Letters to the Editor

A Health Problem

Javed Khan, via email

I am a regular reader of your valuable magazine. I have some doubts which I hope you will clarify.

Is ..bation allowed in Islam?

YMD

As we have pointed out several times earlier, a hadith of the Prophet (saws) disapproves of the act. Another refers to it as a “disguised burying-alive of the infant.” Some scholars have, therefore, disapproved of it and consider it a sinful act. But others have maintained that if a person is strongly fearful of falling into the sin of fornication, he may resort to it as an alternative. Obviously, to indulge for pleasure would be reprehensible.

That apart, it saps the strength of the body, especially excessive indulgence, which can lead to the weakness of both body and mind.

Again, it can lead to the formation of a habit, taken well into marriage itself, so that a man may draw greater pleasure from it than from natural acts.

Finally, it may leave unknown psychological effects. An early marriage therefore, is the best solution and must be supported by the parents.

What if somebody does it while fasting, does it breaks his fast? If yes, then what is the “kaffara”?

YMD

Yes, the act annuls the fast. The expiation consists in fasting 60 days in sequence for every fast broken, anytime after Ramadan. If not affordable, then feeding sixty poor people.

Seeking Guidance

Muhammad Imran, via email

Which Jamaath should I choose for my Guidance? What is the right path? That of Sunnatul Jamaath or of Tableeghi Jamaath?

YMD

None of the two should you choose, nor any other that claims to be the true “Jama`ah” – however convincing its claims, as the one to guide you. Guidance (hidaayah) is (a) a precise understanding of what exactly Allah wants of you in belief and practice, at any moment of your life, in what measure, and in what spirit and (b) the willingness to live by it. He who met with these two conditions is rightly guided, while he who failed in any of the two, missed it, either wholly or partly.

None but the Qur’an and Sunnah can guide you to the right course in your life.

Now, what about the Tableeghi Jamaa`at? What is its function? Of the various Jama`aat that are active around you Tableeghi Jama`at is engaged in bringing the people closer to Allah through a simple program of action. You go out with a group for a few days during which you speak of nothing, discuss nothing, engage in nothing, and think of nothing but of the Hereafter, of your relationship with Allah, and of the need to change your life so as to be more devoted to Allah, the Sunan of the Prophet, and gain the realization that others too ought to become conscious of Allah and that some effort, however lowly, however little, should be made on your part when you return.

Tableeghi Jama`at then is not there to guide you in all affairs of your life. It is there to take you closer to the sources of Guidance, and to activate you to participate in your little way towards reawakening of the Ummah. Salafi and Hanafi, Ahl al-Hadith and Ahl al-Madhaahib, scholars and the commoners, Arab and non-Arab, just about all kinds of people participate and draw benefits while benefiting  others in proportion with their personal qualities through this work. None of the participants believes that he is in any way different from the rest of the community, that he is more guided than others, or that the Tableeghi Jama`at is a source of guidance in the sense of the Qur’an and Sunnah being the sources.

What is Ahlus sunnah wa al jamaa’ah? Provide full details.

YMD

It is beyond the scope of these pages to offer you a detailed account of who the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah are. In very broad terms, everyone who meets the conditions as stated in this Hadith of Bukhari, (also found in slightly different terms in Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud, Musnad Ahmed and others) is of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah. The hadith is as follows:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ “مَنْ صَلَّى صَلاتَنَا وَاسْتَقْبَلَ قِبْلَتَنَا وَأَكَلَ ذَبِيحَتَنَا فَذَلِكَ الْمُسْلِمُ الَّذِي لَهُ ذِمَّةُ اللَّهِ وَذِمَّةُ رَسُولِهِ فَلا تُخْفِرُوا اللَّهَ فِي ذِمَّتِهِ” (البخاري)

Anas ibn Malik reports the Prophet as having said, “Whoever offered Prayers like we do, faced our Qiblah, and ate of our slaughtered animal is a Muslim under Allah’s pact and that of His Messenger. Therefore, quarrel not with Allah over His pact.”

