Letters to the Editor
Paradise for an Unbeliever
Q: I am a new reader of your digest and it is very interesting. I have one question: is Paradise meant only for Muslims?
Deshpande Galli, Belgaum
This question is often asked. And there is good reason why. It is because of a great decline in the quality of Muslims. And there are several reasons why that has happened. Some details are necessary for a better understanding of the situation. First, Muslims are under great pressure to abandon their religion. Their religion of One God is not tolerated by the non-Muslims in any part of the world. As the Muslims succumb to this pressure, they practice their religion less and less. And, since they do not accept other ideas either, (how could they when they abandon such good principles as those of Islam?), they are generally worse off than non-Muslims within the same society.
Second, the general atmosphere all over the globe is non-religious. Materialism, hedonism and individualism are the new faiths to which the whole of the world is devoted. Making as much money as possible, as fast as possible, in any way possible, lawful or unlawful, and seek maximum amount of pleasure are the motto of the people’s of the world today and their aim of this life. Muslims cannot remain unaffected by the motto and the aim, and the culture of insatiable greed that they have generated. That directly has a bearing on the quality of their religion.
Third, there is greater economic pressure on the Muslims than on others. Wealth is taken away from them, individually and collectively, one way or the other in a gradual and subtle manner. As individuals, they are denied jobs and opportunities. (An industry in U.P. which boasts of most modern facilities has six hundred employees. Only one of them is a Muslim, employed in the packing department. In Malaysia, 80% of the wealth is in the hands of non-Muslims). There are pressures on Muslim countries too. Their national wealth is taken away from them by other nations through some guile or the other. The economic factor leads to the spread of poverty, which directly affects the morals of the Muslims. The poor can hardly be expected to have a character, especially when the rest of the world is so rich, which makes poverty all the more difficult to bear, especially in a world where moral principles are hardly appreciated in any quarter. All that the poor get is derisive looks by the cunning and the crooked rich. This again affects the Muslim morals and the quality of religion they practice. The above factors, as said earlier (although there are a few others), lead the Muslims to moral depravity. They seem to be uneducated, dishonest, lazy, undisciplined and crude. In contrast, the non-Muslims appear to be educated, honest, hard-working, disciplined and cultured. (Why not? They have all the money?) The question that then arises in the mind of the poorly informed people is the one raised above: If Paradise is for Muslims – of the quality we have before us – why should it not be for the non-Muslims – those of contrasting qualities? Often, it is the non-Muslims who raise this question. Quite ironic, of course. The answer need not be long. It is in the definition of the term Muslim. The word Muslim literally means someone who has surrendered himself to God. Have the non-Muslims done that?
Yes, the Muslim too doesn’t seem to have surrendered himself in the fullest sense. But, at least theoretically, he does that. He acknowledges that there is a God, the Supreme, who will reckon his beliefs and actions. He fears the Day, however faintly, when he will be raised and questioned. It is another thing that he fastens false hopes on God that he will be forgiven because of the circumstances he was in.
But, what about the non-Muslim? Does he at least theoretically recognize God? Does he believe in a Day when he will be raised and questioned for drinking wine, having illicit sex, gambling, devouring poor people’s money through usury, spreading immorality through the media, devotions to stone gods? He, or those of similar mind, ask, why should he not be admitted into Paradise. But the question is: does he believe in Paradise, in Hell-fire, in reckoning? Does he want a share in a Paradise that he does not believe in?
The Muslim says: “I recognize You O God, that You are the sole Lord of the universe. And I am sorry for my sins against You and Your creation. Will you forgive me then?” The non-Muslim says: “I recognize you O Someone in the heavens that you are one of the three, or one top of a few million deities. (But, really, do YOU exist? If you do, may I know what are You doing up there?).” We may ask. If Paradise is not for Muslims alone (those who surrender themselves to the God who created it), then who else can it be for? For those who laugh at the idea?women and graveyard:
Q: YMD is a useful digest for me. May I ask why Muslim women are prohibited to go to the graveyard?
Ajmal Ahmed, Md. Haneef,
You see, Islam is the name of devotion to God. It severs all relationships with false gods, idols, deities and stone-gods, and leads man to One God who alone is the Creator and Sustainer of this world. It disapproves of devotion to men who assume divinity, to angels, holy men, spirits, material things, natural phenomena, physical forces, etc. Graves and graveyards are not the central theme of life. Islam is not the religion of the Ka‘aba either, or that of the mosques, or the temples, or shrines, or tombs, or graveyards.
Islam is a way of life that has devotion to One God as the end purpose and the central theme. If Muslim women understand this, it will become immaterial to them whether they are allowed to go to the graveyards or not.
What a Muslim woman has to be worried about is: Is she devoted to Allah? How much does she pray to Him everyday? How much of the Qur’an and Hadith does she read during the 24-hour cycle? Is she able to raise her children on Islamic principles? Is her house a centre of virtue? Do the people of the surroundings look to the people of her house for guidance, help and comfort? These are the things that she should be worried about and not whether she can go to the graves or not: whether allowed or not is another matter. Where is the time for an Islamically oriented woman to visit the graves?
