Letters to the Editor
Q: Which Jama’ath should I choose for my Guidance? What is the right path? That of Sunnatul Jama’ath or of Tableeghi Jama’ath?
None of the two should you choose, nor any other that claims to be the true ‘Jama`ah’ – however convincing its claims, as the one to guide you. Guidance (hidaayah) is: (a) a precise understanding of what exactly Allah (swt) wants of you in belief and practice, at any moment of your life, in what measure, and in what spirit, and (b) the willingness to live by it.
He who met with these two conditions is rightly guided, while he who failed in any of the two, missed it, either wholly or partly. None but the Qur’an and Sunnah can guide you to the right course in your life.
Now, what about the Tableeghi Jamaa`at? What is its function? Of the various Jama`aat that are active around you, Tableeghi Jama`at is engaged in bringing the people closer to Allah (swt) through a simple program of action.
You go out with a group for a few days during which you speak of nothing, discuss nothing, engage in nothing, and think of nothing but of the Hereafter, of your relationship with Allah (swt), and of the need to change your life so as to be more devoted to Allah (swt), the Sunan of the Prophet, and gain the realization that others, too, ought to become conscious of Allah (swt) and that some effort, however lowly, however little, should be made on your part when you return.
Tableeghi Jama`at, then, is not there to guide you in all affairs of your life. It is there to take you closer to the sources of Guidance, and to activate you to participate in your little way towards reawakening of the Ummah.
Salafi and Hanafi, Ahl al-Hadith and Ahl al-Madhaahib, scholars and the commoners, Arab and non-Arab, just about all kinds of people participate and draw benefits while benefiting others in proportion with their personal qualities through this work. None of the participants believes that he is in any way different from the rest of the community, that he is more guided than others, or that the Tableeghi Jama`at is a source of guidance in the sense of the Qur’an and Sunnah being the sources.
Q: What is Ahlus Sunnah wa al-Jamaa’ah? Provide full details.
It is beyond the scope of these pages to offer you a detailed account of who the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah are. In very broad terms, everyone who meets the conditions as stated in this hadith of Bukhari, (also found in slightly different terms in Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud, Musnad Ahmed and others) is of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah. The hadith is as follows:
“Anas ibn Malik reports the Prophet as having said, ‘Whoever offered Prayers like we do, faced our Qiblah, and ate of our slaughtered animal is a Muslim under Allah’s pact and that of His Messenger. Therefore, quarrel not with Allah (swt) over His pact.’”
Thus, theoretically, and in view of this hadith, whoever met with these conditions is a Muslim and, consequently, is of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah.
The scholars have, however, pointed out that the rule stays so long as an individual or group do not evince any sign of disbelief in any of the major principles of Islam, such as, to name a few, denial of any of Allah’s Attributes, any Ayah of the Qur’an, of Qada’ waQadar, belief in anyone as a Prophet after our own Prophet who was the Final Messenger, in anyone as Allah-appointed heir apparent after the Prophet, cursing of the Companions, denial of any one of the pillars of Faith, or the five pillars of Islam, etc.
So long as any such signs are not evinced, a man belongs to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah. Anyone who disagreed in definition of who a Muslim is, is pitched against Allah and His Messenger’s pact.
Q: Is it Sunnah to wear ‘Firoza’ and ‘Aqeeq’ stone in fingers?
No it is not. The Prophet did not wear any stone in his finger-ring except for an unknown Abyssinian stone, but even that is not free of controversy since reports suggest that the stone was also made of silver.
Q: Is wearing a turban during the Prayers a virtue? Please explain in detail.
There are several reports coming down from the Prophet concerning the good virtues of wearing a turban during the Prayers. But, according to Hadith Doctors, none of them reaches the trustworthy status.
Once a cultural need, the turban became the mark of a religious scholar when everyone wore a Jubbah, or Sherwani: scholar and non-scholar, the elite and the plebeian alike. That is to say, when everyone wore Jubbas and Sherwanis, the scholars and other important members of the elite put on a turban to distinguish themselves from the common people.
With the passage of time what was under the turban remained, i.e., a cap. But none, neither the turban nor the cap have any religious significance.
Q: What should someone do if he is unable to concentrate in Salah?
Concentration during the Prayers is something that is directly related to the core of Islamic religion. The core of Islamic religion is attachment to Allah (swt) and His love, which manifests itself in the desire to be near Him.
Thus, the Hereafter becomes an object of desire. Not so much for itself, as for the benefit of being closer to the Beloved. Accordingly, it is of pleasure to be engaged in activities that better the chances of obtaining the rewards in the Hereafter; while it is a thing of displeasure to be engaged in activities of this life and everything that takes time off the activities of the Hereafter.
Prayers then become desirable, and not merely an obligation. The Salaf used to stand long hours in Prayers. `Uthmanibn `Affan, for example, recited the whole of the Qur’an every night. Why? Obviously, because of the pleasure he drew. What pleasure was it? It was spiritual. The spirit feels itself elevated in the company of Allah (swt) when a person is in Prayers.
In contrast are those who have not been able to obtain true faith. They take pleasure in the activities of this life. When they listen – for instance – to music, they do it with full concentration. They do not know during its sessions how time passes. They do not complain that they are not able to concentrate while listening to music, or watching football, or a film. Once they enter into these activities, they forget about everything else: as if they have been transported into another world.