Thus, theoretically, and in view of this hadith, whoever met with these conditions is a Muslim and, consequently, is of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah. The scholars have, however, pointed out that the rule stays so long as an individual or group do not evince any sign of disbelief in any of the major principles of Islam, such as, to name  a few, denial of any of Allah’s Attributes, any ayah of the Qur’an, of Qada’ wa Qadar, belief in anyone as a Prophet after our own Prophet who was the Final Messenger, in anyone as Allah-appointed heir apparent after the Prophet, cursing of the Companions, denial of any one of the pillars of Faith, or the five pillars of Islam, etc. So long as any such signs are not evinced, a man belongs to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah. Anyone who disagreed in definition of who a Muslim is, is pitched against Allah and His Messenger’s pact.

These following paragraphs were sent to me by my cousin. Please advice.

Said my cousin: “Another thing I would like to let you know is that www.youngmuslimdigest.com is not a very authentic website to be referred to for fatwas or questions. You may instead use other sources for information like going to a local scholar who has the aqeedah of the Ahlus sunnah wal jamaah.”

YMD

We suspect that your cousin belongs to a party and is promoting its cause. To people of this class, truth comes next, group loyalty first.

Cousin: “Even the way this person on the www.youngmuslimdigest.com answered your question was not very right. It sounded a little rude and not from a scholar. Anyway, I will explain you something that might be related to your question.  First of all, all scholars and all Muslims must have the aqeedah of the Ahlus sunnah wal jamaah.”

YMD

So, according to your cousin, there are “scholars” who do not have the `aqeedah of the Ahlus sunnah wal jamaah?!

We have, however, presented above the `aqeedah of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah, i.e., of the mainstream Muslims. In a nutshell what we have presented are also the `Aqeedah of the Salaf. You – and he – will be safe to keep the above cited hadith of Bukhari in mind when scrutinizing people, i.e., if they have to, since scrutinizing anyone for his `aqeedah is disapproved in Islam.

Cousin: “This means we have the aqeedah of the salaf-us-saaliheen or the aqeedah of the sahaabah and their predecessors.”

YMD

Abu Jahl, Abu Lahab, `Aas b. Waa’il, Umayyah b. Khalaf, Ibn Ubayy and their kind were the predecessors of the Sahaabah.

Cousin: “We believe in everything that Allah has commanded us to do and has revealed to His messenger Muhammad (PBUH).”

YMD

Who are “we?”

Cousin: “We also rely upon the authentic Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) and strive to follow both the Qur’an and the Sunnah, as one is incomplete without the other.”

YMD

What Muslim does not believe and does as above? So, once again, why “we” and not “we Muslims?” Is there a hidden party behind this “we?” Is this “we” other than “we poor Muslims?”

Cousin: “Therefore, possessing the same beliefs as the Sahaabah and the Tababa’in and etc. is what forms the aqeedah of the Ahlus Sunnah wal jamaah.”

YMD

The implied meaning is: “We” (meaning his particular group) is the Ahlus Sunnah wal jamaah, the true followers of the Companions and their Followers; and that the common Muslims are not. His later writings will confirm this.

Cousin: “On the other hand, the Tableeghi jamaat is not considered as a sect of Islam but only as a mode of preaching. May Allah bless all those who founded this mode of preaching and if they are propagating only truth.”

YMD

The implication of “if they are propagating only truth” is that his Prayer for them is conditional. The Prayer is there, but the founders do not seem to qualify.

Cousin: “Yet, according to many scholars there is a difference of opinion. Some consider this jamaat as a sect of Islam and call it a deviant sect while some still consider it as a mode of preaching and an important component of the Ahlus sunnah wal jamaah.”

YMD

Should he not have waited until he had known whether Tableeghi Jamaa`at is of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah, or a deviant sect, before speaking out?

But perhaps we know why. He has been told by his group Pundits that the Tableeghi Jamaa`at is a deviant sect. On the other hand he also sees around him and interacts with its members who do not seem to hold any opinion other than that of the mainstream Muslims. So, like a pendulum his opinion swings between the two: what he is taught, and what he observes.

Cousin: “But, what is to be noted is that the Fazaail e amaal written by the Hadith scholar Maulana Zakariyya Kandhalwi has many mistakes and is in conflict with the aqeedah of the Ahlus sunnah wal jamaah. This is according to many scholars and not according to me.

