Letters to the Editor
Q. I have some questions, which I hope you will be able to answer as soon as possible. I know someone who works as accounts manager in a bank. Are his earnings lawful? According to my view, he is working for the bank and for that work the bank is paying him. It is a different thing as to how the bank earns money. Is my view correct? If not, why?
It is not allowable to work in modern banks because their entire dealings are interest-based. And interest is one of the most severely banned dealings in Islam. A hadith of the Prophet says, “Allah has cursed the partaker of usury, its agent, its witness and its writer” (Ahmed, Ibn Majah, Abu Da’ud and Tirmidhi).
Therefore, those who are working in a bank must look for an alternative job and shift to them whenever opportunity arises. If that requires that they take up some courses of study, then they should attempt that in order to find alternative means of income.
Nevertheless, a bank employee’s earnings are lawful to his dependants, unless they approve of his employment in the bank. If they do, then they are equal sinners on that account, although the earning itself remains lawful to them.
Q. My uncle argues that when we deposit money in a bank, the money that is earned on it is not interest and, hence, lawful. He says that when a man takes advantage of a needy person and takes interest on the money that he gives him, this is called interest and is haraam. He further states that the Muslims will be financially better-off when they take the money and use it rather than when they leave it in the bank. He gives an example: if a retired man with no other source of income has some money and he then puts that money in a bank and eats of the money that he gets on it, then that would save him from being thrown on the streets. If he does not do like this then a time will come when he will have no money and end up on the streets. Is his view correct?
Of course not. The argument is specious, conclusions misleading and the fatwa wrong. His argument has been summed up in a short Qur’anic statement made by the unbelievers contemporary to the Prophet, and which Allah condemned. The condemned statement is (2: 275): “Indeed, trading is like (dealings in) interest.”
As for old people being thrown into the streets, that kind of thing is possible only in non-Muslim societies. (If it happens in Muslim societies, such societies may not be referred to as Muslim). However, the subject is vast and we shall attempt an article on it, Allah willing.
As regards the interest earned on bank deposits, there are two situations. One, somebody needs to safe keep his funds and so deposits them in a bank. He could, if he wished, withdraw the interest on it and give it away to a needy person without expecting to be rewarded for it. Two, somebody deposits money in the bank in order to earn interest and gives it away to the poor. This is disallowed.
Q. Is it true that the souls of those whose bodies are burned roam about in the earth?
If a soul was free to roam about after a person’s death, it could as well go back to the body before it is burned.
No soul comes out of a body by itself. It is the angels of death who come and perform the operation. Yet, the soul does not give itself to them without resistance – unless it is that of a highly pious person ready to die. In case of the evil-doers the angels of death have to pull them out by force causing much pain to the body. It is like pulling a silken shroud spread over a thorny bush. In any case, the angels who pull it out take it to the Heavens. At the gates of the first Heaven they receive instructions about the new destination of the soul. If it is of the believing pious, it is allowed into the first Heaven and where its new destination is determined. But if it is that of an unbelieving rapscallion, it is not allowed in but rather, taken away to be deposited wherever Allah orders the angels to deposit. At no stage are the souls but in the care of angels.
Then, on the Judgment Day, the angels will bring forth the souls placed in their custody, return them to their respective bodies, that will be resurrected, and men rise up to undergo scrutiny of their life’s beliefs and actions.
Q. Is it true that when a Muslim is nearing death he gets an indication that he is about to die in the form of a greeting by a white man in white clothes with a white beard? I have personally heard from my grandmother and grandfather and aunt about this person before their death.
Premonition of death is a common experience. Quite a few people, including non-Muslims, get to feel a few days ahead of their death that they might die in a couple of days. Perhaps it is a final warning from Allah, for He is All-Merciful. It gives them the final chance to repent, believe in His Oneness, and do whatever they can by way of atonement.
In fact, death is something that the living can see on the face of a person fated to die soon. Sometimes, the person himself does not suspect it, while others strongly feel he might not last. This is also a well-known phenomenon.
But it is not necessary that someone – from above – should visit a person about to die to tell him that his end is near. Somehow he or she is given that feeling.
