Letters to the Editor
Q. I am writing this letter to you because I need the address of Muslim Service Society based in Kerala. The article about the organization was published in June 2002 issue of Young Muslim Digest on page no. 43, named Muslim Service Society (M.S.S.). I hope you will provide the address as soon as possible.
V. R. M. Yusuf,
Shihab School, Adka,
Bandiyod, Mangalpady (P.O.)
Kasaragod, Kerala– 671324
Hopefully, one of our readers will help get the information.
Q. Please tell us the rule: can Muslim parents be pleased to accept the request of their sons/daughters to marry a Christian or those of other religions. If so, how is their progeny to be treated especially for further marriages. Please discuss in detail.
Muslim parents cannot feel pleased at the decision of a son to marry a Christian woman. On the other, if it happens to be a daughter, then they have to do everything possible to avert her desire to marry a non-Muslim. That she remains a spinster all her life, and enters Paradise on that score, is better than that she lives in luxuries in this life as a non-Muslim’s wife and enters into Hell-fire with death.
The Prophetic suggestion in this regard is that the Muslims men marry and give away in marriage their women for religious reasons. That is, the most religious, pious and righteous should be looked for as a spouse. A sound religious home can only be built with seriously committed Muslim individuals. When two such people begin their life together, they find that they have no internal conflict between themselves. Both agree on a set of principles, values and practices as true. And those are ideal principles, values and practices, such as those that do not fail the test of real life. If at all a conflict develops between the two, it cannot be of serious nature. Their conflicts can only be of the order of likes and dislikes, and not of the order of aims and objectives or more seriously, of morals and values. Such conflicts as of likes and dislikes are easily resolved and the absence of conflict results in a stable home where the growing children do not see any contradiction between what they learn at home, at the mosque or at the school: if the school is also Islamic.
Among the three however, the atmosphere at home is the most important. The absence of contradictions or conflicts at home allows the children’s minds to work entirely in the constructive lines and take self-developmental directions. In contrast, in the presence of conflicts, the mind gets confused resulting in stunted growth. The developing personality suffers unhealthy or incomplete growth. Most people around us today, posses incomplete or absurdly developed personalities. Such personalities are good for no one, not even for themselves. We discover therefore, that in many homes children do not respect their parents. For, their parents do not have a respectable personality. They are like salad plates filled with motley of vegetables: good for something to chew until the main dishes arrive, but not good enough for a wholesome dinner.
In the light of the above, and there is much more to be said, there is every chance of conflicts in a home in which a pair consists of those following two different faiths – let us say a Muslim male and a Christian female. The man believes God is one who alone should be worshipped. The woman believes, like George Bush said in a recent interview, “Only those will attain salvation who believe in Jesus Christ as God.” How can the two reconcile themselves on an issue of such importance? Coming down to practices, the man believes wine is the mother of all sins. The woman considers that dinner alone as the best, which is topped by a peg at the end. Or, coming to values, the man believes sex outside marriage is a grave sin while his wife believes there is nothing wrong in it so long as you don’t get pregnant by it. Can the two live together peacefully? Yes, they can: on condition that one of them accepts the beliefs, opinions, values and morals of the other as true and abandons his or hers. The conclusion therefore is, such marriages run high risk of failure and therefore should be discouraged.
As for the Shari‘ah rules, we suppose they are well known. A Muslim male can marry a Christian or Jewish woman. But he cannot marry an idolatress. In contrast, a Muslim woman can never marry a non-Muslim of any faith. If she has done it, she is living in sin. (Some scholars say she has apostatized). However, there is no sin upon her children. They are Muslims: for children inherit the superior faith. Between Christianity and Islam, Islamic faith is superior. [In a Christian-Jewish marriage, the children follow the faith of the parent who is Christian (whether mother or father), for between Christian and Jewish faiths, Christian faith is, according to Islam, superior].
Q. How can Islam tackle the problems of unemployment, corruption, population growth?
Maybe our reading is wrong, but the style of the question suggests that Islam is understood as a political system and its message as equivalent of a political party’s election manifesto, so that: “If the promises are good, we vote for the party, otherwise we look for another.” Islam is rather there to guide us through our lives: something no individual, no organization, and no other religion can offer us.
