Letters to the Editor

Life Insurance

Q. Please answer whether a Muslim can act as an agent and sell life general insurance policies? Is the above agency commission prohibited in Islam?

Syed Parvez,
Tiruchirappalli

YMD

This question has been answered in the February, 2003, issue. Kindly look up the answer there.

Non-Muslim Food

Q.  I have a non-Muslim friend a (Hindu) and I want to know whether I can eat food cooked in his house.

 

Wasay Taha,
On Email

YMD

Of course you can. It is only offerings to the deities that a Muslim is disallowed to eat.

After Gujarat

Q.  I had read your article about Gujarat riots. It was painful to read the stories narrated by victims. I feel even the devil would had shied away from such brutalities. Now the question is what should be the Indian / Gujarati Muslim response?

Dr. Shaukat,
On Email

YMD

There are two kinds of responses that are expected of the Muslim Ummah after such disastrous attacks: the immediate and the long-term. As regards the immediate, viz., aid of the affected, this is handled by the Muslims somewhat adequately. By and large, and despite being economically badly off, they rise up to the occasion to contribute something or the other. Although, one might add, the response cannot be called wholly adequate. Yet, overall, it is not meager either. But the long-term response, viz., the total rehabilitation program, is definitely inadequate, disorderly and erratic.

Long-term response also happens to be of two types. One, pertaining to the future of those reduced to abject poverty, homelessness, or orphanhood, and the like; and two, a strategy for the future. In both these sectors Muslims fare badly. Therefore, they remain vulnerable and become weaker after every attack. Adoption of families, for example, or of orphans, or those who lost their entire business, requires not an ad-hoc or momentary action, but rather, a properly organized, collective, and long-term strategy. It would mean short listing those directly affected, updating their exact situation periodically, collecting related data, and working out a strategy of donors’ commitment and the victims’ programmed upliftment.

The other long-term response to regular attacks on Muslim lives and property is the responsibility of the Ummah leaders. It is for them to work out a strategy of defense, precautions, conductance of business, study, establishment of guilds, educational institutions, guide-books, youth training programs, political awareness, employment, immigration, etc. It is for them to lay the guidelines for the common people. Sadly, this is completely lacking, which leaves the Ummah without a direction. Smaller organizations too, like the individuals, also seem to respond to immediate problems, going into hibernation once the fire is put off, the retreat on the part of the community is complete, and poverty accepted by those affected. It is in these areas then that action is required and the gap filled. And the beginning can only be made by those who understand the importance of the solutions. Our editorial of this month lays stress on this, which please see.

Stolen Goods

Q.  I would like to request you to clear my doubts which are furnished below:

My father intended to perform hajj but, before performing Hajj, he expired. I am eligible, at present. Am I obliged to perform on his behalf?

YMD

First you must determine if Hajj was obligatory on your father or not. Next, if it was obligatory on him then, did he leave a will to the effect that Hajj be performed on his behalf, or did he not? If he did, then you (if you are specifically named in the will) otherwise any one else must perform Hajj on his behalf with the costs borne out from whatever wealth he left, before it is distributed among the heirs. However, if you are performing Hajj on your father’s behalf, then you must first determine if it is obligatory on you or not. If it is, then you might perform your own Hajj before attempting to perform on your father’s behalf.

Back to your father: if Hajj was not obligatory on him, nor did he leave a will that a Nafil Hajj be performed after him on his behalf, then, you are not required to perform Hajj on his behalf. If you did, you will be rewarded for the trouble, and he for the Hajj performed on his behalf.

Q. Will he receive the reward in the grave?

YMD

Yes, he will get the reward if you performed Hajj on his behalf – no matter what kind of Hajj, obligatory or not, willed or not. But whether he will get it in the grave or not, we can’t be sure, although it is very likely that he will if he was not a disbeliever in the commandment of Hajj.

Q. Even if it is so, could I expend the same amount among the needy people who are nearer to me, in place of  Hajj for him?

YMD

If the Hajj was wajib on your father, and he left a will to that effect, then, performing Hajj on his behalf is wajib. On the other hand, if he left no will, but had expressed his intention to perform, but couldn’t, then it is strongly recommended you perform on his behalf. However, if it was wajib on him but he did not go, despite the affordability, and, further, he had no intention to perform, then, in that situation, you could spend money on his behalf on the kinsfolk, if they happen to be in dire need, or on the unrelated needy.

