Letters to the Editor
Q. I am a regular reader of your esteemed monthly. I have a few queries which I hope you will answer satisfactorily. Deobandi’s and Barelvi’s are the two schools of thought. What are the basic differences between the two?
The former are of the ahl al-sunnah wa al-jama‘ah that subscribe to doctrines as held true by the mainstream Muslims throughout the ages.
As for the latter, we do not know who they are: that is, as a group. One thing, they are not recognized anywhere, especially in the larger Islamic world, because they operate locally, with no scholarly representation anywhere in the world. At best we are told of this or that individual that he belongs to them, or that a particular mosque is controlled by them, etc. But, where their main body is, who their leader is, perhaps they themselves do not know. A mark of recognition of individuals who subscribe to their views is: complete abandonment of the Qur’an and main books of the Sunnah.
Q. Which of them should one follow?
None of them.
The question of following this or that group does not arise. You have to be a proper Muslim. For doing that, you need to know about Islam in some detail. That knowledge is to be had from the study of the Qur’an, Sunnah, lives of the Prophet and Companions, books on morals and manners, Fiqh, etc.
Consider the following: let us say in your imagination you belong to the Deobandi group. What next? Where is this group located, in order to pass on to you the knowledge required to become a good and committed Muslim? Or, let us say you wish to know how to Pray. You will have to read a good reliable work on Prayers and follow the Fiqh guidelines given there. What role, once again, the Deobandi group will play? Or let us say you want to play an active social role: feeding the poor, educating the uneducated, serving the widows, etc. What Deobandis will do about it?
But, if you think Islam is about crackers, sweets on unauthorized feast days, taking out procession on the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday, visiting Dargahs, or reciting the Fatihah after every Prayer, then you will have to look for a group to associate with and to lead you to books other than the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Q. Why is Allah doing more harm to Muslims than non-Muslims?
Allah does no harm to anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim. Allah is Most Merciful, Most Kind who forgives a lot. It is people themselves who bring troubles upon themselves. Allah says (13: 11), “Surely, Allah does not change the condition of a people (from good to bad), unless the people (themselves) change what is within their own selves.” Allah also says (55: 65-66), “Had the people of the Book believed, and been God-fearing, surely We would have acquitted them of their evil deeds and admitted them to gardens of delight. And, had they truly observed the Torah and the Gospels, and that which has been sent down to them by their Lord, surely they would have enjoyed (sustenance) from their above and from below their feet.”
What the above verse means is that had the people of the Book met with the condition set, they would have experienced ease in obtaining their provision, and would not have had to toil day and night as they do now. Now, if that is the promise for the Jews and Christians, what about us Muslims?
And a hadith says, “Allah says, ‘If My slaves obeyed Me, I would send down rains upon them in the night and make the day shine upon them. I would not let them hear even the thunderclap.’”
So, if the Muslims are having troubles, they have to look into themselves for the reasons. That, of course, does not deny other causes.
Q. Take the case of Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine and Iraq. In the whole world it is the Muslim who suffers and lacks peace of mind. Why is it so? In almost all walks of life Hindus, Christians, Jews, Sikhs are the powerful ones and rule over the Muslims. Has Allah made Muslims only to suffer in this world and for facing the brutality of other communities? Is it that we are being punished? Or perhaps Allah is testing us. But please don’t answer in these terms.
Faheem A. Suhrawardy,
But the answer is in the same terms as you have stated at the end of your question, except that it requires some modification. Please see this month’s editorial.
Q. I have been regularly reading your magazine with utmost interest from past 5-6 years, particularly, your question and answer column. Your magazine has been a source of solace in confused times of my life. I have benefited very much and have overcome the Bid’ah which I was practicing since 35 years or so. I have understood the grave danger that lies in Bid’ah practices. I have a question, which is causing great confusion and I am not able to understand, where lies the truth. I would request you to answer my question in your next issue in detail, quoting authentic texts.
