Letters to the Editor
Post September 11
Q. Your work is really great but since September 11 attack on WTC, you are giving more attention towards articles related to news which are not very much required in this magazine (because we often read similar articles in daily newspapers). I request you to include a column in your magazine which may be helpful for the young Muslims to spread Islam in an efficient manner.
Your criticism is right. But we are passing through times of terrible turmoil. The future of Islam and Muslims in particular, and of the world in general, much depends on how the conflicts that have been generated by the West are resolved. Additionally, majority of our readers do not read much apart from the YMD. We therefore, feel that there is need for YMD to offer the right kind of news and analysis.
For example, read the gravity of the situation in a letter that appeared in the Arab News, the leading newspaper of Saudi Arabia (dt.25th May 04), written by one Robert Lind of USA:
“Along with new revealing photographs and the disclosure of another secret interrogation sit at Baghdad Airport, ABC news reported this evening that prisoners at Abu Gharib were forced to ‘praise Jesus.’
One prisoner with a broken leg testified that he was beaten on his fractured leg until he “agreed to curse Islam” and ‘praise Jesus.’ Although torture by US troops is now well established as routinely approved from the Pentagon, it is often forgotten that Christianity is essentially the leading philosophy behind the mistreatment.
George Bush labeled his ‘war on terror’ ‘a crusade’ and he meant a Christian Crusade against Islam. In this respect, President Bush’s tacit approval of torture of prisoners is simply an extension of his religious beliefs.
It is obvious that what Bush has in mind for the entire Middle East – the destruction of an entire culture and religion. If you don’t think he’s willing to bomb you back into the Stone Age, take a good look at Afghanistan and Iraq. Shock and Awe? Make no mistake, unless you stop him in Iraq, Bush will destroy you and your civilization.”
But, of course, your criticism remains, and we shall try to balance out the presentations.
Q. I am an engineering student (B. Tech., CS & IT, College: SVITS, Mahaboobnagar, Andhra Pradesh) and in my class there are 65 students out of which only one girl is Muslim apart from me. I want to clear the misconceptions of the non-Muslims in my class about Islam and Muslims, but I can’t communicate properly with others because I did not have non-Muslim friends earlier. I also hesitate to speak with girls. I keep a beard and my trousers are always above ankles. I need your guidance. Can I keep my trousers below ankles to avoid their strange looks at me? Can I speak with girls face to face? Please help me and understand my problem.
Muhammad Hasan Mohiuddin,
We cannot understand what your problem is and why your performance should be poor. As regards your failure at conversation, it is expected to improve with time. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any need to talk face to face with the girls. Talk to them what? Islam? But, have they asked you about Islam? If they haven’t, how can you start off a conversation on Islam? But rather, you should conduct yourself in a normal manner, and remain friendly with those you interact with. If they bring up the subject of Islam, you can offer clarifications. But if they do not, then you cannot dictate the topics of discussion in any gathering. If you become a preacher, talking about Islam whenever someone comes within your range of conversation, you will be circumvented and your company avoided.
You must understand that you might be eager about Islam, devotion to Allah, leading a pious life, etc., but not necessarily everyone around you is.
On your part, if you are true to Islam, and wish to be an effective Muslim, you must attempt, in parallel to your Engineering studies, a good study of Islam, giving it a good number of years. It is another thing that, at the moment, you need to concentrate on your college studies which will largely decide your future.
Q. One of my non-Muslim friend questions the genuineness of the holy relic in Hazratbal shrine. Can you throw some light on its origin?
Yahya Bakhtiyar, Jammu
The genuineness of any relic is, indeed, questionable. None have any written history behind them. We have seen relics related to the Prophetic times, that looked quite new without any one of the hallmarks of an ancient material. So, the position is undefendable.
Islam has little value for such relics anyway. Qur’an is the greatest relic of the humankind. It is untouched of them, is pure and fresh as it was at its first appearance. You should be discussing it with your friends.
Q. This year my brother went to Hajj. He did Umrah on behalf of all his brothers and sisters. Now, does this mean that Hajj is now obligatory on all his brothers and sisters?
