Letters to the Editor
Anonymous (name and address withheld on request of the questioner)
I will be glad if you can please guide me in the following matters:
My father is government employee whose earnings are both lawful and un-lawful. Now the question is are my prayer acceptable in view of the Ahadeeth which says that if one partakes of the forbidden none of his deeds are accepted? You have to consider the fact that I am a boy of 18 and a student. Further, how should I behave towards my parents? I don’t even feel like talking to them.
Being 18, you are not a boy anymore, but rather a full-fledged major and fully responsible for your deeds. From the Shari`ah point of view you are expected you to earn your own livelihood by this age. Therefore, your father’s efforts to educate you are commendable.
With regards to what you think of your father’s income, first and foremost, it is important to ascertain that it is really un-lawful. And if so, how much. May be your knowledge is wrong or incomplete. One has to be absolutely sure before declaring another’s income un-lawful. You may seek to find the truth if you are strongly convinced that part of what he earns or the whole is un-lawful. If it is only a doubt then leave it at that and do not probe into the matter.
Now, granted that a part or whole of your father’s earning is unlawful, what you have to understand is that how he earns his money is really his worry. He is fully responsible to Allah for what he earns. Yet, being a dutiful son, which Islam requires of you, there are two things that you may attempt.
One, admonish your father. This, of course, you cannot do directly. What you can do is to buy Islamic literature and having read them yourself, place them some where they will be spotted by him. You may also ask the local active Da’wah workers to pay attention to your family: but without letting them know of what you know about your father’s income, or anything else for that matter, which can be counted as gheebah (back-biting).
Two, you might perhaps try and argument his income, perhaps through a part time job. After all, there is a fair chance that if he does bring home the un-lawful, if because of the family needs. Your income added to his may help him fight the unlawful. You have written that you do not feel like speaking to him. This is unacceptable. That he is your father and deserves your good treatment – as laid down by the Qur’an and Hadeeth – remain a fact of your life. Had he been an unbeliever, you would still be required to treat him well. As an individual too he deserves sympathy more than hatred. May be he was not exposed to Islamic teachings at the right age, as you luckily have been.
Coming to the next aspect, since you are major, and required by Islam to earn your own living, what he gives you is a gift (and not your right). And as a gift it is lawful to you, even if it can be ascertained that what your father is giving was un-lawfully earned. Yet, having said that, this does not absolve you of all responsibility. You are at least required to feel the wrongfulness of you accepting gifts at regular internals, and for such long periods – from one whose income is questionable in view of the hadeeth in which the Prophet (pbuh) said: “You’ll have rulers of whom some things you’ll approve of and some things you’ll not. So he who disliked (their wrongs) absolved himself, and he who disapproved saved himself”. As a stronger step you may try to keep an account of how much you have been drawing from him. You may, at a later stage in life, return him this amount, one way or another.
For the moment, we can say that your prayers and all other virtuous acts are acceptable to Allah. And Allah knows best.
There is a hadeeth that “whoever recited Ayat-ul-Kursi after the Salat will have his sins forgiven”. There is another hadeeth to the effect that “If one says ‘Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah,’ 33 times each and ‘Allahu Akbar’ 34 times, he will have all sins forgiven.” The question is, if that is so, then why leads a life of chastity? Why not to do what you want, and have the sins obliterated by the simple acts suggested in the ahadeeth?
There is agreement between the scholars that the sins referred to in theses ahadeeth are minor ones, such as, for instance you ought to have spoken five words in sentence but you spoke ten without reason (wasting another’s time), or, you may have heard what you should not have, or delayed in fetching water to one of your parents etc. However, excluded are those sins that have been categorized as major, of which there are hundreds. These are not forgiven without a proper repentance and a proper repentance has many conditions before it can be called repentance proper. Scholars are also agreed that committing a minor sin willfully time and again, without the fear of punishment, can turn it into a major sin. Hence, one cannot take them lightly, or commit them hoping to be forgiven.
Finally, forgiveness is a gift. It is not a right. Allah bestows this gift upon those who are sincere with Him and fear Him. Sins cannot be traded with virtues. A single minor sin can be enough to land the sinner into the fire, if he tries to play the fool with his Lord.
Are the earnings of a woman Halal? That is can woman take up a job?
Yes it is perfectly lawful for a woman to take up a job or do business. However, if she is married, she needs the consent of her husband. Also it remains obligatory on her that she observe hijab while doing her job or business.
What is your opinion about the semen bank? Is it lawful for a Muslim woman to accept semen from them for in-vitro pregnancy?
M. Z. Chida, Madras
No, it is strictly unlawful in Islam for as Muslim woman to accept semen from the semen banks.
I feel that following note of dissent may be published apropos your comments regarding Ijtihad. The door of Ijtihad can never be closed or opened by the Ulema. Today our society requires answers to many new problems such as the legitimacy of joint stock, biotechnology, blood transfusion, organ transplant and etc.
