Letters to the Editor

Contraception

Q: What is the Islamic ruling on contraception [vasectomy/ tubectomy-nasbandi]…?

YMD

It is disallowed in Islam if it is from fear of poverty, or – nationally – fear of rise in population.

It is allowed for medical reasons, or, lack of social support of the pair, that is, there is none to help out with little children, nor can the pair afford a maid to look after them, or do the home repertoire if the wife is engaged in looking after the children. In such cases, spacing out may be resorted to.

Further, such measures may not be willfully taken that will keep alive the reason for a small family, such as, for example, the wife to take up a job while the husband’s income can afford a middle-class life style.

Q. What is the ruling of prayers behind an Imam who prays so fast that, Surah Fatiha is recited with just one pause, and there is no time to even complete the Adhkaar of Ruku-Sujood etc…?

YMD

If an Imam is capable of fast recitation to finish recitation faster than his followers can, and allows time in Ruku` and Sujud to say the Tasaabeeh just once, then, although Makruh, the prayer is valid. No one should break away from the mosque of his neighborhood for the reason of prayers not very well done – that is, in the above sense.

But if the Imam does not allow time for saying the Tasaabeeh even once, or for reading out the Tashahhud (At-Tahiyyat), then the Prayer is invalid. It must be repeated, within the stipulated time; and such an Imam may be warned of termination of services.

However, a better solution is for young men to learn some Tajweed and memorize the short chapters of the Qur’an with meaning, and take over as Imams. If the politicians and the Daadaas sitting in charge over the affairs of the mosque, do not allow, and the Imam will not repent and reform, then, one may go to next mosque – until the situation changes, because the mosque of one’s neighborhood has greater right on a Muslim.

But, it is neither allowed to create an issue in the mosque, nor to conduct a separate second congregation on a regular basis.

Q. What is the ruling on making the beard look neat and proportionate by clipping a few hair on either side… [not by trimming/ shaving]…?

YMD

No harm done, but rather, it is recommended.

However, in the name of trimming, it should not be shortened to a beard only invisible from one foot distance; nor a kind which is a sign of the too-lazy-to-shave; which doesn’t mean that such a beard is not a beard at all, but because it could betray a man’s desire to be on both sides at the same time.

Q. What is the ruling on doctors taking ‘cuts’ from MR’s i.e., Pharmaceutical company representatives, for prescribing their brand of drugs…?

Zeeshan,
On Email

YMD

If the doctor knows that there are several drugs of the same effects, and prescribes that drug which offers the optimum quality as well as is at the lowest cost, then, that is the requirement of his profession and job.

As for taking a cut, by which we mean, a commission for prescribing a drug, even if it is the right drug and the cheapest, it puts him on the spot. His white professional coat has some dark patches on it. He has not only betrayed the code of conduct that he was taught, but has also committed breach of trust. He has already charged his employers for prescribing drugs, and now he is charging the drug manufacturer or supplier for the same service. He draws two salaries. He stands twice condemned: once for the commission, and second for doing it as a doctor who is held in respect in all cultures, including those of the forests.

Moon-sighting

Q: I would like to know in the light of reliable sources what the position of the Hanafi school of thought is with regards to the issue of local or global sighting of the new moon of Ramadan. Which according to the Hanafi school is more correct to follow? I have read that the Hanafi school supports the global sighting (one sighting for the whole world) view while the Shafi and Maliki Madhhabs support local sighting. Can you please explain? May Allah reward you for your efforts.

Seema,
On Email

YMD

It is not correct to say that the Hanafiyy Fiqh supports global sighting of the moon for religious purposes. Their ruling, coming down from the earliest times has been that moon-sighting of one city is good enough for another city. In earlier times, the distance between two cities was not very well-specified. Further, it has always been stressed in the Fatawaa that the first duty of the Muslims in this connection is to sight the moon themselves, and not leave it to specified people, or, depend entirely on sightings of other cities or states.

As for distances within which people of one city can accept the sighting of another city, it is not sighting of global level, but rather, within the time-difference of less than a day. If the distance is more than that of a day, then, the sighting of one city is not legally valid for people of another city.

