Letters to the Editor

Gifts and Loans

Obaidullah Kashmiri, Srinagar

I’m a 19-year-old boy who used to offer prayers only on Fridays and on some days Fajr or Maghrib prayers.  About 2 months ago I started offering the prayers 5 times a day.

The question is what does the Shari`ah say about prayers that I have missed from the time they became obligatory on me?  Do I have to offer all the qaza prayers or ask for forgiveness?  Same thing regards fasts also.

YMD

You should do both, resort to seeking forgiveness, as well as offering the Qada’ whenever it is convenient to do, doing as many as you can for the number of years missed since puberty.

Do not, however, overburden yourself. Attempt the Qada’ when you are in the right mood, for, Prayers offered under coercion, inner or outer, or with an unwilling heart, are not likely to be accepted.

Can a person turn in his trousers for prayers if they fall below his ankles? Please give some references.

YMD

If you experience a disturbing feeling within the Prayers, because you did not pull up the trousers above the knees, then there is no harm in doing it.

Is there any harm in offering prayers behind an Imam who has undergone family planning (nasbandi)?

YMD

No, there is no sin attached to it. The imam is responsible to Allah for his personal affairs. It is only if the Imam is a “Faajir”, i.e., one who commits one of the Major sins openly and defiantly, that one can object to his leadership in Prayers. In this case, we do not know the exact reasons why he resorted to it, and the exact circumstances of his life. So, we can leave him to be judged by Allah.

About 3 years back I received Rs. 500 from a friend on my request.  At that time she asked me to return the money or not as I wished.  Some time later she was in need of money and she asked about 500 rupees. I gave her Rs. 200.  Since then she never said anything regarding this.  Recently she got married and I presented her a gift worth Rs. 200.  Is any amount due on me and if yes, how much?

YMD

First you need to ascertain with her in clear terms the exact nature of the 500/= you took. Was it a gift? Or, was it for you to decide on its nature? If it was for you to decide, then you need to do it now. Would you like to accept it as a gift or a loan? If you decide that it is returnable, then, let her know how about it. Once it is decided that the money was loan, you need to pay back all, in cash, and not in kind, nor as gift, unless she says that she accepts the gift as part of the returnable money.

But if the original 500/= you received was a gift to you, then you need to determine the nature of the 200/= she has taken from you. Was it a gift from you to her, or a loan? If a loan, she must return it to you, unless you wish to forgive it.

Most people let things remain ambiguous while making financial dealings. This is from Shaytan. He knows the greed hidden within, and that each of the two parties would like to let things stand vague, to make the best use of the vagueness when the time for final settlement arrives. At that time, each tries to take advantage of the other. This is all from Shaytan. His ways are tricky and schemes are hidden. He works a long time – patiently – to create discord between friends and break them apart.

But Believers are frank, open, and generous. They prefer that they be made use of, rather than they make use of others. This is the Islamic way which assures long-term relationship of brotherhood, love and trust.

I read a book “Sunnah and Bid`ah”, wherein the author has called the decoration of mosques and celebrations of few nights like shab-e-barat bid`ah.  Is he not wrong?

YMD

He is in the grey area.

According to a hadith (in Nasaa’i, declared Sahih by Suyuti), “Decoration of mosques is a sign of the Hour.” But, not every sign of the hour stated in the ahadith, is, as Munawi has put it, censurable.

Indeed, the decoration mentioned above, is reproachable in places other than the mosques too. Thus, a decorated home falls under the censure, in fact more, since, after all, the intention for decorating a mosque is, even though not approved of, to please Allah, or to make the mosque appear attractive in the eyes of the non-Muslims, etc. But, decoration of homes and other buildings, so common in our times, is deplorable because the intention is not to please Allah.

Another problem is definition and application of the term decoration when applied to mosques. What exactly falls under the ban, after this lapse of time, is difficult to define. If it is a village mosque, then, perhaps a Kashmiri carpet is decoration. But if it is in the Gulf, then, perhaps it is not. You can go on with other items to discover that the list is not easy to make. Somewhere there is an undefined grey line which separates the norm from the prohibited decoration. That is, not the prohibition concerning decoration of mosques, but decoration in general, including mosques, homes, buildings, etc.

