Letters to the Editor
Harry Potter Series
Mrs. Shaikh Farooq Mohammed, via email
I have a few questions:
I know that in Islam a woman cannot lead in prayer. But suppose some ladies gather for tajweed and then it is time for prayer, how should the ladies pray? Singly? Or can one of them lead the prayer? If yes, then should she follow the same rules as an imaam follows?
Firstly, it must be realized that the Shari`ah requirements are not easy to meet with. They require commitment, struggle against odds, special care and attention, and, therefore, some amount of sacrifice. Accordingly, anyone who seeks addition over and above what the Shari`ah has already prescribed as obligatory does not wear a smart hat. It is like asking someone to get a degree in engineering so as to find job opportunities. He says, “Naa. Engineering is fine. But, to qualify myself better I shall attempt a degree in medicine also. With two degrees, I shall have greater chance of landing a job!”
Congregational Prayers are not a Shari`ah requirement for women. They are told they will get the same rewards for praying individually. Now, if one of them says, “We want more obligations placed on us, or we will do it voluntarily,” then to assess such a person’s intellectual capacity would not require a college degree.
Now, directly to the main question: the situation is that women get together in an assembly that runs into Prayer-time, what should they do? The answer is there. Do, what the Shari`ah has asked you to do. If the Shari`ah requires a single degree, don’t offer two.
(We are reminded of a joke that an Egyptian narrated to us about himself during a Hajj-journey. After arriving in the USA, he remained unemployed for a long while despite his two Masters in two different science subjects. The first job that he landed, after several months of unemployment and at the brink of starvation, was as a packer. That is, packing goods in the dispatch department of an industry. He hated the job, but it offered him relief. One day the boss strolled by. “Hmm. You seem to be good at packing” he muttered.” The Egyptian replied, “I can do better” “How?” asked the boss. He said, “I hold two Masters, one in physics, and another in nuclear physics.” The boss was surprised. He said, “That’s interesting,” and walked away. Next day he was fired. The reason given was: he was overqualified).
In attempting something not asked of us, we could run into several problems. One, whose commands do we follow? Second, we are taking extra efforts, who will reward us? (If we say we do it because we like it, then, are we doing it for fun?) Thirdly, of human beings there are two kinds. The second kind undergoes sudden physical changes. The moment cannot be pre-determined. It arrives on a sudden, to the embarrassment and discomfort of the individual, who does best to conceal it. What happens when one is leading in Prayers? Confusion! Explanations! Embarrassments. Forced to lie. So, why take the risk?
Back to the main question: What happens if women do prayers among themselves in congregation? Is it allowed? The answer is: Yes.
In your recent issue there was a question related to marriages between cousins. Recently I came to know through someone that marriages between cousins is allowed in Islam but our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has discouraged it. I asked him for the hadith but so far I have not received any.
You will not receive any because it does not exist.
He also said that it is allowed on certain conditions like if a person’s cousin is poor and has average looks due to which it is difficult for her to get decent proposals or say any proposals at all. In that case one should marry one’s cousin so that Allah will reward him, is it correct?
Morality and charitable works are always praiseworthy.
Is Khizr still alive? While I was attending an ijtemaa a lady said during her discourse said that it is stated in the Qur’an that Allah gave Khizr Aab-e-Hayaat to drink. So he is still alive and is at present at the bottom of the oceans and give ghusl to all those who die due to drowning.
An ingenious story spun with complete dexterity. If the lady worked hard enough and wrote fairy-tales, she could sell them like Harry Potter series.
I checked in surah al-Kahf but did not find any such thing. I study Tafheem al-Qur’an.
This perhaps is the book you should advise this lady of yours to study.
Is it true that our Prophet was under the spell of witchcraft and the last two surahs, (nos. 113 and 114), were revealed to cure him and to show mankind that all cures rest with Allah?
