Letters to the Editor
Benefits of Zakah
Mohammed Abdul Aleem Kazmi, via email
Let me give you a little background about myself. I am an Engineering graduate in Computer Science. I have been working for the past six years. I have spent two years of my life working in Riyadh and then I returned to join IBM in India. I am from a well-to-do family and always had the intention of being of use to my community. I have a lot of relatives who are doing good by the grace of almighty Allah.
I have a concern regarding Zakat and the non-deserving people who get away with Zakat and other alms. I have seen many instances wherein Zakat was paid to the poor and the needy looking people, but it turned out to be a waste, because the people who looked poor and needy have made it their business to ask for Zakat year on year.
You have used the words, “needy looking people.” But this is not the Shari`ah requirement. You have to look for the needy people.
Another instance was that of the general intention of doing good but bearing the brunt of having helped a thug. My aunt was approached by a distant relative who seemed to be in great difficulty. Having known the background she believed him and she said “I will buy you an auto-rickshaw out of my money and you pay back the money everyday out of your earnings.” The man agreed and kept returning the money for the first few days and then vanished. This was not Zakat money though, but what we learn from this is that cheaters get away with Muslim charity, while those who really deserve and never ask for (as identified in Qur’an as the people who really deserve) never get the rightful share.
Every society has people of the sort your aunt encountered; even worse. There are people who will steal dead men’s coffins. But we cannot stop covering the dead with coffin-cloth because of thieves.
While expending the Zakah, we simply have to be more circumspect.
So in view of all incidents and circumstances that we have seen and experienced, can we save this Zakat money until it is substantial to do some business and later hire the really poor and the needy Muslims to work for this business?
What makes you sure that a swindler will not swindle off your capital money? Isn’t the prospect more likely in view of the fact that while expending zakah money you could be encountering a single impostor, but while doing business you are bound to be visited by many spirited charlatans.
If we find over days or months or years that the person/people whom we hired are worth and are being the rightful owners of this Zakat business, we hand him over the business, so he/they can continue for his/their life and will never again need Zakat. This way, we are at least sure that the Zakat is being received by the really needy and worthy people instead of the thugs and people who have made asking for Zakat their business.
What happens if: (1) the business runs into losses because of difficult market forces or incompetent handlers, and (2) when you discover at the end of several years that those that you took as honest-looking buddies turn out to be dishonest blokes, who were the ones who brought down your business?
Allah forgive me if I am wrong, but I feel this is the only way I can at least be satisfied in my heart that I am doing something for my community.
Allah will forgive you if you will not act according to the idea you have expressed.
I have seen my parents donating money, giving sadaqah and Zakat and all other forms of alms but, to my knowledge, it has really done very little to those who actually need help and those who actually deserve it.
No wonder the alms did no good to the really needy ones because they never received any.
I don’t feel quite satisfied with the idea of donating money to organizations as well, because there can be no account with regard to how much good my money would do to the people in my neighbourhood.
We are reminded of an anecdote coming from the times of the Salaf: Ibn Zayd reported, “A woman came to my father and said: ‘Abu Usama! Show me a man who is sincere in his claims to be fighting in the way of Allah, for I believe they join these expeditions only to get some good food. I have (some) arrows and quiver (that I would like to gift to someone).’ My father told her: ‘May Allah bless you not in your arrows and the quiver. You have caused injury even before you have spent.'”
You see, you need to look hard for the needy. This does not mean spying on people to discover the true needy ones, but rather getting closer to the brethren of your neighborhood to know their condition first hand.
If you did not find any, you should trust those who offer voluntary service in this cause. The Jamat-e-Islami is one example. They have dedicated teams that work towards collection and organized distribution of Zakawwat and sadaqaat. And they do a good job. There should be others around you or in the next town.
I am totally confused because I came across many articles which forbid me from doing anything like this. But, Allah forgive me if I am wrong.
Allah will forgive you if you will not act according to the idea you have expressed.