To raise the issue as attached to the mosques, in our times, is a bit out of date. ‏

As regards 15th of Sha`ban, a few rituals involved in Shab-e-Baraa’at – such as, fasting the day, offering additional Prayers, visiting the graveyard at night – cannot be condemned. But lightening of the mosques, distribution of sweets there, or from homes, etc., to turn the day or night into an event of celebration, are surely acts that do not approval from the Shari`ah.

Uniting the Community

Anonymous, via email

There is a group here which says that we have to unify our Islamic Calendar, so that `Eid and Ramadhan can be started on the same day. They say that with the help of new moon chart we can know early when new moon will occur. Their Calender is Mecca-centred and they say new moon will invariably occur by 3 AM in the morning. The whole Ummah can follow the Makkah calendar to remove all differences.

YMD

Is there a hadith which says that the Ummah spread over the continents should observe `Eid on a single day?

Next, is there a single common day for the entire earth? Are they aware that when it is day at Makkah, it is night at other parts of the world?

Hope you will have the patience to study this and answer appropriately.

YMD

You seem to have a simplistic approach. The two-page stuff you have sent us is not a research article that demands attention. This is the reason why we did not produce it in full. Research articles are written in Arabic. They are first published in scholarly magazines, where they receive attention of the scholars. Or they are presented in seminars. If on examination the scholars feel that it is worthwhile, they discuss the evidences and the conclusions among themselves, and seek a consensus of opinion. If that is gained, the issue will turn into a ruling, which might be incorporated in Fiqh books.

But, our conclusion is that the paper you have sent on behalf of a group is far below the standards of scholarship, and, therefore, is not worth paying any attention.

I personally feel very confused.

YMD

We cannot make out why you should feel confused. The Ummah has been observing its `Eids on various days, in accordance with the appearance of the moon in various regions, throughout its 1400 years history. No one ever felt uncomfortable about the Ummah observing `Eid on different days anytime in history, nor the issue was ever discussed hotly. So, what’s the new thing that has happened now to confuse you?

So with calculations we can celebrate Shawwal 1 on the correct day and also whole Muslim world will be united. In fact Muslim Unity is a Qur’anic dictum and Allah has warned us of disunity which is what enemies of Islam want.

YMD

That outsiders wish to see Muslims disunited is a cause of concern of many; but what about insiders who are ever ready to part ways on the smallest pretext?

As regards unification of Islamic calendar, no one can take away from the Ummah the freedom that the Shari`ah has granted it. When the Prophet said, “Fast with its sighting, and break (at the end of the month) with its sighting,” then, he gave freedom to observe fasts and celebrate `Eid in accordance with the people’s own sightings in their own regions. This freedom is Shari`ah-given. The Ummah will not allow it usurped because some people are uncomfortable about it.

Also, the great majority of Muslims are a simple people. They do not know much of astronomy and computer calculations that people educated on modern lines cite. They merely understand that there could be people in parts of the globe that cannot be reached by ordinary means. So, why bother on their behalf? Let them sight the moon and act accordingly. In this regard, we are nature-bound, and not authority-bound, even if that authority is in Makkah.

But perhaps what bothers you is the division of the people at the time of moon sighting. Yet if this is a matter of worry, then, it is a matter of serious reflection. For, as we notice, the people disagree within a city even after clear sighting of the moon has been reported. Scholars of a certain group sit down in a circle, and wait for the news. As soon as they are told that those they differ with have sighted the moon, and will celebrate the `Eid the next day, they announce, “Then, our `Eid is going to on be the day after.” What they mean by saying “our” is their breakaway group and its adherents. The moon in the sky is ignored, and the command of the Shuyukh is followed. What can be done for such a people?

But, perhaps something can be done after all. It is to reduce the following of the corrupt religious leaders. This can be achieved through Islamic education and reformation activities. Education and reformation will instill in the people fear of Allah. It is fear of Allah that will prevent them from acting against religious instructions.

