Letters to the Editor
Farheen Maniyar, via email
How authentic is Shab-e-Barat celebration? Could you throw some light on the same with references from hadith?
Any celebration on the night of 15th Sha`ban is a non-religious act. There is no hadith to the effect that the night of 15th of Sha`ban may be celebrated. In fact, celebration should be specifically avoided because – as Ibn Is-haq and others have reported – the Prophet’s teeth were broken, his followers met with their defeat, Hamza (ra) was martyred, and 70 Companions lost their lives on the 15th of Sha`ban at Uhud. For the inhabitants of Madinah it was a day of mourning and Allah (swt) revealed verses to console them.
As regards visiting the graveyard in the middle of the night, and fasting the next day, there seems to be no consensus of opinion over its legality or illegality. There are several ahadith that refer to it. They are all weak. But there being several of them lends the reported substance some value. But of course, none of the reports suggests lightening of mosques, special communal prayers, speeches over half the night, distribution of sweets, and so on.
Any communal activity on that night will border with bid`ah: an act of outright rejection. At best, if an individual visits the graveyard, spends the night in Prayers, and fasts the next day, (all at individual level), with full knowledge that it might have religious sanction, or might not, but it is being hoped that Allah will accept the Prayers and fast as “nawaafil“, then, the matter rests there: on good hope. But attempting these things at the communal level, even on “good hope,” is not justified because of the absence of religious sanction. Therefore, if attempted at the community level, as a religious requirement, it could be “bid`ah” while doing those things with celebratory overtones, will carry a hidden insult to the historic events at Uhud.
How does a person know whether his repentance has been accepted or not?
There are two apparent and two unapparent signs. If a repentant stops doing what he repented, and finds himself doing better things in place, his repentance might have been accepted.
The two unapparent signs are that he carries a feeling of remorse over the sin he committed (never a feeling of joy over it) and, two, offers great resistance to the sin when another opportunity appears.
And for how long should a person repent if he commits a sin?
The ritual repentance is only once.
However, “istighfar” should be as often as possible during the day and night. The Prophet said that he does “istighfar” seventy times a day. This “istighfar” has the overtones of regret over what was not done of the good things, but which could have been done; and seeking closeness to Allah by reminding oneself of one’s own weakness, and Allah’s greatness.
Tasmia Hina, via email
I find your magazine very informative but I have been noting lately that the number of questions answered as well as the number of articles are decreasing.
Perhaps your complaint refers to the “numbers” and not to the size of the magazine which is strictly maintained as 48 pages, a number which is crossed upwards but never downwards.
May be what you mean is that the “number” of questions were fewer than your expectation. That can happen since we do not aim at covering great many questions with single-line answers. We aim at answering a question fully, considering as many aspects as possible, discussing even side issues, to fully clarify our point, and lend satisfaction to the reader, and, occasionally, pleasure to others – even if the questioner does not feel quite bemused.
As regards articles, their length too can vary, in accordance with the importance we attach, which might not agree with the preferences of some of our readers.
I have been a subscriber from the past eight years and your magazines earlier were more informative with a lot of content. I am not complaining but I don’t want to see my favorite magazine deteriorating.
But we want our readers to complain so that we can evaluate and judge our efforts.
I take this opportunity to ask you some information which I have been trying to find but with unsatisfactory results. Shirk has 70 types. I want to know them in brief or in detail if possible. If it is too lengthy then kindly guide me to the book where I may find.
We do not know of any hadith that says that of shirk there are seventy kinds. Perhaps you had in mind the hadith that says that faith has seventy-two branches.
Actually, there can be many more than seventy kinds of shirk since Allah’s Attributes are in hundreds. Association of others in any one of these Attributes will generate one kind of shirk – and hence hundreds.