I am not reinventing anything.
Are you not?
What I am making sure is the people I know and I believe should be the rightful owners of Zakat get it and they get it such that they can continue in their life, going forward without the need to ask again for Zakat.
You are aiming at what only the Sustainer of the World is capable of. It is a mighty job to economically set right lives of other persons. But rather, you may just hand over the zakah to the deserving, and let the Lord of the Worlds do the rest, if He so wills.
Please let me know, whether, with this intention, I can contribute my Zakat and my other family members’ Zakat for the purpose of creating a source of income which will be spent back on the zakah-deserving people themselves.
You cannot. Zakah must be spent off, when it becomes due, and the sums should be handed over to one or all the eight deserving classes that the Qur’an has identified.
If you and your family members wish to do more for the poor and the needy, you may pool additional sums for this purpose and attempt whatever you have in mind. But zakah sums cannot be used.
A Story within a Story
Anonymous, via email (name and address withheld on request of the questioner)
I am a YMD reader. You are doing a good job, but there is one problem with your publication. Whenever I read YMD, I feel that in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section, you answer in a very rude manner.
That’s what happens when someone reads our magazine. He comes to know in a forthright manner what is wrong and what is right. He discovers that we do not seem to allow any room for compromise. That makes the answers unstomachable. At that point Satan drops in: “Hello there! May I not tell you about what is wrong with this magazine? They are rude. Allah is kind you know. These people are tough. The presentation – at the least – is not Islamic. So, think about it. Do you think you should continue reading it?”
To a man of truth, the form is not important. It is the content. What is said is more important for him than how it was said. When Musa said to Fir`awn (17: 102): “And I think, O Fir`awn, you are a destroyed man,” then, the style was not important. It was the warning that must have been taken gallantly. If he thought that the warning was not worth heeding, because it had not been made in a diplomatic language, deserving of the highest authority in Egypt, then, he was given the final bath, after which no burial followed.
Similarly, when the Qur’an said (4: 116), “Surely, those who have disbelieved, their wealth and children will be of no avail to them against Allah. They are the Companions of the Fire. They shall abide therein forever,” then, politeness evaporates as smoke. Fire is the real thing.
In the meanwhile, let us tell you a story:
Mother to her teenage son: “Look my dear. You shouldn’t be doing such things.”
Son: “What is it about?”
Mother: “Well, you know what I mean.”
Son: “Devil take me mother, I’ve no idea.”
Mother: (Ignoring the uppitiness), “The neighbors are complaining.”
Son: “Mother! I didn’t open my ears but have heard them complaining against me.”
Mother: “I admit sometime they are wrong, but not in this instance.”
Son: (Winks at his sister), “So what is it now, mother.”
Mother: (Maintaining her decorum), “I mean about the walk.”
Son: “Mother, you can’t be complaining about a silly thing like that.”
Mother: “It is not a silly thing, my dear. They are our neighbors and we are supposed to protect them and their honor.”
Son: “Come on mother. You are talking as if I have kidnapped her.”
Mother: “But the affair is important. To take her out is not tolerable to either of us two families.”
Son: “Mother! I wish you’d realize how times have changed. It was just an innocent walk together.” (Winks at his sister again; she frowns).
Mother: “There is no innocence in such a walk. And I do hope such a thing will not happen again.”
Father: “What happened?”
Mother: “Well, I’ve warned him.”
Father: “But he has been explained the Islamic point several times over?”
Mother: “I am hoping he will not repeat.”
Father: “I am disillusioned. In any case, if he repeats, he will need a bone-setter.”
The story is over.
But wait, there is a story behind this story. It is as follows: when the public got the wind of this story, they immediately divided themselves into two groups. One group – group “a” – was with the mother, supporting her style, while the other group – group “b” – was with the stern father. A heated debate followed, ending with, we are told, group “a” – which was claiming the mother’s attitude as right – throwing punches at group “b” – which supported the father’s method. Group “b” withdrew quietly.