In fact, the questions above should be the concern of Muslim men also. Being allowed to visit the graves, does not mean that the grave should become the centre of all activities. The living are more deserving of service than the dead.
It is only when Muslims lost grounds to their enemies on the surface of the earth that they began to shift emphasis to what is beneath the surface: the graves. And, therefore, they lament that half of their population is not allowed to the graves.
As for why men are allowed to visit the graves, and not women, it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out the answer, if one knows the role and duties of women in Islam, and the position that she takes in the system.
A woman in Islam is not the cheap thing that you see in the streets today: the rough and tough barber, or car mechanic, or petrol-filler, or sweeper, or garbage collector, or bus driver, or sales-girl, or cat-walker, or prostitute, or butcher, or street vendor, or police-woman, or ticket-collector, airline hostess, men’s parlour masseur, or welder, or tennis ball collector, boxing ring advertiser, or bench-fitter, or boot-polisher, or gate-keeper, or gardener, or drug peddler, or gangster, or nude-model, or pimp, or waitress, or disco-dancer, or open-show sex partner. She is none of that in Islam. In Islam she is a honourable lady of the house: serving the husband and children and in turn served by the father, brother, husband and children. She doesn’t go out at all, for any purpose, except for pleasure or when unwell. She doesn’t earn her living. Somebody else toils for her, while she does the simpler, less daunting, less harassing, less de-basing, house chore. Doing these things, within the confines of the house, gives her a character and personality entirely different from that of the Western woman of today: the one who bears half the burden of life. In Islam, a woman is a much respected person. This is in complete contrast with the position she occupies in the West. There, she is told she is equal to man. Therefore, when she is raped, she doesn’t know what to do. If she complaints, she will lose respect and maybe nothing will be done about it. After all, a woman is raped every few minutes in the USA. Being of equal rights, she can fight the case in the court. But, in practice, can she? Can she afford, for instance? In contrast, in Islam a woman is well respected and well-guarded. If she is raped, the rapist will lose his life. If the law fails, the father, brother, husband, or son, will kill the rapist. So she remains safe from the humiliating assault on her self.
Therefore, in Islam, she is innocent, simple, and, for those reasons, trusting. If she goes to the graves, with such a mind, she will surely be fooled and exploited. Visit to the graves will not only adversely influence one whose body, mind and soul are kept soft, tender and impressionable but will also expose her to witchcraft, magic, spiritualist’s guile, and grave-keeper’s cunning. Entering into the grave-yard, she will lose the protection of the home, the husband, children, family-seniors, the neighbourhood elders, the society, and will be exposed to the world and tricks of the Graves & Inc.
She is kept away and insulated from the world of crooks, the pervert, not for her own sake alone, but for the sake of men too. It is she who works at home on her husband and others against cunning, perversions. That is the reason why most traditional societies did not tolerate moral perversion on the part of women. She is supposed to act against it, and help bring in order. She is the monitor, the moral-police woman. If she is corrupt, how are men to be taught chastity? Therefore, she must be least exposed to the outside world.
A Bad Father?
Q: I am a 21 year old Engineering student. From my childhood days (as far as I can remember), I came across no situation when my father has shown any love or affection towards me or helped me in my studies or guided me. The reason why he did so, I am not able to understand. Due to this situation, my mother had to face a lot of problems. Although I was used to it, I realized recently that the whole situation of my career would have been different if he had not been so negligent.
Due to some misunderstandings that have crept in between me and my father, and due to which, I give him rough answers and occasionally do not obey him. Considering the position of father and mother in Islam, I would like to ask you if my behaviour towards my father is correct?
Hope you understand my problem and guide me as per Qur’an and Sunnah.
You have levelled a few charges against your father but have not substantiated with examples as to what exactly is his fault. Let us take your allegations one after another, and examine them.
You say your father has not exhibited his love for you. Now, not to love a child is one thing, and not to exhibit it is another. We are sure you cannot say he does not love you simply because he does not make a show of it. Who knows what he has in his heart? We know of at least one case where the father and the son disagreed over everything. But, when the son went away overseas, the father was quite in despair over the son’s absence. You see, between those who live together, it is extremely difficult to judge from their attitudes if they love each other or not. Little things happen that spoil the atmosphere. But whatever said because of those little frictional events, love stays firm in the heart.
Again, there are certain types of individuals who do not like to demonstrate their love or concern, even if they are deeply in love.
As for your mother facing hardships, again, it is not clear why she had to undergo suffering in consequence of hardships, if she suffered at all. Hardships are nothing uncommon in the world. Most people face hardships at some time or the other in their lives. But, facing hardship does not mean suffering too, although quite a few suffer also. But that is true mostly of Western countries where people suffer even without facing hardships. You see, hardship is physical, whereas suffering is mental, psychological or spiritual. In the Muslim world, hardships do not necessarily mean suffering too. And, even if they do, many people suffer for no reason other than that they are sentimental, emotional or fretful over little things. Moreover, if your mother suffered at your father’s hands, then, unless your father was a drunkard, or suffered some such horrible character failure, unless that is the case, this is a “no go” area for you. It is something only the two can settle between themselves. It’s not for you to comment, take sides, or judge. For, there may be lots of background details that your parents will never disclose to you.