But what follows the conclusion is more interesting as also more saddening. Those who cry out aloud over the division of the Ummah, discuss the issues from their armchairs or over the Net, show no interest whatsoever to participate in any work of education or reformation. They are there for discussion. Arriving at them, we have made a full circle.

It might also be pointed out that unity of the Ummah does consist in these affairs. Muslims of every region might observe their own festivals according the moon sighting, or, they might follow different Madhaahib, they may work for different reformation gropes, they might hold different opinions about how to understand a hadith, and so on. The unity consists in unity over the basics of Islam such as: Allah is One, the Prophet was a Messenger and a slave of Allah, the Qur’an is the Final Revelation, five daily Prayers are obligatory, zakah must be paid out, viewing films, porno, drinking wine, women going about without hijab, prostrations before the graves, etc., are prohibited. In other words the desired unity consists in agreement over the very basics of Islam, followed by practice according to their dictates. You as an individual must get active about these things, ignoring the divisions that you see around you.

Jeans and Tops

Aisha Mohsin, via email

I have been reading your magazine for over a year now and I found it very helpful and also very true to the point. I have only two questions to ask you please don’t disappoint me and answer them soon.

In my college which is for girls, I usually wear jeans and tops as I’m very comfortable in them. I do wear burqa as well as the niqab. But to my surprise some girls here have been telling me that it is haraam to wear jeans and tops as they are for males. Girls should only wear shalwar kameez.

YMD

To say the wearing of said clothing is haraam (although worn under the conditions of burqa and niqab) is going a bit too far.

The laws of “sitr” that are applicable to women happen to be different for different situation. When faced with “ghayr mahram” (or those a woman can anytime marry), or when faced with family members, or women in general, her sitr is covering all except hands, face, hair, feet and those areas that are exposed in work such as the arms, legs a little before ankles, etc. Among women, or parents, brothers and sisters, the “sitr” demands “much lees coverage” than the above.

At best it might be said that wearing jeans and tops might be undesirable (even under burqa and niqab) since they were designed for men. The Prophet has disapproved that women should appear like men. In this costume plays its part.

But if women appear before the ghayr mahram in this attire, then that would be haraam, without any doubt, even if the woman has a scarf around here head. This is in vogue now among the Muslims of the Arab world, USA and Europe, where women wear jeans and tops, exposing their mid-torso, but covering their heads with a scarf. They think this is being in hijab. They are wrong for more than one reason. The central – and the most provocative – part of a woman in jeans and tops should be covered with a shawl and not left exposed.

As I was born and bought up in Riyadh and also an Arab I have seen many Arab girls wearing casuals like jeans or skirts.

YMD

If the skirts reached below the calf, and the dress for private regions of the house, there is nothing wrong in it.

I never saw any other Muslim lady from any part of the world excluding Asians wearing shalwar qameez and I fail to make my friends understand that point not only those girls but I have heard this from many Muslim ladies too. To make these people understand I need your help please tell me is it wrong to wear a girls jeans or tops or is it important that we should wear shalwar qameez?

YMD

We have stated above that within a burqa and niqab, jeans and tops should be alright. It should also be alright, if it is within the confines of the house, where they do not encounter but close blood relatives: brothers, uncles, and so forth.

I really need your help to make them understand because there are many girls like me who are considered very ‘liberal’ or ‘modern’ for wearing whatever we want of course we wear it among girls and within burqas so why are we considered like this?

YMD

There are two elements governing the minds of those who object: one, conservatism, and second precaution. Both elements have the approval of Islam. However, halal and haram are not decided on the basis of the two. There should be room for what is approved by Islam even if we think conservatism and precaution do not allow it.

My second question is regarding the beads which mostly a lot of people here read on it like durood or something else, I want to know if it is right reading on beads?

YMD

Bid`ah is that act of worship which is not sanctioned by the Shari`ah, but which is performed under the impression that it is indeed a Shari`ah requirement.

