Letters to the Editor
Q. I have been a subscriber of your magazine for the last two years and I should say you all are doing a fantastic job. May Allah accept your service in the way of Islam and bless us all to follow the true path based on The Qur’an and Sunnah. I have a few questions; hope I get very clear answers. Please put some light on growing a beard and the do’s and don’ts in that connection.
Not keeping a beard is Islamically Fisq and keeping it has no other do’s and don’t do’s attached to it.
Q. What is a man supposed to do when his wife tries all the tricks possible to get the man shave the beard.
There is nothing a wife can do if a husband keeps a beard. You need to tell her in a mild manner, to not to speak to on the issue except positively. If she doesn’t desist, put some firmness in your words.
Your wife meets with the qualification indicated in the Hadith literature as a sign of the closeness of the Doomsday: a time will come when people will prevent the good and command the evil.
Q. Please tell us whether the number 786 used commonly by Muslims as short form for Bismillah Arrahaman Arrahim, is acceptable.
Desecration of Allah’s name is a grave sin. If you believe the paper on which His name appears will not be treated with respect, then do not write the name. Replace it with “Bi-ismihi-subhanahu (meaning “In His blessed name”), or merely “Bi-ismihi” (meaning, “In His name”) or, in English, “In the name of the Merciful” etc.
Q. I have some friends and relatives who are definitely on the wrong path. One of them is known for lending money on interest and another is running a bar and restaurant right in front of a big Mosque. To keep their identity concealed, they have also resorted to hanging and garlanding photos of Hindu deities. Please advice as to what should be my response to people like these. My efforts to explain to the Bar person has only received angry reactions, and I am sure that they know not much about Islam nor are they interested in knowing anything about it.
Every effort should be made, by every means, to revive their faith in Islam. Gift them a Plaque with Allah’s words (4: 48), “Surely, Allah will never forgive that He be associated with, but might forget anything less than that, whom He will.” If all the measures fail, they may be left to their fate.
Q. I personally do not want to even enter the houses of these persons. Can I do that and when asked by other relatives to tell them the true reason that it is because of their business?
It is right that, so far as possible, you should not enter into their homes. As regards telling people who ask for reasons, they can be of two kinds: those who know the nature of their business, and those who do not. To those who know the nature of their business, you could give out the reason, but in indirect terms. To others, you must not reveal the nature of their business by giving out that as the reason for not intermixing with them. However, if you are in doubt (whether they know about the nature of their business or not), ask the inquirer, “do you know what sort of business they do?” If he says yes, be quiet after that, and he will know the reason.
Q. My personal suggestion is that you should start with Islamic History in place of Invincible Abdullah, though I understand the morale behind the story. There is a greater need to learn the Islamic History and articles on at least one subject per month on the prevailing customs which go against Islamic beliefs, which we all know are many.
Thank you for the suggestion, we shall look into it.
Q. This refers to your reply to the letter ‘Shiah-Sunni marriage’ in the May 2002 issue of YMD. On the one hand, you advocate a scientific understanding of Islam; on the other, you keep on advocating irrational beliefs, or rather propaganda-material long since disproved and existing only in the minds of those wanting to malign the beautiful name of Islam.
On both points you are not very exact. We do not present a “scientific understanding” of Islam. Islam is a truth that transcends scientific findings. It is science that has to be understood in the light of Islam and not the other way round. If science does not confirm to an authentic Islamic statement or commandment, then there is something wrong with science and not Islam. Islam is a revealed religion, while science is the work of man. We do not try to be, therefore, scientific. We try to be Islamic, and demonstrate, off and on, that science and scientists will do well to learn from Islam.
As for Shi‘ah Sunni differences, we have been saying all the time that the differences do exist and will remain for some time. The Shi‘as are not going to become Sunnis and Sunnis will not become Shi‘as.
We might also remind that we did not create the Shi‘ah sect and are not responsible in any way if they differ from the Sunnis, the mainstream Muslims. Our duty is to inform and educate. We cannot say there is no difference, when there are, in fact, differences. Also, we have to take a stand. Either – according to us – the Shi‘as are right in their beliefs, or wrong. If wrong, it is our duty to point out. Thereafter, it is for the Shi‘as to either acknowledge what we state as their beliefs as incorrect, or confirm that, “yes, this is what we believe in.” But, they cannot expect to differ in belief from the Sunnis, pray differently from them, pay Zakah differently from them, etc., and then say, “Hullo! Why are you creating divisions?”