Q. I purchased clothes. When I handed over the amount to the salesman, he kept it in his own pocket as the owner was out of the shop. On inquiry, I found that the items I purchased was stolen by the salesman and the salesone was to divide among themselves. Will this purchase be allowable and can I offer Salaat by wearing the same?

YMD

Firstly, the items cannot be considered as stolen without unrefutable evidence. They were there in the stocks and the salesmen sold them. From purely legal point of view, articles lifted from a place not under lock and key, are not considered as stolen property.

Secondly, you paid the cost of the clothes and so they are lawful to you.

Thirdly, you ought not be concerned with what the salesmen did. They are responsible to the owner and will know how to answer him. Maybe, subsequently, after you left, they put the amount back in the accounts. Maybe the owner doesn’t pay them as agreed and so they are settling their accounts. Or he makes them work overtime without paying them. Several possibilities exist. Therefore, you are not required to look into the details of what happened to the money paid as price for goods purchased. You are also not required to inform others about it since, after all, you are an outsider and do not know the whole situation. You can only interfere if you have the ability to solve all the issues and problems between the employer and employees.

If you suspect strongly that the employer is being deceived – because you have some good evidence – then, in that case, the best course of action would be not to deal with them and throw a hint to the employer about what’s happening behind him. We say throw a hint because maybe you are wrong and don’t know the whole story.

Finally, so long as you have paid for a thing, its use is lawful for you, whether you have it on during the Prayers, or not.

Q. I think you have much knowledge of Amway India Enterprises (A-5, Kailash Colony, New Delhi – 48). Such commission based enterprises/ schemes have made great inroads into the Muslim society – a community that is very backward here. Most Muslims, including a few Aalims, have permitted this because of the easy earning that comes with it. Will the income earned through such enterprises (when one works as a distributor, etc. bound by their terms and conditions) be legal in Islam?

YMD

We regret we do not have any knowledge of the company, its products or its services, and therefore, we cannot say anything until we have before us all the terms and conditions on which the company hires, and under which it operates. We think you should rather consult local scholars with all the details.

Q. Would the earning for livelihood as a commission agent of LIC, Post Office, etc. and saving through LIC, Recurring Deposit, purchase of saving certificate be legal in Islam?

YMD

You have included too many questions in one question and without any details of the nature of business of each. Once again, it is best to consult local scholars with whom you can sit down and discuss the issues most thoroughly.  But we might put in that the frequency of questions of the above nature might lead one to believe that the Muslims are having a trying time finding jobs and therefore must take up such dubious jobs as mentioned above. The demand therefore is on Islam, that it offer concessions make compromises in its rules and principles in order for Muslims to earn if not luxuries, then at least their livelihood. After all, if Islam is a practical religion, should it not relax its rules in hard times? This seems to be suggestion behind the repeatedly asked questions of the above kind.  But Muslims should, in their analysis go up further to discover the reasons why they cannot find jobs. For example, there is that well-known prejudice against them. But, there are other reasons and one of them is their refusal to undergo institutional training, especially in the technical fields. A great majority of them either does not continue after school, and, if some do, they choose to study arts or humanities. In addition, as if the wrong choice of disciplines for study is not enough, they stop at graduation and start looking for white collar jobs. It is at this stage that the prejudice against them comes to play. But, there are other reasons too: their poor performance during the studies.

A third reason is that jobs are not being created by the economy fast enough. All the reasons combined, great many Muslims do not find jobs. So, the next best thing is to go for such jobs as do not pay well, but where at least prejudice plays a lesser role. These are jobs that, if they are available, it is because they are less competitive, are not of permanent nature and are not salaried, but rather, offer commission. These are not jobs that the majority community would take, leaving them for more desperate elements, such as Muslims, to take. Now, since no salary is offered for these jobs, no targets are fixed. This suits the Muslims very well. It allows them to take it easy, remain undisciplined, free for pleasanter activities, sporadically working, and earning just enough for the day’s needs. This is what makes the jobs popular with the Muslims. And since most of such jobs deal with usury in one form or the other, young men seek to know if they can work for them. They fail to realize that by prohibiting them to work for such organizations, Islam is doing the Muslims a favor.

Jobs of this nature promise permanent poverty. In contrast, those that require skill of the hand, are those where no prejudice prevails because it is those who produce the fastest and the best – the skilled – who are in demand. Young Muslims then, should, give up their lazy habits, take-it-easy attitudes, abandon their “rest today so that you can work tomorrow” policy, and acquire technical qualifications, or learn trades to be able to lead stable lives.

Q.  I have enough money to perform obligated Hajj only. On the other hand my widow sister or any kinsfolk solely depend upon me. Is it permissible to support them in place of Hajj?