Q. While I was chatting on internet an unknown person interfered and claimed that he is Mahdi. He said: “Hello people, Salam alaikum, this is the Mahdi of Islam and Rasool Allah the Messiah of God from prophets Ibrahim and Mohamed; born in Egypt (Alexandria) and live in NYC. The message of god is that God swears by USA; and NYC is the holy land and the mother of the cities like god swore by Mecca before in Koran. The prophet Isa will be on my side soon, inshallah. May Allah guide us all to the truth. Ameen”. I warned him not to take life as a joke. But he began to make claims that he will soon appear for everyone, and so on. Please tell me how I can guide such a person.
You couldn’t have said anything better than you did: “Don’t treat this life as a joke.”
Far from guiding a Mahdi, you cannot guide those several followers of several Mahdis, who appeared in several countries, at several times, except by asking them to return to the Jewel called the Qur’an and read it with an open, scientific and intellectual mind, free of all inherited beliefs, ideas and influences.
Q. I would like to join a business that is originally sponsored by USA. In view of what is happening in Iraq, can I still conduct business with them, and for them?
Yes you can.
Q. Two years back a cousin of mine (now sixteen years old) started to complain that he was able to see some jinns who were trying to harm him. He said these jinns would come when he was all alone and threaten him. This continued for some time and finally his parents took him to some peer or fakir. After that he said that the jinns came and threatened him that he should throw away the amulet given by the peer or face the wrath of jinns. He was taken to another peer and after that he did not talk about jinns. Instead he developed a lot of interest in palmistry, astrology and numerology etc. He even bought some books on this subject and is very much influenced by them. In addition to that, he is now also interested in stones and emeralds like ruby etc., which are worn by a person on his fingers embedded in rings. He believes that these stones have mystical powers and recently pleaded to his parents to take him to some Mystic (who gave him three such stones for wearing). Further he loves to visit shrines and tombs of saints etc. I told him that he should abstain from such things but he says that these things are helping him to overcome stress, find peace and solace etc. I find that he is neglecting his studies etc. and only concentrating on these things. Kindly advise how to make him see logic and stop doing such things.
It is well-known that those who are psychologically or mentally weak, suffer from insomnia, delusions, hallucinations, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. Their minds play upon them during wakefulness such things as are normally experienced by persons in sleep. After a time, the victim begins to believe in the reality of the images he sees. At that stage, he needs to see a good psychologist or psychiatrist who conduct tests and determine as to what exactly is wrong, and what could be the cure. Normally, they are successful and the patient recovers.
We believe this is what your cousin requires, although he is at a late stage and will have to struggle hard against himself to profit from medical care. To benefit from a doctor, he must first admit that there is something mentally wrong with him, and that he is ignorant when compared to a doctor. If he thinks these are two different fields, and that he knows in his field what the doctor knows in his field, then, consulting him will not benefit him.
Therefore, before seeing a doctor, he must be first persuaded to give up the black arts in their entirety, e.g., palmistry, astrology numerology etc., and start to pray five times a day, recite the Qur’an, and say the kalimah shahadah a hundred times a day in one sitting, in slightly raised voice, but not too loudly.
After a few weeks, he must be advised to start reading the Qur’an in two ways: First, recite it for about half an hour and then spitting between his two hands, rub his face, head, and body thoroughly – thrice, every day. Second, get hold of a translation and commentary, in any language, that he is able to follow. Devote another half an hour to its study. It is expected that over a period of one year both his mind, as well as the brain will become stronger. With that the hallucinations will go away, never to come back again, so long as he remains with the Qur’an.
There is every possibility that he might never have to go to a psychiatrist for treatment.
If he doesn’t do as we have advised, but continues with palmistry etc., then, in a few years he might become incurable, and finally end up becoming a witch doctor, Allah forbid.
Allied to Non-Muslims
Q. I have some question which I hope you will reply. Can prayer be offered behind an individual who is more inclined towards non-believers rather than towards Allah the Almighty?
