Letters to the Editor

Dreams and Houris

Md. Jawaid Amin, Calcutta

I am a regular reader of YMD. I have some queries, hope you will answer.

Can you interpret dreams?  If not, do you know a scholar or sufi who can do it?


Sorry, we do not interpret dreams. Nor can Sufis do. It can only be done by those who have learnt the art through Qur’an and Sunnah, are thoroughly pious, and have acquired an in-depth understanding of how the mind and the soul are related, how they integrate with the material world, and how the mind and soul of a person can be penetrated. It has been a discipline which suffered early death.

In any case, interpretation of dreams should not be given much importance. If it was an important science, the Prophet would have taught it. From the point of a dreamer too, it is preferable to keep the dreams to himself. An interpretation could bring on evil consequences, if interpreted wrongly, as warned by the Prophet.

If somebody wishes that he should vision true dreams foreboding good, let him lead a righteous life – for, it is the righteous who see dreams promising good. The corrupt can see an outwardly good dream, but which carry evil interpretation. It is said that a man went to Ibn Seereen – the well-known dream interpreter from among the tabe`iyyun – and said he had heard the adhaan in his dream. Ibn Seereen gave him the interpretation that he will perform Hajj. Yet when another man came to him with the same dream, Ibn Seereen interpreted that he would commit theft. When someone asked him how he could interpret the same dream in two different ways, (dreamt by two different persons), he answered that one of them was a righteous Muslim, while the other a faasiq (non-practicing Muslim), hence the difference in interpretations.

It is advisable for a Muslim therefore, that he lead a life of devotion to Allah: “And the good end is for the righteous” (11: 49); while the corrupt will suffer in both the worlds (38: 28): “Or shall We make those who believed and acted righteously, like those who cause corruption in the earth? Or, shall We treat the righteous like the wicked? Those who lead pious life are rewarded with true dreams touching upon spiritual aspects while those who are corrupt experience dreams promising material and spiritual losses, even if the happen to be beautiful, well-pleasing dreams.

Is there any physical description of Houris given by the Prophet (peace be upon him).


We cannot say for sure what exactly you mean. If you mean physical properties, (such as: how tall, wide, weighty, etc.), then, we declare our ignorance, although we can guess that they will be less than 60 feet in height, which, as a report says, is the height a man will have in Paradise. But, if you mean what is the stuff of which they are made, then we can say that there are a variety of reports about the nature of the Houris. One of them says they are made of saffron. Another says they are made of perfume. A third report says they are made out of the tasbeeh of the angels – which gives them a noori aspect. A combination of these materials, plus whatever else Allah wills, cannot be ruled out. The above reports, however, do not reach Sahih status.

But in a report which Tirmidhi declared trustworthy, the Prophet said that if one of the Houris were to display a finger she would outshine everything between heaven and earth, and, every living being would be able to smell the fragrance. He added that the khimaar (dopatta, downi) on her head is better than all that there is on the earth. (This could be the basis of the opinion that they are made of fragrance). Another hadith in Bukhari’s collection says that the bone-marrow of one of them is visible through the flesh of their calves.

Ibn al-Qayyim has said that they have been created in Paradise, i.e., out of the materials taken from Paradise. Hence, others have suggested, Houris will not be destroyed at the time when Allah will destroy all living beings, be they humans, Jinns or others, moments before the Resurrection.

But we may ask a question: Has one qualified himself to be rewarded with a Houri? It is said that a man devoted to Allah was sleeping off the tahajjud time, when a Houri appeared to him in the dream and kicked him for sleeping at the time of devotion. Is any one of the devoted men of our times so warned?

There are one or two other issues involved, or questions expected, when there is talk of Houris. But since they have not been raised here, we shall move forward.

It might be pointed out however, and this is the primary concept, that the “Next World” will be as different from the present as it is from the world of the womb – even more. There is nothing there that we have seen in this world. All that has been named and described by the sources, pertaining to the next world, whether it is concerning Hell or Paradise, is just names for us. Their reality is unknown. The most imaginative criminal will be surprised by the level of torture he will experience in Hell, and the most pious will be surprised by the level of pleasures affordable in Paradise.

What is a model nikah-nama?


The Nikah-naama as found in every mosque’s register is the model Nikah-naamah. It states all that is necessary for an Islamic marriage to acquire legal status – you must be hearing it read out every Sunday as you attend marriages. Any addition to it is an addition to the Shari`ah-requirement and a corruption.

Why don’t you publish the history of Islam serially from the age of ignorance under the heading “Anecdotes from Islam”?  What you publish now is unsatisfactory.


This is a good suggestion. We have also had this on our minds for some times. Preparations are underway, and we should be ready for publication in a few months time, Allah willing.

The Existence of God

Tahsin Sayeed, via email

I am a regular reader of YMD and you have enlightened me on many issues.  Kindly answer the following questions and oblige.

What should be the answer to an atheist’s question on the existence of God?


This issue has been addressed in this month’s editorial.

What should you say to a person who believes in the existence of one Creator but says that all religions are man-made?

Kindly answer in full length either in the form of your editorial or an article.


That person is right about all religions. But he needs to make an exception. Islam is excluded. It is not man-made. It was revealed by Allah. It is in the Qur’an, and the Sunnah both of which have been preserved from adulteration. Of the two, the Qur’an, has been so worded that it cannot be imitated, and it cannot be altered. It will remain – until the end of time – without human hand ever being able to manipulate it.

A skeptic’s exercise is to investigate: Have the Qur’an and Sunnah been adulterated by human hands since the first – the Qur’an – was presented by Prophet Muhammad, and the second – the Sunnah – was codified in the first, second and third centuries after him.

