Letters to the Editor
Although a senior citizen, I have long been an ardent reader of YMD, which very capably serves the needs of the contemporary, English speaking Muslim citizenry of the country. The editorials and articles, and even the sometimes ‘spicy’ answers to the ‘Letters to the Editor’ column, have helped me transform many of my earlier beliefs and attitudes towards my own faith, and brought much needed clarity in many areas.
In the course of discharging my professional duties I have travelled across many of the States of India and have now returned to my homeland, Assam, after forty long years. I find that the general awareness of the Muslim community about the beliefs and practices of the faith, events and developments taking place in the rest of the country and also the rest of the world, is very much wanting. This is partly due to the absence of good books and magazines in the North-East on Islam and Muslims.
While I have taken up the cause of promoting the circulation of YMD in Assam, I would also like to build up a library / book-centre of selected books on Islam, the Ahadith, Islamic jurisprudence and also books and magazines for children. I would welcome your valued suggestions in this regard.
Mohammed Saiful Islam,
In view of the plummeting reading habits of the Muslims, we would like to caution you about setting up a library. It is not the non-availability of books that has led to ignorance of the Muslims of today, it is the refusal to read which has led to the non-availability of libraries.
We suggest that you furnish your ‘personal library’ with a few popular titles and invite friends and acquaintances to borrow and read. If the response is encouraging, you could add some more titles until a situation when you feel that a library would survive on its own.
But do not lend out your own books of choice. Some would borrow, not read, and either pass it on to another, or just lose it somewhere. After a few weeks they might not even remember that they had borrowed from you. We have seen one of our own book which was lent out, in the hands of a stranger at a bus stand; and the first borrower had completely forgotten about it. So much is the love and care of books in an Ummah which was raised by the Book.
The Internet-browsing, newly educated young men, especially those who attribute their activities to the generations of old, are the most non-reading section of the community. They are barred by their leaders to read anything but that which is approved by them, just like until the modern age the Christians could only read Church-sanctioned books. This holds good for Jama`ah’s also. So, who is going to read from your library?
As regards what titles to choose for stocking in your personal library, we suggest that you choose the simplest in the language of your region. Avoid large volumes. In fact, you could start with booklets and magazines rather than books and see the response.
Q. I visited with my wife and few neighbours the Golkonda Fort. There I saw a new temple which was not there in my childhood, and at least four abandoned masajid.
One of a million signs of triumph and defeat.
Q. None of the mosques had Prayers held in them.
So much do the Muslims love their God.
Q. It is my desire that we must start re-using the four masajid.
Desires which are not followed by actions are from the Devil.
Q. The neighbouring area of Golkonda is Muslim-majority area. This may help us in using these masajid.
Checking out whether they are ‘aware’ that they are Muslims might help you in steps you take, if any, towards the cause.
Q. But I do not know how to go about it. Should we meet the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) or the Golkonda Guides Association or just, one fine day, give the Adhan, and start with the Friday prayer?
Where there is a will, there are twenty ways. So, you may look into your heart. Is there a will?
Q. Should we make a group and proceed with this work? Or are there already some groups which specialize in reviving abandoned masajid?
Looking for a group speaks something of your own will. A man of action does not wait for a companion. As he starts off, others join if they wish to, or, let them not. He doesn’t care.
Q. I got the desire and I am sharing it with my friends and relatives in this mail.
We cannot be sure how they will respond, but our experience says that there will be lot of rolling about of the tongues, a lot of pity on display, several comments made, many very valuable suggestions offered, several enthusiastic inshaAllahs, but little willingness to do something practical.
Q. I do not have a plan to implement it.
Q. What should we do about it?
Q. Worldwide, everybody is talking about environment: its conservation, preservation, saving it from pollution and degrading it, etc. I want to know in the light of the Qur’an and Hadith about the teachings of Islam regarding safeguarding of our environment.
Kindly see this month’s editorial.
Q. Whenever you give answers to questions, you mostly give your own view or the view of Abu Hanifa (ra). You can’t quote Sahih Hadith, which is the word of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Can you please clarify?
Look. There are millions of ways in which humans interact with each other. They give rise to as many issues. Did you honestly expect that there should be millions of ahaadith so that you had a hadith for every one of the issues?
Addressing all those who insist on being given a hadith directly touching Fiqh issues, we may ask: Is it that difficult to figure out whether Allah should have sent a multivolume Qur’an, and the Prophet issued a million ahaadith touching on every aspect of life, or whether the two should contain the fundamental principles, with a few illustrations, leaving the humans to work out as many millions of rulings and directives as life’s ever rising complications require? Do they think choosing one of the two options requires more than high-school intelligence?
Once Imam Shafe`i worked out solutions to forty Fiqh problems brooding on a single ayah, as he lay one night, as a guest of Imam Hanbal. If today’s slogan-mongers cannot understand a single hadith if given in Arabic, then, should they imagine that the renowned scholars of the past were men of their quality?