In sum, the beliefs and deeds are in fact different, and the division in fact exists. However, it is being noticed, happily, that the Shi‘as are becoming more flexible now, are re-looking into the correctness of their beliefs, and the masses seem to be inclined towards removing the differences, or, let us say, at the start, the sharp edge of the differences. We are of the belief that with the spread of education, this process will intensify and they will melt into the mainstream somewhere in the future. This has already happened in Yemen, and can happen elsewhere. A lot will depend on how free are their masses to read, understand and interpret the Qur’an without any control exercised by their religious authorities. Given the freedom, the Qur’an will prevail.
The above said, it might be firmly understood that differences should not necessarily lead to antagonism, hatred and opposition. Islam goes a long way in uniting the people, on some platform or the other. Narrow-mindedness is a characteristic of unbelief and not Islam. Therefore, all kinds of co-operation should be promoted. Co-operation both at the political level (between nations), at the community level in matters of common virtue, and, at individual level following values of charity and benevolence. That is, everyone behaves charitably and benevolently towards the other. They both believe in Tawhid, are thus on one platform in this world, and so they will be in the Hereafter – Allah willing. These facts and factors should reflect in our dealings with each other. An honest approach is likelier to yield better results than a dishonest approach, which claims that differences do not exist at all.
Marriage of Shi‘ah girls to Sunni males, is one of those Sunni efforts to maintain their own identity, yet physically bring the two closer and help in the ultimate and complete unification.
Q. Where have you heard from that Sunni-Shia intermarriages are disallowed?
We have not said that. We, in fact, recommend – if there is Taqwa on both sides – a Shi‘a-Sunni alliance through marriage. That is, of Shi‘ah girls to Sunni males. This should bring relief to the Shi‘ah, especially in the Indian sub-continent, where marrying off girls is so difficult. Further, if according to some people, there are no differences between the two, then there is no objection to this arrangement. However, marriage of a Sunni girl to a Shi‘ah male is – according to Hanafiyy law – definitely not allowed.
Q. Or that the Shias pray only once a day?
That sentence from us, in the column of above reference, was, we admit, not a carefully made one. We should have rather said that some Shi‘as combine their five daily prayers.
Q. By equating Shias with non-practising Muslims, you are doing grave injustice to your intellect as well as reputation as unbiased students of Islam.
The point was clearly made. The two differ. In an inter-marriage, one has to prevail and the other has to bow out. Obviously, it is the girl who is most likely to succumb to the societal pressure. Hence, she should not abandon her Sunni community, even if – alternatively – she has to live with a not very strong individual Sunni Muslim. What she might miss out with him, she might gain back from the community. (But of course she should never marry a non-praying Muslim at all).
Q. Time and again all this propaganda have been thoroughly rebutted by both Shias and Sunnis. a recent Fatwa by Sheikh al-Akbar Mahmud Shaltut, head of Al-Azhar University, on permissibility of following al-Shi’ah al-Imamiyah School of Thought can be found on the following links: http://oneummah.net/azhar-e.gif
A religious fatwa cannot be picked up from the Internet. Either the original (and not a copy) has to be sent to us, or it has to come in print in a book form. As for what is found posted on the site you have mentioned, it lacks credence.
Q. Before casting aspersions on the Shia do keep in mind Allah’s words: “And We granted them Clear Signs in affairs (of religion). It was only after knowledge that they fell into schism, through insolent envy among themselves. Verily, thy Lord will judge between them on the day of Judgment as to those matters in which they set up differences.” (45:17) While it is true that Shias believe they can combine Zuhar-Asr prayers and Maghrib-Isha prayers as has been taught by the prophet himself (sallallaho alaihi wa alaihi wasallim).
It is incorrect to say that the Prophet “taught” combining of Prayers. He did no such thing. He taught that they be offered on time, five times a day. And he practiced it himself his whole life. At best, there is a report by a narrator or two, Ibn `Abbas, (and Abu Hurayrah: who himself narrates no such report) that he witnessed the Prophet combining the four Prayers. This report we discuss below.
Q. Now, what did the Prophet (pbuh) do? Here’s what Ibn Abbas, one of the most famous narrators (says).
Before we move forward, we must establish whether Ibn ‘Abbas is accepted by the Shi‘ah as an authority when his narratives are found in the book you have quoted from: Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmed, Muwatta’ and others. In our knowledge, the combination of the two: the books and the narrator is not acceptable to the Shi‘ah. How then, can you argue with the narration as you do below?