Theoretically, yes, that if the sighting happens in Saudi Arabia , people of Egypt or India, could follow the sighting. But, another condition has been added. The sighting should be physical sighting and not calculated with the help of astronomical equations. If that is done, then the people of other cities or states ought not to follow them because the Prophet has said, “Start the fast with its sighting and end with its sighting.” He did not say, “Attempt some calculation.” The people should depend on their own sighting.

Further, mere news coming out of a city or country is not valid for another city or country. But rather, a couple of reliable scholars should bear witness before another group of reliable scholars that they sighted the moon with their eyes. Telephone, telex, fax, radio, TV communications are not sufficient in this connection (as also, messages through e-mail, text message, skype, WhatsApp, Twitter and so on), because one can never be too sure of who exactly is the sender or announcement, and whether it is a governmental announcement or that of the `Ulama’ of the country of announcement.

Moreover, if the distances are great, then the sighting of one country might not be enough for those on the opposite side of the globe. Finally, no Islamic month can be cut down to 28 days, or increased to 31 days on the basis of sighting in a city or country.

Thus, in the final analysis, it comes down to the sighting of the people of a land; and, if there are two `Eid days within a single country, because of different sightings in different areas, no harm done, no need to jump to retaliatory, or correctional action.

Now, if it is said that this leads to differences and quarrelling between groups, the answer is, let them fight. The days of their good hopes could be in shadows. They use moon-sighting as a pretext to quarrel. Remove this pretext, and give them freedom to disagree, and they will find another pretext to quarrel.

Telephonic Talaq

Q: I am from Kolkata. I recently got married, but I have not been given Ruksati and since my marriage, I have been living with my parents. My husband had sent me a text message on my mobile composed as: “MAI TUMHE TALAK DETA HU. TALAL TALAL TALAK AB KATM SAB KUCH.” Yes, two times the words are TALAL and then the word is TALAK. Then he sent me a second SMS composed as: “OK I HAVE GIVINN U 3 TALAK OK NOW EVERYTHING FINISH OK”

Is this Talaq valid in light of Qur’an and Hadith? And if it is valid, is there any way for reconciliation as per Qur’an and Hadith if both parties regret the situation and willingly agree to reconcile. If detail is required, I am ready to elaborate.

Sana Khan,
On Email

YMD

Allah has not given a blessing but Muslims of modern times have converted it into a curse. Telephonic talaq is one such curse.

At all events, telephonic talaq is illegal in Islam; as also mobile text message, WhatsApp, Skype, and so many other means of communication through the mobile or Net.

The reason the Fuqaha’ give is that one can never be sure of the genuineness of the sender. It could be the husband, it could be the mother-in-law, sister-in-law, or any other mischievous person.

In your case – sorry to say the truth in such a blunt style – the man is a coward, and does not, like millions of young men who do not, deserve a mobile.

A male has to be a man first and foremost. He should be bold, courageous, death-defying, and, most of all, empathic and kindly. He should take the challenge of living with a woman he does not love, does not like. If he has difficulties, he should sit before his wife, talk to her face to face, find what could be wrong, accept excuses, and win the heart, if her heart has failed, and not his.

Instead, if the wife is not immoral, but he chooses to send a text message, shutting the door which he opened, and betray after he said before a number of people that he accepts her in marriage, then, he is not only a coward, but also a wretched container of unworthy stinking mind and soul.

Worse come worse, good riddance.

The Black Stone

Q: I have been a regular subscriber of YMD for a long time now, and me and my father (who pays for the subscription) have a deep sense of appreciation towards your effort. I read the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section very keenly and have miraculously found answers to the questions that arise in my mind almost every time in the next issue that lands at our doorstep.

However, I have this one question that has been lingering in my head for quite some time and considerable amount of research on the internet has been futile, and I am quite confident of receiving a satisfactory answer from you, InshaAllah.

YMD

Your wishful imagination about us notwithstanding, and, ruling out the answers you must have got on the Net, if you have discussed the issue with a goodly scholar but were not satisfied, then, it is not quite likely that we will be able to satisfy you. At all events, let’s give it a try.

Q. My question is about the Hijr-e-Aswad or the Black Stone located inside the Holy Ka’bah. 

YMD

Hajr al-Aswad is not located inside the Ka`ba. It is inbuilt into the wall of the Ka`bah, in a niche.

