Letters to the Editor
Q. Is it necessary for a Muslim to follow any one of the four Imams? Or should we just follow all the authentic ahadith? I ask that because sometimes these Imams (may Allah have mercy upon them) contradict the authentic reports of our Prophet (saws).
Firstly, you must be aware that you do not follow an Imam. Nobody does it. No one has ever followed Imam Shafe‘i, or Ahmed ibn Hanbal, or others.
Far from common people, even for scholars it will be difficult to follow the opinions of any one of the four Imams. But rather, the people follow one of the four schools of which the foundation were laid by the said Imam. For example, Hanafis do not follow the opinions of Imam Abu Haneefah. They follow the opinions of the Hanafi school of thought. So also, the Hanbalis follow the Hanbali Madh-hab. It is not Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal that they follow. The famous work Al-Mughni, e.g., was not written by Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal.
That applies to all Madh-habs. This is because the particular school of thought took a long time to mature after its foundations were laid by the Imam of that school. During that period of maturity, which lasted a couple of centuries, several renowned scholars made their contributions to the school, individually and collectively.
For, primarily, what the Imam (and his colleagues) had initially done was to lay the intellectual basis and provide the working principles. Those who followed them, down to this day, do it for one of the two reasons: either they are of the common folks and cannot work out Shari‘ah law on their own, such of them have no choice but to follow an Imam’s school; or the followers are scholars who agree with the principles of the school. If they do not, then of course, since they have the intellectual capability, they switch over from one to another school.
There have been therefore, although not many, but occasional cases of scholars switching schools because they found that the principles of the new school matched better with their own understanding of the Islamic Law. They had, then intellectual grounds, and gave intellectual reasons for their preferences. In rare cases, if a scholar reaches the status of Ijtihad then he is not bound to follow any Madh-hab. He can, in fact, start off his own Madh-hab, which the common people are free to follow or not to follow.
It is also incorrect to say that the Imams, or anyone of them, ignored a hadith, or was unaware of it, because of which his ruling is now incorrect. To make such an allegation, one firstly needs to establish whether the reference is to the ruling of the school of thought, or is it, to the Imam’s ruling, since, as we know, most people are confused or misinformed over the issue and so, fasten an opinion to an Imam while it might be the opinion of the school of Law or vice versa.
In either case, one needs to, in the next step, establish that if there is a hadith which contradicts the opinion of the Imam or the school. Thereafter, the following have to be established: (a) Is the hadith, which seems to contradict, complete or is it part of a long report? (b) What is the established meaning of the hadith? Is it understood by the scholars in the same sense, as an ordinary person understands it, especially if the person does not know Arabic, and depends on translations? (c) Are there other ahadith on the topic at hand but giving out a different sense? (d) Is there any contradiction in the meaning of the hadith with any established source text? (e) If it is a hadith with a single source, then was the reporter’s own practice reported, and if so, does it reconcile with his report?
The above are a few points. There are several other issues involved before it can be judged if any of the Fuqaha or their followers ruled against a hadith. But, for the common folk, it is best not to go into the exercise, because they lack the tools for it and the knowledge. It is like high school boys questioning Quantum theory’s rightness or wrongness. If they wish to do that, they should do graduation, then masters, and finish with a Ph.D., to be able to attempt a meaningful criticism.
Q. Can you please give me the correct order of the major signs of the Day of Judgement?
Younus Hasan Khan,
The major signs of the closeness of the Hour are ten. But there is no agreement among the scholars over the order because the ahadith do not mention them in any specific order.
The following order is conjectural: (1) The Smoke, (2) Dajjal, (3) ‘Isa ibn Maryam (asws), (4) Yajuj and Majuj, (5) Sunrise from the West, (6) The Animal that will speak to the people, (7) Earth-sinking in the West, (8) Earth-sinking in the East, (9) Earth-sinking in the Arab world, and (10) A fire that will start from Yemen and drive the people to the Field of Reckoning. Some have placed the three sinkings at the beginning. Allah (swt) knows best.
Q. Please answer my questions in the light of Qur’an and Hadith. Usually after Asr and Fajr prayers the Imams sit with their face towards the followers. Why?
This is half way of doing what the Prophet used to do. After every Prayer he would turn to the followers and sit for a while facing them, while he and they all did Dhikr. Perhaps he waited for someone to ask a question. Sometimes he himself inquired if anybody had seen a good dream. Then, after a few moments, he left. Most of his Companions also left to offer their Sunnah/ Nafil prayers at home.
The Hanafiyy opinion is that, one may go into Dhikr after the Fard Prayers, provided the Dhikr does not lead to not doing the Sunnah/ Nafil Prayers. However, experience showed that once the people sat down in Dhikr – immediately after the Fard Prayers – then such sitting lengthened and ultimately they left without offering the Sunnah/ Nafil which they didn’t do at home also. Therefore, the Hanafiyy Imam now turns and sits doing Dhikr after ‘Asr and Fajr Prayers, at which time there is no prescribed Sunnah/ Nafil prayers, but not after the other three Prayers of the day, allowing the followers to start their prescribed Sunnah/ Nafil prayers.
Q. Why do the Imams sit between the Khutba of Friday and Eid prayers?
This is the way of the Prophet.
