Letters to the Editor
Recitation at the Graves
Q. This has reference to your article “Grave worship is Disbelief” in Oct. 2001 issue.I came across the sentence ‘recitation of any Quranic verses is forbidden in the graveyard,’ I would like to point out that according to a hadith the dead ones wait eagerly for people to pray for their forgiveness.
Firstly, we would have been grateful if you had quoted the source of the hadith you have referred to. We could not find it in any of the books that carry hundreds of thousands of ahadith, such as Ahmad, Majma`uz Zawa’id, Tabrani, Kanz al-`Ummal etc. Most probably this is not a hadith but a statement of a scholar.
In any case, we will accept the statement that the dead eagerly wait the living to pray for their forgiveness. Let us take the next point. You have written that “recitation of the Qur’anic verses is forbidden in the graveyard.” But that is not what the article says. The referred article says, “The recitation of Qur’an in graveyards is not allowed as neither the Prophet (peace upon him) nor his Companions were known to do so.” In Fiqh language, “Forbidden” is a stronger term than “not allowed.” The former can be roughly translated as “Haraam” while the latter as “laa yajuz.” Normally, “not allowed” will mean there is a second opinion, and that it is not strictly forbidden.
The writer also gives the reason for saying why it is not allowed, and he has a very strong argument. He says the Prophet never did it. He adds that the Companions did not do it either. Both these statements are correct. Now, can we have stronger reasons than these to stay away from recitation? Do we not stay away from what the Prophet and his Companions stayed away?
In addition there are two points involved: (1) “Recitation of the Qur’anic verses in the graveyard” and (2) “the dead awaiting eagerly for people to pray for them.” Both are unconnected and independent. Prayer for the dead means seeking Allah’s forgiveness for them. This is certainly beneficial to the dead. And if the dead wait for this to happen, then there is nothing strange about it. However, this “seeking of forgiveness” need not be done right at the graves. It can be done from anywhere: from your own house, from mosques, from market-places, from anywhere, at any time, on any day.
If someone insists that he will pray for the dead only when he is right at the grave, then, he is obviously doing injustice to them. He knows that they are eagerly awaiting his prayers. But he says, so to say, “No way. Have patience. I’ll pray for you when I find time to come to your grave.” Now, he might only find time once in a year. Sometimes not even once in a year. Or he might be at one end of a large city. He never goes to the other end where the grave lies. Or yet he might be in another city. Why? He could be in another country. But, because of his self-made rule, he betrays the dear ones awaiting his supplications in their favor.
Q. Another hadith says if “yaa-seen” is recited in a graveyard once, the dead ones in that particular graveyard will be freed from punishment for a period of 40 days.
We do not know of any such hadith, in words you have quoted. Most probably it is fabricated. In fact, a hadith that makes much scaled-down promise has been declared untrustworthy. It says, “It (Ya-Seen) is not recited on a dead person but his punishment is decreased.” The famous Indian Muhaddith, Mulla Muttaqi, who compiled “Kanz al-`Ummaal” says that the chain of narrators has a narrator called Mis`adah ibn al-Yas`a who was a liar.
There is another hadith which says that “If someone visited the graves of one of his parents or both and recited Yaa-Seen, then (the person visited) will be forgiven.” This is also an untrustworthy report.
But there is a trustworthy hadith in several collections which says, “Recite (Surah) Ya-Seen, on those about to die.”
Q. However I firmly agree with your opinion that offering flowers, bowing before graves is forbidden. Please clarify about recitation of the Qur’an in graveyard.
There is a difference in opinion whether the Qur’an can be recited at all for the dead, and whether they benefit from it. Some scholars have used analogy (Qiyas) to deduce that the Qur’an can be recited. But others have not agreed. There is a third group, such as the famous Sufi commentator of the Qur’an, Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, who said that it is a controversial issue, it is better not to recite. This is about recitation – anywhere. Now, when recitation – at any place – is being contended, how about at the graves? Obviously, it becomes all the more doubtful. Therefore, it is better to avoid it altogether, especially at the graves.
Halaal and Haraam
Q. My questions: tell me about halaal and haraam things in Islam, in detail. I know some halaal and haraam things but I want to know the importance of halaal and haraam.
We do not know what you mean by your request. Do you think there is a list of the lawful and the unlawful available that can be published? Well, there is not.