Similarly, those who have obtained faith, and have imbibed in themselves the spirit of Islam, have reached its core – which is the love of their Creator, His Prophets, their Companions, – then as they step into Prayers, they are transported into a different world, the spiritual world. They forget all about this world.
Those who cannot concentrate in Prayers, might have to look into the state of their hearts outside of the Prayers. What resides there? This world? Or the Next? What concerns them most? Success of this life or the Next? What comes first to them? The concerns of this life, or of their religion?
It is the state outside of the Prayers that determines the situation inside the Prayers. Hence `Umar’s statement at the time of an important battle: “(Occasionally) I am thinking of the fighting (at the front) while in Prayers.”
Q: I am 22-year-old and in love with an Arab boy. He had to leave the country for a few months and is yet to return. Meanwhile, I started doing my Prayers and fasts, and attempted Istikhara. After a few Istikharas I began to see dreams.
One day, I dreamt of the guy along with a girl. The girl was running and he was following her. Suddenly the guy’s father comes with a few people following him telling him not to go with the girl. And there was a small girl aged around 6 years who was helping him and the girl showing a way to escape so both of them started jumping from one building to another. At last they jumped into a moving vehicle. Someone followed them and tried to climb by catching the leg of the guy but the guy pushed him hard with his leg. He fell down and he and the girl left.
On another day, I dreamt that I and the guy are already married and are happy with a baby-boy. Then one of my friends comes along with her husband and baby boy to meet me and this guy. Then something goes wrong with my friend. Her husband comes to me us with his baby saying that his wife is lost somewhere and he is searching for her. He tells me to take care of his baby. I too have a baby and we all begin to search for her. At last, after some days, she comes to take her baby back. I asked her where she was, but she would not answer properly.
Me and the guy are not in touch now; so I keep doing Salah al-Isthekhara. Can you please tell me the meaning of these dreams?
With the story of your involvement with the man in mind, one could be led to the interpretation that you are chasing someone who is chasing someone else. When the two try to escape from you, by jumping from building to building, either yourself or someone else on your behalf clings to his leg, but he successfully disengages himself.
Your second dream could be interpreted as your mind’s refusal to accept the fact of rejection. You could not marry him in real life, so you married him in your dream. But, on second thought we might not interpret your dreams this way. After all, you are young and desirous. And the desirous dream of what they cannot fulfill of their desires, especially those that have powerful urges. Your dreams will not leave you until you step into the real world.
In real world, you are a Muslimah. A Muslimah is not supposed to chase after men. She is not supposed to resort to Istikhaarah involving what is abhorrent to Allah (swt). Whatever else you do, you must at least stop your Istikhaaras. You could draw ire.
A time will come when you will have a husband, and can then fulfill all your desires. When that is achieved, (it does not last long, sometimes a mere few months), then other realities will stare hard on you. Who are you? What are you doing? Why are you here? Is there any meaning to it all, or is it just unfulfilled dreams?
The tortuous realization of the realities will then render you sad … unless you are well-prepared: with a plan of life, of targets, methods of achievement, helping out others, being a good servant of Allah (swt) and so on.
Chasing men now, you might fall into a trap. Then the trap door will be shut. You will be locked inside a prison. You will want to escape. But the chains will be too strong, and what’s more, you will be bereft of moral power, of spiritual courage, and qualities that go to bestow a person with a personality. You will be just nobody. You will be like a smoker. He enjoys the first puff but regrets the twenty that follow. At the end he crushes the butt with his foot in disgust.
Take care. Life allows only one chance.
Q: I have two questions.
1. How much importance should be given to worldly education?
2. If the answer to above is “Yes, it must be given,” then why are we lagging behind? If the answer is “No,” then, I would like to state the following: The Companions, and Muslims after them, waged wars. To win a war, they were present on the ground. They just did not say – “We must recite the Qur’an, attempt more ritualistic worships and the war will be won.” They did not sit back doing nothing.
My question is: why do the Muslims lag behind the others?
You have raised a question and then answered it – though wrongly.
If you compare the number of Muslim youths finishing their school with the numbers that enroll into universities, you will discover a vast disparity. Perhaps, the ratio is 6:1. That is, for every six Muslim youth finishing school, there is only one who enrolls for university education. Perhaps, you know this. But where did you go wrong in your answer?
If you seek to know where the rest go, you will find that they are not reciting the Qur’an, or engaged in ritualistic worships. You will find one half of them in street corners, Net-cafes, tea-shops, and in commercial centres strolling around aimlessly.
You will find the other half having taken up employment: as door to door salesmen, counter clerks, side-walk sellers, auto-rickshaw drivers, and in every kind of petty business.
As for the one in six that enroll themselves in universities, you will find one half loitering about in college campuses, sitting around in groups, talking of films stars, celebrities, sportsmen and every such person who never went beyond a college degree – if that.
Some others use the freedom of colleges to identify, seek intimation, and fall in love with one of the opposite sex. Few there are who are interested in the course they have enrolled for.
None there is, neither of those who drop off after school, nor those who enroll in universities, who are engaged in recitation of the Qur’an or practicing the rituals of Islam.
The above explains where you went wrong in establishing the reason why Muslims lag behind. Islam is not the reason. In fact, after they drop out, were they to read the Qur’an (as you think, and with meaning), they would go back to university education.
So, perhaps, Islam is the reason why Muslims lag behind others in education and in everything else. They reject what would guide them to the right course.