Letters to the Editor
Muslim Women at Work
Q: I am a regular reader of your informative magazine. I think every Muslim must read it. I like the ‘Questions & Answers’ column. I have some questions to ask and I would be glad if you answer these questions in your next issue.
While you have asked for the answer in the next issue, we must regret that we are not able to answer the questions as we receive them. We have allotted certain number of pages to this column, and those answers that cannot be accommodated have to wait for future issues.
Q: Can a Muslim wear a tie? If no, why? Explain fully.
A Muslim can wear a tie, there is no restriction about it. It is only complete imitation leading to doubts about the Islamic identity of a person that is prohibited. For example, if one wears a complete suit, but sports a Muslim beard, by which he can be recognized as a Muslim, then that would not be objectionable. The Prophet himself wore a Roman shirt on one occasion. An additional condition is that the wearer may not feel proud of the dress, say a tie. If he does, it is prohibited. The Prophet has said, “Whoever let down his lower garment below the ankle out of pride, will not enter Paradise.” The hadith states a principle.
Nevertheless, it may be remembered that firstly, the tie was originally supposed to be a cross on the breast. It underwent changes to become what it is now. Secondly, with the tie goes a culture: Western culture. The reason why multinational companies (which are mostly Western) insist on their senior staff its use. Thirdly, it suits Western climate. We have seen many people sweating themselves out foolishly in the tropical climate of the east. Finally, a Muslim has a personality of his own, in the development and manifestation of which he is not influenced by cultures other than Islamic, especially those that are inimical to Islam.
What we mean by the above statement is that a Muslim has a forceful personality, which he thrusts forward in the face of his competitors, rivals, or antagonists, to make a place for himself. To achieve this, he does not depend on a particular kind of dress or other cultural expressions? The strength of his personality speaks for him and speaks forcefully. He impresses and is not impressionable.
On the contrary, if a personality is weak, inner strength lacking, and self-confidence of low order, then, such a person can be stopped from progressing by the first hurdle, no matter what he wears to please others.
Q. Can a Muslim (male) offer his Fard Prayers at home? Explain with a hadith.
No, as regular practice it is not allowed for a Muslim male to do his Prayers at home. He must do them at the mosque, five times a day. The Prophet and his Companions, to the last man, did their five daily Prayers in the mosque, without fail, without exception. It is only hypocrites who stayed back. Hence the Prophet once remarked, “I wish to let the Prayers begin, and then go around and burn down the houses of those who do not join in the congregation.” Now, since the life and property of a Muslim are consecrate, the Prophet obviously had the hypocrites in mind, who are not Muslims.
Q. Can Muslim women drive a car or a vehicle?
Yes, a Muslim woman can drive a car, if she does it observing the rules of hijab.
Q. What is the punishment for a woman who goes about without Purdah?
Firstly, it should be remembered that there is a difference in opinion over what exactly is hijab. The majority of the salaf and khalaf thought that it includes the face, the hands and feet, in short, the whole of a woman’s body, save an eye, or maybe both. But one or two stray opinions of the Salaf was that the face is excluded. (Hands and feet were included by them also).
Now, if an Islamic government enforces one or the other, that becomes binding on women. Further, it is the Islamic government that will suggest punishment for those who disregard the rule.
Q. What about women who show their bodies?
Such women as show their bodies will face a stiff penalty in the Hereafter. The Prophet has said, “Such women will appear (among the Muslims) who will be covered but uncovered, their heads like camel’s hump. They will not enter Paradise, nor even smell its fragrance although its fragrance can be felt from such and such (a great) distance.”
By “heads like camel’s hump”, the Prophet meant they would have so dressed their hair as to attract attention. Now, if simply attracting attention with the help of a fashionable hair arrangement would earn them such punishment, then, what about those who show their bodies?
Q. Can a Muslim eat while standing?
It is not unlawful to eat or drink while standing. It is preferable to sit down.
Q. Can a Muslim eat with a spoon?
Yes, he can. How else can he take semi-liquids?
Q. Can women take up jobs or earn money like males do?
At no stage in her life is a Muslim woman required to earn for herself or for others. Through and through her life, she must be supported by one of her male relatives: father, grandfather, uncle, brother, son, etc. If none of them is alive, she must be supported by the State. That is what the Taleban government had done when in power. They had closed down girls’ schools run in Kabul, (on Western pattern, imparting Western education, following Western syllabus). When they closed them down, they fixed emoluments for the lady teachers who lost their jobs – while they sat at home. (Perhaps, that was the first time since the time of the Companions that unemployed women were paid off from government treasury).