Q. What is the importance of this stone when the very base of Islam is not practicing idolatry?

YMD

Come on now. Kissing a stone is not idolatry. Idolatry is to carve a stone into something representing a deity, or molding one out of mud, plastic, copper, wood, or any substance, or just picking a stone as one of the best polished one, or naturally carved one, or simply a rock in a mountain, claiming that it represents god or gods, and then worshipping it. This is idolatry, whether one prostrates himself, or bows down before it, or not. If he actually prostrates himself to it, or bows down to it, then it is the worst case of idolatry.

With the spread of ignorance in our times, where every Jaahil thinks he is, in the least a semi-scholar, if not a scholar, and every man with a degree in his hand talks as if he is an expert in every known discipline, dictionaries are fast disappearing from homes. Reference to any common dictionary would reveal the meaning for idolatry. For example, the American Heritage Dictionary says:

i·dol·a·try:pl.i·dol·a·tries, worship of idols.

The Merriam Webster dictionary is a little more elaborate. Defining idolatry it says:

Idolatry: a: the worship of a physical object as a god; especially, worship of a made image,
b: the giving of absolute religious devotion and ultimate trust to something that is not God.

Is this applicable to any stone that is revered? Is reverence = idolatry?

But perhaps we know what the problem is. An idol-worshipper is stung by the description of himself in such words as in dictionaries. Then he comes across someone who believes in one God. He finds himself in an awkward, un-defendable position. He is smarting at the hurt because he believes that the man he is speaking to is inferior to him. He is not going to correct his religious attitude because of someone he thinks is actually inferior to him. So he shoots back: “You also worship stones; for example the Black Stone.” So, the Muslim jumps: “O my God,” he tells himself,”Why did Islam sanction stone-worship?”

But reverence is not equal to worship. Objects do not become gods if they are revered.The Qur’an is revered, kissed. But it does not become an object of worship for that reason. The Ka`bah is revered, but is no god. The “Turin Shroud” does not become god because Christians revere it. Things become gods when you bow down to them or prostrate yourself before them – whatever your intention for bowing down and prostrating yourself.

Islam has taught us never to bow down to anyone with the intention to worship. It would not allow Muslims to bow their head before the Prophet’s grave. The Prophet did not allow his Companions, who had the deepest reverence for him, to bow their heads to him. His followers have remained quite strongly in the belief of a God who is alone, unique, the only one worthy of worship. It is reported that when a Muslim ruler was captured, and was being taken to some place, he was to pass through a door with low ceiling, he refused saying, “My head will not bow down to anything except God,” and the passage had to be broken.

It may be asked, “Why should the Black Stone be revered?” Answer: Why not? Allah does what He will. This is not a matter concerning civil law. He knows best the wisdom behind a sanction of such sort.

Why should we not ask? Why do the Jews revere a line of stones in Jerusalem? The reference is to what is called as “The Wailing Wall.” The Jews are so moved by the sight of it that they cling to it and weep. It is supposed to be part of a wall surrounding the Temple that David and Solomon had built. It is only supposedly so because the Temple, as history tells us, the whole of the Temple, its outer walls, and the entire surrounding area – indeed the whole of Jerusalem – were burnt and raised to the ground, in heaps of stones and mortar by the Romans. And they banned Jewish entry until Muslims allowed them in 500 years later, when the city fell to them at the time of `Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra). The city was so well leveled off by the Romans, because of Jewish rebellions, that that later, the Jews could not say for sure where the Temple stood. When `Umar (ra) inquired about where the Temple stood, not even the Christian Bishop accompanying him could answer. Hectic digging by the Jews after Jerusalem was conquered, has refused to offer any clue. Modern archeology says that a part of the wall perhaps belongs to the construction of Jewish King Herod. But there is no clear evidence for it. On the other hand there is evidence that some portions were built by Muslims of the Umayyad times, and then, later, additions were made during the Khilafah of the `Uthmani times (Ottoman).

So, you can ask the Jews, “Why do you revere the stones, which were perhaps laid there by Muslims?” You can question them, but you cannot call them stone-worshippers.