Allah’s kindness has seen to it that enough should be there for all. However, human greed, corruption, and refusal to bind themselves to any rules, creates a plethora of problems. Such problems should of course be solved by their creators themselves, that is, the humans. On its part Islam sees to it that such problems, e.g. that of unemployment, do not appear at all. The explanation of how it does that is attempted in this month’s editorial which kindly see in the following pages.
Q. This has reference to Q & A column of May 2002 regarding Shi’ah-Sunni Marriage raised by Hena Kauser. I would like to question you where and which mosque you have seen or heard that Shia pray only once in a day and they combine all the prayers? It’s news to me.
The angry looks with which Sunni’s are received in the Shi‘ah mosque, takes off their courage to enter in five times a day to check how the regular worshippers Pray. It is another thing that we did not state that they Pray twice a day… However, it turns out that we missed only narrowly, for, you state in the following text that the Shi‘ah Pray only three times a day. It should be news to some of our readers.
Q. I am sure you would have heard three times Azan from Shia masjid. Yes it’s true they combine Zohar and Asr, Maghrib and Isha Prayers. Is this incorrect?
Yes, it is. The Prophetic practice was to offer the five daily Prayers at their appointed hours.
Q. If so have you ever performed Haj and if so, what did you do there? Did you pray all the five times separately or you combined them? If you have combined them like what the Shia’s do, then your Haj is null and void because it is incorrect to do so.
You seem to follow a logic that has different parameters than the commonly accepted ones. It would have become apparent to you also, if the issue happened to be scientific. To Pray five times a day, at appointed hours is the Prophetic norm. At ‘Arafah, he combined the Prayers because, according to the analysis offered by scholars, he was technically a traveller; and a traveller shortens and combines his Prayers. This is what the Hanafiyy pilgrims do when they are at Makkah and have planned to stay there for less than fifteen days.
Such combining then, cannot be used as evidence for combining Prayers of normal days and times. Further, if ‘Arafat Prayers set the norm, then all Prayers should not only be combined but shortened too, since that is what Muslims do at ‘Arafah. But even the Shi‘ah will not accept such logic.
Q. Please do not play with sentiments of the people and misguide them because they are very innocent and have literally no knowledge in religious matters.
Ignorance is truly the main problem.
Q. I have a suggestion which can be a solution for the problem faced by most of the readers. It is that of response to their questions/ general information regarding Islamic organisation and booklets etc.: You could set up different email IDs to serve different purposes, say an ID for Q&A which generally takes more time. Another e-mail ID for general information etc. Hope you will consider my suggestion so that the users who are sending their mails for general information may have not to wait for the letters or mails of Q&A to be cleared.
Bilal Ahmed Lone,
Thank you for your advice. We shall attempt it once we are a bit more confident with the editorial board that we have recently expanded.
Q. I am 20 years old. Throughout my life, I have committed many sins. I have done such sins as which a Muslim should never do in his lifetime. But now I am ashamed of myself and I am repenting to the almighty Allah. I offer Prayers, have grown a beard and practice every Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (saws). All these great changes have occurred suddenly in my life when the Tableeghi Jamaat took me into Jamaat for four months. I have realized the reason why Allah sent me into this world. After realizing this, I have changed my lifestyle completely. And I always thank Allah for his guidance through the Tableeghi Jamaat.
I request you to write briefly about Mawlana Mohammed Ilyas (the founder of the Jamat) his life, his teachings, his sacrifices for the work of Da’wah and his worries from that remote area of Mewaat. And now from Mewaat to every corner of the world, we can see this Tableeghi Jamaat people functioning in the field of Da’wah. Isn’t it strange that he alone started this work, but now there are people throughout the world who are working in the field of Da’wah and carrying forward his mission?
There is no doubt that the Mawlana was endowed with the qualities of strength of faith, trust in Allah, love of the Ummah, sincerity of a high order, and a deep longing for the improvement of the situation through Da‘wah, which drove him to relentless hard work. However, we should not idolize him to the point where his example is placed at the foreground and the Prophet’s in the background. Nor should we attribute to him what did not happen during his life, but which can be explained in historical perspective. What happened later, after him, cannot be said to be the direct result of his efforts. Several factors went in after he left.
True, he laid the foundations. But that was of a modest nature. Countless people, all over the globe, picked up the gauntlet and, since then, have been expanding on that modest base with the same single-mindedness as he possessed and have taken the work to such levels as Mawlana could not have imagined in his lifetime. This is surely by the will of Allah, who made it possible through him and through the millions who chose to take upon themselves the same line of struggle.
