Letters to the Editor
Q. I am working in a bank for the last 27 years. I have read relevant verses about income from interest and usury etc. I need not mention that I am neither qualified academically nor religiously. I am paying highest rate of income tax, I don’t treat it as ‘no alternative’ but I am duty bound to pay the tax or ‘jizya’ in the land in which I am living, moreover, I am to abide by the laws of the land. Hence I have to save up to Rs. 80000/- p.a. in tax saving schemes of LIC, UTI, Bonds, P.O. etc. which earn interest at the prescribed rate, fixed by the govt. I also save in the bank which are Welfare Banks, where the interest paid is between 4-10 % and charged is between 12-18 % the difference being, not the profit but administration cost – salary etc. (But Muslims are not getting any finance from the bank).
Under the circumstance, please advise me should I leave the banks job, give away every thing in charity and restart my academic life, religious life, business life and start earning – saving afresh to perform my Hajj with my family at this tender age of 47. Who will give me a job of my qualification and aptitude, skill of computerization and foreign exchange? As it is there are hardly any Muslims left in the Banks jobs, less then 1% as compared to 20% population in the country, and who will help my brethren for their banking needs?
I have consulted top Muftis and A’alims and scholars on the subject, their views in the light of Fiqh and Shari’ah is otherwise.
What you have done in the above lines is to pose a personal problem to the Muftis. You seem to be saying in effect, “These are my earnings and this is my situation. Now, allow me to continue and find a way to make it Islamically legal. If you cannot, then give me a workable solution. Take care that I don’t lose anything. But, if you cannot do that, then it will prove that the demand to give up the prohibited is unreasonable.” This is the gist of your long letter, which we have shortened.
The approach then is incorrect. The Shari`ah, or those who know the Shari`ah (the Muftis, or scholars) are not there to solve the problems of the individuals or communities. Nor is there anything in the Islamic message to solve human problems that arise with the acceptance of its call.
The Islamic message is no more than a statement of what is best for the human beings in reference to this world as well as – and more particularly – the next. After the statement is made, human beings are left with a choice. Either they accept or they reject. In either case it is they who bear the consequences, good or bad. Allah said to the first man on earth, and the progeny expected to appear after him: “And when, there comes to you from Me guidance, then whosoever followed My guidance, shall not fear nor shall they grieve. As for those who deny and cried lies to My revelations, they indeed are the people of the Fire. They shall abide therein forever.”
We can notice in the above verse that it did not say, “Whosoever followed My guidance will be helped materially.” It only promised internal peace. It did not also say, “Those who reject will be wiped out.” It only promised Fire in the Hereafter.
In fact, whenever humans chose to follow the guidance, they had to face problems. That is because whenever Allah’s guidance arrived, it found the human society living in a state of complete contradiction to the message and the guidance. The Arabian society at the time of the Prophet is a good case in point. What the Prophet brought was altogether different from the practices prevalent in the society. The people then, had the choice. Accept or reject. Acceptance meant a lot of inconvenience and creation of lots of problems. But the Revelation made no concessions to them. It didn’t say, “Accept it in your own fine time.” Or, “Modify it to the best of your convenience.” Or, “Work out a compromise between the religious requirements, and the demands of the society you live in.” It said no such thing. Rather, it said, “Enter into the Religion of Allah wholeheartedly.” As for the problems that arose because of the acceptance, the Revelation paid no attention to them. It left those who accepted its call to solve their problems as best as they could – themselves. Its only concern was, “Are you accepting or not accepting?”
So, problems are not for the message to solve. It is for humans to do. We have a good example in what happened in Afghanistan recently. The scholars and the Mujahideen there chose to install an Islamic system of government. Now, they faced many problems. But the Islamic system did not give any solution to those problems. Nor, did Allah send them material aid from the heavens. In fact, even rains didn’t come down for several years. They were left to solve their problems. (What the people will say in common parlance, “to face the music”). If there had to be any help, it was to come from other Muslims. That they were denied. So, they faced what they faced. Indeed, how can material help from the heavens that solves all the problems be expected? That would go against the entire scheme. And the scheme is, will the people accept the Islamic system for rewards in the Hereafter or not?
