Letters to the Editor
Mohammed Abdul Rahman, Hyderabad, via email
I would like to know that whether investing money in mutual funds for a period of 3 years is haraam or halal. If yes which type of mutual funds can we invest in either equity or tax saving.
Your question pre-supposes our knowledge of all kinds of mutual funds and other investment schemes, while, we, on the other hand, are quite ignorant of the rules and regulations that govern these variety of schemes. To get our opinion, you will have to send us complete details of the investment schemes, not as you understand them, but as they (the companies) present them, not in your words, but in their own words; i.e., printed details concerning the rules that govern the investment scheme of reference.
In sum we might warn you that, firstly, most schemes are carefully worked out, taking into consideration the present-day factors, with the view to draw out money from those who have. It is not creation of profits which is the primary reason for investment schemes to emerge; but the presence of capital in the hands of a section of the people. To draw that surplus money out and invest it, is the primary reason for so many investment schemes to flourish in our times.
Consequently, success in drawing the surplus money out being the main point, all other economic elements and factors receive second preference in thought. Therefore, no matter how honest the investment schemes, one can never trust them for profits. Profits were never the first concern from the beginning. It is another thing that many of the schemes are just so much bogus with deceitful minds behind them, out to hoodwink the investors. But we are not speaking of them. We are speaking of those operated by honest men.
Secondly, the economy today is overloaded with surplus money. There is more money in the market than there is manpower, tools of production, raw material, and the need for the goods. But since money alone cannot produce profits, many investment ventures collapse because of the market forces mentioned. Therefore, extreme prudence is required in handling one’s surplus money today.
One more question: is it lawful to invest money in money-back policy where company offers to pay back up to 4 times the sum assured as in Standard Chartered Life Insurance Scheme.
Promise is one thing, rules are another. If the company promises a certain amount, in good hope, then it is lawful. But if the company gives it in writing that it offers you four times the return, after a certain period of time, which you will get, and which you can claim in the courts, regardless of whether the company earned profits or losses, then, this is pure ribaa’ and unlawful in Islam.
G. Nikhat, via email
I have a few doubts which have to be cleared:
What are the rights of a wife on her husband’s income?
A wife has no rights whatsoever upon the income of her husband. What he earns, he spends as he likes. In Islam, the doors to financial abuses of a wife are brilliantly closed by declaring her rights independent of her husband’s earnings. That is, it does not matter what a husband earns. His financial duties towards his wife remain unaffected.
To explain, Islam defines the rights of a wife, without binding them to the earnings or financial strength of the husband. She is to be maintained by her husband. Maintenance includes food, separate housing, clothing, medical expenses, and some recreation. A husband is bound to provide these things to her wife. The question is, by what standards? The answer is, by the standards she was used to when she lived with her parents or custodians, before marriage. That is, if she was used to high-quality life, then the husband is bound to provide her with a high-quality life. If, for example, she was used to a maid, then the husband is obliged to provide her with a maid. To go to the other extreme, if she led a poor-quality life with her parents, then he might provide her the same quality life after marriage (if he so wills). In all circumstances, the husband’s earnings do not count.
To clarify further, a husband’s earning might be low. But, he cannot provide poor quality maintenance to his wife on grounds that he cannot afford her pre-marriage standards. If his income is not enough, he might find ways to augment his income rather than penalizing his wife. He might, for example, take up a second job in free time. He could, if that does not work, sell off some or all of his property, or, as last resort, borrow to meet with the legitimate costs of maintenance.
Obviously, this does not mean that there can be no compromise between husband and wife. There can be. But, the final say will be that of the wife. E.g., if she agrees to lead a poverty-stricken life, well and good. But if she does not, then the husband is bound to meet with her demands.
On the other hand, a wife has no rights upon her husband’s earnings. If she is provided with what she was used to before marriage, then, she cannot lay claims on the husband’s millions, if he has them. The husband might himself wear, to take an example, very rich clothes. But, if the wife is not provided with matching quality clothes, yet has been provided with the kind and quality of clothes her custodians gave her before marriage, then she cannot complain.