Furthermore, there are not many books on shirk per se. In English, the one around has been published by Al-Attique of Canada. It is entitled: An Explanation of Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s “Kashf Al-Shubuhat: A Critical Study of Shirk,” by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi. It is priced at US$ 22.50
Most scholars have preferred to write on tawheed and its demands, rather than on shirk, since tawheed cannot be understood through a study of shirk, whereas shirk can be understood through a study of tawheed. A proper understanding of tawheed, its implications, its manifestations, and its ramifications automatically removes shirk from a person.
But few books on tawheed have been translated into English. Dr. Ismail Raji Faruqi’s book entitled “Tawheed and its Implications for Life and Thought,” is considered to be a good effort in English. It has been published by The International Institute of Islamic Thought – USA. “Taqwiatu al-Imaan” of Isma`il Shaheed is another book recommended. It has been translated into English, and published by several bodies. For higher understanding, Sayyid Qutb’s Fi Zilal al-Qur’an is an indispensable work. However it demands high intellectual level and can lead laymen to wrong notions.
Rumana Zainab, via email
I am a regular reader of your esteemed journal and would like to congratulate you for all the good work you have been doing since all these years. My first question is regarding the effects of the two eclipses, i.e. lunar eclipse and solar eclipse on our lives, does it have any good or bad effect if a person sees it directly or on television, and if there is any hadith in this regard.
Any cosmological happening is bound to have some effect on the earth and earthlings. For example, a star in the vicinity of our Solar system collapses and bursts. Its parts fly into space and can one day a few fragments land on the earth, even if it takes millions of years, and even if it is in the form of cosmic dust. Once it is part of the earth, it comes into the life-cycle and will one day enter into our body through the food chain. This is a scientific fact. It is estimated that 30-40,000 tons of cosmic dust fall on to the earth every year.
But to believe that the heavenly bodies have some effect on the fate and destiny of individuals on the earth is an idea that comes from pagans of the past. Arab pagans believed that Sun and Lunar eclipses are signs of important happenings on the earth. Some pagan tribes believed that the Sun or Moon under eclipse were being attacked by the Devil. Accordingly, they beat drums to drive the Devil away.
The Prophet refuted all such notions and said that they were mere signs of Allah. He instituted special Prayers on that occasion, and Muslims of today will do well to establish the Prayers.
Although, instead of watching the phenomenon (which in reality does not evoke any wonder, since the clouds do the same thing the year around), the Muslims should be Praying, yet, there is no harm in watching the event either directly or on TV. However, watching Sun eclipse without special glasses can lead to blindness.
And my second question is regarding the practice of reciting the Surahs or durood for any specific number of times, which is advised by the people on TV, and which is being followed by a number of people who claim to have solved their problems and got positive results.
There are ahadith that speak of the virtues of a few chapters of the Qur’an, or of few verses. But they are in general terms. There is no trustworthy hadith with reference to resolving any specific human problem with the help of this or that ayah or supplicatory words.
As regards “durood” it should never be said but out of love of the Prophet.
In general, we can say that the recommendations, either made on the TV or in person, or in a book, have no Islamic sanction.
Those who offer them would do better to offer these formulas on their own authority or past experience, rather than use the name of Islam.
The Qur’an is here to discipline our lives and lead us to salvation in the Hereafter, and not to solve, through mere recitation, socio-economic problems.
Those who recite to Qur’anic recitation, when faced with a difficulty, while ignoring its study, have no share in the blessings of this Book.
As regards people obtaining positive results through a suggested formula, Qur’anic or otherwise, many such results can be attributed to coincidence. In a few cases, it could be that Allah granted them their desire (regardless of what of the formulas they read) to put them to test: whether they will turn good Muslims or carry on leading the life of the corrupt. Thus, positive results are no sign of the practice being correct.
A person who goes to a doctor when he faces a medical problem, is better guided than he who resorts, as the first thing, to a religious formula-recitation. This is, when there are medical problems. But if the problems are of economic or social nature, then, resorting to formula recitation (whether at the start of the problem, or as the final resort) instead of turning to Allah in repentance, and re-shaping one’s life and habits according to Islamic principles, is being closer to paganism than to Islam.
