Letters to the Editor
One of Two out of Hundreds
Mohammad Ahmed, via email
I am a regular reader of Young Muslim Digest and I must say you people are doing a commanding job. I have a question regarding what has happened recently in New York City where a woman Imam called for Salah for both men & women, my queries are:
Is there the concept of Salah for women in a Mosque?
There is. But, according to the Shari`ah of Islam, women need not attend the five daily Prayers in the mosque on a regular basis. It is not wajib on them. But if they do, their Prayers are accepted. Nevertheless, when in the mosque, they should form their own rows after those of men and children. They must follow the Imam, who must be a male. Further, they should leave the mosque as soon as the obligatory Prayers are over. Their Sunan and Nawaafil should be done at home. As for the males, they should wait until all women have left. Further, the mosque should provide separate entrance for men and women.
Can a woman lead in Prayers? What are the conditions?
A woman can lead other women and children in non-obligatory Prayers, at home. However, this may not be made a habit. So that, if there are several women in a household, there is no need for them to offer Prayers in congregation. They may Pray separately. Such Prayers are complete.
Can men offer Prayers behind a female Imam?
No. A woman cannot lead in Prayers attended by men. Wives of the Prophets did not lead in the Prayers, after the death of the Prophet, although `A’isha, the most learned of men and women of her time (but for a few Companions), did not lead in Prayers despite the fact she lived next to the mosque. In fact, she did not lead in Prayers even when she led the Companions in protest against the murder of `Uthman. No one knew the Sunnah better than she. She never said to the soldiers that they should accept her as Imam during the Prayers – just as they had accepted her, including many Companions, as the leader of the army.
On the contrary, she is on record having said that had the Prophet seen women of later times, he would have prohibited them from coming to the mosques.
Or is it strictly prohibited for women to go to the Mosques if it is for women alone?
A separate mosque for women is an innovation and those attending Prayers there might face questioning in the Hereafter.
As for women attending Prayers in community mosques, it is not strictly prohibited. In fact, it is not prohibited at all. It is only undesirable. Yet, if they did, they would not be committing a wrong, although the rewards might be less since the Prophet has said that her Prayer in her house is better for her than he Prayer in his mosque (Masjid al-Nabawi). Mosques in other parts of the world are lesser in status than that of the Prophet, hence, women praying in them – by choice, and not because of it being a need of the hour – might face lesser rewards.
Doing something not required by religion cannot earn rewards since it is Allah who rewards for acts of obedience. If He did not order an act, how can He be expected to reward?
It is also some kind of dimwittedness to be dashing across doing what the Shari`ah does not demand. Carrying out what the Shari`ah has demanded, by itself requires efforts and, to some people, is quite troublesome. To add more from one’s own side is a kind of hare-jumping into the wrong fence.
Attending the mosques five times a day is obligatory on the males. But how many turn up? Why should then, the excluded be wanting to declare it obligatory upon themselves?
Nevertheless, males should take care that mosques in commercial centers and market areas offer provision for women devotees. Out of hundreds, there can always be one or two committed Muslimah who, from fear of missing the time, would like to do their Prayer then and there.
Can women offer Funeral prayers along side men?
If women happen to be there in the mosque when the Salah al-Jinazah is conducted, they may join in the Prayers. But, they should not specifically go to the mosque, or travel to the graveyard to offer Prayer there.
Find a Solution
Abdul Munaf, via email
I have some doubts please clarify them.
My marriage talks are going on – with my cousin sister’s daughter (my father’s grand daughter). Someone told me that I can’t marry my niece even if she is my cousin’s daughter.
That you can marry your cousin sister’s daughter is perfectly alright. But we do not understand how she became your father’s grand-daughter. In any case, we offer you the following to sort out.
“Two Men met at a bus stop and struck up a conversation. One of them kept complaining of family problems.
Finally, the other man said, ‘You think you have family problems? Listen to my situation. A few years ago I met a young widow with a grown-up daughter, and we got married. Later my father married my step-daughter. That made my stepdaughter my step mother and my father became my step-son. Also my wife became mother-in-law of her father-in-law.
