Letters to the Editor
Q. I have certain queries. Can you please clarify with proper quotes from Qur’an or Hadith. Can Qutbha be performed in regional languages? Basically, I’m from a Sunni family in Kerala and I have asked many religious persons among the Sunnis, and everyone said that it can’t be done. But whenever I go to a Masjid where Quthuba is done in regional languages, it helped me a lot to increase my knowledge.
It is quite possible that what you heard and think of as Khutbah, were speeches in local vernacular, before the two ritualistic Khutbas of Jumu`ah. This is allowed. But any of the two formally prescribed Khutbas cannot be said but in Arabic.
It is a wrong notion to think that you increased your knowledge by listening to the Khutbah (the Friday Sermon) of your mention: for two reasons. One, Friday Sermon is not meant to impart information. The Friday Khutbah is an `Ibadah. It is a Dhikr session. It is (but not literally so), as `A’isah (ra) said, equivalent of two Rak`ah of prayers. Thus, combined, the Khutbah and the two Rak`ah of Friday prayers, make up for four Rak`ah of Zuhr – and more. It being Dhikr, a form of ritual, it cannot be performed in any language but in Arabic. Any talk during the Khutba is, therefore, disallowed. A good Khutbah of Friday ought to consist of praises of Allah, and mention of His blessings, Powers, Mercy and Knowledge, supplanted with good amount of Qur’anic verses or ahadith. If, nothing but the Qur’an is recited, then too the purpose is served. The Prophet sometimes recited only Surah Qaaf (No. 50) in his sermons.
The Sermon could also consist of admonition and what would soften the heart, for which of course, Arabic language is the best medium, for an added reason that the texts of such contents can only come from Qur’an and Sunnah: texts of remarkable qualities for softening the hearts.
As for the audience that does not understand the Arabic language, of course they will miss it all – the barakah, the sakinah, the soul’s nourishment, etc. But, that is their problem. They have time for movies, music and other entertainments throughout their lives, throughout the generations, but care a hoot for Arabic language, so, it is befitting that they should miss to understand the words of Allah and His messenger. Allah’s words are too sublime for those who work like donkeys during the day, sleep like logs at night, and spend the time in between in a hundred different lewd ways – to sum up Ahadith that speak of such a class of people.
A second reason why your notion that you gained knowledge by listening to the Khutbah in your language is wrong is that, words and sentences are not knowledge. They could get converted into knowledge, if they effect a meaningful change in a man’s heart and soul. If he becomes a Muslim, anew, or, brings sweeping change in his style of life after listening to a speech, then, perhaps he gained some knowledge. On the contrary, if he came out of the session as he went, if he came back the next week without any meaningful change, then, those were words – mere words – that he heard but had gained no knowledge, even if he had a good memory and could recall the past week’s sermon, and even if he had tears swelling to his eyes. Change is the game and the name of knowledge in Islam.
Thus, most sermons fail to impart knowledge. It is not through sermons that knowledge is obtained. It needs vigilant study of the two sources of knowledge: the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Since the great majority of Muslims come back either the same, or worse, as Muslims the next week, Khutbas do them no good. They become a conventional way of spending time: Islamic ritual, but meaningless and spiritless so far as they are concerned.
Q. Is it good to include Kunooth in Subah Namaz?
You are most probably a Shafe`i and so, Qunut in the Fajr is wajib for you, unless you are praying behind an Imam of another Madh-hub following the rule pronounced by the Fuqaha’, which says that Prayers behind any Imam of the four Madh-hubs is lawful for any follower of the four Madh-hubs.
In other words, if the Imam is Shafe`i, he should do Qunut in Fajr, whether the congregation is Shafe`i or not, but if you are a follower, and the Imam is not Shafe`i, then do the Prayer as the Imam does – your prayers are valid.
Q. Can group prayer be done immediately after fard namaz?
If you are asking about congregational Du`a after the obligatory prayers, and if the question is “can it be done?” then the answer is, yes it can be done. However, if the question is, “should it be done,” then the answer is, no, it need not be necessarily done.
If it is already in practice, then, let it go on, since trying to stop it will create dissension and fresh divisions, but if it is already not in practice, then, it should not be introduced.
Where it is already being done, its length should be gradually reduced, until, at one point of time it becomes possible to drop it off altogether.
It is not a Bid`ah, if it is already in practice, but strongly reprehensible, if it is being started at a mosque where it was not in practice.
Q. Can we include the name of Islamic scholars in prayers and say ‘because of the barakah of such and such persons please forgive me, O Allah’?
