Letters to the Editor
Q: I have occasionally read your monthly magazines for about ten years. I find that though you point out the facts and give out the solution but I see the method of explaining is a little sarcastic in nature. (I find it hilarious).
How truly a hilarious evaluation!
Q: I have a question regarding jobs, now since I feel that the biggest challenge of today’s Muslim youth is halal employment, is it okay for Muslims to work for call-centers with a foreign bank as its parent company?
Working for a bank which deals in interest, or for its ancillary, is disapproved. And, it turns out to be a blessing. This is because Muslims have traditionally shown talent in self-employment. Bind him to the rules of an employment, and he is ordinary. Further, given the choice, a Muslim prefers and preserves his freedom. It dampens his spirit when he is offered a chair topped with a glue that expires only after eight hours. Give him freedom and he becomes dynamic.
True about the employment situation. Not being able to find a job is because of a clever scheme that works with subtlety at every level. Unless especially talented, or in situations where ‘others’ are not available, a Muslim is at disadvantage in India.
Yet, we do not believe that that’s the main problem of the Muslim youth. The refusal to attempt hard work is the bacteria eating at his body and soul. Lethargy is his swan song. Dishonesty is his working principle. Indiscipline is his way of life. To complain is his speech.
The cruelty of the modern world cannot be fought off but with deftness, head on collision with the challenges, and locking horns with the workaholic devils.
There were three lazy men lying on the ground, too weak because of thirst – not too far from a lake. One of them slowly rose up to his feet. He said, “I think I’ll look for some water.” The second said, “Give me a call when you find some, will you?” The third said, “Since you are going, see if you can bring me some water.” The first one said, “I think you are overloading me with work,” and lied down again. By the next morning the three were picked up dead. The funeral prayer-leader was supplicating, “O Lord! We beseech You in the name of all the saints, that you destroy Your enemies, and our enemies. We are dying of thirst and hunger,” and the rest of the people around him were saying in tearful voice, “Amen, O our Lord.”
Q: I have a suggestion that since sometimes (if not always) we do not receive the magazine in mail, I am sure that if you could increase the price of your subscription and send it through courier service it would be better for both you and your subscribers.
It is almost four decades now that we have been struggling against the delivery system. We take extreme care to post to every single subscriber. But, magazines disappear on the way. Posting by a courier service is a good idea that suits those who score six figures in their pay slip. We aim at reaching those who score four figure sums at the pay counter.
But the idea is still good for those who – whatever the figures – wouldn’t mind paying the cost. To such, we could definitely send the magazine through a courier service. Those who so wish may contact our publishing department.
Come, let us Laugh
Q: I quoted an example of a person who was reading the letters to the editor section with all sincerity. He did not find anything there that went against his ideas, ideology or even his ‘pride’. He simply felt that the answers could be worded more gently. The ‘I do not care’ attitude is not one that symbolizes ‘humility’. Does it? If harshness could be defended at all times, then the Prophet (peace be on him) would not have been told “It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee.” The professors and PhDs and Da’wah workers, by and large, are more mature and more forgiving. But ‘young Muslims’ need to be handled differently.
Our write-back to the readers is governed by so many self-imposed rules and policies that a critic will perhaps have to attempt a scientific analysis to be able to form an opinion respected by the rest of the readership. To quote an ayah of the Qur’an won’t do. To give an example of a speech delivered by a Da`ee or a PhD, where the speaker is anxious not to provoke any fury, to any degree, from any of the audience – won’t do. A writer, on the other hand, has much greater liberty to provoke the individualized reader, in an easy chair, in the corner of a room.
But, we were talking about scientific analysis. Well, an analyst will not fail to notice that in all such replies where the tone is tough, the name of the letter-writer is hidden with xxx. So, if some xxx is being addressed tough, why a yyy should feel hurt?
Our another principle is to offer apple for apple, iron for iron. When a letter-writer’s tone is abusive of us, we ignore it. He insults us, we say, “That’s no problem.” If a non-Muslim does it, all the more reason to brush it aside.