Obviously, it does not mean there can be no compromise between a husband and wife. There can always be. A husband may provide her a quality of life much higher than she was used to before marriage; but he cannot be forced to do it.
The golden rule for all circumstances, and for all people, whether husband and wife, employer and employee, buyer and seller, is laid down beautifully in the Qur’an, in a remarkable simple, compact, sentence: “Do not forget to be generous with each other.”
Is it necessary to look after the husband’s brothers when they have the family of their own to look after?
If you mean household services demanded of a woman in the house of her in-laws living as a joint family, then the answer is that by law a Muslim woman is not required to serve any of the family members of her husband, that is, the family of the in-laws, including the in-laws themselves. (The term “father-in-law” [which makes its own demands on daughters in law in Indian context] does not exist in the Islamic terminology).
This practice has come in Indian Muslim society from other cultures where a single woman, if she is the eldest daughter-in-law of the house, serves 20 members of a joint family, cooking for them, serving them food, cleaning the plates and utensils, sweeping the house, washing their linen, and feeding the cattle: rising first before dawn, and putting off the last lamp after midnight. This has been the culture among millions of people since thousands of years, and still persists around. But Islam did away with it, and with every abuse of the Arab and non-Arab world, in one grand sweep, placing women right at the center of attention, love and veneration. But the influence of other cultures persists, and is so strong that even the Muslim religious class is influenced by it.
In Islam, a woman is a queen from birth to death, therefore, strange though it might sound, she is not required to serve anyone in her entire life, except under very special circumstances. For example, if her parents are too old to serve themselves, and they have none else to serve, neither their sons, nor their brothers (her uncles), nor have they the means to hire servants, then only it is that a daughter will be required to serve them both, otherwise, she is not duty bound to serve her parents, if she does not live with them.
And what right do the parents have on their son’s income when he is married with children?
The parents have great rights upon their son. The mother commands Paradise or Hell for her son. The father comes next. The income of a son is the right of a father, if he himself has no income; meaning, he may pull out the purse of his son and spend off as much as his needs require, without any law to prevent him, without earning a sin. This however, applies to the father’s basic needs. But, if his basic needs: food, clothing, housing, transport, health, etc. are met, then he has no legal right over the wealth of his sons. For example, a son might have his own house; his father has his own separate living quarter, provided by him or obtained by his own means, the father then has no right to move into the son’s house, nor to claim a part of it.
On the other hand, a son has a house, his or rented, but the father has no living quarters because he cannot afford one, nor his son can afford it for him, then, the son’s house is the father’s house. He must be provided space therein. Similarly, a man’s vehicle is the vehicle of the father, if the father cannot afford his own vehicle and needs it badly.
A mother of course, enjoys greater rights than a father.
Is it necessary to fulfill all the desires of the parents even if they are wrong?
No, it is not necessary to fulfill all the desires of the parents by their children, even if such desires are legal and legitimate, not to speak of illegitimate desires or fancies. However, the denial should not be open and coarse, but subtle, avoiding hurt.
The parents have their material rights: the right to a mediocre kind of living standards provided by their children, if they cannot afford it because of their old age. A son is required to provide them, even if he has to go hungry. That is, if one of the two has to go hungry, then the son might go hungry but provide his parents. The other right is moral. It consists in never mistreating the parents, no matter what they say to him or do, to the extent of not even saying an “oof” to them.
Thus, in matters of rights of parents, differentiation should be made between basic needs and desires. One is their right, the other is not.
That said, the son-parent relationship is pretty complicated. A son is literary part of his parents: his flesh is their flesh, their blood is his blood. His pain is their pain, his pleasure is their pleasure. So, if a son has a vehicle, which the father picks up at will and drives about, then the son cannot complain. It is he who is driving when the father is driving. It is only when a father is un-Islamic, oppressive, Islamically uneducated, irrational, and morally not up to the mark, then it is that he starts losing his material rights on the son: but never the basic rights of a mediocre living at his son’s cost, if he cannot afford it himself. So also, he does not lose his moral rights at any time, which demand that he not hear an “oof” from his son.