The above stated is the general rule. A Muslim woman’s requirements having been met by one or the other males, her taking up a job can only be for reasons of pastime, or out of curiosity, or for earning some extra money (which, of course, can only be inessential money). That being the case, she may not go out of her home without the permission of her custodian or husband. They might want her at home to do the sort of things that only women can properly do, such as attend to the parents, bring up children, or attend to the upkeep of the house while the husband works outside.
Given the situation in which she is not prevented by anyone of her family from going out for a job, the responsibility for doing so shifts to herself. She will be questioned in the Hereafter if her going out was not for an essential purpose, or her absence affected the family in some way. For example, if the children suffered psychologically because of her absence, she is liable to be questioned in the Hereafter. This also applies to the situation when the objective is to make life more comfortable. She will be sinning if she did it with this objective in mind, and at the cost of her homely duties. Further, if both husband and wife decide to do it, then both would be sinning. To bring up healthy, educated, and well-trained children is the primary responsibility of the pair after their basic needs have been met. They cannot sacrifice the spiritual or moral life of their children for their own material comfort. They cannot do that for the material comfort of the children themselves.
There can be, however, exceptional situations when a woman has no one to support her, and the government does nothing about it, as in the Muslim countries of our time. (Interestingly, there are women in the Arab countries who are seeking women’s liberation, that is freedom for them to go about doing everything males do, especially earn their livelihood, but do not ask their governments to fix unemployment allowance for them, although many of these governments are rolling in millions). In any case, in such circumstances a Muslim woman can go out and take up a job. But she must observe the rules of Hijab wherever she works and, further, should not mix with males. If her children suffer, then the sin is upon the nearest male kin, who, although able, refused to help her, or on the government, since she had been forced out for economic reasons. In the absence of an Islamic government, the sin will shift to the Muslims of the neighborhood, who, despite being able, would not offer solution to her economic problems.
Q. I have some problems and hope you will solve them. I am a professional student doing Unani medicine. In a previous issue you said that in a Muslim society boys and girls should not be allowed to mix. As you know that professional colleges are co-eds. Everyday we come across boys and male Professors. Is this sin? Though I cover myself with Niqab, I want to ask whether we can see them and talk to them.
Islamic rules are not inflexible. Human needs come on top. Situations are taken into account and rules follow.
The rules about Hijab are clear. But, sometimes a Muslim woman is forced into circumstance not of her making. For example, today, in a country like India, a Muslim woman needs to educate herself. That is the demand of the Muslim society in which she lives. Without an educational qualification attached to her name, a Muslimah is not measured well by most. Then there is the refusal on the part of Muslim males to shoulder the responsibility fully of earning the livelihood for all those under his care. So, there can be situations in the life of a Muslim woman when she might have to earn her own livelihood or for her children. For that education, although a perverting education and harmful for them, is necessary.
Now, when a Muslimah wishes to educate herself, she finds that many professional courses in which she fits well, e.g., medicine, do not have girls’ colleges. She must either study with male students and teachers or not study at all. Choosing another line of study might not be a good alternative, such as, a degree in arts or science. That kind of degree is not much worth without a higher degree, say Master’s. But at Master’s level, the problem returns, i.e., male interactions.
Therefore, she has two options. Either break the rule, or stay at home. Now, if she stayed at home, depending on Allah, that would prove not to be a wrong choice provided she worked hard at home, educating herself through open universities. In time, she will discover that Allah accomplishes His Will in manners she didn’t think could happen. The Qur’an says, “And whoever feared Allah, will have Allah find a way out (of the difficulties) for him.”
However, if she hadn’t been aware of the rules, or was weak in faith, and so broke the rule and joined a co-educational institution, then, Islam does not abandon her. It modifies its rule to say, “Since you are in a bad situation, make the best of it.” In other words, she should not expose herself except the face, should not interact with males when not necessary and seek Allah’s forgiveness every now and then for breaking the rules.
Q. Are major sins wholly and totally forgivable?
Except for a sin against Allah, and a sin against man, all other sins are forgivable. The sin against Allah is to associate others in His Person or Attributes (shirk). The sin against man is to kill a believer without right.
However, a sin requires repentance, with all its conditions, before it can be expected to be forgiven.
Q. In Islam, we must not disobey our parents. On certain occasions, videography is used. I always avoid it. But my parents often tell me to be in video, and I can’t disobey them. Kindly give me suggestions what to do?
Your first-line statement is correct but needs to be made conditional. It should be modified as, “In Islam, parents are to be obeyed, but not in disobedience of Allah.” The Qur’an said (29: 8), “And if the two (parents) force you to associate with Allah, then do not obey them.” And the Prophet has said, “There is no obedience of the created in disobedience of the Creator.”