Your another allegation about your father being negligent of your career is also unclear. Did he not guide you to the course of studies you wished to adopt? Or, did he force you into a course that you disliked? If he did not guide you to a course of study you wished to adopt, then, we do not know the reason. Maybe he wished you to make an independent judgement. Alternatively, if he forced you into the present course, then, perhaps, he thought that was the best choice for you. Perhaps you need to discuss the issue with him a quiet evening.
In the overall, we might tell you that unless it is a clear moral failure, it is very difficult for a son to judge his father. To the children, all parents are extremely lovable initially. Then comes the period in their lives when they become indifferent to their parents while the parents continue to fret over them. Then comes the great transition phase of the teenager into manhood. In this stage, the parents sound funny to their children. If not handled properly, this can be carried into adulthood also. In the next stage, all scores seem to be settled as the parents get old. Finally, with death, all is forgotten and forgiven. In some cases, death is followed by regrets, grief and pangs of love. But that too dies off, and the person, the child of yesterday, the man of today, himself dies uncaring of anyone in the world, just as when he was born. Our advice to you is not to be in a haste to judge your father. You cannot attribute your failures to him.
Everyone gets what he strives for, and there is a way out of every situation of dissatisfaction. Again, generosity is a marked character of a Muslim. And parents are first of those who deserve it. Some time later, when you have grown older, maybe your father will be in a mood to discuss the past with you. Perhaps, you will then know the true motives of his behaviour now.
An Uncontrollable Temper
Q: I am a regular of reader your digest and am writing this letter with full hopes that you will answer my question and help me in leading the right path.
You ought to pin your hope on Allah, more than on us, anyone else, or even on yourself. Allah is the Guide, the Protector.
Q: I am a 26 year old professional graduate married with one child. I am very short-tempered and I end up quarrelling with everybody.
Normally, people lose temper because something goes wrong. But, it is impossible that things shouldn’t go wrong. Which means it is impossible that one shouldn’t get angry. What’s the solution then? Well, the solution lies in lowering the scale of expectations from the people and of life in general. This is one of the most successful ways to avoid losing temper.
To explain: if you asked somebody to do something, then, think over in your mind: what do you think the person will achieve? What kind of accomplishment it is that will make you feel satisfied? Having made it clear to yourself, what you expect of the person, (mostly, good results), next begin another exercise within your mind. Tell yourself that for sure the person is not going to do it the way you want it done. Surely, he or she will spoil it, or do it badly, or not do it at all. Having assured yourself that what you have entrusted to the person, will end up in a failure, prepare yourself as to how you will receive the news. What will you say when the person turns up bringing in the disappointing result.
To give you a concrete example, let us say you sent someone to buy mutton from the market. Now, before the person comes back, tell yourself the man is not going to buy mutton. He will say, he couldn’t go, or he forgot, or the shop was closed, or the meat wasn’t good, or whatever. Having assured yourself that the errand will be a failure, prepare your reaction to the failure. What will you say when he turns up. Also, prepare yourself to cook vegetables instead.
Now, suppose the man turns up without the meat, surely, you wouldn’t be too angry. You will say to him and to yourself, “I knew you wouldn’t bring it.” Also, being ready with an alternative, (cooking vegetables in place of mutton) will cut down the intensity of your anger. At least you will save yourself the immediate outburst.
Now, you can’t do this sort of exercise with every little thing. But it should work with major events, and should cut down on instances when you completely lose your temper.
Further, you’ll have to analyze as to when is it that mostly you lose temper. Let’s say in the kitchen early in the morning when you have to prepare the breakfast, look after the child, things are not arriving on time, somebody is rising late creating inconvenience, etc. So, one way to curb the temper would be “not” to say to yourself early in the morning that today Allah willing you are not going to lose your temper. Rather, you should tell yourself: “Now, everyday something happens that makes me lose temper. It’s funny. Everyday something new happens. Let’s see what happens today that will make me lose my temper.” Having said that, be on the watch for something that will make you lose your temper. Being on the watch will lessen the chances of its occurrence.
Another way to fight off bad temper, is to make fun of yourself in the presence of others. When you ask someone to do something, then also add, “Now. Don’t go and spoil it. You know how short-tempered I am.” Or, “Do you know that I suffer more than you when I lose my temper. So, for God’s sake, don’t go and spoil this. Do it the way I want it. Do you want me to shout at you?” Or, “Man, do it properly. There is somebody in the house who is short-tempered.” These kinds of statements will not only curb your anger but also make it easier for others to bear when you flare up.
Finally, if the anger is really too hot, just leave the place. Go wash your face. Drink some cold water. If that doesn’t work, pour some water on yourself. Wetness of your clothes, will on the one hand cool you down, and, on the other hand, require a change of dress, diverting your mind and thought away from what made you angry.