Thus, to determine what a father should get beyond the minimum declared obligatory by the Shari`ah, will require good amount of thinking with all facts in mind. In the end, to give is better than to deny, and for the father, to refuse rather demand.
Is it wrong to save some of my husband’s earnings for future use, say for my children’s education etc.?
The children are yours and your husband’s. But their maintenance is his responsibility, and not yours. Your responsibility is to raise them up as good Muslims. So, it is the husband’s responsibility to save for the future of the children as well as for his own old age. The Qur’an and Sunnah are both in favor of saving.
However, if the husband is an ignorant type, who does not know the art of organizing and leading a successful life, then, you might first draw his attention to this need, but, unable to make him understand, might resort to saving from his income without his knowledge.
Does Islam allow taking loan and paying back with interest? I heard that floating interest is allowed in Islam. How far is this correct?
There is no room for any kind of interest in Islam.
Ajaz Pasha Akbar, via email
Did a woman ever lead prayers during the Prophet’s time? If yes, under what circumstances and why it was stopped later?
It was never introduced to be withdrawn. That is, women leading in Prayers was not a practice introduced by the Prophet, but, as the impression goes, withdrawn by the Mawlawis. It was never introduced in the first place.
The Prophet had merely allowed a woman, of somewhat strange circumstances, to lead in Prayers in her quarters. Thereafter, for the rest of his 8 years of life, the permission was neither requested by any, nor granted to any. The Ummah recognized the special nature of the case, and quickly forgot about it.
Please see this month’s editorial for further clarification.
Can we turn back a fold or two of the pants, so that it gets above the ankles, during the prayers?
If the trouser is down the ankle, and not out of pride, then we do not see a religious reason for turning the ends upwards. There is a trustworthy report that says that Allah does not look at one who lets down his lower garment below his ankle. But another explains it as “when done with pride.”
I heard that it goes against the hadith which says not to wear turned-out trousers, but does not prohibit turned-in trousers.
We do not know of any hadith which prohibits turning out, nor any which distinguishes between turned out and turned in trousers.
In all such cases, it helps to ask the narrator to quote the authority and give the references. With this put into practice, many reports will die out where they start.
Md. Salauddin, via email
Please give me detailed information on sex in Islam
I want to know the following: xxx
I do not wish to get misinformated by various websites.
So please give me a detailed info on sex in Islam
The kind of frank questions that you have written are not such that can be printed, nor can we answer them in a manner that does not provoke minor boys and girls. Even elders might protest at the obscenity no matter however mildly we put them. Perhaps websites are the best place to get answers to such questions.
In sum, we might state that the answers to the several questions you have raised are in the positive; that is, “yes you can do,” or “yes, you are allowed.” But each is conditional, and, therefore, details might be sought from a mufti in person.
In a local mosque in Abu Dhabi I observed that the first Azaan for Friday prayers was given out by playing out a pre recorded call on a tape recorder. I asked some people and they said it is a common thing in a good number of mosques. Please comment.
Khalid Hameed Khan, via email
It is surprising that this method of making the call has come back. It was introduced in many Middle-eastern countries a few decades ago. It remained in practice for some time after which it was withdrawn from many mosques upon the advice of scholars.
In Saudi Arabia taped method was never introduced. In fact, even now some Saudi scholars do not believe that microphones sould be used for saying the call. This adds artificiality to what should be done in a simple and natural manner.
In our times there is no shortage of manpower. Therefore, to use machines instead of humans, for cost-saving purposes, seems to be quite out of order, and out of tune with natural practices of Islam.
The ruling as pronounced by the Higher Committee of scholars in Saudi Arabia declares that it is not allowable to say the Adhaan by means of a pre-recorded video tape; but rather, the Caller should himself make the Adhaan, in person, for every new Prayer (Fatawaa: V.8, p.39).
