Letters to the Editor
Q: I am a new subscriber of your magazine and am very pleased with its contents. In the May 1999 issue on p. 5 you have stated that “TV itself is prohibited in Islam: unless the programme will follow the Islamic rules but since there is not a single TV station that follows Islamic rules, we might generalise and make an unconditional statement that TV is not allowed in Islam”. But in the same issue you have carried an advertisement of BPL TV on the back cover page. Please clarify.
The T.V. is an instrument. You can put it to whatever use you wish. If you put it to the uses that the great majority of people do in our time, then, that is on your responsibility. But, if you wish you can put it to good uses too.
We advertise for the instrument and not for the programmes.
Q: Also, please answer the following: In what other circumstances apart from Jihad can we say our prayers with our shoes on.
Jihad is not a condition for one to do Prayers with the shoes on. One might pray in his shoes anywhere, anytime, any class of Prayers, so long as the shoes are clean.
However, one may not enter a mosque without removing the shoes. No matter how clean, they will make the carpets dirtier, and enrage other devotees. Nor should one with the shoes on lead in Prayers, unless specifically asked by the congregation.
Q: Please give us a detailed information on Hazrat Mahdi al-Maw‘ud and his position in Islam.
Mohammed Ali Khan,
We have covered this topic briefly in the previous issue of this magazine.
Q: Could you kindly tell me why is it necessary to change the place after performing the Fard prayers?
Shaikh Manzoor Ahmad,
It is not absolutely necessary to change place for offering Nafil Prayers after Fard. It is only recommended. As to why, we do not know for sure. Perhaps, to counter monotonous feelings and keep ennui out.
A Major Sin
Q: I can’t understand my question is not being answered. I had asked about…
The practice that you have mentioned is a major sin in Islam, punishable with death in an Islamic state.
Q: I am a regular subscriber of your magazine and I find it very thought provoking and full of Islamic knowledge and ideology. Through this letter, I want to request you or any of its reader to kindly provide me the translation of the following Poem in English written by Allama Iqbal. The Poem has been taken from Bal‑e‑Jibrael. The Poem is as follows: “Khude ka sere neha La ilaha ila Allah”
Irshad A. Soudagar,
Hopefully, one of the readers will help you out.
Q: Your article “The Old and the New Century (Part‑1)” in January 2000 issue was very good, but I feel that you have made your article incomplete by ignoring the name of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. You have also mentioned that, “for every 20 Israeli research papers the whole of the Arab world produces one paper for world class scientific magazines.” That means that the Muslims are at the bottom line of the scientific research. The same is the case with the Muslims of the Indian sub‑continent. It was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan who thought about this a century ago and decided to take some steps regarding this problem. He spent his whole life in making the Muslim community aware of this fact and in trying to motivate them to participate in resolving this problem. Almighty Allah helped him in turning his dreams into reality & the best example of his success in his endeavours is the Aligarh Muslim University. I’m a regular reader of your magazine and must say that it is a good one for the young Muslim community.
Islam and Muslims are two separate entities. In the scheme of things, Islam comes first and then come the Muslims. That is, first Islam has to be established among a people. Then will come the question of their earthly needs, hopes, aspirations and contributions. What would be the point if Muslims were hoisted up on the pyramid of worldly success, making massive scientific contributions, but, not as Muslims, rather as any other nation on earth – having lost their religious identity during the process of material development? Would a movement be praised that took care of the Muslims but was indifferent to their religion?
The emphasis in our article was, therefore, primarily on those who served Islam in some way. Any service to Islam directly affects the Muslims. On the other hand any direct service to the Muslims might or might not (indirectly or remotely) serve Islam. Any service to Islam takes the Muslims closer to Allah, closer to His approval, and hence, more fruitful with reference to the Hereafter: their true abode. As for this world, once they win their Lord’s approval, without which the Muslims will never be able to make any contribution to this world that would win them respect … once they win His approval, the material world will be made easier for them to handle. In contrast, if their Lord is angry with them, all their efforts at material development will go awry, and they will end up bringing humiliation upon themselves rather than the ‘izzah (respect) promised by their Lord. The example of several Muslim nations is before us in our contemporary world whose governments are in the service of Muslims but not in the service of Islam. They are still at the bottom of the world, where they are likely to remain, unless Allah Himself wills otherwise.