Then the daughter of my wife, my step-mother, had a son. This boy was my half-brother because he was my father’s son, but he was also the son of my wife daughter, which made him my wife’s grandson. That made me he grand-father of my half-brother.
This was nothing until my wife and I had a son. Now the half-sister of my son, my step mother, is also the grand-mother. This makes my father the brother-in-law of my child, whose step-sister is my father’s wife. I’m my step-mother’s brother-in-law, my wife is her own child’s aunt, my son is my father’s nephew and I’m my own grand-father.
And you say you have family problems!!!”
Let us strike a deal between us. If you can explain half of the above, we will try to work out how your father became grandfather of your cousin’s daughter.
And can I meet or talk on the phone to my fiancé after our engagement?
There is a certain total number of hours of talk that you can have with your wife – now and after marriage. After these few hours have been clocked, the two of you will be left little to talk about. (At best she will talk and you will pretend to listen). You must, therefore, presume the hours of conversation after marriage reduced by the number of hours now clocked.
On the other hand, mere engagement does not make her “halal” for you, and, therefore, conversations might not be perfectly legal.
Can we use alcoholic perfumes and deodorants?
Not a Subscriber
I have been reading your Magazine since long time, but I have not subscribed as I have subscribed Islamic Voice and As Sunnah.
I remember reading one of your answers to a question about working in Banks which one of the brothers had asked and you had Mashallah answered very well. I was really impressed.
Could that be the reason you did not subscribe for YMD?
I have a question in my mind that I have brought from India (now I am in Dubai). We all know that the Sufis say that the Walis or the friends of Allah have unique Karaamaats. And they use them to solve people’s problems and hence people go to their Mazaars. But I have always thought only Prophets perform miracles, not any one else.
Please clarify since, whenever I tell my relatives or friends that one should not go to Dargahs, they say that it is allowed to go to such of them as have such powers.
Many top-order Sufis have clarified that the ability to perform a miracle, is no proof of the authenticity of a Sufi, far from the possibility of he being a Waliyy. There are ways by which a fictitious Sufi can perform amazing feats. In fact, even non-Muslims can. The true sign of a Sufi is that he confirms fully with the Sunnah of the Prophet. Whether he is also a Waliyy, is between him and his Lord. Men around him may never learn of his Wilaayah, and, if they learnt, are not going to benefit from it. They will benefit from following the Qur’an and Sunnah, and not by merely associating themselves with a Waliyy, all the more so when the authenticity is in doubt.
How dependent men are on Allah can be judged from a Qur’anic verse. The Prophet was told to announce (7: 188), “Say, `I have no power over any good or evil for myself, save for what Allah will. Had I knowledge of the Unseen, surely, I would have acquired much good (for myself) and no evil would have touched me. I am naught but a warner and a bearer of good news for a people who believe.
Now, we my ask ourselves: (1) if the Prophet had no power over good or evil for himself, then, how could he have had the power over good or evil in relation to men other than him? (ii) If he did not have the power of good or evil for anyone, then, how can his (mere) followers have such power? (iii) If the Prophet did not have the power for good and evil during his life, how could he have such power after he is dead? (iv) Finally, if he has no power for good or evil from his grave, how can any of his followers have the power for good or evil from their graves?
Now In Now Out
Sameena Tahsin Sayeed, via email
I am a regular subscriber of YMD and every one here is eager to get hold of its current copy. I would like to know your opinion about ‘Jamaatul Muslimeen’. Kindly reply at the earliest.
We truly have no knowledge of this Jamaa`ah in certain terms. It is in everyone’s knowledge that this is not an organized Jamaa`ah, with an Ameer, office-bearers, recognized workers and so on. They are a loose community within the community, with members freely floating from one group to another – now they are in, now they are out – and so on. Also, since they have not altogether broken away from the mainstream Muslims, and have not announced their doctrines through books stating their official position, nor do they have recognized spokesmen, their members cannot be identified, and doctrines cannot be declared as theirs.
