Letters to the Editor
Nadeem, via email
I have a few questions:
Is it proper for anyone to use the seal of prophethood like Harun Yahya does in his works?
The seal you are referring to is not the seal of prophethood but a seal of our Prophet (asws).
We do not see anything wrong in using the seal either for aesthetic purposes, for barkah, or for attracting attention, so long as the intention is not commercial.
Is patriotism equivalent to shirk?
We need to first establish the meaning of the term and its demands. If the meaning given to it is partisanship and blind support involving right and wrong, truth and untruth, justice and injustice, then, in this sense, patriotism would be declared illegal by the true patriots themselves. A patriot cannot prefer wrong over right, untruth over truth, injustice over injustice, without bringing shame to patriotism and the country he is patriot to. If he commits the above in the name of patriotism, then the Judge who takes the oath of patriotism before assuming his position in the court, will send him to prison for disgracing his country.
Patriotism involves high moral values. Sometimes it means working against the Constitution of a country and opposing it through campaigns. This happens when the Constitution does wrong to the country itself or to its people. Brave men have stood up against the Law of the land and its Constitution and given their lives fighting for removal of the wrongs. That is how the Constitutions get refined and the “Laws of the land” are modified from time to time.
Patriotism then, has to be first defined before we can say it is Shirk. The question of Shirk or not comes later. First, whether the definition legal or illegal. If it is an illegal definition, then we can declare a man believing in it as a “Mushrik” before he is condemned to prison by the courts of justice.
Finally, the love of the land in which one lives is natural. It need not be taught. Islam does not see anything wrong in it, because it is in the very nature of man. But this love is different from patriotism.
Is reading of tafseer and Ahadith without the supervision of an `Alim allowed?
Kindly see this month’s editorial which covers the answer to your question.
Is watching movies/plays having no female actresses allowed?
Strictly speaking, unless a film is educational, made by the educationists, for educational purpose alone, and none other, all other movies, including Islamic movies are disallowed in Islam.
If the movie has female characters, then, even educational ones are disallowed.
Let you not be misled by the large-scale prevalence of the evil.
Are Islamic forums a good place to spend one’s time?
The question is too general to answer. We do not know what the “Islamic forum” of your reference is, what happens there, who controls it, who are the other participants, what are their objectives, etc. It is not necessary that anything or any activity or association which has “Islamic” in its name should be truly Islamic.
Our opinion is that you should consult a godfearing scholar of your area giving him all the particulars of the forum.
Is it okay to play computer games?
If the games do not involve obscenity, there is no harm in playing them. But, if the theme targets Islamic cities for attack, it should not be played. Such games are made in the West, in order to make up the public mind, before those countries are actually attacked.
Further, from moral point of view, Western mind is a perverted one. Nothing good will ever come out of such a mind. Western researchers conclude that their computer games pervert the minds of their children. They blame them for many of the vices prevalent in their societies. How will such games not pervert the minds of Muslim youth?
Muslim young men should be developing their own games rather than playing those of others. Are our young men so headless that they cannot develop their own games, proving themselves smarter than Westerners and giving them not only examples of higher intelligence, but also teach them moral lessons?
Is keeping shoulder length hair for men sunnah?
No, it is not Sunnah per se. Reports about the Prophet’s appearance, his clothes, shoes, etc., suggest that he followed convenient local practices opting out for the most simple and avoiding the affected.
In this case, he let his hair grow. When it became too long, he got it cut short. Whether long or short, he took care of them by oiling and combing them recommending the same to his followers. Most of the time, his hair was tucked under his turban.
But some young men are seen with long hair. Reason? They say the Prophet grew them. But when they are told that he wore a turban, they look elsewhere and change the topic. But, of course, neither long hair is Sunnah nor donning turbans.
The Prophet’s Sunnah is in appearing neat, clean, carrying a cheerful disposition, and sincerity at heart.
Ali Adil, via email
I wanted to ask you a few questions regarding the book Faza’il-e-A`maal. Is it trustworthy to read and follow it?
In a general sense, yes. For the common people it is right to read the “Fazaa’il-e-A`maal and follow it. It may also be read at home in halaqas just before everybody retires to bed; although, for home reading, Imam Bukhari’s “Adab al-Mufrad” is better suited for a start. So, once “Adab al-Mufrad” is over, the family may switch over to “Fazaa’il“.
Both the above books include reports that have been declared “da`if” by hadith Doctors. But, in matters of “Fazaa’il” the scholars are of the opinion that there is nothing wrong in reading “da’if” reports, or in following instructions contained in them. What will go wrong if somebody recited some Qur’anic chapters, for whatever reason? Therefore, neither should Imam Bukhari be censured nor Mawlana Zakariyyah, for their respective collections.