The question pertaining to Dargah-less West and your answer to the same in your October 2000 issue was very informative. You preach that the dead have no contacts with the living and, irrespective of the status whether noble or otherwise in the eyes of Lord Allah, Glorified be He, everybody goes to Barzakh after death. Dargahs are found only in India and rotten bones and insects lie in the grave, the dead have no physical existence, nor any say in the affairs of this world.
But the doubt is, if the above is true then how do you explain the incident which occurred in Iraq. It was printed with all details in Islamic Voice magazine, under the heading “Bodies that could not be consumed even after 1300 years.”
This incident is reproduced in Indian Muslim newspapers and magazine from time to time. But, when inquired, even the religious and informed Arabs express their complete ignorance of the incident.
Q. Briefly, this instance occurred in Iraq, during the reign of Faisal-I around 1939 CE.
The year 1939 was not in the distant future. There wasn’t an Islamic country then in which newspapers did not appear on the stands every morning. But, somehow the Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English media did not carry this news at that time.
Q. During this period the construction of a dam was in progress on the river Euphrates. (I cannot recall the exact name). On one night, King Faisal-I had a dream in which two people introduced themselves as Jabir Bin Abdullah and Huzaifa Al-Yamani. They complained that due to the construction of the dam the water was causing great unease and difficulty for them. And so their corpses may be shifted to some other place.
Jabir b. Abdullah, the Khazraji, died in Madinah. He was one of the last ones of the Companions to die in Madinah. As for Hudhayfah al-Yamani, he died in Kufah. Now, Kufah is not on the shores of the river Euphrates. But, rather, on one of its tributaries. So, we can’t see how a dam could be constructed there. Dams are built on the main river.
(By the way, having remained a centre of learning for two centuries, Kufa steadily declined in its status following the establishment of Baghdad. By the time Ibn-Battuta arrived there, it was an insignificant little dwelling. Today, as we understand, it is the name of a few houses).
Q. The King woke up and brushed it off and forgot the incident. But the same dream was repeated three times to the King but he did not do anything about it.
We know the character of kings and rulers. But it sounds strange that they appeared three times and he took no notice.
Q. Next the minister of Iraq had the same dream, but no action was taken.
If the King could not be moved in three times, his minister could not have been activated by one request.
Q. Next, the Companions of our Prophet, peace be upon him, appeared in the dream of the Chief Qadi of Iraq. Since his position was more religious than political, he approached the minister for the solution. The minister acknowledged having the same dream. Both Minister and Qadi approached the king who acknowledged having the same dream. Next, the King’s request to issue religious decree to exhume the bodies to transfer them to another place for burial was granted by the Chief Qadi.
The date for exhuming the bodies of Companions of Prophet, peace be upon him, was announced. It was Hajj season. Large number of pilgrims requested the king to postpone the date so as to enable the Hajj pilgrims to travel to Iraq to have a glimpse of the Companions of the Prophet. The request was granted. On the chosen date, a specially made coffin was prepared. It had glass on all four sides, so as to enable everyone present, to have a clear view. The bodies were exhumed and later they were buried at Salman-Pak.
At least after the incident a wide number of newspapers should have reported the incident.
As for Salman-Pak, since Arabic language has no “P” in it, we could not find out what place this is, whether in Iraq or Iran.
Q. It was seen by thousands that the bodies were not consumed by either mud or insects. Their white clothes were as if they were just buried, although 1300 years had passed. It was reported that the body of Jabir bin Abdullah had fresh and open eyes. Seeing this dozen’s of non-Muslim reporters, covering the historical event accepted Islam.
But they failed to report to their respective newspapers.
Q. The faith and belief in Islam of Muslims was further increased. Is this now proof enough that insects cannot touch the bodies of Allah’s beloved?
Firstly, versions of this story vary from report to report. We have heard this story earlier, but the details you give are new. Perhaps with the passage of time more and more details are added to the original story.
Secondly, all the narrations in this regard have been verbal: from mouth to mouth, and always in third person. That is, someone reports someone else (whom he doesn’t know), but never from anyone who can give an eyewitness account. A few quote Egyptian newspapers (without of course dates).