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s ostensible objectives were to serve the Muslim Ummah. That is, the people, rather than their religion. It might be asked, can that not be termed as indirect service to Islam? Yes, it can be so termed provided the service helps Muslims practice Islam better. Did that happen in case of the institution Sir Syed set up? Was that, in fact, his objective? Did the men and women who entered the institution become better practicing Muslims? Or, was it that the education merely helped them find jobs or qualify for higher studies in the Western world? I suppose we all know the answer. It might be said: “Look at the number of Presidents and important men that Aligarh has produced.” But, we might again remind that we are talking of service to Islam and not to Muslims. Could somebody count on his fingers the number of great Islamic scholars that the institute produced? Can the institution be counted as one that helped establish Islam among the nations of the world? Did it in any other way promote the cause of Islam?
Indeed, it might be interesting and even hurtful for the Aligarhians to hear from us that the experience of those engaged in social or educational services to Islam is that they find the least help and contribution coming from them as a group. They are readily available for parties, Ghazal evening, Musha‘iras, ‘Sir Syed’ Days, etc., rather than some real good service to the Muslim Ummah. It might be hurtful to hear of this observation, but it is our duty to speak out the truth. Yes, the Aligarhians have equally participated in religious movements, but, that is not specific to Aligarhians. Young men from all sorts of institutions have participated in religious movements.
Not only that the institution’s role in producing role-model Muslims needs to be looked into, it did not even produce men and women who made contribution to science and technology, if that was supposed to be its objective, (although we don’t believe that was the objective). How many Nobel Prizes did the institution help win? How many world-class scientists did it produce? How many discoveries, inventions were made by its sons? How many research papers were written and are being written now? Perhaps we all know the answer.
We repeat once again that efforts to prop up the Muslims in the leading position by educationally or materially developing them, while their religion is ignored, will end up in failure. That is the “Annual Report” of the major Universities over the Muslim-world, many of which are about to celebrate a hundred-years of “successful contributions” to the development of the Muslims. Aligarh Muslim University is not unique.
Having said the above, we might also point out that as an educational institution, perhaps Aligarh Muslim University has been one of the most successful in the Indian sub-continent. Wherever they are: in USA or the Middle East, its former students occupy important positions. They are serious, efficient, productive, and possess a good knack of management. Further, in their civil life they are outstandingly cultured, both in manners, upkeep, as well as behaviour and social habits. They have a good taste of the fine arts too. In fact, in this regard, Aligarh Muslim University has made tremendous contributions in India the like of which another example does not exist. While other universities hardly know what culture is and how a good cultural crop can be produced, (in fact, many universities in India produce law-breakers, if not goondas, receiving training right in the campus), Aligarh Muslim University produces well-polished men, responsible, sober citizens. The credit for these things go, of course, to the founder, who set the ball rolling, may Allah forgive him his sins, rest his soul in peace, and reward him for the services to the Ummah. Service to the Ummah has its own reward. Further, the institution did educationally and economically strengthen the Muslims, and continues to do so, which can be counted as an indirect service to Islam.
The Educated and Bid‘ah
Q: In view of YMD’s authentic message, I have a request. Please take steps to circulate YMD in remote interiors and villages of India.
Apart from other difficulties, one problem that we encounter is that people do not know the English language in the remote areas.
The message then has to be taken to the people in the remote areas in person, by the readers of this magazine.
Q: It has been my observation, that Bid’ah practices are more prevalent in those areas, where even the most educated people, like doctors and some businessmen, enthusiastically practice reading of Fateha over food, celebrate Shabe’ Meraj and Shabe’ Baraat with great festivity, death anniversaries etc. Please enlighten your readers about the exact rituals and Islamic behaviour that needs to be followed on these occasions.
