Chapter 54: My Memory with Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili

“This question is for Dr Zulkifli bin Mohamad al-Bakri. I want to ask regarding the necessity of taqnin al-ahkam in Islam. Is it an absolute necessity or otherwise?”

Zulkifli turned to his right. Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili is sitting beside him. Both were invited to a program organized by USIM’s Syariah and Legislation Faculty in conjunction with the great scholar’s visit to Malaysia.

I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to answer this question when there is a greater scholar who is here to answer it,” Zul replied simply and promptly translated the question to Arabic and asked it to Syeikh.

Syeikh then reached for the microphone and begins his answer. “Lexically, the word taqnin (تقنين) is in the Masdar form from qannana, which means forming of legislation. Taqnin al-ahkam means gathering of rulings and methodologies in the determination on the ruling (tasyri’) that is related with the issue of social relationships, arranging them and verbalizing it clearly with decisive, concise and clear words and then determining it as the law that is acknowledged but eh rulers, that it is obligatory for the authorities to implement it in the community…

It was quiet in Lecture Hall 3. All the audience were focused on each and every word delivered by the fiqh and tafsir scholar.


Syeikh Prof Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili was born in Syria. History has proven that numerous great scholars were born in Syria for ages. He was born on 6th March 1932 at the Dir ‘Atiyah village, in the Qalmun area in al-Nabk district, at the edge of the city of Damascus. He was named Wahbah Mustafa al-Zuhaili and was given the moniker Abu ‘Ubadah for one of his children is named ‘Ubadah. His father is al-Haj Mustafa al-Zuhaili, a businessman and farmer who is also hafiz al-Quran, always worships and maintain his congregational prayers at the mosque. His mother is Hajjah Fatimah binti Mustafa Sa’adah who is famous for her piety and solehah attributes.

He receives his early education from both his parents before relocating to Damascus on the advice of his mother. He continued his secondary education in Damascus and finished his studies at the Shariah Kuliah (Faculty) in 1952.

In Egypt, he studied at al-Azhar University in two faculties namely the Syariah and Arabic language Faculties. Concurrently, he is also a student of the Law Faculty at ‘Ain Syams University. Subsequently, he pursued his Masters and in 1959 with the title of his thesis al-Zara’i fi al-Siyasah al-Syar’iyyah wa al-Fiqh al-Islami he graduated. His Doctor of Philosophy theses in 1963 is titled Athar al-Harb fi al-Fiqh al-Islami: Dirasah Muqarin and he was under the supervision of Dr Muhammad Sallam Madkur which then received the Syaraf Ula grade and was praised by various scholars and academicians.

Among his teachers were Syeikh Muhammad Hashim al-Khatib al-Syafie, a famous khatib at Umawi Mosque and Syeikh Abdul Razaq al-Hamasi. He learned fiqh from these two scholars. In the field of hadith, his teacher is Syeikh Mahmud Yass whilst for Faraid and Wakaf, his teacher is Syeikh Judat al-Mardini and Syeikh    Hassan al-Shati.  Among his teachers that form his thought in the field of Tafsir is Syeikh Hassan Habnakah al-Midani. He learned Arabic literature from Syeikh Muhammad Soleh al-Farfour, Usul Fiqh and Mustalah Hadith from Syeikh Muhammad Lutfi al-Fayoumi and Akidah from Syeikh Mahmoud al-Rankusi.

In Egypt, he learned from various teachers and scholars, among them are Syeikh Muhammad Abu Zuhrah, Syeikh Mahmud Syaltut, Syeikh Abd al-Rahman Taj, Syeikh ‘Abd al-Ghani ‘Abd al-Khaliq. He was greatly influenced by books written by ‘Abd al-Rahman Azam such as al-Risalah al-Khalidah and books written by Maulana Abu Hassan ‘Ali al-Nadwi titled Maza Khasira al-‘alam bi Inhitat al-Muslimin.

Zulkifli reminisces the memory of when he was learning Hikam together with Syeikh Dr Muhammad Said Ramadhan al-Buti. At the time, Syeikh shared his experiences with his companion.

When I was young, I knew of Wahbah through only two matter which is him wearing a white turban. For it was unusual in Egypt at the time, And the way he walks which is always fast.

I know of my brother to be a person with a high level of discipline. He is very mindful of his time. This is why he managed to write so many books especially when he’s writing during the Subuh time…” Those were the words of Syeikh Dr Muhammad al-Zuhaili when Zulkifli asked about his brother’s personality When Zulkifli asked about the character of his brother.