Q: I read the Qur’an regularly with Tafsir. I want to control my temper, but unable to do it in spite of my several attempts. I get angry easily and, in that mood, I lash out my tongue at everybody – even my elders.
Your short-temper seems to be a trial from Allah. You will have to take it as a challenge. You must try and come on top of it.
As a practical action, take account everyday of your lashing out instances at the people during the previous day, and seek their forgiveness the next day when you are cool. You might not always be able to say sorry to them, or seek forgiveness, since, after all, you’d have a feeling that it was they who provoked you to anger.
With that thought, saying sorry will be very difficult. Rather, when you notice them sort of out of mood, or cold towards you, or indifferent, say, “Take it easy, man. What’s said in anger is not to be taken too serious.” Or, “Cool it off, man. Fire will not quench fire.” Or, “Ah. I see you put off. But I think it is an over-reaction.” Or, “So, you haven’t forgotten yesterday’s brawl. Let me make you a tea to make you forget it. Shall I?” Or some such words of compromise. That, perhaps, is the best you can do after you have been angry with someone.
Q: Due to this, I am very unhappy knowing very well that my good deeds are getting destroyed and I am becoming a sinner. I even disobey my parents in that temper.
It should be much easier to say sorry to the parents. Also, at normal times take good care of them. Attend to all their needs in a most diligent manner. Ask them, “Papa/ Mama, where do you think I got this bad temper from. Anyway, you must pray for me. Only your prayer can help me get rid of it,” etc.
Q: I lose all commonsense, thinking, etc in that mood. My mother says that I have all bad qualities like, short temper, narrow-mindedness, jealously, etc. These accusations are making me much more depressed.
You have to realize that it is not easy to control one’s temper. It is a Herculean task. But, it can be curbed. And that’s what you should be satisfied with.
As regards your mother’s words, probably, your quick flare up leads her to think in those terms. You should have a good laugh at it and make fun of your anger. Make your mother also laugh at you, rather than get angry in return. If you take it easy, they will also take it easy.
Q: I perfectly know that these are all the features of a hypocrite.
They are not. In fact, hypocrites have a very good control of their tempers. They are deft at dealing with people and situations. Your anger is a trial from Allah. You curb it and earn the reward.
Q: I have tried, but in vain, to control and fight my inner bad self. I have desperately tried every method and this letter is the last step which I have taken.
Name and address withheld
Consulting us need not be the last step. Try out methods suggested by us. But lack of immediate results should not disappoint you. This life is a trial. Everyone is tried one way or the other. We have to win over what we are tried with. If you sit back in despair, then that is what Shaytan wants. It’s his victory. Don’t accept defeat, even if you lost this time. Remember that until death, there is always a “next time.” Let yours be the last laugh and the final victory yours.
Finally, say kalimah shahadah as many times as possible, all over the day. Not just repetitions at some time. Rather, every few minutes say it once, maybe about 8-10 times an hour. Not the whole of it, but simply, “Laa ilaaha illa-Allah.” It should have a soothing effect on your soul, Allah willing.
Q: Please enlighten the following questions. During the tenure of President Abraham Lincoln, civil war was fought between the southern and northern states of America on the question of slavery. In Islam, is slavery allowed. If so, what is the difference between the two?
The difference between the two wars, that of Abraham Lincoln and that of Islam, both against slavery is that Abraham Lincoln lost, whereas Islam won.
Although liberated, the former slaves have not yet won equality in the USA or Europe. Although no more slaves, they are still kept economically low to be serving the whites in various low-paid jobs. Socially, they are far from equal. Spiritually, they are worth used tea bags. No black man has been a Pope. And the day one is, Christians will think it as the last nail in the coffin of Christianity as understood and practiced in the West.
Anger against the whites is so high that once this writer was asked by an Afro American Muslim performing Hajj if Muhammad was black or white? If not for their flair for music and performance in sports, the blacks in the USA would surely have been worse off. Tired of living as unequals, once they were thinking of mass migration back to Africa.
A black motorist was beaten blue by white policemen in the USA, for no fault of his, even the while the whole incident was being filmed. The law-keepers were left scot-free. An unarmed black man was killed in his own flat by the police, for simply making a move. A study says that a black has twice the chance of being convicted for the same kind of crime than a white man. In the USA, almost every second black person has been in prison some time or the other in his life. Lincoln failed.
Socially too, the freed slaves have not been accepted at all as free men. There are areas where blacks cannot buy property. Once when a newly appointed black doctor attended a monthly meeting in a hospital, he was politely told that it was an all-white meeting. Villains in American films are generally blacks against white heroes. (In India we are told it is Muslims that are shown as villains). Never is a black shown as a hero with a white man as a villain: unless it is a heroic villain. You have seen how a white Kennedy was acquitted for a clear case of rape, but a black Tyson was jailed over a doubtful case. (What was the woman doing in Tyson’s room past midnight? She was not even a friend. Just somebody, an admirer). Malcolm X was told by his white teacher that he shouldn’t aspire to become a doctor, or an engineer, etc., rather, should hope to become a painter, janitor etc. Yes. Ibrahim Lincoln failed. He gave them only political rights. And political rights are only on paper. Just like Muslims in India, they have all the political rights. But, in employment they are less than 2% although in population 20%. In Industrial ownership they are perhaps only 0.2%.
