Letters to the Editor

Right of Marriage

Pathan Mohsin, via email

I am a graduate student. I have been a regular reader of your magazine since two years. I have some questions.

In your October 2005 magazine your answer in ‘letters to editor’ (under ‘happiness and possession’) is not satisfactory. You have given only the cause. I want to know how we can get a full control of our Nafs.

YMD

Since many of our readers might not remember what the original question or answer was, let us recapitulate: You asked how you could control your nafs by which you meant how to control your sexual desire. We suggested that since according to your own statement your parents are  well-off, they should help you get married.

This is how we understood your question, and this is how we answered it. Now you ask us how you can fully control your nafs. If you mean how you can control your desires in general, and your sexual desire in particular, then the answer is, you cannot. No one can. Allah has placed desires in living organisms for their growth and survival. Sexual urge, for example, is for the propagation of life. It is Allah’s will that biological life should propagate. Allah’s will, will prevail. If anyone can control his desires, sexual or others, then, it will mean he has overcome Allah’s will. But no one can overcome Allah’s will. It overcomes all other wills.

Religions or philosophical systems that are not based on Revelation, believe and propagate the belief that humans can control their desires. They have worked out elaborate ways by which they claim they can help control desires. They say human desires are the main cause of many human sufferings. They show the way to a complete control of desires, which, if achieved, will lead to peace of mind and heart. They are of course wrong.

First of all, the desire to control all the desires, is itself a desire. If all desires are evil, this is also an evil desire. If you can find a way to kill the desires, this one is also likely to be killed. Secondly, the effort to control desires leads to several new desires. To take an example, they suggest: “do some exercises.” This is a new desire. Or, they say, “sit in certain a postures.” This is another desire. Or, to give another example, they say “you control how you breathe.” This is another desire. Each of these leads in its own turn to new desires. For example, doing exercise leads to the desire to create an extra hour of free time everyday to do exercises; to buying maybe a book to know how exercises are performed, to create some funds for this purpose, to get medically checked whether the exercises suggested could cause harm, etc. Thus, one desire can sprout into a myriad of desires, invisible until some action is taken.

The above was an example of one of many systems. There are other systems that suggest various other spiritual exercises, that, according to their claim, make a man stronger of will, and hence better at control of his base self.

We need not elaborate on how they fail. Every time a new system is presented, a section of the population falls prey to it. But sooner or later disappointment replaces the enthusiasm and they disperse. Then another call is made from another quarter, and people start flocking around. Within some time it also collapses. It goes on.

The whole idea is false. Desires have been created by our Creator and they cannot be destroyed, just like an atom cannot be destroyed.

Allah’s revelation through the Qur’an and Hadith give us to understand that the Islamic system does not aim at suppression of desires but rather at satisfying them. The legitimate ways of satisfying some leads automatically to the curbing of a few others. For instance, unlike Christianity where sexual activity is either sin or undesirable, and woman an evil, Islamic system urges its adherence to have sex. A hadith says, “Marriage is my Sunnah. Whoever turned away (in aversion) from my Sunnah, is not of me.” The satisfaction obtained from natural, disciplined and civilized sex leads to the curbing of other desires, such as, e.g., extramarital sex. How many spiritual leaders have not been there who exercised influence on millions preaching them sexual abstinence but were caught red handed with illegal sex partners?! Nothing works in this world, but Allah’s own guidance.

We are sure the above will be enough to lead us to ponder over other areas of the issue and arrive at the conclusion that the so-called “full control of the self (nafs),” is an illusion and a charade.

You have said that “you should be important to your family and not your salary.”  My belief is that every one is important to his family.

YMD

If you discover that you are important for your family, no matter what your achievements, then, that is a healthy family.

How can we demand our parents “to provide with a spouse?”

YMD

If you mean what right you have for demanding that you be provided a spouse and supported until you are able to find your own means, then the answer is that you have this right. And the right is given by Islam. Parents are morally obligated to meet with your material and moral needs to the extent that they can afford them. It would mean they truly love you, care for you, and hold you dearer than money. Added conditions are that you are righteous in your life, are obedient to them, serve them and are doing your best to find your own means of support for yourself and your future wife, but are not successful despite the best efforts.

And, if your parents do not have the means, and fail, despite their own sincere efforts to rescue you, then, in an Islamic state, the state is obligated to provide you with the means.