Let us illustrate the point with another example. Many people were trading in wine at the time the Prophet appeared. It was the best business after food and cloth businesses, and a lucrative one, seeing how popular wine was. However, when the prohibition came, the people were not given a couple of months or years to find an alternative trade. Nor did the Prophet offer any monetary assistance to wine traders. He would not even allow the stocks at hand to be sold out to those who did not consider it prohibited, such as the neighboring Jews or distant Christians. Instead, he ordered it all collected together at a place behind the Grand mosque. When it was done, he went up and destroyed it all with his own hands. He destroyed even the caskets and wine-bags that were made from fine leather. One of the traders had just received a large consignment from the Roman world. It was lying outside the town waiting transportation. The trader ran up to the Prophet, to ask what he was to do with it all. After all, his entire capital was in liquid out there. “Destroy it all,” he was told.
It may be noted that none of the Prophet’s followers protested at the summary manner in which their life-long earnings and family businesses of centuries was mercilessly destroyed in one stroke, and no compensation was paid. It was simply: “Here is Allah’s guidance. Take it or leave it.” They took it and didn’t go back complaining against a religion that only creates problems: a harsh God who doesn’t care what happens to you, or things of that sort. Of course, they knew they didn’t have to complain. After all, they had a choice: accept or reject. They chose to accept. So, how could they complain?
Ultimately, many dealers in wine became paupers. That was not only because of this measure, but several others that destroyed their economy root and branch. But they didn’t change their opinion. They stuck to their decision and died in rags. It was when they were dead and gone that the revelation came: “Allah is satisfied with them and they are satisfied with Him.” So, all that they got as rewards was words. Right?
In short, what we are trying to say is that the guidance is there. We accept or reject. But we cannot turn back and say, “OK. Supposing I accept. Who will solve my problems?” There is no use in asking such a question. For, there is nobody to listen. Nobody to solve the problem. Nobody cares. It is our problem. We solve it the way we can. If we say, “Oh that is too harsh,” then the answer will be, “Who told you to choose the guidance? Aren’t you free to reject?”
To take up your specific problem, in a way you, (and even we) are lucky. For, there is no Prophet around to accept us or reject us on the basis of our choices. If we delayed in giving up the prohibited, there is no Revelation coming down to announce that we are hypocrites, or we are condemned forever, etc. In this advantageous situation (if it is truly advantageous) the scholars say, “If you cannot give up in one shot, which you should ideally do, then, at least, start looking for an alternative, and give up as fast as you can.” That of course was not acceptable in the Prophetic times. But today it seems to be. Allah knows best.
Q. I want you to comment on the following. In our area there is a madrassah which is governed by a scholar of repute. He is consulted by large number of people on religious matters. I found him to be very soft spoken and strict follower of sunnah. I was impressed by this and started visiting him. Once I found him looking here and there during nafl salah and many a times leaving the mosque when the iqamah was being called. The mosque and the madrassah are in the same complex. (This mosque is the only one whose timings are the last in our area) I felt very sad that a thing which is not done by a common man like me is repeated by the scholar. Thus I distanced myself away from him and only say salam to him whenever I see or meet him. Am I right in doing so?
Q. The prophecy of our beloved prophet (pbuh) that the ummah will plunge into internal wars and the world will come down on Muslims like vultures and Islam will be finally limited to the haramain before the advent of qiyamah, makes me very depressed and I lose concentration in ibadah.
Firstly, The Prophet has only foretold about these events, having been informed by Allah. What’s actually going to happen is by people’s choice. If people’s choices are wrong, what anyone can do about it seeing that it is Allah Himself who has given them the freedom to act the way they wish?
