Explaining the Shariah Principle of Sadd adh-Dharaai

Notes on sadd udh-dharaa’i’

given by Sh. Muhammad Al-Jeezaanee

from Madeenah University:

Sadd udh-Dharaai: An Important Principle

What does adh-dharaai mean

Adh-Dharaai is the plural of dhareeah

Linguistically: A dhareeah is anything that leads to something else, good OR bad.


a) Working the soil & planting seeds are dharaai that lead to a good harvest

b) Studying hard is a dhareeah that leads to good test results

Technically: The scholars of Usool use the word dhareeah is two different ways.

* The first meaning is general. It carries the same meaning as the liguistic meaning and includes anything that is a means to any goal.

Example: Walking to the masjid is a dhareeah to performing prayer

(Note: Al-Hiyal, Al-Wasaail, Al-Asbaab, Ash-Shuroot, any action that a goal can not be achieved without, Masaalih Mursalah, etc. can all be included under this very general meaning of dhareeah.)

* The second meaning is much more specific. Here dhareeah means any mubaah action that leads to a haraam action/mafsadah. Both the action itself and the result have been specified. When scholars of Usool use the term dhareeah, they are USUALLY using it in this specific sense.


a) In soorat ul-Anaam, Allaah forbids cursing the idols etc. that the kuffaar worship so that it does not lead the kuffaar to cursing Allaah. Cursing these false dieties is in itself halaal, perhaps even recommended in some instances, but when cursing the idols can lead to Allaah being cursed it becomes haraam.

b) Allaah forbids women from hitting the ground hard with their feet when wearing an anklet. Walking in that manner is in itself allowed, but when the anklet makes a jingling noise it leads to fitnah when the men hear the sound. So because this walking leads to fitnah it is prohibitted saddan lil-dhareeah.

c) Selling knives is mubaah.. but if the seller knows that the person buying the knife wants to use it to kill someone selling the knife becomes haraam.

d) Selling grapes is mubaah.. but if the seller knows that the one purchasing is buying the grapes to make wine it becomes haraam. This is because this selling leads to the haraam.

The Relationship Between Sadd Adh-Dharaai and Other Common Terms

We will be comparing Sadd udh-Dharaai (specific meaning) with Al-Wasaail, Al-Hiyal, and Al-Masaalih Al-Mursalah.

* Sadd Udh-Dharaai VS Al-Wasaail

Similarity: Dhareeah and Waseelah both share the same linguistic meaning, the means to something or an action that leads to something.

Differences Between Waseelah and Dhareeah (#2): Dhareeah is more general than Waseelah from one perspective BUT Waseelah is more general than Dhareeah from another perspective. (Umoom wa Khusoos Wajhee)

First Perspective:

*Wasaail are more general in their outcome, i.e. the outcome can be positive or negative

*The outcome of the dhareeah can only be negative ( a mafsadah )

Second Perspective:

* Dharaai include ANY action which leads to haraam.They are more general in this sense

* Wasaail are restricted by the condition that there is purpose behind that action

Examples of Dhareeah:

(a) When the Muslims curse the idols of the kuffaar, it is not their intention to make the kuffaar curse Allaah. That is not the purpose behind their action. So cursing the kuffar idols is a dhareeah and not a waseelah.

(b) If a woman were to hit the ground with her feet making a tempting sound with her anklet, would be allowed if it were not her intention to cause fitnah? NO. That action of hers is a dhareeah to fitnah, intention and purpose are not taken into account, just the fact that the action leads to haraam.

You do not have to know the outcome or intend the outcome in the case of a dhareeah. You can be ignorant of the outcome of your action, but your action will still cause it.

Example of Waseelah:

(a) Walking or driving to a place to seek knowledge. There was purpose behind that walking.

Let us say the lady who hit the ground with her feet did that to cause fitnah.. her action would be a dhareeah AND a waseelah because now it includes purpose.

* Sadd udh-Dharaai VS Al-Hiyal

A heelah is a way of achieving a goal in an indirect or hidden way. Usually, hiyal are blameworthy (madhmoom) but may occasionally be worthy of praise (mahmood).