Young men are being influenced by a new misguided group which goes about planting doubts in their hearts: a thing which is haram in Islam. This group rejects the four schools of Fiqh, but because of fanaticism combined with lack of proper Islamic education, do not realize that rejecting the madhahib is a devilish idea and that they are actually in the service of the Devil. The idea is meant to weaken Islam.
They look around for such as those who are ignorant of their religion and plant the doubt that the four madhahib (and particularly the Ahnaf) do not strictly follow the Hadith. They teach their victims to ask their scholars to present a hadith for every ruling they pronounce. They tell them, “If your scholars fail, then know that they ignore the Hadith; and, therefore, you must abandon them and join our group.” And since the new generation is not merely ignorant but also as low on intelligence in religious matters as any worshipper of the Sun and Moon, their nefarious scheme works and they fall into their trap.
The objective is clear. If the Devil can discredit the four most prominent personalities from among the Salaf: Imam Abu Haneefah, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad and Imam Shafe`i, then discrediting the rest of the Salaf would be easier. (So he works in the name of the Salaf, quoting them where it suits his scheme.Thereafter, the structure of the Legal System of Islam would be discarded, leaving the ignorant, in the absence of guidance from scholars, to follow their whims and wishes. Their appearance has been predicted in Hadith literature, and they have been described by some of the Companions also.
After they were discredited in the Gulf states, with one or two placing restrictions on their activities, closing down their offices etc., and their rejection in other parts of the Arab world (because Arabic knowing person will not fall into the trap), this new group is now concentrating in the non-Arab world; primarily banking on their ignorance of the Arabic language. They could not target Pakistan because there, after a certain level of subversion is reached, and warnings are ignored, you get a bullet lodged in the head. In the USA, they could not succeed because the immigrants there are generally well-educated. In Bangladesh they could not succeed, while in Britain they scored some success because of the inflow of not-so-well-educated class of Muslims from various parts of the world regularly migrating there. In India, a splinter group of the original, stands a better chance of success because of half-educated new generation dimwits, who imagine that they are in a position to judge renowned scholars of the past, simply because they know English language, and because they have access to the Internet, so have no need to consult any scholar; and because of the influence of some Da`wah workers, who understand literature of other religions better than they understand the literature of their own religion.
Be warned then, and be not influenced by this new splinter group. Some of their spokesmen have been warned in Saudi Arabia. Their claims of affiliation to Saudi scholars are false. Stay on course. Follow one of the four madhaahib. Learn Arabic language. Get closer to the Qur’an and Sunnah and put yourself on a course of intellectual and spiritual development: an essential program of a Muslim’s life, that no Jama`ah offers today in the non-Arab world. Said the Prophet, “I’m leaving behind me two things, so long as you follow them, you will not be misguided: the Qur’an and Sunnah.” And avoid those who say, explicitly or implicitly, follow the Qur’an, follow the Sunnah, but through “our” interpretation. They never promote the language of the Qur’an and Sunnah because they know that if their followers learnt the language, and read the Qur’an and Sunnah themselves, they would abandon their leadership. So, take them out of your scheme of life. The four madhahib are firmly rooted in Qur’an and Sunnah, and the splinter group we are talking of, is a pack of extremists, and as ignorant of Qur’an and Sunnah as the Kharijis of the earlier times were.
In the meanwhile, since the matter is getting serious, we offer you a few issues. Place them before those who try to convince you that the four schools of Fiqh are not fully trustworthy because they did not strictly follow the Hadith while pronouncing their rulings. Keep a print out of this in your pocket, and whenever some foolhardy opens his mouth against the four schools of Fiqh, thrust this in his hand and ask him to shut up until he comes back with a reply. He will read one or two lines, and then return it saying he is too busy, or something like that. But do not let him escape. Thrust it in his pocket and tell him to get the reply from his leaders, local or foreign, and suspend his preaching until he can get the reply:
- Present a single hadith which says that the boy Ibrahim (asws) tried to slaughter was Isma`il and not Is-haaq– as the Jews claim.
- Bring a hadith which says that the Prophet ordered the Qur’an written down in the same order in which it is now: 1. Al-Fatihah, 2. Al-Baqarah, 3. Aal-`Imran ..until ..Al-Nass; and that writing in any other order, is haram, as the Muslims believe by consensus.
- Quote ahaadith to demonstrate that the Du`aal-Qunut (composed by Ibn Taymiyyah) which is generally said out in Saudi Arabia and many Gulf countries during the Witr of Taraweeh prayers, is entirely Hadith-based.
- Present a hadith to prove that the water that falls from a man making wudu is clean or unclean – either of the two.
- Quote a hadith to say that a mobile phone which has the Qur’an stored in it can or cannot be taken into the toilets.
- Cite a hadith which confirms Ibn Taymiyyah’s opinion that in a situation where a woman’s travel companions are pressing her to leave out along with them, she can perform the Tawaf of Hajj (TawafIfadah), even if she is unclean in the state of menstruation; and her Hajj is complete.
