Letters to the Editor
Gigih Shofa Uzaman, via email
I’m a Muslim and the only Muslim in my community. I am asked by Christians and people of other faiths about Islam. They often attack me with derogatory statements about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Could you help to explain about:
– Marriage of Prophet and Zainab, because Zainab was Zaid’s wife or adopted son’s wife, and then Prophet (Peace be upon him) married his wife. What should I say about it?
The main points to which you need to pay attention are two: increase your Islamic knowledge and, secondly, increase your faith and trust in Islam as the true religion. This will be realized with the help of good deeds. Lacking these, you will be beset with doubts all your life, and those who live in conditions of doubt will die on conditions of doubt.
As regards the doubts raised by those who do not believe in Islam, they are not from their ignorance, but rooted in their rejection. That is, first they decide to reject and then look for reasons of rejection. Truth or untruth is of no regard to them. No argument or debates will be of any benefit to them. They may be invited to what they cannot reject: Oneness of the Deity, above any associates in His Person or Qualities. If they accept this key article of belief, they are likely to accept other facts. Contrarily, even if their doubts regarding Islam are removed, they are not likely to accept their Lord’s Oneness and His freedom from associates and partners, without which they will never earn salvation.
Ibn Abi Hatim has recorded that once a bedouin came up to the Prophet and inquired about Islam. The Prophet told him, “(Did) Allah made your homes a (means of) comfort?” He said, “Yes.” Then the Prophet recited, “And He made for you homes out of the skins of the cattle?” He replied, “Yes.” The Prophet recited the rest of the verses and the bedouin kept saying yes, until when he recited, “That is how He completed his favors so that you may surrender,” the bedouin turned his back and went away. The Prophet then recited, “They recognize Allah’s favors and then deny them” (Ibn Kathir).
The first doubt you have mentioned is a proof of their determination to disbelieve. This is because this particular incident is not found in ordinary books. Reference to it can only be found in large biographical works. So, they have read at least one large biography of the Prophet. Now, if they have read a large work, how could they still remain skeptic about his authenticity? A detailed study of his life brings to visible surface so many evidences of his authenticity, that to remain doubting him thereafter is to doubt one’s own mind and ask: “Am I sane?”
Instead of asking “Why did the Prophet marry Zaynab”, they should be asking, “Why was it that he did not marry Zaynab?” For, they know that the Prophet never married Zaynab. She was given off to him by Allah. No marriage ceremony took place.
Normally, a man and woman have to agree that they will enter into the marriage bond. Occasionally, a mature bride’s assent is waved away. The custodian makes the decision on her behalf and she cannot say no. But, if the groom is mature and sane, he cannot be married off without his consent. In this particular marriage, consent of none of the three major figures involved in a marriage was sought: the custodian, the bride and the groom. None of them were consulted. They – the Prophet, Zaynab and her custodian – were all ignored. The Revelation addressed the Prophet and told him, “You are married to her,” and that was the end of the matter: no proposal, no mahr, no other ceremony.
The Prophet had felt that the revelation to this effect was coming, and he did not like it. But he was told that he should alter his pattern of likes and dislikes. He must agree to what Allah wills. Far from having his own will, he was expected to show the least resistance in word, act or thought to whatever his Lord decreed.
Consider. Who made the laws concerning adoption? Are they in the Old Testament? What’s their origin? Have they not come from the pagan Hammurabi Code? But, are the pagans any authority for the Jews and Christians? If not, then on what basis do they seek to argue with the Muslims?
Consider also. Is human relationship created on the basis of the womb, or on the basis of the word of mouth? Does modern man know something about genetic inheritance or not? On what basis can it be said that marrying an adopted daughter, or an adopted son’s wife is legally, morally, biologically and genetically wrong? Should we talk science, or should we talk the logic of the Church which opposed science for 500 years?
-It’s also about stoning to death for the adulterers, and especially the hadith about a lady who was stoned to death when she did zina (adultery). What should I say about it?
You should say about it whatever the historical works say about it. That is, a pair committed adultery and was stoned to death. Similarly a man and woman admitted to adultery and were stoned to death.
As for the Jews and Christians objecting to the law of adultery in Islam, you may refer them to the following from the Bible:
“And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.” (Leviticus 21:9)
And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they said to him, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou?” (John 8: 3-5)
– Slavery in Islam?
There have been two types of slavery: the Western type and the Islamic type. The Western type kidnapped from Africa some 20 million blacks for slavery in the British colonies during a hundred years alone (spanning the 17th and 18th centuries). As late as the 19th century, slaves in the USA were kept in shacks that resembled dogs’ pens. Their women were raped at will, and men had their genital organs slashed off, or a foot dismembered, if they ran away and were caught again. They were “owned” by their masters in the fullest legal sense – like any commodity. The masters could, therefore, kill their slaves if they so wished without interference of the Law. The great American Empire owes its present-day glory to the million upon millions of dark-skinned people’s sweat poured over the land for two centuries. (See “Roots”).