We presume this is because the informed religious scholars do not look at them as a sect or school of thought, or followers of a describable ideology, and that, when told about their beliefs or activities, although disapproved of them and their beliefs and activities, but refuse to condemn them outright because they are not yet a separable unit. They too on their part perhaps realize that they do not have much ground to stand on, and that their stand could be a shaky position, and so prefer to take a low-key position, backing out when confronted by scholars, but the leaders preferring to retain influences among the masses, especially the religiously ignorant, or the non-Muslims, whom, instead of guiding, they prefer to profit from.
Outside of India too they are not recognized, and so are not visible in Arab countries, especially because most of their banner-bearers, closed-door preachers and propagandists, do not know Arabic language. One ramification of which is that they are not invited to international conferences, seminars and scholarly gatherings, something they miss, and long for a correction. Finally, they do not have a single scholarly publication to their credit anywhere in the world, which is matter of concern to them, and a means of their retention among the main stream of the Ummah.
A Marriage Problem
N. R., via email
I am a Hindu girl and am in love with a Muslim since 6 years. He loves me too. The problem is our marriage. He is already married which happened last year.
It is your assumption that he loves you. But our belief is, if he loved you, he would have remained faithful to you and would not have married. It is his carnal desire for you that you think is love.
His claim that he loves you is not trustworthy for another reason. When a Muslim, which he claims he is, loves someone, he does it in absolute sincerity. If he was sincere with you, he would have first converted you to Islam. How can he accept it, that if you were to die – which can happen any moment – you will be in Hellfire because of your disbelief in the Lord who created you and to whom you will return? Do you believe in Lord one God? Do you believe in the Messages that He has sent? If no, then the pleasures of this life are but of no consequence when compared with the torments of the Next. But if yes, then the pains of this life are not worth the bite of an insect when compared with the pleasures of the Next. Did he ever tell you this? Perhaps not. For, he knows that if you knew all this, your love could melt away in the heat of faith.
If your man has not impressed on you that without accepting one Lord, you are about to fall headlong into the Fire – which is a matter of greater concern to him than marriage – then, he loves you for physical, carnal reasons. He will abandon you if he finds such pleasures elsewhere, in someone else.
We had planned to marry after his first marriage. Now, the question is, how can the two of us get married? That is, legally how do we proceed?
Islamically, you have no legal grounds to marry him, although the law of the land allows for a second marriage. In Islam you are disallowed from marrying him for two reasons.
One, as a polytheist, you are forbidden to him; i.e., if he is a Muslim. If you converted for the sake of marriage, the marriage can be conducted, but it will remain illegal, and both of you will receive punishment from God for playing with His laws.
A second reason is moral. How can the Muslim community allow you to marry someone without the consent of your custodian, viz., your parents? Are the parents there to bring you in this world, clean your linen, bring you up, feed you and educate you, and then, as you grow into womanhood, their duty is over and you disappear down the lane with whomsoever you wish? Islamic morals do not accept this.
But of course, if you convert to Islam, the parents lose the custodianship, a function which is now performed by the State. But, if the State rejects your custodianship since it is only an Islamic State which accepts custodianship, then a nominee of the Muslim community of your area becomes your custodian. Now, the custodian is not a figurehead to sign off marriage deals. No. A custodian is responsible for your food, clothing, housing, education, medication and other necessary needs, until you find a Muslim husband who will (on grounds of marriage) take over your custodianship. If you cannot find a husband, then, he remains your custodian until your death. Such being his responsibilities, his permission will be necessary for you to get married to a Muslim.
These are theoretical statements. In practice, you should try to be as close to these rules as possible, to draw your Lord’s mercy who might yet guide to Islam.
Dr. Arshad Ahmed, via email
This has reference to a question by Md. Umer Sharieff, in the June 2005 issue of YMD, on the transplantation of transgenetic parts produced from pigs.
Scientifically, this shows how genetically close pigs are to humans. This is a step beyond the earlier scientific knowledge when the scientific community used rodents like mice and guinea pigs in pharmaceutical research due to their closeness to humans.
I will not be surprised, if further scientific research would lead to a conclusion that due to this genetic similarity, the eating of pig’s meat is harmful to human beings!
