Letters to the Editor
Q: I am a 26-year-old professional graduate married with one child. I am very short tempered and I end up quarrelling with everybody.
Normally, people lose temper because something goes wrong. But, it is impossible that things shouldn’t go wrong. Which means it is impossible that one shouldn’t get angry. What’s the solution then? Well, the solution lies in lowering the scale of expectations from the people and of life in general. This is one of the most successful ways to avoid losing temper.
To explain: if you asked somebody to do something, then, think over in your mind: what do you think the person will achieve? What kind of accomplishment it is that will make you feel satisfied? Having made it clear to yourself, what you expect of the person, (mostly, good results), next being another exercise within your mind. Tell yourself that for sure the person is not going to do it the way you want it done. Surely, he or she will spoil it, or do it badly, or not do it at all. Having assured yourself that what you have entrusted to the person, will end up in a failure, prepare yourself as to how you will receive the news. What will you say when the person turns up bringing in the disappointing result.
To give you a concrete example, let us say you sent someone to buy mutton from the market. Now, before the person comes back, tell yourself the man is not going to buy mutton. He will say, he couldn’t go or he forgot, or the shop was closed, or the meat wasn’t good, or whatever. Having assured yourself that the errand will be a failure, prepare yourself to cook vegetables instead.
Now, suppose the man turns up without the meat; surely, you wouldn’t be too angry. You will say to him and to yourself, “I knew you wouldn’t bring it.” Also, being ready with an alternative, (cooking vegetables in place of mutton) will cut down the intensity of your anger. At least you will save yourself the immediate outburst.
Now, you can’t do this sort of exercise with every little thing. But it should work with major events, and should cut down on instances when you completely lose your temper.
Further, you’ll have to analyze as to when is it that mostly you lose temper. Let’s say in the kitchen early in the morning when you have to prepare the breakfast, look after the child, things are not arriving on time, somebody is rising late creating inconvenience, etc. So, one way to curb the temper would be not to say to yourself early in the morning that today, Allah willing, you are not going to lose your temper. Rather, you should tell yourself: “Now, everyday something happens that makes me lose temper. It’s funny. Everyday something new happens. Let’s see what happens today that will make me lose my temper.” Having said that, be on the watch for something that will make you lose your temper. Being on the watch will lessen the chances of its occurrence.
Another way to fight off bad temper is to make fun of yourself in the presence of others. When you ask someone to do something, then also add, “Now, Don’t go and spoil it. You know how short-tempered I am.” Or, “Do you know that I suffer more than you when I lose my temper. So, for God’s sake, don’t go and spoil this. Do it the way I want it. Do you want me to shout at you?” Or, “Man, do it properly. There is somebody in the house who is short-tempered.” These kinds of statements will not only curb your anger but also make it easier for others to bear when you flare up.
Finally, if the anger is really too hot, just leave the place. Go wash your face. Drink some cold water. If that doesn’t work, pour some water on yourself. Wetness of your clothes, will on the one hand cool you down, and on the other hand, require a change of dress, diverting your mind and thought away from what made you angry.
Q: I read the Qur’an regularly with Tafsir. I want to control my temper but am unable to do it in spite of my several attempts. I get angry easily and in that mood I lash out my tongue at everybody, including my elders.
Your short-temper seems to be a trial from Allah. You will have to take it as a challenge. You must try and come out on top of it.
As a practical action, take account everyday of your lashing out instances at the people during the previous day, and seek their forgiveness when you are cool. You might not always be able to say sorry to them, or seek forgiveness, since, after all, you’d have feeling that it was they who provoked you to anger.
With that thought, saying sorry will be very difficult. Rather, when you notice them sort of out of mood, or cold towards you, or indifferent, say, “Take it easy, man. What’s said in anger is not to be taken too serious.” Or, “Cool it off, man. Fire will not quench fire.” Or, “Ah, I see you put off. But I think it is over-reaction.” Or, “So, you haven’t forgotten yesterday’s brawl. Let me make you a tea to make you forget it. Shall I?” Or some such words of compromise. That, perhaps, is the best you can do after you have been angry with someone.
Q: Due to this I am very unhappy knowing very well that my good deeds are getting destroyed and I am becoming a sinner. I even disobey my parents in that temper.
It should be much easier to say sorry to the parents. Also, at normal times take good care of them. Attend to all their needs in a most diligent manner. Ask them, “Papa/ Mama, where do you think I got this bad temper from. Anyway, you must pray for me. Only your prayer can help me get rid of it,” etc.