Whoever said the Prophet suffered magical spell is making an incorrect statement. The narrator must add that it was so mild that none of his closest Companions ever suspected of it. Indeed, it was so mild that the Prophet himself was not sure about its nature. Finally, had he not mentioned it, no one would have known he underwent the experience. Without adding these details, to accuse the Prophet of having suffered magical spell amounts to blasphemy. As an example we can say that a running nose is a “kind of sickness.” We have no other way of describing a man wiping his nose with a tissue paper. But to say that the man is sick is a gross overstatement. It is a lie.
That all cure is with Allah is true but it cannot be related as the cause of revelation of the two chapters.
Some time back I watched ‘Q’ TV.
Islam on TV is the next fitnah the Ummah faces.
In the program, the maulana received a phone call and after few hours he gave the solution to the caller saying that after doing istikhaara he had come to know the problem. Then he advised the man that “first and foremost you should pray 5 times daily and also the tahajjudd.” Then he gave the names of Allah to be recited after each prayer some thousand times. I do not believe anyone can find that out through Istikhara. What’s your opinion?
Our opinion is the same as yours.
The salesman’s cleverness, we are sure, should be apparent to you also.
I and my daughters want to learn Arabic language through correspondence in English language as we are not getting a tutor who can teach us in English. Can you guide us to some institution where we can get books, CDs and where we can also appear for exams? We will be grateful.
The educational section of Iqra Welfare Trust offers a course. Hopefully, you will soon hear from them.
A Critique of Editor’s Responses to Letters May 2005 Issue
Anjum Malkana, USA
A questioner wrote, “Islam does not discourage marriages among close relatives, but Genetics states entire opposite rules!” – and YMD answered: “This is because, modern science, as it has been developed, understood, and projected by the West, is anti-human….”
The editor goes on for half the length of a column with generalized statements about how science destroys all that is good in society.
Of course it does.
“But this is absurd,” the believers in science will protest, “seeing that science has done so many good things such as increase in agricultural output, medical advances, development of means of communication, and so forth? Why, you just look around, and you find thousands of scientific products spread all over the surroundings.” This is how the lovers of science and scientific advances protest whenever any criticism is leveled against it.
To deny the good contributions of science is to be from the moon. But, with developments, gradually science became a philosophy, and then a religion. It is least understood in the non-Arab Muslim world. And hence, it has had disastrous effects here. It is this aspect that we criticize. And, from this angle science has done more harm than good. (But there are aspects too which deserve criticism, but we do not discuss them now).
Its materialistic aspect requires hard work and application for drawing benefits from it. This the Muslims did not attempt, and so, missed the benefits. On the other hand, its philosophical and religious ramification penetrated into Muslim minds, and left them impaired. Thus, once again, science is a source of destruction for many.
We in YMD have all along presented a balanced view of the developments in the modern world. Changes and development have been going on since man first stepped on the planet. To change his surrounding is in human nature. To investigate is his pleasure. To adopt new ideas and new ways of doing things is to be human.
That said, and admitted, yet from universal perspective, one might add that developments and changes wrought by modern science have definitely done more harm to the people than good. How? Well, by taking away people’s faith in God. Science claims achievements greater than the real, and gives to understand that there is no problem: moral, social or economic, but it can solve. One of the earliest scientist said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth.” Common people, and the class of the uncommon who have “other than Allah” in their hearts, believe in them and, in consequence, lose faith in their Lord and in the Truth He revealed through Muhammad.
Thus, modern science, while offering material benefits, destroys the “soul.” With the destruction of the human soul, material developments lose their meaning and significance. Modern developments please only those who recognize animal spirit as the only mode of human existence.
Today’s man’s only way of finding momentary peace and happiness is either to get drunk or go high on hashish. If young, they go on sex-spree. Those who do not approve of this method, or are obliged by the business joints they work for, not to resort to this way of removing their tension, wait for a year to take a week out, rush to a holiday-spot, to do exactly what some others do the year around: wine, sex and drugs. At ordinary times this class can be located in Psychiatric wards.