Mawlana Mawdudi

Md. Abdul Rahman Ahmed, via email

I am an Indian working in Saudi Arabia. I have few questions.

What are your views regarding Maulana Mawdudi? Please refer to website ‘www.Ask-Imam.com’. Under the section ‘Madhaahib (Schools of Thought)’ refer to question no. 3107. In reply to this question there is a letter by Maulana Mohammed Yousuf Ludhianwi. This Maulana criticizes Maulana Mawdudi & his jamat-e-islami to the extent that he throws all of them out of the fold of Islam. How far Maulana Ludhinawi’s criticism is correct?

He has highlighted some 30 points, most of which I did not find wrong, especially, when considering the context in which they were written. I felt Maulana Ludhianwi’s sole purpose was to criticize Maulana Mawdudi without considering the context in which Maulana Mawdudi wrote. Of course I found the language of Maulana Mawdudi a bit too harsh. So, what are your views regarding those points highlighted by Maulana Ludhianwi?

YMD

You say Mawlana Yousuf Ludhianawi’s sole purpose was to criticize Mawlana Mawdudi. But that exactly Mawlana Ludhiyanawi’s sole purpose was: to criticize Mawlana Mawdudi. That is, to evaluate some of his writings and demonstrate why a few things written by him and followed by some as true, are unacceptable in Islam.

Criticism is an important function of scholars. They must look around them for what is wrongly stated, projected and practiced, and help correct those involved. If they do not perform this function at a time when the basic tenets of Islamic principles are violated, then, for what occasion are they reserving the fulfillment of their duty to criticize and educate? An authority which stays silent at the commitment of a crime, is likely to be considered a criminal himself. A judge cannot turn a blind eye to the crimes committed under his nose. According to Islamic ethics, when an error is committed and published at the public level, then its criticism must also be done at the public level. Are Muslims to censure a novelist Salman Rushdie who insults important Islamic figures in a veiled language, in a novel primarily written for non-Muslims, but not a scholar who writes primarily for Muslims, and criticizes – not in a veiled language, but piquantly and pointedly?

Therefore, Mawlana Ludhiyanawi’s criticism was quite legitimate, in keeping with the Islamic ethical values, and a duty whose neglect can entail, especially on part of the scholars, questioning in the Hereafter.

Instead of protesting, we need to remind the scholars of this important duty because it helps curb un-Islamic beliefs and ideologies that sometimes lead to the development of sects. After all, the Shi`ah sect, to give an example, grew from the seemingly not too deviant ideas as the first seeds.

You also state that Mawlana Ludhiyanawi has thrown Mawlana Mawdudi and members of Jamat-e-Islami out of the borders of Islam. But we did not find anything to this effect in the article under discussion. Such a statement is neither explicitly made nor implicitly stated. All that he says is that their overall understanding of Islam was not wholly correct because of an erroneous idea running through its sinews.

As regards the 30 points of objection that have been raised by Mawlana Ludhiyanwi, you will agree that it is not possible for us to present every one of them at this point. Moreover, they do not constitute a comprehensive criticism of Mawlana Mawdudi’s writings and speeches, but rather, are related to a single issue: that of Mawlana Mawdudi’s criticism of important personalities. We can therefore summarize the 30 into one: Mawlana Mawdudi has – says Ludhiyanawi – criticized, or spoken depreciably in his writings Prophets such as Nuh, Yunus, Musa, Yusuf, Da’ud, and Sulayman (on whom be peace and blessing of Allah) Companions of our own Prophet like Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, Mu`awiyyah, `Amr ibn al-`Aas, (may Allah be pleased with them), our mothers `A’isha and Hafsa, (may Allah be pleased with them), and such prominent scholars of Islam as Imam Ghazali, Shah Waliyullah, Mujaddid Alf-Thani, Isma`il Shaheed, and others (may Allah show them mercy).

Mawlana Yusuf Ludhiyanawi disagrees with Mawlana Mawdudi over the issue of criticism of those named above. He disagrees with him that no one – except Prophet Muhammad – is above criticism, and that Mawdudi had the right of criticism. He points out that previous Prophets and Companions of our Prophet are above criticism. He also points out that some of his criticism is in fact indirectly aimed at Allah Himself, since it was He who had chosen those individuals as Prophets. With regard to the Companions of our Prophet, he quotes a hadith which says that the Prophet said, “I have left you on a clear (path) whose night is like the day. None will deflect from it after me but will be destroyed. He of you who lives will notice much discord. In such a situation it is for you (to adhere to) what you know of my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided, rightly guiding caliphs. Hold on to them with your teeth.” (shortened, found in Ahmed, Ibn Majah, Hakim and which Suyuti declared Sahih).

