Letters to the Editor
Q. During the time of Prophet (peace be upon him) and even during Islamic rule, women were not required to be earning their own livelihood but when they had any problem that affected them they had solution as per Islam. Like if they lost their husbands they got easily married or they were easily looked after by their near ones. But nowadays when a woman loses her husband she usually doesn’t re-marry as polygamy in today’s Islam has literally disappeared. Only her parents will look after her. After the parents’ demise she is left in a very bad economic condition. So today’s women needs to be economically self-sufficient. If that is the case, then how can they follow purdah in today’s society, particularly in country like India which is not a Muslim country?
The above situation being true, it is admittedly difficult for women to remain in complete Hijab and earn their living if they are not provided by others. However, that applies to some, and not all women. Most women still live under the traditional Islamic family system, and are not required to earn their livelihood, which saves them from going out. Such women can remain in Hijab. But, as we all know, many of such women also do not observe Hijab. Some of them use proxy excuses.
As regards the small minority who are required to earn their own livelihood, or that of the family, yes, they do face difficulties, but it is still not impossible to remain observing Hijab while in employment. It is only when the situation gets truly hopeless that one might compromise. Allah tries us all. Therefore, compromises should not be made in the first instance. In many cases, if someone stands firm, Allah’s help descends in some guise. But, if one breaks down, it is held back.
Finally, wearing the minimum Hijab is possible all over the world, viz., head to foot coverage with a headscarf and a long dress. Women in this kind of dress are no more a strange sight in the Western world too. It is only the veil that is difficult to observe there at work spots. Therefore, this full covering should be resorted to as soon as a woman is away from her work spot.
Q. I have heard that purdah is not allowed in some Muslim countries. Please clarify.
In our knowledge there is no country in the world where Hijab is disallowed. Once governmental agents used to tear off women’s hijab in Egypt, and later in Syria. But those fanatics have passed away in shame: having failed to deliver their promises to their people. Today, hijab is getting back on the scene. Women in these countries are wearing hijab in greater numbers than before. With the West’s ideological defeat, apparent to all, and the failure of the secularist liberal leadership in the Muslim countries, who brought their people nothing but humiliation, Islam is expected to witness revival in several ways. Hijab too will see a gradual revival. A great hurdle in the way of hijab is the economic need for women to go out and earn. This, of course, doesn’t seem like it will go away and so we have to see how Muslim women will react to contradictory demands arising from within and without.
Yes, there are stray countries in which the authorities do not allow hijab at work. In Turkey, ruled largely by Jewish policies, they are not allowed even in the Islamic department of educational institutions. But, otherwise, and ordinarily, if a woman is in hijab, what can a government do about it? To explain, if a man visits a house, and the woman in the house refuses to come out before him, who can force her? Or, if she goes out but well covered, can she be arrested? Yes, if she is driving a car, she could be questioned by the police. But, no one drives a car all the time. Even in the USA women do not work as taxi-drivers.
On the other hand, as far as we Muslims are concerned, if there was a single country in the world, which allowed Hijab, and none else, then, Islamically, that country would be the example for us. You see, we have to have a positive approach towards Islam and live by it when everyone else is failing.
Q. A couple of months back I joined a business named AMWAY. It is a US based business. But after a few weeks I heard a rumor that it was illegal in Islam, and the money earned through it is “HARAAM”. This business is in India since last 5-6 years. So, I hope you have heard about it. Please give me your opinion.
We are sorry we do not know what AMWAY is and what their nature of business and therefore cannot say further. But we advise you not to be moved by rumors. Find out the true nature of their business and then, if you are unable to judge on your own, send us the details.
Q. Please tell me the rulings on running an Internet cafe. Is it allowed in Islam?
So long as pornography is not the main business of an Internet café, it is perfectly allowed to run it. Please also see our answer in Oct. 2001 issue.
Q. Some doctors are practicing under fake degrees – so is their income halal (lawful)?
Legally speaking, the practice is unlawful and hence punishable by the authorities. Islamically, however, quacks are committing not one but several crimes. One is that of lying. Second is that of deceiving the patients, who think they are qualified, while they are not. If they knew they are not, perhaps they wouldn’t go to them, unless they didn’t have an alternative. Thirdly, if they diagnose a patient wrong, out of ignorance, (e.g., to tell a patient that he or she is suffering from a certain disease, while he or she is not suffering from that decease), then too, they are sinful for misleading people. Again, if they prescribe the wrong medicine, even if they are able to diagnose rightly, they would be sinning for delivering the wrong medicine. So, according to secular law, the crime might be a single one, but Islamically it involves multiple sins.