Q: I lose all commonsense, thinking, etc., in the mood. My mother says that I have all bad qualities like, short temper, narrow-mindedness, jealously, etc. These accusations are making me much more depressed.
You have to realize that it is not easy to control one’s temper. It is a Herculean task. But, it can be curbed. And that’s what you should be satisfied with.
As regards your mother’s words, probably, your quick flare up leads her to think in those terms. You should have a good laugh at it and make fun of your anger. Make your mother also laugh at you, rather than get angry in return. If you take it easy, they will also take it easy.
Q: I perfectly know that these are all the features of a hypocrite.
They are not. In fact, hypocrites have a very good control of their tempers. They are deft at dealing with people and situations. Your anger is a trial from Allah (swt). You curb it and earn the reward.
Q: I have tried but in vain to control and fight my inner bad self. I have desperately tried every method and this letter is the last step which I have taken.
Consulting us need not be the last step. Try out methods suggested by us. But lack of immediate results should not disappoint you. This life is a trial. Everyone is tried one way or the other. We have to win over what we are tried with. If you sit back in despair, it’s his victory. Don’t accept defeat, even if you lost this time. Remember that until death, there is always a “next time.” Let yours be the last laugh and the final victory yours.
Finally, say Kalimah Shahadah as many times as possible, all over the day. Not just repetitions at some time. Rather, every few minutes say it once, may be about 8-10 times an hour. Not the whole of it, but simply, “Laa ilaaha illa-Allah.” It should have a soothing effect on your soul, Allah willing.
Q. Kindly answer these questions. Is it allowed to wear pants or shirts or baniyanas Ehram dress?
No, it is not allowed to wear stitched clothes as pilgrim garb.
Q. The Shi`a wear pants or banians as ‘Ehram‘.
We have not noticed them wearing stitched clothes during Hajj.
Q. Why don’t the Shia go to Madinah?
But we have seen plenty of them in Madinah.
Q. Hajj is not accepted if pilgrims don’t go to Madinah. Why?
A Hajj in which Madinah was not visited is very much valid.
Q. Is it allowed to put on others’ slippers in Haram Sharif as there is a huge crowd and we can’t find where our own slippers are because they are all similar?
No. Either keep them with you, or mark them up and give them an identity.
Q: I am a sixteen year old regular reader of YMD. I have seen many solutions in it, with brief explanations to problems of various kinds. Is beer, which contains less alcohol (below 9% which is less affective), allowed in Islam. If it is not allowed, then why?
As to why a thing is disallowed in Islam, we truly don’t know much. We can only guess. All we know that liquor is disallowed in the Qur’an. With that, we don’t need to know the reason. It’s like the parents disallowing their child something. It isn’t necessary for the child to know why it is disallowed. It is enough for him that the disallowance has his parents, as the authority. Similarly, after it is disallowed in the Qur’an, there is no need to check on why it is disallowed. The one who disallowed must have had a good reason. If we knew a thing was prohibited, we wouldn’t need guidance from above. We could have worked it out ourselves.
When the Companions heard about the revelation, they went back to check if it was revelation. Once convinced that Muhammad couldn’t be speaking on his own behalf, they never asked about any Islamic injunction as to “Why” it was prohibited or enjoined. A’isha (ra) was once asked as to why women were to repeat fasts missed during menstruation but not the Prayers? It was a straight-forward “Why” question. But the answer was very significant. She said, “Because, at the time of Prophet, we were asked to repeat the missed fasts but not the Prayer.”
Extremely intelligent as she was, she perhaps understood the sickness of the heart and confusion of the mind, and straightaway pointed out “why” we do things in our religion. If the question is, “Why?”, the answer is, “Out of obedience.” As regards, beer, the answer is, first of all, the definition of what is “wine” or “alcohol” has to be understood: Anything that intoxicates is “wine”.
And now the principle: “Anything of which a big quantity causes drunkenness is prohibited in small quantities also.” That is because big and small quantities are uncertain terms. What is small quantity for one, is big for another and what is big for one is small for another. Again, bodies vary in physical, psychological and moral reactions to similar causes. Some people can get drunk with 2% wine in water. On another, it might have no effect. Therefore, beer, if it has any amount of alcohol in it stands forbidden. But that beer is permissible which is completely free of alcohol or other intoxicants. The effects of intoxicants on the libido are well known by the doctors. It seriously affects the performance.
As we have said earlier, we do not know all the reasons why wine was prohibited. But Qurtubi the famous commentator of the Qur’an has reported that once a drunken man was seen, drinking his own urine and saying, “Allah be praised for having guided me to Islam.”
