Letters to the Editor
Q. My family is now in search of a groom for me. When my grandma consulted me regarding my choice, I told her clearly that I won’t be working after marriage and hence I should not be forced to do so. My grandma is continuously after me explaining the problems which I will encounter in future if I depend financially on my husband.
Why does your grandma consider your future husband good for nothing but a single function? If the husband is not for supporting his wife, what is he for?
Q. According to her: I will be the replacement of a maid in my husband’s house.
If household work turns a woman into a maid, then an employed woman is a twice maid: a maid in the office she works, and a maid in the house she lives.
Q. All my education will go waste if I didn’t work after marriage.
So, education is not for intellectual, moral and spiritual purposes. It is for earning money. Forgive your grandma. After all, she is not educated.
Q. I will have to depend on my husband for buying Islamic books (I’m very interested in acquiring Islamic knowledge).
What’s the budget we are talking of? Does it go in tens of thousands? One way to defeat your grandma’s designs would be to ask her shortlist Islamic books she thinks you should read. That list won’t be more than three entries long – if that. And that won’t cost more than two dollars. (You put the amount in dollars, because today people are impressed if you speak in terms of dollars).
Q. I won’t be having time to read those books.
Your grandma is gotten old. Perhaps she has difficulties thinking. Still, if you want to please her with some conversation, talk to her in the following manner:
You: Grandma. Let us play a game.
Grandma: What game?
You: A simple, but interesting game. (Don’t tell her it is an educational game. She might not like it).
Grandma: ok. Let’s see what it is.
You: It’s like this. You tell me which basket is heavier: One basket with ten lemons and six apples, or another basket with six apples, and two roses?
Grandma: The answer will depend on the weight of the two baskets, will it not?
You: Aha! Grandma. In these matters, you are pretty clever. ok. Let us assume both the baskets are of the same weight.
Grandma: ok. Now, repeat your question.
You: Once again. Tell me which basket is heavier: One basket with ten lemons and six apples, or another basket with six apples, and two roses? (Use a slate if necessary, with some graphics).
Grandma: Let me think. Yah! The first basket will be heavier.
You: You see, this is the answer to your objection about me not finding time for Islamic literature if I opted not to work.
Grandma: Now. What do you mean?
You: You see, it is like this. Who will have more time to spare? A woman who works for ten hours at a job (eight hours labor plus two hours travel time), and, in addition does six hours of work at home, or another who has to do six hours of work at home and does two hours of reading?
Grandma: But you have to learn to respect your elders and not play games with them.
Q. My earnings will double the standard of living.
This is the main point of the whole argument. Your grandma wants you to be a moneyed woman. Her argument is as follows: “One must get rich. If that requires trampling Islam, then, normally, Islam should not be trampled. But, if that is the price that has to be paid, then, well, what can be done? Let’s try to get rich.”
Q. Also, my family members and relatives have planned so many rituals to be performed at my marriage.
Let them do what they want, so far as the rituals have no un-Islamic element in them. As an educated girl, you will find it all so funny, even bizarre, while those ceremonies last, but let your intellect lie low for a while.
Q. They also want to film all the ceremonies although I am against it.
Stand firm on this.
Q. My grandma also says that I cannot educate the children according to my choice if I didn’t work.
Perhaps she means the education of her definition. Apart from that, never was anyone denied education, in any society, if he or she showed talent.
Q. I don’t want to work because I will be breaking the purdah rules.
Working outside does not necessarily mean breaking hijab rules. There are many professions where interaction with men does not obtain.
Further, you don’t have to be too inflexible on jobs. Your future husband might turn out to be poor (after he poses himself well-off before marriage, which is common). Or he might prove to be lazy (which is commoner); or a parasite (which is another possibility). In such cases, you will be required to work for yourself, your husband and your children. In fact, this is the most likely scenario awaiting today’s women. Not for nothing are women being educated. So, be ready for the worst, while you Pray and prepare yourself for the best.