Being allied to non-Muslims does not disqualify a person from leading in Prayers. But, if someone knows that he is disliked by the congregation, for good religious reasons, (such as his closeness to the unbelievers in preference to the believers), then he should himself avoid leading the Muslims in Prayers.
However, the congregation might not give up praying behind a person simply because he is allied to the non-Muslims. If they can replace the Imam, well and good, otherwise they should not break away from the congregation, nor should they form a separate group within the same mosque for Prayers.
Q. What do you say about the Muslim rulers? It is well-known that they – especially in the Middle East – prefer USA or others over Allah, and are ever obedient to them.
This is a matter difficult to judge. Alliances and treaties are necessary in international relationships. Islam has room for them. And, in every alliance, the weaker party has to bend and the stronger dictates the terms. But the interests of the nation, and the Ummah in general, should not be compromised. If it is seen that they are being compromised, especially when there is obedience of the enemies of Islam, in disobedience to Allah, then, people must react. They must remove such leaders through legitimate means, if available, such as, e.g., through the ballot box. If no means are available for peaceful removal of the corrupt rulers, then at least they should protest by speaking to them, writing letters to them or to newspapers, and by sending delegations to them to express the public concern. But, all that failing, there is little else they can do. A violent method, which harms the innocent, should not be adopted. This has been seen in some Muslim states. Since those who are in power, firmly control everything in the land, the violent groups have been decimated and the struggle actually strengthened the rulers. They found loopholes in their network, closed them, and began to suppress their people in a more brutal manner. Violent methods then, are inadvisable.
We understand that to the youth this advice sound like a compromise and a show of weakness. It offers no solution to their frustrations, the humiliations to which the Ummah is subjected, and the denial to them to set the things right by force, since that is the only language their enemies understand and employ in diplomatic maneuvers. We understand these feelings. But the fact is, there are no alternatives. The Prophet had a premonition of such conditions one day prevailing in the Ummah, and has, for such hopeless situations, advised patience.
The youth must also turn to Islam and everyone of them should become a challenge, by his own existence, to the enemies of Islam who hate to see a practicing Muslim. Finally, they must pray to Allah for help and removal of the corrupt from leading positions.
Supplications have great powers. We can see how supplications of the Ummah at large, humiliated the Americans, who brought it upon themselves. No conquering power at any time in past history suffered such humiliation at the national level as did the Americans in Iraq, at their own hands. This was the direct result of the helpless Ummah with its raised hands praying in congregation, as noticed in the Gulf, pleading Allah to humiliate the aggressor.
We do not mean, of course, that the Ummah should become passive. This affair started with Jihad and will end with Jihad, as promised in the traditions of the Prophet. But, individual acts of desperation can prove to be self-destructive and have no legal basis in Islam.
Q. Should Muslims use American and UK products?
American products, yes, they are visible in the markets occupying a fourth position after Japanese, Chinese and Far Eastern products. But UK products? What are they? There is a good, sound, and desperate reason why British positions and policies must be spelled at the White House: a point that is increasingly being made by British thinkers themselves.
In general, buying foreign products, to the neglect of the local, hurts the national economy and strengthens foreign economies. The economy of our own country suffers with people’s refusal to support their own country’s products. Citizens should always buy their own country’s products, even if they are lower in quality at the moment, since with time they are bound to improve. On the other hand, if they are not locally supported, the producers will have to ultimately wind up business. Of course, the producers should also aim at matching the foreign quality and cost.
Purchase of local products generates jobs, and saves foreign currency that can be utilized for importing high technology, rather than technological products. It is only when there is a complete imbalance between local and foreign goods that one might choose to buy a foreign product. Yet, this applies to necessary goods alone, and not to luxury items. For example, one may not buy Pepsi, soap or facial cream, or cloth, of foreign origin. He or she should buy the local, even if inferior in some ways, in preference of the foreign, which might be better in quality. One must understand that he is the son of the soil from which he draws nourishment, and, that the soil has its own legitimate rights upon its sons.
Q. Most Muslim women, especially college-going girls are unaware of the vital matters of Fard. Please discuss these issues elaborately.