Nonetheless, it should not be imagined that this is an “Allah-sanctioned” work: something “revealed” or “inspired” by Him, or is of Divine nature, every detail of which is designed and specified by Allah, who supervises and directs the humans in all their affairs connected with this work. Allah has truly placed a lot of good in the Islamic life which the movement members try to imitate in their outings. But it is humans who are responsible for the details, which could be correct, as well as wrong in several places.
It is wonderfully suited to people of a certain nature, but lacks the comprehensiveness that is the hallmark of Islam, and which makes it presentable as a total solution.
Q. What is the reason that after joining this Jamaat thousands of people have changed, especially youngsters?
Firstly, although the numbers are greater in Tableegh, changes in the life of the people who join Tableegh are not unique to it. Similar changes can be seen coming through efforts of other organizations, such as, the Jamat-e-Islami, the Ikhwan, or the Salafi Movement, etc.
As for reasons, they are many, but a few are easy to discern: it is a simple work, very practical, carried out in mosques, by people who maintain the purity of sincerity by expending from their own pockets, has no worldly objectives, makes few demands on its followers, be it of the nature of practice or of knowledge, but gives them the feel of scholars, and a sense of confidence that scholars themselves lack!
Q. Famous personalities like the Pakistani Cricketer Sayeed Anwar have changed and a revolution has come in their life?
Your stating this is in the same vein as that of the British Jewish Rabbi (priest). He claims that celebrities like Madonna and Michael Jackson have found solace in Jewish mystical components like Kabbalah, and hence the next millennium belongs to Judaism. (Judaism for Everyone, Shamuley Boteach, Basic Books, 2002). So, for holy men, which one might suppose a rabbi to be, Madonna and Michael Jackson are celebrities! And, Judaism is worthy if pop musical stars embrace its mystical components without repenting, without giving up their destructive professions, and without even becoming Jewish. He avoids mentioning, of course, that they cannot become Jewish, since Jewish law doesn’t allow that.
The cricketer you have cited is, after all, a human being. He too needs a true religion as others do, and when he found it, he embraced it. There is no more to it. A work is not judged by the quality of people that join it (unless they are intellectuals), but by the qualities that they pick up from that work.
Q. I have seen many religious organizations that are working for the cause of Islam. They have their organizations’ name, banner or the sign board etc., but the Tableeghi Jamaat doesn’t have any name, banner or sign board.
If the name is irrelevant, as you have implied, then you will agree that having a name is also irrelevant. In other words, of no consequence. They are adopted for conveniences.
Q. They always tell that this work of Da’wah is not the work of any organization.
But it is an organization. It has a name, a place it operates from, i.e., mosques, and has a hierarchy, although unnamed and somewhat loose.
Q. They say that each and every person of this Ummah is responsible for the whole Ummah and the whole Ummah is responsible for each and every person. What is your opinion and to what extent this is correct?
It is a nicely worded principle – although in reality nothing more than a feeling – which will receive the approval of many. But the terms within remain to be defined, or understood in proper context, and the ramification in everyday life yet to be felt despite half a century of work behind the movement.
You might look at the women living in the porches of the mosques where movement assemblies takes place, and ask yourself: Does the nicely worded principle have any bearing to these women? Does the Ummah, including the small section of it gathering in the mosque, feel that it is responsible for the women at the porches?
Q. I have noticed that all the people of the Tableeghi Jamaat are very deeply attached to the Markaz Nizamuddin (Delhi). And without consulting them they don’t do anything. I like this very much that they have a good discipline which could be one of the factors for their growing popularity in India as well as in other countries. What do you think about this?
We do not think that it adds to the cause of popularity, but it is a good sign of discipline.
Q. I cannot understand why some people criticize against Fazail-e-Amaal which is written by such a great scholar as Sheikh ul Hadith, Mawlana Zakaria.
A book is not judged by the greatness of its writer, but by its content. There is not much wrong with the book as a starter book, in fact, very suitable for mass address. But the critics wish to see the pilgrim progressing on his path.
Q. And people also criticize their six numbers, which contain basics like Kalimah, Namaz, Ilm wa Zikr, Ikram, Ikhlas and Da’wah. What is your opinion?
They are quite appropriate for the Jama‘ah purposes. But the critics believe they are not adequate for the revival of Islam and Muslims.