Videography involving humans is certainly prohibited in Islam. It is all the more wrong for women because video tapes might be taken around and they exposed. Young men pass dishonorable remarks about them: “This is alright but that is ugly. This has this feature, that has that feature,” and so on. Therefore, disobey your parents outright and admonish them, suitably, without any disrespect. Tell them that just as they have to accept a medical advice from you, they will do well to accept religious advice too.
Q: I have got few questions regarding different sects of Islam, which sometimes confuse me about my religion. Hope you will clarify it in detail at the earliest. I asked a Mawlana regarding the concepts held by Mehadavis. He told me that their concepts are different from those of the Sunnis and they are not considered as Muslims. If that is true, then, why? Although they also offer Salah (in their different mosques), celebrate ‘Id-ul-Fitr and ‘Id-ul-Azha, fast, give Zakah and perform Hajj, which are the basic pillars of Islam.
You are slightly mixed up about beliefs and deeds. What you have counted are deeds and not beliefs.
A person does not enter into Islam by starting to Pray, or offering Zakah. He has to first pronounce his belief in the Oneness of Allah, and the Messengership of Prophet Muhammad as the final Prophet.
Anyone who does that enters into the fold of Islam.
Now, there are predictions coming down from the Prophet that a Mahdi will arrive who will fill the world with peace and justice as it was filled with strife and tyranny before his arrival. He will be of the kinsfolk of the Prophet. In his effort to escape persecution (and khilafah), he will seek refuge in Makkah. But Muslims will be after him, and discovering him between Multazim and Maqam (-e-Ibrahim) will enter into allegiance of obedience to him. He will engage in Jihad against the Jews and would be the leader of the Muslims, preparing themselves for the next battle with them then organized by Dajjal, when ‘Isa ibn Maryam (asws) will descend in Dimashq. Jesus will insist that the Mahdi lead in the Prayer. This, in short, is the prediction concerning the Mahdi.
Everyone knows that the predicted Mahdi has not appeared. Peace and justice have not been established. There has been no war against the Jews led by Dajjal. Jesus Christ has not descended. Therefore, anyone who believes that Mahdi has appeared, is in error. He should be educated about it.
What happens when a person insists that Mahdi has indeed appeared? Obviously, first and foremost, he denies the reports coming down from the Prophet. Those reports are by implication of Mutawatir nature. That is, they have come down through so many lines of narration that cannot be denied by any fair minded reasonable person. Anyone who denies them denies the “body of hadith.” Hence he is an unbeliever in Islam, even if he prayed and offered Zakah. But, of course, he first needs to be taught the nature of the predictions.
A step further, if a person or persons not only deny undeniable reports coming down from the Prophet, despite learning about them, but separate themselves out from the general community of believers, by establishing their own mosques, and taking law from the “supposed Mahdi”, then such a separation is an act of separation committed by themselves. In other words, they are announcing: “We are not Muslims like the 99.9995% are.”
Now, if the majority of Muslims, the 99.9995%, say that they – the 0.0005% – are not the kind of Muslims the majority are, then, are they not repeating what the Mahdavis are saying?
Q. Is marriage between Sunni and Mehadavi lawful in Islam?
First, it will have to be ascertained as to who the person is who claims to be a Mahdavi. Maybe he is a Sunni Muslim for all practical purposes, but belongs to a tribe called Mahdavis, most of whom are not sure what they themselves believe in. Next, the following may be done. Ask the person, man or woman, a few questions about his or her faith: Do you believe in the Kalimah Shahadah? If yes, can you repeat it and repeat its meaning? Do you believe a Mahdi has come? If yes, do you believe he was the same Mahdi predicted in ahadith such as…recount the ahadith. If he or she, despite presentation of the trustworthy reports concerning the Mahdi, says he or she believes that the Mahdi as described in the ahadith has appeared, then either he or she is out of mind, or really a Mahdavi. In either case, he or she should not be taken into marriage. If the person says that he or she believes in another Mahdi, and does not deny that one more, as predicted in the ahadith, is yet to appear, then the next question would be: do you take laws from a source other than the Qur’an and Sunnah? If the answer is yes, then the person is an unbeliever in Islam, whether Mahdavi or not Mahdavi. Finally, the person may be asked, do you pray with the 99.9995% of the Muslims, in their mosques, or do you think that is not lawful for you? If the answer is no, the person belongs to another sect, not Sunni. If the answer is yes, in practice, then the person is not a Mahdavi, even if he believes in a Mahdi that has appeared.