Of the variety of factors that have gone into driving man to this senseless way of life, one is, beyond any doubt, science and scientific philosophy. But this does not make modern science an enemy of man. It is the Next-worldly consequences of its influence that makes it. The pains of this life would be a pleasure if the Hereafter’s happiness was assured. But the pain modern man undergoes is merely a prologue to the abiding suffering he faces in the Hereafter. In this sense modern science is anti-human, while the science, as it was developed by the Muslims in the past, was not.
In fact, that part of the response is bolded and centered on the page. Not only does this diatribe categorically dismiss all scientists as irresponsible liars (they “interpret half truths as they wish”), it is also incredibly off topic.
But our concern is not science. First and foremost, it is faith.
When scientists claim to solve all human problems, then they are definitely stretching the truth. We are yet to hear the scientific community say, “Sorry. We seem to have created some problems that we have no solution for. Kindly look for solutions in quarters other than science.” Their refusal to acknowledge this fact lends credence to the truth of our statement about their intellectual integrity.
It doesn’t answer the question about the health risks of marrying cousins at all.
It does by making pooh-pooh of the idea.
The questioner clearly asks about the misconception that certain genetic deformations occur when one marries close relatives (e.g. first cousins). But the editor’s response does not address this specific concern; it instead attacks a different point argued by geneticists (that the majority of the sequence of the human genome is shared across species).
There was no need to answer scientifically a question that was unscientific. The questioner was not looking for a scientific answer. Indeed, he had it. He wished to know what Islam has to say about it. But, concealed behind such questions, although it might not have been the case in this particular case, is the challenge: “Now, here is science. What does religion has to say? Have we not caught you on the wrong foot? Will you please stop interfering in our day to day affairs – in view of such scientific advancements? Will you please keep religion apart?”
The question was unscientific because, to start with, it was wrongly worded. The correct statement put simply, has to be as follows, “Marriage between close kin over several generations in a family that carries certain genetic disorders is likely to lead to inheritance of such genes.”
Muslims, who are, as pointed out above, scientifically extremely poorly educated, including those who take degrees in science, conclude from the above that marriage between cousins could lead to the birth of diseased children. Several points in the above statement are not understood, or, in a hurry to obey science and scientists, ignored. Firstly, “Close-kin marriages over several generations,” secondly, “families that carry genetic disorders,” and thirdly, “could lead to inheritance of such genes” are all clauses that require close scrutiny. But they are all ignored and a young graduate in science refuses to marry his cousin because science has declared it dangerous.
Genes are a highly complicated thing. Indeed, at the biological level, they have no parallel in complexity. It is not like the quantum theory, which is weird, but it has fixed parameters and predictable results within a certain range of possibilities. Genetic code on the other hand is not merely complicated, but is totally and completely unpredictable in its behavior. One wonders how such a complicated system works at all, and why there are no greater failures when it comes to biological organisms. The birth of thousands of normal individuals, every second, over the globe, is a mystery, given the complexity of the structure that determines the normalcy. There are billions of DNA strands within an individual, which replicate billions of times, with errors perhaps one in several billions. How does one explain this? There isn’t a way. Some scientists have been forced to conclude that some kind of an Unseen hand must be in control. Otherwise, statistically speaking, normal humans should not be appearing at all.
The complications involved tell us that it is misleading to say that a person “inherits the gene” for a disease, since humans are born with the same number and types of genes. What we should say rather is that we inherit allele forms of certain genes. These alleles could be defective. But, what are the chances of defective inheritance. Science cannot determine this, and will never. Why? Because the whole process is incredibly complicated. If it did not exist, we would have thought it cannot exist.
Further, most of the genetic disorders are caused by the mutation of a single gene. The mutation results in alleles which cause the diseases. But, mutation itself is unpredictable. There are other factors too. Presence of bacteria or viruses for instance can mean unknown disturbances. During experiments, for instance, when gene mutation was artificially tried, totally unexpected results have been obtained. Some rats, injected with “deadly genes” have given birth to normal rats. But others injected with the same genes but along with some bacteria or viruses dropped dead. Research goes on, conducted by thousands of scientists, but as tremendous advances are made, tremendous complications arise.
