drive the community towards another, special and narrow, way are leading it astray. Imam-i A‘zam’s fatwa is particular in five respects:
Firstly: It addresses people who are far from the centre of Islam.
Secondly: It is in consequence of real need.
Thirdly: According to one narration, it refers only to translations into Persian, which is supposed to be a language of the people of Paradise.
Fourthly: The ruling is limited to the Fatiha, so that those who do not know it will not give up performing the obligatory prayers.
Fifthly: Permission was given so that the sacred meanings could be understood by the ordinary people whose Islamic zeal arose from their powerful belief. But to translate them and discard the Arabic original due to weakness of belief, negative nationalism, and hatred for the Arabic language, driven by a destructive urge, will cause people to renounce religion.
Imam-i A’zam: Abu Hanifa Nu’man b. Thabit (80/699-150/767), the founder of the Hanifi school of law. The founders (Imams) of the other three main Sunni schools of law were Abu ‘Abdullah Malik b. Anas (94/716-179/795; Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Hanbal (164/780-241/855); and Muhammad b. Idris al-Shafi’i (150/767-205/820).
Sarakhsi, al-Mabsut, i, 37, 234; Kashani, Bada’i al-Sana’i, i, 112.