An example of a heelah mahmoodah can be found in the story of Ayoob when he took an oath to hit his wife 100 lashes. In order for him to fulfil his oath Allaah ordered him to take 100 sticks, tie them together and hit his wife one time. This way he evaded having to hit his wife 100 times and fulfilled his oath. The purpose here was noble.

An example of Heelah madhmoomah (blameworthy) is when a man has divorced his wife three times and can no longer marry her without her marrying another man first.. so he makes a deal with someone to marry her for a short time and then divorce her so that he can remarry her. This is called Nikaah al-Tahdeed.

Similarities between Al-Hiyal and Adh-Dharaai:

*The action itself is not the issue, rather the outcome of the action.

*There are specific examples of each in the shareeah. For example the story of Ayoob (AS) (acceptable heelah) and the story of how some fishermen of Banoo Israaeel used to set their nets the night before Saturday because all the fish would come on Saturday and they were forbidden to work (fish) on Saturday (blameworthy heelah). However, there are also other hiyal not mentioned in the shareeah like performing a specific business transaction while trying to evade ribaa in a roundabout way . The same applies to dharaai. Some dharaai are specifically mentioned in the shareeah (ex. cursing idols) while many new ones come up.

Differences between Hiyal and Dharaai:

*Heelah requires intention. You are intentially trying to evade something haraam.. as we said before dhareeah does not require intention.

*In the case of dhareeah, the outcome is clear and direct. As for a heelah, it is hidden. (-roundabout way of achieving goal,which is to evade the haraam)

Note: If a heelah results in good (as in the case of Ayyoob, AS) is is good. However, if it results in bad (playing a trick to fish when they were not supposed to) then the heelah is bad.

Sadd udh-Dharaai VS Al-Masaalih Al-Mursalah

Maslaha is very general term and includes anything that will lead to benefit. Examples of masaalih are building traffic lights and providing formal training for soldiers. Masaalih achieve general goals (maqaasid) of the shareeah but they do not have specific daleels.

Similarities: *Again, they both lead to something.

Differences: * A maslahah leads to good. A dhareeah leads to bad.

*Dharaai have either specific OR general proofs. A maslahah only has general proof. (It still has proof from Quraan, Sunnah, Ijmaa, or Qiyaas but just not specific.)

*Masaalih require thinking, planning, evaluation, intention etc.

Types of Dharaai

There are three types of dharaai.

(1) Dharaai for which there is ijmaa that they must be blocked. These are dharaai that directly and clearly lead to an obvious bad/ evil result. Examples would be digging a hole in the middle of public street, pouring poison in a bowl of soup that someone is going to eat, or cursing the idols of people who you know will surely curse Allaah in return.

(2) Dharaai for which there is ijmaa that they must be ignored and not taken into consideration. A farmer planting grapes might eventually lead to someone making wine out of them. Does that mean we should forbid farmers from planting grapes? NO. The link is weak, clear, rare. How about building mosque walls, especially ones like the Haram, Al-Masjid un-Nabawee, Almasjid ul-Aqsaa, Masjid Qubaa etc.? This may lead to people wiping their hands on these walls for blessing. Should we block the building of these masjids then? NO. What about apartment buildings? Having homes so close together could cause fitnah because women and men will be using the same entrance and may meet each other easily and frequently. So should we avoid having apartment building. NO. In all these cases the undesired outcome is indirect or unlikely.

(3) Dharaai for which there is khilaaf. Some say they should be blocked while others have the opinion that they should not. An example is Rent-to-Own. Some will argue that this may lead to things like someone being harmed, or having haraam income, or ribaa. Others say no this is a maslahah, it has benefit and makes things easy for people. These kinds of dharaai need a case by case evaluation and should not be given a general ruling. Specific fatwaa should be taken from a person of knowledge in the field after he evaluates the particular case and surrounding situation etc.

Conditions for a dhareeah that needs to be blocked.

There are three conditions.

(1) It must result in a mafsadah (bad/evil/haraam outcome). Ex. Hitting the ground with foot when wearing khulkhaal leads to a mafsadah.