We recommend therefore that the story be taken with a pinch of salt. We strongly suspect that the story is of the same nature as those that regularly appear in secular newspapers concerning Hindu children speaking of their past lives (never Muslim or Christian children). They are also always reported in third person, and originate from a remote and unidentified village. The ostensible reason seems to be to prove the transmigration of the souls.
Q. I have a few others questions based on the incident. Firstly, how were the dead bodies affected physically, by water accumulation, if they were in Barzakh?
Since the story is unproved, we cannot offer any comment on it. But, we might bring to notice another story and then comment about it. In fact, it is possible that the original story as in some hadith and history books involving Jabir, came to be modified and presented as a separate incident occurring in Iraq. The other true story is as follows:
Bukhari reports Jabir b. Abdullah as saying: “At the time of Uhud, one night earlier, my father called me and said, ‘I don’t see myself as any more than among the dead along with the Companions of the Prophet. And I am not leaving behind me anyone dearer to me than you except, of course, the Prophet himself. Now, we have debt on us. So, repay it. And take care of your sisters.’ The next day, he was almost the first of those to fall. He was buried along with another person in the same grave. But I felt uneasy about it in my inside that I should leave him with another person. So, after six months I dug him out. And, lo, he was like the day we buried him except for some alteration of his ear.”
The incident then, involves his father and not Jabir himself.
Now we can answer the question: how were the dead bodies affected if they were in Barzakh? The answer is, Barzakh is a place in between this and the next world. They overlap each other. The dead bodies are in both places at one time. When Allah wishes to preserve, they are preserved. When He wishes to destroy, they are destroyed. In the case of Abdullah, signs of deterioration had already begun to show. Further, when Allah wishes them to be seen by the humans, He allows it. When not, then nothing is visible of them even if the people dig the grave of a Prophet, whose bodies Allah preserves from destruction, as Sahih ahadith report.
Q. What about the thousands of Muslims who ask the dead wali-Allah’s to request God to fulfill their wishes? After all, they seek help only from Allah – although through the dead wali-Allah.
There is no parallel between the reported story and Muslims’ prayers addressed to the dead to help them out in affairs of this world. In fact, the reported incident disproves the idea that the dead can help the living. The story of your narration is about the dead seeking the help of the living. If it is assumed that the dead can help the living, then the two Companions should have helped themselves rather than seek the help of the living. They could have simply moved off. Or, if incapable of that, they could have spoken to Allah to move them away. After all, the grave-worshippers believe that the Waliyy in the grave can speak to Allah on their behalf, by virtue of the fact that he is no ordinary person, but rather a Waliyy-Allah. If that is correct, then obviously the Companions were more qualified to speak to Allah. Secondly, if they could seek His help for others, they could more easily seek His help for themselves. But instead, they tried to get the help of the living.
The above in any case is from the point of the grave-worshippers themselves. But otherwise, a person who calls upon the dead encounters several problems. Firstly, after death, a dead person’s contacts with this our world come to a firm end. No one knows where a dead man’s soul is: whether in Barzakh or in the heaven or elsewhere. So, how can a grave-worshipper address him when he doesn’t even know where he is?
Secondly, it is not known about anybody – including one thought to be a Waliyy-Allah – whether, after death, he is undergoing punishment, or has been asked to go into a sound sleep in Barzakh (as states a hadith), or is in Heaven enjoying the rewards as a prelude to the rewards that will be bestowed after the Reckoning.
The Prophet said about Sa’d b. Mu’adh that, when he died, seventy-thousand angels came down: of those that had never before come down to the earth. When the Prophet once received a finely woven velvet cloth with gold embroidery, he remarked that Sa’d’s handkerchief in Paradise is better than it. Nevertheless, and despite the above which indicate Sa’d high position with Allah, the Prophet also said, “If anyone could escape the constriction of the grave, it could be Sa’d b. Mu’adh.”