Q. I see a lot of people lifting up their trousers above their ankles before starting to pray.
Today, religion is reduced to rituals, ceremonies and formal behaviour. So that one can observe a man, who is quite proud in his attitudes in everyday life, and unmindful of several duties of Islam, tuck up his trousers in the mosque. He forgets that it is pride that he should repent for before a change in dressing habits. This kind of behaviour can only be justified if a man realises that he is proud in ordinary life and must not – in the least – be proud before Allah and so tucks up his trouser ends. For, ultimately, it is pride and its manifestation that is disapproved. In the Prophet’s time it was manifested in dragging the lower garment on the ground.
In any case, the people you have observed could be influenced by a hadith which can be found in Abu Da’ud’s collection. It says that lowering the lowered garment (below the ankles) during Prayers does not have Allah’s approval, respect, or help. But it has been declared weak. In fact, it does not reach the Prophet at all.
There is another report in some other books that speaks of the Prophet’s disapproval of someone Praying with the garment below the ankle. But this report has a disjointed chain of narration, i.e., it is a kind of weak report, although an outside and rare opinion accepts it.
There are a few other reports about garments hanging down the ankles during Prayers, but have some problem or the other in their chains of narration.
Nonetheless, those who accepted the hadith, meaning-wise, although not isnaad-wise, have said that it applies to someone doing it out of pride.
According to Imam Abu Hanifah and Shafe‘ee, it is Makruh (undesirable) to let the trousers hang below the ankles during the Prayers as well as outside of it (if it is not out of pride). But according to Imam Malik there is no harm in letting them hang down during the Prayers but is disallowed at other times (‘Awn al-Ma‘bud). Perhaps this is because no one lowers the garment out of pride during Prayers, but might do it outside of it.
Q. Should we wipe our face with our hands after making the dua?
It is not necessary, although Qurtubi has reported the Prophet having done it.
Q. A Moulvi told me that we should not read translations of Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and act on it. Only if you understand Arabic should you make an attempt to follow it like rafai uli dain etc.
If that is exactly what he said, then he was wrong. But we do not think that is what he would have told you. He would have told you, perhaps, that you might read any book, including Bukhari and Muslim, but do not start to make Fiqh rulings as you read them.
On our part, we do not also recommend that a fresher starts with Bukhari or Muslim. Of most part of them – whether Fiqh reports or non-Fiqh reports – he might make head nor tail of without a good commentary. Therefore, it is recommended that he should start with simpler works such as Riyadh al-Saleheen, or other simpler compilations.
Q. Recently my aunt died and we followed the procedure as is suggested by people. I would be indebted to you if you would please tell me the complete procedure right from the person’s last breath till we bury him in the grave. Please give the answer in complete detail.
It is very simple. The dead is to be washed, covered in coffin cloth, prayed over, and buried – all as quickly as possible. There are no ceremonies involved and absolutely nothing else to be done. A people who did the above would have done what is Islamically required of them.
Q. Please also let us know the bid’at practices done nowadays by Muslims while burying their dead.
M. A. Q.,
Most of the bid‘ah practices start after death. And there are so many prevalent among the Muslims today that we will need a volume to describe. In short, and as a guideline, everything done as an Islamic practice, after a person’s death, except for the description above, is bid‘ah.
The exception is a few non-ritual commandments such as one wajib and three commendable. It is wajib to divide the inheritance, following the Shari‘ah rules. (It is not necessary to divide off the property in bit and pieces, unless so demanded by any of the inheritors. But theoretical division should be done before the dead person’s wealth begins to be misused). The recommended practices are: (1) Seeking forgiveness for him or her; (2) Spending in charity on his or her behalf; and (3) The children treating well the parent’s friends.
Designing of Home
Q. Is there any instruction in Islam regarding designing of our homes. I mean that for example placing our bedroom, drawing room and toilets etc.
No. There are none.
Q. Some of my friends say that if we sleep having our head in south and our legs in north direction, then we get good sound sleep due to complete magnetic field developed by sleeping in this direction. And they say this is scientifically correct.
If this is science, then what is superstition? Your friends, like most educated Muslims of today, think popular or journalistic science is, in fact, science. Further, they do not seem to notice that in this country – a country of superstitions – they are offered a different religion and a different set of concepts for which pseudo-science is used as a bait.