[A side note is that he who criticizes one of the two collectors above, but not the other, is a hypocrite of a sort. His guidance in religious matters may be avoided].
A third book that could be read at home is also Mawlana Yusuf’s “Faza’il-e-Sahaba”. This book has been severally printed in the Arab world and is read with interest. Perhaps it is one of its own kind and has been translated into English. Mawlana Yusuf was the second Ameer of Tableeghi Jama`at. His another collection is called “Muntakhab Ahaadith.” But it is of a higher standard and, not so very interesting for the masses.
For those of course, who are serious and studious, the books recommended would be different.
In this book (Fazaa’il-e-A`maal), there are a few ahadith in its section on Virtues of the holy Quran such as:
(a) Ibn Massod reports that Rasululah said, “Whoever reads surah al-Waaqiah every night, starvation shall never afflict him. Hadrath `Ai’ishah (radhiyallaho anho) is reported to have emphasized its reading.
(YMD: With ref. to above, two errors need correction: (i) it is not Ibn Massod, but Ibn Mas`ud. (ii) You say radhiyallaho anho for `A’isha. But, for females you must say radiallahu anhaa).
(b) Abu Hurairah narrates that Rasululah said, “There is in the Qur’an a surah of thirty ayaat which intercedes for a person until he is forgiven.”
(c) Khalid bin Madaan (radhiyallaho anho) has said that he had heard it narrated, “There was a man who was a great sinner, but he used to recite surah al-Sajdah. He never read anything else. This surah spread its wings over that man and submitted to Allah, “O, my Lord! This man used to recite me very frequently’. So the intercession of that surah was accepted. So it was ordered that each sin in his account should be substituted by a virtue.”
[YMD: You write (radhiyallaho anho) against Khalid b. Ma`dan. But he was not a Companion].
(d) Khalid bin Ma`daan (radhiyallaho anho) has also reported “This surah pleads for its reader in the grave and says, ‘O Allah! If I am contained in thy Book, then accept my intercession, otherwise write me off from Thy book. This surah appears in the form of a bird, spreads its wings over the dead and guards him against punishment from the grave.
(e) The author also quotes that the one who reads Surah Al-sajdah and Surah Mulk between Maghrib and Isha, is like a person who stands in salaat throughout the night called Lailatul Qadr.
(f) And also the one who reads Surah Ar-Rahmaan, Surah Al-Waaqiah and Surah Al-Hadeed is reckoned amongst the dwellers of Jannnat-ul-Firdous.
What do you have to say about them?
The above reports are found, in varying words, in Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal’s “Musnad“, Tirmidhi’s “Sunan“, Hakim’s “Mutadrak“, Tabarani’s “Al-Mu`jam” and others. Ibn Kathir, the classic commentator of the Qur’an, has longer and fuller versions of some of these reports in his “Tafseer.” On the “Faza’il” of Surah Mulk alone, the reports that Ibn Kathir presents will occupy four pages of this magazine in translation.
But Imam Ibn Kathir was not alone in presenting virtues of Qur’anic chapters. Zamakhshari, Qurtubi, and as late as Shawkani, also never missed to state the virtues. It is only when the radio and TV had entered into Muslim homes that they began to find fault with the Qur’anic commentators and hadith collectors.
And, it needed a total disconnection from, and disinterested with Islamic culture, for the technical term “da`eef” to acquire the meaning of “false.”
In actual fact, the “Fadaa’il” (or good virtues) of reading the above chapters can be greater than those mentioned in the above reports. Allah’s rewards have no limits. He might reward, as a hadith of Abu Hurayrah says, a hundred thousand times more for any single good deed.
Now, do we get the good virtues stated in the above five quotes and yet read these daily while also reading other portions of the Quran? (I can manage it).
That you can manage to read the chapters of mention in above reports, and yet find time to read more of the Qur’an is not a phenomenon that raises people’s eyebrows although, it does show light to those who think they cannot manage it. For, among this Ummah there are still many who study the Qur’an for several hours a day. Going back, we come to know that many of the Salaf recited the whole of the Qur’an every night.
S. N. A., via email
This is the answer to the reply that you have given in “Young Muslim Digest” of March 2006.
It is wrong to say that new divisive forces are raising their ugly heads among Muslims, especially in India in the name of Qur’an & Sunnah.
The reference in that issue was to those who go about preaching that the followers of one of the four Imams are not rightly guided. Instead, they should be following the Qur’an and Hadith by themselves. (The Hindus of India are so rightly guided, that they do not go to them)!