We, as YMD, do not see anything illegitimate in the above 30 points, or the ending note, or in the manner of presentation, which is entirely serious, sober, unemotional, and scholarly.

You also state that you do not find most of the points of objection as “anything wrong with them.” It would have been good if you had identified those parts in which Ludhiyanawi is right. Your statement, anyway, that you do not see anything wrong with what has been criticized by Ludhiyanawi is perhaps because you do not have the bench-mark. For, there is no difference in opinion among the mainstream believers that the Prophets of past, and the Companions of our own Prophet are beyond criticism for a believer in Islam.

Commonsense tells us that we cannot be asked to follow someone and then allowed to criticize him. This applies to the Prophets of the past and the four caliphs. For example, after naming the Prophets: Nuh, Ibrahim, Is-haq, Ya`qub, Nuh, Da’ud, Sulayman, Ayyub, Yusuf, Musa, Harun, Zakariyyah, Yahya, `Isa, Ilyas, Isma`il, Al‑Yasa`, Yunus and Lut, Allah said (6: 82-90): “Those were a people whom Allah guided. Therefore, follow their guidance.”

Now, either one believes in the Qur’an, or he does not. If he does, then he runs into a contradiction. The Qur’an says, “Follow their guidance.” He says, “we shall first evaluate them before we consider following them.”

You also say that Mawlana Ludhiyanawi did not consider the context in which Mawlana Mawdudi made the criticism. Now, did Allah say in the above quoted verses, “Follow their guidance, but you can criticize them if the context permits?”

Indeed, by saying that the context justifies the criticism, you have, perhaps without realizing, cast suspicion on the context itself. It is quite likely that the context itself was wrong – a context that made lawful what is unlawful.

Our last word is that we need to set the right priorities for study of books. People take up for study first, what should be done last. What we need to attempt first is the Qur’an, Hadith, Life of our Prophet, stories of the past Prophets and lives of the first three generation prominent Muslims. Is that not what the Prophet is suggesting when he says, “Upon you is my Sunnah, and the Sunnah of the rightly guided and rightly guiding Khulafaa’? Or, when he said, “The best generation is mine, then those that will follow, and then those that will follow.

Anyone who studies the above, in that order, will find the knowledge he gains as immensely beneficial and satisfying in itself. He will also know how to evaluate what is published in our contemporary world.

What are your views about the book ‘Buloogh-al-Maraam’ by Ibn Hajr Asqalani (773H-852H) as translated by Maulana Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri & Maulana AbdulWakeel Alwi?

YMD

We do not know what publication you are referring to. So far as our knowledge goes, Safi-ur-rahman does not know English, to be able to translate.

But we know of another publication of the same name which was originally prepared by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and subsequently published by Darus Salam. This has abridged notes from Subul al-Salam by Muhammad b. Isma`il being a commentator of Buloogh al-Maraam.

Even though I found it to be a very good book using several Ahadiths to explain a case, at some points I felt it supports Hanbali Madh-hab & discourages Hanafi methods & practices.

YMD

It does not support any madh-hab. It is a collection of ahadith pure and simple. Nor is there anything which tries to disprove Hanafiyy Madh-hub. Indeed, in the varieties of versions that it quotes, it can be used for proving any Madh-hub, including Hanafiyy – for, as against the understanding of the ignorant – all Madhahibs are based on the Qur’an, Hadith, Consensus of the Companions and Analogy as the main sources. The differences come from Principles of Jurisprudence, in the various practices of the Prophet and the Salaf, in establishing the meanings of words that carry several connotations, in the judgment of the authenticity of ahadith, judgment of the abrogated and non-abrogated, etc.

You can therefore, read the work in question with profit. A mere 400 pages of comprehensive hadith content, will give you an aerial view of the Islamic Law.

Here we get to read a lot of books issued by Da`wah centres but none of them supports Hanafi Madh-hab.

YMD

Da`wah centers – over the world, especially those in Saudi Arabia – are not set up to support this or that madh-hub. They are a platform for calling people to Islam: for the non-Muslim to enter into Islam, and for Muslims to renew their faith. Those who use them for propagating this or that madh-hub are dishonest and commit breach of trust. Such of them, no matter how much of the Qur’an and hadith they quote, will not serve Islam in any way, since the Prophet has said, “The one who has no honesty, has no religion.”