We are of the opinion that no such conclusions can be drawn or will be drawn from scientific inquiry. This is because humans have been eating pork for thousands of years and yet have been giving birth to healthy offspring generation after generation. Allah is kind even to those who defy His rules. He develops in their body immunity to diseases.
Genetically speaking, apes are closer to human beings than pigs. Over 97% of the genetic code seems to be shared. But there are tribes in Africa that hunt and devour apes, without such tribes blotted out of existence because of such habits.
It is easy to understand why the non-Muslim Scientific Community will never tell us why pork, for instance, should not be eaten. The strongest reason is defiance of Islam. Enough it is for the scientists to know that Islam bans it, to provoke them to a study which will prove, beyond any measure of doubt, that there is nothing wrong in consuming pork. If scientific studies are presented to them of certain diseases more common among pork-eaters (as, for example, Dr. Abdul Barr’s study shows), they will stick to their guns and point out – as a return shot – that certain diseases are more common in such and such populations, in such and such areas, and that they are more deadly for them than diseases supposedly caused by pork consumption.
Secondly, bacteria and viruses – that can have ill-effects – are carried by all animals. Pig is no exception. So, this is no scientific reason for banning its meat.
Thirdly, bacteria and viruses disintegrate when exposed to a temperature of say 70%. So, the scientific community will advise that you cook pork better, rather than avoid the delicacy.
Fourthly, pig-breeding business corporates will stop funding research centers in the West if they ever issued an opinion disfavoring pigs. Scientists know where their funds come from. We are sure our readers know well of the nexus between research centers and the interests of the business corporates, especially in the medical field.
In short, we will do well to stop waiting for the scientists to declare pork prohibited. Islamic prohibition is enough for us.
This would indeed be one more addition to the various scientific findings which corroborate the truths stated in the Holy Qur’an; scientific facts which the believers are so lucky to be aware of even before any one in this world discovers.
You are so right. With the mounting evidence, this is the time that our educated class renews its faith in Islam, turn to Allah in droves, and accept the guidance contained in the Revelations without giving a whit to what science and scientific research has to say about purely religious issues. If there is a command from Allah, the opinion of the scientists against it, should be shun by them as pork.
It is also time for Muslims to stop consulting science and scientists in religious matters. They should rebuild their faith based entirely on religious sources. They must also stop being tail-enders of a tribe – the scientists – which has brought so much suffering to humankind, firstly, leading them to atheism, and secondly, working without the noble objective of service to humans, first and last. They work, as we know, for the defense departments, first and foremost, developing lethal weapons. (Remember that the leading scientist of the time had recommended research, development and manufacture of atom bombs). Muslim scientists, on the other hand, should set up their own parameters of work and research, work in labs and fields twice as hard any scientist does, and develop a technology that will help people, especially the billions of poor, to allow them lead a more human life. It is scientists of this class and ethos whose efforts will be answered by Allah in the form of such discoveries and inventions as will benefit all, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, without the ill-effects that present-day science and technology carry, all but threatening to destroy life on earth.
Yes, we agree with you that the mounting evidence demands a new scientific/humane approach, and that the leads should be picked up by Muslim scientists. But we wonder whether they care to listen, and if they ever do, they have greater faith in Revelation, than in science.
The point I am trying to drive home is that one should be very guarded when young members of our community ask questions. Least of all dissuade them from the “spirit of scientific enquiry” which, in fact, is a subset of the broader Qur’anic advice to explore nature for the benefit of mankind.
We beg to disagree with you over the use of the words “spirit of scientific enquiry” in reference to discussions in YMD. The spirit of scientific enquiry is to be applied in labs and research centers. It has to become the way of life of the educated Muslims. It should be imbibed in the society in general, so that, the Muslims do not believe in magic, evil eye, saint-worship, customs, fetishes of all sorts, and, of course, not treat Western scientists as priests of a new religion. The entire life of the community should be developed in the light of science and scientific knowledge, free of all influences, guided by the Qur’an and Sunnah.