Sajid Khan Guari, via email
I am a government employee. It is a general practice to take, e.g., housing loan for tax exemption. Is that allowable? Another question is, if someone takes a housing loan, and the loan takes 20 years to be paid back, then can he or she perform during this period of time?
You did not mention whether the said loan is interest-based. If it is, you cannot take it.
Either way, one’s Hajj is not affected by the loan.
Once my four year old cousin asked me to draw the picture of a dog. I replied to him that drawing pictures of living beings is prohibited in Islam. He quickly said, “draw a dead dog’s picture.” The answer left me speechless and gave rise to a question: can we draw the picture of living being for the pleasure of children or for school curriculum?
Why were you left speechless? You could have drawn a dead dog, shrunk to bones, mouth open, teeth shining, insects going in and out, and its belly torn and eaten by the vultures. To defend Islam, one has to be smarter than the smart ones.
As to pleasing the children, a better pleasing affair would be to ask them to attempt drawing themselves (starting with a dead dog, if it is your smart cousin). But if you have to do, then you may do as the Islamic school books to, which slit the throat or show only half the figure, or greatly distorted; in short, not imitating one of Allah’s creation.
Mukkarram Shareef, via email
I have a few questions. After performing Witr Namaz can we offer Nafil Namaz or Qazai Umri. Some people say that Tahajjud Namaz can’t be offered after Witr. So you should offer Tahajjud, then Witr.
For those who do their tahajjud regularly, their last should be witr. On the other hand, for those who do not do tahajjud regularly, but have a chance to do only on some occasions, they might not delay their witr until tahajjud. Who knows they might miss their tahajjud and so the witr too. They should therefore do their witr after `Isha. If they get the opportunity to do tahajjud, they might do it, and there is no need to repeat the witr.
According to the Hanafiyyah, witr is wajib while tahajjud is nafil. Therefore, a wajib should not be put to risk because of a nafil.
Recently I had a talk with a Shia friend. He said that when Abu Huraira was the governor of Egypt, he did something wrong. He was then recalled and lashed for the sin. How far is this report authentic?
It is strange of the Muslims that when they are told about a confirmed commandment of Islam, they turn back and ask, “Can you quote the sources?” But when a Shi`ah tells them something about Islam, they do not ask him, “Can you quote your sources?”
At all events, this particular Shi`ah friend of yours seems to be quite ignorant. He knows neither his religion, nor the mainstream Islam. He is perhaps unaware that several books of his religion quote Abu Hurayrah’s ahadith extensively. His source books, e.g. “Bihar al-Anwar“, “Al-Manaaqib,” “Rawdatu al-Wa`izeen” etc., depend on Abu Hurayrah for the famous “hadith ghadeer kham” and “mun kuntu mawlahu…” By maligning Abu Hurayrah he is casting doubts on the very basis of Shi`aism?
At all events, you may pass the information to him that Abu Hurayrah never traveled to Egypt and was never appointed a Governor of that province.
He says that when some people refused to pay Zakat during the time of Abu Bakr, an army was sent against them. They destroyed their homes, and killed and raped their women. Please give me a detailed answer with references so that I can tell my friend in detail.
Here you are, asking for references! Should you not have demanded references from your friend? It is obvious that your friend is angry with the early Muslims.
It is a historical fact that immediately after the Prophet’s death some tribes that had embraced Islam refused to accept Zakah as an integral part of Islam, and, therefore, the Companions fought against them, at great personal sacrifices, but, in consequence, established Islam without any compromise over its tenets.
Nevertheless, when they emerged victorious in battles, they did not take them prisoners, did not chase them into their dwellings, did not loot their belongings, and did not capture their women. Although they themselves died in tens of thousands, they proved how benign Islam is, and demonstrated how clear they were about Islamic principles, that they did not seek revenge from those who had denied Zakah and fought against the established authority. They proved themselves the best of Muslims ever through their exemplary behavior at such crucial and trying times – may Allah be pleased with them.