Yet, notwithstanding these complications, of which we have presented a minute part, here we have Muslims with degrees in science (without which they could not be discussing genes and genetic effects) who rush to conclusions that are as completely unscientific as belief in the intercession of saints. It seems after rejection of Islam as the only way of life, Muslims are more prone to suffer consequences of false theories than others.
This point, by the way, is not made by scientists to say that all species are the same, as we obviously are not; scientists are the first to point out that the fraction of a percent difference in genome carries enormous consequences in sequence difference and activation of genes. It would have been more beneficial for the reader if the editor had actually answered the question, with the fact that stigmas for or against marrying cousins is culture-based and varied according to time period.
We do not believe that the stigma is culture-based. For centuries people of all kinds and class, of every region of the world, and of every religion have been marrying first-cousins. The stigma is gradually developing in our times, created and encouraged by irresponsible statements of the scientists.
A better response would have been to inform of the scientific fact that the genetic deformations referred to would happen only after many generations of pure inbreeding. A simple and straightforward question deserved a simple and straightforward response. Why generalize and sidestep the question? The best paragraph in the response is the last one, in which the editor did not interfere – remember the criteria set forth in the hadith, and trust in Allah.
The best paragraph in your response is the second last one of the above statement.
You might note that there are several ways to answer a question. One is the straight-forward answer: in terms of yes or no. Another is to explain why. A third is to educate over the issue. But we opt for something higher. We delve deeper, and try to make corrections at the psychological, ideological and belief level. The problem lies there. If it is not addressed at these levels, doubts and skepticism concerning Islamic issues will never go away. And, permanent residence of doubts in the heart leads to hypocrisy. Sometimes, some incision is necessary for a meaningful treatment. Our readers might exclaim: “O, this is being harsh.” Well, surgery is harsh.
The May 2005 issue carries a question on Family Planning: “Is family planning allowed in Islam? If it is not, then how can a lower or middle class man run his family smoothly when he has 11 or 13 mouths to feed?” But there is no point in even quoting the editor’s answer, as there is nothing in his response except destructive assumptions about the questioner’s intentions.
Your assumption apart, we might point out that intentions are determined by actions. To reverse it, actions speak of the intentions that were there at the start of those actions. The action of acquiring “not 11 or 13 mouths to feed” but merely 2-3 children, adopted as the norm by the scientifically educated Muslims of out times, speaks well of their intentions and presumptions. They think they feed their children. And this is what they communicate between themselves and to their offspring: to create more of their likes: doubters and half-believers, half deniers.
What is more alarming (about their state of belief) is that they lie about the number of children. Nowhere, except perhaps in the Gulf, where life is still faith-based, Muslims produce more than 2-3 children. But they dig at the Prophetic statement (who said, “marry such women as produce plenty of children”) by mentioning 11 or 13 children. As if in India, Pakistan, or USA there are Muslims producing 11 or 13 children. This dig at the Prophetic statement by none other than Muslims themselves, is no less irritating than the comical strips that fanatical West produces, at a regular pace, taking out their anger on the Prophet, for the failures of their own lives.
The editor implies that the questioner, by following the first question with the second, is allying himself with the “anti-Islamic system” – whereas the likelihood is that he really wants an Islamically-acceptable method of family planning!
We are not guides to evil to offer “acceptable methods of family planning.” Nor do we think Muslims need to be educated in methods of family planning. They are well-educated in such things, are experts at practice, and hence the 2-3 children they have. What they want to hear from us is a “yes” to their practices. When we say no, they are upset.
The questioner’s issue is incredibly important and valid, especially in today’s poor economic situations and overpopulation.