But since 200 years, way back when Western education was introduced into the Muslim world, the Muslims have been stubbornly refusing to apply themselves even to physical sciences in this spirit, far from to other areas of life and activity. In the Muslim world, the “spirit of scientific enquiry” is much talked about in full vigor during discussions, debates, table-talks and gossip; but not in practical affairs. Israel produces some ten times more research papers per annum than the entire Muslim world does. Loquacity will take the Muslims nowhere. If the Muslims were to be working in labs and research centers with half the seriousness that they display during discussions (of idle nature), they would be twice better off than they are now.
We suppose you have guessed what we are trying to say. With allusion to what you referred to, we did not see any scientific spirit but, instead, sensed lack of confidence, inferiority complex, and dependence on Western scientists to nod their sanction even in matters pertaining to faith.
In my opinion, cloning research has tremendous potential, e.g. “embryo cloning”, if successful, can mass produce high breed cattle and other animals useful to mankind.
We are not so hopeful. This is because science does not work in isolation. Human co-operation is essential. If humans wish to make highly destructive bombs, they find various human institutions, groups, and the state, highly co-operative during research, investment, manufacture and production. But, when there is a project that assures development of the poor, who constitute majority of those that you refer to as “mankind”, then suddenly enthusiasm disappears. Tens of thousands of research papers are produced in the West annually. They are stacked in the libraries – unused, to the lament of some scientists. Each of those papers solves a particular problem. But they will lie there until the end of the world. The West will push through only that research and development which will help maintain its economic hold on the rest of the world. Human development does not depend so much on material production and scientific discoveries and applications, as it depends on ideas and ideologies that rule over human mind. Do we not observe how poverty is creeping back in Western nations since past few decades? Do we not see how benefits are being constantly withdrawn from the poor sections of their own peoples? What can science and technology do about it? What have they been able to do anything about it? What is the basis, where is the data, where is the analysis, that demonstrates that more discoveries will benefit the great majority of people, and not merely a few, which has been the state so far?
I recall the attitude of some of our mullahs of yesteryears when sound amplification devices were newly invented. Older Muslims in their 70’s and 80’s will vouch, many imams of mosques during those days would refuse the use of public address system for Azan on the ground that the sound emanating from the loudspeakers is that of Shaitan! Thus, it is only a matter time before lawfulness or otherwise of things become evident including that of subject of present discussion viz. transplanting of parts cloned from pigs.
You could not have cited a better example of how members of the Muslim community educated on modern lines – heavily influenced by the Western propaganda machinery – failed to profit from the scientific spirit that it had refused to inherit from its own scientists of the past, although it was quite visibly present in the religious leaders of the present. Instead of treating the issue scientifically (if they knew what it was), listing down the points made by both the parties, considering all aspects with complete objectivity, and then arriving at a balanced opinion, they merely dismissed opinions of the Muslim Imams and scholars as those of “mere mullahs” without any regard for true scientific spirit.
In the case of your citation, an enigma faced this class, the class of people educated on modern lines, but they were blind to the enigma: Imams were being given a gadget. It is the Imam’s voice that was to spread around. More people would hear him than before. With the adhan said on the instrument, more people might show up for Prayers, to stand behind him. But the Imam to benefit most was himself opposed to it! Surely, he must have had good reasons, if they wished to know, if they had the right parameters for judgment. Whatever else the Imam was, he was not a self-centered, egoistic person. How different from those, who, in the name of progress, allow filming, especially when they learn that their own film will be made and distributed around! Surely, the refusal of the Imams deserved a closer scrutiny. A scientific inquiry was the need of the moment.
As for the Imam’s objections, and those of scholars, the question would have been: what is the advantage in the microphone? The quick answer would have been: so that everybody can hear the recitation. “But,” the scholars would have asked, “Has the Shair`ah declared the hearing of the recitation behind an Imam obligatory? If not, then, why the insistence?”
The answer that could have followed is: “Hearing the voice helps in concentration.” But the scholars could only smile in response. For, it is a matter of commonsense that if there is lack of concentration then, the lowness or loudness of the sound is inconsequential. Do we not see a worried man totally unaware of the conversation around him. Concentration is the other name of “heart’s presence.” Today, under the blare of the microphone, there are less number of people concentrating in Prayers than there ever were before. In fact, today an Imam turns and asks, “I believe I did three raka`ah instead of four.” But, to his dismay he discovers that there is not one in the congregation who is 100% sure whether he did three or four. Further, the scholars would have known that the “non-concentrators” were only increasing the “hujjah” against themselves: if they did not concentrate despite the hearing aid, the sin would be greater.