So, is there any guarantee that the person being supplicated to is, himself, not undergoing punishment?
Thirdly, the person in the grave is referred to as a Waliyy-Allah. But, was he one? Apart from the one in charge of the shrine, who gave him a certificate? On whose authority did he become a Waliyy?
Didn’t a Companion of the Prophet fall a martyr in a battle-field right in the presence of the Prophet, but he pronounced that he was in Hell-fire? So, if “a Companion of a Prophet” in the sight of the Companions, could be in Fire, why not a person who is merely “a Waliyy” and in the sight of ordinary people?
Finally, Allah and His Messenger have told us a lot about the dead and the world of the dead. A whole volume of material exists on the topic. But, nothing has been said about the living seeking the help of the dead. Indeed, there occur prohibitions. The Qur’an asks (6: 40-41): “Say, `Have you considered, if Allah’s chastisement comes upon you, or the Hour comes to you, will you (in those situations) appeal to other than Allah, if you are true (in your association)?’ Rather, it is to Him you will appeal, and He will remove ‑ if He wishes.”
Allah also said (13: 14) “To Him, in truth, are prayers due. As for those that they invoke besides Him, they do not respond to them with anything, except as one who stretches out his hands towards water so that it may reach his mouth. But it is not going to reach it. The evocation of the unbelievers only goes in vain.”
As for those that the people call upon, Allah said about them (7: 197-198): “As for those whom you call upon besides Him, they have no power to help you, nor can they help themselves. If you call them to guidance, they do not hear. Surely, those you call upon other than Allah, (they are no more than) slaves like yourselves.”
You can see in the above statement that the dead cannot offer the most priceless thing like guidance to the living. How can they then bestow material benefits?
Again, if Waliyy-Allah have been given the license to act as intermediaries, then what about the greatest of all time Waliyys, our own Prophet? He never instructed us to ask at his grave so that he could forward our requests to Allah with his personal recommendations attached to them.
You have to realize that the concept of Waliyy-Allah, as prevalent among the Muslims of today is close to the concept of Christian saints who act as intermediaries between the faithful and God: both when alive, and when dead. Islam has nothing to do with this concept. It rejects it. Allah has told us that there is no need to call upon the dead in the grave. One can call Allah Himself directly, and He will most certainly respond. Also, there is no need to go all the way to the graves. You can save yourself the trouble and the transport cost, for Allah is nearer than the grave. He is right where the caller is. Allah said (2: 186): “And when My slaves inquire you (O Prophet) concerning Me, (let them know that) surely I am Close (to them). I answer the call of the caller when he calls to Me (seeking My help). Therefore, let them respond to Me, and have trust in Me, haply so they may be led aright.”
Finally, consider this hadith: “I am holding you by your garments saying, ‘Away from the Fire, away from the Fire.’ But you overcome me falling into it like the insects fall into it. It is possible that I might release you of your garments, when I precede you at the Pond. You will come to me in groups and individually. I would know you from your looks and by your names, just like a man knows his camel from among a herd. You will be taken to the left and to the right. I will plead to the Lord of the worlds saying, ‘My people, O my Lord, my people, O my Lord!’ It will be said, ‘Muhammad! You do not know what they did after you. They turned back on their heels.’ So, let me not see one of you appear on the Day of Judgement carrying a goat bleating, the man pleading to me, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad,’ and I replying, ‘I have no power for you against Allah. I have already conveyed the message.’ And, I will know one of you appear on the Day of Judgement carrying a camel growling and the man appealing to me, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad,’ and I replying, ‘I have no power for you against Allah. I have already conveyed the message.’ And, I will know one of you appear on the Day of Judgement carrying a horse neighing and the man appealing to me, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad,’ and I replying, ‘I have no power for you against Allah. I have already conveyed the message.’ And, I will know one of you appear on the Day of Judgement carrying a leather bottle (perhaps of wine) pleading to me, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad,’ and I replying, ‘I have no power for you against Allah. I have already conveyed the message.’”