In addition to the above, we feel very sorry for your friends who do not know even middle school science which would tell them that magnetic poles of the earth are not in the same direction as the geographical poles. An added difficulty is that even if somebody can place his finger on the magnetic poles on a globe (which no Muslim house ever has the distinction of possessing), he will not know how to orient himself to it.
But, of course, the whole idea of orientation to the magnetic poles during sleep is entirely unscientific. The Muslims would do well to follow the Sunnah of their Prophet, which is to lie on their right side facing the Qiblah, the Spiritual Pole of the world.
Q. If this is so then why this is not given in Islam, where everything is scientifically proved?
This is not a correct concept of Islam. How many things are not there that are beneficial to man but not stated by Islam? For example, a swift walk morning and evening is good for health. But has it been religiously recommended? Or, exposure of the nape to midsummer sun can cause sun-stroke. Anything about it in religious literature?
You must understand the issue in the following manner. Whatever Islam has commanded, whether a prescription or proscription, is of benefit to the human beings both in reference to this world as well as the next: whatever science may have to say about it. As for what is not spoken of, (and they are plenty), it is for them to discover their harmful or beneficial nature from knowledge and experience.
Q. This is my first letter to you. I have a question. I want to know all about removing the hair on the body?
Mohd Abdul Nadeem,
It is Sunnah to remove the pubic and arm-pit hairs once every forty days.
Tanzanian Wonder Boy
Q. I’m a regular reader of your magazine. I can not stop myself from praising the great effort by YMD towards fulfilling the needs we have from Islamic point of view. I have one question. Recently I’ve come to know about the ‘wonder kid from Tanzania,’ Sheikh Khalifa Sherifdeen. I’m really surprised to know that a four-year-old kid has got such a brain that he’s able to answer every query regarding Islam.
The boy first made his appearance in Tanzania some 5-6 years ago. He could recite the Qur’an, make speeches, say the Azan etc., in an amazing manner at the age of five. He was a son of Christian parents. It is said that there was an attempt at his life after which he simply disappeared. No one knows where he is now.
It is not true, however, that he was able to answer any question on Islam. He answered as much as he was taught which, admittedly, was much for his age. It could be that he had memorized the answers.
All the same, the prodigious nature of the boy should not be very surprising. There are many such wonder children in the world. (As there are adults too). Recently a Microsoft competition was won somewhere in Europe by a mere child of four. There is an Iranian child who has memorised the entire Qur’an and has appeared on the Gulf TV. Similar prodigious children have been reported among others also. We knew of an Afghan boy who was doing his Masters in Science at age twelve or so.
Perhaps these kinds of children are produced by Allah to demonstrate His Power. He could produce a mentally fully developed adult from the womb itself. But, He allows us enjoy childhood and early manhood in blissful ignorance. If we knew all, and understood all, as we do when adults, during our childhood itself, we would have heard no laughter anywhere.
Q. Kindly let me know whether I can pay income tax on my salary from the interest that accrues on my Bank deposits?
As a general answer, and applicable to all countries, we can say that at best the money could be given away to charities without expectation of rewards, but in fear that one might be questioned over the deal.
The situation of Muslims in India has, however, dramatically changed during last few years. Unless they fight back on every front, one of them being economic, they face a very difficult future. Accordingly, and as pointed out by one of our readers (Khalid of Ramanagram – whose letter appears next month), Indian Fuqaha’ have issued opinions varying from the standard position. Kindly consult them at Darul Ulum Deoband or see Muntakhabaat Nizaamul Fataawaa, Vol. 1, by Mufti Nizamuddin A‘zami, published by Islamic Fiqh Academy, New Delhi.
Q. I pay Zakat on my savings from salary.
That is what a Muslim is required to do. He pays two and a half percent as Allah’s due, on savings reaching a certain amount, over which a year has passed, and which savings are not for a specific purpose.
Q. Can Zakat be donated to charitable causes like construction of Cancer hospitals, purchase of medical equipments for hospitals?
A. H. Khan,
No, Zakah cannot be donated to charitable works such as those mentioned or others of the kind. Zakah money is the direct right of the poor. It must be handed over to them to utilize the sum as they wish.
Hospitals are to be built by governments. They do it either out of natural resources, or from taxes levied on the rich. If Zakah money is diverted to say construction of hospitals, it would mean indirectly taxing the poor. As if that injury is not enough, the poor will be denied medical treatment when the hospital is ready. Most hospitals cater to the need of the rich, who know officials around, whereas the poor die unattended.