In another set of words, people are not going to make their choices and earn Allah’s anger because of the prediction. The prediction is only foreknowledge. The people face Allah’s anger because of the choices they make. Now, if they make the wrong choice, and are punished, then, surely, the punishment is depressing, but, we know who is responsible.
Indeed, we are lucky to have been foretold. For, without that foreknowledge, our depression would have been greater.
Again, this depression is to be rewarded for. It is only a believer who feels the pain, in intensity, in accordance with the strength of his faith. So also, all those who actually suffer loss of honor, lives and property will be handsomely rewarded in the Hereafter.
Finally, it is to remove anxiety, stress and depression that we are asked to turn to Prayers. To avoid suffering intensely, we need to Pray with greater concentration and not lose concentration.
Q. I feel that the sacrifices of great people and the efforts of various Islamic organisations and personalities are going to get wasted. Please guide me.
We believe that is a bit of pessimistic manner of looking at things. True, things are happening around us that are far from pleasing, but we do not know what lies tomorrow. History is not the name of the events of a couple of days or years. Events are known in history for taking dramatic turns. So, we observe patience and do our job of standing by the Truth and propagating it by word and action.
On the other hand, if the Islamic organizations are doing good work, surely, the results will appear, sooner or later, some time or the other.
For illustration of the above two points, we might take the example of the events that followed the Sept. 11 attack, particularly the murder of innocent people in Afghanistan. It was quite depressing. But, consider that firstly, evil powers have exposed themselves. Until now they appeared to the people as cultured and civilized people. Secondly, tens of thousands of people have entered into the fold of Islam since then. The primary reason is, nobody honestly believes (including the Americans) that Muslims alone are responsible for the destruction of the Twin Towers. Further, almost everybody, unless a devil from inside, felt that the Afghanis were being bombed for none of their crime. That created sympathy for the Muslims and which manifested itself in interest in Islam. And, Islam being what it is, it is impossible that someone reads a book on it, without prejudice, but escapes turning a Muslim.
So, let us be well informed and keep the plus points before us. We say plus points because the media is entirely evil, controlled perhaps directly by Iblees. It jumps on every sad news and sends it across the world in seconds but pays no attention to the good things going around. In this way, it abets and helps in the growth of pessimism and depression. The Tableeghi people rightly say that if you cannot read in between the lines, then you better don’t read the newspapers at all.
Q. I have read your magazine. It is a good asset for those Muslims or non-Muslims who don’t know the Arabic language and their source of Islamic literature is English. In your ‘Letters to the Editor’ section and other articles you present some Qur’anic verses and hadith. You give the reference of Qur’anic verses (which is not much required as there is no controversy about it) but hadith is stated without any reference. Give the reference of whether it is Bukhari, Muslim, Muwatta’ Imam Malik or whatever.
We give Qur’anic references because it is easy for a Muslim to locate the verse, and also, if possible look into one or two commentary works to find out the interpretation offered by the scholars. On the contrary, we do not always give hadith references because hadith books are normally not in everyone’s possession. In fact, there could hardly be half a dozen homes in Hyderabad where they would have the six canonical works (sihah sittah). So, it doesn’t serve any function to give references. All we do is to see that we quote Sahih ahadith alone. Authenticity check up is done before a hadith is printed. As regards ahadith in the “Hadith Explains” column, they are taken from known works, and, double-checked for authenticity.
Q. Is it necessary for a Muslim to follow any one of the four Imaams? Or should we just follow all the authentic ahadeeth? Because sometimes these Imaams (may Allah’s mercy be upon them) contradict the authentic reports of our prophet (saws).
This is a great calumny against the Imams that sometimes their rulings contradict authentic reports. Those who are spreading this idea are doing a great harm to Islam, and will have to answer for it on the Judgment Day.