Another point that the mullahs had before them was a Qur’anic ayah (7: 205): “And mention your Lord within yourself in humility and awe, without saying the word aloud.” Yet another ayah they had to confront with was (17: 110): “And, be not loud in your supplication, nor do it in low tones; but rather, seek a way in between.” They wondered whether they would be violating these Qur’anic injunctions.
Nor were the scholars saying that it was the voice of Shaytan in the microphone. What they meant, and they were so right, that the voice coming from the microphone was not the voice of the Qur’an reciter. His natural voice underwent transformation. Should such transformation be allowed? Does it sound like mimicry? Should we allow Allah’s words to be so treated? A human speech if broadcast on the microphone is one thing. But should Allah’s own Speech be treated in the like manner? The effects that a voice thus produced could be entirely artificial. Should this artificiality be allowed to prevail? In short, the mullahs had Allah in their mind, while those opposed to them had a toy in their hand. The two belonged to two different worlds. Little wonder they did not – and do not – understand each other’s language.
Interestingly, today, in some parts of the Muslim world, those who insisted on the introduction of the microphone system in mosques yesterday, despite the resistance of the Imams at that time, now demand, in posh areas of their residence, that the mikes be switched off because, as they say, the noise disturbs their early morning sleep!
Further, keep in view the important fact that Islam is a simple, natural religion which does not require any outside help for its improvement. Why add this paraphernalia then?
Again, the voice enhancing equipment require funds. Given such funds, does the woman who sleeps on the doorsteps of the mosque deserve the funds more or the added luxury? Let us assume the Prophet was here now, where would he have spent this money?
“Look at it this way,” the scholars would have asked, “have there been situations among earlier generations when the congregation did not hear the Imam?” The answer is, yes, that happened several times during the time of the Prophet himself. On the occasion of the Tabuk expedition he had around 20,000 men behind him for a whole month, offering Prayers five times a day. Did they all hear the Prophet’s voice? Did those who could not hear him complain to him of lack of concentration? There were a 100,000 people in `Arafat. Did they all hear the Prophet’s recitation in Prayers? They did not. So, what’s the problem with these modern jihadis in favor of an electronic equipment? Is there an internal, personal, spiritual problem that these modernists suffer? If yes, can gadgets solve these problems? Can electronic equipment infuse soul into a spiritually dead people?
Everyone knew the answers, except those who thought that scientific equipments were there to improve man’s condition on earth, and, therefore, wherever introduced, life would be better. But, in truth, those who stood for Western causes did not even know how to make correct sentences. The mullahs were saying, “scientific equipments are not there to ‘improve’ man’s condition on earth,” but rather, “scientific equipments are there to ‘change’ man’s condition on earth,” – whether such change will be towards the better or worse only the future could say.
Making such accurate statements as above, was the proof of a scientific spirit that we have been discussing and which was there among the mullahs who opposed the introduction of microphones in mosques, while, the same scientific spirit was lacking in those who were incapable of cool ratiocination, then, and now, both among the educated, as well as the uneducated.
Indeed, we need, at our own, as well as at your level, to work for the revival of this spirit, not as it comes from the West, but as it comes from the Fuqaha’ and Muhaddithun who laid those principles of Fiqh and Hadith, which are more scientific than the scientists can imagine.
For the present, the least we can do now is to think positively and refrain from calling “scientific research” as propaganda.
That propaganda goes hand in hand with scientific research, findings and discoveries, is a well known piece of fact. To give a quick example, since fifty years we have been hearing that medical research is finally close to finding cure for every disease suffered by man. Soon, the world will be free of the diseased. Today the situation is hardly any different from what it was then. If it is better in certain fields, (such as surgery), it is worse in certain others. Overall, more people are visiting hospitals now than few years ago. We are witnessing the culling of millions of chicken ruining businesses of countless people over several continents. Could science cure the disease – there among the chicken, in one form or the other, since decades – and save the chicken?