The use of beads for Dhikr purposes does not fall under this definition. It is a kind of tool, just as the clock is a tool to determine time. The Shari`ah did not prescribe use of clocks in the mosques.

Divorce from a Woman

Jameela Ruby, via email

I am a new reader of this esteemed magazine. Please explain to me when a Muslim woman can get divorced from her husband?

YMD

Had you stated the exact circumstances that you are facing at your personal level, you would have put us in a better position to offer some sort of advice. And the question is of such class which cannot be discussed at length with some assumptions from our side. All the same, let us look at a few points of general nature.

We are sure you are aware the separation of a married pair is disapproved by Islam, especially when there are children, since they suffer most.

A man or woman might remember that there are no perfect or near to perfect, men and women around. The modern culture does not produce them anymore. You have to live with the less than average of today’s world. If you dropped one because he or she is intolerable, you will end up with one of the same class, or worse. If you find the new one hasn’t got any those abhorring qualities that the last one had, you will also discover in time that the new one has another of the abhorring qualities that the previous one was free of.

Do not make any decision when you are at war with the other one. There might be daily disagreements, jibes, bickering and quarrels making it intolerable to share the roof with the other. But, this will gradually cool off. There will be less of talking, and so quarrelling, each having concluded that the other one can never be reformed. This phase will last for a while, may be one or two years. But, gradually, conversations will open up, points of differences will be avoided, and both will be able to conduct the affairs of life more amicably than before. So, patience will pay up the dividends in the end.

If the man is unlivable, despite years of trial, and separation is the only way out, then, involve the parents and family. Let them work out a deal. They will work out the terms of Khul`, which is separation on women’s request, while the husband does not agree to separation. If you have taken any money from him at the time of marriage, or expensive gifts, you will have to return them. If he has been hermaphroditic, and has, instead of giving taken from you or your parents, the family will try to get back from him. In short, let the family deal with the man. If you did, you might not achieve your objectives.

Obviously, according to Islamic laws, you have no share in his wealth, just as he has no share in your wealth. You cannot demand that he support you until you find another husband. Children of course, where sustenance is involved, are his. If a male is less than eight year old, or a girl until she is matured, stay with you, but whose maintenance is born by their father, which includes housing, food, clothes, medicine, sport, education, and marriage costs.

We hope we have answered a few questions that might have been in your mind.

A Failed Politician

I have been enjoying reading your esteemed monthly for the last 15 years. It is very informative, and is presented in a pleasant form.

I have a request to make. Please publish a detailed article covering all the aspects of life, works, and character of the PLO chairman, late Yasser Arafat.

Hope you will be kind enough to find time for this.

Muhammad Sanaullah Umari, Machilipatnam

YMD

We regret we do not have any such immediate plan. But the suggestion is not ruled out. If one of our staff is able to be ready with something printable, you will see it on these pages, Allah willing.

In brief, he was at the start a revolutionist and a successful freedom fighter, but who, under the pressures of the enemies of Islam, politics of the friends, and a complete lack of sympathy for Palestinian cause on the part of the rest of the humanity, turned into a secularist politician. He was used, discarded, and then murdered by those very people who persuaded him to enter into peace-talks with the usurpers of his lands.

A Da'ee in Prison

We face a problem in the jail.  Normally, on the occasion of festivals, Christians and other non-Muslims welfare organizations bring sweets and gifts. By the grace of Allah we have restrained ourselves from accepting them.

However, when the members of these organizations come to us in the jail, we present them with the message of Islam and Tawheed in the purest form. They listen carefully. Then they try to give us some gifts.  At this point we hesitate as to whether to accept these gifts or not.

I request you to give the answer in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah.

Muhammad Yusuf, Andhra Pradesh

YMD

It is of course a matter of comfort that while in prison you are attempting to guide people aright. This will endow you with a few qualities that you will greatly need when you are out into a very difficult, enticing and distracting world.

