Letters to the Editor

Pronouncing the Intention

Afzal Nakhuda, via email

I have a question which is bothering me from a long time. A friend of mine from the so called ahl-e-hadis asks me to shun the niyyah which I used to say before my prayer. He said it is bid`ah. When I asked a scholar he told me that there is no hadith which asks the niyyah to be pronounced before any prayer, yet it will be good to say as it will become an act of preparation.


The person who spoke to you about pronouncement of the niyyah, is perhaps a “Muqallid” (follower of someone) without his own access to knowledge. He made an unconditional statement about the issue, calling it bid`ah. If he was not following someone else’s personal opinion, he would have made a conditional statement, saying that more than one school of Fiqh says that it is allowed, although undesirable. Probably, he does not know Arabic, otherwise you could ask him to refer to “Fiqh al-`Ibaadaat `alaa al-Madh-hub al Maaliki” by Kawkab `Ubayd, or Al-Jazeeri’s work “Fiqh `alaa al-Madhaahib al-Arba`ah,” or other books of Fiqh.

Your friend should not be speaking on topics that are beyond his scope of knowledge. He should rather refer you to scholars. The Qur’an has forbidden it that we make statements without knowledge. It says, (17: 36): “And do not indulge in what you have no knowledge of; indeed, the hearing, the sight, and the heart – each of them shall be questioned about itself.”

Does he wish to be questioned in the Hereafter?”

Indeed, most of us are guilty of the error pointed out by the Qur’an and need to be reminded of our limits. But when it is committed by those who do not wish any reform, but merely wish to take a point off another, or to air superiority, and, the result is confusion, disagreements, divisions, and discord between the Muslims, then it deserves to be censured.

On the other hand, the scholar you referred to over the question was right when he said that there is no support in the Hadith for the pronouncement of the words of niyyah before the Prayers. He was also right when he said that it will be good to say the words. Nevertheless, the Hanafiyy point of view is slightly different and requires some clarification.

The Hanafiyyah do not believe that the pronouncement has any Shari`ah-value. They say that it is innovation (if someone thought that it is necessary). But they also admit that if it is done for the sake of removal of doubts, then it is allowable. Tat is, one makes the intention at heart, but does not immediately enter the Prayer, but rather, says the words by mouth, to be sure he made the right intention, in order to avoid being in doubt within the Prayer, which will strongly distract him, if such are the reasons, then pronouncing the words is allowable.

Some scholars other than the Hanafiyyah have not found any problem at all in the words of intention spoken out aloud. They do not count it as niyyah-words at all, but rather, what aids in making the right intention. This is a brilliant point, and increases our trust in the scholars of the past. They separate the acts of `ibaadah from acts performed by a man for his personal reasons, without treating what he is doing as an act of worship. `Abdul Rahman al-Jazeeri discusses this issue in his well-known work, “Fiqh `alaa al-Madhaahib al-Arba`ah in some detail. The following text might be noted:


حكم التلفظ بالنية، ونية الأداء أو القضاء أو نحو ذلك

يسن أن يتلفظ بلسانه بالنية، كأن يقول بلسانه أصلي فرض الظهر مثلاً، لأن في ذلك تنبيهاً للقلب، فلو نوى بقلبه صلاة الظهر، ولكن سبق لسانه فقال: نويت أصلي العصر فإنه لا يضر، لأنك قد عرفت أن المعتبر في النية إنما هو القلب، النطق باللسان ليس بنية، وإنما هو مساعد على تنبيه القلب، فخطأ اللسان لا يضر ما دامت نية القلب صحيحة، وهذا الحكم متفق عليه عند الشافعية والحنابلة، أما المالكية والحنفية … قالوا: إن التلفظ بالنية ليس مشروعاً في الصلاة، الا إذا كان المصلي موسوساً، على أن المالكية قالوا: إن التلفظ بالنية خلاف الأولى لغير الموسوس، ويندب للموسوس... الحنفية قالوا: إن التلفظ بالنية بدعة، ويستحسن لدفع الوسوسة (الجزيري)

I.e.: It is allowable to say the words of intention to say, for example, “I intend the Fard of Zuhr” – because, this is for awakening the heart. However, if he intended in his heart Zuhr Prayer, but his tongue said “I intend `Asr” it will do not harm, for, as you have known, counted is that which is in the heart. Saying by mouth is not niyyah per se, but rather, it helps in triggers the heart. The tongue’s error does not harm so long as the intention at the heart’s level was right. This rule has the Shafe`iyyah and Hanaabilah in agreement. As for the Malikiyyah and Hanafiyyah .. they said, “Voicing the niyyah in the Prayers is not a Shari`ah requirement at all, unless the devotee is given to doubts, while the Maalikiyyah said, “Uttering the niyyah is not the better choice for someone not given to doubts, but could be allowable to him who is subjected to doubts. Hanafiyyah have in fact said that sounding the niyyah is a bid`ah, however, it is desirable from the point of chasing out doubts.”