Now you may ask yourself the following questions. Does the hadith speak of any Awliyya-Allah pleading for their followers on the Day of Judgment? If not, as the hadith implies, then, what kind of Allah’s Friends are these, who can help in silly matters of the world, but when it comes to some real and everlasting hardship, they disappear? If they are so close to Allah, to be granting everyone who asked at their grave, why will they abandon their devotees on that fateful Day?
(2) The above hadith tells us that the Prophet’s pleading will have no effect at all. His requests will be rejected on grounds that his followers did not follow the religion in the manner required of them. Now, if the Prophet’s request will be rejected, on that fateful day, how can the requests of the supposed Awliaya-Allah be granted in favor of their followers in this life? Are they aware of the character of their devotees, or, are they not? If not, then how can they help those they don’t even know?
(3) The Prophet’s request will not be granted on grounds that his followers were poor in practice. How can the requests of the Awliya’ granted in favour of their followers who are such Muslims as those who follow not anything of Islam; in fact, those who know nothing of Islam and do nothing more than worship the graves?
Q. I constantly hear sermons that there are many categories of people whose bodies will not be eaten by insects including the Prophets, Companions, Hafiz-e-Qur’an, Wali-Allah etc. They claim to have authentic Hadith from Bukhari to support their arguments.
They must be in possession of a special edition of Bukhari. We do not have any such report in Sahih Bukhari of our possession. In fact, neither Bukhari nor Muslim have any hadith concerning the preservation of bodies of anyone after death. Yes, not even of the Prophets. Reports concerning the preservation of the bodies of the Prophets are in Hadith collection other than Bukhari and Muslim.
But with regard to preservation of the bodies of those you mention, there is no hadith in the Sihah. At best, there are incidents, as related above, of bodies of those who fell in battles, discovered unaffected by the earth. Indeed, it is from these incidents that some scholars have guessed that perhaps the bodies of the martyrs are preserved. Although, it is not certain that they are preserved forever. However, once it is assumed that the bodies of the martyrs are preserved, by extension others’ bodies are also included.
Q. Is our Prophets also in Barzakh? Then why should we go to Madinah and offer our Darood to him, if he cannot listen.
You are right. There is no need to go to Madinah to offer him peace. It can be done right from where a believer is. A hadith – although questioned by most, but accepted by some as trustworthy – says, “Send me peace often, for it is presented to me.” On the other hand, if someone goes to the grave, and recites the peace, the Prophet might hear him. We say “might” because of acceptability factor.
Nevertheless, Muslims do not go to Madinah specifically to visit the grave, or as a religious requirement, but rather to Pray in the Prophet’s Mosque where the reward is several folds increased.
Q. Can you quote ahadith which tell us that dead go to Barzakh? Kindly answer in detail in your next issue with references from authentic books.
There are many reports that speak of Barzakh. We might in fact run an article on it. For the present we present just one report. Bukhari, Muslim and others have a narrative according to which the Prophet said, “When a slave (of Allah) is placed into his grave and his men turn and go away, even so he hears the sound of their feet, two angels come to him. They make him sit up. They ask him, ‘What have you to say of this man Muhammad?’ He replies, ‘I bear witness that he is Allah’s slave and Messenger.’ It is said, ‘Look at your place in the Fire. Allah has replaced it with a place for you in Paradise.’ He sees them all. As for an unbeliever and a hypocrite, he replies, ‘I don’t know. I used to repeat what the people used to say.’ He is told, ‘You didn’t know and didn’t understand.’ Then he is struck with a steel hammer between his two ears. He hollers out so loudly that everyone hears him except for men and jinns.”