H. Mohammed Haris,
It is not clear what exactly you mean by Fard. Do you mean the faraa’id and waajibat? If so, we imagine this will be hard to present in this column. Although, in view of growing ignorance, a series of articles explaining the basics of Islamic duties, should be useful for all, men as well as women.
Q. My brother is doing MDS (Master of Dental Surgery). He has to do dissertation as part of his course, which he is doing on the anti-microbial activity and treatment effects of honey. As we all know, honey plays an important role in Islamic tradition and its values are also mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. So he wishes to mention in his thesis the importance of honey as spoken of by Almighty Allah, Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and Islamic scholars. Will you please provide him with the necessary information?
Minhajuddin Ahmed Faruqi,
We regret that we do not have ready-made data. A little bit of research will be required to get the information out. But since the dissertation is being prepared by your brother, we believe it would be better for him to conduct this little research. The results will be more satisfying to him than when done by someone else.
Several publications are now available on the topic, both from religious point of view as well as the general. Further, there are a host of sites on the internet on honey and honey-bee. We will be in fact glad to publish his research results.
Q. YMD is read by one and all in our family. Your editorials are worth a read. Please answer my question: Innumerable Muslims wear shirts and trousers. Is it permissible? We are told not to wear clothes that are worn by peoples of other faiths. But, Pathani suits or “Thobe” as worn by Arabs are not accepted in places of work.
Your simple question seems to have evoked an editorial on the issue. Pls. see that column of this issue.
Q. I regularly visit your website, it’s really a good service to young Muslims. Most of my Muslim friends discuss on different topics of Islam like Purdah, Maslaks, types of Jamats, keeping of beard, bank jobs and so on, but the discussions end on a dissatisfactory note. I try to clear their doubts by referring to previous issue of Young Muslim Digest, but I’ve to face some difficulties in searching for appropriate answers. Now that you have been publishing the magazine for 25 years, I suggest you to publish a book on Fiqh for Young Muslims, which will help us understand Islam in a better way and clear the doubts.
Jameel, Muhammad Hasan Mohiuddin,
A project of this sort is in the pipeline for quite a while. But not much headway could be made. We shall try to revive it.
Exciting New Books
Q. I take the liberty of informing you about the latest editions of our two important publications on Qur’an and Sunnah. These are:
(a) Medicinal Plants in the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (ISBN 81-901352-0-1, pages-224) and
(b) Plants of the Quran (ISBN 81-900290-9-6 Pages-224) by Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi, Dy. Director (Scientist) and Head (Retired) Plant Chemistry Division, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India.
The books referred to above contain scientific descriptions (Botany, Chemistry and Medicinal Properties) of medicinal, food and aromatic plants mentioned in Quran and Sunnah with relevant references of verses and Hadiths. (Prophetic sayings). Eminent Islamic scholars and scientists have extensively reviewed both the books worldwide. These are regarded as the best and the most authentic works on the subject and an important addition to scripture botany.
Internationally known Islamic thinker, the late Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Founder-Member, Rabita Al-Islami, Makkah Mukarramah, has written scholarly Preface for both the books and the renowned Botanist, Dr. S.K. Jain (Former Director, Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta), has contributed the Introduction to the books. According to Maulana Rabe Hasani, Rector, Nadwa Islamic University and Member, Rabita, the books have removed much confusion in the interpretations of Qur’an and Sunnah. Prof. J. Vassal, Botany Dept. of Toulouse University, France considers the books as an important and valuable sum of knowledge whereas Prof. M. Ilyas, Head, Chemistry Department of Aligarh Muslim University says that the books are the only ones on the subject with coherent scientific reasoning.