The requirements for the acceptance of a Du`a are several, the barakah of a scholar or scholars is not one of them.
To be legitimate while asking something, is one condition of acceptance of Du`a. That is, one should be reasonable in his prayers. He should not, for instance, say, “O Allah, make me a rich man,” while he neither studies, nor works, nor trades, rather is a couch potato and a gossiper – an excellent example of his kind.
He should not have drunk wine, he should not have consumed anything haram, his earning should be lawful, he should not insist that he should be granted what he asks for, he should be humble in his Du`a and in his everyday life, he should be a regular worshipper and spender of wealth on the poor, he should attempt in his life what is within his means, and then leave the rest to Allah: such are other conditions for the acceptance of a man’s Du`a.
Now, of the things a man asks, forgiveness is a big thing to ask, and has several conditions and requirements. We shall not elaborate beyond this for want of space on our part, and patience on the part of the readers.
Now, with specific reference to asking by the name of so and so, or by his barakah, or his Shafa`ah, that one may be forgiven his sins, the prime principle to be understood is that in Islam every individual has to earn his own salvation. The affair cannot be subcontracted. One cannot say to Allah, virtually, “You are angry with me. O.K. You have the right to be. But I’ll find another way to circumvent Your anger. I shall bring a man of grace between me and You. He will draw out forgiveness for me from You.” Or, one means to say, “Such and such a person is dear to You, O God. Now, I beseech that You forgive me because of him. If You did not, it would mean that the person I have cited is not truly dear to You.” Or, a man will mean to say, “I don’t matter to you, O God, alright. But will You disappoint a holy person of the kind I am mentioning?”
These are all imported concepts from Jewish and Christian religions.
The way Islam has taught us is to win our salvation by our own efforts. One does the best he can to avoid disobeying God, and then supplicate, “O Allah, this is the best I could do, and I promise to improve. While I attempt to do that, forgive me my shortcomings by Your grace and Mercy, surely You are the most Merciful of all those who show mercy.”
The above attitude is also termed as “Tawhidi attitude” – the attitude of he who believes in the Oneness of God.
Q. Is alcohol Najis? Can the perfumes containing alcohol be used by Muslims?
No, alcohol is not Najis.
Q. Are different Swalaths such as Swalath-un-Naariyah mostly done during Thursday nights allowed?
We do not know what practices these are. Please clarify.
Q. What is the meaning of hadith that says that the Qur’an has a Zahir and a Batin?
The Zahir of the Qur’an is that of which the meaning is apparent, and, conversely, Batin refers to the meaning that is not obvious, which is, for the non-experts, hidden.
Nonetheless, there is no mystery about the Batin. Batin is largely Batin for the common people; not for the scholars such as those who have memorized the Qur’an, know the entire Hadith literature, have mastered over the meaning as given by the first three generation Muslims, are proficient in the Arabic language, and, in their personal lives, are pious to a good degree.They are not spiritual men, and do not have to be Sufis. A thorough-going study of the disciplines stated above, bestows one the ability to draw out the Batini meaning.
Please see this month’s editorial for a better understanding.
Q. There is a group of people here in Bangalore who observe Id-ul-Fitr a day before the rest of the community. They insist on following the Saudis to determine the onset of Ramadan and their group is headed by a renegade ‘Sheikh’.
The Prophet’s hadith is famously known: “Start the fast when you sight it (the moon) and break (the month of Ramadan) when you cite it.” Accordingly, Ibn `Abbas would not allow that a people of a place should start fasting, following another place’s citing of the moon. He did not follow the Syrians when they cited the moon but it was not cited in Makkah or Ta’if. However, most scholars have allowed Muslims to follow the moon citing of an adjacent area; as most scholars have also not allowed Muslims of one geographical area to follow the citing of a distant geographical area. In fact, it is impossible to do so, for, when it is evening in one area, it is morning in another and vice versa. So, if they follow the moon citing of another distant area, then, while it is evening in that area, it is morning of their area. So, if the other area declares that the fasting has to be started, and Taraweeh has to begin, the morning sun is shining in the other area. Neither can they start the Taraweeh, nor can they be expected to start fasting after daybreak. So, the decision to follow another area fails.
Thus, the opinion of the majority of scholars is reasonable and convenient to follow viz., “Fast when you sight the moon, and declare Eid when you sight the moon,” as said the Prophet.
Now, those in India following Saudi moon, can do it because of the radio and telephone news services. But there were no news services 200 years ago. So, what were they doing for 1200 years? Were they not following the Prophet who said, “Fast when you sight it, and discontinue fasting when you sight it?”