Well, we were not very precise in our statement. These divisive forces are in fact creating havoc all over the non-Arab Muslim world, sparking tension among the Muslims (instead of creating Ukhuwwah), and dividing not merely Muslims, but their mosques as in control of this group or that group. But of course, they are not alone in such attempts at division. Other groups also perform the same functions.
By whatever name you call them – zealots or divisive forces – it is only according to your perception; they are there from the day of the Prophet (SAS).
May we suggest that you read a few biographies of the Prophet and something in early history of Islam?
From day one, the Ummah did not have any single individual who thought that the knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah could be obtained, despite remaining ignorant of the Arabic language. Nor were there any zealots at that time, or immediately after him, who told those new Muslims who had just entered into Islam (such as the Egyptians, Persians and many others) that they could brush aside the opinions of the Teachers sent to their areas by the Caliphs, and begin to study the Qur’an and hadith on their own, interpreting them the way they liked. Nor was there anyone, who requested the Caliphs to get copies of the Qur’an and Hadith distributed among the Egyptians and Persians for their study and application, instead of appointing teachers from Madinah.
Today, the Muslims of the non-Arab world are in no better situation than the Egyptians, Persians and others of the earliest period of Islam. They know as much Arabic as they knew (none at all), understand as much of their religion as they (none at all), and depend on teachers as much as they depended on the teachers sent to their areas by the Caliphs.
The unthoughtful advice to the non-Arabic knowing masses, to resort directly to the Qur’an and Sunnah, helps in nothing but sowing confusion. Those who do not know a word of Arabic are told to abandon Abu Haneefah, Shafe`ee, Ibn Taymiyyah, and scores of others, and follow instead the Qur’an and Hadith all by themselves. More. They suggest to those who come under their influence that they can easily judge the four Imams, with the help of (the translation of) two or three ahadith picked up from Bukhari or Muslim, and one or two statements picked up from the Imams themselves. (That they do not know the source of those statements of the Imams, is not a thing that worries them). Armed with such evidences, they begin to judge. And the judgment is unambiguous: the four Imams were weak in Hadith!
The brilliancy of a few is of such order that they suggest that the best way of revival of Islam in India would be to bind the Muslims to Qur’an and Hadith, and cut them off from the great scholars of the past. This is their oft-repeated panacea for the Muslim masses in India, 90% of whom are illiterate, and 95% of whom do not know how to read in any language. This is their suggestion to those also who do not understand any language in which any word is used but which refers to one of the fifty items of daily use. (We come across men and women in the slums and villages [where majority of Muslims live] who do not understand what we mean when we say: “How are you?” unless we utter precisely those words they use). But, our zealot reformers never descend into the slums).
At present, the modern-day reformers have split themselves into two groups. One says, “the Qur’an is enough for us;” and the other says, “Hadith is enough for us.” Both lead their victims into Sinitic sojourn that lasts their lives.
As far as moulana Zakaria’s “Fadaail E A`amaal” is concerned, those are his views and they can only be refuted in the light of Qur’an & authentic Sunnah.
Is it possible that you have not read “Fazaa’il-e-A`maal“? It is not a book of views and opinions. It is a collection of Ahaadith and Aathaar. The author quotes from Arabic sources; not from dead sources, as the non-Arab critics imagines, but live sources that are available in every bookshop of the Arab world, particularly of the Gulf, where religious consciousness is higher.
You have rightly said that the Qur’an & sunnah give us guidelines, they do not give details of the law. Certainly they are the sources, now I ask one question: If the laws have been so derived that they get contradicted with the sources then what one should do?
With reference to the doubt concerning contradictions between the Law (as stated by the four Schools of Fiqh) on one side, and the sources on the other, the answer is, one needs to go back to the sources, to all of the sources, the whole lot of them, amounting to a library of 1000 volumes before he can come to some conclusion. If you conduct a study of these source books, you will discover that no contradiction exists. The common people think that Bukhari is the source, and that’s it. Or maybe, Muslim. But in truth the sources are much larger than what they can imagine.
We understand that it will be immediately asked: “The Hanafiyyah do it this way, but the Shafe`iyyah do it that way, and the Hadith says this way, and so on. Now, how to you say that no contradiction exists?”
The answer is, someone cannot be explained without he first acquiring the ability to understand, which will come from those 1000 volumes of our reference. For example, if we say, “Refer to such and such a discussion in Fath al-Bari of Ibn Hajr, or to such and such a discussion in the Fatawa of Ibn Taymiyyah,” or look into such and such a work of Al-Aamidi, what is he going to do? Obviously, he will draw a blank. Then, how shall we proceed to explain to him?