Q. I have been an avid reader of your magazine for the last two decades and eagerly wait for it every month. Let me congratulate your team for the yeoman service they have been rendering. I would be grateful if you could kindly clarify regarding my present career. I am working at senior management level in a multinational company which is the largest manufacturer of gloves and second largest in condoms. I head their engineering & projects in their condom plant. Is it appropriate for me to continue in my present job? Is the money that I earn here halaal?
The article you mention can be put to several uses, lawful and unlawful. The manufacturer cannot determine what they are used for. Therefore, your job is lawful. A factor that influences the answer is that today there is hardly a product that is not either put to wrongful uses, does not carry unlawful material, is not promoted in unlawful manner, or is not manufactured from bank loans. In modern situation, therefore, it is direct involvement in dealings related to hundred percent unlawful products that is unlawful.
Q. Also please clarify whether it is allowed in Islam to invest in mutual funds where there is no guaranteed return and liable to risk.
As far as we understand, most Mutual Fund schemes normally deposit a large amount of investments made with them into the banks that comfortably earns them regular interest money. The rest of it is, perhaps, invested in equity shares. Now profits on such shares, of course, fluctuate, sometimes resulting in net loss. But in such a case the investment returns in the banks cover the losses. Therefore, if there is a Mutual Fund scheme that invests hundred percent in equity, and additionally, in such companies as do not deal with what is unlawful in Islam, such as, e.g., breweries, then, it will be allowable.
Q. Please let me know if Coca-Cola is haraam?
Some doubts have been cast over the ingredients. Some people say pig fat taken from its intestine is used in the formula (hence, Pepsi, from Pepsin). But these reports are not confirmed for all the products on sale in every country. Therefore, so long as it is not confirmed, it cannot become unlawful to drink. It is also said that these companies are owned by the Jews or offer charity to the state of Israel. That may be so. But Jewish ownership also does not make their product haraam. At best, it can be said that every purchase will make them stronger, and making an enemy of Islam and Muslims strong is prohibited. Yet, the drink itself will remain lawful, if no such ingredients are there as noted above.
That said, it might be pointed out that juices are a better alternative. The modern soft drinks are known for their harmful effects such as cholesterol build up and sugar problems.
Q. I find your magazine very informative and elevating, especially the editorials which are amazing. Please clarify the following questions: so far as my knowledge goes, Islam is above casteism. Yet people say that the position of Seyyeds is at top and then Sheikhs and then Khans and so on.
Right at the outset we must understand that these are not castes. Castes are social divisions between whom interactions and intermarriage are taboo. It was prevalent among the ancient Persians, in a minor degree among the Greeks and Romans, and in modern times among the Hindus. For example, if a Brahmin girl married a Sudra, the society will strongly react to it. In some parts of India the Sudra could get killed. No such social stratification and taboo on its basis exists among the Muslims. At best there are families of Sayyids, Sheikhs, Khans etc. But, far from taboo, intermarriages are the order of the day. The names and titles are more for identification than for determining social status. In fact today, social status is based entirely on wealth, which is worse than social stratification on the basis of genealogy, both being unacceptable to Islam.
To be sure, if there is any, then the talk about social position on the basis of families and dynasties, is just some air let out either because of envy or frustration. Nobody believes in this kind of division anymore.
Q. They say that all the Prophets belong to Seyyed caste. Please comment.
There were no Sayyids before our own Prophet, i.e., in the sense prevalent today. Linguistically, in Arabic the term means a leader, chief, or master. It is still used in this sense, such as, Huwa Sayyiduna meaning, ‘he is our leader’.
In later times it is the progeny of Fatimah and Ali to whom the honorific title came to be attached. Perhaps its origin is in the Prophet’s statement about Hasan, “This son of mine is a Sayyid. Perhaps Allah will lead two great Muslim parties to reconciliation because of him.” The reference was to Hasan b. Ali renouncing the Khilafah and retiring to private life, sparing the Ummah a battle.