We can only ask a non-Muslim, and a Muslim plagued by doubts, to be rational, and, of course, serious. No one will ever investigate these issues but will turn Muslim, and if already a Muslim, then, a true Muslim.

If they turn away, whether a non-Muslim or a Muslim, they will be the losers on the Day of Judgment. Said Allah (39: 15): “Say, ‘Surely, losers are those who lost themselves and their families on the Day of Standing.’

Non-Fuqahaa' Level

Sameena Tahsin Sayeed, via email

I would like to know whether zakat money can be given for the purchase of land or construction of a residential deeni madarasa. Can zakat money be used to purchase furniture, stationery, books including The Holy Quran etc. Further can the salaries of huffaz and other teachers and non-teaching staff be paid out of zakat money.


According to the Hanafi school of thought, as also many others, zakah funds cannot be used for the purposes stated above. This is because in the Qur’anic ayah, 60 (Surah Al-Tawbah)


إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاء وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ.

which contains the commandment pertaining to Zakah, the “laam” of the “fuqaraa’” is, without any difference in opinion, “laamu tamleek.”

Also please quote ahadees/sources regarding the same.


This is something you should demand of those who have aired the opinion, who think that Islamic Law is so simple that it can be taken to the “non-fuqahaa’” level.

'Ali is not the Gate

Sadaf Afshan, via email

Please throw some light on the following hadith: “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate”.


The hadith is fake, a manufactured one.

Also, please let me know whether the wives of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are considered as a part of Ahle-Bayat or not.


Yes, they are included. In fact, the Qur’an refers to them alone as the ahl al-bayt. It is Sunnah which includes others such as `Ali and descendants. The wives of the Prophet are the “ahl al-bayt” by default. Others are included on textual support and evidence. In fact, `Ikrimah, one of the great scholars of the Qur’an, would not extend the term’s usage to anyone other than the wives of the Prophet.

Nabi and Rasul

Sadaf Afshan, via email

Please let me know the difference between ‘nabi’ and ‘rasul’.


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 rasul and 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.

Also, is there any difference between ‘sood’ and ‘riba’?


Riba’ is an Arabic word whose equivalent in Urdu is Sood.

Aa'laa Hazrat

Mohd. Wamis Khan, via email

I want to ask you that 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.2. 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.

Is it right to say salam in the love of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 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.

Life Insurance

Sheik Abdul Taher, via email

I would like to know whether Life Insurance policy is haram or halal?


Broadly speaking, if you draw back from a policy the exact amount you had deposited, then there is nothing wrong in it. On the other hand, to deposit a small sum, but ultimately draw a huge amount, will be at the cost of some others. This is unlawful. Or, to get back a smaller sum, as against large deposits, simply because one failed in depositing the subsequent premiums would also be unlawful. It would be like offering interest.

Islamic Channel

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, Hyderabad


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 problem. 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 8 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.

Zaydi Shi'a

I would like to know whether marriage between a sunni (girl) and a Shia (boy, who is of the Zaidi sect, who believe in 5 imams) allowed. Nowhere is it mentioned that it cannot happen. Can you please answer my query and clear my doubts.

Waseema Ammara, via email


There is every possibility that you – as an individual – are not seeking the information for your own sake; that is, it is not your case that you are referring to. But that somebody has asked you to raise the query. Or maybe, you are just inquisitive about it and need to educate yourself.

At all events, what we would like our readers to think about is that somehow it is only Sunni girls who seem to be exposed to friendship with Shi`ah boys. We never get to hear from a Shi`ah girl inquiring about marriage to a Sunni boy. If the Shi`ah claim that their girls are more virtuous than that, then, what do we say in reply? Shall we not command some self-respect at the community level? Disrespect to a community comes from its women.

Now, as regards your statement that, in your words, “it cannot happen”, (i.e., marriage to a Zaydi), well, it can happen. It is another thing that – a Sunni girl’s marriage to a Shi`ah, of whatever denomination, should not happen, at least until further investigation.

You may ask: what about this “further investigation?” Well. Of the Zaydis there have been so many kinds since the 2nd Islamic century when, in Kufa, they broke away from the main body of the Shi`ah.

There were the Kufan Zaydis, those of Dagestan, Ingushetia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and some parts of Turkey. And then there are those of them in the Yemen. In all three places, however, they broke into several sub-sects. Perhaps the only thing common among the various Zaydis – except for the Zaydis of the low lands of Yemen – is condemnation of the three Khulafa’ earlier than `Ali as the usurpers. (In fact, they broke away from Zayd b. `Ali, a common Imam of most of the Shi`as, when he refused to condemn Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman).

So, when you speak of a Zaydi Shi`ah who recognize five Imams alone, then, we do not know what sect this is; perhaps a new one. Could you throw some light on the one in question: history of its sect, especially, to which body of the Zaydis does he belong; and when was it that this sub-sect broke away from the main body of the Zaydis. What is the name by which this sub-sect goes, and from which geographical region are they? This is because the beliefs of all of them vary widely between themselves – from the most radical (those who declare all Sunnis Kafir) to the most moderate, such as those of the low lands of Yemen, some of whom even praise Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman.

The Unknowing

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.

Faraz, Hyderabad


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 Suunah, the finality of Prophet Muhammad, 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 Salaf practiced. 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 10 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 fair well on the Day of Judgment, in the “test” on SalahSalah 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.

Shi'ah Origin

I want know from you how did the Shi`ah sect actually originate and what about being friendly with them?

Irfan Ahmed Khan, via email


We are asked this question by so many and so often that– after several years of persistent request, YMD has decided to address it. We should be presenting an article on this issue in one of the forthcoming issues.

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