Letters to the Editor
Q: I have a doubt. Can we pray wearing t-shirts?
Yes you can.
Q: 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.
Q: I would like to know about the word “Ma`soom.” Can we use it for the children?
Shahnawaz Ahmed Malik,
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 behove 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 (swt), 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.
Q: Please let me know the difference between ‘Nabi’ and ‘Rasool’.
The definition of a Rasool is clear, but not so of a Nabiyy. Hence, there does not seem to be a clear way to distinguish between a Rasooland a Nabiyy.
A definition which draws the approval of most is that a Rasool is a raised one, sent specifically to a people, who, therefore, is given a new Shari`ah and hence a new Revelation. In contrast, although a Nabiyy is also a raised one, but he follows the Shari`ah of a previous Rasool, although he may on his own receive some Revelation or he might not. Hence every Rasool is a Nabiyy, but every Nabiyy need not be a Rasool.
Q: Also, is there any difference between ‘Sood’ and ‘Riba’?
Riba’ is an Arabic word whose equivalent in Urdu is Sood.
Q: I want to ask you why Abdul Wahab Najdi and Ibn Tayyimiya were declared to be out of the fold of Islam and a Fatwa was declared to the effect that anyone considering them to be right is out of the fold of Islam?
We are not aware of such fatwas issued by rightful authorities. Kindly send us the fatwas for our investigation.
Q: Do you know who Aalaa Hazrat was and what kind of person he was?
Aa`laa Hazrat is an Urdu term, and in historical works we find that the term was used for the Nizams – former rulers of the Uthmani Sultanate of Hyderabad.
Q: Is it right to say Salam in the love of Prophet Muhammad (saws) by standing? If it is wrong, why?
In many cases, love of the Prophet is a slogan for us Muslims. There is no true regard for him. He is an icon – like every nation has its icon. Those who claim to love him, rarely know him, his life, his character and his concern to improve the world around him. To treat his concerns as one’s own is the true manifestation of love.
Singing out Salam to him, (because people like to sing in chorus), is one of the worst ways of demonstrating love for him. Sending Salam is a kind of devotional acts. Devotional acts cannot be sung out. They need solitude, concentration, and meditation. If the people wish to sing, let them, but let them choose something else, and not Salam to the Prophet.
Such actions were never practiced by the Companions, who loved him most.
It is another thing that to stand up in love is prohibited. The Prophet said in a trustworthy hadith, “Whoever wishes that people should stand up for him when he comes in, may find his abode in the Fire.”
Accordingly, when he entered an assembly, the Companions did not stand up for him. They were the most obedient of Allah’s servants after the Prophet. They were more sober than that they would sing out Salam instead of living out his Sunnah.
Mohd. Wamis Khan,
Q: Please let me know whether watching Islamic programs on the TV is legitimate in Islam. We now have four Islamic channels. What do you have to say about them?
Shaik Aijaz Ahmed,
Television is a tool neither good in itself nor bad. It is the purpose to which it is put that makes its viewing lawful or unlawful. If an Islamic program presented on the TV is authentic of its contents, then watching its presentation would be a virtue. But, if it is not authentic, then one may switch off.
In addition to authenticity, running an Islamic channel to profit – which is the main objective – is itself a hard job filled with problems. Running TV stations is an expensive affair. It can only be run without regular monetary losses if it can manage to win advertisements. Therefore, most channels use sex to lure the viewers. Islamic channels cannot accept this, and so, loses clients.
On the other hand, a TV station that airs religious materials has fewer viewers. Accordingly, winning advertisement even from those clients who do not insist on sexual allurements, becomes difficult. Expenses not met, the owners turn to charity. But charity for such causes comes not from the very religious circles (most of the religious are too poor to contribute), but from those circles where there is more regard for money than for religion.
Again, the advisors that owners of TV channels have around them cannot be expected to be good quality, god-fearing Ulama’. The true Ulama’ are in the Madrasas, teaching high-level subjects, exerting all their efforts to leave behind them good quality scholars. Many of them are engaged in research, and are also involved in Ummah-related issues of importance. They hardly have time to appear in public. (No wonder American Presidents hate them).
This allows for the doors of TV program-rooms to be wide open for such of those who cannot be relied for expert knowledge of Islam. In consequence, you have all and sundry airing his views on the screen, especially those who can win approval of the masses.
Whoever impresses the masses, attracts greater number of people to his programs (whatever his quality of knowledge). He draws the respect that a true scholar deserves, and what he says becomes the word of Islam.
Occasionally, a good scholar is coaxed into giving some time for the TV but his voice is drowned in the twittering of birds of every origin and every hue.
What happens in practice is that the programmer is supposed to present his audience with – say eight hours – of programs everyday. He requests several scholars to give time. But they are too busy. Those jump in who have plenty of time on their hands. They are not true scholars. (A true scholar normally suffers hyper-acidity or even ulcer, for his non-regularity in meals. He is overloaded with works).
Sometimes the presenter knows that he has not got the right man for the topic he has chosen. But, where is he to produce the right men from? So he makes compromises just to fill in hours. How long can he air run-down old recordings? As time passes, it gets worse, and, finally, it is the sub-standard people who take over.