Another Fatwa issued by Egypt’s famous Al-Azhar University says that it is not enough that the Adhaan be pronounced through a pre-recorded tape, or aired by other means. They say that, “according to Abu Haneefah and Shafe`i Adhaan is confirmed Sunnah. While, on the other hand, according to the scholars of Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal and Malik, it is fard kifaayah.”
A hadith in Muslim and other collection says that the “Prayer-callers will have the longest of necks on the day of Judgment.” By which, the apparent meaning is that Adhaan-callers will appear taller than others on that Day. However, some scholars have explained that the allusion is to being non-thirsty on that fateful Day.
Imam Tahaawi wrote that the Mu’adhdhinun will have long necks, to appear higher than others because they raised high their voices in Adhaan following Allah’s words in the Qur’an, “Who can be better in word than he who invited to Allah?”
Another hadith well quoted in several works including Bukhari reports the Prophet as having said, “When you make the Call, then, raise your voice, for no one hears the Call to the extent of the voice, whether it be a human, a Jinn, or anything else, but will bear witness for the Caller.” (That is, bear witness to the faith of the Caller and to the fact that they heard Allah’s Name raised by him).
A third hadith on the topic says that the Caller is forgiven to the extent his voice reaches, and every listener whether wet or dry will bear witness (Musannaf of `Abd al-Razzaq).
A fourth hadith has the Prophet saying, “Three (types of people) will be on mounts of perfume on the Day of Judgment: a man who called for five-daily Prayers of the night and the day – seeking nothing but Allah’s good pleasure, a man who learnt the Qur’an and then became the Prayer-leader of a people who were pleased with him, and, a slave who was kept too busy in works to be able to be following Allah’s good pleasures alone.”
Abu Bakr (ra) is reported to have said that “Adhaan is one of the signs of one’s faith” (Musannaf of `Abd al-Razzaq).
Imam Sufyan Thawri said, “I have heard being said that those of the heaven hear nothing from the people of the earth, except Adhaan.”
None the less, it might be noted, as scholars have said, that the above apply to those who do it with good intentions. A report says that someone told Ibn `Umar, “I love you for the sake of Allah.” Ibn `Umar replied, “But I do not love you for the sake of Allah because of the wages you take for saying the Adhaan.”
We might note that wages for Adhaan were introduced by `Uthman (ra). The above incident of Ibn `Umar clearly implies that those who are prevented from doing anything else because of their duties of Adhaan, must make sincere intentions to earn the reward, yet be always on the look out for other means of sustenance, so as to depend on their own earning, and continue saying the Adhaan at no cost to the people. But he who fails to find other means, because his duty of Adhaan do not allow him any other means of earning, will earn the rewards of the Hereafter, if he happens to be true in his intention.
The rewards of the Hereafter are not such as which could be obtained by shouting out few words. Imam Tahawai the Hanafiyy has a very nice passage on this issue, explaining why: to say the Adhaan is preferable to leading in Prayers (Imaamah), and why the Callers have been promised such rewards while the Imams have only received warnings in the Hadith literature.
To deprive the individual Muslims of benefits of the Hereafter, is not a crime of minor nature. Muslims should send delegates to authorities to stop this violation and leave the Adhaan to anyone who would like to do it, or to anyone who will enter into the mosque first. To ignore the Fatawaa of the `Ulamaa is to ignore Islam and become a party to Satan. A hadith says that this Ummah will split into more than seventy sects of which “the worst will be a people who will use analogy (Qiyas) based on their personal opinion to declare the unlawful, lawful and the lawful unlawful.” Today, individuals and groups can be seen as ignoring the rulings of the scholars and following their own carnal desires. They qualify as the worst of those cited in the hadith.
I am from Bihar I have a query: In my village a person aged 56 pronounced one talaq to his wife six months ago, but very soon retracted. However, after six months his brother did some back-biting about his wife and, as a result on the phone itself he pronounced another talaq. Now his wife has gone to her parents’ home while the children of the divorced lady insist her to come back. Her husband also promises not to commit same mistake in future. So in this situation what can be done?