Political rights are worth banana skins, if the majority is hell bent on denying those rights – however innocent faces they may make.
In contrast, Islam succeeded in liberating the slaves. Who was the Pope at the time of the Prophet? It was Bilal. It was not a white Qurayshi who climbed the Holy House, the Ka‘bah building, to call for Prayers. It was Bilal, the African, the black.‘Umar used to say, “Our master Abu Bakr freed our master Bilal.” When ‘Umar allowed Bilal a front seat, and the handsome, fair Arabs a back seat in his assembly, and when they made faces, he didn’t say, sorry. He said, “This is how you will be treated in the Hereafter also.” When Bilal, the black, wished to leave Madinah, Abu Bakr, the fair, the most important man in Islam after the Prophet said, “Bilal, don’t abandon me in my old age.” An Arab in Syria received a proposal for his daughter from another Arab. He said, “I don’t know you. Bring me a good recommendation.” The man brought Bilal as the one to recommend him.
Islam succeeded where Lincoln failed. By the second generation most top class scholars in Islam were former slaves. Thousands of “never been slaves” followed them like shadows, handling their boots, kissing their hands, making notes of their dictations. They enslaved the free through leaning, piety, and other-worldliness.
They didn’t ask for political rights. But, within a few centuries they were the rulers in Egypt and in India.
Islam succeeded where Muslims failed. The Muslims enslaved people whom they had no right to enslave.
They will pay for it through their bleeding noses in the Hereafter. After Islam had almost finished off this ugly phenomenon, the corrupt Muslims gave it a new life, played a dirty role. It could be that their present day slavery to other nations is a first installment punishment for their renewal of slavery when Islam had killed it.
Aside that, today, millions are in slavery, but they are made to think that they are free. Aren’t they free to vote, or move about, or choose their professions, etc.? Only words. They are slaves in every sense there were slaves in former times. They are “free” to live in ghettoes, “free” to serve their various masters, generation after generation, “free” to move, but not too far, “free” from their masters, but not free from economic clutches, “free” in political terms, but not free as a community to determine their present and future. Only Islam can remove this slavery, if… yes, if… there are Muslims, if… there is an Islamic society, if… there is an Islamic state. There isn’t one today.
A question is often asked. “Why didn’t Islam ban slavery outright, like the American government did, or as other governments have done. It seems governments are kinder upon man than the God who created them.”
The questioners seem to have a point against Islam. It couldn’t be a revealed religion that allows for slavery – of any kind. The answer is as follows:
Islam is a revealed religion. It was revealed by Allah, the Creator of man. Allah is All-Knowing. He knows how cunning man can be. He, the All-Knowing could not be trapped laid up by man.
Islamic laws are permanent. They are for all times, all ages, all societies and all nations. But human laws are not permanent. They change. Slavery might be banned in one century to be revoked in another. What would have to Muslim slaves if slavery is permanently disallowed by Islam but others legalize it in future?
Again, human laws are selectively applied. Double-standards is the hallmark of humans. Laws are there for all “to read.” But they are not there for all to be applied to. Many laws are for a particular race, people of a particular region, of a particular colour. They are not for all. The right of self-determination, for instance, is for all – on paper. But in practice, it is not for Palestinians, or Chechnyans, or many others.
But Islamic laws are for everyone: whatever the region, the religion, the race, the language, the colour of the people.
The above applies to the law of slavery. Had Islam banned it, it would have been a unilateral action. The non-Muslims would bring it back and enslave the Muslims. So, Allah the All-knowing, has kept the door open.
He made it clear that it is a terrible thing. Slaves should be emancipated. But, it doesn’t mean, Muslims should be taken slaves, while they have no law to retaliate with. Islam disapproves of the nuclear bomb. But, it will not ban it, because, if it did, Muslims will have non-Muslims dropping nuclear bombs on their heads.
That means, even if the non-Muslims banned nuclear weapons, Islam is not obliged to ban it for Muslims. If it did, it would be forever. But non-Muslim laws are not forever.
Q: To get a job in the government sector, or in private, is not easy in Manipur. So, people bribe to get a job. And now most of the people that are employed by doing so are engaged in da’wah works and pray five times daily. Will their good deeds will be accounted good in the sight of Allah. Where will they be in the Hereafter?
Islam is a very pragmatic and practical religion. It is an earthly religion. It is not the religion of ideals, ideologies and day-dreamers. It is down-to-earth in its solution to human problems.
Denial of jobs, to the deserving, whoever he or she may be, Muslim or non-Muslim, for any reason other than unavailability, is a crime. Now, the governments are there as law-keepers and not to commit crimes. If they do, then, obviously, the victims, the people, have to do something to safe-guard themselves and their rights.