But when a Muslim displays arrogance towards an Islamic rule, or jeers at the scholars, or refers to the well-respected ones of them as ‘the clergy,’ or is deliberately dishonest, then it is that we open our tinderbox to fly out spark for spark, and meet arrogance with arrogance.
It is not young Muslims who write to us contemptuously, and so, they are not replied in the same tone. It is the arrogant among the Muslims who needs his pride to be blunted before any piece of writing will benefit him. Tough words, and some rough dealing, reduce his height a little bit.
We receive letters of various kinds and styles expressed in various tones. While replying, we try to reply in the same styles and tones (to keep the fun going); adding a few other elements (pun, humor, alliteration, provocation, surprise, etc.) of our own. This strategy fetches in color, variety, removes monotony, and evokes interest. It becomes lively, readable.
The Islamic Shari`ah is a straightforward thing and all questions can be answered in ‘yes’s’ and ‘no’s’. Short and simple. But, it will be boorish, repetitive and tiresome. A good piece of writing should educate, inform, amuse and lift up the spirits.
When was religion interesting? Hardly ever. But it is when you read the “Letters” column of YmD.
Our objective is to make people read, feel involved, know the side-issues, widen knowledge, and enjoy reading. Humor is another important gradient for the popularity of a piece of writing.
The above, and a few other qualities mixed, takes a reader off the beaten track. Not being sure, what he will get next, he continues to read to the end. He cannot put it down. Sometimes, it is re-read. In fact, some readers have been found stocking the magazine, and reading them over again after a couple of years. They still enjoy; because the elements mentioned, give the writing longer life than those of the newspapers and magazines.
The magazines Al-Kalam of Abul Kalam Azad, Sidq-e-Jadeed of Abdul Majid Daryabadi, or Ma`arif of the times of Syed Sulayman Nadwi, are preserved and old copies sold at good price to the literati even after 75 years. Libraries take pride in owning them. Sidq-e-Jadid, for instance, had all the qualities that are mentioned above, including, humor at the cost of critics; but it remained hugely popular, and was enjoyed even by those critics who were satirized. They took it sportively and appreciated the skill employed. But times have changed, and people seem to have changed. The world has shrunk, and so have many minds. Many appear to be of the kind Dr. Iqbal spoke:
Phool kee pattee say kat saktaa hay heere kaa jigar
Mard-e-naadaan per kalaam-e-narm-o-naazuk be-asar.
A flower’s petal may cut through the heart of a pearl
But do fail soft and subtle words on the uncouth.
Note that we have given the translation a little twist, to lift the spirits of the dispirited souls. Life is not one long moan. We are not with a faction whose religious theme is mourning.
Was the answer too long? That is a problem with quite simple a solution: take some time out.
Q: I am your regular reader and trying to learn and understand Islam through your Magazine: Young Muslim Digest. I was demoralized when you stopped your publication and was satisfied only after making a call to your office to know that you would again resume the publication very soon. I am a student of Law under the University of Calcutta and incidentally and accidentally, I came across a blog (http://www.interfaithshaadi.org/blog/?p=6868) only to find that it is absolutely anti-Islam and anti-Muslim and encouraging Muslim boys and girls to convert to another religion by misquoting and distorting Holy Qur’an and Islamic History. I therefore earnestly request and fervently appeal to you to kindly join the said blog and demolish their ill-motive intention to malign Islam and Muslims and save many young people from being misguided by those scoundrels and rogues.
Md. Zohaib Rauf,
Our staff has gone through the material being posted at this blog, and it seems that they are even creating proxy Muslim identities to make the whole exercise seem like a useful debate, but which, in the end, shows Muslims/ Islam in poor light.
As it is an Islamophobic, hate-spewing blog, which serves no one, not even those who run it, seeing that it will drive them away from a Truth that is now – after all else has failed – staring hard at humanity. The only charming way left is to ignore them.
Another problem is that the Muslim youth is not committed enough to Islam, and a few who are committed, lack the courage, strength and learning to enter into such blogs and destroy them.