These are some of the reasons why Islamic TV channels are not successful. Some of them are controlled by the wrong people right from the start. Some have their own agenda or view point to project, and, therefore, we do not recommend any.
Q: I follow the Hanafi way of salat (prayers), but many people including some of my family members ask me to prove my way of prayers with respect to the Qur’an and hadith and I cannot do it. I have no knowledge except that Imam Abu- Hanifah is the first Imam and therefore we follow his way of Prayer.
You have stated that you have no knowledge. You are right. And this is where some people get the chance to bug you. Also, interestingly, you have no knowledge that they have no knowledge too, except that they know a few ahaadith, or have been taught just few enough to be able to create a polemical atmosphere. Otherwise, they are as ignorant as a penguin.
But they are more unknowing than you. This is because of several reasons: Firstly, someone who has no knowledge should acknowledge that he has no knowledge. Secondly, one should not argue in religious matters. This is forbidden in Islam. But rather they should educate by offering books, not of Fiqh, but those that soften the heart, increase faith, and inspire to better practice. Thirdly, it is forbidden in Islam to spread dissension, differences, and antagonism.
The unity of the Ummah must be maintained at every level except when basic tenets of Islam are involved, such as: the authority of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the finality of Prophet Muhammad (saws), the superiority of the Companions over the Muslims of the later times, etc.
Thus, the people who have been bothering you are in three different ways more ignorant than you are, unless, of course, you also indulge in these “muhlikaat” (destructive elements) of the modern “Jaahiliyy” world – getting “aj-hal” by the day.
You have stated that you Pray as Imam Abu Hanifah used to Pray. You could not be more wrong. The Hanafiyy way of Prayers is exactly in confirmation of how the Qur’an demands it done, how the Prophet demonstrated it and how the Salaf practiced it, especially the majority of the Companions.
Imam Abu Hanifah did not write a book on “How to Pray.” He merely laid the principles of Law. The school of “Mujtahids” that he created came to be recognized as the “Hanafiyy School of Law.” The seeds that he laid grew into a massive and powerful tree that is the envy of many who have neither the land, nor the skill, nor the seeds.
You might show this answer to those who bother you. (We know that most of them do not know English, or are very poor in it, that they are poor in Urdu also, and that Arabic to them is like Hebrew. But try). But if they persist in arguing with you, give them an exercise: Get together in one volume what the Qur’an demands with regard to Prayers, how the Prophet demonstrated, and how the Salafpracticed. Let them gather together, all the relevant texts, opinions and practices, from every trustworthy source, (and not merely from a single hadith collection – or from a chapter in it). Of course, they should not quote from any Fiqh books. (Fiqh books are sources of knowledge, but not sources of Islamic Law).
If they fail to produce a single volume, on this single topic, and of course they will fail, (even if you gave them ten years) then ask them, “Do you speak of things you have no knowledge of?”
On your part, you need to study, first, a good, comprehensive, but thorough Hanafiyy book on Salah. That will teach you the Law. Hold on to it firmly. But Law is one thing, spirit is another. There are several ahadith that stress on the inner value of devotional acts, rather than the outward which is a point well discussed by Imam Ghazali, Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Rajab Hanbali, Shah Waliyullah, Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Rasheed Raza Misri, Imam Hasan al-Banna, Abul Hasan `Ali Nadwi – to name a few.
To gain the spirit, go into books of Hadith and Salaf practices. Note the variety, the richness, the depth they offer. If you spent a few years of your life, just learning the Salah, and practicing it, you have every right to believe that you will fare well on the Day of Judgment, in the “test” on Salah.
Salah will be the first deed to be questioned about on that difficult Day. If someone passed through this test, he is likelier to pass through other tests concerning other deeds. If he fails, he is likelier to fail in the rest.
Q: I am a regular reader of Young Muslim Digest and I must say you people are doing a commendable job. I have a question regarding what has happened recently in New York City where a woman Imam called for Salah for both men & women, my queries are as follows:
Is there the concept of Salah for women in a Mosque?
There is. But, according to the Shari`ah of Islam, women need not attend the five daily Prayers in the mosque on a regular basis. It is not Wajib on them. But if they do, their Prayers are accepted.
Nevertheless, when in the mosque, they should form their own rows after those of men and children. They must follow the Imam, who must be a male. Further, they should leave the mosque as soon as the obligatory Prayers are over. TheirSunan and Nawaafil should be done at home.
As for the males, they should wait until all women have left. Further, the mosque should provide separate entrance for men and women.
Q: Can a woman lead in Prayers? What are the conditions?
A woman can lead other women and children in non-obligatory Prayers, at home. However, this may not be made a habit. So that, if there are several women in a household, there is no need for them to offer Prayers in congregation. They may pray separately. Such Prayers are complete.
Q: Can men offer Prayers behind a female Imam?
No. A woman cannot lead in Prayers attended by men. Wives of the Prophets did not lead in the Prayers, after the death of the Prophet, although `A’isha, the most learned of men and women of her time (but for a few Companions), did not lead in Prayers despite the fact she lived next to the mosque.