You have asked for extensive details, but they cannot be provided in this column. You may refer to any standard historical work.
Mohammad Ali, via email
I need explanation regarding Taraweeh: whether I have to perform eight or twenty Raka’ats. Brothers who are performing eight as well as twenty Raka’ats are saying that they are right. Explain to me whether eight is right or twenty is right, or whether both are right. Eight Raka’ats performers say that Nabi (pbuh) performed only eight, not twenty, while twenty Raka’ats performer’s say that Omar instituted it because of some reasons. Please explain in a clear way.
It is not good to differ with the general community of Muslims. If they do eight rak`ah in your neighborhood mosque, you should do eight. (If you want to add, do it at home). If they do 20, you do 20 in the mosque. Taraweeh Prayers are nawaafil, and, therefore, not bound with any number. Many of the Salaf prayed long hours at home at night, with no binding of the number of rak`ah. Today, some Muslims raise slogans in the name of the Salaf, but hardly care for what they used to do. Many Muslims seem to prefer the number eight because for them the Prayers are a burden. But one man’s burden should not be another’s burden too: it can be a pleasure. One may, therefore, perform as many Prayers as the local mosque does, but do more at home.
Rayies Ahmed, via email
Is it true by Ahadith that we can send Durood-o-Salam loudly in the Masjid after finishing prayers? I have heard that munafiqs used to make noise in Masjid in the time of Prophet (Peace be upon him).
It is not true that the hypocrites used to make noise in the Prophet’s mosque, nor is it true that singing out Durood and Salaam in mosques has religious sanction, but it is true that to make noise in a mosque is makruh. Even a Qur’an reciter in a mosque should keep his voice low.
Any congregational activity – apart from that of worship and education – does not have any religious sanction. Singing in chorus, in loud voice, makes it worse and is disrespect to Allah’s houses.
This letter is with regards to a business called Gold Quest. It’s been in India for around two years. This business is similar to any network marketing. I want to know if doing this business is halal or not. The promoter has some ‘fatwa’ issued by some Saudi Arab authority. But still am not able to convince myself about the business. I cannot give you all the details, but they are available at www.goldquest.com.
Khizar Basha, via email
No such site could be located on the Web.
We can say in passing that since the price of Gold is shooting up, the quest will require greater and greater efforts – to make it an uphill task. All sales schemes that promise “a fast buck” in “quick time” are actually meant to bring several fast bucks to the “schemers,” and never to those who run after the carrot.
I am a student. I am engaged to my cousin. So I wanted to ask you whether it is alright for me and my fiancée to talk before marriage. I want to know whether there are any limitations in Islam? Is it good if we talk for hours? Please reply soon.
Najia, via email
Generally speaking, talking for hours is not beneficial to any body, unless it is between two intellectuals, who might be meeting with one another after a long gap of time, and have several issues to sort out. If you two belong to that category, you may talk to each other for hours. But give a few months gap between one talk and another.
As regards ordinary people we cannot see how they can talk for hours and not speak out things that, if remembered later, will be source of regret.
There is a period immediately after marriage, which is known as honeymoon. It is said to last a month, or less or more, depending upon the couple. But in truth there is no predictable period. For some it never ends. For others it never starts. Among the Arabs, the saying goes that if a wife tells her husband when he arrives home that, “Your dinner is in the fridge,” the honeymoon is over. In the West, for many on the cruise ship carrying newly-weds on their two-week honeymoon ends with the boat docking at the court.
What sort of people experience the longest honeymoon? The answer is in negatives: not the educated people, not the rich people, not the city people, not the modern people. Not the chat people.
Who then? Well, guess who.
Ordinarily, the key to the length of honeymoon is in one word: exposure.
The more and faster the two of a pair expose themselves to each other: personally, physically, socially and intellectually, the faster their honeymoon ends.