Being educated on secular lines says nothing about one’s education in Islam. In fact, in today’s university environment, the more a man is educated, the less he knows about his religion. Further, being educated does not mean being very intelligent either. All educational courses are designed for the average. It is hard work that gets one through the courses and not intelligence. Finally, being educated does not often mean being educated in the overall sense. Today’s educated person knows and understands little else beyond his own field of specialisation. The above three factors make an educated man no better or worse than one not educated when it comes to dealing with the finer aspects of existence. In many fields of life and its activities, the behavioural pattern of the two is by and large similar. The educated (on modern lines) can be as illogical and unreasonable in fields other than their own, including the religious field, as the uneducated. That is the reason why we see the educated class making the same mistakes as the uneducated: visiting the Dargahs, bowing down before the Peers, conducting Fatehah, Chehlum, etc. These are not practices confined to the uneducated. It has been revealed during the past couple of years that past Presidents and Prime Ministers of France regularly consulted the Palmists and astrologers. Their being well-educated and politically highly-placed did not prevent them from committing illogical acts in the realm involving the Unseen and the Unknown.
Islam is not the only religion but also the only system of thought that insists on the use of reason and logic in every field of activity, including religion. As regards those who are not trained in the use of reason and logic, it helps them by providing such clear-cut directions that even if they had blind faith in Islam, and acted blindly, they would be saved from unreasonable behavioural patterns whether involving faiths, beliefs or religious practices. It says for instance that “whoever went to an astrologer disbelieved in Islam.” Or, the Qur’an says, “Do not prostrate yourselves to the Sun or the moon, rather, prostrate yourselves before Allah who created them.” If those people who have not been trained in the use of reason and logic simply followed the Islamic persuasions and injunctions, they would remain free of foolish practices. All they have to do is to have some basic knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The rest is taken care of by the two.
The Qur’an and Sunnah then, need to be popularised. No amount of education, other than the direct study of the Qur’an and Sunnah will save people from falling into religious pitfalls. Also, the Bid‘ah practices are so many, so wide and varied, that the fight against them requires unlimited energy, time and resources. The short cut is the popularisation of the Qur’an and Sunnah studies which function as the overseers, admonishers, and reformers from within each individual’s self, reducing the role of the external agencies of reform to a minimum.
Q: Please increase the articles written in the Children’s Column.
Yes, that is one area in which several of our staffs are working. However, since we believe in high-quality work, it will be some time before their efforts bear fruit.
Q: Your digest is informative, thought‑provoking and has developed in me a desire to learn more about Islam. Recently, I came across a tradition of the Prophet (s) that the Muslim Ummah will be divided into 72 sects. Please write an article about these 72 sects and how they differ from the mainstream of the Muslim Ummah. Your reply will greatly help Muslims, who might be misled by the false propaganda and practices of the deviants. Such an exercise will surely help the readers of YMD to be aware of these people.
Imran M. Damani,
The seventy-two sects that the Prophet spoke of did not appear at one time. That happened gradually. Further, many came and then disappeared to be replaced by others. All the seventy-two of them do not exist in our times either. A few are there that might also disappear to be replaced by some others. The scholars of Islam therefore, have not kept a record of all of them. The best record still existent is perhaps that of Ibn Hazm entitled, “Al-Milal wa an-Nihal.” Yet it is not comprehensive. The international organisation for the youth, WAMY, has recently produced a book that speaks of a few of the past and a few of the present sects. But it too is not comprehensive, nor does it consist of sufficient information on every sect. It is a kind of a general knowledge book. Moreover, it is in Arabic as also Ibn Hazm’s.
Despite their inadequateness, the above two works run into large volumes. How do you think we can present something better in a magazine of this size?
We advise you and everybody else that instead of conducting a study of the deviant sects, seventy-two of them, you better study the non-deviant sect: the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah. You should know what this community is required to believe in. All else has to be rejected outright. A good book on this topic is that of the famous Hanafi scholar, Imam Tahawi. His treatise has acquired the name: “Aqidah at-Tahawiyyah.” Its best commentary is also by a Hanafi scholar, Ibn Abi al-‘Izz. Its abridged form (although still running in 250 pages) has been translated into English and is now available with Iqra Welfare Trust. Write separately for a copy.
The Rightful Owner
Q: Do the married couples cease to be husband and wife if the husband drinks his wife’s milk intentionally or unintentionally?