As for the earnings, if they diagnosed properly, and delivered the right medicine, to the best of their ability, then the amount received on such prescriptions and treatment would be lawful, although the sins we have stated above will remain on record. For example, if they bandaged a simple injury with the right medicine, the fees they get cannot be treated Islamically Haram. After all, even women bandage their children’s injuries at home. Similarly, unqualified people practiced in the past, and their wages were considered lawful. If that was possible in the past, it is possible even now. From this angle they are like country doctors, or faith healers of the past, or, like some doctors of today, with degrees but without any proficiency.
All in all, the risks are high. Therefore, it is better these people announce about the degree they do not have, and, instead, work on the basis of their experience alone, if allowed by the secular law, which might be possible we imagine, in a restricted way.
Q. I heard many bad things regarding life in Saudi Arabia. People say that youngsters are more inclined towards entertainment and sex. Kindly comment.
First of all, it is untrue. There might be misguided ones, but those committed to Islamic norms are very large in proportions.
However, once again, why should bad examples be kept before the eyes? Why is it rarely mentioned that most mosques in Saudi cities are dominated by the recently educated youth as Khateebs, Imams and as those involved in its Da`wah, Tarbiyyah and other good activities? The best Friday sermons today are delivered by men who hold high degrees in secular studies, work in governmental and private institutions occupying responsible positions, while they lead in five daily Prayers in their local mosques. They are able to exert massive influence on the youth as well as on the common people. We are sure you haven’t heard about them. Why? Why should we not have an inquiring mind, rather than be ready to greedily fall on every rumor and false talk? Why should our assemblies be like those of the hypocrites about whom the Qur’an said: “Great listeners to lies?”
Q. Kindly explain with reference to Hadith how salah can be offered without Rafa-ya-dain so that I could explain to my friends.
M. F. Khan,
We don’t see why this topic should be brought up at all. Most Indian Muslims are Hanafis and do not do the Raf` al-Yadayn anyway. If, some of them have adopted the practice, they may not be argued with, since they are following ahadith that speak of it. Discussion over such issue can only sow seeds of discord, and end on no firm note, especially, since people, ignorant of Arabic language, have no recourse to the source.
Instead of Rafa` Yadayn, you need to perhaps talk to your friends about how important it is not to visit theatres, or watch films at home, rather, educate themselves well both in secular terms as well as religiously, through Arabic language. If they did that, they would be able to become Imams in the local mosques, deliver meaningful sermons, teach young ones Qur’an and hadith, and become Da`wah workers of impact.
Q. I am fond of reading Islamic material. Although YMD is costly magazine compared to others, it is filled with Islamic information.
We never imagined this magazine would be thought costly at a price that can buy you a good cup of coffee.
Q. I have some questions. Hope you will give satisfactory answer. Does Indian or Western democracy (of the people, for the people and by the people) resemble Islamic democracy? If not, then what type of democracy Islam suggests?
There is a vast difference between democratic form of government and an Islamic government, which can be termed as Governance by Shoura Council. There is no such thing in Islam as Islamic democratic government, although, if established, by that name, it would still be Islamic provided it enforces Islamic laws. For further details, please wait for a lead article shortly to appear by Allah’s will.
Q. Allah (glorified be He) says in the Holy Qur’an that He sent Adam (peace be upon him) on earth as the ‘Khalifa’ which means he has to propagate the concept of One God and enforce His commandments. That means every pious Muslim is a ‘Khalifa’. But scholars point out that khilafat means faith, practice and an Islamic government. Please comment.
Asif R. Bhat,
We are not sure what you are trying to say. That if Adam was a Khalifah, then, the logical conclusion is that every human being is a Khalifah. But, in what sense was Adam a Khalifah, and in what sense his progeny is: believers and unbelievers alike? This is a gray area, and there is no definite answer to these questions, nor to the complications that arise with the positive answers suggested.
Some say he is a Khalifah if he leads a pious life and enforces Islamic law. But, this definition is self-defeating. All we can say is that Adam is a Khalifah, in some sense or the other, and so are we, in a modified sense. It might be noted however, that modern thinkers have placed lot of emphasis on Man’s Khilafah to contrast, perhaps, the Western efforts to degrade man by relating him to the apes.
However, what we need to perhaps consider is that if it was such an important issue, the office so crucial, and the duty so binding, then, surely it would have been dealt with in detail by the Qur’an or Sunnah. The Qur’an does not mention but the word, without explaining it. The hadith does not discuss the word even once. So, perhaps it is best to avoid theoretical exercise over what the term means, and what its implications are.