To sum up, if a man believes in a Mahdi (some other than the Mahdi promised in the ahadith), but does not deny the true Mahdi’s expected appearance, does not take laws from him, and does not separate out from the main stream Muslims, then he is not a non-Muslim.
We believe quite a few Mahdavis in India are of the above description, but individuals must be checked before any interaction of a serious nature.
Q. Mehadavis also follow Murshidism, which is a sin. Are they not wrong in this? But when I put this question to one of my Mahadavi friends, he told me that they obey Murshids as the (Murshidi) guides them to proper living?
To follow a Murshid’s advice, when it does not contradict with the Islamic Shari`ah is not disallowed in Islam. In all parts of the world, Muslims follow the advice of their scholars, who, virtually are their Murshids, whether they are referred by this term or not.
Q. One of my friends is a Mahadavi and in Ramadhan they offer Tarawih Prayers only for 3 days, on 1st, 2nd and 3rd of Ramadan. When I enquired him regarding this, he told me this is lawful in Islam, as it is also one of the ways to pray Tarawih, as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has also performed Tarawih salah in this way. Is it true?
When they say that this is what the Prophet did, they are right. The Prophet in fact prayed in congregation, only on three nights of Ramadan. He gave up from fear that it would be declared Wajib unto the Muslims. If not for that apprehension, he might well have continued to offer the Prayers the whole of the Ramadan as he singly did at home.
It is from this that the consensus of the first generation Muslims emerged. Our allusion is to what ‘Umar (ra) instituted, at a time when the majority of the Companions of the Prophet were alive. They agreed to the Prayers, in congregation, for the whole of Ramadan, as Qiyam al-Layl of Ramadan (or Taraweeh) without anyone differing with ‘Umar. Nobody said at that time that what ‘Umar had done was against the Sunnah of the Prophet who prayed only for 3 days and not 30 days. Therefore, anyone opposed to the consensus, is opposed to the best of men and women after the Prophets and Messengers. To say the least, he doubts the understanding of a people who understood the religion of Islam better than any other people after them – however holy his argument may sound. Yet, having said that, one must admit that such a person cannot be declared an unbeliever on that ground.
Q. I came to know that the proportion of women will be greater in Hell. Is it true? If yes, why?
A trustworthy narration coming down from the Prophet reports him as having said, “I stood at the door to Paradise and found the meek and the poor as most of its inhabitants and stood at the door to Hell-fire and found most of its inhabitants women.”
Scholars have held different opinions about the meaning of this hadith. One opinion is that what he saw would be the state at the beginning of the affair; that is, immediately after the reckoning when men and women would be freshly in Hell.
Some others have said that, the situation he described would be permanent, and the reason why women will be more in Hell-fire is given in the second part of the hadith. It says, “They asked, ‘Why is it, Messenger of Allah?’ He replied,’Because of their ungratefulness. They asked, ‘Ungrateful to their Lord?’ He replied, ‘Ungrateful to their spouses. If you did good to one of them for years and then missed out on something, she will say, ‘I never tasted any good on your hand.’”
As a matter of fact, women’s entry into Paradise has been made easier in comparison to men. A hadith says, “If a woman does her five (daily) Prayers, fasts her month (of Ramadan), guards her chastity, and obeys her husband, she will be told, ‘Enter Paradise by the gate of your choice.’”
Indeed, women will be the cause of many men’s entry into Paradise. A hadith of Muslim and Tirmidhi says, “Whoever brought up two girls, will enter Paradise with me like this.” Then he pointed with his two fingers. Another hadith says that Paradise is under the feet of the mothers.
Thus, the above hadith, about the Prophet seeing more women in Hellfire than men, should be taken as a warning by women, that, despite their entry into Paradise made easy, they should not miss out on it.
Purely from rational point of view, the hadith in discussion seems to rest on good ground. Men and women share the primary obligations: Prayers, Zakah, etc. However, there are some commandments that are only for men. For example, earning the livelihood. Men are exclusively made responsible both for themselves, their children as well as a few females attached to them as mothers, sisters, wives, etc. They have been asked to go out into the world and earn the livelihood. In contrast, this duty is taken off women who are told to stay at home and attend to the easier work. Jihad is another difficult commandment imposed on men but not on women. In comparison there is no commandment specific to women but not men. Some people might say Hijab is a special commandment for women. That’s not correct. This is not a commandment of the nature of earning livelihood or fighting the enemies of Islam and losing life or limbs. It is like the many other “don’t do’s” of Islam: don’t drink, don’t commit fornication, etc.
A cursory look at the rules of Islam also tells us that women have been treated with greater generosity than men. For example, women are not required to do Prayers when undergoing their periods or on other occasions. They can postpone their fasts for a few reasons. Etc.
