Letters to the Editor
Q: I’m a 19-year-old boy who used to offer prayers only on Fridays and on some days Fajr or Maghrib prayers. About two months ago, I started offering the prayers five times a day. The question is what does the Shari`ah say about prayers that I have missed from the time they became obligatory on me? Do I have to offer all the Qaza prayers or ask for forgiveness? Same thing regards fasts also.
You should do both, resort to seeking forgiveness, as well as offering the Qada’ whenever it is convenient to do, doing as many as you can for the number of years missed since puberty.
Do not, however, overburden yourself. Attempt the Qada’ when you are in the right mood, for, Prayers offered under coercion, inner or outer, or with an unwilling heart, are not likely to be accepted.
Q: Can a person turn in his trousers for prayers if they fall below his ankles? Please give some references.
If you experience a disturbing feeling within the Prayers, because you did not pull up the trousers above the ankles, then there is no harm in doing it.
Q: Is there any harm in offering prayers behind an Imam who has undergone family-planning (Nasbandi)?
No, there is no sin attached to it. The Imam is responsible to Allah (swt) for his personal affairs. It is only if the Imam is a ‘Faajir’, i.e., one who commits one of the major sins openly and defiantly, that one can object to his leadership in Prayers. In this case, we do not know the exact reasons why he resorted to it, and the exact circumstances of his life. So, we can leave him to be judged by Allah (swt).
Q: About three years back, I received Rs. 500/- from a friend, on my request. At that time, she asked me to return the money, or not, as I wished. Sometime later, she was in need of money and she asked about 500/- rupees. I gave her Rs. 200/-. Since then, she never said anything regarding this. Recently she got married, and I presented her a gift worth Rs. 200/-. Is any amount due on me and if yes, how much?
First you need to ascertain with her in clear terms the exact nature of the 500/= you took. Was it a gift? Or, was it for you to decide on its nature? If it was for you to decide, then you need to do it now. Would you like to accept it as a gift or a loan? If you decide that it is returnable, then, let her know how about it. Once it is decided that the money was loan, you need to pay back all, in cash, and not in kind, nor as gift, unless she says that she accepts the gift as part of the returnable money.
But if the original 500/= you received was a gift to you, then you need to determine the nature of the 200/= she has taken from you. Was it a gift from you to her, or a loan? If a loan, she must return it to you, unless you wish to forgive it.
Most people let things remain ambiguous while making financial dealings. This is from Shaytan. He knows the greed hidden within, and that each of the two parties would like to let things stand vague, to make the best use of the vagueness when the time for final settlement arrives. At that time, each tries to take advantage of the other. This is all from Shaytan. His ways are tricky and schemes are hidden. He works a long time – patiently – to create discord between friends and break them apart.
But Believers are frank, open, and generous. They prefer that they be made use of, rather than they make use of others. This is the Islamic way which assures long-term relationship of brotherhood, love and trust.
Q: I read a book ‘Sunnah and Bid`ah’, wherein the author has called the decoration of mosques and celebrations of few nights like Sha’b-e-Bara’at as bid`ah. Is he not wrong?
He is in the grey area.
According to a hadith (in Nasaa’i, declared Sahih by Suyuti), “Decoration of mosques is a sign of the Hour.” But, not every sign of the hour stated in the ahadith, is, as Munawi has put it, censurable.
Indeed, the decoration mentioned above, is reproachable in places other than the mosques too. Thus, a decorated home falls under the censure, in fact more, since, after all, the intention for decorating a mosque is, even though not approved of, to please Allah (swt), or to make the mosque appear attractive in the eyes of the non-Muslims, etc. But, decoration of homes and other buildings, so common in our times, is deplorable because the intention is not to please Allah (swt).
Another problem is definition and application of the term decoration when applied to mosques. What exactly falls under the ban, after this lapse of time, is difficult to define. If it is a village mosque, then, perhaps a Kashmiri carpet is decoration. But if it is in the Gulf, then, perhaps it is not. You can go on with other items to discover that the list is not easy to make. Somewhere there is an undefined grey line which separates the norm from the prohibited decoration. That is, not the prohibition concerning decoration of mosques, but decoration in general, including mosques, homes, buildings, etc.
To raise the issue as attached to the mosques, in our times, is a bit out-of-date.
As regards 15th of Sha`ban, a few rituals involved in Shab-e-Baraa’at – such as, fasting the day, offering additional Prayers, visiting the graveyard at night – cannot be condemned. But lightening of the mosques, distribution of sweets there, or from homes, etc., to turn the day or night into an event of celebration, are surely acts that do not approval from the Shari`ah.
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. Sometime 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.
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.
Q: 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?
Md. Yushub Ali,
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 (saws) 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. 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. 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.
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 do 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.