But if the sick return disappointed from clinics, and visit one doctor after another, it is because they fail to differentiate between scientific research and propaganda promising the skies if the research succeeds. We at YMD have been at pains to point this difference and portray for our readers a picture of the world that is closer to reality.
A careful study of every scientific discovery that claims to better the life of humans, leads to debatable conclusions. Scientific progress is there, and will continue – purely in the technical terms. But the propaganda of human progress that accompanies it is denied the success rates predicted.
Adherence to undefendable position is not the specialty of the religious class as propaganda will have us believe. It is not uncommon in the scientific world, among the scientists, and their followers. We caution readers of YMD: We as Muslims should not fall victim to passions of any sort. We should have the emotional balance, and scientific attitude to carefully weigh facts, from every aspect: material, physical, social, economic, moral and spiritual, and arrive at unbiased conclusions. We should refuse to accept ready-to-made conclusions.
To illustrate with a simple example, those who fancifully believe in material progress through science and technology, propagate the message that if material production could be doubled from what it is now, humans will be a happier lot. But this is absurd. Leave alone the social, moral and spiritual implications, can the statement be proven true in economic or physical terms? Definitely not. To begin with, to double up productions will require doubled human efforts. How can anyone claim that people will be happier if they doubled up their efforts? How can anyone believe that working twice as hard, or as long, will make people happier? But rather, the statement should be to the effect that the next generation of humanity can possibly be happier if the present generation (that is, our own) can double up its efforts and the next generation somehow control its hyper-tension. A revised statement about the relationship between happiness and material progress might be – and note the words “might be” because there are other considerations – closer to the truth. But, will the propaganda machineries accept this modification?
Much of the promised human progress with the progress of science and technology is definitely mere propaganda. A believer will not be strung from the same hole twice.
Past and Present
Sesoo Ansoo, via email
I am regular reader of your great magazine since 6 years. I have got a question kindly answer and guide me in the Islamic light. I am an engineer and engaged to someone. She is pretty religious. But recently I have heard that this religiousness is recent. Formerly she was not so religious and used to visit cyber-cafes, and was formerly friendly with non-Muslim boys. What do you think I should do?
You should check on her present and not investigate the past.
A Matter of Ennui
I am writing to you about a particular observation that I have made regarding myself in the last couple of years. I have observed that whenever I observe Salah with congregation regularly I am content with myself. However, if I start to miss on prayers I become irritable, tense and depressed.
The problem is that I don’t know what stops me from offering the prayers and fall into the depression trap. Please suggest ways to overcome this.
Khalid Khan, via email
If you drop out from Prayers, say for a few days or weeks at stretch, then, it is obvious that you have not fully surrendered yourself to Allah’s will. You need to remind yourself often that you have no will of your own and that you have to attend Prayers, whether you like it or not, whether it brings immediate advantages or not. You do it simply because so you have been commanded.
We are not denying that there are moments when a man (or woman) suffers such ennui, such insufferableness against the routine, and boredom in the face of the repertoire of the uninspiring monotony that he (or she) just does not care for the consequence. In fact, he (or she) draws some pleasure in defying the Authority during such moments. This happens, periodically, especially to the young. (Older ones are more realistic towards the hard facts of life). But this does not happen to those who are strongly committed to Islam. At worst, they undergo a cooling phase. But to give up altogether is out of the question.
In short, you need to commit yourself more firmly. Regular reading of the books of “Fazaa’il” (a few minutes everyday), could help combat such moods.
Promises not Kept
I would like to ask regarding false promises. Nowadays we see people making false promising in the Name of Allah. What is the expiation for breaking a promise?
Ahmed Hussain, via email
Making false promises is a sign of disbelief. An ayah says: “And keep your promises.” Another says, “Allah’s curse is upon the liars.” Now since habitually making false promises involves lying, and liars have been cursed by Allah, making false promises on a regular basis can be a sign of kufr.