The above report can be explained in the following manner: When a slave of Allah (note the words ‘slave of Allah,’ implying a believer obedient to Him), is placed in his grave and his companions turn and go away, even so he hears the sound of their feet (because that quickly is his soul returned to him), two angels (elsewhere the Prophet named them as Munkar and Nakeer) appear to him. They make him sit up. (That is, although given the soul, and a new ‘kind’ of life, he is unable to sit up by himself, perhaps because of the mud and coffin material, so the angels clear it all up). They ask him, ‘What have you to say of this man Muhammad?’ (In this particular version the Prophet shortened his statement. In other utterances he added that they ask him two more questions). He (the true believer) replies, ‘I bear witness that he is Allah’s slave and Messenger.’ (That is because he firmly believed in him, and in the fact that he will be asked in the grave, so understands the situation of the grave, and, being prepared, coolly answers in the above manner]. It is said, ‘Look at your place in the Fire. Allah has replaced it with a place for you in Paradise.’ (That is, there was a place for you in the Fire, in lieu of which Allah gave you a place in Paradise). He sees them all. (That is, he sees the inside of the Fire and its horrors, and Paradise and its blessings). As for an unbeliever and a hypocrite (since they didn’t believe, and knew nothing of the encounter, when one of them is raised up and asked, he just doesn’t understand the situation. He reacts: ‘Hey! What’s happening here? Is this a dream?’ so) he replies, ‘I don’t know. I used to repeat what the people used to say.’ (That is, as an unbeliever, he used to say that Muhammad is not a Messenger, because that is what his social circle told him; and as for the hypocrite, he never had any faith in Allah or His Messenger, but repeated the words when told to repeat [such as he does when asked by the Qadi, at the time of his marriage by Indian customs, to recite the Kalimah Shahadah]). He is told, ‘You didn’t know and didn’t understand.’ (That is, in truth you didn’t know nothing, and understood nothing, such an illiterate idiot you were). Then he is struck with a steel hammer (not of this world, but of the Other), between his two ears. (It could be blow at the back of his head, or right on the nose). He hollers out (that is, cries out) so loudly that everyone hears him (of Allah’s other creations such as the animals) except for men and jinn (who are under trial, have the choice to believe or disbelieve, and, therefore, are not allowed to hear anything of what will force them into belief and submission).
The Prophet also said, on another occasion, that “if you could see what I see, you will laugh less and cry more.”
Q. Also, please let us know if attending the following ceremonies is allowed or prohibited: Rasm, mangni, shukrana Gyarween, barween, chelum, fatiha, poor-ki-fatiha. Although we do not perform them, but can we attend them to keep the relatives happy?
We do not know what is Rashm and what’s done during that ceremony. So we cannot comment. As for Mangni, translated as engagement, there is no harm since it is a social occasion of happiness. But all the rest of your mention are assumed by the masses as religious ceremonies. They have no sanction in Islam. Therefore, they should be avoided.
As for the kinsmen who indulge and expect you to be present, they will not keep hosting you forever without expecting the return in kindness. One day you will have to host them, too, in the like manner. Secondly, your kinsmen will never be satisfied with you simply because you attended all their ceremonies, nor will they be grateful to you. But they will be truly pleased with you if you can do them good when they are in difficulties, for which occasions arise quite often. Good relationship is built on charity and not on feasts at other people’s expense.
Q. Is eating a feast after nikah prohibited, i.e., is it not allowed to give a feast after nikah?
It is perfectly alright for the groom to offer a feast after the marriage ceremony, and perfectly alright to attend it. However, there should be no forcing, either overtly or covertly, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or the society, the families of the groom (or bride) to offer such a feast, or, offer it on a grand scale. Further, poor people should also be invited rather than only the rich.
Q. How were our Prophet’s sermons heard by thousands of his Companions without a loudspeaker? Should we believe it to be a miracle?
We do not know what sermon you are referring to. If you mean the Friday sermons, well, they were not attended by thousands. His mosque in fact was quite a small one. But if you are referring to sermons delivered during the Hajj, which he performed in the company of over a hundred thousand of his followers, then the answer is, those sermons were not heard by all of them. Only those could hear him who were close to him. Others did not hear him at all. That explains why there are such small number of narrators who report the Prophet’s sermons delivered during the Hajj, or who report the Hajj proceedings.