What is your opinion of Dr. Zakir Naik?
What makes you think that we have any other opinion about him – as an individual – but good?
Dividing an Old Property
Kaja Peer, via email
I reside in Bangalore and am a subscriber of YMD since the past seven years. First of all, I’d like to thank you for the elaborate explanations over various issues of Islam that have helped me and my family to gain a great amount of knowledge on Islam.
In one of the TV program it was said that one of the greatest sin is to betray an orphan for his worldly properties. This did not shock me first because I had understood as it was said, but he continued saying that even your sisters are also orphans after your parents pass away, and so they have a share in your parents’ property. This statement brought up a few questions to my mind, which are as follows:
Are they rightly called orphans even after marriage, if our parents pass away?
Maybe you missed something. After the death of a father, and after a person has reached puberty, he or she is no more an orphan.
On the other hand, a mother’s death does not make a child orphan, male or female.
Next, my father passed away fifteen years back. He left us a petty shop. I was the only one in charge of it. He also left a house written in my name. I have strived for past 35 years in the same shop, which is now making waves in the market and by the grace of the Almighty I have acquired some property, cash and a few other things. Now the question is: is it necessary for me to offer my sisters their shares? For your information, I have been supporting all of them financially for all these years whenever they seek help from me.
Thirty-five years is a long time. It creates some complications. However, your sisters and mother have their share in the properties left by your father.
But first the house: (a) Did your father gift it to you? If so, then, a person who deprives other children similar gifts is doing injustice to them. But, the gift remains valid. Others have no share in it and you have no sin on you for denying others any share in it. If there was any sin, it was not brought on by you.
(b) But if your father got the property registered in your name, for the sake of convenience, or as a Manager and Trustee after him, with no sole ownership rights, then, the house has share for all others.
(c) If it was the case that your father gave it to you on the understanding that it was your wage for managing the house, the shop, and looking after his children, then, in this case too, others have no share in it. Your father might have thought (or said): “Poor boy (meaning you). He will have to struggle hard behind me to look after the household and marry off my daughters. So, let me make arrangements for him now so that it does not happen that he struggles for them, and is left with no savings of his own in the end.”
If this was the intention, then too, the others of the household have no share in the house.
Now, assuming that (b) is the case, you may do as follows: Conduct a survey. How many of your sisters want their share of the house. A few may be well off, or all of them, and may say that they do not need any share. If they say that, it would be advisable to get them to speak individually for themselves before a few others to this effect: i.e., they waive away their rights over the house.
But if a few or all say that they want their share, then you will have to assess the present cost of the house, divide up the amount following the Islamic Law of Inheritance and hand over the dues to them. It is not necessary to sell the house, if you or someone else wants to keep it in which case, that someone else pays out others’ shares.
Coming to the shop: Here too your sisters and mother have their shares. But this has to be treated differently. You may do the following:
Before anything, seek the inheritors’ wish. Do they want their share or not? If yes, then you may do the following:
(a) Assess the present-day value of the shop (i.e., the land price).
To explain: thirty five years ago, the shop site might have been worth 1000/=. It might be 100,000 now. This 100,000/= is the amount to be considered for division.
(b) Assess the value of the goods in the shop at the time the shop came into your possession. That is, value of the goods 35 years ago. Assess their present-day value.
(c) Divide the total amount according to the Inheritance Law and give away each her share. After you have given the shares to those who demand, the shop site and the goods it has are all yours.
(d) By the above method, you have taken care of the problem of inflation. (The rupee of that time was higher priced than the rupee of present time. What you bought with a rupee then, you cannot now).
(e) The business may be currently worth millions. But it is all yours. That is because, the others have made no contribution towards the running or growth and development of the business, and hence, having received their original share at today’s price, they cannot lay claim to anything else. The new value, or what is known as the goodwill, is entirely because of your efforts.