Q: What is the difference between Sunnis and Bohris? Are Bohris considered Muslims? If so, then can a Sunni marry a Bohri woman? I would really appreciate if you could answer my questions as I am in a real dilemma.
Instead of going into details of what the doctrines of Bohris are, we can offer an easy solution to the problem your love faces. It is as follows:
Ascertain what the woman’s beliefs are. She will, of course, say that she is no different from Sunni Muslims. Fine, now you may ask her:
- Do you accept that Allah is One?
- Do you accept that Prophet Muhammad was His Final Messenger, after whom there will be no Messenger and no Prophet?
- Do you believe that `Isa ibn Maryam has not yet come?
- Do you believe that the promised Mahdi has not yet come?
- Do you believe that except for Prophet Muhammad, and other Prophets, no one’s intercession is guaranteed on the Day of Judgment?
- Do you accept that the Qur’an as current among the Sunnis since 1435 years is the true Qur’an, and that any other version is contraband?
- Do you accept that the Qur’an and the Sunnah, are the only primary sources of Islamic Law?
- Do you accept that Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman did not usurp the Khilafah from `Ali, and that the four were the rightly-guided caliphs and the best men of this Ummah?
- Do you accept that `Ali was no more than the fourth Khalifah, who did not receive any Revelation from Allah?
- Do you believe that `Ali is dead and will not come back any time?
- Do you believe that anyone who curses any of the Companions is not a Muslim?
- Do you believe that none of the so-called Imams, twelve or less or more, is recognized as the Imam of the Ummah but who is only recognized as a pious man?
- Do you believe that the Companions of the Prophet were superior to any Muslim after them, including the Imams of the five dozen factions of the Shi`ah, and including the Imams of the half a dozen Bohra factions?
- Do you believe that the concept of Re-incarnation is false, that the dead cannot come back to life before Resurrection, that they cannot benefit the living, materially or spiritually, and that their own salvation is not definite?
- Do you believe that the Sunni mosque is the official place of congregational worship in Islam, that the tombs, Jamat Khanas, Zawiyas, Dargahs, etc. are disapproved as places of worship?
- Do you believe that you are not a Muslim if you repudiate five daily prayers, and the yearly Zakah?
- Do you promise that you will never visit any Bohri leader, or any Bohra place of worship or veneration?
- Do you promise that you will bring up children on the above doctrines?
If the Bohra woman the Sunni wants to marry says ‘yes’ to all the above, he may go ahead and marry her. If she says ‘no’ to any single question above, let him look for another Bohri girl who will say ‘yes’ to all.
Q: I am nineteen years old and I had a few questions which were disturbing me from a long time. Is mas..tion allowed in Islam? Can you please support your answer with authentic sources?
The question has been answered in various issues. Although it will be a repetition, we might, sometime in future, deal with this subject in fuller detail.
For the moment, and in sum and substance, there is no consensus of opinion between the Fuqaha’ over the issue, with regards to its permissibility. The rule that then prevails – to take the safe line of lesser harm is: mas..tion is disallowed.
If you do not wish to take the safe line, then it is strongly disapproved.
Q:I do the Namaz regularly and recite Qur’an daily… at the same time I am in a habit of mas…tion and I feel relieved. If it is prohibited then let me know the ways of distancing myself away from it.
We have no ways to suggest for you to distance away from it; except that you should get married.
Q: Is there any instance of the Sahaba or Tabe’in abhorring it?
We do not have specific names. But some classical commentators of the Qur’an have stated that the act was disapproved by the majority of scholars.
Q: Can you also please elaborate on Mut`ah marriages…? It seems that Mut`ah marriage lasts only for some hours and then one can divorce on the same day.
You have already defined it and the rule about it is that it is prohibited in Islam.
Whom to Follow?
Q: May Allah bless you! May He grant you more power to serve Islam! Should I do Taqlid (to be Muqalid) of Dr. Zakir Naik? I am a new convert and am still learning Islam. I am confused whom to follow and seek answers to my questions as there different scholars having different opinions on some issues.
