The Reliable Custom:
Not all repeated actions that have become popular among the people or became a part of their habit in their transactions or behavior, are acceptable or reliable in Islamic Shari`ah, rather, some of them are acceptable and some of them are unacceptable. In short, anything that has become a social norm among the people is one of three kinds:
The First: The practices of the people that have been approved by Islamic Shari`ah, such as: remove impurities, covering the private parts of the body, honoring the guest, or the practices that have been prohibited by Islamic Shari`ah, such as: immorality, cheating and betrayal. These practices, although, are the norms and customs of the people but at the same time they are the parts of Islamic Shari`ah that never change due to the changes of the habits and the times of people. (1)
The Second: The practices or norms of the people that go against Islamic plain texts and their rulings, such as: eating usury and drinking wine, or the norm of abandoning some duties, such as: giving up the duty of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil. Such practices and customs are corrupted that must be avoided.
The Third: The practices that have become a part of social habits of the people in their transactions or their daily life in eating, dressing and likewise, which is not included in the texts of the Glorious Qur'an and blessed Sunnah which is neither forbidden nor permissible. Such issues are forgiven and permissible according to the benefits of the people or their needs.
Shaykh Al-Islam says in this regard: "The customary and habitual acts are originally forgiven; nothing of those acts would be ruled out as forbidden except the one that has been prohibited by Allah (Glory be to Him). (2)
Custom and Moral Values of Islam:
In the olden times, the norms and customs had control on the human thought and behavior. The Glorious Qur'an is the evidence on this subject, as Allah (Glory be to Him) described the condition of the infidels and their attitudes towards the Messengers sent to them: " And similarly, We did not send before you any warner into a city except that its affluent said, "Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are, in their footsteps, following. [Each warner] said, "Even if I brought you better guidance than that [religion] upon which you found your fathers?" They said, "Indeed we, in that with which you were sent, are disbelievers." (3).
The customs were and still are regarded by the positive law as one of its main sources. (4)
But norms are not always same, as some of them are acceptable and some of them are rejected. Therefore, Islamic Shari`ah has taken into its account the importance of the norms and accepted from them what was good, and it complemented what was incomplete in the norms, putting them in the right direction while Islamic Shari`ah has canceled what was bad norms.
As Islamic Shari`ah has guided to every virtue in the field of moral values, and invited to good behavior, the same it did not dispense with customs and did not neglect their role in defining some values, amounts, quantity and measurements. For example, joining the kinships, visiting a friend and honoring a guest as these values are established issues in Islamic Shari`ah. However, their quantities and amounts were attributable to the custom of the society.
Some Commandments about Joining the Kinship:
Allah the Almighty says in the Glorious Qur'an: "Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives." (5)
And Allah (Glory be to Him) said: "And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully." (6)
Furthermore, Allah the Almighty says: "And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs (kinships)." (7).
And He (Glory be to Him) said: "And worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans and the needy." (8)
In addition to that, there are other verses in this meaning.
Moreover, once the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked what makes a person enter paradise and keeps away from the fire, then he said: "You should worship Allah and do not ascribe any partners to Him, offer prayer perfectly, pay the Zakat and keep good relations with your Kith and kin." (9)
It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him uphold his family ties." (10)
It is clear that these texts include absolute commands a general guidance to the necessity of strengthening the kinship that demonstrate its importance. However, the Muslim jurists tried their best to explain the sorts of philanthropy acts that should be done by a Muslim, but the method, amount and measurement were not specified. Rather, they must be referred to the norms and practices of the people.
Al-Qadhi, `Iyadh(11) says in this regard: "Upholding family ties is an obligatory in general, and breaking the family ties is a big sin but the ties are of degrees, some of them are higher than others, and Upholding the family ties also varies depending on the ability and the need. (12)
(1) Ash-Shatibi, Al-Muwafqat, (2/283) Al-Maktabah with commentary by Sheikh `Abdullah Draz, At-Tijariyyah Al-Kubra, Egypt, distributed by Dar Al-Baz, Mecca.
(2) Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu`a Al-Fataawa, (29/17).
(3) Surah Az-Zukhruf: 23-24.
(4) Mansoor `Ali Rajab, Ta'ammul'at Fi Falsafat Al-Akhlaq,(Reflections on the Philosophy of Ethics), p. 279, the Anglo Egyptian Bookshop, edition 3rd, 1961. And Al-Qaradawi, Shari`at Al-Islam, Khuludoha Wa Salahuha Lit-Tatbiq, (The Law of Islam, its Immortality and its Validity for Application, p. (94-95) Al-Maktab Al-Islami, edition 2nd, 1379. And Az-Zarqa', Al-Madkhal Al-Islami Al-`aamm (1/132 - 133).
(5) Surah An-Nahl: 90.
(7) An-Nisa': 1.
(9) Agreed upon between Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
(10) Reported by Al-Bukhari. See: Ibn Hajar, Fat'h Al Baari, (10/532.)
(11) `Iyadh ibn Musa Al-Yahsubi, As- Sabti, Abul-Fadhl, a Moroccan scholar and an authority for the students of Hadith in his time, who died in 544 A.H., his birth was in 476 A.H. See: Shadhrat Adh-Dhahab (4/139) and Al-I`alam, (5/99).
(12) Sahih Muslim with the commentary of An-Nawawi (5/421).