Although most Jurists have expressed a strong disapproval, they have not declared the marriage null and void.
Q: Is the marriage dissolved, if one or both of the partners indulge in sexual acts which are not sanctioned by the Shari’ah?
Marriage is only dissolved through divorce and Khul’.
Q: If we have no right to donate our organs after we die, then we do not have any right to donate them while alive, for Allah (swt) is as much the owner of bodies when we are alive and equally so when we are dead. Please comment.
Name & address withheld
All that exists belongs to Allah, living or non-living. Human beings are the owners of their bodies, wealth, and other possessions, until they are alive, in a figurative or unreal (Majazi) sense. With death, even that unreal ownership is lost and is transferred to the true Owner, Allah. Accordingly, following Islamic principles a man does not own his wealth after his death. If a man left a will for instance that all his wealth be given to a prostitute, a cat or a dog after his death, the testament will not be enforced (as against the Western law which, acting according to the will, will deprive the legitimate wife and children). In contrast, by Islamic law, the wealth left behind will be distributed among the inheritors in accordance with the Shari‘ah rules of inheritance notwithstanding the testament. Similarly, if a Muslim left behind a will that his body be burned, instead of being buried, his will be ignored. That is because after his death he does not own his body anymore.
The Western legal system is in a bit of a confusion over the issue. It ostensibly recognises a man’s ownership of his body both in life as well as after death. But, when a man wishes to relinquish his life, he is told that he does not own it and so is jailed for attempted suicide.
Islam and Science
Q: I am a regular reader of YMD, aged 25 years and will be completing my M.B.B.S degree shortly. I wish to do serious research on Islam, my preference is Qur’an and Science, or Medical science, but I do not want to be confined only to this area. I would like to research in an area or a discipline of Islam, which has not been attempted till date. I request you to kindly suggest topics and books on this subject, so that I can specialize in it rather than studying Islam as a subject in an unplanned way. I further require help and guidance through regular correspondence, to clarify on points unclear to me during the course of my studies on that topic of Islam. Your suggestions in this regard will be extremely valuable to me and may put me on the right track.
M. A. Jan,
When you speak of Islam and science, you are speaking of two things: (1) Islam, and (2) science. Any research therefore, of the nature you have suggested to yourself, will require that you study Islam first. If you do not know Islam very well, then, you will not know how to apply your scientific knowledge to the textual contents of the Qur’an and Hadith. We advise you therefore to start off first with a good study of the two texts. Ignoring the question of methodology, we would like to state in sum that you should study them enough to be fully familiar with them: both the texts and the meanings. That is to say that there should be no verse of the Qur’an whose meaning you do not know as understood by the earliest Muslims and the great majority of the commentators. On the other hand there should be no hadith that you are not familiar with. It is not necessary that you should know them by heart, but you should be able to recall the meaning and explanation when a particular text is referred to. Without that, your understanding of Islam would be inadequate and, consequently, application of scientific knowledge and reconciliation of the texts and facts would be extremely difficult. You might come across a scientific statement but would not be able to link it up to a textual statement or vice versa.
As regards the scientific field, here too you will at least have to have an overall view of what it is about. For, most of those who specialize in one field of science hardly know anything about another. You will have to study some of the basic books of say astronomy and physics. However, you will have to study good and authentic science works and not the newspaper or journalistic stuff. We don’t mean either the kind of sciences done in the laboratories. Rather, those kinds of books and scientific journals that lead you to the familiarization with prevalent scientific concepts. Once you feel that you have a grip on the basic concepts, you can choose one of the three, biological, physical or astronomical sciences for further, more serious study, or, (if you have a big heart) all of them.
The question of identification of problem or interest areas will only assume importance after you have done the basic studies as outlined above. Not following a properly outlined procedure, or trying to hurry up the process through short-cuts will make a dilettante of you: incapable of speaking to the scientists themselves and meeting them on their own grounds. By making such a statement we do not of course, deny levels below that ideal. Identification of problems at this stage runs another risk. With studies and research, the list alters fast. By the time you are half way through with a problem, somebody would have solved it. So, let that be done in its own time.