But, what is their attitude towards their Lord, when compared to men? Those who have been treated generously? Well, if men Pray, women also Pray. If men fast, women also do. And so on. The two also commit their acts of sins equally. But women do something more than men. And that something consists in discarding Hijab either partly or wholly. But more. Many of them put on make-up of all sorts to lure men. So that, a man might do his Prayers in a mosque, and come out in a cleansed state when he comes across a woman in make-up, out to lure males. Even further, when they find that they are not drawing enough attention, they remove some of their clothes, unnecessarily putting males to test and spreading moral corruption. Indeed, women are more responsible for moral corruption than men. If they observed Hijab, moral corruption would disappear to a great extent.
Thus, this is one area in which women – in general – commit more sins than men and contribute to corruption in a special sense. This could be the reason why the Prophet saw women more in numbers in Hell than men.
Adoption and Orphans
Q: I have been reading your magazine for the last two years and I am very happy with you and your team for giving such good information about our religion. I am studying law and I am facing problems of practical nature. Why adoption is not allowed in Mohammedan law?
Firstly, we might point out that there is no such thing as Muhammadan Law. What you are taught should be properly referred to as Islamic Law, or better the Shari`ah of Islam.
As regards the question itself, we do not know how you learnt that adoption is not allowed in Islam. It is not only allowed, it is the only religion which encourages adoption. Our Prophet himself adopted a son. Which other Prophet did? Moreover, while every other religious literature is completely devoid of any mention of the orphans, (those who normally need adoption), the Qur’an is full of injunctions about their good treatment. It threatens those who do not look after orphans with Hellfire. Obviously, the best way of looking after orphans is to adopt them. The present system of keeping orphans in orphanages is not an Islamic solution.
You might know that there are full-time agencies in the Islamic world working on adoption of the orphans. Tens of thousands of orphans have been adopted through these agencies. They are fed, clothed and educated at the cost of the custodians, while they comfortably live with one or the other equally poor relatives.
In contrast, the non-Muslim world hardly knows about adoption. How many agencies you know in India? Yes, in the West they do. But West is a world that evokes wonders. They kill their own offspring and then go out and bring a child from outside for raising.
But the adoption that you have in mind, and which the Hindus use in their effort to malign Islam is the adoption of the “jahiliyy” type banned in Islam. That adoption means that the adopted son, usually an orphan, inherits the sponsor. This is such a wrong committed against the orphan that every civilized society should immediately ban it. The reason should be obvious. For, if the law says that the adopted son be treated as real, to the extent that he inherits the person who adopted him, then nobody will adopt an orphan. Who wants to give away his wealth to someone he did not sire? Hence we find that adoption is non-existent in India. There are no welfare organizations helping orphans get adopted. The laws actively discourage it.
Another discouraging factor in the “jahiliyy” (pagan) system that Islam did away with is that the adopted son was not allowed to marry within the family members of the sponsor. But, firstly, the question is, why not? Do they share the same genes? Do they share the same blood? Are they from the same womb? What’s the problem? Why bring unnecessary restrictions and discourage people?
Secondly, there is another serious objection to this. How can any person with any sense of honor adopt a boy who grows into a man and is supposed to be treated as a real son? But in everyone’s knowledge he is not a real son. How can his own daughters feel safe if left alone, with a so-called adopted brother, who has no repulsive feeling for the girls, like a real brother has? Can one imagine a young man and a young girl under the same roof, day in and out, for years together. How are they likely to look at each other during the time when the parents are away from the home? In USA, wife’s daughters from previous marriages are routinely molested. How can any decent person, not to speak of a Muslim, ever allow a complete stranger to live in his house? So, what’s the solution? Well, people have found a solution: no adoption.
As a lawyer, and someone interested in the welfare of orphans, who are the prime beneficiaries of adoption, you should raise this question among the men of law. You must inform them that a revealed religion has appeared. It does away with all evils and is a mercy unto mankind. They should, as a people who understand the law, give up the religion they have incidentally inherited, adopt Islam and – apart from other things – work in the cause of adoption of the type approved by Islam.
Q. In case of Talaq, why superiority is given to the husband?
What you mean perhaps is that why in Islam is a man allowed to divorce his wife, although, on the other hand, a woman is not allowed to divorce her husband? It is surprising that such a question should come from a man studying law. Surely, if your law books don’t say anything, (which will not surprise us), at least you should be reading newspapers. You must be often reading in the news originating from the West that the court has granted divorce to such and such two famous personalities? Don’t you read that such and such a couple has been separated by the court citing irreconcilable differences? Have you ever read that such and such a British, German, or American woman has divorced her husband? Of course you wouldn’t have. So, did it not strike you that in no legal system a woman can divorce her husband? In the West, if a woman wishes separation, either she applies to the court of law (which only a few do), or runs away from the husband (which most do).