It must be firmly realized in reference to the Da`wah centers in Saudi Arabia that they have not been set up to propagate this or that madh-hub. In fact, their main concern is not Fiqh matters. The consensus of scholars there is on the opinion that the four madhahib are all correct and one is free to follow any one of them. They are also aware that insistence or propagation of Fiqh matters divides the Ummah which is extremely harmful to the work of propagation, if not suicidal.

Their priorities are indeed what we have stated above. Spread of Islamic knowledge through the Qur’an, Sunnah, and practices of the Salaf. The scholars there are well aware that the weakness of the Ummah is not in its failure to follow Fiqh rules. Indeed, it is realized, the Ummah holds fast to Fiqh rules. The weakness is in taking practice to beyond rituals and worships. It is in interpersonal dealings. It is in the virtual rejection to follow the ways of the Salaf in morals, behavior, attitudes, worldly dealings, service to the society, mankind in general and attention to what will serve in the Hereafter. Concerning rituals and worships, they do not see that the problem lies in what sort of Fiqh principles are applied, but rather in the spirit in which they are applied.

If you notice in a Da`wah center any deviation from the above, it is the deviation of individuals involved there, who, either do not understand the true spirit that should prevail there, or, have their own agenda and use the Da`wah center for their personal causes. They do them disservice, and the Da`wah centers disown them.

Coming to the book Buloogh al-Maraam, your very citation of the work proves our point. Ibn Hajr Asqalani, better known for his masterly commentary of Bukhari, called Fat-h al-Bari, was a follower of the Shafe`i madh-hub. He has quoted Imam Shafe`i’s point of view some thousand times in Fat-h. But in Buloogh al-Maraam he collected together ahadith not strictly according to this or that madh-hub but simply according to the common man’s needs.

Please suggest me a comprehensive & good book on Hanafi Madh-hab preferably in Urdu or English as also from where is it that they can be obtained in India, preferably in Hyderabad.

YMD

Hanafiyy madh-hub does not demand that you base your entire life on this madh-hub. You entire life should be based on the Sunnah of the Prophet. It is only in matters of Fiqh that you might adopt this or that madh-hub. And although any madh-hub you adopt will be following the Prophetic ways, Fiqh has very few applications. The area of life which is not direct concern of Fiqh, is much vaster than where Fiqh rules are applicable. Many people who claim to be followers of Hadith, actually, do it in a few things in life: basically, rituals. Rest of their lives is not based on Sunnah, although, overall, they really and truly, do not care much for it and are pretty poor in application. We hope you can see what we are trying to convey.

It is in consequence of the above that We do not recommend that you spend anytime studying Fiqh. (Casual reference is enough). You must study Islam as a whole, methods by which you can renew and strengthen your faith, and ways in which you can make your life more meaningful through a righteous living and service to mankind. Sunnah should rule every moment of life. And of course, you should learn Arabic.

Is it wrong to follow the practices of other schools of thought? Here in Saudi Arabia, we have to follow several practices of Hanbali madhab like Sajda-sahu, salatul witr, saying ‘Aameen’ loudly after the imam has read sura-e-Fatiha, etc.

YMD

When you are following another madh-hub in Prayers, you are actually being a Hanafiyy. The Hanafiyy madh-hub requires that when you are behind the follower of an Imam who follows another madh-hub then, do as he does, and your Salah is perfectly legal.

I have heard both the views regarding following the practices of other schools of thought. I myself feel it’s not wrong to follow other schools of thought as I believe all the methods & practices, each school follows, are all either what Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) himself practiced at some point of time or has suggested. And before these imams came, even the Khulafa-e-Rashideen followed all the practices of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and not just a specific method as the imams did.

YMD

Your observations are incorrect. You make the above remarks because you are (perhaps) a non-scholar, who sees what goes on at the periphery and judges about what could be there at the core. It is similar to a counter salesman in a bookshop, who happens to be a keen follower of the share-market through the columns of the local newspaper, trying to judge economic theories as discussed in Harvard, Berlin University, in China, and in Jeddah’s Economic Forum, and passing the judgment that they are all one and the same, since, after all, they all endeavor to promote economic growth. We are sure you will agree that whatever the economic theories be, the keys to the salesman’s own economic well-being lies elsewhere; and that “elsewhere” demands that he better pay less attention to the economic theories and more to some good business.