There is no expiation for breaking promises. One must sincerely repent. For instance, if someone promises to meet another at an appointed place, but does not show up, although he could if he had willed, then he has lied and must seek Allah’s forgiveness and the man’s forgiveness. There is no expiation, unless voluntarily offered.
But if they are of the nature of “oaths,” (“aymaan” – sing. “yameen”) then expiation is possible. The difference between an “oath” (yameen) and false promise is that, an oath is a promise made to oneself in Allah’s name, such as, to say, “I swear by Allah that if my wife disobeys me, I will divorce her.” One might break this oath, not divorce the wife if she disobeys, but offer expiation. On the other hand, if he promises that he will fast so many number of days if, e.g., his father is cured of a sickness, then, this is a “vow” or “nadhr” and he should fast so many number of days. There is no expiation for not fasting.
In contrast, “a false promise” is “qawluz zoor.” It is an unforgivable crime. If a Muslim makes a promise to someone, of whatever nature, then, either he should keep it, or seek to annul the promise with whom he made it. For example, if he promises that he will give a certain amount, if another did such and such a work for him, then he should pay him that amount as soon as the work is done. If he cannot, for any reason, he should seek extension of time from the other, or forgiveness altogether. If the other forgives, he stands absolved. If not, he must work, borrow or sell his goods or property to pay up the promised sum.
But, he cannot offer expiation and tell the man to forget all about it. This is because the rights of man cannot be waved away by way of repentances. It is Allah’s rights that demand repentance, expiation etc. But the rights of fellow beings have to be either returned to them, or their forgiveness sought.
Is there any evidence from which we can determine that going to dargah is a bid`ah?
Zakir Arfaaz, via email
There is no evidence at all in the texts to support that visiting dargahs is a bid`ah. On the contrary, the Prophet has allowed Muslims to visit graveyards in order to soften the heart, remember death and prepare for it. This applies to the tombs also. What a visitor should do there is what he will do at the graveyard. He should say the supplication, remind himself that he is close to joining him in the Barzakh, and then supplicate to Allah, (without raising the hands) for the man buried in the grave or tomb, for the forgiveness of his sins.
However, while visiting a Dargah, if he observes some people seeking the help of the man in the grave, or, going round it, or kissing it, or laying a shroud on it, or flowers, or placing money on it, then, in all such cases he must prevent them from those acts. So also, if he finds Muslim women there, admonish them that the Prophet has forbidden that they visit graves. If he finds non-Muslims there, performing the kind of acts enumerated above, or, standing there with folded hands, as if before a deity, advice them that God is One, and He does not approve of devotion to other than Him. They should rather seek His help than the powerless man in the grave.
Further, the visitor should meet with the “Mujaawar” and advice him that his earnings out of the “house-keeping” of the tomb are not lawful, that Allah’s land is vast, and that if he sought his provision from Allah, and did the necessary work, he will find Allah All-generous towards him.
If someone visits a tomb, seeking Allah’s mercy for the forgiveness of the dead man, but did nothing of the sort we have stated above, then, he might be sinning by the very visit. He should better stay away.
I am a 21 yr old student. At one point talking to my principle to whom I had been taken for disciplinary action, and who threatened me that he would debar me, I pleaded that he was like God unto me who could ruin my life and so, should show mercy. When I stepped outside I started seeking Allah’s forgiveness. How should I repent now?
Yahya Ali, via email
On the surface of it, since you have sought forgiveness from Allah, it sounds like you regard Him as your true Lord. But, sometimes what comes out in moments of crisis, when one’s mind loses self-control, reflects the truth residing in the heart. When the mind loses self-control, it fails to plan out lies, false statements, concealments, hypocrisy, etc. The truth comes out in such moments. Therefore, we cannot be sure about what really resides in your heart: faith in Allah, or faith in powers other than Him. Only you can judge.
But it is important that you establish it, to be sure whether you are a Muslim or not. Put yourselves under close observation, on other emergency occasions to discover what resides in the heart.
As for repentance, its acceptance will depend on the faith in the heart. You should, in any case, resort to some sort of expiation. Perhaps this will reconfirm your faith.