YMD

So, we are right about the conflict between what he is taught, and what he sees, and that, his Pundits speak through him.

Cousin: What the Tableeghi jamaat people need to do is that identify the mistakes in this book and change it under the supervision of very reliable and knowledgeable scholars who possess the aqeedah of the Ahlus sunnah wal jamaah.

YMD

What he implies of course is that the book should be revised by the leaders of his group.

Cousin: “In whichever way we do not condemn the scholar Maulana Zakariyya Kandhalwi for his writings or for that matter any scholar as they were all men like us and were in some way bound to make a mistake. We sincerely ask Allah to forgive them as we do not know their intentions in writing these books. There is nothing wrong if a scholar’s work from the past is reformed in the present so as to remove his mistakes and make it easy for the future Muslims to read their books in accordance with the aqeedah of the Ahlus Sunnah wal jamaah. Yet, you can still read Maulana Zakariyya Kandhalwi’s other writings that have not been opposed by scholars and are not even controversial.

May Allah the Almighty guide us all to the straight path. May Allah forgive our shortcomings and grant us Jannah. One final thing we must learn is that not to slander or condemn scholars, but only their writings, if found wrong and are not in conformity with the Islamic Shari`ah. We do not hate a believer for his sins but we hate his sin. This was the way of the Salaf and I think I am right on this issue.

YMD

We are afraid some of our readers will protest at the reproduction of your cousin’s diatribe. Some might say it is sickening.

Note: The above letter was sent to me by my cousin brother in Canada. Please comment.

YMD

Please inform him that the lines written by him are plainly reflective of the truths that he does not know Arabic language, is very poorly Islamically educated, knows nothing about a few words he often uses, (viz., the Salaf, or, `aqeedah or haddith Sahih), and that he has been coached with certain slogan-sentences that he repeats without knowing what he is talking about.

He does not know that his Pundits are not angry with the material that has gone into the making of Fazaa’il of Mawlana Zakariyyah. They are angry that he translated the material into Urdu. Books from which the Mawlana largely drew are in dozens in Arabic, and are freely available in bookstores of the Arab world. Most are a few centuries old, and his leaders dare not raise the issue in the Arab world. They are also angry that the Fazaa’il is so popular and that the Tableeghi Jamaa`at is so successful.

He is advised to retreat into an educational institute for next ten years and devote himself fully to Islamic studies. If he did it, one day he will tear away the lines he has sent you seeking Allah’s forgiveness for his audacity. Allah has said, “Do not indulge in what you have no knowledge of. Indeed, the hearing, the sight, and the heart – all of them shall be questioned thereof.” (Al-Isra’, 36)

He should either attempt to become a scholar, or desist speaking on scholarly topics. Retreating into an institute by the way, is not such an impracticable idea if he has no dependents to support. Emotionally, he seems to be on a somewhat high shrill. Banking on this, if he freed himself for Islamic studies, to join, say the International Islamic University at Madinah (if he is Canadian, he has better chances of being accepted), and stayed on course for a while, he will emerge a scholar and never regret the decision. (He might even pray for us, unconditionally!)

Sportswomen

Tashbihul Azhar, via email

Recently I read about the Indian tennis player Sania Mirza’s views regarding pre-marital sex. Instead of representing Islam in its true form she is causing damage to it. She should continue to play but in public she should be more conscious about her dresses and statements which she delivers. Your comments?

YMD

If sportswomen were conscious of Islamic code of practices, they would not be playing in public at all. They play for their own reasons. Do they claim to be the spokeswomen of Islam?

On the other hand, does not your statement, “she should continue to play” suggest that by and large she is not to her critics so much off the mark in (what you call as) her services?

Hand or Spoon

Sadaf Afshan, via email

Please let me know whether it is preferable to eat with hand rather than spoon.

YMD

None is preferable. However, the plate one eats from may be properly cleaned at the end of the meal for, barakah could as well be in what is left back.

Precious Stones

Tasbihul Azhar, via email

Is  it  sunnah  to  wear  “firoza”  and  “aqeeq”  stone  in  fingers?

