General Islamic Topic

Is It Necessary to Obtain Tauliah (Credentials) in Teaching Islamic Teachings? (Malaysia)

Is it necessary to obtain tauliah before someone is able to be able to teach?

The issue of obtaining tauliah to be eligible to teach religious or Islamic teachings for sermons or lectures has been heatedly debated in Malaysian society. Some said that it is enough to have the accreditation from universities while others compare the situation with the issue of getting a driver’s license. Even if someone is competent already, driving without a license is a Syariah offense in our country. Thus, we will discuss the issue of tauliah to answer this question.

What is Tauliah (Credentials)?

Tauliah originates from an Arabic word which means: Appointing someone as a proxy (representative) for certain matters. In Fiqh, it is defined as: A condition set by a seller to the buyer so that a purchased item cannot be resold except with the same buying price.

While according to Kamus Dewan (Malaysian Dictionary), tauliah means: The appointment of wali (proxy) or appointment letter (to be a proxy, representative and others). [Refer Kamus Dewan, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka]

In the discussion of this issue, tauliah is meant as: The permission to teach issued by authoritative bodies in a certain state, such as Islamic Religious Department or Mufti’s Office of the Federal Territory who has the authority to issue and give tauliah (credentials) to someone who wishes to teach or give religious sermons or lectures.

Guidance from Our Prophet Muhammad PBUH

First: The Prophet PBUH’s Advice to First Get to Know the Situation of a Community

This is in accordance with a hadith of the Prophet PBUH to Muaz bin Jabal, where the Prophet PBUH said (which means):

“Verily you would reach a community of the people of the Book, the very first thing to which you should call them is the worship of Allah,” [Refer to Sahih Muslim no. 19]

In the above hadith, the Prophet PBUH as the Messenger and leader is giving an introduction of the important things in the process of dakwah to his emissary Muaz bin Jabal before he went on his journey of dakwah. This is why the system of tauliah (credentials) is introduced, to give basic knowledge on how to teach and the basics that someone would need before starting to teach anyone.

Second: The Story of the Prophet PBUH and Muaz bin Jabal

At the time where the Prophet PBUH is sending Muaz bin Jabal to Yemen, he first asked Muaz a few questions (which means):

“How will you judge?” He said: “I will judge according to what is in Allah’s Book.” He said: “If it is not in Allah’s Book ?” He said: “Then with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).” He said: “If it is not in the Sunnah of Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)?” He said: “I will give in my view.” He said: “All praise is due to Allah, the One Who made the messenger of the Messenger of Allah suitable.” [Refer to Sunan al-Tirmizi no. 1327]

It is clear from the above hadith that the Prophet PBUH first ask Muaz to gauge his judgment and knowledge in matters related to the rulings in Islam. When Muaz correctly answered that the first evidence that he would refer to before passing judgment is the Quran, then al-Sunnah (prophetic traditions) and finally using his ijtihad, the Prophet PBUH praises Allah SWT and state his gratefulness to Him.

This is used as the basis of the credential (tauliah) process in maintaining and ensuring that every preacher is qualified and knowledgeable to teach Islam in every state of Malaysia.

Third: The Story of Ali bin Abi Thalib and Imam Hasan al-Basri

Once, Ali bin Abu Thalib asked Imam Hasan al-Basri Rahimahullah (which means):

“What is the pillar of religion?” Hasan al-Basri answered: “Warak.” Ali asked again: “What is harmful to religion?” Hasan al-Basri answered: “Greed.” Then, Ali said: “Sit, people like you is eligible to speak among people.” [Refer Iqazh al-Himam Fi Syarh al-Hikam (pg. 158)]

The wisdom from the above athar is clear that Ali determined Hasan al-Basri as someone who is qualified to teach religion for the people.

The Purpose of Tauliah (Credentials)

The following are the purpose of why tauliah (credentials) is necessary for someone before he is eligible to teach the public:

  • Prevent the spread of deviant ideologies in society.
  • Prevent the spread of evil innovations (bida’ah) and superstitions.
  • Avoid fake hadith without origins from being spread.
  • Unify and celebrate the disagreement (khilaf) among scholars and masyaikh so that society can accept them.
  • There will be regulations and limitations regarding the inappropriate attitude of insulting or degrading certain parties or people to ensure harmony in society.
  • Ensuring that every individual who teaches Islam is qualified, competent and knowledgeable.
  • At the very least, tauliah is a guideline for teaching and conveying knowledge in accordance with syarak. A guideline is important for every person receiving tauliah for them to apply in their teachings.