YMD

Hajj is obligatory on a person who can afford the travel and journey costs, and, on the other, can leave enough for the dependents to manage their affairs. Its obligatory nature has nothing to do with the earnings of a person. A person might draw a huge salary but might be spending large amounts on supporting the poor (whether related or not). He might not be left with any money by the time the next salary is due. The Hajj is not obligatory on him. This rule applies to you also. If you think that the basic needs of your widow sister or her children will not be met if you spent the money on Hajj, then Hajj is not obligatory on you.

Q. My wife and myself have a good salary as State Government servants. We do not owe anyone anything. We have 0.25 acre of land valued at Rs 100,000, wherein our wooden home is situated. We also possess five tolas of gold and a few household articles. In addition, we have a petty amount of Government Provident Funds to our credit against our accounts. Do I have to offer a sacrifice (on Eid al Ad-ha) for myself? I am the only one to support my family which includes two adults, three immature sons, an aged mother and one family maid.

YMD

Sacrifice on the occasion of ‘Eid al-Ad-ha is wajib, according to the Hanafiyyah, on someone who holds as much wealth in savings as on which Zakah is liable. However, mere possession of such amount is enough, an year to pass over the savings is not a requirement.

The following conditions might be noted:

(a) It is not necessary that a whole year should have passed over the saving for sacrifice to be obligatory. It is enough if one has that amount with him as his savings (and is in possession) at the time of ‘Eid al-Ad-ha.

(b) Sacrifice is not obligatory on someone in journey.

(c) Sacrifice is not wajib on those not of age.

(d) It is wajib on a woman also if she meets with the conditions.

(e) The number of person one supports is not counted, nor his salary is considered as savings. If a person has about 85 gm. of gold in possession (or equal amount of cash or silver), he must offer sacrifice.

As an aside we might point out that Zakah is not liable on a person’s house, or other landed property, nor on household articles, nor on vehicles.

With regard to the Provident Fund the opinion is that since it is not in the hands of a person, nor in his control, there is no Zakah liable on it, no matter what the amount. But once it is received in hand, and remains in savings for a year, without a specific immediate need to meet, then Zakah has to be paid on it.

The above means, that since they play no role in determining whether Zakah is wajib or not, they will have no role in determining whether sacrifice is wajib or not.

Q. Is the commandment of sacrifice upon me alone?

Taher Ali Shah,
Imphal East

 

YMD

No. All Shari‘ah obligations are bound on individuals whether man or woman. If a woman meets the conditions of Zakah, she has also to pay out Zakah, and she too must offer sacrifice at the time of ‘Eid al-Adha whether her savings have been there for a year or not.

New forms of Mut’ah?

Q. Please comment on a temporary marriage. I know a Muslim gentleman who was working in UAE, who got married to a lady (second marriage) at UAE, in case his first wife then couldn’t continue to live with him because of higher education, and she shifted to her home town to be with children. This gentleman says he was lonely so he got married, and this marriage lasted for four years, once his job finished, they both got divorced with mutual understanding, and now he returned to his first wife and children.

Are these types of marriages legal in Islam? Please enlighten me on this matter.

Mrs. Ateeqa Rehan
Secundarabad, A.P.

YMD

We cannot comment on the particular case brought up by you for want of details. What we can say, in general, is that any time-bound marriage is illegal in Islam. You call it Mut‘ah or call it whatever else. Marriage in Islam is not first made in the heaven. It is not a holy tie. But, it is also not a business deal. It is a serious undertaking by two individuals that together they will build up a home following the laws of Islam.

Further, the temporary nature of a Mut‘ah marriage does not depend on the length of the period, becoming legal if the length stipulated runs in years. Once a period is fixed, short or long, it becomes illegal. Nor it can be built from the beginning on condition such as: “If my first wife comes back to me, I’ll divorce you.” Neither is it necessary to speak out of the temporary nature of the marriage at the time of the contract. That is, it need not be spelled out. But rather, if the two of them understand that their union is of temporary nature, then it is the Mut‘ah marriage that is outlawed. If one of them has such a hidden intention, then, that one of the two is committing the sin.

As stated above, marriage contracts should be made on good faith. If not, the whole social structure will come down in a heap, since the home is the first unit of the social structure, and if ambiguity prevails here, the entire human dealings will suffer instability, and every individual will look upon others with suspicion.