Please answer my questions so that I can correct myself wherever I am wrong. Even though ‘Ask-Imam.com’ looks quite an informative site but I have some doubts about it & I cannot trust it 100% unless you approve it.  I have a lot of trust in you.

YMD

We have on several occasions expressed our reservations over Internet sites. Giving approval to a site is like giving approval to a book-store. The stock-list changes every week as books keep coming in and going out.

Internet sites can be informative. But they are hardly educative. To get educated you need to follow a well-designed course of study. It should have a properly laid out syllabus that takes one up the ladder of learning, to specialization in one field or the other (if he has such resolve) such as Tafsir, Hadith, Seerah, History, ‘Ilm al-Kalam, Language, etc., and even Fiqh (if he has some special abilities, since it is the toughest of all), or, simpler courses such as Comparative Religion, or tougher, such as Tasawwuf, etc.

As regards your trust in us, although grateful, we must also point out that to trust someone in religious matters can be risky. The affair is serious and qualified guides are few. Further, people can change. They cannot always be expected to remain on what we find them. Gravitation exerts great downward pull on our bodies. Sometimes, the soul goes with it. Dependence on other than Allah proves perilous. Please see our this month’s editorial.

An End Better Than...

I am a Ph.D. student at university of Karachi and need financial assistance. I am trying to get scholarship from Higher Education Commission but if I fail, then I would request qarz-e-hasna of near about 500,000/= Pakistani rupees.

May Allah grant us an end which is better than our beginning.

Raja Asad Tehseen Hamed, via email

YMD

Hopefully, one of the philanthropists will contact you.

A remark on your ending note. You pray for an end which is better than the beginning. Bu no end can be better than the beginning. At the beginning – as we emerge from the wombs – we are innocent, sinless and, therefore, not liable to be questioned if we died in that stage of creation. But, if the end comes after we have attained puberty, then we are liable to be questioned.

Cap or No Cap

Is it important for males to cover the heads while offering Prayers? Most of the non-Muqallids say that it isn’t so, while Deobandis consider it important. Please guide.

Munzir Ahanger, via email

YMD

We do not know who these Deobandis are, and who has authorized them to represent the Deoband school of thought. But, whoever lays some stress on caps during Prayers, could have a point. Yes, could. An explanation is as follows:

It is reported of a certain non-Muqallid scholar of repute, (now dead), that he was quite particular that when he appeared before visitors, he had his ghutra (Arab headgear) on. That is, it was hard to see him in public with his head uncovered. In the Arab world this practice reflects on the social behavior of many scholars. They do not appear bare-headed in public and are not found Praying without a headgear.

If, in our times, to have a headgear on, is a means of demonstrating respect for others, then, obviously, the headgear acquires greater importance at the time one stands before his Lord, who deserves much greater respect than the humans.

If it is true that wearing a headgear at the time of Prayers is not wajib, then, it is also true that its removal is not wajib either, as a section of Muslims seem to believe and preach.

 

Truce:

We Muslims are consistently confronted by the problem of “cap or no cap?” Should it be worn during the Prayers or should it not? The two parties “for and against” both admit that it is not an issue of such importance as to deserve greater attention than the spread of testimony among the non-Muslims. Yet both the parties hold their grounds firmly and will not give up the preaching at the cost of preaching Islam to non-Muslims. So, we suggest the following: When the Prayer starts, let the cap-party remove their caps and pass them on to the no-cap party. The no-cap party should gallantly wear them on during the Prayers. This will convince the rest of the poor midfielders that the cap is not an issue of any importance.

Limits and Boundaries

I’m one of your young Muslim readers. As a fond artist, while drawing the landscape I use small objects of living beings e.g. flying kites, or gracing deer. Is it allowed?

Sajid Khan Gauri, via email

YMD

You are of course aware of the prohibition pertaining to picturing living beings. You wish to know the exact boundary in order that you are not considered an invader of the prohibited territory. But exact boundaries are difficult to determine. When the shadow of a wall falls on the ground, there is a line at which the dark and the bright boundaries meet. If you looked hard to define the joining line precisely, to know where exactly one ends and the other starts, you will discover that it is extremely hard to do. Hence the wisdom in the Prophetic words: “Remain well within the prohibited territory. For, he who remains on the very boundary, is likely to stray into the prohibited area.”