Long talks expose the two to each other intellectually. If they already have had enough intellectual exposure of each other before marriage, one factor that prolongs the honeymoon is already gone. Very soon the two can be found at “minimum conversation level.”
In short, there is a certain time-span of pleasant talk between a pair. Whether you will utilize that “given time” before marriage or after it, is your choice. The brides of yesteryears, when family quarrels and separations were as common as tulips on Mount Everest, were not as clever, nor as coquettish as their modern-day fast-talking, fast-moving, fast-eating counterparts. But they were a little more sagacious to maintain a tight lip, unless to smile.
Some amount of risk also hides in pre-marital chats. One or both might be lured into saying what they truly do not believe in. For example, one of them says, “I don’t like the way the religious scholars portray Islam.” The other says, excitedly, “I hate them all.” (Although she doesn’t really hate them). But the other gets alarmed. (He has been into Tableegh once or twice). He asks, “What do you think of the tablighee people?” She answers (assuming that she is pleasing him), “I think they are the worst of the lot!”
The man starts wondering whether he can get along with such an extremist.
Or, “What do you think of ageing parents? It scares me to think of how one can manage to look after them.” She (not knowing what is in his mind), “I know what you mean. But, after all, nowadays there are quite a few old people’s homes around.” He receives a jolt. He had thought she might reply, “Don’t worry. Together we shall take care of our parents!”
It can be the other way round also. She says, “I have promised myself I shall serve my parents as they get old.” It casts cold water on his ideas. He asks himself: “Am I marrying a girl who promises to bring trouble with her right from the start?” He cools off a bit.
Or, he might say, “I like ice-cream.” She takes the cue to pipe in, “Me too.” And then adds up cheerfully, “I can eat ice cream even when it is snowing.”
(He tells himself, “My goodness! I hope I am not marrying a Siberian cat.”)
Warning: Sometimes long chats can lead an engaged couple to a situation where their cruise-ship sails without them.
Jeans for Girls
In December 2003 issue you answer that, “There is no harm in girls wearing jeans so long as they do it before their Mahrams or when clad in Burqah.” But wearing men’s cloth is haram for women according to Hadith. Please clarify.
Aftab Ahmed, via email
Jean-designs are different for males and females. A common name does not make the dress common. Nonetheless, if they wore the same kinds of jeans, but within Burqah, and within the circle of their Mahrams, that should be alright, since, after all, there are other examples of this, such as, the Pakistani Shirt Shalwar or the men’s thawb and women’s fustan in the Arab world.
It may be remembered that it is a complete imitation, where it becomes difficult to identify one from the other, which is disapproved.
The above sanction, however, does not have our approval. We do not believe women look their best in these modern dresses. They look most awkward especially because every reveling dress suits only the average type; when they are too thin or too thick!, they look the worse. Every individual should choose a dress that suits him or her best – to avoid being identified with bugs or grasshoppers. Many males who criticize women’s dresses, do not seem to have a full-sized mirror in their houses.
A woman especially is no woman if her appearance does not lend her dignity, self-respect and aristocracy. Modern dresses rob her of stately qualities to turn her into the ball retriever of a tennis match, standing deep beyond the lines, ready to sprint, yet most of the spectators unaware of her presence, and ungrateful of her services.
I love a girl very much and I always pray ALLAH for her but I don’t know why I am out of her reach. Should I think that my love is not true and shouldn’t pray for her again? Please suggest me something. I will be very grateful to you.
S. K., via email
Your love is quite obviously not true. A true lover submerges himself in his beloved. His being becomes the being of the beloved. So, instead of hankering after her, (because he has already become one with her), he works for her as he would work for himself. Her happiness becomes his happiness; her sorrow, his sorrow. If she wishes to marry another, then that is the wish of a true lover. He even loves the man she loves, because his beloved loves him. Such is a true lover.
We wonder how your prayers can be heard. If you truly love her, then she is already yours. You and she are one. If you do not love her truly, why should your prayers be answered?