Thus, the issue is not a simple one. The jurists have taken everything into account, and, in so doing, they create confidence in us that they did not make hasty, unbalanced, ill-considered rulings. Whatever they said, following their Principles of Law, win our respect for reason and logic that they combined while working with the textual sources.

The following may be noted from a book of the Malikiyyah:

ويجوز لفظها باللسان لكن الأَولى ترك لفظها، وإن خالف اللفظ نية القلب فالعبرة لنية القلب إن وقع اللفظ سهواً، وإن كان عمداً فهو متلاعب وتبطل صلاته. فقه العبادات على المذهب المالكي، تأليف الحاجّة كوكب عبيد

To put the above in short: “It is allowable to say the words of the niyyah, but not doing so is preferable.” (Fiqh al-`Ibaadaat `alaa Madh-hub al-Malikee)

He also tells me that there is no difference in the method of prayer of men and women. Is it true?


Once again, he made an unconditional statement, and it is not true.

We have already made our remarks about your friend’s knowledge – although, of course, the possibility remains that he knows better than that, but decided not to discuss with you the issues in detail.

At all events, if the statement is about the contents of the Prayers, he is perfectly right. There is not an iota of difference between the Prayers of men and women so far as the contents are concerned. However, that does not apply to postures. The Salaf believed that there are differences in Prayer-postures between those of males and females. This issue had been taken up earlier (November 2003 issue), where we wrote:

“In today’s world, when journeys are too common, women should not make the mistake of stretching their legs two feet apart while standing in Prayers at airports, hospitals, railway platforms or other public places. Nor should they make a ghastly sight of themselves by throwing their arms side ways, to allow for a little goat to pass through, or of lifting their upper torso above the ground during prostration. Indeed, they should do no such thing even in the confines of their homes, if they have young men around (even if it is their sons).

Ibn Qudamah writes in the famous and standard 9-volume Hanbali Fiqh book “Al-Mughni”: ‘In reference to rules pertaining to the Prayers, the basic principle is that women should do as is required of men for, (even if not separately addressed) the address includes her; except that she should oppose men in (raising herself up and) creating a hollow (between herself and the ground), for she (i.e., the whole of her) is `awrah (something to be concealed). Therefore, it is desirous of her that she should squeeze herself (down), for, that is the best way of concealing herself; since it cannot be guaranteed that nothing of her will be revealed if she (raised herself up to) create a hollow (between her and the ground).. `Ali (ibn abi Talib) has said, ‘When a woman prays she should draw herself in and (during prostration) rest (her abdomen) on the thighs.’ In fact, (it is reported that) Ibn `Umar used to order women to sit square (by spreading their feet side-ways) during the Prayers.’ (Vol.1, p. 562).”


Vazeer Ahmed, via email

What are the types of Sajdah in prayer and outside prayer?


There are two types of Sujood outside the Prayer: that of tilaawah, and that of shukr. That is, one which a Muslim is required to make when he recites, or hears by intention an aayah of Sajdah. This is Sajdah tilaawah. The other – of shukr – is offered as a token of thanks to Allah for a benefit obtained: material or spiritual. However, one might, even outside the Prayer, go into Sujood during supplication. A hadith tells us that one is nearest to Allah in his Sujood.

I have seen some people touching their forehead in front of grave. Is it permissible?


Absolutely not. This is an act of major shirk.

Could you tell me whether we can touch the feet of our parents, or anyone else?


No. This custom comes from other cultures, and should not be practiced, especially in India.

We say especially in India, because here it is the custom of non-Muslims, who also prostrate themselves before other people out of veneration. Once it is allowed here, other cultural practices will follow. Otherwise, technically speaking, there seems to be nothing wrong in the act, but on the condition that it happens involuntarily. That is, if we assume that someone kissed the feet of one of his parents, simply out of love, while he or she is lying in the bed, say in a hospital, then there is nothing wrong in that. People kiss all parts of the parents’ body, or begin to massage the hands or feet, either finding them in pain, or because one is too happy to see one of them recovering from sickness. But, if one of them is standing, and a son or daughter fall to the feet, touch them or kiss them, out of respect, then, this is in imitation of others and hence disallowed. They should, instead, kiss the forehead.