For example, when Ibn ‘Abbas visited ‘A’isha in her death-bed, he told her “O My mother! There is nothing between you and that you should meet Muhammad and his beloved ones, except that your soul should leave your body. You were the most beloved to the Prophet…” to the end of the hadith” (Ahmed, 2486). Now, the Shi‘ah don’t accept this narration from Ibn ‘Abbas.
Or, there is another hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas. The Prophet, having come out from his death-bed into the mosque for, perhaps, the last time, said, apart from other things, “There is none whom I owe more than I do Abu Bakr. If I were to take a Khaleel from the Ummah, I would have taken him Khaleel. But, Islamic friendship is better. Therefore, close down all doors opening into this mosque (i.e., its yard) except that of Abu Bakr” (Ahmed, 2432).
The Shi‘ah do not accept this narration too from Ibn ‘Abbas, nor many of this kind concerning many others of the Prophet’s close Companions. How can they quote him as an authority in reference to any issue?
Q. The hadith says according to the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal (one of the books of tradition): “The Prophet (pbuh) prayed in Madina, while residing there, NOT TRAVELING, seven and eight (this is an indication to the seven Raka’t of Maghrib and Isha combined, and the eight Raka’t of Zuhr and `Asr combined).” [Musnad al-Imam Ibn Hanbal, (Vol. 1, p.221)]. Also, in the Muwatta’ of Malik (Imam of Maliki sect), [Vol. 1, page 161], Ibn Abbas says: “The Prophet (pbuh) prayed Zuhr and `Asr in combination and Maghrib and Isha in combination WITHOUT a reason for fear or travel.”
The above and the latter quotes are different versions of one hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas.
The first point to be noted in connection with this report is that Ibn ‘Abbas did not say, “Kaana an-nabiyyu yusalli” meaning, “The Prophet used to Pray.” But rather, he used the words, “Salla an-nabiyyu” meaning, “The Prophet once prayed.” In other words, to combine the Prayers was not the practice of the Prophet. It was something unusual and against his own instructions to do the Prayers on time. Had it been his usual practice, then not only Ibn ‘Abbas, but a great many of the Companions would have reported it, and reported it as “kaana an-nabiyyu yusalli.”
As to why the Prophet combined on that one occasion, Ibn ‘Abbas’ own opinion was, as reported in other versions, that he did so in order that his Ummah may not be inconvenienced. However, it may be noted once again, that the Prophet did not say those words. That is what Ibn ‘Abbas thought. Accordingly, the scholars of Islam have tried to search out the reason why the Prophet combined the Prayers on that occasion. (If he himself had stated the reason, there would have been no need to search for it). Several reasons that have been offered, have been rejected by the scholars themselves. But Nawawi’s answer seems to be the most reasonable: the Prophet was perhaps not feeling well, and so combined the Prayers. However, the reason as stated by Ibn ‘Abbas cannot be discarded outright, especially in view of a hadith in Tabarani narrated by Ibn Mas‘ud, reporting the same reason from him. (But the status of this hadith [Ibn Mas‘ud’s] could not be determined).
Q. As for Sahih Muslim, see the following under the chapter of “Combination of prayers, when one is resident.” Ibn Abbas reported: “The messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed the noon and the afternoon prayers together, and the sunset and Isha prayers together without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey” [Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1515]. Ibn Abbas reported that “the messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) combined the noon prayer with the afternoon prayer and the sunset prayer with the Isha prayer in Medina without being in a state of danger or rainfall.” And in the hadith transmitted by Waki (the words are): “I said to Ibn Abbas: What prompted him to do that? He said: So that his (prophet’s) Ummah should not be put to (unnecessary) hardship” [Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1520].
This version (of the same report by Ibn ‘Abbas) confirms that it was not usual of the Prophet to combine Prayers. It also implies that the Prophet did not teach his Companions to combine Prayers. If he had, they would have begun to practice, so that, after him, there would have been no reason for Waki‘ to be surprised and ask Ibn ‘Abbas, “What prompted him to do that?” Further, the answer given by Ibn ‘Abbas directly indicates that among the Companions too it was uncommon. Ibn ‘Abbas didn’t say, “Man. Don’t you see me doing it all the time? Why are you surprised?” Or, “Why, do you ask that question? Don’t you see everyone doing it?”
If the combination had been prevalent in the time of Ibn ‘Abbas, just everyone would have known that this is what the Prophet preached and practiced.