So, to the question: “Why do the Muslims revere the Black Stone at all?” The answer is, “Because the Prophet said about it that it was sent down from the heaven. It was originally as white as snow, but sins of mankind blackened it.

Now, there are two options. Take it in the physical sense. If you do that, chip a piece of it and give it to the scientists. They will determine its present chemical composition, to discover the chemical reactions that could have taken place over millions of years, and how such reactions could have changed its color from snow-white to black. This will have the effect of increasing Muslim faith in science and decreasing their faith in God. Alternatively, they might brush aside the idea of consulting scientists, but rather accept that since the Prophet has spoken about the change in color, it has to be true.This attitude – called as Eemaan bi al-Ghayb – is likely to cause increase to their faith. As for those stone-worshippers, who throw challenges, defending their worship and shooting back allegations, well, we need to leave them alone with their choices.

The Stone is also revered because it is reported that it is the second stone on which Ibrahim (asws) stood to build the Ka`ba. The other stone is known as “Maqamu Ibrahim.” The latter has also been preserved, and is also revered. Perhaps, this is another reason they are both revered: because a great Prophet, an iconoclast, and an idol-breaker stood on them.

It is said that Ibrahim stood on Black Stone to make his universal call to mankind for pilgrimage to the House after he had built it.

Does one stand on top of a stone-god?

The reverence is also because this is what the Companions did. When `Umar b. al-Khattab circumambulated the Ka`ba, he stopped at the Black Stone and said, “I know that you are a stone, incapable of harming people or benefiting them. If I had not seen the Prophet kissing you, I wouldn’t have kissed you.” Then he bent down and kissed the Stone. It was noticed that he merely placed his lips, sort of dispassionately.

The scholars have said that there is a lesson in the Prophet saying that the sins of mankind have blackened it, viz., if the sins of mankind can blacken stones, then, what about human hearts? Aren’t they liable to get blackened, if not physically, then, metaphorically?

The scholars have also added to the above that in the Stone’s blackening is the lesson that if the hands and kisses of the Messengers and Prophets could not whiten it, how does mankind imagine that they can whiten their hearts blackened by their crimes and sins, without true repentance, and return to One God?

Q. I am aware of the Hadith where Hazrat Umar (ra) proclaimed: “I would not mind spitting on this stone had the Holy Prophet not kissed this stone,” to which Hazrat Ali (ra) replied: “O Umar, be careful, as this stone possesses the power to do your Maghfirah.

YMD

This is a fabricated report. No such report exists.

Q. Why did the Holy Prophet kiss this stone?

YMD

A Prophet knows of the religion he brings than anyone can ever boast to know. He knows the will of Allah. At times he is obeying a command revealed to him by Jibril. He did not kiss the Ka`ba itself. He did not kiss the other stone, the Maqamu Ibrahim, although the Qur’an mentions it. Yet he did not kiss it. But he kissed the Black Stone. So, it is Sunnah on our part to kiss it. But, may Allah keep the shelter of good `Ulama’ above our heads, none of them has said that it is an obligation to kiss it. If you did it, it’s alright. If you did not, it is alright; your pilgrimage is 100% complete.

Q. I also came across that this stone was sent from the Heaven by Almighty Allah. Why did Allah send this stone at all when all that Allah has commanded is to not worship the idols and to worship Allah and Allah alone? 

YMD

Please see dictionary quotes above.

Q. We see that people rub their faces on this Black stone at the Ka’aba. It’s pretty much idol-worship if looked at objectively. 

YMD

You have not looked at it objectively, but rather subjectively. The Western orientalists have raised as many objections to the Qur’an, Islam and Prophet of Islam, as there are stars in a clear night sky. But they have not objected to the Black Stone, likening reverence for it to idol-worship, because they realize that to make such an objection, one has to necessarily betray an inferior quality of gray matter.

Q: How do we differentiate ourselves from Idolaters in this case? May Allah forgive me if my question is offensive.

Afroz Pasha
On Email

YMD

After it is established that there are rulings or practices of the Prophet, if one demands to know why at all such a rule or practice was ordered, then, it will immediately shut the door to guidance. But if the questioning is done, humbly, and with the intention to learn the wisdom behind rules and principles, then, there is no harm, although, a questioning mind should also acquire answering ability.