Can we make Sajdah al-taa`zimee to them?


No, this is not allowed in Islam. There is no such thing in Islam called Sajdah Ta`zeemi (prostration out of respect). A Muslim should never prostrate himself before anyone. Prostration is reserved for the Lord of the Worlds.

Concentration in Prayers

Salman Khan, via email

I have a doubt. Can we pray wearing t-shirts?


Yes you can.

I am unable to have concentration in prayer. Can you advice me?


This is a tough question and a common disease. Concentration in Prayers is getting worse by the day. This is because the pressure of life. Although, never did humanity experience such abundance of wealth, to the extent that quite a chunk of it has to be thrown away, unused or half used .. although such is the abundance, greed for more and more is driving people to madness. As a result, there is pressure on everyone to devote more and more time and energy for the production of goods and services. And, there is no mercy coming down from any corner. Everyone, wherever he is, is an exploiter of those below him. This, apart from other factors, makes it very hard for people to concentrate on anything, which includes Prayers. The best way would be to get out of the present Satanic culture, perhaps in vacations, and, leaving and forgetting all about the worries of life, spend the time taken out entirely on activities that remind of the higher purposes of life, and drive fear of the looming death and what follow it of the Hereafter.

Perhaps, having done a short course of this type, one might regain his sanity, to some degree, and use it when he comes back to the business of life, resorting once again to the method, once the reserve depletes to zero.

Yet another method can also yield good results. But it is tougher than that suggested above. It is to practice Zuhd. But, this will require revolutionary and monumental changes in attitudes to this life, without renouncing it, without escaping it, and without neglecting the duties that Islam has imposed on every individual.

Once a Muslim has good self-control, and, in addition, controls the events of the world around him, that is, those that affect him directly, such as, for example, the number of hours he will work, the targets of earnings he will set for himself, and so forth, he might be able to free himself of the worldly worries and concentrate better in his Prayers.

Sex in Paradise

Mohammed Shahidfaisle, via email

I am a 20yr old Muslim student and since past one year I have a new zeal and interest in Islam, of which I was devoid earlier.


We congratulate you. However, we warn you that the present Muslim milieu is of such order that with the passage of time your sentiments could undergo changes, and you might cool down on your emotions. You must, therefore, to remain firm, indeed, to develop morally, mentally and spiritually, take up Islamic studies in all seriousness, devoting your best time, studying, to start with, the Qur’an (with translation first), the Hadith, and lives of the Prophet and his Companions.

I happen to be a new reader of YMD and would like to congratulate you for the wonderful work you are doing.


But you should not depend on YMD for all your religious information. YMD’s function is that of correcting concepts, clearing doubts and guiding to sources. It cannot educate you in a systematic manner.

I have a few doubts which have arisen out of my study of Islam, which I would request you to clarify: During one of the Friday sermons I heard a mosque khateeb say that in one of the Sahih Muslim hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) had prophesied about the rise of a power from the east (USA) which would rule over the entire world. Please clarify this hadith.


We do not know of any such hadith. Moreover, USA is not in the East. Further, it does not rule over the world. It could have – perhaps – if not for two factors. One, its blind support of Israel, which forced it to abandon honest principles of international conduct, earned it hatred and even scorn, and, secondly, its plunge into the mud when it reacted the way it did following the demise of the twin towers, when it threw away all pretensions to civilization, and invaded Iraq to occupy it, in a manner that remind you in a flash of the ways of the barbaric races of the past. Although the media did a splendid job in covering up, the little that the masses have learnt is enough for the USA to gain ridicule. And, by now it is too late. Regaining the pre-Iraq position is a distant dream. The Euro region tries to regain its former position, by disowning the policies of USA, but it does not do it strongly enough. It must, if it wishes to stay in the race, boycott the USA.

An empire, or world power, rests on two principles: military might, and moral and intellectual strength. USA has only one. And a military machine, without the moral and intellectual guidelines, is but a whirlwind that can only bring destruction in its wake. It will not construct. That is what USA is today. Until the whirlwind dies out naturally, humanity must face its wrath.

We might also point out that the world has never been ruled by a single power, and will never be. While the USA fights its imagined enemies, with Europe hiding behind it, most others are busy taking the economic bottom out of them. The future does not belong to the West.