It is sad to note that in some parts of the Muslim world, union and separation have become a child’s play. Islam does not approve of this. Not only should marriages “not” be contracted in bad faith, but they should not be broken – once contracted – unless they become altogether unmanageable. That is, when something goes wrong after a marriage is contracted, everything possible should be done to retain the tie. A break up should be the last resort. For example if one of the partners does not find the other up to the expectation, or suffering a defect, he or she should not immediately resort to separation. It is reported that someone consulted a scholar of old telling him, “I want to divorce my wife because I have discovered that she is lame.” He replied, “If from your marriage you intended to run races with her, you could.”

Q. I would like you to answer the following question regarding superstition. I have often observed that whenever the call to prayer (Adhan) is being made the dogs bark loudly. Is it because they see Shaitan as I have heard that when Shayateen hear the Adhan they start running away?

Farukh A. Shaikh,
Udupi

YMD

The report about Shaytan running away at Adhan is true. As for dogs barking at Adhan, there are a few reports that say the dogs bark because they see the devil. However, all such reports seem to be weak, except that one of them is declared Sahih by Ibn Hibban who has it in his collection.

Riba and Income Tax

Q. I am a regular reader of YMD. There is no doubt that you are doing a great service especially to the present day youth. You are often asked questions on present day religious rulings and you reply to them to the best of your ability.

 

In an earlier letter, I had written regarding a letter by a brother on the extra amount given to a Provident Fund contributor in the name of interest. The question was whether the extra amount given in the name of interest is Haalal or Haraam. To this you had replied that it is Haraam. To the best of my knowledge no eminent scholar right from Hazrath Thanvito Mufti Shafee sahib, Moulana Mamood Hassan Gangohi (Darululoom Deoband) Moulana Burhanudden Sambhali (Nadwathul Ulama) has considered this extra amount as Haraam. They have all declared that this extra amount is Halaal provided this amount is required to be deposited to the PF organization as a rule and the amount is sent directly to PF organization without reaching the employee’s hand.

YMD

We cannot remember having received your previous letter. As for the interest amount paid on Provident Fund collections, we would rather ask our readers who face such situations to directly consult the Fiqh authorities of India and act accordingly. As for us, we have to be extra careful since our magazine is read in several other countries apart from India. We are afraid our answer will confuse some people as well as confuse certain issues and open the door for misunderstanding and wrong practices.

Q. To another question on payment of course fee of a training institute in installments where the amount required to be paid is more compared to the amount payable if fee is paid in a single payment, you have ruled this kind of transaction as illegal in Shariah. But all eminent Ulama consider this kind of payment as lawful.

YMD

We cannot remember having given such an opinion. Maybe the question was differently worded. In any case, if we have ever given such an opinion, it must have been a case of misprint. For the fact is, as you have pointed out, principal amounts can be increased in case of deferred payments. Indeed, this is a common transaction and in practice since ages for a car may cost 100,000 when paid in cash, but 120,000 when paid in installments. It is allowed in Islam to pay 120,000 in installments.

Time of the contract. That is, it need not be spelled out. But rather, if the two of them understand that their union is of temporary nature, then it is the Mut‘ah marriage that is outlawed. If one of them has such a hidden intention, then, that one of the two is committing the sin.

As stated above, marriage contracts should be made on good faith. If not, the whole social structure will come down in a heap, since the home is the first unit of the social structure, and if ambiguity prevails here, the entire human dealings will suffer instability, and every individual will look upon others with suspicion.

It is sad to note that in some parts of the Muslim world, union and separation have become a child’s play. Islam does not approve of this. Not only should marriages “not” be contracted in bad faith, but they should not be broken – once contracted – unless they become altogether unmanageable. That is, when something goes wrong after a marriage is contracted, everything possible should be done to retain the tie. A break up should be the last resort. For example if one of the partners does not find the other up to the expectation, or suffering a defect, he or she should not immediately resort to separation. It is reported that someone consulted a scholar of old telling him, “I want to divorce my wife because I have discovered that she is lame.” He replied, “If from your marriage you intended to run races with her, you could.” in India is that although depositing any money in the banks for the purpose of taking interest is absolutely Haraam, as also the interest obtained from such deposits is Riba and hence Haraam. But if such deposits can bring down the income tax payable, then it is permitted to make deposits in such accounts.

Moulana Burhanuddin Sambhali (Nadwa) has written that in principle this is alright. These ulama consider income tax as Zaalimana tax and the fatawa are based on this. If your opinion is different from the one mention above kindly write in detail the reason for such opinion.

Khalid,
Ramanagaram

Interest in Lieu of Tax

Q. With reference to the April, 2002, issue, you answered that bank interest money on bank deposits may not be used to pay income tax.