- 100% Imams in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and other places, invariably cover their heads when leading in Prayers, with a cap, and don over the cap a small shawl (called Ghutra or Shammaagh). Come up with a hadithwhich says that such a consistent practice is not necessary, or is necessary; considering that the common people follow the practices of the Imams.
- Quote a hadith in defense of the practice in many Gulf countries of removal, by permission of the inheritors, of organs (kidney, eye, etc.) from a dead Muslim’s body for transplantation into another.
- A person who lives in his own house, has another house given on rent. He spends the huge amount thus earned, on his frequent vacations in European countries. Is Zakah due from him or not? Quote a hadith.
- Cite a hadith which says that it is allowed to study the Qur’an through its translations.
It will be observed that the cases cited above, and for each of which a hadith is required, touch upon various fields of life, and are quite pertinent in the modern context. They also demonstrate that the Islamic Law is based on several principles, most prominent being the Qur’an and Sunnah, but also aided by Ijtihad, Qiyas, and the rest, with the principles themselves based in Qur’anic injunctions.
The above 10 could be turned into 1000. But this should do to test those who are trying to distract young men and women in the name of “return to the Qur’an and Sunnah,” by which they actually mean, “return to the Hadith,” by which they actually mean, “discard the four Fiqh schools,” by which they actually mean, “Don’t learn Arabic, don’t study the Qur’an and Sunnah yourself. Follow us, we are rightly guided.”
If they fail the above test, and they have to fail, tell them, your true intentions are exposed; begone.
Q. I am Dr. Fatima Khan. As a child, my parents told me about praying at night on the night of Laylat-ul-Qadr and Shab-e-Baraat (and fasting on the 13th, 14th and 15th of Sha’baan). I’ve followed it since childhood. After entering medical school (esp. at Hostel), I was told about making special prayers and fasting on the Shab-e-Me’raj and the day of Ashura. Though I haven’t practiced them but felt aloof as my other friends did. Recently, on an internet site, I read that celebrating any of these nights except Laylat-ul-Qadr is Bid`ah. Kindly guide me as to whether, or not, these nights should be spent in special prayers or is this Bid`ah.
The internet as you’ve specified in many of your articles have rather confused me rather than guided me. I cannot find a learned one (Ulama) as you who my parents say should be sought at the times of confusion, rather than the internet.
Internet sites are dangerous for several reasons: one, everyone who wishes to be known as an activist, as someone who must be taken note of, opens a site and presents cut-and-pasted articles, without himself knowing right from wrong. Second, it has become a propaganda district for every fanatic group, who speak in the name of Islam. Third, non-Muslims have opened sites that operate in the name of Islam, and are meant to create confusion among Muslims – to say the least of their activities.
As to your question about the practices mentioned by you, and the rulings you note, they come from groups which can be called the As-haab al-Bid`ah of our times. As a group, their kind did not exist before. The word Bid`ah is on the tip of their tongues, which they roll rather too fast. These ill-educated, hardcore Muqallids of a certain class of scholars, who declared themselves Mujtahids, but whom better qualified scholars of the rest of the “free” world, would not acknowledge as Mujtahids, have never been told that such powerfully condemning words must never be used against Muslims, except in carefully chosen words, with lots of “ifs”, “perhapses,” and the like words of caution added. The Prophet said, “If a Muslim refers to a Muslim as a Kafir, then one of them is, indeed, a Kafir.” Since Bid`ah has been strongly condemned by the Prophet, and it is sort of an offspring of Kufr, it requires extreme caution on the part of a Muslim, to refer to another as a Bid`ee, or a practice as Bid`ah.
In reference to the same question asked some 18 years earlier, we had replied in words that could be repeated here:
A hadith in Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi, Ibn Hibban and Bazzar says: “When it is the night of the middle of the (month of) Sha’ban, Allah (swt) comes down to the firmament closest to the earth and forgives as many (sins of those who are in Prayers, supplications, etc.) as the number of hair on the body of a shepherd’s dog.”
The hadith of Tirmidhi has `Ayesha (ra) as its first narrator, who missed the Prophet at home one midnight and found him in the Baqi` graveyard.
In his Tuhfatu-al-Ahwazi, Mubarakpuri discusses the subject in detail, presents the evaluation of various reports on the subject, and quotes Mundhiri as of opinion that at least one report is trustworthy enough. Mubarakpuri pronounces his own judgment as follows: “You should know that several reports have reached us on the virtues of the night of the middle of Sha`ban, which, collectively point to the fact that there is a good basis to the hadith.”
Therefore, if someone prays in this night and visits the graveyard, then, obviously, he is acting upon a Sunnah. How does it become a Bid`ah?
As regards Shab-e-Mi`raj, since the date of this night has not been established, it would not be proper to consider any night as that night, and offer special devotional services during it or fast the next day because of it. Thus, to do what the people do in this night, is irrational, but to call it a Bid`ah would require other conditions to be met.