Poor economic situation and overpopulation as the cause of poverty does not seem to hold water in today’s situation. Thanks to “overpopulation” China, India, Brazil, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and dozens of other countries are able to put their human power to such use as has given rise to such an unprecedented economic boom as to run a chill in the Western spine.
And there IS a valid Islamic response to it, but the editor never gets to it because he spends three paragraphs rebutting the assumed intentions of the questioner. I was actually looking forward to the response after reading the question, because even I have wondered how a Muslim family is to live and breed Islamically while maintaining the ability to support itself.
Perhaps you should rather be saying, “how a Muslim family is to live and breed, and make a doctor or engineer of each child,” an attainment, without which, modern Muslims think, a family is a failure. This we believe could be your real concern.
With no family planning method in use, families DO end up having 11 or 13 mouths to feed.
If you could cite ten such families, we could discuss the issue further.
It is a strain on the provider of the family and on the woman bearing the dozen children. Islam is a beautiful religion and way of life.
If Islam preaches families to produce no more than 2 or 3 children (which it does not), instead of showing how a dozen children can be supported (which it does), then, the first assumption granted, what claim Islam has to beauty?
Let us assume that Islam says, “Cut down family size. Produce no more than 2-3 children. There is no food around.” Let us also assume that science says, “People. Do not die lonely. Keep producing children; in dozens; and enjoy their company till death. We will find ways of feeding every one, and feed them well; if not on this earth, then on other planets.” Let us assume we have Islam and science of above descriptions. Which of the two is beautiful: science or Islam?
You need to look into your two statements: Islam discourages large families, and Islam is a beautiful religion. Do you see a contradiction between the two?
And I know the solution to this problem is addressed in Qur’an or ahadith, and identified by the Ummah’s scholars. I would have liked for the Editor to provide the wide readership with this solution..
Such scholars as you have in mind have no place in Islamic history. They belong to another religious discipline. Anyone who deliberately (and not by error) said anything against what the Prophet said, does not belong to us. The Prophet has said,
مَنْ غَشَّنا فَلَيْسَ مِنَّا
“He who deceived us, is not of us.”
Or refer us to where we can get it.
Did you not say one line earlier that you have found it in the Qur’an and ahadith?
But instead, we got another dismissive response to the questioner, and angry diatribe against the West.
Today, the West stands for much that is evil. If the winds have not yet reached some people, it is because the picture of false Paradise that the media creates through its morning and evening bombardment.
The West today, its masses imprisoned by atheists, materialists, hedonists, and perverted minds, deserves a diatribe during every ideological discussion, for its masses to realize and identify the true causes of their loss of humanity, their soul-less existence, and their detachment from their Lord, and for the Muslims to stop looking at it as “the optimum-best system of life and opportunities at the moment.”
While I agree wholeheartedly that rich countries are certainly ignoring their responsibility to help those less fortunate, solutions can also be formed at the individual/family level when possible.
It is in our fate to disagree with you over many of your statements. We do not believe that rich countries, such as those of the West, should help the less fortunate ones such as the Muslim countries. We abhor charity. Dependence on charity gives rise to indolence, and happens to be one of the major causes of Muslim backwardness. We believe on the other hand that Muslim countries should erase borders dividing them and allow their masses to move about freely, thus meeting the manpower requirements of every region and allowing for an even distribution of wealth, prompting growth of the kind they experienced during their golden age of the Salaf.
As for the solution at the individual/family level, we do not believe in curtailment of family size (which your statement implies), but that at the societal level, Muslims must change their attitude towards the extra wealth in their possession, whether or not their governments open borders. They must realize that the extra money in their hands is not theirs, even if Zakah is paid, but grinding poverty remains.
An Islamically acceptable family planning method would do wonders for many family and societal woes. Informing Muslims that reversible contraception (e.g. condoms, birth control pill) IS acceptable provided certain common conditions are met, (ref.: http://www.islam.tc/ask-imam/view.php?q=2876), would have been a much more useful response. Nothing was gained or taught by the Editor’s 3-paragraph rhetorical question.
