Instances of farḍ kifāyah
can be found scattered across various legal topics within fiqh
books or listed in treatises on legal maxims (qawāʾid al-fiqhīyah
), such as al-Suyūṭī’s lengthy compilation in al-Ashbāh wa-al-Naẓāʾir
Below, I will thematically list examples of farḍ kifāyah
, drawing from resources for different maḏhab
s, based on the general objectives they aim to achieve.
Ritualistic acts include
: funeral services (washing, shrouding, praying, and burial), facilitating congregational prayers (i.e., the five daily prayers, Friday prayer, Ramadan night prayer, eclipse prayers) in each locality,
establishing the call to prayer in a locality,
learning the measurement of the direction of qiblah
, and organizing Hajj annually. Building mosques, as needed, and maintaining them (the Qur’anic concept of imārat al-masjid
are farḍ kifāyah
. Imam al-Baydāwī gave examples of building mosques, furnishing them, maintaining the establishment of worship in them, and protecting them from what they are not meant for.
He added that this responsibility is best fulfilled by the most knowledgeable practitioners of the religion.
Social Services and Welfare include
: fostering orphans and foundlings, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry, relieving the distressed and miserable, providing skills required for basic necessities (such as business, farming, construction, weaving, etc), performing and facilitating marriage, basic medical services and medications, nursing (taking care of the sick, including visiting them)
and childcare. Supporting the oppressed, uplifting the wrong that befalls them, and maintaining social security are farḍ kifāyah
. In commenting on al-Bukhārī’s title “Helping the Oppressed,” Imam Ibn Hajar says, “It is a universal farḍ kifāyah
that includes all the oppressed and all those helping them, on the basis that farḍ kifāyah
addresses everyone (i.e., mukallafīn
Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil:
a vital role of the community that is centered in the Islamic tradition across its disciplines.
While theology views it as a people’s duty to establish Allah’s commands in society, spirituality treats it as a collective effort to maintain introspection, transparency, and accountability. In fiqh
, ‘enjoining good and forbidding evil’ is not characterized as a granted authority, but rather, a ritualistic imperative.
It includes not only speaking against ‘evil,’ but also extends to preventing others from doing it and demanding them to do what is good. The obligation broadly transcends personal or social biases, as affirmed by the Qur’anic verse, “O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives.”
This crucial role is reflected in al-Juwaynī’s description of Islam “from beginning to end” to be about “enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.”
Education and Da’wah involves
: acquiring knowledge of various disciplines to preserve religious knowledge, learning early Arabic poetry to preserve the language and properly understand the Qur’an and Sunnah,
memorizing Qur’an (including learning advanced tajwīd
and the variant readings, qirāʾāt
learning principles of legal theory and applying legal reasoning to new precedents, teaching and mentoring students of knowledge,
facilitating credential education for graduating muftī
s and qāḍī
s (the two most important legal positions),
publishing relevant religious scholarship,
developing rational discourses to dismantle misconceptions and doubts of religion.
Mathematics and politics (i.e., siyāsah
in its general sense of maintaining human worldly welfare and happiness in the next world) are also farḍ kifāyah
. Some scholars, such as al-Shahrastānī, included ijtihād
as a communal obligation since it is necessary to ensure a sufficient number of mujtahid
s are available in each era.
Interestingly, Imam al-Bājī extended this argument to the availability of spiritual saints in each locality, thereby including self-discipline (jihād al-nafs
) until reaching a high state of righteousness, as a communal obligation.
This, however, does not negate the fact that self-discipline and striving against spiritual diseases are personal obligations on every single Muslim.
Spirituality has a critical impact on the effective functionality of farḍ kifāyah
. Notably, Imam al-Māwardī mentioned that although impious (fāsiq
) individuals are addressed by farḍ kifāyah
of seeking knowledge, their contributions would not, however, waive the communal responsibility since their fatwa
s are to be rejected.
The reason these individuals were initially included in the obligation is the fact that they are always obligated to quit their sins and rectify their spiritual status.
Spreading and teaching sacred knowledge are also farḍ kifāyah
triggered by the Qur’anic prohibition of concealing knowledge.
Hence, scholars regulated providing iftāʾ
(access to scholarly verdicts) for each locality.
The Prophet’s ﷺ command “Convey from me even a verse [of the Qur’an]”
denotes a collective duty of inviting people, Muslims and non-Muslims, to Allah. Therefore, all means of facilitating daʿwah
, be it through individuals or platforms, relevant multimedia aids, materials and publications, or translation of the meanings of Qur’an and Sunnah, shall take the same ruling of farḍ kifāyah
Acquiring knowledge and education, in this context, is not only limited to sacred knowledge. All sciences and disciplines necessary for providing all of the aforementioned services or fulfilling the core Islamic objectives (maqāṣid
of preserving religion, life, intellect, progeny, and wealth, are obligatory upon Muslims to study and implement as farḍ kifāyah
. The discussion of education and the taxonomy of sciences from the perspectives of the different Defining Legal Rulings (Ḥukm Taklīfī
) applicable to them are extensively discussed in al-Ghazālī’s profound work Iḥyāʾ ʿUlūm al-Dīn
as well as many other books that are dedicated to educational curricula and pedagogy.
Civic duties include
: certain types of physical jihad
(even the preparation of army and equipment, and protecting borders), freeing captives, establishing and enhancing proper Islamic polity, appointing qualified judges when no functioning judicial system is established, fulfilling testimonial duties in court, and assisting the judiciary in restoring people’s rights, and assuming (presidential or judicial) office. Imam Al-Juwaynī ranked “the establishment of judgeship among Muslims, redress for the oppressed from the oppressors, and the ending of a conflict between litigants” to be among the most important communal obligations.
Muslim communities living under the governance of a non-Muslim legal system are guided by Islam's framework of communal responsibility. Specifically, in the absence of appointment processes for Sharʿi
judges, Islamic law sets clear expectations for community leaders
to appoint the most qualified judges available. This law of exception discourse was extended over time to involve the expansion of non-Muslim authorities over Muslim lands and the later diasporic Muslim population. The role of farḍ kifāyah
was fundamental in governing and regulating issues resulting from the lack of Islamic authority over private law matters.
For example, in the 15th century, al-Kamāl Ibn al-Humām stated that Muslim communities residing in Cordoba, Valencia, and some parts of Ethiopia, where non-Muslim authorities had taken over, should appoint a ruler and a judge to the best of their capabilities.
Communally-appointed judges were also mentioned in the 16th century by al-Wansharīsī in his 12-volume book, which cites numerous Mālkī jurists’ opinions regarding how the community can independently function as a minority in the absence of Muslim judicial authorities.
An early explicit mention of minority Muslims was made by the late 19th-century Ibn ʿĀbidīn: “in lands of non-Muslim authorities, it is permissible for Muslims to establish congregational prayers and Eids… and appointment of a judge will be legitimate by the Muslim communal approval.”
He also added that Muslims should request the facilitation of this from the authorities of these lands.
It should be noted that these circumstantial rulings do not aim to replace the existing legal system nor to create a parallel one. However, it informs the Muslim community on how to develop quasi-judicial avenues to adjudicate, or arbitrate, their personal matters without conflicting with the law of the land in which they are citizens. These legal trends concede the significant doctrinal and practical role of the community in Islamic law. On a doctrinal level, the community informs the development of legal theories of custom (ʿurf) and public interest (maṣlaḥah). On the ground, the community ensures the sound application of the law and can even substitute official authorities if they are absent or malfunctioning.