Marriage to a Non-Muslim
Q. Does Islam allow a girl to marry a person who is younger to her by two or three months?
Yes. But it is not advisable. You might end up he trying to get another wife when you are in your fifties.
Q. Is inter-caste marriage allowed in Islam? Or is it allowed that a person marry a non-Muslim and allow his/ her wife/ husband to follow her/ his religion and she/ he follow his or her own religion i.e., Islam?
Marriage to a non-Muslim is not inter-caste marriage. It is an interfaith marriage. In any case, marriage of a Muslimah to a follower of any other religion other than Islam is an absolute prohibition. Her children will be considered children of adultery.
Q. I want to ask you a question concerning Ibrahim, peace be upon him. In the Noble Qur’an, Muhammad Muhsin Khan has (under Chapter 21: Verse 63) mentioned in his commentary a hadith of Bukhari (Vol. 4, # 578), in which it is said that Ibrahim (asws) spoke lies thrice in his life. Whereas against the same verse Mawlana Mawdudi says that a Prophet never lies. Please explain.
You will notice that rejection of the hadith in Bukhari is tantamount to rejecting a Qur’anic verse. (Few people realize how well the Qur’an and Hadith are tied up). For, the first of mentioned lie in the hadith is in the Qur’an itself. It is in the verse you have quoted which says (along with the pervious verse) in reply to the question whether he (Ibrahim) had broken the idols, “They asked, ‘Are you the one who did this with our gods, O Ibrahim?’ He replied, ‘Rather, it is this – the chief one – who did it. Ask them if they can speak.’”
In any case, scholars have pointed out concerning the hadith dealing with Ibrahim’s lies, that it has not been understood properly by the people, and hence some of them – the rationalists – tend to reject it for the reason that lies cannot be attributed to Prophets. They point out that although the hadith uses the word “lie” it does not state anything that we ordinarily consider as lies. Can any of Ibrahim’s three lies be treated as lies? Aren’t they all of allegorical nature? When Ibrahim said that the chief idol broke the rest of the other idols, did he think they would buy that from him? Was he doing anymore than demonstrating the powerlessness of their hand carved idols? When he said he was unwell, (when invited to attend pagan festivities), as second lie in the hadith, was he perfectly hale and hearty? Is not the word “saqeem” that he used, used for feelings of depression, distress, anxiety and sadness as well? Or, when he said to the oppressive King that Sarah was his sister, (the third lie of the hadith) was he absolutely wrong? Isn’t it reported that she was his cousin? Don’t the people even today refer to an uncle’s daughter as “my cousin-sister?”
What then is the meaning of the term “lies” as used in the hadith? Well, we must recall that great men enjoy high status with Allah. And high status demands moral rectitude of the supreme order. A minor error coming from such men is major in the sight of Allah, although no error in the sight of men. Didn’t Allah reproach our Prophet in very strong terms for his minor errors? Hasn’t Adam’s minor error been referred to in the Qur’an as “‘Asa” and “Ghawa”? In short, although the three statements of Prophet Ibrahim were no lies at all, the term “lies” was used because of the high status he held in the sight of his Lord.
Further, it might be pointed out that rejection of the hadith that speaks of Ibrahim’s lies leads up to another dilemma. There is another report, which confirms its trustworthiness. It is found in all major works and is none other than the famous Hadith al-Shafa’ah which speaks of mankind going from one Prophet to another on the Day of Judgment seeking their intercession with Allah on behalf of mankind to start off the Reckoning. They will all refuse on grounds of their errors of the past life. Ibrahim will cite his lies as the reason why he would not be able to help. Now, this is a mutawatir report. And mutawatir is a report, which is narrated by so many that their consensus to lie could not have been achieved. In matters of belief a mutawatir report has the same status as a Qur’anic statement.