As regards its importance, what is it that you would like to know? The very nomenclature “prohibited” suggests the importance. Prohibited is prohibited. What is there to add to it?
Q. What happens if anyone does haraam things repeatedly?
If it is a single weakness in a person, such as, for example, stealing, then, although it is a grave sin, but it is not as serious as when someone flouts several of the prohibited of Islam, regularly, without fear. Such a person is very close to being an unbeliever. He might be raised among them on the Day of Judgment and judged with them if he does not repent and give up.
Q. What happens if anyone did it once. What are the consequences that he will suffer in this world and in the Hereafer?
Actually, the type of sin will have to be defined for an accurate answer. Nevertheless, in general terms, there isn’t a major sin that cannot be repented for. But, of course, by repentance we mean the Islamic repentance, one that meets with the several conditions set for it, and not that repentance which does not involve more than saying, e.g. “Astaghfirullah.” Such a repentance is no repentance if other conditions are not met.
Q. In Ramadan the Taraveeh prayers are supposed to be offered daily, but some people pray the whole Taraveeh in a day or two, or five days. Is that correct?
It is not clear to us how they pray, whether 20×30 Raka`at within a couple of days, or just pray for a few days with the congregation and then give up while the congregation continues for the month. The former method is unacceptable, while the second option is allowable.
A Taharah Problem
Q. I am facing a problem for the past three years from the age of 15. Whenever I pass urine some drops trickle out even until an hour. Please suggest a remedy for Tahara.
In this situation, the best thing would be not to use the water closet before a Prayer. You could use it after the Prayer. Further, as you use the water closet you may sprinkle water on the spot. You may also change the underwear as often as possible, depending on convenience. Another option is to use cotton pads, discard them and then make a fresh Wudu for a fresh Salah.
Q. I am new reader of your magazine. there are no words, that I can use praise it. I would like you to inform me about the following books as to where they can be found: (1) Gulistan, (2) Bustan. Both are Persian, but I need English translations.
Rizwan Nazir Moulvi,
Originally published in Europe, English translations of these works have appeared long time back. At the moment they are out of stock, unless an Indian publisher has reprinted. You may inquire with a few publishers placed in Delhi. One of them being:
Kitab Bhavan, # 1784, Kalan Mahal, Darya Ganj, New Delhi – 110 002. Phone: (91-11) 327 7392/93, 327 4686, Website: www.kitabbhavan.com, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: (91-11) 326 3383.
The Best Service
Q. What is the best service that we can offer to Islam?
In general terms, the question is answerable with a hadith of the Prophet in Bukhari and Muslim. It said, “The most beloved of deeds with Allah, are the Prayers on time, being dutiful to the parents and Jihad in the way of Allah.”
Yet, we might add that life is a long and complicated affair. Its needs and demands vary from individual to individual, place to place, time to time, one’s age to age. There isn’t a single deed that can be said to be the best of deeds in Islam in the sense that one does it, and that’s it, no more is required of him. No, he might accomplish a deed and suddenly another very pressing one may arise that will acquire the status of the best and most important deed then, at that time and place, for that person.
Tooth Paste or Miswak
Q. In a recent issue, in the Question & Answer section you have permitted the use of toothpaste during fast. However, it is observed that while the toothpaste is used, the distinct taste/ sweetness of the paste is felt and there is very high chances of the lather being swallowed. Just as we do not use, coal or other such powder to clean our teeth, similarly we must not use the paste also. It is as good as someone asking whether he can rub certain amount of sweet on his teeth during fasts. Instead miswak should be used because it helps to do away the bad breadth besides many of its other uses. I hope you would reconsider your answer.
We have given the legal opinion about use of toothpaste during fasts. We have not considered types and classes of toothpaste. There are some that are bitter in the mouth (the local ones) others sweet (which hardly have any health value). Further, we have not said that the sweet lather be swallowed. It is for the user to take care of that. After all, he knows that if he swallows something his fast will be broken.
As for miswak, we do agree that it is better than using tooth paste. That is applicable to all situations, fasts or no fasts. That is, ordinarily also it should be used in place of toothpaste.
Further, the Muslim Ummah should not blindly follow the general public. Indeed, the Muslim Ummah of India, especially needs to save its money from wasting, not only on toothpaste, but also on various other items that are considered as necessary in modern culture, although they are not. Every little money saved will grow in size over the decades and afford a more comfortable life in future, which their enemies are threatening to take away from them.