YMD

We do have different opinions on complicated issues of this kind. But we do not like anyone to follow our opinions. We believe it prudent that the people follow the rulings of their particular schools of Fiqh.

Now, the situation in India is very specific to it. The case of Muslims is still worse. Therefore, special rulings are required for Indian Muslims to fight back the onslaught on them in this country. On the other hand, the issues concerning what can be defined as interest, and what not, are tricky and the rulings risky. The rulings that you have pointed to have too many conditions attached to them and too complicated for presentation in these columns. The questions of (a) why at all a bank account? (b) what should be the intention when opening an account? (c) what bank is it? (d) what tax is levied? (e) who collects it? (f) where is the collected tax spent? Etc., need to have very specific answers before the rulings as offered by those you have mentioned, can be accepted or published.

Further, there is always the possibility, however little, of situation in India changing to the better, as also there is, in the absence of clear details, the risk of people taking out wrong meanings to religious opinions. We would not like to print anything in our magazine that will allow anyone to play with the rules and take advantage of the situation not applicable to him. All the more so when these opinions are likely to be picked up by people in other countries where situations are quite different. For example, how can the rulings that you have pointed out to be applied in a country like Australia, where social justice is of such order that a Janitor might earn – if he has several children – almost as much as maybe an Engineer?

We recommend therefore, that where there is a departure from the rule, the Indian Fiqh Council may directly be consulted and their opinions accepted for application. They are a responsible people and know the complications of the issues involved. Further, their audience is Indian Muslims.

As for us, our answers will remain the standard answers applicable to normal situations.

Nevertheless, we are thankful to you for having pointed out the discrepancies. However, for your interest, you might see Mawlana Mujibullah Nadwi’s “Islami Fiqh” (Urdu), volume 2, where you will find rulings different from the others that you have quoted.

Revealing the Past

Q Unfortunately I have a shameful sexual past having fallen into bad company. Now I would like to get married. When I get married should I disclose my past to my wife? 

Imran Kadri,
Mumbai

YMD

In the normal course, one should not mention his sins to any other, neither to a wife nor anyone else. What Allah has covered, one may not uncover. In case of a wife, apart from the Shari‘ah proscription, it would be all the more inadvisable. It could spoil the relationship between the two. That applies to both the sexes.

We might also remind that if a man has repented, and is sincere in his repentance, having corrected his errors and atoned for them, he is equivalent to someone who never committed the sin. A sincere repentance is accepted by Allah on the condition of course, that it has also been atoned for. It is expected that Allah will not question him for it. When that is the situation, why should one mention them to others?

Wisdom

Q. I request you to answer my questions which are as follows: Why is Allah fulfilling the wants of the people who do not worship Him?

YMD

This world is a place of trial. It is not the place for accounting, judgment and punishment. That will be in the life after death. Here everyone is provided, the deserving as well as the non-deserving, the obedient as well as the rebel, the good as well as the evil. Don’t you see welfare spread all over among all people and nations? A hadith says (although weak in its chain of narration, but correct in its meaning), “Allah gives this world to him whom He loves and to him He does not love. But He gives the Hereafter to him alone whom He loves.”

Further, if Allah were to punish the unbelievers for their unbelief, we can ask ourselves, why should He not punish the believers for their refusal to live by His directions?

Q What is the wisdom behind the system of Salah?

YMD

A volume will be required to state the wisdom. In short, it takes a man away from this world and in communion with his Lord, reducing the worth of this world and its worries.

Q. What is the wisdom behind banning of interest?

YMD

This too requires detailed study. We might sometime attempt that, but for the moment we recommend that you read Mawlana Mawdudi’s little book entitle “Interest,” or on higher level those of Dr. Nejatuallah Siddiqui, or at a more higher level, those of Umar Chapra.

Q. What are those Islamic laws which can be implemented collectively only by Muslims but not including non-muslims other than criminal laws?

Sameer,
Hyderabad

YMD

We do not know of anything in Islam that cannot be put into practice by non-Muslims. Anyone who wishes to follow the Shari‘ah of Islam can follow it, whether a believer in it or not. The scholars have said that if non-Muslims bring a dispute to the Muslim court and seek to be judged by Islamic law, they could be judged therewith. The Qur’an has said (5: 47), “And We have sent down the Book unto you  (O Prophet) in Truth, confirming that which was before it of the Book, a guardian over it, therefore, judge between them by what Allah has sent down, and do not follow their caprices.”