In short, the practice of combining two Prayers (Zuhr and ‘Asr & Maghrib and ‘Isha) as adopted by the Shi‘ah as a regular practice, was not prevalent during the time of Ibn ‘Abbas and not prevalent during the first few generations. They adopted it later, when they completely separated out from the Sunnis. They attribute it to Ibn ‘Abbas, but Ibn ‘Abbas himself did not practice it. He did it maybe once or twice in his life-time to take the people around him by surprise.
Q. Abdullah b. Shaqiq reported: “Ibn Abbas one day addressed us in the afternoon (after the afternoon prayer) till the sun disappeared, and the stars appeared, and the people began to say: Prayer, prayer. A person from Banu Tamim came there. He neither slackened nor turned away, but (continued crying): Prayer, prayer. Ibn Abbas said: `May you be deprived of your mother, do you teach me sunnah? And then he said: I saw the messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) combining the noon and afternoon prayers and the sunset and Isha prayers.’ Abdullah b. Shaqiq said: Some doubt was created in my mind about it. So I came to Abu Huraira and asked him (about it) and he testified his assertion [Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1523]
This incident confirms a few more points.
(a) According to Ibn ‘Abbas Prayers could be combined if there was a good reason to do so, such as his own. But not without such a reason. In this case he was addressing a gathering, and did not want to break up the crowd. So he decided to combine Maghrib and ‘Isha Prayers.
(a/1) The four Fuqaha,’ however, do not go by a single opinion of a Companion. In a matter of such importance, they want more proofs and not a solitary action. Without that proof, they consider the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas, as his own personal opinion, and not that of the great majority of the Companions. And the great majority always did their five daily Prayers, in congregation, within their own specified times, and never combined them. Therefore, the Sunni Fuqaha’ have, in general, not allowed such combination. At best, they’d say, if there is a pressing need, then, it could be done. The “pressing need” condition is added because they feel that the Prophet did it on that occasion probably because he was unwell. (Note once again that he himself is not reported as having said, “I am doing it for the ease of my Ummah”). Although, a few scholars have maintained that the addition of the condition “pressing need” is unwarranted.
As for how the combining was done, in what exact manner, we shall state it presently.
(b) It was not at all common to combine the Prayers. Even Ibn ‘Abbad didn’t do it on a regular basis: as the Shi‘ah do now. If he practiced it on regular basis, the man who interrupted him, would not have done so.
(c) In fact, the second line reporter, Shaqiq, was himself not satisfied with the words of Ibn ‘Abbas that Prayers could be combined. Why? It was because the practice was entirely unknown during the time of Ibn ‘Abbas himself. Hence he went back to Abu Hurayrah to double-check: “Did the Prophet ever combine his Prayers?” The implied answer he got was “yes, he did it once.”
Q. Ibn Abbas reported: The messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed the noon and afternoon prayers together in Medina without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey. Abu Zubair said: I asked Sa’id [one of the narrators] why he did that? He said: I asked Ibn Abbas as you have asked me, and he replied that he [the Holy prophet] wanted that no one among his Ummah should be put to [unnecessary] hardship [Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1516].
Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed in Medina seven (rak’ahs) and eight (rak’ahs), i.e., (he combined) the noon and afternoon prayers (eight rak’ahs) and the sunset and Isha prayers (seven rak’ahs). [Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter CCL, Tradition #1522]
These are different versions of the same report.
Q. Now, who is it that follows the customs and tradition of the Prophet (pbuh).
You be the judge. The Prophet combined the Prayers in his own home-town, without any rain or fear, perhaps once or twice in his life-time, and so the Sunnis allow it once or twice in their life-times.
Q. (Who follows the Prophet more closely) The Shia who follow it to the letter, or the Sunnis who don’t even acknowledge the traditions in their own books?
The Sunnis acknowledge it most forcefully by printing their books and offering the public their printed material for study. The books you have quoted from are available in every bookshop. This is in contrast to some sects that conceal their religious literature, so that it is not sold anywhere in the world. Do you know of a bookshop?
Q. This is a SIGN for those who reflect!
Q. Furthermore, Allah (swt) continually reminds us in the Qur’an that Islam was revealed to make your life easier, not more difficult. How, then, can one work, eat, sleep, study, etc. with five prayers a day in five different times? You pray Maghrib, and an hour later, you pray Isha. Is this convenient, say for doctors in a surgery room? Believe me, if the Sunnis followed what the Prophet (pbuh) did (five prayers in three TIMES a day), many people would be praying today.
It is obvious that you have not understood what is meant by the saying, “Islam is an easy religion.” Just consider this verse (al-Baqarah, 214): “Or do you think you will enter Paradise without such (trials) coming to you as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried out: ‘When (will come) Allah’s help?’”