Finally, scholars have also pointed out that although Allah or His Messenger have used strong words for Prophets, such as, in this case “kadhib” (lies), Muslims are not allowed the use of similar terms in reference to the Prophets of Allah. They might directly quote a Qur’anic verse or hadith but never accuse them of any such thing themselves. For, from our human point of view, they were above allegations of the nature we could attribute. In fact, we should not even imagine those qualities for Prophets. It’s like a king saying about his vizier, “He is lazy,” because the vizier was late by a minute. But the king’s statement does reflect the truth, nor does it give license to others in the court to refer to the vizier as lazy. Neither should they imagine he is lazy, basing their understanding on the king’s statement.
The above then makes it clear that “kadhib” in this case, means one thing to us, but another to Allah and His Messenger. There is no need to reject the hadith of kadhib on “our” ground, because our ground was not considered.
The Hidden Phenomenon
Q. I am a 21 year old boy…
When will you become a man, if you are not one at 21?
Q. I want to know whether terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalist is right.
Terrorism is a new phenomenon created by terrorist/extremist/suppressive states and governments. Today, foremost among them is Israel, followed by USA and a few others. These governments and states in fact oppress their own people but do it in a manner that their people do not realize. One of the ways is to shield them from the truth. They also oppress the peoples of the world by installing oppressive/extremist/terrorist regimes. Most of the time they use a hidden hand, while at others, when they have no alternative, they do it at gun point. Afghanistan is one case, where gangsters, warlords and murderers have been forcibly installed in the Government. The President Hamid Karzai’s government does not function beyond his palace. The rest of the country is in the hands of the Northern warlords who brutally torture, rape, and kill within the areas they control. They send in missile and bombs on each other during which schools and hospitals are not spared. There is no business and no jobs because America pays only to the warlords to help its soldiers remain in their fortified camps. None of the schools have reopened and the poor masses remember the days of the Taliban when at least their life, property and honor were safe.
The above was the worst case. But in other places too, the USA with the co-operation of the West, installs repressive, non-democratic governments wherever it is of its interest. When self-respecting young men of such countries cannot take the humiliation and injustice any more, and find that their own governments, or leaders are actually one with the oppressors and their policies, then they strike.
But, one question. Why do they strike at the innocent? The answer is, it is because they do not see any difference between the common people and their governments. They believe the oppressive governments have the full backing of the common people who vote them to power again and again and express their approval to their governments’ action through opinion polls. So, in their belief, the chips as well as the block are one and the same, and their equal enemy.
Q. I would like to know whether we should support these kind of groups or stand against them.
What do you mean by supporting or not supporting them? They are in the dark, behind the scenes, or non-existent at any moment of discussion. You know of them only when they strike. Even governments are not able to reach them. So, how will you? And the reason why they are unknown, in the unseen, is that anyone who cannot bear the injustices any more might any time turn violent. When exactly a person will turn violent we do not know. But there are many occasions that might turn an ordinary person violent. For, the governments and states we mentioned above, refuse to give up their oppression and violence against the people. So, the cycle will continue, more and more people will think in violent terms and more and more direct non-combatants will be killed. The only way to stop it is to administer justice. But no one is in any mood to talk about justice. You have seen what happened in Gujarat. Has there been any action to administer justice? You see what is happening in Palestine. Has there been any step by the international community to administer justice there? The faithful backing of the terrorists/extremist states goes on all the time, all around the globe. So, any hope none of the people will ever lose their temper at any time and strike? Today’s easy going, mild person could strike tomorrow and he will not ask for your support.
Q. I am here to say that I have recently started to read your magazine. Everyone in my relations and myself have been impressed by the way the magazine guides the Muslim youth in the right path. I request you to kindly print the following messages for the youth in your magazine.
Reasons of poverty as suggested by our elders:
(a) Urination in the bathroom.
Today, water closets combine the two functions, but, in general, there is greater material welfare in our times than it ever was. So, how do you reconcile the two?
(b) Using broken combs.
If you discarded broken combs and bought new ones, will you be poorer or richer?
(c) Keeping swept up dust within the house.
There is a good hidden point there. If you are so lazy as not to empty your dust bins, you are most likely to stay poor.