Faiz L. M., Bihar
Divorce is a heinous social crime. Families can be severely damaged due to divorce. Lives are lost, and children never recover from the shock. Yet, there are situations where there is no recourse for the pair but separation. A few such cases happened during the time of the Prophet himself. But that was the culture of a rational people. A divorced woman carried no stigma then, and had plenty of chances of getting married after separation. Second and third marriages being common, there was no need for women to remain single life-long after a divorce, as it happens now in the east and the west. Therefore, even those few cases that occurred during the Prophet’s time, did no harm to individuals and the society. But today’s Muslim society is a mixture of rights and wrongs, a hodge-podge of several cultures, and influenced heavily by un-Islamic elements, and, therefore, even a ripple of wrong, reflects on a large number of people.
In view of above, in our times when a divorce is pronounced, the parties affected should immediately contact a proper Mufti (recognized by the Imaarat-e-Shara`iyyah) to determine whether divorce took place at all. In this particular case, this may be attempted even now. The second talaq carries some ambiguity and, therefore, an inquiry will reveal details to determine its validity.
Nevertheless, even if it is proved that the two talaq(s) were valid, the pair can still unite through a fresh marriage, fresh mahr, and fresh witnesses. It is the third talaq which is irrevocable and separates the two for ever unless she marries another person, unconditionally, and then the new husband divorces her by his free will. In that event, the two can re-marry, with, once again, three divorces at their disposal.
I would like to know what Islam says about … bation. I have heard that it is a common practice. But I also read that Islam forbids it. Please give a conclusive answer as I think most youth think that there’s nothing wrong in it.
Anonymous, via email
It is commonly known that a hadith of the Prophet (saws) disapproves of the act. Another refers to its sister coitus interruptus (`azl) as a “disguised burying-alive of the infant.” However, the Prophet did not declare the practice (of `azl) as illegal. He merely disapproved of it, without going to the extent of declaring it unlawful. Thus, it has fallen in the range of those things whose status is unclear, as against the “clearly lawful” and “clearly unlawful.” And, Prophetic statements direct us to avoid what falls in the grey area.
At all events, the ruling of `azl influences the ruling concerning ..bation. Some scholars disapproved of it and considered it a sinful act. But others have maintained that if a person is strongly fearful of falling into the sin of fornication, he may resort to it as an alternative escape.
The physical and psychological harm that the practice can cause is another area of varying opinions. The ill effects are hard to determine. But the very reason that people feel uncomfortable about it, should say something about the possibility of ill-effects.
The problem you have stated is, the problem of a large number of Muslim youths – universally. They ruin their lives by opting for the non-Islamic rather than Islamic way of life. Yes, we use the word ruin because, with reference to the subject at hand, Allah bestowed an extreme form of pleasure, which equals no other physical and mental pleasure, to every male and female, at no cost. But, in our times a large number of the youth are told that denying it to themselves is a virtue which pays in terms of cash earned later. The option they are given is to either commit fornication, which is made easy, or adopt the “do it yourself” practice. On the third front, nature is so forceful that to keep suffering – out and out – stands no chance. Therefore, a Muslim youth is left with one of the two options alone. This explains the prevalence of the practice at the universal level.
We believe the youth – male and female – must act boldly and break away from the norms set up by today’s society. They must work against late-marriage practices, pressurize their parents to support them, until they can earn on their own. After all, until a son or daughter finishes his or her studies, finds a job, and becomes self-supportive, the parents have to support him or her. So, why not each set of parents allow their son or daughter to get married, and each parent supports his part: son or daughter. In simpler words, the young man’s parents may keep supporting their son while the young woman’s parents keep supporting their daughter, after marriage, as they used to before marriage, until the two are able to lead their independent lives.
To get married costs nothing, and to live a married life costs nothing either, so long as children do not appear. The decision about children of the newly-wed should be left to the two parents: either one of them sponsors a child, or both sponsor the costs, or both refuse to sponsor. If both refuse, and the newly-wed also cannot sponsor a child, then, let them go without one until they find the means.