So, why has Islam been singled out for the question?
It is quite possible that this and the previous question are the product of your own mind. But, we have a feeling these are the products of the milieu in which you study: milieu of the legal men. It is possible that these questions are being aimed at you in order to put you to shame about your religion and to invest you with a sense of guilt leading to inferiority complex. In a field where competition is so great, a diffident lawyer would pose no challenge to his competitors. So, we believe you should turn back the tables on your colleagues. You should issue a wake up call to them – men of law around you, the champions of justice – to rise against this great injustice to women. It comes not from Islam, (which does not claim equality of men and women), but from the West (which claims it has already achieved parity)? You should ask them as to when will they start writing to say “The New York Times,” the “Newsweek”, or “The Economist” placing their finger on a 200 year old hypocrisy. But if the men of law never pose these kind of questions to the right people, then you might ask them if we are still expected to trust their integrity and honesty?
Q. Please give details of essential elements of marriage from the Qubiliyyat (Nikah) till the end. And give ideas about Talaq also.
Marriage: Qubuliyyat is the beginning and the end. There is no more to Nikah, so far as the ceremony goes.
Talaq: It is the most abominable of the lawful acts in Islam. Hence, the scholars do not like to publish its rules. When the need arises, they maybe looked into the law books. West is law, (many of them wrong). Islam is law and wisdom.
Q. Please also furnish information regarding I.A.S, I.P.S. (Civil Services), especially about the syllabus.
We are sorry we do not have any information on courses, exams or syllabi, although you have asked the right people. That is, a people like us should publish information of this sort. But we suffer severe lack of means.
Verses of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith Nabwi inter-alia envisage that God guarantees the good male Houries and Ghilmaan. But why no such counter promise has been made to women? The reply should be conveyed in person and not published in your magazine.
G. M. M.,
We regret we do not answer by mail. We have, therefore, removed your name and address. As regards the question, we have recently answered it. We might add a line or two here.
The main difference between Islam and other religions, as well as all man-made systems, is that Islam is a revealed religion. It came from the Creator of the Universe. The message He sent, the Qur’an, is a revealed Book. Hence, it contains no indecency and no obscenity. For example, certain scriptures, treated holy by their adherents, have in them such indecencies that recently an Irish lady wrote to the government that the so-called Holy Book be banned from public sale. She thought it was such a bad influence on the children. An eastern holy scripture compares the deity’s beauty with the rolling hips of a woman. Qur’an is completely free of such indecencies. It has, in contrast, several stories of highly virtuous women of the past ages.
The Qur’an is the only Book which assigns women, honor and respect. It guards their chastity, innocence and purity of mind. Hopefully, this answer will suffice.
Hajis and ‘Aamils
Q. Please answer two of my questions. When a person is going to Makkah for Hajj, he is garlanded. Is he permitted to wear these garlands? If yes, then is he permitted to wear them on his downward journey also?
If you wish to know if it is unlawful in Islam, the answer is, it is not. Flowers don’t do any harm to anyone if the garlanding is not treated as a religious duty. But, if it is done as a custom, and a man receives half a dozen garlands, then, perhaps the people should realize that the man starting on a Hajj needs cash more than flowers.
As to whether he could come back with a garland, yes, why not? (But, obviously, he will have to garland himself). It would be perhaps made easy if he was given cash instead of garlands when he was starting.
Q. Can we believe in the work of Jantar-Mantar by some of the ‘Aamil or Saayel? Persons who suffer from mental problems, are given Taveez or little slips of papers. Many people who went to them have recovered.
Kindly refer to the July 2001 issue for a detailed discussion.
At this point we might remind you that most of the “‘Aaamils” are hoax. They don’t known what they are reading, what they are handing out, and what can be the effect of what they are reading. An “`Aamil”, say of area “A”, reads out on say ten, or gives them a Ta`weedh (amulet) each. One of them is cured of say a persistent headache (for reasons other than the charm). The one who is cured spreads his story far and wide. Those who went uncured,
(a) blame their luck;
(b) blame themselves for not having enough faith in the “‘Aamil” and his charm;
(c) blame themselves for being so wicked as not to be cured;
(d) believe the dosage (of charm) was perhaps not enough;
(e) believe the charm worked, but the illness came back a second time; and so on.
Further, most of them are afraid to say that the “‘Aamil’s” charm didn’t work because they are afraid they will be punished for uttering such a blasphemy.