How do you reconcile this verse with your understanding as stated above?
Nonetheless, we have shown above that the Prophet did not at all pray three times a day. We might now present a few other evidences.
(a) Firstly, the above report of Ibn ‘Abbas is in various hadith books: Bukhari, Muslim, Nasa’i, Tirmidhi, Muwatta’, Tabrani, and others. You have not quoted from Tirmidhi. Maybe you did not know that it is in there, or maybe what Tirmidhi wrote as his note influenced you. Well, after quoting the same hadith, Tirmidhi states: “There is not a hadith in my collection (i.e., Sunan Tirmidhi), over which the Ummah agreed that it should not be accepted for practice: this one of Ibn ‘Abbas that speaks of combination of Prayers in Madinah without the fear of rain or of an enemy; and, of course, there is another which states that a drinker (might be whipped three times) but executed if caught drinking the fourth time.” That is, the Ummah’s consensus is that these two reports – although trustworthy – are not acceptable for practice.
The above proves two points. One, until the time of Tirmidhi (279 A.H.) the Ummah was not Praying three times a day. Second, the Hadith books of the Ahl al-Sunnah are trustworthy. Why? Because, it can be seen that although no one believes the Prophet Prayed three times a day, throughout his life, yet, the hadith is found in almost every book of Hadith. If there was any tampering, the Hadith collectors should have removed the hadith from their collections.
(b) You have also not quoted another version of the hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas in Nasa’i. Once again, either out of ignorance, or because its contents influenced you. The said report has the same thing to report as other ahadith but is differently worded. It reports that Ibn Abbas said, “I Prayed with the Prophet Zuhr and ‘Asr together, and Maghrib and ‘Isha together. He delayed the Zuhr and brought forward the ‘Asr, delayed the Maghrib and brought forward the ‘Isha Prayers.”
This hadith tells us that if the Prophet combined a Prayer, how did he do it? The answer is, he delayed his Zuhr until it was almost the time for ‘Asr. At that point he offered the Zuhr Prayers. Then immediately after he started off the ‘Asr Prayers, although, the ‘Asr time would have, at best, just started. This is again what he did with the Maghrib and ‘Isha Prayers. In other words, he Prayed them all within their specified times: just at the borders of end and start. That way he combined the Prayers, that is, did one and then immediately after it, another, yet doing them within their prescribed times.
Therefore, it is wrong of anyone to use the above hadith, to combine the Zuhr and ‘Asr Prayers during the Zuhr time, or Maghrib and ‘Isha Prayers at ‘Isha time, which is what the Shi‘ah do.
(c) You have quoted from Muslim. But you have not quoted from the same Muslim that he has a whole chapter on the undesirability of combining Prayers.
A hadith under this chapter says, “The Prophet asked Abu Dharr, ‘What will you do if you have rulers over you who delay a Prayer off its prescribed time, or deaden it?” He answered, “So what do you expect me to do?” He answered, “If you happen to be in their company, offer the Prayer along with them, it will be treated as your supererogatory Prayer (Nafil).”
According to other reports, the Prophet told Abu Dharr to offer every Prayer in its prescribed time. “But if you are in the company of (tyrannous) rulers, offer the Prayers with them also. (Since, otherwise, they would persecute him).”
(d) Imam Muhammad has reported in his Muwatta’ (not Imam Malik’s) that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab wrote to his Governors all over the provinces that they were to inform the people under their rule that combining the Prayers at any one time was prohibited. He further specified (according to a report in Hakim) that combining two Prayers at any one time (of a Prayer) was a Major Sin (Kabeerah).
(e) A hadith in Bukhari says that when it was a night of extreme cold and high winds, the Prophet’s Mu’edhdhin (caller) was instructed to announce after the Call (Adhaan) the following words: “You can Pray in your own quarters.”
The above means that usually the Prayers were not combined. But rather, the people had to come to the mosque for every Prayer. That is, not only the Prophet, the people did not combine Prayers at home either. If they usually combined, then there was no reason to announce, “You can Pray in your own quarters.”.
(f) A hadith in Musnad Ahmed reports: The Prophet said, “It has occurred to me that I should ask someone to lead in the Prayers, and then, go around and burn the houses of those who do not turn up for the congregation.”
This hadith implies that if the Prophet had allowed combining of Prayers, he could not burn the house of any, since they could have come out and say, “O.K. You are doing Maghrib and `Isha now. But you have allowed us to combine them at any time. So, I am going to combine the two late at night.”