(d) Using broken vessels.
What applies to combs applies to vessels. The Prophet had a bowl that had cracked up, so it was tied up together with a cord and served its function.
(e) Misbehavior with relatives.
This could be a reason for poverty. If you don’t treat your relatives well, they wouldn’t help you out when you are in problems.
(f) Putting left leg first when wearing pyjamas or pants.
Although it is a Sunnah to start with the right foot, negligence is not likely to have any effect on one’s economy.
(g) Sleeping between ‘Asr and Maghrib.
Yes, sleeping between ‘Asr and Maghrib will make you poorer if that is the time that you are required to be at office.
(h) Becoming unhappy at the appearance of guests.
Being unhappy at guest appearance speaks of an un-Islamic training. But we don’t see the connection between guest-appearance and poverty.
(j) Spending more than earning.
Yes, spending more than one earns is one of the important causes of poverty among the Muslims of today.
(k) Drinking directly from water pot.
That should actually make you richer because you will be saving money on mugs.
(m) Clipping nail with the teeth.
A bad habit, but saves nail-cutter costs.
(n) Not removing pubic hair within 40 days.
(p) Biting bread with the teeth.
How else to do it?
(q) Wearing pyjamas from a standing position.
Perhaps what your elders mean is that if you are above 70 and try doing that, you might fall, break your bone, and get poorer.
(r) Women combing their hair from standing position and stitching torn cloth on the body.
Both are unconnected with poverty or richness.
(s) Keeping drinking water-can open at night.
Water must be kept covered at any time of the day or night.
(t) Touching the Qur’an without wudhu; talking while passing urine; eating without washing the hand; sitting on door threshold; eating in darkness; putting off the lamp with the blow of the mouth; sleeping naked; laughing in the graveyard; sweeping at night time.
None of them has anything to do with poverty.
(u) Eating without saying Bismillah
Yes. A hadith says that when a man starts to eat without saying the Basmalah, Satan also starts eating along with him.
(v) Sleeping in the morning till sunrise.
Now at last you have hit the nail on its head. This is the prime cause of Muslim poverty in our times.
Q. I am also sending you the following that every Muslim youth should put to practice.
Syed Junaid Ahmed,
Thank you for the advice list. But it was pretty too long for publication. We reproduced the above (shortening it somewhat) because these are the kind of superstitions that act as a barrier to adopting the Sunnah in our daily lives. If the above is what your elders believe, probably you should help them learn some Islam.
In any case, carry on with the good group work you have mentioned in later part of the letter.
Extra Kind on Women
Q. I would like to begin by saying how much I enjoy every issue of YMD magazine. I have learnt a lot, concerning Islam, from your magazine. I find Question and Answer column most interesting. I have studied few other books and discussed Islam with few knowledgeable people. Hence, I have many questions and a few critical remarks.
I have read Shibli Nu’mani’s biography of Imam Abu-Hanifah. In the eighth chapter, he quotes Razi’s statement from the book “Manaqib-al-Shafi’i” that no book of Abu-Hanifah has survived. He writes on page 82 (English version) that Fiqh al-Akbar has been ascribed to the Imam by Fakhr al-Islam Bazdawi, Abd-al-Ali Bahr al-Ulum and other commentators. He goes on to criticize the text for not being of that period and tells us that from historical point of view, it is not established that Abu-Hanifah was the author of Fiqh al-Akbar. He concludes by saying, “I have related all the facts known to me… but my conclusion from the facts is that no work by Abu-Hanifah is extant today.” But in the cover page of the book “Fundamentals of Islamic Creed” it is stated that “al-Fiqh al-Akbar” is Abu-Hanifah’s book.
The commentary on Tahawi’s treatise by Ibn-Abi-al-‘Izz was written the eighth Hijrah century. He mentions al-Fiqh al-Akbar as Imam Abu-Hanifah’s work. Mulla Ali Qari has, in fact, written commentary on this book. So, until their time, the authenticity was not questioned.