No Imam ever contradicted a hadith. But rather, they had several ahadith of varying degree of authenticity before them. They also had the practices of the earliest Muslims before them, some of whom were living examples for them. When faced with a variety, they chose to accept some Sahih reports in favor of other Sahih reports, in view of the practices of the earliest Muslims. They also followed certain rules of Jurisprudence while giving preference to one over another. Again, they worked out rules that remove the contradiction, within and without the field of application. E.g., when they found a practice of the Prophet (or an injunction) varying in different circumstance, then, they tried to trace out the reason and accept for ruling what they understood as the Prophet’s normal practice against another contingent one. Another point they observed was the practices of the Prophet during his last days of life. These are but a few of the vast number of criteria that the Fuqaha’ apply before declaring a rule. (Yet it must also be noted that their personal opinions have not played the central role in the formation of the Law, rather, it is the opinion of the majority that has held ground).
To be sure, the whole process of jurisprudence has been so complicated, so efficient and so thorough that it takes several years to merely understand how it was done. It is so amazing, that some scholars consider the process as quite a miraculous phenomenon.
So, today for someone to talk so loosely about their efforts, which they don’t know what it was about, is a serious crime. It is like common men sitting in a café discussing a recent case and pronouncing that the Supreme Court judges have obviously overlooked some very basic principles of law while pronouncing their judgment.
As regards the main question, whether one should follow a Maslak or the hadith directly, the answer is in a question. How many hadith books are in your possession? Anyone of the Sihah? Or, although it might hurt you, have you ever seen any of the Sihah? Or, is it a mere hypothetical question?
Q. Can you please give me the correct order of the major signs of the Day of Judgement?
Younus Hasan Khan,
The ten major signs of the extreme closeness of the Final Hour of the earth and Judgment Day are as follow. But we cannot be too sure of the correct order. That is not specifically stated in the ahadith: Appearance of (1) the Mahdi, (2) Dajjal, (3) and Jesus Christ. (4) The Sun rising from the West. (5) An animal that will rise from the earth and speak to the people. Three caving in of the earth (6) one in the East, (7) another in the West, and (8) another in the Arab World. (9) The Smoke that will engulf the people. Finally, (10) a Fire that will appear in Yemen, and drive the people to Judgment Field in Syria.
Q. We have certain query & we request you to please send us the reply as we are worried in this matter. The doctor has advised us for IVF due to one of our medical problem. Is it Islamically allowed?
Shaikh Abdul Rahim
If the doctors involved are Muslims, trustworthy and efficient to assure that a mix up does not occur, then it is allowed.
Q. I’m an ardent reader of your prestigious magazine since last three-year or so. I find it very interesting. I have some queries which I hope you will clear. Is a ‘fard’ prayer in Ramadan equal to 70 ‘fard’, and, is also same for ‘qaza-e-umri’?
Yes, the Ramadan Prayers are rewarded seventy times more than those of other days. As regards the second part of your question, we couldn’t guess_whatzit you mean.
Q. Can I close my eyes during prayers as I found that I can concentrate very well during prayers while closing my eyes?
It is not sunnah to close the eyes during Prayers. Further, Khushu` and Khuzu` in Prayers are not related to closing or opening of the eyes. Neither in fact, concentration, as widely understood, is the equivalent of Khushu’ and Khuzu’.
Q. Why is it that when a Christian organisation carries out bombing in the name of religion (e.g. IRA) it is called an armed struggle and not a Christian bombing. But when Muslims do that Islam gets the blame?
It is because they are scared that the militant groups might trigger Jihad struggle to liberate Muslim lands. And they are afraid of nothing like they are afraid of Jihad, knowing that all their might will evaporate before Jihad.
Q. Why is it that when a nun covers her head she is called modest and when a Muslim woman practices hijab she needs to be liberated?
Obair Hasan Khan,
That is because they are aware that the nuns have no influence whatsoever over their women. No non-Christian ever became a Christian impressed by the modesty of the nuns. They treat them as “out of the world” substance. But, in contrast, a Muslim woman wearing hijab is an icon of piety and modesty. She immediately impresses men and women around her, including the nuns, and make them yearn for the respect that hijab invokes. Some are so impressed that they look up in the stalls for a book on Islam. That leads to their conversion. So, a Muslimah in hijab is a silent preacher, and hence they hate her very sight.