In the meanwhile, the story of the one who was cured of his headache by nature and Allah’s will, is now published in the society as that of a man cured of a brain tumor by such and such an “‘Aamil,” of area “B.” The “‘Aamil” of area “A”, the chap who originally recited the Jantar-mantar, or gave the Ta`weedh, doesn’t get the credit. But it doesn’t matter. They are all in the same business, and so credit to one is credit to another. His credit term will come.
Q. I will be grateful to you if you answer my questions in the next issue. Will it not be good to publish only questions in “Questions and Answers” column, so that more questions get their answers. I mean to say that you should abridge all letters that contain questions and praises for this magazine.
We publish praises to this magazine because, firstly, the flattery pleases us, secondly, because we have many workers, both voluntary as well as paid, spread on more than one continent. That what they produce wins appreciation gives them a sense of satisfaction. Thirdly, it is to impress on the skeptical readers that there are plenty of people who approve of the contents of the same magazine that they disapprove.
Q. Should we, if a Muslim commits suicide, participate in the Salat al-Janaza? Please give detailed answer. What are the opinions of Imam Shafei and Imam Azam? Kindly elaborate.
You see, discussions of the nature you have asked are not suitable for a magazine that has very modest objectives which does not include publishing research material. The masses simply wish to know how to behave on a particular occasion, or act in a particular situation, or what opinions to hold over current issues. Publishing anything beyond this would drive away the common readers and open debates that serve no purpose. And since the common readers, not only in India, but over the entire globe are mostly Hanafis, common sense tells us to project the Hanafi point of law.
Yes, if someone is a Shafe`i or Hanbali, or whatever, and cannot find scholars to answer questions according to his school of thought, then we are always there to help him out.
In this case of Prayers on a Muslim who committed suicide, the Hanafi Maslak says, (ref. Fatawa ‘Alamgiriyyah) that he might be prayed over and buried in the Muslim cemetery.
We may point out in addition that it is also a most reasonable thing to do, i.e., to pray over and bury in the Muslim manner of burial. That is because one cannot go by what he sees or hears: a man found hung by a rope or dead because of poison consumption, is not enough evidence to conclude that he committed suicide, even if a note has been found. It is only thorough medical and other investigations that will finally determine if there was no foul play, that it was not murder, but suicide. It has also to be determined if the man was not insane. That kind of investigation might take long. In the meanwhile, the routine may be followed.
Q. I am a regular reader of your magazine. I was happy with the Arabic usage. But now this is missing. I and my friends were very disappointed. This used to help us to read and understand Arabic better.
Our entire sales staff was opposed to the appearance of the Arabic text. They say it discourages young men from buying the magazine.
Q. It will also be helpful for us if you publish some hadith and stories of the Companions.
But we do have a regular hadith column, don’t we?
Q. A doubt: I see that childless Muslim couples do not prefer to adopt. Instead the husband re-marries to have a child from the second wife. When opposed they take advantage of Islamic laws (i.e., a male can marry four wives). Isn’t it like cheating the first wife? Also, adoption solves the problem of a child.
How does a man who marries a second woman cheats the first? Cheating means to take away someone’s rights. Is he taking away any of her right by marrying a second woman? What does marriage mean? Does it mean either of them should remain stuck to the other forever? No matter what happens? Does it mean one’s life is useless, futile, unworthy of living without the other? Does it mean the two have become one, so that if one dies, the other should better follow, and burn herself on the pier? Does it mean if one of them is impotent, the other should undergo vasectomy? Will either of them go to Paradise, simply because he or she remained the wife or husband of the other, until death? If the answer to the above questions is in negative, then how does taking a second wife amount to cheating the first?
As regards adoption, we do not know if you are married or not, and if married, whether you have children or not. It is only someone who does not have a child of his own, can speak for his feelings. Other people, whose sympathy is quickly fired up for the wrong people, in a wrong way, can neither understand, nor are expected to act in the way they advise others, when they themselves face similar situations.
Further, it sounds to us that the butt of the objection is, “Why does Islam allow four wives?”
We do not know whether you harbor the same doubts or not, but this kind of question comes from people who are in extreme doubt about Islam. Especially those who live their lives out in anti-Islamic milieu, and have no knowledge of, nor are they interested in the religion they have inherited. They are truly sorry for such inheritance and wriggle with pain as a fish out of water. We are sure, you as someone who reads this digest regularly, do not carry these kind of sentiments. But the doubt that you have raised comes from those quarters. Islam is a pragmatic religion. It offers reasonable solutions for all kind of difficult situations. But, the quarter we have spoken of, instead of accepting Allah’s mercy, remarks, “Oh. A door to evil has been opened.”