As a college student I have been proposed by many girls (which is part of college life), but I have been rejecting believing that God would have made better provisions for me in the hereafter. But after reading Ruqaih Waris Maqsood’s book “Living Islam” (chapter: Sanctity of Life) I feel disappointed. She has proved that in Paradise there will be no fairies (houris), but only the wives of this world and also that people will have no sex. Please clarify this issue.


There has never been any difference in opinion among the Salaf and their followers that there will be sex in Paradise and that a dweller therein will have several spouses.

Qur’anic expressions speak of the “Houries” and prophetic traditions explain what they are. For example,


قال (سعيد بن عامر) : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: “لو أن حوراء أطلعت أصبعاً من أصابعها لوجد ريحها كل ذي روح..” رواه الطبراني في الكبير ورجاله ثقات. وله طرق في صفة الجنة.‏ (الهيثمي)


“If a Hourie were to display one of her fingers (to the world), its perfume will be felt by every living being.” The report is in Tabarani which Haythami declared trustworthy.

Another report is in Bukhari:


عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَوَّلُ زُمْرَةٍ تَلِجُ الْجَنَّةَ صُورَتُهُمْ عَلَى صُورَةِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ لا يَبْصُقُونَ فِيهَا وَلا يَمْتَخِطُونَ وَلا يَتَغَوَّطُونَ آنِيَتُهُمْ فِيهَا الذَّهَبُ أَمْشَاطُهُمْ مِنْ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَمَجَامِرُهُمْ الأَلُوَّةُ وَرَشْحُهُمْ الْمِسْكُ وَلِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْهُمْ زَوْجَتَانِ يُرَى مُخُّ سُوقِهِمَا مِنْ وَرَاءِ اللَّحْمِ مِنْ الْحُسْنِ لا اخْتِلافَ بَيْنَهُمْ وَلا تَبَاغُضَ قُلُوبُهُمْ قَلْبٌ وَاحِدٌ يُسَبِّحُونَ اللَّهَ بُكْرَةً وَعَشِيًّا (البخاري)

Allah’s Apostle said, “The first group (of people) who will enter Paradise will be (glittering) like the moon when it is full. They will not spit or blow their noses or relieve nature. Their utensils will be of gold and their combs of gold and silver; in their perfume-burners, aloe-wood will be used, and their sweat will smell like musk. Every one of them will have two wives; the marrow of the bones of the wives’ legs will be seen through the flesh out of excessive beauty. They (i.e. the people of Paradise) will neither have differences nor hatred amongst themselves; their hearts will be as if one heart and they will be glorifying Allah in the morning and in the evening.”‏

The above report speaks of two wives for every male in Paradise. Since a man would have had only one wife during this life, some scholars have thought that the second would be a Hourie. Others have thought that they both will be of the humans, and, in addition, there will be Houries.

As for sex in Paradise, this is proven by the Qur’an itself. Allah said (Al-Waqi`ah: 35-36): We have created them in a creation; and have made them virgins.”

It should be obvious that if there was no sex, being or not being virgins would make no difference, and should not have been thus qualified.

The reference to sex is clearer in another area. The Qur’an said (Al-Rahman: 56):

“There will be (women) of low gazes, that would not have been touched either by the humans or the Jinn.”

The textual word used for our rendition as “touched” is used for intercourse. Once again, if there was no sex in Paradise, women should not have been thus qualified.

As for hadith, while explaining Surah al-Waaqi`ah, Ibn Kathir reports a hadith from Tabarani which has been declared trustworthy:

وعن أبي هريرة قال، قيل: يا رسول اللّه هل نصل إلى نسائنا في الجنة؟ قال: “إن الرجل ليصل في اليوم إلى مائة عذراء” (رواه الطبراني وقال الحافظ المقدسي: هو على شرط الصحيح)  .  إبن كثير – تفسير سورة الواقعة

Abu Hurayrah says the Prophet was asked, “Messenger of Allah, shall we have intercourse with our women in Paradise?” He answered, “A man will have intercourse with a hundred virgins in a day.”

Ibn Kathir mentions that Hafiz Diaa’ al-Maqdisee declared the above hadith as trustworthy. Haythami treated another version as trustworthy.

Above, we have presented some original texts also because some Muslims seem to have been influenced by Christian ideology which believes in spiritual existence in the Hereafter. Christian hostility to women is well-known. For two thousand years they have enslaved millions of women in sex, singing hymns, and burning from inside. Islam has nothing to do with this attitude towards women. It treats them with respect and honor, though different from men in their physical appearance and in wants. Similarly, sexual pleasure is a gift of Allah. If someone believes a sex-less life will be a more profound life in Paradise, he may miss Paradise itself.