Q: Is cigarette-smoking haram in Islam?
Tobacco is different from wine in two important aspects. It is not an intoxicant regardless of how much is consumed. Therefore, it cannot be declared prohibited on those grounds. Many scholars hold the opinion that tobacco consumption, in whatever form, although undesirable, is not unlawful. It is undesirable because it wastes money, makes one dependent on it and has a foul smell which is disliked by angels visiting man. However, such disadvantages do not call for a permanent, irrevocable prohibition.
On the other hand, it is proven from studies that smoking tobacco leads to cancer. It is on this ground that some scholars have declared it unlawful since Allah (swt) has forbidden us that we destroy our bodies by willful means.
Q: YMD is a useful digest for me. May I ask why Muslim women are prohibited to go to the graveyard?
Ajmal Ahmad & Mohammad Haneef,
You see, Islam is the name of devotion to God. It severs all relationships with false gods and leads man to One God who alone is the Creator and Sustainer of this world. It disapproves of devotion to men who assume divinity, to angels, holy men, spirits, material things, natural phenomena, physical forces, etc. Graves and graveyards are not the central theme of life. Islam is not the religion of Ka’aba either, or that of the mosques, or the temples, or shrines, or tombs, or graveyards. It is the religion of devotion to One God.
Islam is a way of life that has devotion to One God as the end purpose and the central theme. If Muslim women understand this, it will become immaterial to them whether they are allowed to go to the graveyards or not.
What a Muslim woman has to be worried about is: Is she devoted to Allah? How much does she pray to Him every day? How much of the Qur’an and Hadith does she read during the 24-hour cycle? Is she able to raise her children on Islamic principles? Is her house a centre of virtue? Do the people of the surroundings look to the people of her house for guidance, help and comfort? These are the things that she should be worried about and not whether she can go to the graves or not: whether allowed or not is another matter. Where is the time for an Islamically oriented woman to visit the graves?
In fact, the questions above should be the concern of Muslim men also. Being allowed to visit the graves does not mean that the grave should become the centre of all activities. The living are more deserving of service than the dead.
It is only when Muslims lost grounds to their enemies on the surface of the earth, that they began to shift emphasis to what is beneath the surface: the graves. And, therefore, they lament that half of their population is not allowed to the graves.
As for why men are allowed to visit the graves, and not women, it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out the answer, if one knows the role and duties of women in Islam, and the position that she takes in the system.
A woman in Islam is not the cheap thing that you see in the streets today: the rough and tough barber, or car mechanic, or petrol-filler, or sweeper, or garbage collector, or bus driver, or sales-girl, or cat-walker, or prostitute, or butcher, or street vendor, or police-woman, or ticket–collector, airline hostess, men’s parlour masseur, or welder, or tennis ball collector, boxing ring advertiser, or bench-fitter, or boot polisher, or gate-keeper, or gardener, or drug peddler, or gangster, or nude-model, or pimp, or waitress, or disco-dancer, or open-show sex partner. She is none of that in Islam.
In Islam she is a honourable lady of the house: serving the husband and children and in turn served by the father, brother, husband and children. She doesn’t go out at all, for any purpose, except for pleasure or when unwell. She doesn’t earn her living. Somebody else toils for her, while she does the simpler, less daunting, less harassing, less de-basing, house chore. Doing these things, within the confines of the house, gives her a character and personality entirely different from that of the Western woman of today: the one who bears half the burden of life.
In Islam, a woman is a much respected person. This is in complete contrast with the position she occupies in the West. There, she is told she is equal to man. Therefore, when she is raped, she doesn’t know what to do. If she complains, she will lose respect and maybe nothing will be done about it. After all, a woman is raped every few minutes in the USA. Being of equal rights, she can fight the case in the court. But, in practice, can she? Can she afford, for instance? In contrast, in Islam, a woman is well-respected and well-guarded. If she is raped, the rapist will lose his life. If the law fails, the father, brother, husband, or son, will kill the rapist. So she remains safe from the humiliating assault on herself.
Therefore, in Islam, she is innocent, simple, and, for those reasons, trusting. If she goes to the graves, with such a mind, she will surely be fooled and exploited. Visit to the graves will not only adversely influence one whose body, mind and soul are kept soft, tender and impressionable but will also expose her to witchcraft, magic, spiritualist’s guile, and grave-keeper’s cunning. Entering into the grave-yard, she will lose the protection of the home, the husband, children, family-seniors, the neighbourhood elders, the society, and will be exposed to the world and tricks of the Graves & Inc.