(g) A report in Musnad Ahmed says that during the Hajj journey, the Prophet stopped at a place but did not offer the Maghrib Prayers, rather showed signs of continuing the journey. Usama b. Zayd reminded him, “Prayers O Messenger of Allah.” But the Prophet did not pay him attention. Usama persisted in reminding him. Finally, the Prophet said, “Prayers are before you.” He continued until he arrived at Muzdalifah. Then he Prayed his Maghrib and `Isha together.
The above means the Prophet ordinarily did not combine his Prayers. If he did, there was no need for Usama to remind him persistently.
(h) According to reports in Muslim and other books, when the Prophet sent his forces to Banu Quraydah fort, he instructed them not to do their Prayers until they had reached the Banu Quraydah dwellings. However, while on their way, some of the Companions did offer their Prayer since they thought that the prescribed time could be missed by the time they arrived at Banu Quraydah quarters. They interpreted that what the Prophet had meant was that there was to be no delay in starting off for the said quarters. However, others maintained that they would only Pray at Banu Quraydah dwelling, following the Prophet’s word to the letter. However, when the Prophet was informed of the different actions of the two groups, he did not say anything to any of them, confirming that both were right.
Now, if the Prayers were ordinarily combined during the Prophet’s time, there was no need for the first group to fear that the prescribed time would be missed.
(j) You have quoted from Bukhari. However, you have not quoted from Bukhari’s chapter on the “Need to Offer Prayers within their Prescribed times.”
One of the hadith under this chapter reports Ibn Mas‘ud, “I asked the Prophet, ‘What deed is most approved of by Allah?’ He replied, “Prayers on their (prescribed) time.”
Finally, the Qur’an. It says (4: 103): “Surely, Prayers are obligatory on the believers at prescribed times.” Among the scholars, especially the Hanafiyyah, the Qurán stands supreme. Anything else only follows. A clear Quránic injunction can never be over-ruled by anything else. Therefore, the rule about the Prayers is, simply as stated in the Qurán, “Prayers are obligatory on the believers at prescribed times.”
Q. I witnessed this myself in this holy month of Ramadan. My Sunni friends pray Zuhr, then sleep. They then wake up about 30 minutes before Iftar (the time to break the fast), and pray ‘Asr. Many also miss the prayer! Is this really convenient? Question and ask for the TRUTH, and if you are honest and sincere, Allah (swt) will guide you. “O you who believe! Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger, and those of you who are in authority. If you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allâh and His Messenger, if you believe in Allâh and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” [Qur’an (4: 59)]
Syed Shahid Abbas,
544, Hadi Hasan Hall,
Aligarh Muslim University
Thus a progressive change in your position can be noticed. You started off angrily by saying that no differences existed between the Shiàh and the Sunnis; that the differences were only in imagination. Then you took a new position and admitted that differences are there indeed, e.g., on the question of combining Prayers. You stated that the Shiàh differed from the Sunnis in this respect. Then, finally you became a preacher, telling the Sunnis that they better follow the Shi‘ah at least in this particular respect, and in most other cases also since the Shiàh are the true followers of the Sunnah, while the Sunnis are not.
Our reaction to this progression is that we welcome it. We don’t see anything wrong in admitting that people differ, nor do we have any objection to preaching of what one believes as true. That opens room for debates, which lead to a better understanding of each other’s point, and which in turn paves the way for removal of differences.
Q. I have a question about our country’s freedom. Hope you will clarify. One of my friends said that in our country’s freedom, many Ulema and Muslims sacrificed their lives. But, as students, we never came across such information. What we heard about is that, in our freedom, Hindus played a Great Role in our freedom. Only one or two name that I can remember are Moulana Azad and Zaker Hussain as a Muslim. Is some thing being hidden?
There is a movement in India to re-write history in order to distort it. The historians and scholars oppose this move, but they don’t seem to be able to prevail. Especially, they have no power to challenge government sponsored textbooks, where the corruption is first introduced.
Q. Or they had write the freedom history with their hands according they like? Let the truth reveal itself. Let Truth speak. And please suggest me some books which guides us to the truth.
Markaz al-Maàrif has brought out a nice little booklet on this topic. You may write to them and also ask them to suggest books for further reading.
Q. What is the reality of Shab-e-Bar’aat (15th night of Sha’baan)? Is it mentioned anywhere in the Holy Qur’an? Or is it supported by many Sahih Hadith? What about the fast next day?