Tahajjud Time

Munis Rafiqi, via email

I live in Srinagar, Kashmir. Which is the period of time I should consider as the last third of the night? My mosque offers Fajr prayer at 06:25 a.m.


We are not sure what exactly it is that you wish to know. The timing of the Fajr Prayers, of course plays no role. You have to calculate the total number of hours from sunset to sunrise. Its last one third, (before sunrise), is the time for tahajjud Prayers.


Md. Salauddin, via email

Please check the following and guide me about its correctness… Please check the authenticity of site www.islamqa.com.


We have deleted the text because of its obscenity. The answer in short is that the husband and wife are exempt to all rules of Satr. As for the statement about the Prophet and Umm Salamah, it is an allegation that should not be repeated even for purposes of inquiry. Every Muslim should know from his sixth sense that such a thing is not possible from a Prophet, apart from the fact that he never functioned as a midwife.

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An Internet Site

I visited a website www.submission.org as I know only a very little about Islam. So I didn’t read that website. I request you to study it clearly & keenly to taking full concentration because it is ISLAM. So please send mail after coming to conclusion.

Please see especially  www.submission.org/music.hlml

Md. Salauddin, via email


We hesitate to say yes to any Internet site offering Islamic information, except perhaps those that are controlled by scholars of good repute. Such are few. For a long time after the Net services were launched, an Islamic site (almost the first to come on line) was, according to some information, being controlled by Jews.

Of the hundreds now on line, there are those that are controlled by sects that are altogether out of Islam; those that are controlled by such sects that are not totally out of Islam, but from whose site nothing can be taken. Then there are those that are run by Ahl-al-Bid`ah. Again, there are some that are controlled by this or that Jama`ah, or Maslak, or Madh-hub, that are, by and large, on the Main Path, but, condemn the main stream Muslims, either on the basis of Fiqh differences, or for so-called `Aqeedah reasons, which do not happen to be `Aqeedah issues, but which they have declared so. Their sites spread intolerance and sow discord.

There are a few sites that are free of the above defects, but are not run by scholars. Therefore, they present views that do not have their basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and which Muslims have not accepted as true throughout the ages. In short, such views as that have not received consensus of the Ummah. There are variants other than them.

Of the few sites that we trust are those that are run by scholars such as Tariq al-Suwaidan of Kuwait (if he has any), or of `Amr Khalid. But, we believe these are in Arabic. If there is one controlled by Mufti Taqi `Uthmani of Karachi, as we hear, then, it could be trusted.

One another reason we do not actually visit the sites and evaluate them is that we are not sure what they will up-load after we have given them our approval; or that they will not fall into wrong hands. When some people lose interest in their sites, they hand it over to others.

Finally, we do not believe Internet is a good educational tool. It is an informational system. For education, one needs to fall back on the age-old, tried and tested method, namely: study through books with the help of guides.

Marrying an Aunt

I am a 32 year old Muslim. My aunt has been separated from her husband and has. Now she will be staying with us permanently. My question is, I have never looked at her as my aunt but always as a friend. Now, I have wondered whether I could marry her to solve her problem of shelter and food? Local scholars have told me no, but is there any way, possibly a hadith or Qur’anic verse which will allow me this?

Wasim, via email


Your aunt is like your mother. You should never look at her as your future wife.


I would like to know  about word ma`soom Can we use it for the children?

Shahnawaz Ahmed Malik, Aligarh, via email


The word is of Arabic origin where it means to be protected of sins, or, simply, someone who does not, and cannot commit a sin. Since this is the quality of the Prophets and Messengers alone, it does not behoove of anyone that he should claim this for himself. Consequently, using this as a name has not received the approval of the Muslims in general. However, since this is not an Attribute of Allah, the rule cannot be made strictly binding, although, undesirable. Therefore, if someone has been so named, he need not change it; especially in cultures other than Arabic, where, as for example in Urdu, the word means innocent.


I am confused by some persons who say that Abdul Wahab of the Arab world showed hostility towards our Prophet’s tomb although he was a scholar also. Who was he? Please clear this issue.

Shanu Malik, via email


What you have been told is incorrect. How can a man be referred to as a scholar, while hostile to the Prophet’s grave? Throughout history, the Salaf have been visiting the Prophet’s grave out of love, and have shown greatest of respect to him. We do not know of anyone who showed any disrespect to the Prophet’s grave in any way. Not even the deviated sects have ever done it.

You ought to perhaps read the life of Sheikh Abdul Wahhab.

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