We do not see anything wrong in the acceptance of gifts coming from non-Muslims. It strengthens ties of friendship and lifts the doubts that surround relationship at the start of the contacts with reference to the motives. However, in your case, since they come after preaching, and might be construed by others as wages for your efforts, they should be accepted on condition that you are full owners of the gifts if accepted, and have the right, as well as the intention, to give them away to someone else. If they agree to the condition, you might accept them and pass them on to others. Giving them away to others would also help keep your intentions clean and pure.

If they insist that the gifts are intended for you, then, as a compromise, you might tell them that if they deliver the promise that they will read such and such a book, say on Tawheed, or an introduction to Islam, then their gifts are acceptable. In such a situation, you could use the accepted gifts for yourselves.

Al-Furqan

In Kuwait, a distorted version of the Qur’an, titled “The True Furqan” is being distributed.

Two American printing companies; ‘Omega 2001’ and ‘Wine Press’ are involved in the publishing of ‘The True Furqan’, a book which has also been titled ‘The 21st Century Quran’! It is over 366 pages and is in both the Arabic and English languages…

It is being distributed to our children in Kuwait in the private English schools for free! The book contains 77 Surats, which include Al-Fatiha, Al-Jana and Al Injil. And each surah begins without Bismillah!!!

They are incorporating the Christian belief of the three spirits. And this so called Quran opposes many Islamic beliefs. In one of its ayats it describes having more than one wife as fornication, divorce being non-permissible and it uses a new system for the sharing out of the will, opposing the current one. It states that Jihad is HARAAM.

This book even goes as far as attacking Allah, Subhanahu wa Tahala!

Dear Brothers in Islam, This is wake up call.

Abrar Ahmad, via email

YMD

As we understand, and perhaps in view of the protests, the distribution has been withheld. It was also on sale on Amazon.com, but it seems it did not do well. Sales were negligible. By now it could have been withdrawn.

You have appealed to the Muslims to wake up? Wake up and do what? You have not touched on this issue. Let us do it. Young Muslims who wake up on several occasions, seem to wake up like a person sleeping in a railway compartment. Something wakes a man up. He hears the noises of the ticket collector making his rounds, of the winds howling outside the carriage, of the steel wheels grinding against the rails, and so on. In a few minutes he is back into deep sleep.

This is the first time a forged Qur’an has been brought out. It will not be the last time. If there is a wake up, it should be followed by some action such as: taking up the Qur’an for study at the personal level (meaning and explanation), attending Qur’anic halqas, and teaching it to the children of the slums who cannot afford a teacher.

Waseelah

This has reference to September 2005 issue. I get spiritual and intellectual strength from this magazine. Question and Answer column and Supplication of the month are two of my favourite columns. Article on health was full of knowledge.  I hope that people will reduce supply of soft drinks in their diet after reading this article.

I have a doubt, can we use “waseelah” of Prophet Muhammad in our dua’s. Please pray to almighty Allah that He will give me ‘tawfeeq’ of being a 100% Muslim.

Farhana Hussain, Farrukhabad

YMD

The question of “can” or “cannot” has been getting varying answers from the scholars. The main reason for the varying answers is that the exact words employed while seeking the Prophet’s “waseelah” (means of access), and intention to be maintained, before, during, and after, determine the legality or illegality of the act. Ibn Abi al-`Izz, the famous Hanafiyy commentator of `Aqeedah-articles as articulated by Imam Tahawi, also a Hanafiyy, but which is accepted by all schools of thought, modern as well as ancient, devotes quite a few pages to the question of “waseelah” to expose the complication involved.

The many conditions that are placed, and the grave risks that are involved in availing the “waseelah” tell us plainly that it is best not to resort to it. It is like telling a sugar patient that occasionally, a little bit of sugar “might” not do him any “great” harm, provided he ate only such and such things, in such and such quantity, at such and such time of the day, cooked under such and such conditions, without such and such additional ingredients, provided he took such an such other precautionary measures to neutralize such and such dangerous side effects and attempted such and such exercises. When the allowableness is surrounded by so many conditions, the sugar patient would like to avoid it altogether. Such is the example of “waseelah”. It is best to avoid it altogether.