Letters to the Editor
The Right to Education
Naznin I. Dawjee, via email
I’m a student & regular reader of YMD. I am really happy to see your efforts in YMD. I want to ask:
What is the meaning of Naznin?
The root of this word is Persian and means, roughly, in classical Persian: “One who is finicky.” In modern Persian it means, “A delicate one,” or “Subtle” and the like; but certainly not “the gorgeous one.”
What does Islam say about education of girls, i.e. women’s education?
It is obligatory upon every Muslim, male or female, to obtain as much knowledge of Islam as necessary to lead an Islamically sound life. Parents are obliged to impart this amount of education, and questionable in the Hereafter for not doing so.
As for secular education, it is neither obligatory on a Muslim to gain secular knowledge, nor on parents to impart it. The parents might at best prepare their offspring for their adult life when they will have to bear responsibilities and face various challenges. Although, admittedly, such “preparation” is not exactly “wajib” on the parents, it is best they gave attention to it, after the religious education, or parallel to it – in view of the difficulties that the present life imposes to the secularly uneducated. The parents must also arrange for a parallel Islamic education, to counter the ill-effects of modern secular religion. If parents choose to educate their children on secular lines, then this counter education becomes wajib on them and they are questionable in the Hereafter for not doing so.
Parenting in Islam means much more than feeding the children and teaching them how to earn money.
The branch of secular education to be chosen for a young man or woman would depend on the family, its means, the inborn abilities, inclinations, the social surrounding, and the aims and objectives of the life in general. It is not at all necessary that every child should become an Engineer, Doctor or Computer Programmer. Indeed, it is not necessary that every child should take up one of the professional courses. Where inclination is lacking in the youth, the change to the more acceptable course should be swiftly made.
It is in this area of “secular” education that the differences between boys and girls arise. In Islam, men and women play different roles and they should both be accordingly prepared. The courses that suit boys, do not suit girls. Not because what males can do females cannot; but because their roles in life are differently assigned, and the secular education must prepare the individuals for the respective roles.
Just like in other matters, in education too, female children of a Muslim have the same rights as males – but to a point. Males are required to be the bread earners. Therefore, not only the kind of education for boys will be different from that of the girls, but also the period of education. If the means do not allow a Muslim to give similar lengths of education to all his children, then, the male children may receive preference over the female.
But there is a third kind of education: knowledge in general and in particular Islamic. That is, knowledge beyond the basics to help lead an Islamic life viz., knowledge of the Hereafter, of the Islamic values, of the ways to enjoin virtues and prohibit the evil, etc. There are no rules binding anyone, neither the parents, nor the children, about receiving or imparting such knowledge. This education should be carried on, vigorously, until death – both by men as well as women, whether rich or poor, whether supported by parents or not supported. Yet, parents may offer equal support to their children for this kind of education such as, providing the necessary books, arranging for specialist teachers, admission into specialist colleges or institutions, etc. This is where the true equality of sexes lies. It is also the basis of one individual’s superiority over another. The West has a crude way of life. The richer is the more respected. Not in Islam. Here it is the virtuous and knowledgeable who draw greater respect. This is the true equality of sexes, and not degrees from colleges which have no knowledge function, but are aides for earning money.
Mahamid Zaheer Khan, via email
I am a 18-yr Muslim student. I have many questions to ask.
I have come to know that if we watch porn (on internet) forty prayers of ours will be not be accepted. If so, how can I repent?
It is not correct that forty Prayers are not accepted for watching porn. As for repentance, the best would be to bind oneself to offer as much money in charity as it takes to watch the porn if you are of the poor class, double the amount if you are of the middle class, or multiply the charity amount by three if rich.
What is the rule concerning secretion of certain liquids from the organ. Are Prayers forgiven because of it?
One might make a fresh wudu and wash the area touched by secretions. Prayers are not forgiven for this reason.
Is it wrong to have girl friends?
Yes, it is.
What happens if a Muslim has sex with other than his wife?