To put it simply, all inheritors have their share in the shop, as it was valued 35 years ago (with the inflationary factor taken care of), but not in any added value that has been achieved over 35 years by you alone.
As regards any other property that you have acquired, or other kinds of wealth you have generated, for yourself, during this period, is also yours. Others have no share in them.
The others have drawn similar advantages from the shop. For example, your sisters were married off with jewelry, gifts and cash, all of which came out of the shop. This squares off with what advantages you drew.
This is what we think you should do. However, you might look into a Mufti’s office to reconfirm. But he has to be a Mufti proper. Sabeelur Rashad at Bangalore (if you are in B’lore), or Deoband in Saharanpur would be the right places.
A Policy Proviso
Barkatullah, via email
I have been reading your Young Muslim Digest. I like it very much and I have a few questions. Please help me out. What is Jihad?
The Jihad that you seem to be interested in knowing is to fight in Allah’s cause with one’s person and wealth. It can be (i) obligatory, (ii) a conditional obligatory, or (iii) mustahab (commendable).
If a Muslim country is invaded, Jihad becomes obligatory on all the Muslim citizens of that country (non-Muslims are exempted).
If another Muslim country is invaded, then, Jihad is conditional on the neighboring Muslims, to the extent of help needed to push the invader out.
Jihad is commendable or allowable, if a Muslim wishes to join Muslim forces anywhere in the world fighting in Allah’s cause.
There are other details and conditions, but which are too elaborate for presentation here. Primarily, Jihad has been much civilized by Islam, in order to reduce the violence among the humans to its lowest. Several kinds of violence, viz., for land, minerals, riches, control of resources, racial pride, nationalistic reasons, or simply annihilation of another people for egoistic or other reasons, have all been done away with by Islam; leaving only God’s cause as the only just cause.
Since, for Muslims, violence at the national and community level has been replaced with Jihad, the rules pertaining to it are very many, and its understanding requires some study. We recommend a book by Mawlana Maududi “Al-Jihad fi al-Islam.”
Is there Jihad going on anywhere in the world?
How can you not know whether Jihad is going on any where in the world? Most of the violence that you hear about in our contemporary world is directed against Islam and Muslims. The main problem is that our enemy of today hasn’t got the guts to say, “Yes, we are opposed to Islam, and we are here, fighting you, to curb its influence, and, if we are in your country, it is to take away, or control your resources.”
It was a different situation with the Crusades. The Crusaders had the courage to pronounce what they intended. Today’s enemy is coward.
Another problem arises from the fact that the enemy identifies from amongst ourselves those who are hungry of power, wealth, and prestige, even if they come at the cost of their country’s interests. The enemy takes such of our elements to its own lands, brainwashes them, trains them, grants them citizenship, and give them enough money and other benefits to release them of these worries. Then it creates a situation through violence or vote rigging, or some other, to plant them in the country of its target to set up a puppet government. But since the common people do not know of the machinations, they get divided and start fighting among themselves as pro and against the puppet regime. The invader more or less gets the reprieve. This perfectly serves the enemy which waits until both parties are exhausted and are resigned to the occupation.
In the confusion, various other groups emerge with various objectives. Some of them are planted by the invader. This creates further confusion. In course of time clashes take place amongst these groups.
Yet another, and an important factor, is that the enemy has succeeded in lumping together Jihad, self-defense, struggle for independence, or struggle against puppet or criminal regimes, and given it a new nomenclature: terrorism. To convince the public about it, the enemy organizes its own terrorism, quite often by employing the despaired elements of the society: men who are ready to die because they have lost every one dear to them in the ensuing violence, or women whose honor has been violated. The enemy has succeeded in this campaign more than it could in the battle-fields, and has succeeded in persuading, or forcing various regimes: puppet, half-puppet, anti-Islamic, hypocritical regimes, or simply inept rulers, to remove Jihad (after its earlier removal as a policy proviso) from Islamic articles of belief. Now, Jihad has become, by and large, a word of ill-meaning, and anyone who subscribes to it, is not merely persecuted by these governments but has denunciations from every learned scholar flying in his face.