When a man tries to bribe a government officer, the officer should get him punished and not reward him with a job. In contrast, if the official proves that that is the only way a man can get a job, then he is making a rule.
How can then, those bribing be called criminals. Aren’t they following a rule of law?
Islamic law is very clear on this issue. “The giver and taker of bribe, both are in the Fire,” goes a hadith. But, if your rights can only be got through bribes and by no other means at all, then there are two solutions. One, forego your rights, and two, go ahead and do what you are being asked to do, to obtain your right. But, in either choice, it adds a responsibility to the Muslim: work on getting the system changed. From active opposition, to verbal protest, to a stern dislike of the system, everything should be done to usher in the rule of the equitable law. If they fail to do that, then they’d be counted amongst the criminals. But, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t strive to get their rights.
As regards, Prayers, yes, if the circumstances are truly as you have portrayed, then their earnings are lawful and their Prayers are acceptable.
Q: One earns money illegally like gambling, black marketing, hoarding and interest transaction business, etc. Now, he becomes rich and prays five times daily and performs Hajj also. Is there no contradiction between his wealth and spiritual life?
Firstly, you have bundled up together crimes of various gravity. For instance, interest transaction is something totally unacceptable. But hoarding is not a crime of the same class.
Secondly, you haven’t stated the country and the government: whether it is at war with Muslims, or, is simply hostile to them, or, is indifferent, or protective, or, is it a Muslim state. The gravity of the crime will depend on the kind of government the concerned people live in.
Thirdly, whenever someone got rich, rumors are spread by the jealous that it was got through illegal means.
For instance some of the unfair means you have stated actually bring in poverty, such as, gambling and interest transaction. Whoever indulged in gambling, or borrowed money on interest, will end up as a pauper.
Finally, in general terms, free of all conditional statements, whoever earned wealth through unlawful means such as usury, or gambling, earned unlawful wealth, and his Prayers are not acceptable to Allah.
But we do not understand what you mean by the contradiction. If you mean he should forego his wealth, giving back the people their dues, or, spending off the unlawful in the way of Allah, retaining only the lawfully earned, then you are right. But, if you mean he should either do the above or give up his devotional acts, then you are wrong. He should continue with his devotional acts. It is expected that if he is sincere in his devotional acts, he will be led to repentance. Allah said, “Surely, Prayer prevents from the obscene and the evil.”
Q: My father asks me to join army as a Jawan, although I am physically unfit. He thinks that this problem can be solved with money. Only my father supports the whole family which is big. Now, we are in hand-to-mouth situation. I cannot agree with my father’s plan. Now, my condition is as follows. I am at presently TDC (core) Arts student in Economics. I learn Islamic course in the local Madrasah. My father does not have confidence that I’ll get a job after graduation. In his words, I will be in Islamic lines. Based on his past deeds, we the brothers of our family have repented. I aspire for civil service. I tried to earn some money but failed.
It is clear from the above details that your family is passing through a difficult economic phase. Further, the course of studies that you have undertaken does not seem to promise a quick job. Therefore, your father’s apprehensions are understandable, especially in view of the fact that it is not easy for Indian Muslims to find jobs. Whether you should join the army is your and your family’s decision. We cannot advise you either way.
But, surely, you could augment your father’s income by working. You say you have failed. But you might have been looking for white collar jobs. Instead, if you are ready to do any work, say for instance, cycle-repair, house-painting, helper in an industry, etc., you should be able to find some work. Especially during the vacations you could take odd jobs and augment your family income. Indeed, even in ordinary days you can earn some money by knitting sweaters, socks, caps, etc. Finding a decent well-paying job is difficult, but earning some money should not be so.
Q: In Manipur, the academic atmosphere is polluted with unfair means and corruption. In such an atmosphere, I cannot engage in any creative works, e.g. preparing for competitive examinations. Please help me in finding ways to build up self-confidence.
Your excuse is not a sound one. Many of those who do well in competitive examinations do not enjoy good academic environment at home or in the universities. One who applies himself seriously to the studies, forgets his surroundings.
Q: What is Kal-Bujari, a statement which is often made by the Tabligh Jamaat people. Why don’t they respect other forms of da’wah and self-reformation rules? What is the main obstacles to have Daras-e-Qur’an after prayers instead of Tabligh-Nisab? It sounds like that they want to keep away Qur’an and Hadith. Am I wrong to say that there is buzurg-culture in their speech instead of arguments based on Qur’an and Hadith.
The objections you have raised are nothing new. But, neither they have a satisfactory reply to their views, nor their critics are able to provide a viable alternative, or a solution to problems that they foresee. One answer to the above objections is that the Jama‘a does not disagree with the fact that the Qur’an and Sunnah are of paramount importance. But, they would not like to extend the right of interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah to the laity. They believe, therefore, that a proper Dars (lecture) on the Qur’an or Hadith is something that only a qualified scholar can handle. And, not finding any in most places, they end up opposing those non-scholars who engage in their studies, or pooh-poohing those who engage in such studies.