(2) That the outcome is likely and directly linked. (ghaaliban, raajihan, qareeban). This may vary depending on culture and other factors. For example if we know that a particular person that worships an idol would never curse Allaah if we cursed his idol.. then in this case the dahreeah would not need to be blocked.

(3) That blocking the dhareeah does not lead to a greater evil taking place. If, for example, you did not sell the grapes to the wine maker, you know he will then steal them for sure. Here it may be better to sell.

Proof that Sadd udh-Dharaai is an Asl among the Usool of shareeah that needs to be considerred

Proof One: After Fat-h Makkah, the Prophet (SAS) told Aaishah that had her tribe (Quraysh) not been recent to Islaam, he would have knocked down the kabah and rebuilt it on the qawaaid of Ibraaheem. Many years later and after Islaam was widespread, Ibn Az-Zubayr knocked it down and built it upon qawaaid Ibraaheem as the Prophet (SAS) indicated it should be. Banu Umayyah then knocked it down again so that it would be like it was during the time of the Prophet (SAS). One of the Abbassid khaleefahs wanted to knock it down again to build it the way the Prophet (SAS) wanted it and so he asked Imam Maliks advice. Imaam Malik said not to so the house of Allaah would not become like a toy in the hands of building and one knocking down. So even if it is better that it be built on qawaaid Ibraaheem he ruled against it, blocking the dhareeah of the kabah becoming a plaything in the hands of rulers.

Proof 2: Ibnul Qayyim and some other students asked Ibn Taymiyyah whether they should forbid the Tattaar from drinking wine. Forbidding the evil is even an obligation but Ibn Taymiyyah ruled against it saying it is better for them to drink then to come and hurt and harrass us. He was trying to block something that might lead to a greater harm.

Proof 3: The Prophet (SAS) refrained from killing Abdullaah bin Ubayy even though he was a known hypocrite. He said the reason was that so people would not end up saying that Muhammad kills his companions.

All scholars use the principle of Sadd udh-Dharaai. The difference is that some of them consider it included in Dalaalat un-Nass (from Quraan, Sunnah, Ijmaa, Qiyaas) while others count it as a separate Asl. So really it is not a difference, either way they are using sadd udh-dharaai.

Peoples position regarding sadd udh-dharaai between the two extremes of exaggeration and negligence.

The middle path is the one that ensures that the goals of the shareeah (maqaasid) are met.

* The Prophet (SAS) forbade building on a grave. This is to block the dhareeah to over-honoring the grave which can be a form of shirk.

Someone may come and take this to the extreme of forbidding anyone from sitting on a grave or standing on it. Another may not give graves the respect they deserve. The middle path is not to glorify the grave nor disrespect it.

* The Prophet (SAS) has placed conditions for a valid marriage contract to block it from becoming similar to an illicet relationship.

Someone may take this to one extreme and say that the marriage is invalid if there was no waleemah and proper announcement or mahr.. etc. Another may take another extreme and say there is no need for a walee or witnesses etc. causing the marriage contract to become very similar to sifaah.

Additional examples of sadd udh-dharaai

* The forbidding of a man and woman to sit together alone.

* The forbidding of a woman to travel alone.

* Lowering ones gaze (Speaker again notes that intention does not matter when dharaai are being blocked. Even if it were ones intention to contemplate upon the beaty of Allaahs creation it would still be forbidden to look at someone of the opposite gender. This applies to men and women, whether attractive or not.)

* The forbidding of a women to wear perfume in front of non-mahram men.

* Keeping boys and girls sleeping areas separate.

* Women clapping instead of making tasbeeh during salaah.

* The forbidding of a woman to describe another woman to her husband (The shaikh then joked that this included describing another woman to other men in her family..this is probably more common.. as women are not as likely to decribe other women to their own husband. The shaikh also mentions that if one expects that a particular woman will describe her to men then she should wear hijaab in front of her- this is sadd lil-dhareeah too.)

Notes taken by nasirmuzaffar from Multaqa Ahlal-Hadeeth