The distinction of the Prophet’s progeny was further confirmed when the Prophet barred them from accepting Zakah or Sadaqah. This led both the donor as well as the kinsmen of the Prophet to – perforce – accord them recognition as different from others, and a position somewhat honorific because the principle was moral. The common people also accorded respect to the descendants of the Prophet because they had the Prophetic blood in them, however diluted. But that was all about it. The question of superiority did not arise.
For the Sayyids, of course, it was materially disadvantageous. They were barred from accepting charity, which has actually led to greater poverty among them than others; although there have been other causes too. Apart from that, it has given them – the truly Sayyids – a sense of responsibility. “What is it that we should do for the religion of Islam?” they often ask themselves. Or, as said by others, “If it is not they who live by Islam, who will?” On the other hand, if they wax proud, they become unfit for the title.
However, Sayyidic position is not specific to the descendents of the Prophet. Whoever holds this religion dear, is strong in adherence and practice, and offers sacrifices for its propagation is a Sayyid: in the same sense as ‘Umar said about Bilal: “Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, freed Sayyiduna Bilal.” Ja‘fer Sadiq was asked, “People say that all of the Muslims are the Family of the Prophet (Aalu Muhammadin). He replied, “They lied as well as spoke the truth.” He was asked, “How is that?” He replied, “If they said every follower of a Prophet is of his family, they spoke a lie. But if they said every pious follower is of his Family, then they spoke the truth.”
According to a creditable report the Prophet referred to another person apart from Hasan as Sayyid – and, in fact, in a stronger sense. He referred to Abdul Rahman b. al-‘Awf as Sayyidul Muslimeen. On the other hand, the reports that refer to Ali as the Sayyid al-‘Arab are all weak or outright forgeries.
Q. One of my friends who thinks that he is afflicted by a Jinn went to a well-known Maulana of our town in order to find out if my friend is affected by a Jinn or not. Maulana took a black thread equal to the height of my friend and thereafter he recited some Kalimats and blew on the thread and then measured it again and it was astounding that it (i.e., the thread) actually shortened. Is this practice proved by Prophetic traditions or not please clarify.
Measuring by the thread and getting two different results is a simple task. Stretch it first time, (but not perceptibly), but do not stretch the second time. You will get two results. Or better, make a thread in two parts tied to each other imperceptibly: one of them well-stretched and the other flexible. When you measure first time, use the flexible end and the second time the stretched one. Results will be different. There can be many other ways of doing it.
You can perhaps suggest to the concerned Maulana that the world has advanced since humankind learned how to make threads, and so he should use a measuring stand: the height scale. Or maybe a steel wire. These measuring instruments will be the easiest of ways to drive away the Jinn from your friend and from the Jinn experts.
You must also realize that when you go to a person whose profession it is to handle this kind of cases, what else do you expect of him except that he should confirm your fears? For experiment you take two boys with you, both healthy. Then, as you approach the Maulana present one of them as with a Jinn on him. After the Maulana has confirmed it, tell him, you were mistaken in identity and that it is another who has the Jinn-problem. Watch the confusion on the Maulana’s face.
Q. I have a question. Please give the answer as soon as possible. Can I work for an Insurance company? It is Cigna Insurance Co. It provides employees benefits in U.S. their product and services include managed and indemnity health care coverage, group life, accident and disability insurance, retirement services, investment management, they also offer life insurance and employee benefits in selected international markets.
Muhammad Mudassir Hyder,
You have not written about your own nature of work. If you are not going to be an agent for life insurance, then you could work for it if it is true that the company offers those several other services that you have mentioned.
Q. Your magazine is certainly doing a great service to Islam. My question to you is as follows: suppose I find a Jamaat that is striving for the establishment of Khilafah and they have an Ameer and if they ask me for pledge (Bay’ah), can I take it? The Bay’ah is to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah and to help the Jamaat at all times etc. Some people say that it is only when the Khalifah is there as the head of an Islamic state that Bay’ah can be taken. They fail to realise that the prophet took Bay’ah even before the establishment of Islam in Medina. What is your opinion on this?
Younus Hasan Khan,
Your pledge seems to have two clauses. One, to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah; the second, to help the organization. As regards the first, although you are bound to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah anyway, you may still enter into a Bay‘ah. We have precedence of this Bay‘ah in the Prophet’s life.