Q. You call Imam Tahawi al-Hanafiyy and later, in the same para, Ali Ibn-Abi-al-’Izz, another Hanafiyy scholar. In some other place, you write Ashraf Ali Thanwi Hanafiyy. Why is it necessary to include “Hanafiyy” after the name, and divide these great scholars and hence their followers?
The inclusion of Hanafiyy or Maliki or whatever, after the name of a scholar is necessary for the reader to know that when the said author states a Fiqh rule, it is following his own Madh-hab: Hanafiyy or Maliki or whatever. For, without the backing of a well-known Madh-hab, any opinion is personal opinion, acceptable to others or not, with no obligations and no censure.
It also helps impress upon a deviant reader, who might object to some opinions, because he holds different innovative opinions, that “Look! Here are great scholars of your own school of thought. Their views were very much, say Hanafiyy opinions, but were so different from what you hold as true.”
As regards division of the people on that basis, we don’t see any such division. The story of Muslim division on the basis of Fiqh schools is applicable only to those on the moon. On the earth, it is applicable to fanatics alone. And fanatics will separate themselves out on any ground. Others need not provide them the grounds. They will create their own.
Q. The Holy Qur’an says, “And hold fast, all together by the rope of Allah and be not divided among yourselves (Chapter 3: Verse 103).”
You have not understood the verse. What the verse means to say is: Do not adopt – on the national level – capitalistic or communist systems; do not adopt un-Islamic rules for your judiciary; do not set up an un-Islamic government, etc. On the individual level it means: Do not follow marriage rules as dictated by your women in contradiction to the Islamic rules; do not seek to adopt the culture of this or that people; do not abandon the Sunnah of the Prophet in favor of the ‘Sunnah’ of the West, etc.
Can’t you see on the other hand, that when some people pronounce the Ameen loudly in Prayers, while others in sub-vocal tones, both are following the Sunnah of the Prophet? How can you apply the above verse to Fiqh differences?
Q. In another place the Qur’an says, “As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: Their affair is with Allah: He will, in the end, tell them the truth of all that they did,” (Chapter 6: Verse 159). In this verse Allah, Glorified be He, says that one should not divide their religion into sects.
The four Madhahibs are not sects and so you are wrong in the application.
Q. But when one asks a Muslim, “Who are you?” the common answer is “I am a Hanafiyy”, “I am a Sunni”, “I am a Deobandi”, “I am a Tablighi” or “I am a Barelvi”, “I am a Shafi”, “I am a Shiah”.
Obviously, you are not a practical man. Go out now, at this point, and ask the Muslims you encounter in the street: Who are you? If you get an answer – sometimes from a startled person – other than that they are Muslims, then, sit down and reorient your thoughts.
Occasionally, you might get an answer, “I am an Indian,” or, “I am a Memon,” or, “I am from Kerala.” When you get that answer, then you will know the depth of corruption, the error in your opinions and the direction that your da‘wah activities should take.
Q. Dr Zakir Naik of IRF, in one of his talks, says, “According to Tirmidhi Hadith No. 171, the Prophet, peace be upon him, is reported to have said, “My Ummah will be fragmented into seventy-three sects, and all of them will be in Hellfire except one sect.” Next the Prophet said, “It is the one to which I and my companions belong.”
We can’t blame you for not understanding the above hadith because you do not know the definition of a sect. A sect is defined as a well-defined group of people that hold as true a few major cannons of belief that are completely in contradiction to those of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah, and treat themselves as a separate entity with a different identity. Fiqh plays no part in the above.
Note the qualifying words: well-defined group, major cannons, completely in contradiction, a separate entity and a different identity.
As for the beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah, read the text of Tahawi to know what they are. However, not all therein is considered as the major cannons of belief.
Q. If only all Muslims read and understand Qur’an and Hadith, In-sha’ Allah, most of these differences would be solved and we could be one united Muslim Ummah like before. Please comment on the above.