We have answered this question several times in this column. In brief, all the ahadith about 15th of Sha’ban are weak. Put together, they gather strength. But any celebration of the night is against the Shariàh since there is no recommendation in it towards this.
Q. I have heard that in the paradise every man will get 72 hoors. Kindly comment on the authenticity of the statement. I heard before that every man will have two wives and it sounds more logical.
There are a few ahadith that speak of seventy Houries for every resident in Paradise. They are of various strength. Some weak, some stronger. At all events, what’s illogical about there being seventy Houries for every Paradiser? After all, roosters enjoy the strength that you might doubt men could have in Paradise.
Q. Is it allowed to use perfume and deodorant containing alcohol?
Yes, they are allowed, but it is better to avoid them.
Q. I have a few questions: can we close our eyes while performing Salah?
The Prophet did not close his eyes during Prayers, nor that has been reported of the Companions.
Further, if the eyes are looking downwards, then the lack of attention in the Prayers is not because of the eyes. It is because the mind is thinking of something else. That means closing the eye is not going to improve the situation. It does not think with the eyes. Therefore, we do not see any advantage in closing the eyes during Prayers.
Q. Is it haraam for women to cut her hair?
No, not at all. It is reported of some women-Companions that they cut their hair short. What is prohibited is hairstyle similar to that of the males.
Q. Is wearing Ta’weez (holy thread) haraam in Islam? Is it mentioned in the Holy Qur’an?
No, it is not mentioned in the Holy Qurán that Muslims should wear amulets (Ta‘wiz) in their necks. Instead, the Qurán says (48: 11): “Then who could prevent Allah, if He intended for you harm or benefit?”
Q. What are the things we should perform during Muharram like fasting, offering Namaz etc.
Two events took place in Muharram. (1) Musa led his followers out of Egypt and (2) Hussain b. Àli was martyred. We have been asked to fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram in commemoration of Musa and his followers’ escape from the clutches of a tyrant. But nothing else is required. No Prayers, no celebrations, no special cookies, no sherbet, nothing. As regards martyrdom of Hussain b. Àli, there is nothing to be done in commemoration.
Q. Can we use pictures for educational and teaching purposes?
Yes, when it is essential.
Q. Of all the columns, I like the “Letters to the Editor” column the most. I am forwarding some questions for which I hope you will give a positive response from the Islamic point of view. Is ..bation allowed in Islam? Or is it a sin?
This is a much answered question. Please see our previous issues: May and June 2001.
In brief, there is no agreement between the jurists over its exact nature. Opinions vary from being forbidden to allow.
Q. What is the best way to overcome libidinous urge?
There is no way to avoid the urge. Human propagation is Allah’s scheme. The urge is the mechanism. Therefore, it cannot be killed off. Marriage is the only solution.
Q. Does ..bation affect the health of a person in any way? Does it weaken him?
M. I. Sofi,
Anything unnatural has to have its effects. The suppression of the desires, or wrongful ways of overcoming them, should have their physical, mental, psychological and moral effects. What they are have not been determined.
Q. What are the basic grounds and principles in Islam for social equality of man, different from other religions, except combined offering of Prayers and sharing food?
Social inequality has its basis in race, lineage, region, superiority or inferiority on the basis of the first four as null and void. For practice, it made its adherents stand in one row during congregational Prayers. This was easier to organize since it depended largely on faith and not on deeds.
Islam then attended to the problem of wealth which tends to lead to social inequalities. This is a little bit more difficult to organize since it does not depend on faith alone, but also on deeds accompanying it. It took the following legislative steps to level out the differences and spread evenly the wealth: (1) Fixed shares for everyone related by blood from the inheritance of a deceased person. (2) Instituted Zakah, Sadaqat, sacrifice of animals, interest free loans, etc. (3) Recommended monetary expiations for sins and unfulfilled vows or oaths. (4) Made the males responsible for the maintenance of women related by blood, (5) Allowed for women to accept marriage gifts from the husbands, (6) Declared the State as the sole owner of the resources of the land, making them unlawful for those engaged in State services, and (7) declared the State responsible for providing every citizen his basic needs, as also empowered it to take away from the rich their extra wealth in extreme situations, such as, starvation.
Q. What are the reasons for an Islamic society not following them? But rather, the entire frame-work seems to rest on un-Islamic principles?
Q. What our elite, intelligentia and Ulema are seriously doing to remove social inequality?
S. Shafiq Ahmed (Advocate)
There is not much that the Ulema can do about it, except perhaps becoming poor themselves. They are there to study, advance and spread Islamic knowledge and awareness. They have no power to enforce rules, nor does the Islamic system allow for enforcement, even if the Ulema were in power.