The laws are quite severe for such crimes. If it is an unmarried person, he will be whipped in public, but if married, and he admits, he will be condemned to death. Of course, there are a few other conditions for handing down a capital punishment but which need not be discussed here.
Punishment for Cartoon
Junaid Ahmad, via email
What is the punishment for a person who publishes the Prophet’s cartoons?
He will be asked to repent. If he repeats he will be imprisoned and educated. If he repeats he will be given other suitable punishment decided by the judicial authorities. If it is a completely blasphemous cartoon, on which he insists, despite education, he may deserve death.
What if a person changes his religion from Islam to another but then, realizing that Islam is the best, wants to change back to Islam?
His repentance is acceptable. He should recite the Shahadah and revert to Islam, without any official ceremony or function. He can do it on his own but announce his reversion to the Muslim society.
Navaid Alam Faruqui, via email
It’s a pleasure to have been reading this magazine for more than eight years now, alhamdulillah. The quality of the magazine is improving both in its presentation and content. I have specially liked your cover pages in the last year; do convey my appreciation to the people behind the beautiful illustrations. It is also nice to see Biju Abdul Qadir’s articles. It gives hope and confidence that the YMD experience will not be limited by the life of one author, may Allah lengthen the life of Iqbal Zaheer and make it even more fruitful. May Allah give you the clarity of vision, the determination to go on and the strength to accept and correct your mistakes.
We wish you had pointed out a few mistakes – of the non-type type.
I have a few questions.
If a Muslim wishes to marry a non-Muslim girl who is not very much inclined towards Islam but is ready to accept it for the sake of marriage, how should her faith be judged? Will her proclaiming the Shahadah be enough? Kindly enlist the requirements, both the mandatory as well as the preferable ones.
Islam demands both verbal assertion as well as practice that mirrors the assertion. Therefore, if a girl pronounces the Shahadah, and then on leads an Islamic life, then, there is no reason to doubt her intentions. As for practice, it is enough if she prays five times, expends in charity and observes dietary laws, if previously she was a Christian, and, if a Hindu, shows no hesitation to eat beef. A high level of commitment to Islam might not be expected of such converts. It is those who choose Islam after study that are fully committed to it. Others, even if they chose it for reasons other than to please their Lord, are also won over by Islam once they see it from close quarters, and begin to increase practice as conviction grows.
Are (secular) courts and registered marriages legal in Islam? If so what is the criteria vis-à-vis the Qazi and Muslim witnesses. Please elaborate.
An Islamic Nikah is not legal without the custodian of the bride, two witnesses, an offer by the bridegroom and consent by the bride (Eijaab wa qubool). This ceremony could be performed in a mosque, at a house, or in a court conducted by a Qazi (as is the case in many Muslim countries). But, if the court is secular and the above conditions are not met, then the marriage is not legal in Islam.
As we understand, where court appearance is necessary, Muslims first perform the Nikah and then report to the court for registration.
Is Ghusl mandatory before intercourse after the menstruation or is the cessation of bleeding and general cleansing sufficient?
According to the Hanafiyyah, (who differ from some others) a bath is preferable, though not mandatory.
I understand that investing in shares is allowed but not in companies that have haram dealings as their mainstay. In the case of mutual funds such as ICICI Prudential, they have small parts of the money invested in government securities or banks etc. Does this fact make the whole fund haram or can a Muslim invest in such funds but discard a portion of the profits (proportional to the investment in haram businesses)?
We do not have our own opinion in this regard, but are given to understand by Muslim jurisconsults that such investment is allowable. For further details please contact any of the Imaarat-e-Shari`ah.
Are home lease agreements legal? To explain, a person gives a lump sum to the owner for a fixed period of time. During this time, the owner can use the money in any way to earn profit while the tenant benefits from the house. At the end of period, the owner gives back the money. I have heard two opinions in this regard, one that it is haram since it is as though the tenant is benefiting from the interest on the money even though the owner may have used the money for business. The other opinion was that in a country like India where inflation is so high, the worth of money that the tenant receives at the end of the period is no longer what it was at the beginning, hence it is all right. The second opinion also smacks of interest since that is what interest is supposed to counter viz., inflation. Please clarify.