Finally, using Miswak before the Prayers is a strongly recommended Sunnah, even if one has used toothpaste a little earlier.
A Shafe`I Imam
Q. I am a follower of Hanafi Maslak and I offer my prayers in a Masjid where the Imam and Muqtadi are followers of Hanafi maslak. The Masjid is managed by committee members who are members of Tableeghi Jamat. This year in Ramazan, they had arranged for a Hafiz who was a follower of Shafai maslak. He led in Esha and Taraweeh and for Witr another Imam used to lead. On enquiry as to why a Shafai Imam was arranged when hundreds of Hanafi Huffaz are available, the committee members told that firstly the Qiraat of the Hafiz is very good and secondly all the four Maslak are acceptable and there is no problem in following him. Please let me know what is the Islamic ruling in this case whether the committee members have erred or my asking them was unjustified. I will also be thankful to you if you can give me the e-mail IDs of Darul Uloom Deodand and Nadwa.
What the Tableeghi management has done is perfectly alright. In fact, that was possible because the Tablighee people are in the management of the mosque affairs. They and the Jamat-e-Islami are the most sensible and open-hearted ones in matters of Madhaahib.
As they said, all four Madhaahibs are true and, it is agreed by the four that Prayers can be offered behind the Imam of any of the four.
However, there seemed to be no reason for a Hanafiyy Imam leading in Witr Prayers. Witr Prayers as done by a Shafe`i Imam would also suffice. But, perhaps it was done to avoid the congregation getting confused during the Prayers, not knowing how to act when a Shafe`i Imam does something different from an Hanafiyy Imam would normally do. If this was the point, then it is justified.
The e-mail addresses are as follows:
Q. I have read that the Prophet of Islam Muhammad, peace be upon Him, never prayed a single Taraweeh prayer in Jamaat. Is it true? If so, then why do we pray it in Jamaat?
What you have heard is incorrect. In one of the Ramadan nights the Prophet began to Pray in the mosque late in the night. Those present joined him. As the news spread, more people started reporting, out of their love of the Prayers. But he feared that if he continued, the Prayers might be declared obligatory, or later generations may treat it as obligatory. So, he did not show up on the third night.
Now, when the Prophet Prayed, he did not call it “the Taraweeh” prayers. This name was given later. Name is not important. You want to call it something else, you might. The act of Prayers is the main thing. The Prophet did it.
Q. I have also heard from some people that once during the Caliphate of Umar when the people were praying the Taraweeh individually but scattered here and there, Umar came and told them to pray side by side. The next day when they were praying in Jamaat, Umar said that when he told them to pray just side by side they are praying in Jamaat and they have innovated a new thing in Islam and that it was Bid’ah. Please clarify.
Once again, what you have heard is incorrect. If this version is current among a section of Muslims, it certainly speaks of their total severance from the books of Ahaadith.
The truth is that when ‘Umar saw the Companions of the Prophet Praying separately, he expressed the desire to bring them together in a congregation, led by an Imam. He expressed that wish and then waited for a year for someone to object to his idea. Next year, (some say after two years), he ordered a very learned Companion to lead other Companions in Prayers and fixed the number of Raka`aat as twenty. He did not ask them to Pray side by side, something quite ridiculous to imagine.
Moreover, although thousands of Companions were present, no one, not even the most learned Companions who was asked to lead, protested or objected. Everyone felt what ‘Umar did was right. If anyone had thought it was incorrect, he would have protested. On several occasions individuals had differed with ‘Umar and refused to do his bidding. So, they were not afraid of him.
Thus, the Taraweeh as it is, has the backing of all the Companions, including three of the Khulafa’ al-Rashidun. Nevertheless, the Taraweeh, its timing, and the number of Raka`a all remain non-obligatory. Anyone who doesn’t perform will not be sinning, unless a section of the community, say people of a locality or neighborhood, do not offer it by consensus. If they did that, they will be sinning as a whole since this is the Sunnah approved by the entire community.
It is also true that ‘Umar said that it is a Bid`ah. But two points may be noted. One, he said it is Bid`ah Hasanah. That is, a good innovation. Secondly, he did not use the term Bid`ah in the technical sense: that of an innovation worthy of rejection. But rather, in its lose sense of “something new” since the Prophet did not do it in congregation for thirty days, nor did he Pray twenty Raka`aat.