To give you an example from secular law, supposing someone cites two cases where the judgments are contradicting each other. But a lawyer might say, “There is no contradiction. The two are in harmony.” Then he refers to a Supreme Court judgment involving a case in 1936, another of 1988, and then refers him to such and such law book explaining the cases, and then to the amendment that took place, and finally, the finer differences between the two cases, then, what will he do? He will draw a blank. How then is he going to convince him?
There are two ways open to those men and women who are targets of a queer propaganda: get serious with the Law, or leave it to the experts. If you are serious, start now – today. Start today by taking the first lesson in Arabic language. Acquire proficiency in coming few years. Then take up the Qur’an and Hadith, and acquire proficiency too. There should be no ayah but you do know how the Salaf understood it. There should be no Hadith which you do not know how the Salaf understood it. It might take 20-30 years depending on how much time you devote. But at the end of it you will begin to understand how Law is made.
If somebody refuses both the alternatives, and persists in debating with commoners at street corners, in easy chairs, at the mosques, cafeterias, then, we are afraid they will get nowhere. If they turned back after twenty years, they will regret they wasted those years.
Nonetheless, there is a third way open. Improve upon knowledge despite the limitations. Take up, for example, study of the Prophet’s life. Leave no book on his life, but he would have read it. It is a pretty vast field too. It might take a couple of years. But, gradually, after every book he will begin to understand the Prophet and his message better. He will gain confidence; not overall confidence, but in Seerah. Twenty years later, when he looks back, he will feel satisfied that the time was rightly spent.
As regards the rest of your pretty long letter, in which you criticize the Fuqaha’, we state with apology that it is far too unscholarly. This is not everybody’s field, and one shouldn’t be indulging in it. Far from a commoner, even a scholar of today – including us – does not have a fraction of knowledge that the earliest Fuqahaa’ had.
The Prophet has said, “Speak to the people according to the level of their understanding.” Let us take up topics that we can successfully handle.
A Case of Separation
Mrs. A. B., via email
I am a married woman. Me and my husband are doctors.
My husband insisted on O-sex (which led me to nausea) and beyond that, unnatural sex (a-sex) which was totally hateful. I could have suppressed the issue but he refused normal sex which led to our separation.
What has Islam to say about it?
You did right by separating from the pervert man for resorting to unnatural ways. Islam prohibits it and promises punishment to those who seek it.
You also had the right to refuse what caused you nausea which, although allowed, requires the consent of both the partners. But the unnatural sex of your mention is totally illegal.
S. Nisar Ahmed, via email
I am very happy that your magazine is one of the good magazines that I read, in certain points, especially about the matter of Fiqh, but you have ambiguous ideology. It is my request that you be clear and be authentic, because our uneducated ummah may get confused and distracted.
We are trying to be forthright, unless suppression of certain words or phrases or replacement with indirect words is necessary.
As for ideology, we have none.
I am an intermediate second year Bi.P.C. (science) student from Andhra Pradesh. My aim is to bag a rank in “EAMCET” (Engineering And Medical Common Entrance Test) for admission into M.B.B.S. course, for which memory plays a major role. I request to kindly suggest me some “duas” and “vazifaafs” from the Qur’an to boost my memory and intelligence and for success in my aim.
Muddassir Khan, via email
It is good to be seeking Allah’s help in achieving our purposes. But, we are sorry to say that we have received no reports concerning supplicatory verses in the Qur’an meant for improving memory.
The Qur’an is there for guidance. For example, the Qur’an is there to tell us whether it is necessary to become a doctor or an engineer to achieve success.
This takes us to another issue: defining success. We will have to abandon the definition we have for the word “success”, and accept the definition that comes from the Qur’an. This is what the Qur’an is for.
Thus, approaching the Qur’an with right reasons, we arrive at a position where “success” is rightly defined. When that is over, that is, success correctly defined, you will have to aim at achieving excellence. Why? It is because Allah gives His own example of doing everything with excellence. To clarify, the attempt at achieving excellence will not be because that way you – or anyone else – will achieve success. No. One will not be able to achieve this or that worldly objective through excellence. But rather, excellence has to be the achieved simply because it is Allah’s command that we seek to achieve excellence. That way, we win Allah’s approval for whatever we do.
Now, achieving excellence is only possible through hard work. Therefore, hard work becomes necessary.
Thereafter, that is, after having put in hard work, one will have to leave the affair to Allah to judge. He will decide about him what He will. In consequence, when the result is out, the person in question will have to accept the result as “the best thing possible for him.” It would be “the best thing possible for him” because, whatever Allah decides for him is “the best thing possible” at that moment, in that phase.