What’s the problem now that they want to abandon the hadith and follow the Saudi Government’s announcement? The answer is, either they hope to win the approval of the Saudi government, as their obedient servants from the distance, which will help them win donations from them, or, they want to be different from the local Muslims. In either case, they seem to have little regard for Hadith.
Q. The said Sheikh had apparently rebelled against a local Ahlul Hadith/ Salafi mosque because they declined to make him the Imam of their mosque, which is understandable because he had allegedly stabbed a poultry shop-owner, after which he established a mosque elsewhere.
Ahl al-Hadith and the Salafis are late in recognizing the damage being done to their cause by the fanatics among them. They are about to divide themselves into a dozen Madh-hubs, a few of which could end up becoming sects (Firqas) in the future as predicted by the Prophet.
Q. My friends say they are enlightened by his lectures in which he openly abuses the Hanafiyyah and defies his own Jamaah – the Ahle Hadith.
Every community – Muslim, Christian, Hindu – gives birth to a small number of extremists. Every community leader must criticize them, condemn them, curb their activities, and warn the rest not to join them. But if the leaders evince a soft corner for these fanatics, their influence impacts the people of normal tendencies, their numbers increase, and a variety of moral, social, religious, economic and political problems appear.
The endeavor of the fanatics is to swell their numbers and break away from their communities. And the easiest way to attract those with similar tendencies, i.e. fanatics, is to condemn the majority and demonstrate that they themselves are different, and are right – absolutely so, beyond any doubt.
But when they fail to win as many as they thought they would, because the supply of fanatics by that community gets exhausted, the leaders of the fanatics grow angry. Foul language is the result. The followers of the fanatical group love to hear them. Why? Because decent language is the norm. But they are not normal. The abnormal minds and characters approve abnormal language.
An example taken from a wider panorama helps. An extremist of an extremist upbringing, of an extremist group, refers to members of another community as dogs. This indecent language wins him the approval of the extremists of his community. Why? Because, such language is abnormal. And the extremists are abnormal; it wins their approval, and they approve the extremist leader in question.
So, those friends of yours who love their leader do not do so because he speaks out the truth, but because he uses foul language for those who differ with them, and this is the language that his similar fanatical followers love to hear. If he did not speak in the language of their delight, they will abandon him and look for another fanatic to follow.
As for how to identify a fanatic, his extremist views are a sign. Another, important sign is that they have little use for reason, logic and commonsense.
Q. Last year, you had promised that you would publish a series of articles refuting these hardcore fanatics with conclusive proof from the Qur’an, Sunnah, the practices of the Salaf – the validity and the necessity of adopting one of the four schools of Islamic Law.
We have been writing on these topics off and on, but not as series of articles because we do not wish to be seen as spearheading an anti this or anti that party.
Q. Now, they seem to be a big fans of Nasiruddin Albani, who has apparently stated in his book: The Prophets Prayer Described, that one may not follow the four major schools of law, and you had mentioned about his fallacies in some of his evaluations of Sahih Ahadith, and about books which have been written to refute Albani, pointing out his mistakes. Can you mention a few titles?
May Allah show mercy to Albani. He was a remarkable Muhaddith. But he was not a Faqeeh, both being two different disciplines. He is still referred to as a Muhaddith (though not as commonly now) but not for his Fataawaa.
It would not be very accurate to say that he committed fallacies. At best, there were errors. At worst, it could be said that the spread of his opinion about the four Madhahib was a fallacious thing to happen. It greatly helped the deviants. At least two books are currently available that show the errors that he committed in Hadith. Of particular mention is a 45-page publication which discusses over a dozen errors that he committed in his famous book on Salah. But, to be fair, there is no human writing that is free of errors. We do not wish to publish these errors because common people will abandon the said book altogether and miss the many benefits it contains.
Q. Also, these people are never tired of raising objections to the Hanafiyyah interpretation of the law – in this case, they are unhappy with the Hanafiyyah ruling about the punishment meted out to adulterers – that of their punishment extending even after they are dead. According to them, the punishment which is meted out in this world suffices against further punishment in the Hereafter.
The people you have described, whose numbers are steadily rising in our times, who will respond to every call that is laced with the Qur’an and Sunnah (as predicted by the Salaf), not knowing truth from falsehood, are not qualified to discuss such issues as you mention. Allah said,
Indeed, the punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive to spread disorder in the land is that they be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet be severed from the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. This is their ignominy in this life, and for them is a mighty chastisement (in the Hereafter). [5: 33]
Read again the last line of the Qur’anic statement above, and see how ignorance and fanaticism combined can lead people to denying the Qur’an.