Zaheeruddin Z. M. Babar, Bombay
One way you are right about ijtihad, that its door cannot be closed, and one way incorrect. You are right in the sense that when a mujtahid arrives the door will have to be opened for him, otherwise he’ll forcibly open them. You are incorrect that the doors cannot be shut for anyone, implying that it should be opened for all and every one. This is what the scholars cannot agree to. In fact, even those who insist that the doors should be opened unconditionally usually want the prerogative for themselves. And do not agree on any mujtahid who they think is suitable to issue rulings, except that they may, even if half-heartedly, “allow” him to operate without themselves feeling the least obligation to accept his rulings. This will, of course lead to multiple mujtahids if not at every street corner, each with his own set of followers, and a school that may well end up as a new sect, and each denying another’s validity. (This nearly happened recently, while there is strong fear about some others). If not the wisdom of its Ulema, the Ummah, especially in the non-Arabic world, would have split to pieces without any trace of the characteristics of the original body. Those who have tried to open the door of ijtihad without being possessed of proper qualifications, and without winning the confidence of the people vis-à-vis their knowledge and matching piety, were rejected and rightly so.
Yet, as you have said, the problems remain and need answers. To this we have been saying that world-body of scholars is the answer, and such a one exists. It is based in Jeddah. That is at the international level and for problems of universal nature and wide implications. Problems that are not of that kind, rather local and minor in implications, can also be resolved in the same way by the formation of local committee of scholars in every country that will guide the people in difficult matters by issuing a joint ruling, dissent with which should be strongly disapproved. Such a committee will only be successful if the other scholars and their followers treat its rulings as legitimate and part of the Shari’ah.
The Muslim youth has adopted a way of life which is at variance with truth and reality. Their faith needs to be revived and vitalized from the fundamental level so that they understand the genius of their religion they profess. It is their duty to scrutinize the reasons of their spiritual and material decay and simultaneously acquire confidence in themselves and their past so that they are able to face the future with hope, courage and resolve.
Vaseem Lone, Srinagar
So far as our generation is concerned the truth of the matter is that the youth that we speak of is one whose elders refused to pass on their religion to them. They gave them mere beliefs and catechism which could not survive the battering of time and life. If the youth feels lost, it is somebody else that has led him into the blind alley. Jobs, educations, professions, material possession and standard of life is what the youth have been hearing from their parents since they could hear. How can we expect them to become something they never heard of?
In one of your old issues you have quoted Mawdudi in the Qur’an speaks section. Now, you are well aware that Mawdudi is unpopular because of his misinterpretation of the Qur’an and jurisprudence. His criticism of Uthman (RA) has also been widely objected to. Further, his entire interpretation of the Islamic religion has a question mark before it in view of what he stated in his book “Qur’an ki charbunyadi Istilahen”. It has been refuted by no less a person than Maulana Abul-Hasan Ali Nadwi. How then can you quote him along with great scholars such as Ibn Jareer, Ibn Katheer and Ibn al-Qayyim?
Syed Shameem, Hyderabad
That Maulana Mawdudi created controversies which he did not and could not resolve is a well known fact. That such controversies harmed himself and the Jama’ah he founded more than anyone else is also well known. We can say that the controversies still haunt his followers. And that this overall interpretation of Islam as a religion has been questioned by several scholars of authority is also undeniable. Yet, there are some points that must be remembered.
Maulana Mawdudi rose from the profession of a journalist to the status of a scholar, over some 50 years. He wrote prolifically and on subjects wide and varied, some of which he mastered and some of which he could not get a good grasp of. Yet perforce he had to write, having taken upon himself re-interpretation of Islam. Again, he was leading a movement and had to keep in mind the specific needs and problems of his followers and address them in his writings. All these affected his writings. Further, he was cut off from the mainstream scholars whose research works alone he had access to and had to, in the quite of his study-room, make what best of them without rechecking his opinions. He did not have personal contacts with the leading scholars of his time which helps in getting over some simple lapses. Errors, therefore, were bound to occur.
Again, he had a pretty large following of non-scholars to a large number of whom he was not only infallible but also the only one that, after fourteen centuries or so of gap, had understood and explained the religion of Islam in that unique manner. Obviously their devotion to him was not hidden from him. This would have made it very difficult for him to withdraw what he had stated once. Finally, leading a movement, and doing the amount of writing that he did, probably gave him very little time for the kind of demands that specialized studies require. The neglect of certain aspects might not have been willful. But the loss did register itself and is manifest both in his behavior as well as his writings in which he did try hard to suppers the bitterness that resulted out of controversies that arose. That itself forced on him a stiff, uncompromising attitude which added salt to injury to his critics.
These are some of the historical factors that have to be kept in mind while judging him, and due allowances ought to be made before verdicts are pronounced. After all, who is without fault? And how many scholars there haven’t been who created controversies, which itself caused renewed interest in those subjects of controversy and thus became the cause of further research and restatement of the Islamic position.
Now with regard to why he should be quoted, surely the compiler of the tafseer must be having good reasons to do so. But in general it can be said that controversies in one area do not automatically render other areas controversial. Each piece of writing of every writer has to be separately scrutinized, estimated and criticized on sound principles of scholarship and accepted or discarded. Surely while Maulana Mawdudi committed errors, he made some very valuable contributions. Some of his writings can be classified as no less than brilliant while they are also fresh and original. Despite is errors, Tafheem-ul-Qur’an is still the only readable commentary for the secularly educated Urdu speaking people. Are we going to throw away jewels because of false stones that come with it or should we do some chaffing?
We have, in answer to similar objection raised in these pages quoted an Arabic saying “Khuz maa safaa wa da‘ maa kadar” meanings, “Take what is pure and left what is impure”. That is fact can be said of every writer and every piece of writing. Only the Qur’an and Sunnah are infallible.