As regards your pledge to help the organization, although it is understood that you will only help it in Allah’s causes, it is still ambiguous. What exactly does “helping” imply? Without that clearly stated, the Bay`ah is rendered ineffective. Someone who has given this kind of pledge is always free to say no to anything asked to do, on grounds that he doesn’t think that what he is being told will really help the organization. And, he would still not be breaking the Bay`ah. So, as we see it, without specific details, the second part of the pledge is to no purpose.
Concerning the question, ‘should Bay`ah be taken before or after the installation of Khilafah?’, this too should have no bearing. For, as you state, you are offering a pledge for two things as discussed above. There is no mention in it of the Khalifah or Khilaafat. So, whether the two are in place or not should have no effect on it. Nevertheless, theoretically, it is not necessary that the Muslims should wait for a Khalifah before pledging themselves to Islam.
Q. I would like to know all the Dua’s like those that are to be said before eating, while eating, drinking water, before entering a mosque, before going out of the house, while driving – in short all the Dua’s of a day.
We are beginning to present a Du‘a each month from this issue onwards with the translation. Hopefully, our readers will memorize them each month.
Q. Kindly clarify about life insurance. Is it permissible or forbidden to obtain a Life Insurance Policy and is it allowed for the nominee of the deceased to utilize the insurance amount for the nominee’s needs?
One thing is quite certain about life or property insurances: they are disallowed in Islam. And, another thing is also equally certain: if you are forced to take one, such as vehicle insurance in some countries, then, you can always get back what you have paid, but not more. That is, one might be forced by the law to insure, but when he receives, he might not take more than what he contributed: future contributions being discounted.
With regard to the situation in India, where Muslim life, honor and property is not safe, at least in some parts of it, we suppose the above two principles give us sufficient guidelines, except that in case of murder at the hands of the rioters, Muslims could be allowed to get compensation more than their contribution, (but equivalent to the Shara‘ee Diyah [bloodwit]) either from the government or insurance companies.
However, if someone receives more than what is Islamically due, then the additional amount can be spent on the poor, without, of course, expecting any rewards in return.
It is another thing that, in practice, we don’t see the insurance schemes working in favor of the insurers. The insurance companies are there to make money out of their deals. Whatever is written on paper, they always interpret the written word in a way that you get less than what is due to you, and even less than what you have contributed. Therefore, it is advisable that one depend on his savings rather than on insurance companies.
Q. You have mentioned in your previous edition that Pepsi contains Yellow 5 which is extracted from Pig. But you also have mentioned that it is Mountain Dew Pepsi that has it. Please make it clear that which kind of Pepsi is it, the local one or something else. Also I have seen the ingredients of Pepsi but that does not contain such thing.
Aleem Faiz Mayer,
Please see the following letter received by us.
“Recently we had a Muslim brother over and while we were serving food we had Mountain Dew ‘Pepsi’ on the table, when the brother looked at the ingredients he found that it had a product called Yellow5 which is made out of pigs. The brother is a doctor and his wife is a chemist.” ~ Asadullah Syed
Q. Could you please confirm if Yellow 5 is indeed haraam. I have this e-mail attached below going around the Internet. As far as I know Tartrazine (FD&C Yellow Number 5 or E-102 in Europe) is a coal-tar derivative that is used to colour foods, cosmetics, and other products. Do you have any evidence that suggests it is from a haraam source? Please reply and clarify.
We invite our knowledgeable readers to share their information with us.
Q. I request all my brothers to quit smoking after they read the following:
1. 90% of lung cancer patients are smokers.
2. 90% of alcoholics are smokers.
3. 90% of drug addicts are smokers.
4. 90% of those who commit suicide are smokers.
5. 90% of all the criminals are smokers.
Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Badsha writes in an Internet dispatch:
1. Total world population: 6.5 Billion.
2. Total Muslim population: 2 Billion.
3. Total smokers in the world: 1.5 Billion.
4. Total Muslim smokers in the world: 400 Million.
5. Largest cigarette manufacturers in the world: Phillip Morris.
6. Phillip Morris donates 10% of its profits to Israel.
7. Total Muslim money to Morris: $ 800 Million daily.
8. Average profit margin is 10%.
9. Average profit for Morris: $ 80 Million daily.
Thus $ 9.6 million of Muslim money goes to Israel every day.