We do not know of any opinion which says that the above conduct is legal, nor do we understand why this is resorted to. Why do the Muslims not reverse the rule of “Taqseet” i.e., the well-known “Installment purchase system.”
What we mean is, instead of handing over a certain lump sum and then taking it back after a few years, which is certainly a disguised riba-dealing, the house owner should set a lower rent amount for his house if the rent is paid in full for a number of stipulated years, but a higher amount if it is to be paid in say monthly installments. The ultimate lower total amount – although to be paid in full at the start itself – becomes a sizable amount which the owner can immediately utilize.
If, for example, a property’s rent is 5000/= a month, due every month. In contrast, it is rented out at say Rs.4000/= a month, on condition that the tenant pays the whole amount due for next five years right at the start. The amount works out to 4000x12x5=240,000 which is a substantial figure. This would be better than taking a larger sum from the tenant, investing it in business with the risk of losing the whole, and losing the house also.
In Defense of Urine
Md. Salauddin, via email
The following article is taken from an anti-Islamic internet site. Can you please comment?
The Islamic concept of “najjes” is unscientific and primitive. It is based on a concept of cleanliness/dirtiness that is totally uninformed of the scientific fields of microbiology, epidemiology, and evolutionary biology.
Dirtiness can be defined in various ways. We might call something “dirty” if it has dust on it, … For example our carpet may be “dirty”, so we vacuum it. ..
But the definition of dirty or clean that is relevant to matters of sanitation and human health, depends mainly on the presence of micro-organisms such as bacteria or viruses. Unless something is contaminated with microorganisms, it does not qualify as “dirty” as far as human health is concerned.
So, as the first example of why the Islamic concept of “najjes” is unscientific, we consider human urine. The urine of a healthy individual is completely free of bacteria or viruses. Urine is extracted directly out of blood by the kidneys, so if a person does not have an infection in their body, they will not have any bacteria or viruses in their blood, and therefore not in their urine either. The only bacteria that may be in urine, is that which was on the skin, just outside of the urinary tract. In that case, it would be the skin that was “dirty”, and not the urine. Human skin always has some bacteria in it.
So, the Islamic concept of “najjes” as far as urine is concerned is stupid. Urine is not inherently “dirty”. It has potential for harboring bacteria and therefore becoming dirty, but it is not in and of itself dirty. But many other things have potential for harboring bacteria, and Islam doesn’t consider those as “najjes”. The question really is a matter of hygiene and proper sanitation, not the inherent property of something being “najjes”.
“Najjes” is just a primitive way of telling people that something has the potential for causing health problems. Just like when we tell little kids that something is “jizz”, meaning it’s hot, so don’t touch it. There is nothing scientific or medical about “najjes”. In fact it shows the ignorance of “allah” (or rather, Mohammad and other authors of Koran) about microbiology and medicine.
Things are not “dirty” by decree of “god”. They are “dirty” only if they have bacteria or viruses in them, in which case we can boil liquids or disinfect solids with chemicals and kill the bacteria.
In the normal course we would not comment on a writing of such poor quality. The parading of such words as: “microbiology, epidemiology, and evolutionary biology” in connection with religious concepts is evidently to impress learning, which in actual fact is missing.
There is no point in discussing any issue with people of such mental order, and especially when this kind of writing comes from someone who is, to all appearances, a hater of all religions, and, in particular Islam. Fanatics can never be cured. The Qur’an has the last word on them (3: 119): “Die in your anger.”
But, unfortunately, with the influence and the pressure increasing, a great number of Muslims now display the same quality of reasoning and intellection as of those exerting pressure on them. They can be disturbed by the stupid.
Cleanliness and uncleanliness are concepts endowed to the humans, and, in a lower degree, to the animals, by nature. Land animals – except for the pig which goes straight for the slime – not only stay clean, but also avoid unclean surroundings. As for humans, their natural tendency to stay clean only varies in degrees, but is never lacking. Religion guides the humans further.