But, truly speaking, it is not the laity’s ignorance of the Qur’an and Sunnah that is deplorable. It is the ignorance of the so-called “khawas” (the elites) among them that is incommprehensible. It has seriously affected the quality of religion of the common adherents of the Jama`ah. The failure to bring in meaningful societal changes can only be attributed to the neglect of the sources of Islam. In the long run, it is feared that the Jama`ah will pay dearly for the neglect of the Qur’an and Sunnah. May Allah not show us that day, and may He guide everyone to the right course.
Q: Please suggest me some steps which I can successfully acquire degree of both secular and Islamic knowledge, noting that in the latter I am only a starter?
You have asked for the best of both the worlds. That is a big thing to ask. To get even the best of one world requires the devotion of a life-time. What about both the worlds then? If you look around at people who have been successful businessmen, doctors or artists, you will find that they have been working day and night for years on to achieve success.
Our answer then is, double up your efforts if you desire to get the two: this and the next world, the material and the spiritual, the earthy and the heavenly, the secular and the religious. We don’t mean that you double up “your” efforts. (Your efforts after all, don’t seem to be enough to solve your financial problems). Rather, look at the efforts of the most hard-working person around you, and double up those efforts for yourself, to achieve what you are desiring to achieve.
Q: What is your view about keeping girl-friends by adolescence?
We thought our views are well-known by now.
Q: Is elopement allowed in Islam? If not, what can be done to stop couples from eloping? Please clarify the role that should be played by their Walis and the Ulemas in this regard?
Md. Yushub Ali,
Moijing Chingya, Manipur
That is a big question. What should be done in general is to create an awakening of Islam, its requirements and its benefits. As for individual cases, only those directly involved or affected can do something.
Q: I am a 16 year old regular reader of YMD. I have seen many solutions in it, with brief explanations to problems of various kinds. I want to ask you three questions concerning problems which are very common among the youth. Is masturbation a sin in Islam? If yes, why? What are the effects?
This issue has been discussed so many times in this magazine that it has become stale. In any case, here is a brief repetition.
There are traditions of the Prophet that indicate, though not in absolute terms, that the act is prohibited in Islam.
Nonetheless, since the prohibition is not in clear terms, the scholars have differed between themselves over the issue. Some have said that it is completely unlawful, others that it is allowed, if in distress, to save oneself from falling into a sin, while others have taken other positions.
The problem today is that, primarily, the whole of the Muslim life and society have been constructed on un-Islamic principles. Further, there is considerable deterioration in thought and action due to other factors.
Islam recommends that young men and women get married as soon as possible after their maturity. It expects its adherents to live as a closely knit family, work hard, co-operate with each other, and enjoy the joys of life within legitimate rights.
But, Muslims don’t lead this kind of life. Hence, without the Islamic system in place, it becomes very hard to live by many of its injunctions. Islam works well and fully satisfactorily when lived collectively.
We have also pointed out earlier that masturbation, being an unnatural habit, drains out the energy. In the early stages it drains some extra energy. But in later stages, when it becomes a regular and pleasurable habit, over-indulgence drains useful energy, leaving the youth weak. It becomes easier to postpone the marriage, to the loss of best years of youth, its energies and pleasures. The youth looks older than his years at the time he finally decides to marry.
Consider the case of a 16 year old youth. He is likely to get married at 30. If he takes up the habit at 16, he will be with it for full 12 years. What will be left of him by then, especially in the modern context when the food on the table is mostly junk, which does not help in the growth of a healthy body?
To consider another aspect, late marriages are not approved in Islam. But late marriages are the norm today.
The reason given is economic. But it is not economic. In fact, where late marriages are planned, well ahead of time, it worsens the economy of the Muslims, since until say they are 30-35, they don’t have to work real hard. But, if they got married early, with initial support of the elders, they’d be forced to study harder, get better results and earn their livelihood quicker. But now, they take it easy and thus worsen their personal economy. By the time they get serious, they are already in their middle-age, when the productive period is over. On the other side, since nature has not designed that its rules be flouted, they fall into bad habits.
We strongly recommend that the youth reverse this trend and get married earlier to avoid falling into sin.
Q: Is beer, which contains less alcohol (below 9%, which is less affective) allowed in Islam? If it is not allowed, then why?
As to why a thing is disallowed in Islam, we truly don’t know much. We can only guess. All we know is that liquor is disallowed in the Qur’an. With that we don’t need to know the reason. It’s like the parents disallowing their child something. It isn’t necessary for the child to know why it is disallowed. It is enough for him that the disallowance has his parents, as the authority. Similarly, after it is disallowed in the Qur’an, there is no need to check on why it is disallowed. The One who disallowed must have had a good reason. If we knew why a thing was prohibited, we wouldn’t need guidance from above. We could have worked it out ourselves.
When the Companions received revelation, they went back to check if it was revelation. Once convinced that Muhammad couldn’t be speaking on his own behalf, they never asked about anything as to “why” it was prohibited or enjoined. `A’isha (ra) was once asked as to why women were to repeat fasts missed during menstruation but not the Prayers? It was a straight-forward “why” question. But the answer was very significant. She said, “Because, at the time of the Prophet, we were asked to repeat the missed fasts but not the Prayers.”