The second type of slavery was that sanctioned by Islam: those taken as prisoners of war. All other ways by which one could become a slave were disallowed by Islam. Not only through kidnap, capture or seizure, owing to debts, villages sold off (all methods that benefited the West), were prohibited by Islam, but even someone selling himself off as a slave was disallowed. The only narrow path to slavery left open was that through which prisoners of war arrived at the other end. Side by side, there was another tunnel. And the keys to the door of escape into this path – the path of freedom – were given away to the enemies of Islam. If they negotiated the issue they could open the gates of redemption. But, if they threw away the keys and refused to negotiate freedom through ransom, or exchange of prisoners, then (and when Muslim philanthropists also could not redeem them), then only the prisoners were converted into slaves and distributed among the soldiers. But of course, the keys to freedom were still in the hands of the enemies. If they wished, they could always free their people (99.99% of whom were male) through ransom or exchange of prisoners.
On the other hand the rules of slavery were so stiff and their rights so many, that many slaves preferred to remain slaves in a Muslim society rather return to the tortuous life of their own countries. A similar example is that of many prisoners in the jails of USA who prefer to remain in jails and receive shelter, meals, bathing facilities, and even education, rather than be freed and live as homeless people in parks and streets not knowing where to go to relieve themselves after filling their stomachs with begged meals.
– And also, what happens if a baby dies (before he/she became mature) in a non-Muslim family, will he/she go to paradise?
The general opinion is that they will enter Paradise as children and remain children.
My question is also a question from hundreds of our young Muslim friends. To what extent is singing allowed? And what about the music, dancing, dating, swimming, co-education?
Anonymous (name withheld on request of questioner)
Except for one, all of the above are allowed, but details are important to know. Singing is a human need and means of expressing joy. Everyone hums out a line or more, when in good mood, especially during the freshness of the morning hours. Some of the Companions used to sing songs during military campaigns, especially to goad on the beasts of ride, or to take the minds off the fatigue of the journey.
Songs go with music and so, music is also allowed. But of music there are two kinds: that which is merely for striking rhythm and knocking the mind, and that which is for transporting the soul into a trance-like state. The former is allowed, while the latter is not. The former is achieved through simple musical instruments, such as a tabla or drum, or clap of the hands. The latter uses wired and piped instruments; call these instruments what you will: violin, flutes, guitars etc. These are disallowed because the soul should never be transported into any state in which it is completely absorbed in other than Allah.
Recently we experienced something quite revealing and educative. We were in a night-train and engaged in various activities when we heard someone singing in a somewhat plaintive but coarse voice. The carriage speakers were relaying a song which seemed to be dedicated to a deity. It was a distant voice but getting closer. Then the composer introduced a tintinnabulum into the song with intermittent blow into a flute. That went on for a while during which a little drum was also occasionally struck. Finally, there was the striking of tiny bells almost as if a dame was dancing to the tune striking the floor with her bell-laden foot. As the voice came nearer, the pitch went up. Surely, the singer was getting ecstatic. Ultimately we realized that the song was not from the speakers above but from a beggar between the carriage seats. With a flute and little cymbals in his hands, a small drum hanging by the neck, and an anklet with tiny bells (ghungru) around one of his feet, he was a skillful one-man orchestra.
What we mean by narrating it is that human skill can develop many kinds of songs without the use of heavy musical instruments.
Dancing is another tendency found in many biological beings. When ecstatic, humans sway: the Sufi whirling is a good example. It is dancing to the tunes of wired or piped instruments, or mixed dancing, that is prohibited in Islam.
Swimming is greatly encouraged by Islam. The Prophet is reported to have swum when six years old. It is swimming in shorts that is discouraged. Women may swim too; but among women.
Where it is not possible to arrange separate colleges for women, co-education should be allowable except that segregation should remain the norm. Even in classes, the aged master may face all students, but there should be a partition between the girls and boys. Intermingling should be disallowed.
Dating is a major sin.
My sister was separated from her husband three and a half years ago and they have never been together ever since. Meanwhile she was seeking help from all possible sources to get a divorce, in vain and her husband, although had no intention of living with her, refused to divorce her. He even married another woman a year ago. Alhamdulillah, ultimately he agreed for separation and a “khul`’” took place (18th June 2008). My questions are 1) should she still observe the “iddat” period? 2) She is a diabetic patient who has to administer insulin twice a day; therefore it is very important that she go on regular walks as other forms of exercise wouldn’t be suitable in her present health condition. Is she allowed to do so with our mother in the early hours of the morning or is she prohibited from stepping out at all?
Farzana Anjum, via email
If the former husband of your sister deliberately delayed divorcing her, merely because it suited him that way, or, to punish her for the failure of the marriage, then, he might know that there is a Punisher, who is much harsher in punishment. If he has divorced her for no good a cause, then he has no way now to escape the punishment in the Hereafter, except to re-marry her, or, help her get remarried at the earliest. No amount of verbal or even financial repentance can be equal to the wrong he has done her, so long as she remains suffering as a single. For every pain in the heart, inflicted unjustly, the inflictor earns a flame on his face – if the victim will not forgive.
Those who flout Islamic laws all their lives, but use them only when it suits them, should know that they might not be Muslims, no matter how much they pray and fast.
As for the ‘iddah-period, yes, she has to still observe it, despite the fact that her former husband abandoned her for three years to ultimately release her.