To sire children is a natural desire in all men and women. That is the primary reason for marriage. Without one bound to the other, a man can never be sure if a child his woman-partner has brought is his or not. Therefore, they get married. But, if there is no child, then, obviously, the marriage is a failure, although not in the total sense, but surely in an important sense. If one of them suffers from a disability, what should the other do? The answers will vary. Some people will say, well, get separated. A samaritan might suggest, suffer heroically. Another might say, adopt. Thus, there will be a variety of answers. None of them correct. And none of them will say, “Take another wife” because that is the Islamic solution. For, where there is no conscious Islam, unconscious paganism takes its place.
Islam does not expect people to become ascetics. It does not ask them to do things against their nature. It does not offer unreasonable solutions. Like the solutions given above. Hindus, for example, ignore the solutions and secretly follow the Islamic solution; i.e., marry another woman. Islam is a complete guidance. One who follows it need not be ashamed of his actions.
Islam suggests that if a woman knows that it is the husband who is at fault, and the desire for a child is great in her, she can ask for separation. But, if it is a female who suffers the disability, then, Islam would suggest the male to keep the first wife and add another. Is that a pretext, an excuse, a chance to make the most of, or is it a merciful ruling?
You have suggested adoption as a solution. A child is also incidentally taken care of, you say. But, may we ask: why wait for a one in thousand childless couple to adopt a child? Why not healthy couples adopt uncared for children? Secondly, if a woman is ready to adopt a child from outside, why can’t she adopt her husband’s child from a second wife?
Finally, doubts of the above nature arise because Islam has been completely abandoned, but for a few external features. Today’s Muslims’ lives are centered around the organs in the central portion of their torso. But, in Islam, a woman, (or man), live very different lives. Theirs is a life filled with activities. As husbands and wives also, they live independent lives, pursue independent interests. Apart from the fact that a woman is a wife to someone, she is a personality of her own. She is an important unit of the society and performs several functions in that capacity. Child-bearing is one. If she fails in that, it means she has a vacuum in that part of her life. But, she lives among a sea of different roles in life. Like water, which fills a vacuum quickly, a Muslimah’s vacuum caused by the absence of children is quickly filled by other activities. The Prophet’s own childless wife ‘A’isha, who became a widow at 18 and lived up to 60, is a good example for Muslim women.
Q. Another doubt. Being a Sunni Muslim having friendship with the Shia, sharing food, and mingling with them as sisters and brothers is prohibited. I have heard from some people that it is wrong to have any type of relations with the Shia. Is that correct?
Name and address withheld
What you have heard is wrong. It is not only wrong but an affront to the humanity in general.
We are all children of one father and mother. However distant, we all human beings are related to each other and are bound to each other in several ways. That is the primary relationship between the human beings, whatever their religions, their regions, languages, color, etc. We are not beasts that tear apart each other. That is something the modern Western civilization teaches by example. But, from Islamic point of view, we – the humans – are brothers and sisters in humanity who share each other’s worries, happiness, hopes and fears. That is the primary mode of relationship. Even if we disagree over many issues, the primary relationship remains. Islam does not teach, as Christianity does, to love everyone in the world endlessly. That is not possible and is entirely unnatural. But it asks that we respect the primary relationship of being children of the same parents. Hence we see that when the Makkans, declared enemies of the Prophet, who attempted on his life several times, were passing through a phase of drought, the Prophet sent them grains and foodstuff. The Qur’an says (60: 8), “Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you on religious grounds and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous towards them and acting justly towards them. Indeed, Allah loves the just.”
Now, if that is the relationship with the commonest of the humanity, what should it be with those who believe in the same God as we, in the same Prophet as we, in the same Book of God as we? Who, as far as the opinion of great many scholars goes, are Muslims? Imam Abu Hanifa’s opinion can never be taken lightly without spreading great discord in the people. He said, “Everyone who faces our Qiblah is a Muslim.”
It is true that on the political front we, the Sunni and the Shi`ah differ over several issues as related to the earliest events. Those differences have unfortunately led the Shi`ah to develop a very different Shari`ah. But, overall, because of the Qur’an, both agree on several major issues. How can then a social boycott be acceptable? Yes, because of the differences, some of purely religious nature, the scholars have ruled that a Sunni girl may not be given away to a Shi`ah in marriage. But they are allowed to marry Shi`ah girls. That opens up possibilities for a variety of relationships. The sister of a child’s Shi`ah mother, is his or her aunt, a second mother. This is only one example. Endless of them can lead to many openings for close interaction. Had the Muslims not become as narrow minded as they have over the centuries, there would have been no Shi`ah today.