In fact, she did not lead in Prayers even when she led the Companions in protest against the murder of `Uthman. No one knew the Sunnah better than she. She never said to the soldiers that they should accept her as Imam during the Prayers – just as they had accepted her, including many Companions, as the leader of the army.
On the contrary, she is on record having said that had the Prophet seen women of later times, he would have prohibited them from coming to the mosques.
Q: Or is it strictly prohibited for women to go to the Mosques if it is for women alone?
A separate mosque for women is an innovation and those attending Prayers there might face questioning in the Hereafter.
As for women attending Prayers in community mosques, it is not strictly prohibited. In fact, it is not prohibited at all. It is only undesirable. Yet, if they did, they would not be committing a wrong, although the rewards might be less since the Prophet has said that her Prayer in her house is better for her than her Prayer in his mosque (Masjid al-Nabawi).
Mosques in other parts of the world are lesser in status than that of the Prophet, hence, women praying in them – by choice, and not because of it being a need of the hour – might face lesser rewards.
Doing something not required by religion cannot earn rewards since it is Allah (swt) who rewards for acts of obedience. If He did not order an act, how can He be expected to reward?
It is also some kind of dim-wittedness to be dashing across doing what the Shari`ah does not demand. Carrying out what the Shari`ah has demanded, by itself requires efforts and, to some people, is quite troublesome. To add more from one’s own side is a kind of hare-jumping into the wrong fence.
Attending the mosques five times a day is obligatory on the males. But how many turn up? Why should then, the excluded be wanting to declare it obligatory upon themselves?
Nevertheless, males should take care that mosques in commercial centers and market areas offer provision for women devotees. Out of hundreds, there can always be one or two committed Muslimah who, from fear of missing the time, would like to do their Prayer then and there.
Q: Can women offer funeral prayers alongside men?
If women happen to be there in the mosque when the Salah al-Jinazah is conducted, they may join in the Prayers. But, they should not specifically go to the mosque, or travel to the graveyard to offer Prayer there.
Q: I am writing to you about a particular observation that I have made regarding myself in the last couple of years. I have observed that whenever I observe Salah with congregation regularly, I am content with myself. However, if I start to miss on prayers I become irritable, tense and depressed.
The problem is that I don’t know what stops me from offering the prayers and fall into the depression trap. Please suggest ways to overcome this.
If you drop out from Prayers, say for a few days or weeks at stretch, then, it is obvious that you have not fully surrendered yourself to Allah’s will. You need to remind yourself often that you have no will of your own and that you have to attend Prayers, whether you like it or not, whether it brings immediate advantages or not. You do it simply because so you have been commanded.
We are not denying that there are moments when a man (or woman) suffers such ennui, such insufferableness against the routine, and boredom in the face of the repertoire of the uninspiring monotony that he (or she) just does not care for the consequence.
In fact, he (or she) draws some pleasure in defying the Authority during such moments. This happens, periodically, especially to the young. (Older ones are more realistic towards the hard facts of life). But this does not happen to those who are strongly committed to Islam. At worst, they undergo a cooling phase. But to give up altogether is out of the question.
In short, you need to commit yourself more firmly. Regular reading of the books of “Fazaa’il” (a few minutes everyday), could help combat such moods.
Q: I would like to ask regarding false promises. Nowadays we see people making false promising in the Name of Allah. What is the expiation for breaking a promise?
Making false promises is a sign of disbelief. An ayah says: “And keep your promises.” Another says, “Allah’s curse is upon the liars.” Now since habitually making false promises involves lying, and liars have been cursed by Allah (swt), making false promises on a regular basis can be a sign of Kufr.
There is no expiation for breaking promises. One must sincerely repent. For instance, if someone promises to meet another at an appointed place, but does not show up, although he could if he had willed, then he has lied and must seek Allah’s forgiveness and the man’s forgiveness. There is no expiation, unless voluntarily offered.
But if they are of the nature of “oaths,” (“aymaan” – sing. “yameen”) then expiation is possible. The difference between an “oath” (yameen) and false promise is that, an oath is a promise made to oneself in Allah’s name, such as, to say, “I swear by Allah that if my wife disobeys me, I will divorce her.” One might break this oath, not divorce the wife if she disobeys, but offer expiation. On the other hand, if he promises that he will fast so many number of days if, e.g., his father is cured of a sickness, then, this is a “vow” or “Nadhr” and he should fast so many number of days. There is no expiation for not fasting.
In contrast, “a false promise” is “QawluzZoor.” It is an unforgivable crime. If a Muslim makes a promise to someone, of whatever nature, then, either he should keep it, or seek to annul the promise with whom he made it. For example, if he promises that he will give a certain amount, if another did such and such a work for him, then he should pay him that amount as soon as the work is done. If he cannot, for any reason, he should seek extension of time from the other, or forgiveness altogether. If the other forgives, he stands absolved. If not, he must work, borrow or sell his goods or property to pay up the promised sum.
But, he cannot offer expiation and tell the man to forget all about it. This is because the rights of man cannot be waved away by way of repentances. It is Allah’s rights that demand repentance, expiation etc. But the rights of fellow beings have to be either returned to them, or their forgiveness sought.