Q. Is it true that our Prophet was physically as strong as forty well-built men?
Shanti Nagar, Bangalore
We do not know of any Sahih hadith to this effect.
1. Are we Muslims allowed to insure our life?
2. Are we allowed to work as insurance advisors (agent)?
Islam looks at insurance with disfavour. It is a kind of gamble. The scholars in India have always ruled against it. But, the current situation in India is extremely vulnerable for Muslims. A Muslim’s life, property and honor are not safe – at least in some parts of India. It is necessary, therefore, that the scholars at Deoband, the most trusted authorities in India, and the Fiqh Council of India, issue fresh rulings concerning life and property insurance with the new situation in mind. They should also address the issue of Muslims working for life insurance companies in view of the covertly declared war against them, and in view of the fact that the chances of Muslims getting into Governmental jobs are about 2% and those too in lowly and menial positions. We recommend that you write to them.
Q. I have a doubt. You have stated (YMD, June 2002) that for a Muslim entering a temple, eating the fruits therein is unlawful, i.e., it is just a sin and the Muslim who does this is still a Muslim. Then how is that a Muslim visiting the tombs of the holy saints, sprinkling the petals on the tomb, and to put the petals into the mouth and making their children do the same thing make those Muslims as kafirs?
We have not stated at any time that the practices that you mention turn a Muslim into Kafir. But rather we have stated that these are acts of Kufr.
Further, there is a vast difference between eating something of a temple and at the tomb. When a Muslim eats of the temple (fruits, for example), he knows that it is from a temple, and that it is not going to bring him any spiritual reward. If he eats it – although he shouldn’t – it is because he thinks it is a fruit which will taste good in the mouth, fill his stomach, meet with his desire to eat fruits – all at no cost. He thinks, in fact, that he has been able to fool the man who gave him the fruits. In contrast, when a Muslim eats from a tomb (fruits or petals), he is of the belief that it will bring him blessings of some kind, or remove an ailment, or prevent a misfortune etc. He eats them with love and veneration whereas the temple food he eats with an uneasy feeling of sin. Further, temple food might be tasty, but flower petals at the tomb are not the most tasty things. Yet he eats because of the advantages he sees. And the advantage is related to the dead person in the tomb. (If the person in whose name the Dargah business is conducted is really buried there). That is what makes them acts of Kufr.
Q. Again, what do you say of the Muslims visiting the roza-e-mubarak of Prophet Muhammad in masjid-e-nabawi? Will those Muslims become kafirs then?
Ghulam Nabi Raza,
A person does not become Kafir for visiting a grave. It is the purpose that makes the difference. If the purpose is to benefit the dead by seeking his forgiveness, or, to soften one’s heart, etc., then it is allowed. But, on the other hand, if the purpose is to gain, spiritually or physically, from the dead in the grave then, such an act is that of shirk and kufr and the visit prohibited. That applies to the Prophet’s grave also. One goes there, primarily to visit the mosque and Pray there. The grave happens to be there by accident. In fact, at one time Muslims scholars of the past were thinking of constructing a wall between the mosque and the grave and separate the two, sealing off the grave. If someone travels to the Prophet’s grave to apply for help, or achieve some kind of spiritual or material benefit, then such visiting will be prohibited too.
This is not to deny that the Muslims have, throughout the ages, travelled to Madinah, in love of their Prophet, if for nothing but, to look at the land, at the dwellings, at the dust and the date-palm trees, to breath the air, pass by his and his beloved companions graves, and say Salam in a husky voice, filled with love and adoration, while the tears of separation – of time and space – roll down the eyes. Whoever objected to that? But to plead at the grave? No. That is not allowed. For, there is only One God, Lord of the Worlds. He has no equal and no partners.
[ERRATA: We regret the error (YMD-Dec.2002 issue) on page 8, line 25, “they are waiting for God.” The original text was “they are waiting for Godot”, meant to be a pun on Samuel Beckett’s famous theatrical play “Waiting for Godot.”]