In this manner, life will be happier, minds more concentrated towards set goals, psychic pressures lesser, and, as a result, the willingness to obey Allah and His Messenger in other fields of life, and devotion to Him in greater earnestness, would be stronger.
The general argument that the society does not accept such a solution, does not exonerate the individual. No individual need follow the corrupt ways of the society he lives in. He can do things his own way and seek solutions to his problems by his own ingenious and revolutionary means rather than follow the unmindful flock.
An individual, therefore, instead of being in despair, has to try and convince his parents about the scheme laid out above. In the beginning it might sound unorthodox to the parents. Many of them want to have their own pleasure of marrying off their children in a grand style, making a big show of it, (and running into debts), even if it is at the cost of their children’s suffering. But they will not agree to the alternative suggested herewith. It is nothing but selfishness on their part. They wish to obtain their happiness at the cost of the happiness of their children. But, obviously, we do not have selfish parents in mind when we make this suggestion. We have true Muslim parents in mind. Indeed, the suggestion might prove to be a test for them.
If the above suggestion fails, then, let a young man speak to his parents in clear business terms. Ask them to loan out some money so that he can get married and support his wife until he is able to earn and pay them back.
To conclude, these are practical solutions to the problem of ..bation. It is wrong for the youth to imagine that life offers problems, without Islam offering solutions.
Today love has been degraded due to western influence. People seem not to know the difference between love and lust. Is Islam against pure love between a male and a female who are unmarried? Did not prophet Muhammad started loving his first wife Khadija before marriage, for he was in contact with her and then she purposed to marry him?
Mohammad Khalique, via email
The citation of the Prophet’s marriage as a case of falling in love before marriage is extraordinarily bizarre; but perhaps this is because you are not familiar with his life, character and early history.
The Prophet lived a blameless life, even the while he was not a Prophet. Nothing untoward was noted of him during his childhood, youth or middle-age when he received the commission. He was a trader before he became a Prophet, carrying good of other merchant to various markets, selling, and sharing in profits. Khadijah was one of those whose goods he handled. She had proposed that he take her goods, on conditions better than what others could offer him, and, in addition, sent across a slave Maysarah to accompany him in his journey to Syria.
But he seemed to have remained strictly on business terms with her. It is not clear whether he reported to her in person after his return. Perhaps Maysarah presented the details of transactions and handed over the profits. It is he who spoke highly of him leading Khadijah to consider him for marriage.
The Prophet never proposed to her. In fact, she being rich, and, 15 years older than him, he might not even have thought of her for marriage. Considering men’s desire to marry women five to ten years younger than them, she was at least 20 years beyond the bride age that could have been in the Prophet’s mind. It is also important to note that when Nafeesah bint Munayyah, (a friend of Khadijah) proposed to the Prophet that it was time he got married, (without naming Khadijah) he replied that not enough funds were at his disposal to think of it seriously. This goes to demonstrate that the Prophet perhaps never looked at Khadijah from the angle of marriage, one, because he was too poor for that, and two, perhaps because she was 20 years older than a would-be bride in his mind.
That the Prophet married her demonstrates his extreme humbleness and acceptance of the facts of life without demure, without complaint, without any ill-feeling in the heart. It was, for all to see, an odd marriage. But to him, from his magnanimous way of accepting the facts of life, it was not. This is strengthened by what followed later. There was nothing in the society to prevent him from marrying another lady, maybe a 20-year old virgin, especially now that he had money. But he did not. Alternatively, he could have purchased a young slave-girl, in the markets of north or south, but he did not.
These circumstances lead us to believe that he certainly was an extraordinary character, even before he was chosen for Prophethood, and that there is nothing to suggest that he had fallen in love with Khadijah, a lady thrice married earlier, before the marriage.
Finally, it must also be understood that the Prophetic examples are only those that ensue after he received the commission. His pre-Islamic behavior is not Sunnah for us, although his behavior of those times remains unblemished in the light of ever-continued research.