She is kept away and insulated from the world of crooks, the pervert, not for her own sake alone, but for the sake of men too. It is she who works at home on her husband and others against cunning, perversions. That is the reason why most traditional societies did not tolerate moral perversion on the part of women. She is supposed to act against it, and help bring in order. She is the monitor, the moral-police woman. If she is corrupt, how are men to be taught chastity? Therefore, she must be least exposed to the outside world.
Q. Please clarify the following. Some people say that Prophet Muhammad had the knowledge of the unseen (ilm al-ghaib).Is that true?
No it is not. Our Prophet, nor any other Prophet or Messenger of the past had the knowledge of the Unseen. The Qur’an commanded our Prophet to inform his followers that he did not have the knowledge of the Unseen. He was told (H.Q. 6: 50), “Say: I do not say I possess Allah’s treasures, nor do I know the Unseen, nor do I say that I am an angel. I follow not but what is revealed to me.”
In another revelation, Allah (swt) commanded him to announce his ignorance of the Unseen, as well as state as evidence that if he knew the Unseen, he would have suffered no inconvenience in life. Allah said (H.Q 7: 188), “Say, I do not own benefit or harm to myself, except for what Allah will. And, had I known the Unseen, I would have gathered together of the good (things) and no evil would have touched me. I am not but a warner and a proclaimer of glad tiding unto a people who will believe.”
In fact, Allah (swt) denied the knowledge of the Unseen to anyone in the heavens and the earth by saying (27: 65), “Say, none in the heavens and the earth know the Unseen except Allah. And they do not know when they will be raised up.”
Actually, we did not need the revelation to tell us that no one knows the Unseen except Allah. The use of common sense makes it apparent that no one but Allah can know the Unseen. This world is immensely large. No one knows it boundaries. In fact, modern science tells us that we will never be able to know how large our universe is. There are billions and billions of galaxies within the known universe. No one knows, nor can anyone ever know, what is there in these galaxies. How do you expect any single individual to know all that there is in an unknown and unknowable universe?
Further, the universe is in a flux. Every new second it is different from what it was the previous second. What it will be like the next second is for only him to predict who knows all its elements, and who controls all the forces of nature. More. He should have control over the will of all the living beings anywhere in the universe, to know how they will choose to act or react the next moment. If he doesn’t, he cannot control the universe, which will run into a chaos if it is left to itself just for a micro-second. That someone is Allah, the All-knowing.
This is something so overwhelming that many unbelievers deny that even God can know it. They therefore reject Qada’ and Qadr or pre-determination. They think that no one has either such immense knowledge, or such control over the universe that he could either predict, or guide the universe to a goal. But Allah (swt) is capable of what they deny. He has power over everything. So, if someone believes that our Prophet knew the Unseen (the ghayb) then, without realizing he is giving him the knowledge and power that are only Allah’s.
We also have thousands of instances from the life of the Prophet that tell us that he did not know what was to happen the next day, or even next moment. At Badr for instance, he did not know whether the news that were reaching him were about the caravan of Abu Sufyan or the Makkan army advancing on him. He had to send scouts to ascertain the facts. After the defeat of Uhud, the Prophet did not know whether the triumphant Quraysh army was going back to Makkah or would attack Madinah. He had to send ‘Ali to follow them secretly and inform him of their intention.
When he started for ‘Umrah in the 6th year after Hijrah, he did not know that the Quraysh will be stopping him at Hudaybiyyah alone, and will not allow him to enter into Makkah. Ultimately, he had to make peace and return without performing an ‘Umrah. Even in personal matters he did not know the Unseen. For example, when ‘A’isha (ra) was slandered, he did not know the truth and had to, despite all the embarrassment such things cause, consult ‘Ali and others. A maid had to tell the Prophet for his comfort that the allegation was complete nonsense. Instances can be multiplied.
Q. It is also said that the Prophet was made of noor (light). Is that true? Please don’t mention my name and ID.
We do not know in what sense it is said that he was made of noor. For, if you can photograph a human being with special cameras, you will discover that he is surrounded by a hallow of light, although dim. It is not clear what this hallow is. If the reference is to this, then, yes, the Prophet too would have possessed this hallow. But, if it is some other noor that is meant, then that noor will have to be defined.
Another possibility is that since the Prophetic body was made of the same elements as any human being, those elements can ultimately be reduced to energy (following the famous equation e=mc2).
At the extreme, if it is meant that he was not physical at all, but made of light, then, of course that is wrong. He possessed a fully physical body, felt pain and pleasure, was injured and healed just like any other body. He used to emphasize his human-ness quite often.