Argument Regarding the Necessity of Tauliah (Credentials)

We often hear some preachers citing a hadith when they are arguing about the unnecessity of tauliah for teaching. The hadith mentioned is from Abdullah bin Amr R.Anh, where the Prophet PBUH said (which means):

“Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of Bani Israel (which have been taught to you), for it is not sinful to do so. And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire.” [Refer to Sahih al-Bukhari no. 3461]

Hence, it is obligatory to convey knowledge regardless of the situation, place and time. The important thing is conveying and spreading knowledge to people. Actually, that is not what the hadith meant. The reason is, the word ‘convey’ addresses to someone who is knowledgeable. This is understood through the hadith of Muaz bin Jabal. Furthermore, the act of conveying and teaching are completely different disciplines.

Second, scholars have set the muwasafat or characteristics of a muallim (teacher) for him to be able to teach effectively.

The Statement of Mufti of Federal Territories of Malaysia

According to the above discussion, we would like to state that tauliah is important especially in our current time. Tauliah system is also practiced in other Muslim countries such as Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, and others. The reason is, we understand the importance and purpose of teaching, where the ultimate goal is for Muslims to truly understand Islam.

At the same time, the purpose of tauliah is as sad al-zariah (close the doors of harm) in ensuring only the qualified are able to teach Islam, filtering the unqualified from teaching or spreading deviant teachings.

Ibn Hajar al-Haitami said: An imam or a teacher is unqualified if he narrated the hadith of the Prophet PBUH without stating the status of the hadith. This is to ensure no fake hadiths are spread.

May this explanation give us an understanding of the issue of tauliah. However, at the same time qualified and knowledgeable individuals should be acknowledged and honored. We will end this discussion with a story.

Once, Syaikhul Azhar al-Allamah Muhammad Bakhit came to the city of Damascus and attended a lecture by al-Allamah al-Muhaddith al-Akbar Syeikh Badruddin al-Hasani. After the lecture, Syaikhul Azhar said: O teacher, if you come to Egypt, we will not ask only the students of al-Azhar to learn from you. However, all the teachers and grand scholars (masyaikh) of al-Azhar need to learn from you. This is how great the knowledge that Syeikh Badruddin has. Even Grand Scholar of al-Azhar (Syeikhul Azhar) acknowledged him.

Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to give us understanding in the issue regarding tauliah and may Allah SWT ease qualified persons in their application process for tauliah.

This article is taken with slight changes from http://muftiwp.gov.my


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2 comments

  1. Nice post. but I think think that every Muslim is competent enough to invite non-muslims to the faith and can give religious or Islamic teachings for sermons or lectures in his own peculiar and unique manner and should be allowed to do so if he/she so desires. There are many examples where common Muslims have successfully given Da’wah and experts have failed. But in case of confusion, clarification or disagreement with regards to Islamic teachings, the matter should be referred to expert scholars as the case may be. What do you think? While Degrees may be a criteria for knowledge but they should never be allowed to become absolute criteria to determine expertise so that justice is undermined. Doing otherwise would do more harm to Islam by promoting classist and elitist tendencies as can be witnessed in South Asia where some muslim sections/families have usurped many domains of life from common Muslims under the pretext that they have generations of expertise in certain things such as power and prestige. Islam is egalitarian in spirit and utmost care should be taken that this spirit is not undermined and to ensure that there is an equality of opportunity for every common Muslim no matter his social, economic and educational background.
    The objectives of Tauliah mentioned in your post might be justified in certain cases if done in good faith but it must be ensured that it is not misused and no injustice is done to any Muslim under the pretext of Tauliah. May Allah grant us guidance and forgiveness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right! In some state in Malaysia we can see the tauliah was been used as tool to control opinions from other mazhab. As you might know, most of the time Malaysian uses opinion from Shafi’i school.. The tauliah thing actually been made for the misguided (some of the tareekat and mistranslate the word of Quran) which in Malaysia we also have some of that..

      Liked by 1 person

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