Similarly, Prof. D. M. W. Anderson of Edingbugh University thinks that because of originality of thought the book is a valuable contribution to the religious as well as scientific literature. Dr. Yamani, Chairman of IQRA International Foundation claims that the book (Plants of the Quran) has really filled a gap in Qur’anic Studies that has been yawning for centuries. Maulana Dr. Kalbe Sadiq, Chairman, Tauheed Trust declares that the books are excellent contribution towards Islamic Ma’arif (knowledge). In the opinion of Dr. S. K. Jain, the information given in the books benefit mankind. If you feel interested in these books and would like to procure for your Center/ Institute/ Organization/ personal library, kindly write to us. In case you have already procured/ studied these books, be kind enough to email us your valued comments. We have our Booksellers (agents) at New Delhi, U.K., U.S.A and U.A.E
Dr. M. I. H. Farooqi Sidrah Publishers, C-3/2 Shahid Apartments, Golaganj Lucknow-226018, India Tel; 0522-2210683, Fax: 0522-218950 E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Price (in India): Plants of the Quran : Rs120/-(PB) & Rs 200/-(HB) Medicinal Plants of Prophet Muhammad: Rs 160/-(PB) & Rs 300/-(HB).
Books available at:
New Delhi, Millat Book Centre, 3756-Churiwalan, Delhi-6. Email; email@example.com (Tel:23274339)
Islamic Book Service,2241-Kuche Chelan New Delhi-2, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Teel:23286551)
IDARA Export,168/2 Jha House, Nizamuddin West, Delhi-13, Email : email@example.com (Tel:26926832)
UBS, 5-Ansari Road, N.Delhi Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tel:23266647)
U.K., Taha Publishers, London. Email : a.khan-72252@AOL.COM
U.S.A. Halaco Books, VA. Email : Halalco@Halalco.COM
Islamic Book Service, NY, Email : email@example.com
U.A.E.; Al Munna Bookshop, Sharjah. firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S.: The books are also available with some other prominent booksellers of New Delhi. Persian, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and Kannada versions of Plants of the Quran also available. Arabic Version is expected to be made available soon, Bulletin entitled Manna and Cedar – In the Light Qur’an, Bible and Science is also available
NOTE — While asking for the copies of above referred to books to our agents in India or elsewhere, kindly write to us also at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for early compliance.
Thank you so much for taking the trouble to introduce these new publications to us. We have reproduced your letter for the benefit of our readers, many of whom would like to possess them.
Ka‘ba and Zamzam
Q. Please write detailed articles on Ka’aba and Zamzam.
Yes, Allah willing, we shall run these articles in the coming months.
Trimming the Beard
Q. You answered my question twice. First you answered on Imam Mahdi. In the second you did answer on Yajuj Majuj! What’s going on?
We split the answer in two because of the length.
Q. You did not answer my inquiry about the reference to the hadith which you quoted (“oppose the fire worshippers and trim (shorten) your beards”).
Younus Hasan Khan,
Could you be referring to the YMD issue of August 2002? If so, good, for, we committed an error there while answering to Mohammed Khurram. We stated, “He (the Prophet) is also reported to have said, ‘Go against the Zoroastrians and shorten your beards.’” There was an error there. The correct version is, “Go against the Zoroastrians and shorten your moustaches.” Thank you for leading us to the error.
Q. I want to know whether …rbation is prohibited in Islam.
Please see our answers in the issues of May and June of the year 2001.
Q. Please also let me know whether thinking about adultery is also adultery.
Although thinking about a sin is not a sin, so long as it is not committed, we have earlier written about how to control the mind and avoid thinking of things that are of no profit. To state briefly here, the mind should be kept busy, thinking about matters of importance. This will require excessive reading, and discussion of serious affairs with serious people. The more a mind is fed with meaningful data, the greater it remains engaged with that data. It is when the mind is idle that it starts to think about things that can lead to sin. Secondly, a young man should keep himself so busy, physically and mentally, that he falls into sleep uncontrollably at night. Nature then works on him and offers relief through the natural process.
Folding the Pants
Q. Is it compulsory to fold pants above the ankles while praying?
There is a single hadith to this effect, but it is declared weak by the author of Kanz al-‘Ummaal.
The First Verse
Q. Is Bismillah the first verse of revelation or Alhamdulillah?
Mohammed Mahmood Jamelullail,
Neither of the two. The first verse of revelation is, “Read in the name of thy Lord who created” of chapter 96.