Q. Why do the Ahle Bida (Barelawi), Ahle Hadith and even some of the Jamaat-e-Islami people always criticize the Tableeghi Jamaat?
Invitation and acceptance of criticism is a healthy sign. The latter two criticize perhaps because of their commitment to Islam: they see the Jama‘ah as falling short of their own ideals.
Q. The criticism of the Ahle Bida (Barelvi) is understandable. Because of the Tableeghi Jamaat, their business has been affected very badly. But the criticism from the others is not acceptable. But the Tableeghi Jamaat does not bother itself over the criticism. The Jamaat itself neither criticizes any one nor speak out against them. It continues with the work of Da’wah. I think these people are jealous of the Tableeghi Jamaat and its day to day increase in popularity. Is my thinking right or wrong?
S. A. M.,
It is wrong. Further, your statement above has some contradictions and belies the true state of feelings. Others’ criticism of it does seem to bother you, although you deny it. Further, the denial of your own criticism of others is followed by an allegation which is worse than criticism. Further, if your criticism of others is unheard, it is because, it is not made in public, but rather in the confines of the mosques, and in words subtle, in order not to defiantly break the self-declared intentions not to criticize others.
We humans are complicating things.
Q. Kindly answer my questions. Is Haj permitted without a beard?
Yes, it is.
Q. After maghrib our Imam reads ahadith. I like to listen sitting with my back towards the Qibla taking the support of the wall. I was told it is not permitted. Kindly clear my doubt.
The sitting posture is of little significance, if the heart and mind are not present, and the intention is not right. A tired person might require a support for his back. Another, fresh, might not. An unsupported person, sitting tight might have his thoughts elsewhere, while another, physically relaxed maybe all-attentive with the mind and soul in complete concentration.
Yet, to be “there” is the most important thing. Other things follow, provided the choice of the material being presented is right. A mere repetitive affair, where, the decorum is more important than the message, done more for formal purposes than moral, spiritual, or even educational reasons, less for the inner soul’s satisfaction, more for reasons of fulfilling a requirement, will be equally rewarding to the relaxed as well as the rigid of body: no profit no loss.
Q. What is the minimum distance to be kept while passing before a person in his Prayers?
M. Mastan Guard (Retired),
In view of the strict prohibitions in the hadith against crossing a person in Prayers, the Hanafiyyah suggest that at least three row space may be left in between him and a passer-by.
Q. This has reference to the question of brother Younus Hasan Khan regarding the major signs of the Day of Judgement (April issue of 2002).
In your answer you have mentioned about the appearance of Dajjal. To me Dajjal has already appeared in the form of the USA. It is believed that Dajjal will have only one eye on the forehead. To support this, I request you to obtain one dollar note and see carefully that there is only one eye on it.
You should have sent us the $1 bill as reward for looking into it.
Q. Secondly, the behaviour of the USA administration is – “believe me, follow me, accept me as your superior etc., or else face sanctions.” Today the Muslim nations are able to do nothing but to obey USA and watch our brethren in Afghanistan and Palestine being massacred.
And now Iraq.
Q. Muslim nations have started believing in the USA and disbelieving in the Almighty, the only one God.
We hope not. We believe the phase in which they believed USA as God is behind us. They now believe it is the Devil. At present they are saying: “I seek Allah’s refuge from Satan the accursed”. Hopefully, in the next phase they will do something to ward off the evil of the Devil. But, if, as you say, they are beginning to take it as God, then, we have several generations to go before our leaders realize their error.
Q. Oppression by the USA is on the rise. When this world will be filled with oppression, then it is that we will see the appearance of Imam Mahdi, the great grandson of the Prophet.
When Imam Mahdi arrives, he will do his duty. At the moment, we have to do ours.
Q. To kill Bin Laden, U.S air strikes were an exercise in futility, since he is safe in the Cave Complexes of Afghanistan with the blessings of new interim Govt. of Mr. Hamid Karzai. General Musharaf has already taken the U.S. President for a ride who foolishly succumbed to his double standard. Death of Osama Bin Laden will not solve or end the global terrorism but open a new chapter by the hundreds and thousands of Al-Qaeda activists. Further, the very existence of Israel is a cancer of global terrorism. If the global terrorism is not tackled, a possible Third World War might break out entangling the capitalist, communist and Islamic blocks with India as fourth Block.
S. M. Razvi, Advocate,
Since you regard the state of Israel as cancer of global terrorism, you are likely to be listed by the Americans among the terrorists. True, as you say, the world is getting full of terrorists.