Ever since I was just a boy, my father called my Syeikhul Islam,” he said smiling brightly. He gazed straight at Zulkifli’s face and continued. “A nickname is maybe a form of supplication and it motivates me to be successful.

Syeikh was staying for quite a long time in Malaysia, for there are several programs scheduled, including his acceptance of the International Maal Hijrah Figure award which was given by Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Mu’tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Al-Haj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah. Also receiving the national Maal hijrah Figure is Sahibus Samahah Tan Sri Harussani, Perak’s Mufti. Both these figures will be awarded RM100,000 cash, and RM20,000 cash from Ubaidi Foundation, medal and plaque.

When interviewed by reporters, Syeikh said, “The monetary value is not important, the essential matter through this recognition it will indirectly showcase Malaysia’s great contributions in helping to produce true young Muslim generation in Syria.” Such as the vastness of his soul, his cash prize will be donated to a school he owned in Syria.

Zulkifli greeted Syeikh at the exit and brought him back to his hotel after the ceremony ended. That evening, Zulkifli invited Syeikh to his house for lunch. They talked about many topics. Starting from their lives, family and even current issues of the Muslim ummah.

I just want to share with Syeikh that my house was robbed several years ago. The robbers broke into my house taking money, jewellery and a car. They place a knife not more than an inch from my neck.” Zulkifli told Syeikh. Syeikh’s face dropped immediately. His eyes were widened in shock and horror. Syeikh quickly cut Zul’s narration short asking, “How are your children and wife? Are they all safe?

Zulkifli smiled and said, “Alhamdulillah, all of them are saved by the will of Allah SWT…

Fast forward three years after that, once again Syeikh came to visit Malaysia when he was invited by various parties here. Zulkifli once again offered his services for his teacher, including acting as the translator for his sermon at Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque on 14th May 2021 organized by Persatuan Ulama Malaysia (PUM), Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) and the mosque. The title for the sermon is regarding vow and qazaf, a hot topic at the time which was published on the front pages of the newspapers for it involves a famous politician, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. [1]

Zulkifli also accompanied Syeikh to Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s house that night for a brief talk session at his house. He sat quietly watching his teacher praying. Standing, rukuk, sujud, sitting in tasyahhud, everything is performed to perfection without any issue. However, his curiosity got the best of him.

Syeikh, can I ask you a question?” Zulkifli asked as soon as they return to the hotel. Syeikh nodded his head. “Sure,” he said.

I still remember a couple of years ago, Syeikh came to Malaysia. We talked in a room until it was time for prayer. Syeikh asked me to lead the prayer as the imam but I refused and Syeikh finally lead the prayer. At the time, Syeikh prayed while sitting on a chair. But, at the ceremony held at Anwar Ibrahim’s house just now, Syeikh prayed without sitting on a chair?” Zul’s confused face and the question made Syeikh smile.

Zulkifli, there is a reading room in my house. I fully benefit from it and, in a day, I’d spent 16 hours reading and writing. Sometimes I’ll sit cross-legged for a very long time. This leads to my knees hurting. Before this, I may be able to stand, now, it’s a bit difficult.” He explained fully.

Zulkifli drank the remaining coffee in his cup and continued, “Once, in a ceremony, I was asked: Does Syeikh Wahbah follow any tarekat?” “So, what answer did you give?” Syeikh answered full of interest. He laughed and smiled.

I replied, Syeikh Wahbah al-Zuhaili follow the Muhammadi tarekat!” Zulkifli answered. Syeikh chuckled and nodded in agreement. Tarekat Muhammadi that meant here is spiritual worship, dhikr and following the example of the whole life of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH.

Syeikh reach for Zul’s hand, holding it and asked, “What is your opinion if I intend to give my book al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Aditullah to the Prime Minister of Malaysia? There is a meeting with him scheduled.

It’s a great idea Syeikh. I would just like to suggest giving him the translated book in Malay for the book. It will be more beneficial for him. Insya-Allah I’ll try to search for the translated version.” Zulkifli informed his teacher.

The golden opportunity with his teacher is utilized fully by asking him a lot of questions. Syeikh on the other hand is happy to oblige every question presented to him by his student. Before returning, Zulkifli asked one final question to his teacher.

What is your hope in the Palestine – Israel issue?

Syeikh’s eyes begins to water and his face turned solemn. He breathed heavily. He finally spoke. “Before I die, I’d very much hope to get to prostrate and place my forehead in the honoured al-Aqsa Mosque, freely…


[1] Follow his sermon here:

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