YMD

No it is not. The Prophet did not wear any stone in his finger-ring except for an unknown Abyssinian stone, but even that is not free of controversy since reports suggest that the stone was also made of silver.

Marriage Months

Hamid, via email

I am from Delhi. My sister is going to be married soon. Her mother in law has put us in doubt. In her opinion marriages in the month of Muharram and Safar are not allowed. Is this true?

YMD

No, it is not true. Marriage is kind of a social pact, very near to being a worldly affair, and hence can take place at any time, at any place, in any month of the year.

Turban

Mohammed Ali, via email

Is wearing a turban during the Prayers a virtue? Please explain in detail.

YMD

There are several reports coming down from the Prophet concerning the good virtues of wearing a turban during the Prayers. But, according to Hadith Doctors, none of them reaches the trustworthy status. Once a cultural need, the turban became the mark of a religious scholar when everyone wore a Jubbah, or Sherwani: scholar and non-scholar, the elite and the plebeian alike. That is to say, when everyone wore Jubbas and Sherwanis, the scholars and other important members of the elite put on a turban to distinguish themselves from the common people. With the passage of time what was under the turban remained, i.e., a cap. But none, neither the turban nor the cap have any religious singnificance.

This World or the Next?

What should someone do if he is unable to concentrate in salah?

Sajid Sunam, via email

YMD

Concentration during the Prayers is something that is directly related to the core of Islamic religion. The core of Islamic religion is attachment to Allah and His love, which manifests itself in the desire to be near Him. Thus, the Hereafter becomes an object of desire. Not so much for itself, as for the benefit of being closer to the Beloved. Accordingly, it is of pleasure to be engaged in activities that better the chances of obtaining the rewards in the Hereafer; while it is a thing of displeasure to be engaged in activities of this life and everything that takes time off the activities of the Hereafter. Prayers then become desirable, and not merely an obligation. The salaf used to stand long hours in Prayers. `Uthman ibn `Affan for example, recited the whole of the Qur’an every night. Why? Obviously, because of the pleasure he drew. What pleasure was it? It was spiritual. The spirit feels itself elevated in the company of Allah when a person is in Prayers.

In contrast are those who have not been able to obtain true faith. They take pleasure in the activities of this life. When they listen – for instance – to music, they do it with full concentration. They do not know during its sessions how time passes. They do not complain that they are not able to concentrate while listening to music, or watching football, or a film. Once they enter into these activities, they forget about everything else: as if they have been transported into another world.

Similarly, those who have obtained faith, and have imbibed in themselves the spirit of Islam, have reached its core – which is the love of their Creator, His Prophets, their Companions, – then as they step into Prayers, they are transported into a different world, the spiritual world. They forget all about this world.

Those who cannot concentrate in Prayers, might have to look into the state of their hearts outside of the Prayers. What resides there? This world? Or the Next? What concerns them most? Success of this life or the Next? What comes first to them? The concerns of this life, or of their religion? It is the state outside of the Prayers that determines the situation inside the Prayers. Hence `Umar’s statement at the time of an important battles: “(Occasionally) I am thinking of the fighting (at the front) while in Prayers.”

Scholars of the Past

Could you please send us lives of scholars like Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Shaik Nasiruddin al-Albani, and others? We are in search of these from past some time.

Akbar Basha, via email

YMD

We have published the lives of `A’isha, Abu Haneefah, and Abul Hasan Ali. You may please send us your postal address for us to send these books. Please also state the purpose. If they are for a purpose that benefits the common people, you might receive a special discount.

Istikhaara over a Haram

I am 22-year-old and in love with an Arab boy. He had to leave the country for a few months and is yet to return. Meanwhile, I started doing my Prayers and fasts, and attempted Istikhara. After a few Istikharas I began to see dreams.

One day I dreamt of the guy along with a girl. The girl was running and he was following her. Suddenly the guy’s father comes with a few people following him telling him not to go with the girl. And there was a small girl aged around 6 years who was helping him and the girl showing a way to escape so both of them started jumping from one building to another. At last they jumped into a moving vehicle. Someone followed them and tried to climb by catching the leg of the guy but the guy pushed him hard with his leg. He fell down and he and the girl left. On another day I dreamt that I and the guy are already married and are happy with a baby-boy. Then one of my friends comes along with her husband and baby boy to meet me and this guy. Then something goes wrong with my friend. Her husband comes to me us with his baby saying that his wife is lost somewhere and he is searching for her. He tells me to take care of his baby. I too have a baby and we all begin to search for her. At last after some days she comes to take her baby back. I asked her where she was but she would not answer properly.