Extremely intelligent as she was, she perhaps understood the sickness of the heart and confusion of the mind, and straightaway pointed out “why” we do things in our religion. If the question is, “Why?”, the answer is, “Out of obedience.” As regards beer, the answer is, first of all, the definition of what is “wine” or “alcohol” has to be understand: Anything that intoxicates is “wine.”
And now the principle: “Anything of which a big quantity causes drunkenness is prohibited in small quantities also.” That is because big and small quantities are uncertain terms. What is small quantity for one, is big for another and what is big for one is small for another. Again, bodies vary in physical, psychological and moral reactions to similar causes. Some people can get drunk with 2% wine in water. On another, it might have no effect. Therefore, beer, if it has any amount of alcohol in it stands forbidden. But that beer is permissible which is completely free of alcohol or other intoxicants. The effects of intoxicants on the libido are well known by the doctors. It seriously affects the performance.
As we have said earlier, we do not know all the reasons why wine was prohibited. But Qurtubi, the famous commentator of the Qur’an, has reported that, once, a drunken man was seen, drinking his own urine and saying, “Allah be praised for having guided me to Islam.”
Q: Is cigarette haram in Islam?
Tobacco is different from wine in two important aspects. It is not an intoxicant regardless of how much is consumed. Therefore, it cannot be declared prohibited on those grounds. Many scholars hold the opinion that tobacco consumption, in whatever form, although undesirable, is not unlawful. It is undesirable because it wastes money, makes one dependent on it and has a foul smell which is disliked by angels visiting man. However, such disadvantages do not call for a permanent, irrevocable prohibition.
On the other hand, it is proven from studies that smoking tobacco leads to cancer. It is on this ground that some scholars have declared it unlawful since Allah has forbidden us that we destroy our bodies by willful means.
Q: Please publish this in the questions and answers column of YMD. Can a Muslim girl work as a teacher in a school where other male teachers are also working?
The Islamic ruling on women’s observation of complete hijab, covering the body head to foot, including the face, is well-known. That is a permanent rule and may not be broken in ordinary circumstances. And, if broken for a specific reason, a Muslim woman should fall back to the permanent rule, as soon as the specific reasons disappear. For instance, if a woman has to unveil at work, say in a school, she might not unveil when she is out of the building where she works.
The answer, therefore, covering specific situations as stated above can vary with the context. The first question would be, how desperate is a Muslim woman to get a job? Is she required to support herself, or her family? If so, rules can be relaxed in her favour, but not for everyone.
In the Indian context, if it is a public school, and there is strong opposition to the veil, by the non-Muslim staff, then, the girl might cover herself head to foot, except the face and the hands. This is because, in India, the non-Muslims are looking for a pretext not to employ Muslims, and if already in employment, try and throw them out of employment. Therefore, if there is strong reason to get employed, and strong pressure from the non-Muslim staff, a Muslim woman might unveil her face within the school premises. But, she must cover her face as soon as out of it.
If it happens to be a Muslim institution, then, a Muslim woman might not unveil herself before the other male teachers, since, they are not likely to force her out of job for that. At best, the corrupt of them would like to see her face, and harass her if she does not oblige. But they might not chase her out of job for that reason. However, if they threaten to throw her out, then she may act with them as she will with the non-Muslims.
Similarly, if the class has male major students, a Muslim woman might not unveil before them unless there is pressure from them or the higher staff. If she faces pressure, she might unveil within the class.
She is also prohibited from unveiling outside the class.
What if the staff insist that she does not use a Burqa or ‘Abaayah. Well, if there is pressing insistence, and a pressing need for the job she holds, then she might remove the Burqa or ‘Abaayah, but cover herself so well otherwise, that its removal does not matter.
Also, a Muslim woman going out of her house for purposes of job, marketing, medical treatment, etc., is strongly prohibited from using beauty aids, make up, etc. If she has to remove her Burqa or ‘Abaya, she should choose the least attractive clothes possible, say, soil coloured attire. She should avoid intermixing with the males. She should do her job well, to excel over the others, but, act harsh and tough toward her male colleagues to keep them at bay. With these precautions, it is likely that she will be forgiven for removing her veil or the Burqa within the premises of work.
The Sunni Jama‘at
Q: I saw the Q & A column of your October ’98 issue. You are trying to convert Muslims to the Tabligh, Wahabi, Deobandi dogmas; whereas the Sunni Jama’t is the only true Jama’at. You should read Imam Ahmed Raza’s book for the truth. You will find the right path there. You have a team of foolish and misguided Ulema in your Advisory Board. Rather than that, be in contact with Karnataka’s Sunni centre at “Jamia Hazrath Bilal.” Keep a link with Mufti Anwar Ali or with Moulana Shakir Razvi of Bombay. You have to know that the Tabligh followers will go to Hell. Fateha, Barsi, Milad, Urs are a must in our religion. And, Wali Allahs do not die after death.