Yes, if only all Muslims read and understood the Qur’an and Hadith, they would become good Muslims: if they also practiced, which is where a problem lies. Nevertheless, we do not believe all differences can be removed. For, the sources allow for differences. And those differences are not divisive factors.
Q. As an answer to a question, you have written that the majority of scholars allow the lower garments to go beyond the ankle provided it is not out of pride. Only minority opinion is that it is prohibited. How can the majority form such an opinion when all existing ahadith prohibit it? There is not a single hadith allowing that. I quote few ahadith.
It is interesting to note that after declaring Qur’an and Sunnah as the ultimate source, you have quoted two or three ahadith from Albani’s book, and, further claim that “all existing ahadith…” say something which they don’t. Should you not have rather said, “all the existing ahadith in Albani’s collection … say so and so?”
Q. Somebody had asked you if Muslims can read novels like Mills and Boons, Sidney Shieldon etc., and other romantic novels. You have answered that it is ok as long as we don’t get influenced by them. So I read few of them. Mills and Boons has only description of female anatomy and it is bound to change the way we think of women and if we are not thinking in such a negative manner, it will force us to start visualizing haram acts. As far as Sidney Sheldon is concerned it contains homosexuality, incest, lesbianism etc. How can Muslims be allowed to read such pornographic material like Mills and Boon and expected to not get impressed by them.
Most authors first try out making money first in the clean way. When finished with creative ideas, they introduce in their works material that will sell. So, when a reader comes across a novel, which has objectionable episodes, he should hold it a little above the wastebasket, and loosen his grip.
Q. It appears that some of your answers are pro-males and anti-females.
Should not womenfolk thank us for the kindness? If they followed what we present to them of the opinions of the great scholars of Islam, will they go to higher levels of Paradise or not?
Q. For example, you allow males to trim and keep short beards.
Where is “your” hadith prohibiting it?
Q. No need to wear caps even during prayers.
Are you a dealer in caps?
Q. Can pray with lower garments below the ankle etc.
If they prayed with their lower garment hanging loose, it would be better than not Praying at all.
Q. But as far as women are concerned you discourage them from going to mosques.
We can’t remember having discouraged women from going to mosques; nor have we encouraged them to go to the mosques. We encourage them to Pray: anywhere and everywhere.
In any case, can you recall who made the first discouraging statement in this regard?
Q. But more importantly you insist that the face is included in Hijab. Even though some great scholars like Nasir-ud-deen al-Albanee have allowed it.
The insistence is not from us. We hardly express our own views in this magazine. We quote the opinion of the Madhahib, always taking into consideration, first, the “ak-thar” (majority), then the “ahwat” (the safest) and then the “as-hal” (easiest) when differences occur within the same school.
In any case, do you think you are unfair in not quoting at this point what Albani declared as his own daughters’ practice, and what was his own preference?
Q. It is also the opinion of Yusuf al-Qardawi in his book ‘Al halaal wa al-Haraam fi-al-Islam.’ What is your opinion about this book?
Do you think you would have quoted from that book, if it stated opinions different from what you hold as true? Indeed, do you think you would have read it at all, if your views had not been expressed there, just as you ignore any and every book that states different opinions.
Q. Others like Mawlana Wahiduddin Khan and Dr Zakir Naik also have similar opinions.
Before becoming a “Muqallid” of this or that “writer” would you like to compare the life and contributions of those you have named throughout this letter, with the Mujtahids of the past whom you reject?
Q. I would like to add that most men have emancipated themselves from Islamic requirements of dress, and yet they expect that their womenfolk should cover themselves.
But, above, you have implied that such emancipation, as you call it, on the part of the male Muslims is wrong, to name: length of beards. You have criticized us for our own stand about it. Now, do you now want Muslim women to commit the same kind of error?
However, you seem to have made some headway in Islamic studies which the omitted part of your letter indicates. But you need to continue. We hope one day you will be able to distinguish between Shari‘ah requirements and Islamic cultural requirements.