Q. Though I am a casual reader of YMD. I appreciate the content of this magazine. In your issue of May, 2000, Q&A column you have said while replying to Imran Siddiqui’s question regarding beards that it is Sunnat-al-Mu’akkada according to some scholars and wajib according to others. Is not one who abandons a Sunnat-al-Mu’akkada or a wajib a Fasiq (as you have mentioned in your issue)? Then how can he lead in the prayers? Please clarify.
Name and address withheld
The term Fasiq has a wide spectrum of meaning and application. The Qur’an has referred to a Kafir as Fasiq, although, in our imagination, a Kafir is worse than a mere Fasiq and hence to say that someone is a Kafir should be enough.
There are then, many grades of Fisq. When some Fuqaha’ have said that one who does not sport a beard is a Fasiq, they meant one of the lower order. After all, we allow someone who has lied, or has slandered, or carries news from person to person, to lead in the Prayers, although, the Fisq of such a person is of a more serious nature than that of a beardless Muslim.
Also note that the opinion that a beardless Muslim is a Fasiq, is that of some of the scholars, and not all. And, following Islamic principles, when there is a difference in opinion among the Mujtahids over an issue, the benefit of doubt goes to the lowest. That is, anyone following the easiest opinion cannot be blamed for his action. He has an authority behind him. Therefore, we cannot object to a beardless person leading in Prayers.
Further, sometimes people are faced with a situation in which a bearded person commits lots of errors in reciting the Qur’an and thus compares poorly with another, although beardless, but correct in recitation. Now, the Fisq in wrong recitation of the Qur’an is greater than in not sporting a beard. Hence the preference, about which there is no difference in opinion among the Fuqaha’.
Apart from the Fisq involved in wrong recitation, some other risk is also involved. Maybe the ignorant Imam recites so poorly as to evoke Allah’s anger on the one who leads, and those who allow an unqualified man to lead them in the Prayers.
Q. I have two questions to ask. It has been my great desire to be able to understand the literal meaning of each word of the Holy Qur’an, so that when I read a verse I should be able to have at least a broad sense of its meaning. I request you to mention the names of Books in English that could help me in this regard.
“The Easy Dictionary of the Qur’an” as prepared by Mawlana Abdul Karim Parekh should meet with the need as described. Nonetheless, it would be better if you learnt Arabic language: either through the program Iqra Welfare Educational Division is offering, or through a book by Dr. M.A.Haq Ansari entitled “Learning the Language of the Qur’an”, published by Markazi Maktaba Islami, D-307, Abul Fazl Enclave, Jamia Nagar, Okhla, New Delhi, 11025, e-mail email@example.com. This is one of the best Arabic teaching books around, eastern or western.
Q. I am a Master of Engineer working in Saudi Arabia, apart from helping the Muslims financially I want to be of service to our community back in India. I would be very much thankful if you can suggest a few options in this regard.
H. J. Hyder,
K. S. A.
The options of course are many. But to say which one is the best for you is difficult for us. We do not know your capabilities. Further, we do not know where you are from and what the local conditions.
Perhaps when you go back to India, you can study the situation there, especially of various organizations, movements, and make your choice.
Any service to Islam however, requires a person to be Islamically well-educated. That is something you should look into, in the meantime.
Also, one should not wait for this or that to happen to do this or that. Start on from now, in some way or the other. That will also give you experience and prepare you for future bigger role. A person needs lots of special qualities for service to Islam. Without them, either he runs out of patience and gives up, or alters the nature or method of work in a way that his services bear no fruit. The qualities we have in mind are gained only through field work.
Q. I submit the following questions and hope to get answers at the earliest. As is known there are four schools of thought in Islam.
These are no four schools of thought, rather, four schools of law. We felt it necessary to point out because, maybe, it will lead you to consider whether you should be discussing these matters with your friends, if you do not know the difference.
Q. Is it compulsory for a Muslim to strictly abide by the norms and practices of the Maslak he belongs to even if a particular practice is contradictory to an authentic Hadith?
How can we answer of such importance but which is vague and unscholarly in style? You need to reformulate it in the following manner.
Assuming for a moment that your Maslak is Hanbaliyy you might say: The Hanbaliyy Maslak says so and so, about such and such point of law. State the source, e.g., refer to Al-Mughni, page no. so and so, and quote the original. Also quote any variant opinion that you find among the Hanbalis over the issue. Finally, quote the Fatwa of the present day Hanbaliyy scholars, if their Fatwa varies from the book rule.