Dr. Zakir Naik is a scholar of Comparative religion. He neither is, nor claims, that he is a Shari`ah scholar.
There are several ways open to you. One, connect yourself to a scholar of your area and quietly follow his instructions. But, that should be a proper scholar, who, admittedly, are quite few and far in between. Take care not to follow the ‘most popular’ one. The popular ones become popular by appealing to emotions of the crowds. They are as good at crowd psychology as a successful politician. Some are in fact, especially those whose popularity depends on screens, are humbug.
Deoband (UP), Nadwah (Lucknow), Sabeelur Rashad (Bangalore), and any other large Madrasah may be contacted. In Bihar, Imarat-e-Shari`ah will help you out. At Hyderabad, you may contact the Institute set up by Mawlana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani. In Mumbai, Delhi, Assam, you may contact Markaz al-Ma`arif. They have a large number of scholars in their premises; as also Darul Umur near Mysore.
If you let us know your area of residence we might be able to help you in locating trustworthy scholars. If you write to us, please give us complete background of your personality, after and before Islam.
Souls of Animals
Q: I am a ten-year-old student. Regarding Islam, I have a question: as Jibraeil (as) takes our soul when we die, does Jibraeil (as) even take the souls of animals, insects and plant?
Sana Khan ,
It is not Jibril (or Jibra’il: both are correct) who withdraws the souls of mankind. It is `Izra’il, although the name has not come in a hadith.
As regards souls of the animals, the matter has not been discussed between the scholars of the past, and, therefore, we are in no position to say anything in definite terms.
However, their death implies that they do have souls. It is supported by other facts, such as, a camel speaking to the Prophet, or a tree weeping at the prospect of parting with the Prophet, or a bird speaking to Prophet Sulayman (asws), etc.
But the greater weight comes from the fact that Allah will resurrect them on the Judgment Day, and they shall be subjected to accounting.
These things imply some sort of self-consciousness (which the scientists deny), which in turn implies some sort of soul. Perhaps the animals are endowed with a lower quality of Ruh.
A few more details have been discussed by some scholars, but, there is nothing about who withdraws their souls.
Christian Missionary Schools
Q: I am studying in the ninth grade. I like the most your Childrens’ Column. My question: I study in a Christian Missionary School (namely T.. B..). Is it allowed to study in such a School?
It is not desirable to study in a Christian missionary school. But, today’s Christian missionary schools are no more missionary. They do not aim at converting students to Christianity; actually, they never tried to in the past either. They are educational institutes which do not propagate any religious philosophy. At best, they might have special moral classes for Christian students (where they familiarize them with Christian faith – unable to win them for Christianity, except in a superficial way); and, may have an imagined photo of Jesus Christ hung in some places of prominence. Otherwise, religion is as hung in these institutions as Jesus on the Cross. Today, these schools are missionaries of the Western type of life and culture. This mars their good intentions and does not serve Rome, but only London, Paris and New York.
Their primary aim appears to be service of the people, which is considered a very important element in a Christian’s life. This, of course, is laudable; and for which they need to be thanked. The effort to serve leads them to commitment to education. Not surprisingly therefore, their institutes, as a whole, provide the best education in India (although the Indian best is not the best). Other community schools also aim at providing good education, but they do not appear to be succeeding. Governmental schools, on the other hand, call themselves “secular” but which governmental policy is turned into a sham by the staff, management, and ministerial offices. Tens of thousands of teachers have been instructed to infiltrate and train students in a certain religious philosophy. They are worse than the missionary schools.
Muslim-run schools have, not to miss mentioning them, except for a few here and there, not been doing well enough. Neither are they missionary, nor educative. This is because of the lack of commitment on the part of their teaching staff, who vie to become more secular than the sham secularists. They are little committed to Islam, and littler educated in methods of education. They, therefore, also fail to deliver real good learning.
Yet, these schools are preferable, especially if they can provide tolerably good education. The least that happens in them is that a child retains his identity as a Muslim. As for education, whatever is left undone, can be supplanted by the parents in other ways.