The other two – the elite and the intelligentia – actually worsened the situation by pushing aside the Ulema, assuming the leadership role, and then instituting un-Islamic practices, through and through Muslim polity, which hastened to replace Islamic brotherhood with selfish hedonism among the Muslims.
From the philosophical angle we can say that the prime cause of social inequality is that Islam firmly believes in religious freedom. It does not enforce its beliefs on any people, nor does it enforce upon Muslims the kind of life it suggests. They are rather put to test. It delineates the methods for a peaceful, dignified existence. It is up to the Muslims to accept or reject. It warns however, that a Day will soon arrive when they will face the consequences of their choice.
Thus, freedom to man is the root cause of social inequality of men in Islam.
Q. I would like to request you kindly to reply the question placed before you. My wife and myself have a good salary as State Government servants. We do not owe anything to anyone. We have 0.25 acre of land valued at Rs. 1,00,000/- where our home is situated and five tollahs of gold as Mehr for wife. Above all, a pretty amount of General Provident Fund is at balance at credit against our account. I, therefore, mean that we are entitled to sacrifice as an act of Qurbani on Eed-uz-Zuha. Would I offer for myself only or for both of us? Is the commandment upon me only as I am the only receipt and expenditure controller for my family comprising of nine members. They are mother, wife, 5 sons (2 adult and 3 minors), one maid servant and myself”
Taher Ali Shah,
Keikhoo, Imphal East, Manipur
(a) None of what you have mentioned above has any effect on Zakah liability on you. What counts is whether you have seven Tolas (about 80gm.) of gold (or equivalent in silver, or cash) in savings, for whole one Islamic year. If you do, you have to pay Zakah. Otherwise, not. Your salary or other earnings are not considered as a factor, but rather, the savings.
(b) The same applies to your wife since, Islamically, she has her own identity. If she has saved as above, including the gold/ silver jewellery, then she is liable to pay the Zakah (and not you on her behalf).
(c) Now, if Zakah is liable on you, then sacrifice is also obligatory on you on the occasion of Èid al-Ad-ha. Similarly, if Zakah is obligatory on your wife, she must also offer a sacrifice at Èid al-Ad-ha.
(d) Your adult children are also on their own. If Zakah is liable on them (because of their savings, or jewellery, etc.), then sacrifice is also liable.
(e) The land you possess (or plots) do not have any bearing on Zakah, unless the land is agricultural. If it is, then Zakah is liable on its produce. But, in calculation of Zakah on other forms of wealth, land value will not be counted – whether cultivated or not.
(f) According to one opinion, there is no Zakah on provident funds, until the time the amounts come into your possession.
(g) Servants have nothing to do with Zakah calculations. Yes, Zakat al-Fitr has to be offered on their behalf.
(h) Zakat al-Fitr – like sacrifice on Èid al-Ad-ha – is liable on those who are liable to pay Zakah.
Who is Afraid?
Q. Ref: April 2002 issue of YMD – question of Younus Khan regarding the major signs of the Day of Judgement? In your answer, you have mentioned about the appearance of ‘Dajjal.’ To me, Dajjal has already appeared in the form of USA: it is believed that Dajjal will have only one eye on the forehead. To support this, I would request you to obtain ONE (1) US dollar Currency Note and see carefully. It has Only ONE EYE on it.
The hadith says that Dajjal will have one eye, and not his currency.
Q. Secondly the behavior of the USA administration is that, “accept me your superior or you will face sanctions.” Today our Islamic nations are able to do nothing but to obey USA and watch our brethren in Afghanistan and Palestine mercilessly being massacred and we have just become deaf, dump and blind to all this.
That’s the reason why Muslim masses have lost confidence in their political leadership.
Q. USA is spreading terror and fear in the Islamic World.
No. The USA is not spreading terror in the Islamic world. It is only the political leadership, which is terrorized and feels threatened from all sides. The Muslim masses are least fearful of the USA, or the rest of the world combined together.
Failure of Foreign Policy
Q. I have been observing with great dismay, the use of American English in your magazine. You always write ‘honor’ instead of ‘honour,’ and ‘favor’ in place of ‘favour,’ etc. Words like ‘honor’ and ‘favor’ are not found in English dictionary. Will you please like to amend your style? Muslims are boycotting American goods; can’t you simply change a style?
Syed Ikram Husain
Your letter eloquently speaks of the complete failure of American foreign policy.