As regards your sister going out for walks for health reasons, she may know that there is no sin involved in it, whether it is in the company of her mother or not. Islam has not arrived to kill people, but to ease their lives.
Nowadays, there is an increase in demand of organs of a dead person, especially who have died with healthy organs, to be transplanted on to deserving patients. Can we, as Muslims, donate our organs after our death (or while we are alive) to help those in need of such organs? How is this dealt with in Islamic Shariah? If it is allowed, then how shall we be raised on Qiyaamah – with or without those organs? Please explain in detail.
A. Shabbir Ahmed, via email
Although there is a good chance of those who donate their organs for use after they are dead, that they may be raised up on the Judgment Day with disfigured bodies, we do not know for sure how exactly such disfigurement will be realized. A hadith says that he who committed suicide will be continuously inflicting the same injury upon himself on the Day of Judgment.
When a criminal people swing into charitable mood, their minds begin to think of ways by which they can benefit the people through a criminal scheme. They say, “Let my next loot be for charitable causes.” They rob the rich to give to the poor.
Donating the organs of one’s dead body smacks of the same mind-set. Islamic system of life is for the living. Muslims are required to be charitable with their possessions above their immediate requirement: expending in the morning and in the evening, in the forenoon and the afternoon, day in and day out. They have not been asked to leave orders behind them concerning their dead bodies. They have been ordered to examine how they will nourish their own and those of other living bodies.
They may not “will it out” that their body parts be sold after their death and money spent in charity, or their organs donated to the needy, but they may, instead, change their life-style and share their dinners with those who are likely to miss them, (right on the table and not as a hand out). If they did that, and lived an Islamic life, there would be – among Muslims – few with failing kidneys requiring their help after they are dead. Islam is for the living, not for the dead.
According to Islamic law, a person does not own his body after his death. He is there no more to own it. It is Allah’s. It follows that a Muslim cannot donate a part or whole of his body. If he willed that his corpse be flung into the desert for the benefit of eagles, it will not be acted upon.
Donating a part of one’s body during life is another thing. It requires true generosity. However, doctors should stand warrant that such donation will not harm the donor. If it does, the donation will be unlawful.
Those who give a nod to the donation, do not realize that they are violating a rule set in a hadith. The Prophet said, “Whoever hung by something, will be hung by it.” In this context it means that if some people think that there is cure for certain diseases only through a certain process, then, they will be hung by it. That is, their cure will come only through that process. In plain words, if a people think that the cure for kidney problems is through the replacement of the kidney from a dead donor, then, that’s it. Their kidney problems will only be solved through kidney donation. Reversing the logic, if some people believe that Allah has the power not to inflict kidney failures, and, if He does, He has the power to cure by means other than what humans think, then, to be sure, if Allah inflicts a kidney disease, He will send cure through ways the humans had not imagined. People who apply the above hadith merely to “tamaa’im” (ta`weez) but fail to see wider and deeper ramifications, do it because perhaps they live in a constricted environment of thoughts and ideas.
I am a regular reader of YMD and it has helped me a lot in understanding our religion by the grace of Allah. But I want to know about the literature of Syed Maududi: is his literature in accordance with Islam? Books of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband (Hazarat Mu`awia aur Tarikhi Haqayaq), (Masa’il Nemaz, Rifat Qasmi, Noor al-Anwar Press) suggests him wrong in some cases. Is it correct to offer prayers behind an imam associated with Jamaat-e-Islami? Please give reference.
Touseef Rasool Bhat, via email
It is perfectly alright to offer Prayers behind someone associated with Jamat-e-Islami, if he is otherwise qualified to lead in Prayers. The minor technical glitch that they (those you have consulted) had in mind when they first sounded the undesirability, has no relevance any more, and is applicable to a greater degree – sadly – to the imams of today’s mosques than to these honest and well meaning workers of Islam.
As regards errors in the writings of Mawlana Mawdudi, you need to understand that he wrote thousands of pages during his life. It is impossible that his writings should have no errors. No human can escape this, and no author of the past has escaped it.
True, there are some conceptual errors here and there, and some harsh criticism (event taunt) of those of the past who deserved thanks rather than criticism. But, with the passage of time and change in religious environment, these errors are not as likely to influence the readers as they did when they first appeared and which invoked the disfavor. In these times, therefore, one may read any of his works and generally benefit from them so long as he does take his words as the last word on any topic.
Writings like “Khilafat wa Mulukiyyat” are for such specialists who enjoy access to Arabic source works.
I have just a crush on one of my far cousins. He also accepted that he also had a crush. This doesn’t lead to any future relations; we just want to be friends and he stays somewhere far from the place I live. So we are just connected by chatting. So should I continue chatting with him? Please reply on my mail. Thank you.
Zaara Ali, via email
Whatever “crush” means, chatting between a male and female is not desirable, although not unlawful altogether. It is not communication, whether through chat programs, over telephones or through written words, which is disfavored. It is the content. If the topics are technical, scientific, or da`wah related, then, there is no harm. But if it is gossip, or personal, or social, then, an unconditional “yes” is difficult to obtain.