Next, quote the Qur’an, if you discover the rule is against a Qur’anic verse. Quote the verse, and state how the verse was understood by the Salaf. Also look for such verses as which agree with the rule of the Hanabliyy Maslak and state reasons as to why the rule is still objectionable.
Next, quote the hadith that you have in mind and demonstrate that the meaning you have in mind is the meaning that the Hadith commentators have stated. Also demonstrate that it does not contradict any Qur’anic verse. Thereafter, collect together all the ahadith on the topic, from every book of hadith available: not restricting yourself to Sihah Sittah, or worse, Sahih Bukhari. Bring out the meaning of those ahadith as understood by the Salaf. If there is any contradiction between the ahadith, show how it can be removed or reconciled with the hadith on hand.
Next, turn to the practices of the Salaf. If you find any of them practicing in accordance with the Hanbaliyy rule you object to, then reconcile the Salaf practice with the hadith you have in mind. Explain why the Salaf practiced the way they did. Conversely, if you find any of the Salaf not practicing according the hadith on hand, then explain how that came about.
Finally, turn to consensus. First, the consensus of the Khulafa’ al-Rashidah. Check if it agrees with the hadith in mind or the fatwa of the Hanbalis. Next, check the consensus of the four school of fiqh whether they say the same thing as the Hanbaliyy Maslak says over this particular rule. Explain why. Finally, consider the consensus of the Ummah and prove that none but the Hanbaliyy Maslak has ever ruled in the way they have ruled.
In short, what is required is to prove that the Hanbaliyy rule in question, is not based on the Qur’an, Hadith, practices of the Salaf, or consensus of the Ummah (in the wider sense). It should also be shown that the hadith that you think contradicts the Hanbaliyy rule, is the only one available on the topic, understood by the Salaf in the same way as you do, and that is how practiced by all of them.
When you have done the above, your question will become scholarly, and then it is that you will get a scholarly reply, since this is a scholarly issue.
We feel, however, that you didn’t make up the question yourself. Somebody did it for you. Well, let that somebody do the reformulating of the question for you in the manner required. If he cannot, then tell him that he has lost the right to broach the topic with you. How can he speak on an issue he doesn’t understand?
Alternatively, he might tell you that one of his Sheikhs handed down this statement to him, viz., “We should not follow any Maslak if it is found to be against an authentic hadith.” If he says that, and clearly expresses his inability to formulate the question as required by the Fuqaha’, because, he got the statement from a Sheikh or a scholar, then, first you reconfirm with him. Ask him, are you sure you cannot formulate the question yourself in a scholarly manner, rather have taken it from another man? If he confirms yes, then, tell him he himself is a “Muqallid,” and a follower, and not a Ghayr Muqallid. He is a Muqallid of his Sheikh, just like you are a Muqallid of a Maslak. And, you are better off. Why? Because, he is Muqallid of a single man unknown in scholarly circles, while you are a Muqallid of a team of Mujtahids, whose religious rulings have withstood criticism. Tell him to give up Taqleed and then come back to you to propose the same to you. Does he want you to give up Taqleed while he himself is a Muqallid?
Q. Are the norms and practices of all the Maslaks strictly in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah or some of the norms have been prescribed by the Imam of the particular Maslak?
Why do you want us to do your work? Should you not conduct an inquiry?
Q. Is there any recommendation or order in Qur’an or Sunnah to establish Maslaks and that the Doctrines of that Maslak should be followed forever?
Once again you speak of doctrines. This leads us to believe that you could not have formulated the question above.
In any case, you have a suggestion hidden behind the question: Let us abandon the Masaalik. The question is, what next? What do we do after that?
To illustrate, let us assume you visit a remote village. First you travel by air. Next you take a taxi. Then you walk up the rest of the distance for several hours through the mountains and valleys to arrive at a village. Outside the village you find a woman collecting wood. She is illiterate. The whole village is illiterate but for one or two who can only read their local language in which they have a book on rituals in accordance with a certain Maslak. There are no schools for hundreds of miles. If there is any, it is not a religious school. You find the woman doing her prayers following the local Maslak. You issue the verdict: all the Masaalik stand abrogated. She might ask, “What next?” What will be your answer?
Q. Is it not appropriate to amalgamate (to ensure unity) all the Maslaks into a single one for the entire Ummah?
Obviously, on paper a good idea. But we see the difficulty about the cat that must be belled.
Secondly, why combine the Masaalik. Why not a new one?
