The famous Seljuk ruler, Sultaan Noorud Deen Zangi (rahimahullah), had a son named Ismaa‘eel. Ismaa‘eel was a pious and intelligent youngster who was greatly loved by the people of Halab (Aleppo). During the month of Rajab in the year 577 A.H., Ismaa‘eel fell ill with colitis. This illness led to his demise that very year, and he passed away at the tender age of nineteen.
It is mentioned that when he was suffering from his illness, the physicians who were treating him prescribed a small amount of wine as his medication. However, he refused to take the wine saying, “I cannot take it until I first consult the Fuqahaa (jurists).”
He thus referred the mas–alah to certain ‘Ulama who told him that it was permissible (as there was no halaal alternative, and the condition was life-threatening). However, he was still reluctant.
He then went to the renowned ‘Aalim, ‘Allaamah Abu Bakr Kaasaani (rahimahullah) and asked him regarding the mas–alah. ‘Allaamah Kaasaani (rahimahullah) also gave him the ruling that in his case, it was permissible (due to the urgent circumstance and lack of a halaal alternative).
Ismaa‘eel then addressed ‘Allaamah Kaasaani (rahimahullah) and asked, “Tell me, if Allah Ta‘ala has decreed the moment of my death as being close, will drinking wine extend my lifespan in any way (and allow me to live longer)?” ‘Allaamah Kaasaani (rahimahullah) replied, “No.”
Ismaa‘eel (responded that in that case, he was not prepared to drink the wine. He) declared, “By Allah! I do not wish to meet Allah Ta‘ala in the condition that I have taken something that He made haraam upon me!”
Ismaa‘eel thus refrained from the alcohol and passed away soon thereafter.
(Shazaraatuz Zahab vol. 6, pg. 425)
1. It should be borne in mind that it was permissible for Ismaa‘eel to take the alcohol in this situation, as his illness was life-threatening and there was no halaal alternative. However, on account of his very high level of taqwa, he still refrained from taking it. He had such a disgust for haraam and alcohol that he was prepared to lose his life rather than allow a drop of alcohol to pass his lips.
2. Ismaa‘eel ensured that he consulted with the ‘Ulama before making any decision regarding the alcohol. Similarly, throughout our lives, when we are confronted with any situation or problem, we must ensure that we consult with the rightly-guided ‘Ulama so that we can avoid making a decision that will displease Allah Ta‘ala.
3. When a person’s priority is his own comfort and convenience, then he will go ‘fatwa-shopping’, hopping from mufti-to-mufti until he finally gets the fatwa that suits him. As for Ismaa‘eel, he only turned to ‘Allaamah Kaasaani (rahimahullah) for further assurance as he was afraid of falling into haraam.
4. Ismaa‘eel had firm, concrete conviction that when death is decreed, nothing can avert it. Hence, if he was decreed to die, then he would die, regardless of whether he drank the wine or not. Thus, it would be better to die and meet Allah Ta‘ala without drinking the wine. Therefore, it was his firm imaan that prompted him to conduct himself in this manner.
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