Q. Why do the people change their places to offer Sunnah/ Nafil Prayers?
Mirza Arzoo Baig, B.Sc,
We are not too sure of the origin of the practice. As stated above, at the time of the Prophet, most Companions did not offer their Sunnah/ Nafil prayers at the mosque. They did them at home so we can’t say the practice you have asked about is their practice.
However, there could be one reason, as some scholars have said, that the people are moved by the reports that the earth will bear witness of so and so Praying on it on such and such a day. So, presumably people change position in hope that several spots of earth will bear witness of their Prayers. Allah knows best.
Q. I read in your magazine that it is allowed for a woman to cut her hair. I want reference for this. Please reply as soon as possible.
Muhammad Shihabuddin Qasmi,
There is nothing in the Qur’an and hadith prohibiting Muslim women shortening their hair, except on the occasion of Hajj and `Umrah. What is not prohibited through a Nass (text) nor by Qiyas (analogy) in such matters is permissible.
Q. Is it allowed to give the Imam rewards or gifts after the completion of the Taraweeh?
Mohammed Meher Rizwan,
There is nothing wrong in offering the Qari who conducts Taraweeh Prayers anything as gift. But the timing is incorrect. He may be offered gifts anytime and not necessarily at the end of Ramadan. To give it at the end – although not unlawful – is like a “wage that was understood to be given.”
As for the Imam, it is unlawful for him to expect to be gifted something for his Qur’anic recitation.
Q. I have some questions which please answer: How can a Muslim mend him his doing?
Perhaps you mean how can a Muslim amend himself. If that is the question, then, there is a short answer and a long answer. A long answer can be given by a scholar who knows your situation and can help you change your lifestyle.
The short answer is, start studying Islam through Qur’an and Sunnah. If you discover that you are not the reading type, then, go out with, say, Jamaat Tableegh. They might imbibe in you, apart from other things, some reading habit.
Q. Can Islam be propagated through chatting?
Of course, yes.
Q. How can we pray during Laylah al-Qadr?
One of the best things would be to go to bed immediately after the Taraweeh Prayers and then get up about half an hour before the time for Suhur starts, and engage oneself in Salah offering two Raka`a at a time until Suhur time.
Q. I am an intermediate second year Bi.P.C. (science) student from Andhra Pradesh. My aim is to bag a rank in the entrance test for admission into M.B.B.S. course, for which memory plays a major role. I request to kindly suggest me some ‘duas’ and ‘vazifaafs’ from the Qur’an to boost my memory and intelligence and for success in my aim.
It is good to be seeking Allah’s help in achieving our purposes. But, we are sorry to say that we have received no reports concerning supplicatory verses in the Qur’an meant for improving memory.
The Qur’an is there for guidance. For example, the Qur’an is there to tell us whether it is necessary to become a doctor or an engineer to achieve success. This takes us to another issue: defining success. We will have to abandon the definition we have for the word ‘success,’ and accept the definition that comes from the Qur’an. This is what the Qur’an is for.
Thus, approaching the Qur’an with right reasons, we arrive at a position where “success” is rightly defined. When that is over, that is, success correctly defined, you will have to aim at achieving excellence. Why? It is because Allah (swt) gives His own example of doing everything with excellence.
To clarify, the attempt at achieving excellence will not be because that way you – or anyone else – will achieve success. No. One will not be able to achieve this or that worldly objective through excellence. But rather, excellence has to be achieved simply because it is Allah’s command that we seek to achieve excellence. That way, we win Allah’s approval for whatever we do.
Now, achieving excellence is only possible through hard work. Therefore, hard work becomes necessary.
Thereafter, that is, after having put in hard work, one will have to leave the affair to Allah (swt) to judge. He will decide about him what He will. In consequence, when the result is out, the person in question will have to accept the result as “the best thing possible for him.” It would be “the best thing possible for him” because, whatever Allah (swt) decides for him is “the best thing possible” at that moment, in that phase.
Let us assume a person does not score high marks. Is it the best thing for him? The answer is, yes. The condition attached is that he would have put up enough hard work and would have done everything to achieve excellence. So, the negative result is the best thing possible for him.
In contrast, let us suppose that the man obtained high marks, one way or another, but he did not achieve excellence with the aim of winning Allah’s approval. Is the result the best thing for him? Yes, it is, but it might be in the evil sense. He might achieve whatever he wishes to obtain. But it will bring him problems of various sorts. This is because he did not obtain Allah’s approval.
This is the way then, to achieving true success. Work hard. Why? To obtain excellence. Why? Because Allah (swt) approves of those who achieve excellence in whatever they attempt. That done, success has to follow, maybe not immediately, but it will, in the long run. Why? Because Allah’s help is with him.
As regards memory-development, there are some innovative methods that have been developed and tried in our times with some success, especially with reference to the needs of the students facing examinations. Some of them are advertised in newspapers. You might contact them. (But a few are dupers; so take care).
Insofar as seeking direct help from the Qur’an in improving memory, it has not been noticed that the memory power improves with the recitation of this or that of its parts. But it is definitely noticed that studying the Qur’an and its sciences, makes a person more intelligent.