Now, if it is asked: Is Jihad going on anywhere in the world, then, the answer can only be in very general terms, which, lacking specifications, becomes a mere academic definition. A detailed elaboration can result in the imprisoning of the elaborater.
Another question. I don’t know Arabic. So I read the Quran in Urdu or English. Now, will I receive the same reward?
The Qur’an is read primarily for its meaning. But in those parts of the world where Arabic is not given importance, Muslims read it for what they call as “barakah.” If you mean this kind of reading, then, it has to be done in Arabic alone. Reading a translation, is not equal to reading the Qur’an.
But if you mean you are reading both the Arabic text as well as the translation, then, hopefully, your reward is twofold.
Finally, which is the best Tafseer that I can read?
Without knowing your educational background, it is hard for us to suggest a Tafsir suitable for you. Perhaps you should look at the various available and pick up the one that you are able to follow. A few are: Ma`arif al-Qur’an (Mufti Shafi` Deobandi, English and Urdu), Tafheem al-Qur’an (Mawlana Mawdudi, Urdu and English), Tafseer `Uthmani (Shabbir Ahmed `Uthmani, English and Urdu) and Tafsir-e-Majidi (Mawlana Daryabadi, English).
We are regular readers of YMD. Can we say assalamualaykum to non-Muslims?
Iftikhar Butt and Firdous-ul-Islam, via email
In this our make-believe world, on many occasions a Muslim finds himself in difficult situations.
The world around him is full of hypocrisy, show-offs, pretensions, dissimulations and false postures. Employees sit with employees, greet each other, cut jokes, share news, but behind each other play politics and try to cut the other off, if one’s own short-term or long-term promotion requires that.
Similarly, employers meet employers, businessmen meet businessmen, on good notes, but behind each other, they try to undercut the other and outsmart them.
In the same fashion, men of different faiths meet with each other on most cordial terms, with brotherly attitude, demonstrating sincere concern for each other, but in fact, could hardly care less for each other.
This is where a Muslim is put to test. Islam requires him to meet people with an open heart, sincerity and true concern. He is in fact supposed to sacrifice his interests, if being of true concern means that.
But when he says, “Peace be upon you” to a non-Muslim compatriot, a colleague, a friend, then what does he mean? Is he honest?
If a Muslim says, “Yes, I am sincere when I say that to a non-Muslim,” then he is not sincere to his Lord, since there is no peace for someone who does not believe in God, or believes in Him as someone who is dependent upon his subordinates, or is of secondary importance, or worse, believes in Him as “a spent force.”
How can a man find peace in his life, if he is not at peace with his Lord God, his Creator and Sustainer?
Therefore, when a Muslim says to a non-Muslim, “Peace be upon you,” then either he is not sincere to him in this particular greeting, or not sincere to his Lord, or, playing the fool with both.
Intriguingly, in many cases, it is not a non-Muslim who wishes to be so greeted, but rather, the Muslim happens to be overenthusiastic about pleasing him.
The matter is not simply of these or those words of greetings. A Muslim’s responsibility is beyond words. First, do you truly believe in Islam? Are you sure this is a revealed religion? Do you believe that those who deny their Lord God face a painful chastisement in the Hereafter? If you keep answering, “Yes, yes, yes,” then the question is, why should you not be honest with your brother-in-Adam, the non-Muslim, to tell him that he cannot expect to live in peace having denied His God the sole rights of worship and obedience?
If you have done that, patiently keep on doing that, over the years of companionship, then, these or those words of greetings can do you no harm.