For example, Manu Shastra declares the “Untouchables, a menstruating woman, a woman who has just given birth, a corpse, or any third person” who has touched any of these, as sources of defilement, requiring a bath. Priests are defiled by a few other things, for instance, by the touch of a human bone. He has to purify himself with a bath “if the bone has fat on it.” But, “if it has no fat on it,” then he has to cleanse himself by “rinsing out his mouth and (then) touching a cow or looking at the sun.” Again, “When a child dies when he has just got his teeth, or when he has had his first ceremonial haircut, all of his relatives become unclean,” – they must take a ritual bath to cleanse themselves. Similarly, “A Kandala (Untouchable), a village pig, a cock, a dog, a menstruating woman, and a eunuch must not look at the Brahmanas while they eat,” otherwise, “the intended results will not be produced.” (Ref. “The Laws of Manu” Penguin Classics, 1991, pp. 108 and 105 respectively, and Buhl’s translation of the Manu Shastra, Chapter 3, v. 239).
The above is in theory. Practices of course vary from one extreme to the other extreme. It seems many of these laws have been abandoned in our times. But religious laws cannot be obliterated by ignoring them. If one generation refuses, another will take them up. If one group rejects, another will not. Not long ago, when Hindus were more religious than they are now, these laws were strictly adhered to. See for instance, “Hindu Manners Customs and Ceremonies” by Abbe J.A. Dubois, (Oxford Univ. Press), in which he presents a detailed account of how, in practicing Hindu society of his time, a woman in her cycle was not only unclean, but also rendered unclean whatsoever she touched: the reason why she was confined to a separate room during the period (ref. pages 708-710).
Interestingly, Jews (as also the earliest Christians) have had rules quite close to those of Manu Shastra. For instance, “He who touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days.” And, “This is the law: when a man dies in a tent every one who comes into the tent, and every one who is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days.” (The Bible, Numbers, ch. 19, verses 11 and 14). “And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven‑footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you” (Levi, 11: 7). “And if any animal, of which you may eat dies, he who touches its carcass shall be unclean until the evening” (Levi, 11: 39).
A man’s issue is also unclean: “When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean” (Levi, 15: 2). “Every bed on which he who has the discharge lies shall be unclean; and everything on which he sits shall be unclean. And any one who touches his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening” (Levi, 15: 4, 5).
We might also note the Jewish laws pertaining to women: “Say to the people of Israel, if a woman conceives, and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean” (The Bible, Levi, 12: 2). “But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks” (Levi, 12: 5). And, “When a woman has a discharge of blood which is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in her impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything upon which she lies during her impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean” (Levi, 15: 19, 20).
Islam has a short list of the unclean: urine, faeces, swine, and dog’s saliva. This is the full list of the “najis” (not “najjes”) in Islam. Human beings are never defiled. They are always clean. But they enter into a “state of ritual impurity” because of a few reasons: after sexual intercourse, or with menstruation. Being in a “state of ritual impurity” means they cannot recite the Qur’an or offer Prayers. Otherwise they are clean and hence normal in every thinkable sense. Women are not unclean during their cycles. They can live normally. In fact, no one in a home needs to know whether a woman is undergoing her cycle.
To clarify: does a person become unclean because a woman in her cycle touches him? No. Does a man become unclean because he was touched by another who had sex? No. Does a person become unclean because he touched a corpse? No. Does someone become unclean because he touched a dog? No. Does a person become unclean if a child dies? No.
It might be added that Islam takes us yet another step beyond the material, the physical. It teaches us about “tahaaratu al-qalb” and “tahaaratu al-niyyah.” The first refers to a state of heart in which there is, on the one hand, absence of any deceit for anyone in the world, of any nature, and, on the other hand, absence of the intention to do a wrong against man or God. The second, “tahaaratu al-niyyah,” refers to purity of intention so that all deeds performed (or abstained from) are for no other reason but for the sake of God.
It is the attainment of all these forms of purities that finally leads to “purity of the soul.” A man, clean and neat, trimmed and with an impeccable suit on, is “najis” in Islam if he lacks the Islamic purity of above description.