Q. We wish to submit that in the present times the concept of millat-e-wahida is fast growing. Under these circumstances the writings in this magazine will not only bring division but also create hatred against each other. If somebody asks something about other’s faith, YMD should, in the interest of justice and peace, advise them not look into these differences.
Why not? If those differences are not of the serious nature, why conceal them? But if they are of the serious nature, why not reveal them?
Q. And, if YMD wants to give some answers, the best way is to refer the doubts to the concerned people for clarifications. After obtaining the clarifications, it could publish them “as it is.”
Who are the so-called “concerned” people of the Bohris, Ismailis, Aghakhanis, Twelvers, Mahdawis, Alawites, Qadiyanis and… the rest that you can name? But rather, we go by what we know about them. If we make an error, surely one of the readers can correct us. For example, if we said the Mahdawis are a sect – which we didn’t do – one of them can inform us – as you have done below – “No. We are a sect.” That settles the issue.
Q. Non-partisan approach to any issue, in general, and in matters of faith, in particular, is the best approach to resolve/ understand each others’ view point.
That’s exactly what we do when we refuse to push some people out, or pull others in. We leave it well-defined so that anyone could walk in.
Further, creating a good understanding is not all. What if we are satisfied with, but Allah is not. Therefore, you will agree that corrections should also be attempted.
Q. With reference to your replies to various questions on Mahdavis, published in the December 2001 issue, we seek the following clarifications:
In paragraph two of your answer to question No. 1, you have rightly said, “one has to first pronounce his belief in the Oneness of Allah, and the messengership of Prophet Muhammad as the final Prophet. Anyone who does that enters into the fold of Islam.” The Mahdavis also follow these requirements.
That’s good to hear. Whoever said the two testimonies will enter Paradise so long as he/ she did not negate them by some means.
Q. But your statement in line 4 & 5 that “most of whom are not sure what they themselves believe in” require supporting authentic document.
This is what we have learnt from personal contact. You might ask Mahdawi individuals about you as to what they believe, for the benefit of surprise.
Q. In line 12 to 21 of your reply to question No. 2 you have stated that “Do you believe in the Mahdi and that he has come? If yes, do you believe he was the same Mahdi predicted in ahadith such as… recount the ahadith. If he or she, despite presentation of trustworthy reports concerning the Mahdi, says he or she believes that the Mahdi as described in the ahadith has appeared, then either he or she is out of mind or really a Mahdavi”.
The above could only be examined only after you can present us with the ahadith to be recounted as stated by you. Kindly provide these xerox copies with page numbers, name of book, compiled by, edition number, year of publication etc. Subsequent assumptions, whether they are right or wrong, would also depend on the copies of ahadith supplied by you as requested.
It will be appropriate to state here that in secular India, under the constitution, every person has a right to follow/ practice the faith of his choice, without hurting the sentiments of others.
Why should it hurt anyone, if he claims he is a Mahdawi, if he is examined by a certain procedure? If he doesn’t like to be examined, he can say so. Who can force him to undergo the test?
As for the ahadith, we are not in a position to provide you their fax copies. Instead, we can list a few of them. (These can be looked up in the May, 2003 issue of YMD)
Q. Your assumption in line 1 to 4 of your reply to question No. 2 is correct. Mahdavis are one of the sects of Islam.
Syed Bakher, Mohamood Khan,
Mohboob Ali & Hussain Khan,
Whether the present day Mahdawis are a sect of Islam or not is for the Mahdawis to decide. We do not like to say such things about others without sufficient proofs that their articles of belief are truly against those set by the scholars of the Ahl Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah. In fact, even when such proofs are provided, we still hesitate to name a group as a sect, without ascertaining whether every individual of the group subscribes to those beliefs or not. For, we have discovered that many of the so-called officials or clergies of this, or that, group do not represent their masses. Therefore, we can only declare someone out of the Sunni fold, only after examining him. Yet, to be on the safer side, we do not do even that – that is, go about examining them. We simply state what qualifies a man to be of a sect. It is for the individuals to examine themselves whether they fit into the description or not.
We take the people by trust. If someone says “We are Muslims”, we do not ask them, “What kind of Muslims?” It is only when we have to deal with them that we begin to examine them. And, in our examination, we do not spare even a Sunni Muslims. Who knows what he believes in, in these anarchic times?