A Muslim might reply with a simple “wa alaykum” if a non-Muslim says to him, “assalamu alaykum.” But there is consensus of opinion among the scholars that one may not greet a non-Muslim with the Islamic greeting: assalamu alaykum. Why? O.K. Let us repeat: Never should a Muslim be insincere to another person, never false, and never dishonest. He never ceases giving the message, “Look. I want to be your true companion, a sincere friend, a loving brother, through and through our lives, and in the life that will follow. But that is not in my power. That is in the power of God. So, let us two be sincere to Him, honest to Him, slaves to Him. May be He will grant us this our wish.”
On the other hand, if a Muslim wants to be diplomatic, a sycophant, a time-server, a flatterer, and so would like to say “assalamu alaykum”, for political, social, economic or other reasons, then, there is no peace for him.
Jerusalem in the Qur'an
Recently I had the opportunity to read the book “Jerusalem in the Qur’an.” The author of this book has given a new kind of explanation to the signs of Qiyamah, and the analysis put up by him is serious to be discussed by scholars and intellectuals. Personally I think except for the concept of Gog and Magog everything else is right. I request you to provide an analysis of the topics presented in the book and please don’t sideline this issue as it seems to be serious. If you don’t have a copy of this book, you can download it from: http://inshallahshaheed.wordpress.com/books/.
Mohammed Shahid Faisle, via email
The message you get now at the internet is that the site is closed.
However, Imran N. Hosein has his own site by the name www.imranhosein.org. Additionally, we have been sent a copy of the book “Jerusalem in the Qur’an” – for similar reasons as you state – and are in a position to evaluate. Kindly see this month’s lead article.
Learning from a Christian
I am a nineteen year old teenager currently studying. There was one thing which kept me disturbed for a long time. I am well-controlled in almost all situations of this kind. I was infatuated by a girl, my senior by four years. I almost always tried to resist the temptation of even as much as staring at her. But today I could not control myself and as “luck” would have it I found her coming my way, and I followed her till the bus station and even boarded the same bus which she did. I think she noticed it, but that’s not the point. I feel severely depressed because of this incident. I am feeling so guilty that I cannot express it. I am almost always a controlled individual and I have successfully suppressed my feelings for this person. But today I don’t know what happened.
I have been reading Young Muslim Digest for three years, and I thank you for helping me out of the predicament which has gripped the young and the teenage group. Most of the questions you publish are related to this topic. And your knowledge to handle us in such a situation, with a complementing style and diction is beyond words. I am aware that this is only an infatuation. I know that it’s only a temporary desire much like an attractive toy in the window of a shop. But this was what I was afraid of. These short term outbursts of desires can be disastrous. I felt so guilty that I cannot get a grip of myself. I don’t know how I am going to face her next time. We study in the same college. I think I have treaded upon the rights of women with this action. I have never done this before. I am so afraid to stalk anybody. It was completely unexpected. Please help me in this regard. Help me restore my modesty and self respect, please.
Stephen Murray, via email
We are glad that despite being a Christian you have had the consistency to be reading a Muslim magazine, which is, in any case, not aimed at non-Muslims – if you are one. We also note with gladness that you have a strong sense of modesty. The Western media tirelessly portrays those who live in Christian environment as lose of morals and indifferent to chastity.
Your well expressed thoughts stated above lead us to the opinion that, although quite young, you have the seeds of a strong character and thus we have the right to hope that you will maintain your integrity and self-respect. Our Prophet has said that true regret is (the gist of) repentance.
You have admitted that this was a timely infatuation. Certain situations can be described as “iron against magnet.” But, that the iron remained iron, and expresses his intention to remain so, is a congratulatory matter. Muslim youths have something to learn from you. Staring at a woman is to be treading upon her right, is a nicety well-expressed, and a second lesson that our youth may learn from you.
The Devil is likely to organize for you a repeat operation. Therefore, walking away from where an encounter is expected would be the best way of restoring your self-respect. You are right about the fear of its loss. Infatuation with a woman can lead to situations where a man forgets about what his self-respect demands. He stoops low, to regret much later, when regret turns not into repentance, but into self-indignation.