Q. What we must do with the amount received as interest from Banks? Can it be utilized for making toilets, bathrooms?
If you mean toilets, bathrooms for the slum dwellers, then the answer is, maybe yes.
Q. Or can it be used to neutralize the Income Tax we pay to the Government?
No, it cannot be used to pay off Income Taxes. Accepting interest money is such a heinous crime in Islam that not paying taxes to a State, (even if Islamic, let alone one at your life), is nothing before it. Interest money is directly blood sucked out of the poor people’s economy and extremely hateful to Allah.
Q. Sometimes Income Tax works out so high that it becomes very difficult for a middle class man to bear it.
Why do you pay the high taxes? Consult legal advisors to reduce the amount. There are several legal ways to do that and approved by the Income Tax dept. There are lawyers who specialize in this.
Q. Besides Income tax on salaries, we Indians pay taxes for every thing we get, for example water tax, house tax, Road Tax, Professional Tax, Octroi, etc. (Thank God there is no air tax).
There is going to be. USA, the greatest polluter of the earth has walked out of an energy conference recently, refusing to accept any restraint, let the world think and do what it may. This time it is not wars that will destroy the people, but rather, poisonous gases.
Q. Being a Muslim we cannot go for Saving Certificates, Life or other Insurance Policies, RD, FD as all these sources offer interest. A non-Muslim Indian enjoys all the above benefits and so is able to pay the Income Tax.
A non-Muslim also enjoys eating pork, drinking wine, fornication and adultery, et al. But he will pay for it. When in the Fire, he will cry for 40 years: “O Malik!” (The Keeper of the Fire). Let your Lord deal us death.” Malik will answer after forty years, “You will live herein forever.” So they will start calling upon their Lord, directly, for twice as long as the life of this world. Finally, they will be answered, “Stay there accursed, for you will abide therein forever.” After that they will lose all hope and stop calling. Do you want to be their companion in the Fire?
Q. It is very difficult for a Muslim to pay all the taxes without having any other source of income which other communities enjoys in our country.
Let them enjoy. Look, is it a bad deal that someone should be given enjoyment for sixty years, and then gathered around Hell-fire on their knees, and pushed in to abide there forever? Are you looking for a similar deal?
Q. The Govt. exploits the people by demanding Taxes, but fails to protect the rights of a man particularly the minorities. What protection we get by paying those taxes?
When did the government promise you protection? Even telephone calls from important people about to burn are not answered. So, you better give up asking for your rights. Make some new decisions about yourself.
Q. Let protection kept aside, we are the target of every atrocity.
Now, leave alone the religious aspect. Let us say you ignore it and earn interest money. But how that little money will help you when you are killed, or your house is burned by mobs? Interest money is no solution to the annihilation you are facing. Is it? Every problem has the right solution. You must courageously opt for that solution, whatever it may be, and not earn Allah’s anger by resorting to the unlawful.
Q. Keeping the above points, will it be lawful to use interest money to pay Income Tax? If not, what can we do with it?
Both the questions have been answered above. Income taxes need not be paid without consulting a legal advisor. They know exactly where the government foregoes the taxes, what are the conditions that are to be met, if you need to pay at all, what clauses and by-laws help every poor man in India. Why do you want to pay when the Government doesn’t want you to pay?
As regards what to do with the money, the answer is, if the amount is negligible leave it there. But if it is substantial, then take it. This is from the fear that if you didn’t, it will fall into the hands of those who commit atrocities on you. However, don’t utilize the amount for yourself. Give it to the poorest of Muslims who you think will properly utilize it, without expecting to be rewarded by Allah, but rather, seeking His forgiveness for having taken it in the first place.