It should be obvious that things being “najis” or not, has nothing to do with the presence or absence of micro-organisms. In fact, as the contradiction in the article sent to us indicates, there is nothing on the earth that is free of micro-organisms. If micro-organisms are the standard of judgment, then, the air within which we live is “unhygienic” and hence dirty because it is the carrier of every sort of micro-organism we can think of. By this logic, we humans are always in a state of impurity, being bathed by an unclean air. But of course, such logic is simply “najis.”
Tariq Rasool, Kashmir, via email
I’m fond of your magazine. Please answer a question: Is it mentioned any where in the Qur’an or hadith that Allah created this word only out of love of prophet Muhammad s.a.w. If it is not right then how come this concept is so popular in our era?
There is no such statement either in the Qur’an or in the hadith literature. Even a weak report to this effect is not to be found. But there is a forged report which says, “Law laak, lamaa khalaqtu al-aflaak.” That is, “If not you, I would not have created the heavens.” The report is fabricated and hence it does not matter what it means. Nonetheless, it is obvious that it has vague intentions: “If not you!” Who is intended by “you”? No other report, even if forged, is available to explain this. So it is assumed that it is the Prophet who is meant. But, is there another hadith of the same nature in the vast Hadith literature? No, there is none, neither a true hadith nor even false.
What we mean is that even a forged report, which happens to only one of its kind, is not clear enough to use as evidence that Allah created the world in love of Muhammad.
As to why the story is popular, it is because it is the most devastating weapon to use against the masses. To them, whatever is said in favor of the Prophet is true. Authentic or inauthentic are not terms that they understand, nor do those who have access to them, lead them and live off them.
Mosques in Burial Grounds
Hassan, via email
Is it permitted to build a mosque on a burial ground? Can we pray in such mosques?
This is because in our area most of the mosques are built on burial grounds. This happened because in olden days the dead were buried in Mosque compound and now the Mosque are extended on the burial ground. Remains of the bodies are removed and shifted to make room. Is this allowed?
With regard to the first question, it is perfectly alright to pray in a mosque built inside a Muslim cemetery.
We do not know what the exact situation is. However, if, for want of space, the scholars have allowed that remains of older graves, perhaps bones, be moved to another area, then, their ruling could be followed.
It is only disallowed to Pray if a tomb happens to be directly in front, on the Qiblah side, within the mosque walls. But, we do not know of mosques that have been built this way.
I want to know the proper and correct way of saying salaam. Our elders ask us to bend down in front of aged relatives while greeting them.
Syeda Humera, via email
It is not necessary at all to bend down in front of aged relatives, scholars, or, the Mashaa’ikh, or anyone else. It is enough to say Al-salamu alaykum. In addition, as a mark of respect, the young ones may kiss the forehead of the aged one, or a scholar, or Sheikh. Children may kiss the hands of the elders, or, elders kiss their hands and foreheads. But, bending down is undesirable, as also is undesirable the act of shoving one’s head into another’s stomach, a practice common among some Peer-Mureed systems.
In Vitro Fertilization
I have been a regular reader of your magazine and find it very informative and interesting as it also covers the contemporary issues revolving around Islam and its followers. I have a personal query. I am married since three years but childless. I have been advised artificial insemination. Now, what does Islam say about in vitro fertilization of a woman with the husband as the donor?
Anonymous, via email
In vitro fertilization is allowed provided the medical personnel involved are trustworthy. But, we believe you might not resort to this method as early as this. You might wait for a while, seek Allah’s help, and save the extraordinary costs involved, with no guarantees of success in the first try.
I have a question and hope to get the answer. A woman’s cycle may sometimes last ten days or more during which procreative activities are disallowed. What is the provision for a husband in this situation?
Ansari Sheikh, via email
If a man finds it unbearable, he might consider making use of the Islamic polygynous solution.
When is the next volume of Ishraq al-Ma`ani to appear?
M. Ikram, via email
Volume 11 is in the press, and it could well be out by the time this issue reaches you.