Me and the guy are not in touch now so I keep doing Salah al-Isthekhara

Can you please tell me the meaning of these dreams? Please do not reveal my identity.

A. S., via email

YMD

With the story of your involvement with the man in mind, one could be led to the interpretation that you are chasing someone who is chasing someone else. When the two try to escape from you, by jumping from building to building, either yourself or someone else on your behalf clings to his leg, but he successfully disengages himself. Your second dream could be interpreted as your mind’s refusal to accept the fact of rejection. You could not marry him in real life, so you married him in your dream. But, on second thought we might not interpret your dreams this way. After all, you are young and desirous. And the desirous dream of what they cannot fulfill of their desires, especially those that have powerful urges. Your dreams will not leave you until you step into the real world.

In real world, you are a Muslimah. A Muslimah is not supposed to chase after men. She is not supposed to resort to Istikhaarah involving what is abhorrent to Allah. Whatever else you do, you must at least stop your Istikhaaras. You could draw ire.

A time will come when you will have a husband, and can then fulfill all your desires. When that is achieved, (it does not last long, sometimes a mere few months), then other realities will stare hard on you. Who are you? What are you doing? Why are you here? Is there any meaning to it all, or is it just unfulfilled dreams? The tortuous realization of the realities will then render you sad … unless you are well-prepared: with a plan of life, of targets, methods of achievement, helping out others, being a good servant of Allah and so on.

Chasing men now, you might fall into a trap. Then the trap door will be shut. You will be locked inside a prison. You will want to escape. But the chains will be too strong, and what’s more, you will be bereft of moral power, of spiritual courage, and qualities that go to bestow a person with a personality. You will be just nobody. You will be like a smoker. He enjoys the first puff but regrets the twenty that follow. At the end he crushes the butt with his foot in disgust.

Take care. Life allows only one chance.

Education

I have two questions.

1. How much importance should be given to worldly education?

2. If the answer to above is “yes, it must be given”, then why are we lagging behind?

If the answer is “No”, then, I would like to state the following:

The Companions and Muslims after them waged wars. To win a war, they were present on the ground. They just did not say – “We must recite the Qur’an, attempt more ritualistic worships and the war will be won”. They did not sit back doing nothing.

My question is: why do the Muslims lag behind the others?

Karimulla Saheb, via email

YMD

You have raised a question and then answered it – though wrongly.

If you compare the number of Muslim youths finishing their school with the numbers that enroll into universities, you will discover a vast disparity. Perhaps the ratio is 6:1. That is, for every six Muslim youth finishing school, there is only one who enrolls for university education. Perhaps you know this. But where did you go wrong in your answer?

If you seek to know where the rest go, you will find that they are not reciting the Qur’an, or engaged in ritualistic worships. You will find one half of them in street corners, Net-cafes, tea-shops, and in commercial centers strolling around aimlessly. You will find the other half having taken up employment: as door to door salesmen, counter clerks, side-walk sellers, auto-rickshaw drivers, and in every kind of petty business.

As for the one in six that enroll themselves in universities, you will find one half loitering about in college campuses, sitting around in groups, talking of films stars, celebrities, sportsmen and every such person who never went beyond a college degree – if that. Some others use the freedom of colleges to identify, seek intimation, and fall in love with one of the opposite sex. Few there are who are interested in the course they have enrolled for.

None there is, neither of those who drop off after school, nor those who enroll in universities, who are engaged in recitation of the Qur’an or practicing the rituals of Islam.

The above explains where you went wrong in establishing the reason why Muslims lag behind. Islam is not the reason. In fact, after they drop out, were they to read the Qur’an (as you think, and with meaning), they would go back to university education.

So, perhaps, Islam is the reason why Muslims lag behind others in education and in everything else. They reject what would guide them to the right course.