Q. Some time back a ‘Fatwa‘ was issued by some Ulama and Mufties in a local Urdu daily. It said that there was no harm in participating in the TV serial ‘Kaun Banega Crorepathi.’ The name of a well-known Islamic scholar, Maulana Salman Nadwi of Nadwa-Tul-Uloom was cited. After seeing the ‘Fatwa,‘ I immediately contacted the Maulana. But I received the reply that to participate in the TV serial ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati‘ is not allowed for Muslims, as most of the TV serials were harmful and they spoiled the young generation and the Muslim culture. In his reply, the Maulana said my name given in the ‘Fatwa‘ is totally baseless and false. After receiving the reply from Maulana Salman Nadwi, I approached the local Urdu newspaper and they published the correction. The media thus misguided the people, so I request to kindly publish in your paper the correct reply so that the Muslim community may not be misguided in future.
M. A. Bhatkali,
Thank you for taking the trouble.
Q. I am a Sunni Muslim girl. I came across some copies of YMD in our house recently. I found the Question & Answer section of your magazine very informative. I must congratulate you since you are doing a very good job. I am wondering if you could help me. I have been deeply in love with a Shia boy for the past three years and intend to marry him. However, I am aware of the conflicts between the two sects. So I am worried that my parents may not agree to the match. I wanted to know if it is possible for us to get married. What are the chances and what are the problems that I may have to face?
Firstly, you must understand that as a Sunni girl, you do not belong to a sect. You are a Muslim in the sense in which Islam defines a Muslim. It is those who refuse to meet with the conditions as set by Islam and to accept the Qur’an and Sunnah as those sources that have the decisive word, that have strayed away.
Next, you state that you are worried whether your parents will agree to the match. But this is not what you should be worried about. You need to find out before anything else if your religion allows you to marry a Shi`ah person.
Apparently, you already know that this is not allowed. Once having known, you should now resolve on not breaking a rule of Islam. If you did, you will be making Allah angry. Will the Shi`ah person save you from His ire, which might descend at a time you are unaware.
Allah said (7:97-98), “Do the people of the town feel secure from Our punishment coming to them at night while they are asleep? Do the people of the town feel secure from Our punishment coming to them in the morning, while they are at play?”
Therefore, it is not your parents that you should be worrying about. It is Allah that you should be worrying about.
As regards the problems you might face in this life when you marry a Shi`ah person, first of all, they are of no consideration in view of Allah’s anger. From this worldly point of view, you may not face any problem, or you may face many, we don’t know. They are unimportant anyway. But we are sure of a few grave problems because of which you are prohibited from marrying a Shi`ah.
One of them is that you might not be able to practice your religion. There will be pressure on you to conform to the ways of the new family. For example, the Shi`ah pray only once in a day when they combine all the Prayers. But Islam demands five daily Prayers at their appointed hour. Initially, you might manage to do them, but friction, leading to strained relations will grow. You will face similar difficulties over other obligations of Islam.
Furthermore, over time you will discover a clash over faith and beliefs and unable to defend your own beliefs.
If you insist on being correct, then with the passage of time the pressure will grow all the more and you will be left with no option but to simply follow the lines drawn for you with no hopes of any change in the future.
In contrast, let us assume you are married to a non-practicing Muslim. He might also disagree with you that you should be praying five times everyday. But, his objection will be weak and of low level, never open, from fear of Allah. Further, there is some chance he will repent some time in his life. But if a Shi`ah repents irreligiousness, you will have more trouble with him. As for children, while you will have no say in their religious affairs if you marry a Shi`ah, the general Muslim society will take care of them if you are married to a Sunni, even if your husband happened to be irreligious.
Finally, the passion that you have now for the man, is the passion for the opposite sex. But, once you say, “OK. Goodbye to you” you will forget him in a couple of weeks. Even if you are not able to, for emotional reasons, once you are married to another person, the memory will fade entirely, not in weeks, but in days. In fact, even if you married the man, the passion that you have for him now, will be gone in a few weeks after marriage, and you will be left facing stark realities of life.
There are a few other reasons why you must avoid marrying someone you love, Sunni or Shi`ah. But we believe the above should suffice.