Let us assume a person does not score high marks. Is it the best thing for him? The answer is, yes. The condition attached is that he would have put up enough hard work and would have done everything to achieve excellence. So, the negative result is the best thing possible for him. In contrast, let us suppose that the man obtained high marks, one way or another, but he did not achieve excellence with the aim of winning Allah’s approval. Is the result the best thing for him? Yes, it is, but it might be in the evil sense. He might achieve whatever he wishes to obtain. But it will bring him problems of various sorts. This is because he did not obtain Allah’s approval.
This is the way then, to achieving true success. Work hard. Why? To obtain excellence. Why? Because Allah approves of those who achieve excellence in whatever they attempt. That done, success has to follow, maybe not immediately, but it will, in the long run. Why? Because Allah’s help is with him.
As regards memory-development, there are some innovative methods that have been developed and tried in our times with some success, especially with reference to the needs of the students facing examinations. Some of them are advertised in newspapers. You might contact them. (But a few are dupers, so take care).
Insofar as seeking direct help from the Qur’an in improving memory, it has not been noticed that the memory power improves with the recitation of this or that of its parts. But it is definitely noticed that studying the Qur’an and its sciences, makes a person more intelligent.
I am a frequent reader of your magazine and suggest that you publish about different situations faced by the Muslims and how to solve them. For example the following took place in a state of India. The husband of a newly married couple had to go to war at the border. Over there he was captured by the Pakistan military. At home, people thought he was dead so they married his wife to the younger brother. And when she had a six months baby in her womb, the Pakistan military let the first husband free.
So, how does one solve such a problem? I suggest you to start a column if not one page then at least half a page that states a problem and then how to solve it, so that in the future the solution can come handy to us.
Ali Adil, via email
Ready-made answers for numerous kinds of situations, both real as well as assumed, are already there in books of Fataawaa. In fact, there are so many cases discussed and answers provided, that some people lacking deeper understanding allege that the Fuqahaa’ have wasted their time.
Considering the case you have put forward, the problem arose because the family did not bother to check on the religious ruling when they faced the situation of their man missing for six months. Had they looked for guidance, they would have discovered that there was no way marrying off the girl to another suitor simply because her husband was missing for six months. They seemed to have been in a hurry, for reasons of their own.
The family also exhibited a serious moral shortcoming when they hastily assumed that the man was dead – almost as if they were waiting for such a thing to happen. In the normal course, and given normal people, they would have gone to the military to find out whether his name was there among the dead. If it was not, then the military would have made inquiry with the counter part, that is, with the Pakistani authorities, whether the man is a prisoner with them. If not, they would have asked the enemy whether they are holding any dead bodies with the. If the man was not thus traceable, then the military would double up its efforts to locate the man. It would be more worried than the family to locate the person because to them it becomes a matter of security. They would like to know whether the man has deserted and joined the enemy ranks, taking secrets with him. We all know that the military is the most organized enterprise, and that, no other organization follows the rules better than they, including such matters as treatment of the prisoners, handling the dead and so on. So, they should have been the first to seek help from.
But, instead, for these people to simply assume that he was dead, creates some doubts about their intentions.
Back to the main point, ready-made answers for a variety of situations are already available in books of Fataawaa. Of this reference, one is a beautiful and brilliant work by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi. It is entitled: “Al-Heelatu al-Najizah” and deals with almost every difficult and non-standard issue of marriage, divorce, women’s oppression by their husbands, including the problem you have stated.
The answer itself to this problem is quite lengthy, discussing various situations, and quite technical. Therefore, if the family is interested, they might seek the help the Fatwa section of Deoband, who will help them out.
With reference to the presence of pig fat or its other ingredients in food and other products is true (ref. March 2005, page no 40, 41) then please substantiate it.
Mohammed Ayub, via email
The article of reference had Western origins. Subsequent to the above publication, we had asked our readers to seek clarification from laboratories. But we have not received any response. We still suggest that one of our readers submit a couple of such products to a local lab and get the results out.
Focusing on Salah
Will you please focus on the value of “Namaaz” and its uses?
Muddassir Khan, via email
There is no denying the great importance of this second pillar of Islam, but YMD chooses to present such material as not to be found in other similar magazines or commonly available Islamic literature. Salah is one of those topics on which there are innumerable books available almost in every Islamic bookshop. “Fazaa’il al-Namaz” by Mawlana Zakariyyah Kandhlawi is a good contribution. It is part of “Faza’il-e-A`mal” which is commonly available both in Urdu as well as English.
To do Salah better, one might read a book by Nasiruddin Albani. It is called “Salatun Nabiyy .. ka-annaka taraaha.” It is not the last word on Salah, but a pretty good work. It is available in English too.