These lines are a restatement of the Malthusian plot, and representation of Western thoughts imposed on Islam. Islam does not give approval to a word of it.
We offer the kind of guidance that Ibrahim b. Ad-hum offered. When someone complained to him of a large family, he answered, “Brother! Transfer to my house such of your household as you think Allah is not his or her Nourisher.”
April 2005 issue. A question on fossils was, “Please let me know the Qur’anic verses which refer/shed light pertaining to Fossils, Dinosaurs, and extinct animals whose fossilized remains have been unearthed by Paleontologists.” YMD answered: “We cannot recall the Qur’an mentioning anything about fossils of dinosaurs or extinct animals. But it does mention fossil of a donkey!”
Is this a joke, or is there actually a reference to fossil of a donkey?
Clearly the questioner is interested in seeking the truth in the Qur’an, and specifically asked for references, but none are given.
What would go wrong if the questioners opened up the Qur’an themselves?
Again the curious reader is struck down by a dismissive response. Instead, the editor might have at least referred the reader to his editorial in the February 2005 issue, in which he discusses why there are fossils of dinosaurs but not of the Adam (ra) and the first humans. That isn’t a Qur’anic reference, but at least it somewhat addresses the topic of fossil records in Islam.
How legitimate the question about fossil records in the Qur’an or Islam is, could perhaps be judged better if it is addressed to Hindus, Buddhists or Jews. What do the Hindu Vedas, the Buddhist literature, or the Jewish Talmud say about fossil records, dinosaurs, and extinct animals? We think you could pose the question to a few around you and amuse the YMD readers with the answers they give.
All said, we thank you for bringing up so many topics for discussion. We are sure many of our readers will feel benefited. We also hope they enjoy the discussion, which (within the means granted to religious people) we, (although sometimes vainly), try to make lively.
Kunniyah as a Name
I am a regular reader of your various columns. Alhamdulillah, I have become a proud father of a boy. I have some confusion regarding his name. I would like you to please help me out. We are calling him by nick name ABU and thinking of naming him Abu Muhammad Ibrahim. Now is the name appropriate according to its Arabic meaning, or should I change the combination to something like – Abubaker Md Ibrahim, Md Ibrahim Abubaker, or some other combination.
Md. Imtiaz Alam, via email
If you called him Abu-Bakr, it should be alright. But if you added a second name, e.g., Abu-Bakr Ibrahim, then, if you are in the Arab world, they would think Abu-Bakr is his name while Ibrahim that of his father.
We believe Ibrahim should be sufficient.
I am a post graduate and love a girl who studied with me in PG. She too loves me. We know and understand each other very well, so we decided to marry. My parents agreed but girl’s parents are against our marriage. Efforts from me, girl and my parents to convince them have failed. They give reasons like my native place is far from here. They now want to marry that girl forcefully to someone else. Please guide me as to what can I do in this regard.
Arif Hassan, via email
We do not see what you can do about it, especially when your parents have failed to persuade the other family. Surely, they might be having other reasons besides stating that you live in another town. If that is the only reason, why should you not shift to her town?
Whether the family is forcing the girl to marry another person or not, is theirs and her affair. We never know what goes behind the scenes. Who knows the girl may have begun to feel her parents feel. So, you could give it a final try by agreeing to their conditions.
I have been a subscriber for YMD since the last 2 yrs from Calcutta. Whenever I get my subscriber’s copy, the pack is “always” open, but now, a new thing happened. Instead of getting YMD, I got a Hindu magazine which is concerned with saving the cow campaign? It seems to be a Rajasthani hardcore magazine. Please let me know what do you think about it.
Maria M., via email
Unless somebody in the post office is a friend of yours and is playing prank on it, we do not think it is something strange. Magazines do get exchanged at delivery. Yet another possibility is that someone in the line was reading your magazine, and the other, and interchanged them while replacing them. All sorts of things can happen.
But next time you get a magazine other than YMD, first pull up the postman, and next, complain to the Postal Department.