As regards Ummah’s unity, we may ask: Were the wars in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and several other places a result of Masaalik? Is the imprisonment in the Muslim world, of those leaders who are the most loyal to the country, because of the questions of Maslak? Is the cold-blooded murder of 120,000 in Alegria over a Maslak? Are young men picked up from their homes at midnight, in almost all parts of the world for the reasons that they follow one of the five Masaalik? Did the followers of thousands of Hanbaliyy, Maliki, Shafe`i and Ahl-e-Hadith Masaalik refuse to fight along side the Afghans because the Afghans are Hanafis, Deobandis and Sufis? Did they go to Bosnia, Chechnya and other place in order to establish their particular Maslaks? Do the Ahl al-Hadith, Hanafiyyah and Malikiyyah hold back their help and support to the Palestinians because most of them are Shawafe`? What unity and disunity then are the people are talking of?
Look! If somebody refuses to think, study, and make inquiry on his own, freeing himself of others’ influence, studying the sources by himself, but rather, prefers to be a Muqallid of another man, more knowledgeable than him by maybe three ahadith, then, he is likely to become morally, intellectually and spiritually crippled.
Q. Can’t organisations like WAMY etc. undertake such an amalgamating feat (with the consent of Ulama)?
A. A. Rahim,
WAMY’s address: P.O.Box 9105, Dammam, 31413, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Q. I am a student of 11th standard. I was associated with Darsgah and also offered five times prayer daily. I was also doing Islamic da’wah, recited the Qur’an regularly, read Islamic literature, and was learning Arabic. But from Ramadan onwards suddenly I have stopped all religious activities. Whenever I try to attempt, something prevents me. I am confused about all this. I know English, Urdu, Science, Computer, Poetry and a little Arabic and many other things but I don’t know where my heart lies. Earlier, my heart was humble and brain was strong, but now my heart is strong and brain has become weak.
You have rightly diagnosed your condition. Earlier your inner self was humble and brain strong. Now, at 17 or 18 years of age, your brain has weakened and the inner self has become strong. But, in actual fact, your brain has not become weak. It is stronger than before. But, your emotions, at high pitch just now, drown its voice.
The powers that you have become conscious of, are required in life to live through this life of challenges, tests and trials. But, power is not enough to sail your boat through the river of life. You need education, training, and experience. And this is what you have to turn to, in all earnestness. Without education, training and experience, you will not gain sobriety, without which you will only use your powers for your own destruction, and end up a failure.
This phase will last three or four years. It will be followed by a cooling process, slow in the beginning, but faster and faster as you advance in age, to burn out completely by old age: except for him whom Allah shows His mercy and keeps alive, energetic active and productive, until his death. But few are they. Very few.
This explanation might increase your understanding of your state, but will not help you to reign yourself in. The most that we can advise is that you should not give up anything you were doing earlier – entirely. Either persevere, or, at worst cut down on the time you allotted them earlier. But, keep your constructive activities alive in some form or the other, even if your heart is not in it. A renewed interest is expected sometime in the future, if you do not leave the track altogether. This must be attempted in the same manner as you will keep studying the secular course, and do well in it, although, it does not yield any pleasure to you at this stage. If you did not, you know that economically you will be a wreck by 25 and by 30 end up in the slums. Similarly, if you gave up your religious activities, altogether, you will end up morally, intellectually and spiritually a wreck, and end up in a slum of this worldly-people.
Also see this month’s editorial.
Add questioner/reader name and (source) here.
Q. I have been studying your magazine since Dec. 1997. I have few questions. Can we use scent (perfume), containing alcohol? Will our Salah be valid if we use such type of scents?
Alcohol is only a carrier of the perfume. Western world uses it (as against oil in the Islamic world) because it allows for making spray bottle. A business advantage that we suspect is that in this kind of bottling, the perfume, the alcohol, and the money evaporate fast.
In any case, because of its evaporating quality, a few moments after application your body or clothes are free of both the alcohol as well as the scent. Nevertheless, even if some traces are left, Prayers are still valid since alcohol is not unclean (najis). It is its consumption which is forbidden.
Q. Which of these alcohol is prohibited – ethyl, methyl, propyl?
None for application, all for consumption.
Q. Can syrups containing alcohol be used for treatment? Will it not affect the prayer?
If non-alcoholic medicines are not available, and, medication becomes necessary, then, they might be taken. They do not affect the prayers in any way, unless a person is feeling giddy, in which state he should not pray.
Q. Can we use deodorants containing alcohol? Will it affect the validity of prayer?
What applies to perfumes, applies to deodorants.